I try to be better than good, and I take my mothering seriously. At night I lie awake conjuring plans. I form mental lists and strategies of how I can provide the experiences that will make my homies successful. In the morning, I carry out those plans. I sub at all of their schools, so I know what's going on in their school careers. I stay up late doing homework, packing lunches, baking cookies, finishing projects, tickling backs, reading scriptures, fixing broken hearts, and saying prayers that will carry them through to the next day.
You do these things, too.
When I climb out of my mind to observe how all the little things I do are adding up, I fear it's not enough. I fear we're falling terribly short of where we need to go. This fear is always bedded beneath all my planning, and sometimes its threats of failure are stifling, especially when I receieve affirmations that what I'm doing late into the night, after everyone is sleeping, isn't enough.
Just the other day, a teacher sent an e-mail explaining how my homie was not producing work good enough for his advanced math and English classes. Usually I'm gangsta' tough when it comes to constructive criticism about my homies. I don't get offended, and I immediately fix the problem--dishes done, move forward. But on this day, the note left me dangling from my rope of despair: "I can't do this job a-n-y-m-o-r-e," I said, starring at the computer screen. "Your homies need a smarter, more disciplined mom. Remember how you only got a 20 on the ACT and you forgot how to spell jealous in the 7th grade Spelling Bee? Now your poor homies are stuck with you; they can only be as good as you are, and that's not good enough.
These are horrible things to say and think about oneself. But after I had a night to lie awake, cry and pray, I erased those thoughts and conjured up a new plan: If it takes me sitting in class with him every day until he gets it, I'll do it.
The next day I marched into the teacher's class and wrote down all the assignments he needed to redo. The list was long, so I said, "I would love to sit in here and observe. I will come to school with him every day and make sure he's getting what's going on. I love this boy so much, and I want him to know he can do math. He feels dumb, and he's struggling more than ever before." And then I lost it. I started crying. Crying. Crying. Crying. "I don't want him to feel like a failure," I said, holding my face to stop the tears. She reassured me that she wouldn't kick him out of her class and reaffimed that he is a smart, good boy. I thanked her, dried my tears and drove to Sonic.
Each night we work on math and writing together, redoing the last two weeks he didn't understand. I kiss his cheeks and tell him I'm glad he's my boy. I tell him he's smart and that the Lord is with him always.
Here's a reminder, in case today you are hanging onto your rope of despair: