Friday, April 19, 2019

I'm Good at Everything Ain't I Momma

RL and me. Picture taken in 1988.


“Would you like to go to school and ride the big bus with your brother and sisters,” I asked.  

“Yep,” he said, grinning ear to ear.


***

It seems like yesterday the little boy in this image pulled me by the hand eager to get to the bus stop and catch the bus with his brother and two sisters. He was 3 years-old and I was 29.



I look at this image and ask myself how could any parent not be their best self for the precious, bright eyed, eager to please, little boy looking into the camera. I wanted to. With all my heart, I wanted to be a good parent to all 4 of my kids.

***
As a child, my go to response in times of stress was to hide if possible and then act as if nothing had happened when the chaos in my home was over. I carried this with me and without realizing it, taught it to my own kids. They knew when to be quiet, when to go outside, or to their rooms and then to act as if nothing had happened. I thought I had some time before they were old enough to understand what was happening and they would learn the important stuff when they went to school.

***

I didn’t know that they started learning the important stuff at birth, before even, and their brains were mapping their experiences. The chaotic environment similar to the one I grew up in was leaving its mark, laying the groundwork for how my kids would navigate the rest of their lives.

Thankfully a few months before this picture was taken a family literacy program came to Madison County NC.


Here's the first public notice.
 The News Record
          July 28, 1988


The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust in Chapel Hill funds 7 pilot family literacy projects, 4 in NC and 3 in KY.
Parents who never finished high school and their 3 or 4 year-old children will go to school together. An early childhood specialist and an assistant will teach the preschoolers. Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (AB Tech) will provide an adult education specialist to work with the adults.

Per the article, William C. Friday, the executive director of the trust and former president of the University of North Carolina, said the trust was backing the yearlong experimental schools because they attack illiteracy on two fronts. While reducing the risk of failing school for disadvantaged children, the schools also educate the parents.



A few months after starting the family literacy program, I told RL he sure was good at coloring.

    "I'm good at everything ain't I Momma."

     "You sure are." 




 And we were on our way to the next 30 years.



Here's Rocky (RL) passing on what he learned to his son.

  


Passing it on to the next generation. 
Rocky with his son, Mason


#NCFL19 Come celebrate with us.






Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Mama

"There's no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you."                                                                                     ----Maya Angelou


Reva: My mama's name.
Aver:  Reva spelled backwards.



"If I could write, I'd write a story nobody would believe."
---Reva Rice Allison













aver:

1. : to declare positively
2. : law, to verify or prove to be true in pleading a case
Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aver


"One of these days, you'll walk a mile in my shoes. Mark my words. You’ll see the hell I've been through," Mama said repeatedly over the years.

She was right. I did walk a mile in her shoes. I walked some of the same roads she walked in spite of my determination to do the exact opposite of everything she did. I would have denied her existence in my life if I could have. Lord knows I tried. So deep was this desire that she was “Mama” to her four children while I am "Momma” to my four children. 

She occupies quite a bit of real estate in my journals and in the memoir I’ve worked on for the past few years. As I "mark my words," I hear Mama in the background averring hers. 




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