For those that have been following along on my journey, it is pretty evident that I juggle many things. I am a writer, organizer, promotor, performer, activist and most importantly, I am a mother. I have raised my children for most of their lives on my own and fought to find the balance between work and family. My children are the greatest accomplishments I will ever have in my life. They above everything else, come first. One of my most personal and angry poems, is about this. It is a piece I wrote before my oldest two’s father moved across the country for the first time and after he had moved back from living hours away. It’s my personal anthem for being a single mother. A term that some of tried to strip away from us, because they know nothing of the reality of being the sole provider for a family. These are the people that would rather praise a man for seeing his children once a week, then acknowledge the woman that pays all the bills, checks all the homework, does all the driving, cooks all the meals and does countless other things, for the same children the other six days of the week. That is if you are one of the lucky women that can get one day a week to yourself.
This is a reality I have lived for all of my adult life. My oldest two children were born out of the relationship with my first love. We started dating right after high school, weathered a many storms and lasted 6 years before it became apparent that adulthood had turned us into different people. In all honesty, I never wanted to children, so visions and goals I had for myself coming out of high school, never involved a family. Those visions had me moving to a real city, living it up as a dancer and writer. I wanted nothing to do with overpopulation of the planet, by breeding. In plus, my own childhood was clouded with darkness and I never wanted to risk exposing another to the possibility. Regardless, I learned that young adult wishing and pulling out isn’t actually a effective form of birth control.
“The day I found out I was pregnant, my life took new form. As my body changed, so did my constitution. It’s amazing how everything in the world becomes clear when you realize how natural and functional it all is. Breasts are no longer these objects to pawn over but a means to encourage life. A penis is more that a thing to savor but an instrument of creation.” (from my piece, The Right)
I became pregnant with my first child when I was 20. I have spent all of my adult life as someone’s mother. A role that I take very seriously and will admit has probably caused me relationships and slowed down my ability to follow my passions. It’s hard to throw caution to the wind and follow your dreams, when there are mouths to feed besides your own. I have missed countless shows. I have tabled many great ideas. I have had to work multiple jobs. I have lost friendships. I have had to come to terms with being human in more ways I’d like to admit. I have stretched myself too thin, taking on too much. I have pushed my dreams aside over and over again, to give my children the space to grow up. I have stayed in a city that’s politics go against my humanity. And I don’t regret a single thing. What I have gained is three amazing humans, that call me mom. They have taught me to love without condition. They have shown me that life is about living. They have helped me reinvent myself time and time again. They have inspired me to follow my passions. They prove to me that the future is worth fighting for.
Why, am I writing about this? Yesterday, I was told I wasn’t a true supporter of the spoken word scene because I don’t attend enough events outside my own. Asking someone to be apart of a vision for a show, that would highlight the various events in the city became a moment for this person to tell me what they thought about me. I’ll admit it took me back. It made me reevaluate myself and question if their views where valid. To some degree they are. I don’t get out and “make time” to attend other events. Not because I think I’m too good or that the other events in the city aren’t important. It’s because what is important to me is my family. I love the art of spoken word and what it has done to help me in my life. I love the sense of connection and community that comes from it. Aside from my children, the creation of VOCAB is my greatest accomplishment. Once a month, I leave my house for the passion job I want to make a full-time career and I am grateful for that. I use that time to remember who I am outside my role as a mother, partner, daughter and activist. I work my ass off to make it what it is and I forget that sometimes that’s not enough for people to see your devotion to the “culture”. I forget that sometimes people will see what they want and decide who they think you are based off of that. Do I wish I had the freedom to check out all the events this city has to offer… yes! Do I love spoken word and feel grateful that VOCAB has been able to be relevant after a decade… absofuckinglutely!
The reality is, I’m not a person that is out in the world a lot. If I’m not working one of my 7 jobs, I am home with my family, because time isn’t something I take for granted. Especially, as I have one child out of my house, another about to leave my house and a seven year old beginning his journey. Everyday I do what I can with the time I have allotted. I am raising a family, fostering a real loving relationship with a partner I finally see a future with, balancing the revolution and my passion for written and spoken word. I made a decision nearly 20 years ago, to make my children the number one priority in my life and that is a decision I will never regret. I am not perfect. I have dropped the ball one working with many in the scene, only because I’ve stretched myself too thin. Many of whom probably think I’m either a flake or a fake. I’ve come to terms with that. I will continue to work on balancing motherhood and my passions. I will continue to do what I can and not beat myself up for living up to other’s ideals of me. I have many roles and I am grateful for my that, but my role as a mother is by far the most important.