We’re in this tough season of parenting.
We sign folders, cart children to soccer, break up wrestling matches, clean dishes and repeat.
But in particular, this has been a hard season of motherhood for me.
If I’m honest, it started in 2020, and while I kept thinking it was going to fade it never has.
Much of the anxiety of parenting children of color was something I felt before they were even born. I knew we’d have to feed them healthy affirmations about the color of their skin, teach them the stuff not covered in school about being Black & Brown in America.
But then the pandemic hit. The murders of Black & Brown people at the hands of the police. The anti-Asian hate rhetoric and violence.
My normal anxieties were quickly spiraling into real and panicked fear. I went from semi-gentle parenting, reading the books, listening to the podcasts and practicing in the grocery store to an utter control freak.
I said something to a friend about it once, and she kindly & quickly brushed it off, “Oh you’re not that kind of Mom. I’ve seen you with the kids.” I silently whispered to myself, “Oh no, I am that Mom.”
And, I’ve been struggling to find the words for it until a few weeks ago. I’d been praying and thinking through some issues we’ve been having with the kids and it all of a sudden clicked.
My heart is rock solid hard.
No longer am I soft hearted, smiling as they play and slicing apples for afternoon book reading and planning playdates.
I’m shouting at them to be quiet, guilt tripping them about the books we never read anymore and I’m almost never on the front lawn playing soccer with them.
Sure, kids get older and routines change. Sure, the South Carolina heat will take you out in less than 10 minutes and have you shrinking into the shade. Sure, times have changed.
All of that aside, I realized what I needed to work on was softening my heart. Taking joy in being their mother and enjoying my time with them.
Instead, the fears about my children running through the neighbor’s backyard chasing the dog from up the street has turned me into a wild beast of a mother.
All I see is my neighbors pulling up their RING cameras to see two Brown boys running through their yard. All I think about is, what if we run into that one person, the one that’s …
See, I can hardly say it without a lump in my throat.
But just the other day, I panicked at the sight of a police officer approaching my kid at the soccer field. My first response wasn’t, “Oh, he’s here to see his own kid play.” Nope, I’m up on my feet in a heartbeat, quickly scanning between my kid and the officer trying to assess if I could be sprinting toward him and screaming or not.
I’m a nervous wreck and I’m trying so hard to find my soft heart again. To allow her to lean into the joys of life and to put her guard down. But, instead, I find myself back and forth from hard to soft and back again. I don’t think the parents of Black, Brown, LGBTQ+ kids have the option any longer of soft hearts. But maybe that’s my hard heart creeping back again.
So, if you’re a parent and what I’m saying resonates with you. Please know we’re in this together. This hard heart is trying to find her way back home & she hopes you do too.
And because I read to help me process the life and the world around me, I always have a book recommendation*. Here’s what’s helping me frame & reframe.
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs (non-fiction)
A look at the lives of Alberta King, Berdis Baldwin and Louise Little and how they loved, raised and buried their sons, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin and Malcolm X respectively. I felt so honored to hear the stories, whatever could be held in the book, of these women and I also was struck so deeply by their love & grief in the passing of their sons. I was so inspired by Louise Little, I’ll be keeping a dictionary in the house and allowing the boys to plant their own veggies this summer. Their journey in motherhood has poured into mine in such a special way.
I couldn’t stop listening to this book! Celeste Ng writes about banning books, governmental removal of children, Anti-Asian hate and the tension between fear and parenting. I’ve been talking about this one nonstop, so add it to your list!
I’m in the middle of: Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change by Anglea Garbes (non-fiction) and Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Looking for a book recommendation?