It is the day before my middle child Ezra's birthday. He will be three years old.
I spent part of my evening sobbing in a Target parking lot while I ran out to get batteries.
I wasn't crying because my child is growing up and I want to keep him little. I wasn't crying because I was thinking back to his birth, to how hard we fought to get him here after miscarriages and unexplained secondary infertility. I wasn't even crying because I was feeling the exhaustion of trying to make sure he has a special birthday in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Out of our three kids, Ezra is for sure the most extroverted, the most brash, the most loud, the most extra. While his brothers are quieter and more reserved, he has no boundaries and he is convinced everyone is his friend ready to watch him perform and entertain them.
He is the child that we worry about the most.
Naturally Sean and I worry about all of our children but we know his wild spirit is something that can't and won't be tamed and as he gets older he is going to become even more of a hurricane with his personality. He is destined to be a star in some way.
I was crying because I am heart-broken at thinking that all of that light could be easily snuffed out simply because one day he won't merely be a cute extroverted kid. He will grow up to be a black adult, the melanin in his skin darkening as he ages like his older brothers did, and all of the joy and pain that comes from being black. The joy and the pain that always go hand in hand because they always co-exist.
I was thinking about how once Ezra and Nate and Micah are adults, and naturally they will have their own lives and will be living their lives still connected but likely separate from us. How I will live in fear of a phone call saying they didn't make it through an encounter with the police. How I have nightmares at night seeing the faces and bodies of my beautiful sweet children grown up, being held down at the neck by a cops knee, being shot with a cops gun, as they cry out for me as George Floyd cried out for his mother. How I wake up sweat drenched and near tears, only to see the small bodies of my toddlers curled up next to me, safe another day, knowing my teenager has his lanky body snuggled up in his bed, safe another day. I sigh with relief that there is another day, one more day, just one more day, where they are safe and with me.
I was crying thinking about how I should just be celebrating but I was sitting in my car feeling like my heart was breaking with fear and anger and pain.
I cried it out. I got myself together. I went in Target, got the batteries, and went home to my smiling, happy kids and my wonderful husband who were glad to see me. I let their joy envelop me like the gift that it was.
This is what it means to be a black mama, of black children. It is constantly having the fear nipping at your heels while you try to chase the joy.