My almost 4-year-old Grayson and 10-month-old Gavin are my rainbow and golden babies. They interject a certain kinetic energy into our home and breathe life, joy, love, and excitement daily. As a stay at home mom, I get the pleasure of witnessing these beautiful boys learn, grow, imagine, dream, and defy limitations as they navigate the world through their child-like prisms and exemplify #blackboyjoy. I wish I could bottle up their delight because I know this stage of innocence, exploration, and wonder will not last forever.
I also know the flip side of this joy infused life. It is one of heartbreak, hurt, confusion, anger, isolation, and more. Prior to experiencing this newfound level of contentment as a boy-mom, I experienced the tragic loss of my firstborn son DJ.
He is my angel baby who was born still at 28-weeks’ gestation five years ago, on January 18, 2016. I made a promise to DJ before I said my forever goodbyes that I would honor his legacy in all that I do. I’ve used my voice, my platform, and my community outreach to spread his name high and wide. In the midst of sharing DJ’s story with the masses, I’ve found ways to cope with my own grief so I could move forward in my healing. Although I’ve done the work (i.e. through mindset shifts, prayer, devotionals, seeking wise counsel from a therapist, building a support system around me, and facing the vast emotions of grief head-on), I still think about DJ constantly and imagine what life would be like if he were present physically.
Like many parents who’ve had to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives after loss, and who’ve gone on to have rainbow babies, I find myself being overly protective of my two living children because as a mother of loss I know the alternative. I would be remiss if I didn’t add, although my rainbow and golden babies bring me joy they can never replace DJ. Rainbow/[golden] babies are not replacement babies. They do not erase the fractures of a broken heart but they can help to restore it.
Unfortunately, not only am I protective of my sons’ well being as a baby loss mom tasked with the challenge of mothering after loss, but I also have to be overly protective as a black mom with young black kings growing up in America.
As Gray and Gav grow bigger and taller in stature, they will likely begin to transition from being cute, sweet little boys, with million-dollar smiles, dimpled filled cheeks, and boisterous laughs in the eyes of mainstream America to stereotyped and viewed through a lens that weaponizes their skin and criminalizes their very existence. It’s disheartening as a mom to know you can try to do everything in your power to protect your children in your womb, birth them into this world, love, nurture, and affirm them behind the four walls of your home, prepare them for the injustices they may face out and about, but once you release them out into the world you can’t fully protect them. Quite frankly, it’s a scary proposition to ponder.
What I want the loss community to know while you’re reading this blog post, during Black History Month, is that while these unfortunate racial disparities exist in everyday systems we interact with regularly (i.e. healthcare, education, etc.), black parents, like all parents – simply want what is best for our children.
My ultimate hope is one day we will see a world where my sons no longer have to learn how to navigate systems that were literally built to oppress people that look like them. But that they will be able to live their lives out loud granting themselves permission to operate as their authentic selves, following their passions, living out their purposes, and operating from a stance of freedom. But, if these systems never disappear in my lifetime or theirs I simply want Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words to echo in the chambers of society and ring true in the lives not only of my sons but all children as they move from adolescence to adulthood. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” These are the sentiments that keep me up at night as I raise a rainbow and golden baby dipped in melanin.