There’s so much to parenting, Detroit. I don’t know a thing about it, but I briefly mentioned something which bristles me in the last post, and wanted to work this out a bit more.

“They just don’t care.”

I’m one of those, one of the Black kids who grew up close to the city, but not in the city after 1st grade. Either way, the financial strain on my single mom to keep us in a neighborhood, Grosse Pointe Woods, for access to a free but well-funded and opportunity rich school district took its toll. Then one day the bubble burst, “I’m really concerned, Brian. I don’t think her mom’s at home.” I’d overheard my then 7th grade nemesis, and now lowkey hero*, Mrs. Avery discussing me with my guidance counselor. It was after school, I was milling around and happened to overhear it, I had a lot of trouble that year and my mom really wasn’t at home.

“I have to do this for us.”

My mom has taught me one really huge lesson– if you can’t put it all on the line for your kid(s), don’t have them. By having me, she made me her whole world, even while being a working parent. When I was really young, she managed an adult foster care home, shortly prior to the move to the ‘burbs she became a licensed owner while also being a full-time hospital employee and a mom. My mommy the superpower has been through everything and has lost major fixtures of strong support systems– parents, a brother, my father (he husband), and lived in a completely different state as her extended family. All we had is each other and that was rooted in partnership. There’s not much value in having a child-partner though. We don’t earn much (or anything at all if you don’t work outside the home ie. me) and you have to sign off on all of our stuff. While my mom managed to keep me everywhere she went, I couldn’t go to her full time job. Cut to me setting off a security alarm in our comfy house in safe GPW. The police where there before Brinks even rang the landline, I’d paged my mom, and had a close family friend on the phone as they knocked on the door. I was **7. I’d done everything as taught, I said something like my sitter had just run home for a textbook because she was taking me to school and then going off to class too. The cops did leave us alone, my mom is a pristine queen, so the house was laid. They had a conversation with her though.

“You can’t do that, okay? They’ll take you away from me.”

That moment prepared me for hearing Mrs. Avery figure me, the difficult kid who wasn’t turning in assignments in her honors social studies class, out. I was ready, I ran into something and coughed. Excused myself and hit her with, “oh! Hi! I was trying to find you to give you this. I have to hurry home though, my mom’s waiting for me, we’re going to dinner.” I showed her, but mom wasn’t at home. My mom not being there wasn’t my issue, I knew what she was doing and why she was doing it– for us. While every underpaid parent is living their life, trying to do the best for their children, their children are living too. Going to school, learning about historical art pieces, coloring, dinosaurs, making friends, learning who to avoid, and cultivating skills. Sometimes they can share these lessons with their parents when they have time. They also learn how to rationalize the differences between their parents and others who appear to have easier. We learn how to protect our parent’s image because the ones who have it all are threatening. Or the ones who threaten to take the parent away just don’t know what they’ve been working for. All I know is I spent so much time keeping myself in line just enough so my mom didn’t have to worry when I was out of her site, I’ve thrived while being a working adult by just “figuring it out.”

“Only the strong survive.”

This is true. Behind every strong single parent, is a strong little one. Burdened with the weight of childhood curiosities, and rationalizing because your parent needs all of the support they don’t have. There is so much more to their life than “not caring” and more to the kid’s life than being strong and keeping to together. These lives aren’t often perfect, but at least for me having the time for my mom just to be a mom with me just being a kid- that was great. It was perfect and so easy. Then you have to go to work and I have to go to school and everyone else makes it a bit harder. I’ll always love my mommy.

*Mrs. Avery was right. I said I didn’t do well because I wasn’t supposed to be in honors social studies. I was going through turmoil, she gave me grief and my mom had to defend me. I hit 4.0s in all classes 3rd quarter. Mrs. Keogh also tried to wreck me that year, she loved me, and I got her too though. Shoutout to the good ones who are perceptive but don’t always respond with clear understanding.

**I might’ve been 8, I just know I was young.