The second Sunday of May is a very interesting day. While we should give roses to those who are living, Mother’s Day is a day in which we all give appreciation to the women who gave us life, as well as those we have created a life with.
Mother’s Day has taken on a very different meaning in my household. Five months after Cydney’s mother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, my mother was informed that she had a malignant tumor in her breast. While my mother was beginning her process, I was knee-deep into surgeries and living in hospitals in 2011. I recall a conversation in which my mother was emotionally processing that her oncologist threw out the possibility of a mastectomy. In the moment, I had to do my best impersonation of my mom-take feelings out of the equation and keep it real for perspective’s sake-and tell her that while I understood, I wished that surgery was an option.
The fall of 2011 was very difficult for me. While having to hide around in Virginia because my in-laws knew Cydney’s mother was being put on hospice and trying to get rid of me; the only comfort I had was being there for my mother who was just beginning chemotherapy treatments over the phone. The last time Timile-my daughter’s mother-and my mom saw each other, my mom showed Timile her bald head and they bonded because they were sharing an all-too familiar experience.
After Timile passed away and my mother was finishing up her first round with chemo, I was neck-deep in custody cases in two states for my daughter. A week after major surgery, my mother did most of the driving from New York to Virginia for us to get my baby back. In a time where she needed to be resting, what was more important to her was that I had my little girl that I was just beginning to feel the way about as my mom does for me.
I don’t do hospitals. When my mother had her second surgery, I didn’t visit and she understood. The only time that I did was to drop my aunt off. I stayed in the room all of five minutes and spent the rest of the time in the parking lot. Most people would say “Chad, get over yourself;” but at twenty-five years old, shit got incredibly real for me and she got it. Before my grandmother passed, I couldn’t visit her in the hospital, either. I had to wait until she came back home before ultimately saying goodbye. The way that both my mother and her mother just “got it,” is a manner that only a mother can and will literally hold on to dear life until you’re ready.
Cydney only experienced on Mother’s Day while Timile was alive, and she was only three months old. All she knows is making that day special for my mother and her aunt, who act as mother figures in her life. Listening to this week’s podcast, she’s more than happy to do so, as well.
We have just entered a different juncture in Cydney’s life. For the most part, she wants to control the conversation about her mother. Even if I am on the phone with someone else and she is within earshot, she begins to feel a certain way when Timile’s name comes up. It has to be her who brings her mother up, or she begins to get a little sad. While she is perfectly fine with being different, I feel as if she is become more and more aware that it isn’t the norm to be missing a mother. Her friends in school don’t understand it. Yes, saying that my daughter is more than several handfuls is an understatement, she clings on to her daddy because he’s everything to her…I can see it in her eyes. Hell, she has a mild form of separation anxiety when people she cares about leave and begins to cry, saying “I’m gonna miss them.”
Another interesting pattern of behavior that I have noticed in my daughter is that she more or less sees parts of herself in women that she has seen me date. She will want to participate in activities that are reminiscent the times she has spent with us….if she liked them.
One can look at my daughter and see that she is mixed with something. Her mother was half-Puerto Rican. Whether it is something that she-or I or her mother, who didn’t even find out until she was twenty-three-know much about from a cultural standpoint, it is still a part of her identity. From time to time, I would tell my daughter she’s part Puerto Rican, she would say “No I’m not. I’m black. I don’t want to be [part] Puerto Rican!” All she knows is the black family engulfed in black culture that use black colloquialism as a means of communication.
From time to time, Cydney would hang out with one woman I was dating, and at one point the woman being of Puerto Rican decent had come up in conversation. Cydney all of a sudden exclaimed “I’m Puerto Rican!” In and for a moment, Cydney had begun to identify. While I dated that lady, my daughter would happily say that she too, was Puerto Rican. I was telling this to my barber who doubles as my therapist (barbers are therapists); and he said “It was as if you dating this girl gave Cyd the co-sign to identify.” In my mind, everything clicked.
We all gravitate towards people because we see a likeness between themselves and us. At five years old, Cydney is slowly transitioning into the phase in which she begins to filter her opinions. However, these are moments I pay a lot of attention to. My daughter is looking for those small nuances in various women in my life. Whether it’s the nurturing and stouthearted mindset of my mother, the resilience of my sister, and the little things she sees in the women I date that she is looking to step in and be her stepmother, it’s very interesting to observe.
I’m very careful of who I let into Cydney’s inner circle. Because she has no memory of her mother, she more or less is looking for one. We have very different agendas. While this may be what she is seeking to acquire, I want someone who love me enough to want to love my kid. For someone I’m dating, Cydney is not the key nor is she the gatekeeper. Being there for my daughter doesn’t “do it” for me. It’s nice and it gives me the feels; but I’m protecting her. There is a good chance that Cydney’s first heartbreak could be attaching herself to someone she wants to be her mother…and they move on because things didn’t work out between us. One of my highest priorities in life is to protect my little girl; who with very little life experience could possibly project her hurt on me. And while that too would suck, I can handle that.
I know this post is pretty lengthy; but there were a lot of thoughts to share. Enjoy this week’s podcast.