And It Is The Best Decision I Ever Made
Twenty-six years ago I was in a relatively good marriage, with one exception. He didn’t want any more children. He had two amazing girls that were born when he was nineteen and twenty-two, and I adored them and understood. But as the marriage continued, and I turned thirty-five, then thirty-six and thirty-seven, my biological clock went absolutely berserk. I never felt such longing before or since.
We separated, and I became like a teen-aged boy, attracted to every man who was a good biological specimen. We tried to reconcile a few times, but he never believed that our not having a child was the real issue. So, while separated, I traveled to my spiritual home, Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was thirty-nine.
I was hanging out in the plaza when a tall, well-built, Black gentle giant came up to me. He was promoting a show that evening and invited me. I agreed, and when I was leaving he offered to walk me to my car. I informed him I did not need protection because I was a black belt in Aikido. He loves to tell that story now, of the feisty, little blonde Texan who refused his protection.
He was seven years younger than I, and lived a state away, but we made it work in the beginning. I traveled to Santa Fe often, and he came to visit me. I turned forty years old during that time. There is debate on whether we got pregnant in Santa Fe, when he first asked if we could make a baby together, or in Texas the following week. I choose to believe it was on our first try.
I was thrilled, terrified, and faced with a lot of decisions. The decision to have my baby was never in doubt. It was truly my dream come true. However, I had to file for divorce, tell my family, and decide whether to move to Santa Fe, my other dream.
It became clear, at least to me, over the next two months, that the relationship was not going to lead to marriage, nor should it. I decided to stay in Texas, near my family and friends to have support in becoming a single mother at age forty-one. Santa Fe still pulls at my heart, and I visit often, but staying near the “village” that helped me raise my son was exactly the right thing to do.
My son’s father came to stay with me for two weeks before our baby was born, was there for the birth, and went back to Santa Fe three days after. He and my sister did guided imagery for me during labor, and he held our son’s hand on the way to NICU when he was born caesarean. I had intended to give birth at home, but my forty-one year old cervix wouldn’t cooperate. Still, I had eight people with me at home during labor, and three with me in the operating room. There were two midwives, my mother and sisters, my best friend Terrence, who would be my son’s godfather, my massage therapist and friend, Bobbie, Darren, my son’s father, and the future nanny. The hospital personnel didn’t know what to make of us, but they gave in to my demands that everyone with me could come into the delivery room.
We named the baby Blake, which means black and white in old English. While lying in his father’s arms the day after he was born, a basketball game came on television, and he whipped his newborn head around to “watch.” It’s been his passion ever since.
I took him every month or so to see his father in Santa Fe. When Darren moved back to Philadelphia, we visited him there. While it is true they would not have had a relationship if it hadn’t been for my persistence in visiting, we still managed to give him the experience of two parents for a lot of his life. When we visited, we usually both stayed with Darren, and did things as a family. This continued even when his father had girlfriends, and when he got back together for awhile with his ex-wife. They all adored Blake, and all but one accepted my friendship with Darren. Blake was able to spend time with and play with his older sisters when Darren and Kim were back together, and he never wanted for attention. Kim and I became close enough that we would take the three children and do things with them without Darren, or all five of us would go to the park or to dinner together. Blake never witnessed us arguing, although we did of course. I could have chosen a more stable person to father my child, but at least the one I chose was able to join me in maintaining a civil friendship for our son’s sake.
There have been issues, as this was before so many other single women decided to have children, and before older women more commonly had children. It was also in Texas, where interracial children were still relatively unusual. I occasionally got asked if I was his grandmother. Children asked if he was adopted. Grown-ups asked if he was adopted. I always responded, “No, I carried this big boy for nine months right here in this body.” And then I would hold his face next to mine so they could see how much we look alike, apart from the shade of our skin. Even now people sometimes wonder about the six foot five inch young Black man, and the five foot two little Caucasian woman hanging out and acting goofy, so he crouches down to put his face next to mine for them to see the resemblance.
In my own family, everyone but my father accepted him immediately, and he became the apple of my mother’s eye. When the delivery was difficult, my mother called my father who had refused to come, and told him he had nearly lost his daughter and grandson, and he needed to show up. He did. It was the beginning of a long journey for him away from his racist upbringing.
My mother participated in an exercise at church after Blake was born. Disciples of Christ has always been a social justice activist church. The attendees started in a group in the middle of the room. When racist thoughts, statements and ideas were read aloud one by one, participants were to take one step back if they either believed it or had ever believed it. My mother was horrified that she had to take four or five steps back. But she faced her internal prejudices and dealt with them. The exuberant love of a little dark skinned boy did a lot to help with that.
The small town where I grew up had likely never had a single unwed mother. Teenagers who got pregnant got married, whether they wanted to or not, when I was growing up. By the time I was taking Blake home to visit his grandmother, there was only one other biracial child in town, the daughter of one of my best friends. My mother had always cared a great deal about appearances. She dressed us like little dolls and paraded us down the aisle at church. It had to have been very difficult for her to tell people her unmarried daughter had a biracial son. But you would never have know it was a challenge. She dressed him like a little doll and paraded him at church, her work and around town. She was his first, true advocate and acolyte.
I briefly worked as religious education director at a Unity church when he was nIne months old, and found out after they hired me that, in the hiring meeting, the minister’s wife had questioned my “lapse of judgment.” Blake is anything but a lapse of judgment. On the contrary, he really is the best decision I ever made. I grew up when I had him, whereas I had only been pretending to be grown up before. He gives me more purpose in life, and a reason to be the best person I can be.
He provides me with wisdom. When he was three, and I was rushing him to get dressed because we were late, he calmly looked up at me and said, “Mommy, there is no such thing as time.” Of course, he was right. He stated at eighteen months, “I want to help my people.” I assured him he would.
Today he continues to inspire me. He is actively pursuing his film writing, directing, acting and editing. He is a free-lance videographer. Unlike many parents of millennials, I believe strongly in entrepreneurship and his abilities. It means at a much older age than I had planned, I am helping him out with a free place to live. But we are good friends, just as I was with his father when he was growing up. We like each other and laugh at each other’s jokes. Tonight he does his first open mike stand up comedy routine. I am not invited, but I choose to believe it’s because I would laugh so loud it would make him more nervous. His friend will film it and I will laugh later.
So much of our life has been laughter. He has been a funny guy since he could talk. He came into my room in the middle of the night when he was about two, with an arm full of his stuff, which he handed to me one at a time. “Here’s my truck, and here’s my sleeping guy (doll), and here’s my blanky, and here’s my book,’ he said. Then, throwing his empty arms out he said, “And HERE’S ME.” What could I do? I slept with him and a bed full of toys.
We have had our share of tragedy. Pets that died. His great-grandmother dying when he was three, and his grandmother, Betty Joy, who he absolutely adored, and who adored him, died when he was eleven. Way too young to experience such loss, and all because I waited so late in life to have him. Other major hurdles have happened, along with more ongoing ones, such as his being dyslexic. But we have conquered all of it with the help of our village and with laughter.
Our family abounds with dark humor, and Blake has inherited it. His YouTube videos as Moonlair360 are both hysterical and disturbing. I confess I don’t watch them all. As his fan I am crazy about how funny and creative he is. As his mother, there are some videos I just avoid.
It has been the joy of my life to become his friend as he has become an adult. We really do laugh together at things no one else gets. It’s like having a secret language. And we have each learned to laugh at ourselves and each other. The arguments from his teen years slip away now into jokes. We work to resolve differences. I hope all this makes him a good partner and a good father someday. I hope he has his children within a committed relationship, because we all want our children to be happier and have life easier than we did. But if he decides to do it like I did, I will be right there. The supporter of his decisions. A friend to the mother of his child. The doting grandmother my mother showed me how to be.