“Huni! Raising a boy is a lot of work.” My granny, in her Charleston, South Carolinian accent went on to speak of all the joys and hurts she experienced as a mom of 7 and 4 of them being boy children. She also explained that it is an honor in her family culture to have a boy first(as many cultures can relate). I had no idea how much it was smiled upon! I’ve heard about cultures and countries that depend on having a boy BUT in black culture? I had less of an idea of its significance! Our conversation lead to this summary,”they may not be easy to raise but they will teach you so much as a woman. A woman who raises a boy into strong man is a powerful woman.” I’m like “dang! No pressure granny!”
So I’m aware in our present world, there are various conversations concerning sexism and gender roles. This conversation is not about the latter but more about insight being a mom with a son. Race, sex, gender, roles are definitely components to this dialogue but none are solely responsible.
For example, the effects a black boy from NYC being raised by black and Latino parents in America is nuanced by our social location. With that being said I’ve realized there has been a few lessons that my 5 month old Titan has taught me for a lifetime!
In Titan’s classroom I hear him say these things:
1. Mommy control is a product of your fear, it’s ok to let me explore.
I mean granted my kid is only 5 months! But Objectively he’s a young afro Latino boy from NYC. Before anyone sees him for any other qualities they see his physical first. Titan is very passionate. As you can see his name speaks for itself! His heavy frame matches that high level of passion! When he wants a bottle or any specific gesture(to be picked up,etc) his strong raspy thunderous voice, big hands and feet will let anyone around him know! In my personal time I found myself trying to control many parts of his personality because of my fear of what society may perceive of him. While I see every moment as a teaching moment it doesn’t have to be a CONTROLLING one. He shouldn’t have to pay for the fears of the world. He gets to LIVE through FAITH not fear. Currently, I am surveying a practice in which I talk and ask questions calmly and help in soothing him( Even when he’s seemingly frantic) When he’s extremely active, I get active with him! This teaches me to not take everything so seriously and to enjoy my bundle in all the ways I can!
3.Mommy, my personality is a part of my special ability , it doesn’t need to be contained, it needs to be guided.
Well we often hear “boys will be boys.” I think I got my first dose of this when Titan started moving and half crawling at an early age of about 3 months and fell! As you can imagine, almost 3 months later he gets my mommy nerves on edge! I mean anxious at times! The first thing I think is , “I don’t want you to hurt yourself!” (As any mom would) But for me it can go deeper! I can get into this existential perspective concerning Titan and his future! Lol Welcome to overthinking mommy syndrome! Whatever it’s called. I digress, when Titan was in the NICU he was called the “wild child”. I hated it! I felt that I didn’t want people projecting their opinions of Titan with their words because of his personality. I realized, I had some ownership to take because I had to question “were my actions done in the spirit of rigidity and fear of Titan being ‘the wild child’?” The RNs do not really know Titan but I do! And so what if he is a “wild child. “ He’ll be the greatest wild child there is! Why was my action so driven by a mentality of “containing” instead of one driven by confidence? I was moving with a very limited view of my son, boxing him in who I wanted him to be but not focusing on who he is. Now, we won’t get into “Nature vs. Nuture” but I’d like to say both are valid. While there may be some signs of Titan’s personality at this age he is still growing.As his mama, for example I get to support in HOW he uses his ability to move at an early age whether crawling or turning over. His ambition is a blessing that I can support in how it’s expressed. It’s guidance. Because nothing can be controlled it can be maintained. I’m sure he’d appreciate that in the long run anyway!
3. Mommy, The worlds views on black boys may never change.
This is probably the most daunting lesson because everyday whether it’s social media or the news I am reminded of black men and boys being killed and murdered. My love for Titan has extended in areas of my life I never experienced, I couldn’t imagine that being physically interrupted due to loss. As you can see the motif of fear and control raises its ugly little head because as a mom we wish no harm on our children. However, one day, I sat in my “overthinking mommy” chair and asked “what if this never changes?” Do I get to hold my baby boy in desperation? No. But I can empower him to be the greatest man he was meant to be. We may never reach equity concerning this issue but his dad and I will instill a mentality that is full of stature, solid identity and intellectual freedom. See, the world will always have problems and they may very well impact our everyday lives BUT they will not limit our everyday LIVING.
4. Mommy, I have emotions and they need to be heard. It’s ok for me to cry and express.
The value of expression is a major key to life. As I stated baby boy has a cry that is almost like a big man! I heard someone say, “stop all of that crying!” And told me, “he does a lot of complaining!” I responded and said,”he’s not complaining he’s expressing!” I’m okay with those that don’t want to deal with it because his mama and papa are the only ones that have to! There are times, yes, he just wants his way. But there are some in which he’s communicating the way he knows how. As he gets older, he will learn from social environments! My dad says often, “Men suffer in silence.” I think what he’s saying is, often there are no words to express the hurt and often men are not taught how to. I get to consider this when raising a boy. I want him to express, of course with respect and love. The worst expression is one that is not expressed at all!
5. Mommy, don’t listen to society! As a boy, I need your tender love no matter my age.
Breastfeeding was a huge aspect in this lesson. Breastfeeding showed me how powerful bond and affection is for a boy. He starts off life with that, why do we think with age it just stops? I’m realizing it doesn’t stop but it may be needed in other ways. Titan will not be on the breast forever but he will still need my love and affection. We’ve heard the “don’t spoil him” (so 3 months ago lol). While this was only 3 months ago it is still a mentality that lives on in life. Growing up in Brooklyn, you hear a lot of black boys not wanting to be “soft” or “gay”. If you cried or didn’t have a level of aggression you would not win “survival of the fittest”. You didn’t “get” a girl(at least as quickly as
the others). You were seen as weak. I can only imagine the impact in identity and knowing who you are. I find, rearing that snatches affection away is what destroys the social and mental development of a person. Boys can be taught to suffer in silence when not adequately taught the value of love affection.
This was my first post in a while. I believe these months have been a time to intake and grow. Titan can’t even speak words(as we know it) but is already an intellectual baby.
Look at your little one ask, “what lesson are you teaching me today?”