What’s your favorite book when it comes to mothering? Lately, my dog-eared favorite is Revolutionary Mothering. The essays made me think. They make me reconsider what is revolutionary (and radical) about my own mothering. They open my eyes to the different plights and processes of a mother’s relationship to herself, her child, the system, and yes, even with her own mother.
When River was a newborn, we found Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer in a stack on a stoop. It was simple and so deep. Together, we highlighted pages–orange for him and yellow for me. I developed my persona as a new mother based on her suggestion of a simple checklist that included diaper changes, feedings, and also, caring for one’s self as a mother. It was THE ONLY book I read that said, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF in the list of what you check-off when you are trying to care for your baby.
I keep on thinking about how attentive I was back then as a new and young mother, how I loved to decorate River’s room with thrift finds, and how I enjoyed touching my stomach and feeling her kicks. We connected so deeply during my pregnancy. I keep on thinking about how I was able to breastfeed, but also forge a career. I keep on thinking about how all of it was born out of the CHOICE to have her. Which, if you’ve read Woman Of Color, is no surprise. When considering what to do, I knew I could do it because I had the means to do it. I knew I had the love and could scrounge up the finances. I knew, that if left on my own, I could manage with significant strength and joy.
Yesterday, Georgia’s news made me angry and faint. I was triggered. The news multiplied with the morphing grief of a late-term loss of mine, between both of my kids. I convinced myself the pregnancy was viable–I didn’t have the knowledge and security to believe otherwise. In my book, I write about how my doctors suggested I have an abortion because there was no way my baby could survive. I don’t write about how I regret not getting the abortion.
Over the last six years, the weight of that decision has not left me. I wish I was more informed then, on both sides–not just about the process of a D & E (after the baby had passed), and the trauma around that; but also, the slow unraveling of that loss while it was still alive and in me, but slipping away.
I know there is no turning back, and I am so happy where my life is now. I am thankful that I was able to afford medical and mental care, and yes, have another baby. The deep and heavy implications of motherhood are not created in the heat of sex. So why aren’t father’s bodies policed too? Why don’t we have better access to birth-control? And access to maternity leave, too? Why isn’t there an easier way for young women to access government support without stripping them of their strength and pride in the process? Choosing (and not choosing) to be a mother isn’t made better with an offer adoption as an alternative, when there are millions of children who are waiting for homes, underfed and often abused. The system is rigged and overrun. Choosing to be a mother, and then having that pregnancy NOT be viable, and then choosing to terminate–that is not a criminal act.
The other day I was looking at an illustration of a kid asking their mom, “What did you do in the War On Women?” And that image has stuck with me. But let’s also be clear, this isn’t JUST a war on women: it is a war on poor women and women of color. Women who, even without access to safe and legal abortions, will likely still have an abortion. Choosing to imprison them is not justice for a fetus! It is Georgia’s way of doing what they’ve always done: keep the power in their whiteness, while also keeping their money. Prison systems are money pits, collapsing (but also thriving) with brown and black folks in them. Black women are profitable for the system.
Tonight, to celebrate Mother’s Day, I am having one of my very last open conversations with my dear friend, Erin. It is at 7:30 at Books Are Magic. Please join us as we dive into what Radical Motherhood means to us. No more than ever, we need conversations, honesty, and community.
If you can not attend, Mother’s Day is a good day to donate to National Bail Out #FreeBlackMamas.
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You’re dog-eared favorite is co-edited/authored by my friend! I love that it’s such a small world sometimes. And, thank you for this beautiful essay.
Sophia, that’s amazing!!!!! And thank you so much for reading!
*Your. (Me–>NOT an editor:)