What I'm not looking forward to as my daughter grows up
Eight (entirely too) short weeks after having my daughter, I put on real clothes again, packed up my breast pump and went back to work. I'm fortunate enough to have a retired dad and a husband with a flexible work schedule, so they tag-teamed so that Baby Nash (“Nashed Potaters” if you fancy) could stay home a little longer. Finally, at nine months, we put her in daycare. And, y’all? The wave of emotion on her first day hit me like a sucker punch. I was not ready.
I figured, say, her first birthday would be more of a thing. OMG. How did this year go by so fast? When did my baby get so big? TIME SLOW DOWN. But after dropping her off for her first day at daycare, I sat at work staring at my computer with one silent tear rolling down my cheek. Hello, Carl Thomas? #Emotional. This was the first time she would be in the care of someone else. This was her first interaction with a big group of stranger-kids. And she was one of the smallest ones. I had to trust that she would be safe and well-cared-for, which was a big deal for a new mama with control/trust issues.
We were both all good within a week's time, her daycare was indeed awesome, but this is a micro-example of a bigger issue for me. My little potato will grow up. And with that, my bubbly, spunky, bright-eyed daughter will have to face people and experiences that won't all be positive. Some of it will be straight trash. And since I can’t put my child in a bubble (right?), I’ve compiled a list of people/things that I’m not particularly looking forward to her experiencing as she grows up:
Obvi. How does one even explain the election of the unqualified bum that y'all call “President” without it? Her home is a place that was founded and bred and sustained by it. How do I balance her childhood innocence with woke-ness? What about her first experience with that uninvited white hand in her hair? (It’s going to happen. It always happens.) Or when she starts comparing herself to the glorified white standards of beauty? Or when she’s first faced with the N-word? I’m already exhausted.
A major side-effect of said long-standing, systematic racism racism. Different forms of self-hate. Respectability politics is thriving. “Good” hair is still a thing. Colorism is still a thing (*lowers glasses* I see y'all brown-skins using those light-skinned emojis. And have you seen Sammy Sosa lately?). Fake-deep hoteps be hoteppin. Homophobia be confused for masculinity. Crabs be in a barrel. Self-hate is a raggedy wench. I would love it if none of this got rubbed off on my kid. Is that even possible?
My daughter is not allowed to date until she’s 25 years old.
Just kidding. LOL.
30 years old.
(Not kidding. No boys until further notice.)
Specifically, Mean Girls. My God, they’re the worst. They do shit like have a big sleepover and invite EVERY GIRL in the class EXCEPT for the one they don’t like. And they make sure she knows she wasn't invited. Ugh. If little Madison tries this with my child. LISTEN.
At only 16 months, Nashed Potaters is already more social than her mother. So something like this would probably hurt her feelings. And my introverted “fuck ‘em, let’s go home” with a shrug probably wouldn’t help here. Will I have to fight little Madison?
J/K. I know it’s wrong to fight kids.
(But if ever there are exceptions to this rule, LMK.)
People in General
My daughter is all into “hello” now. We were in Target recently and she waved and said “hello” to this woman in our aisle. Do you know that lady didn’t say “hi” back?
Beyond rude people, my daughter will come up in a school system that disciplines black girls too harshly. And in a culture that police’s black women’s bodies/hair more than anyone else’s. And around people that harbor negative stereotypes about black women that are a mile long. And, and, and.
Nashed Potaters be like, “Terrible Twos? WHY WAIT?” At 16 months, she’s throwing tantrums at will, ignoring me like a call from an unrecognized number, and she’s recently learned “no” and is saying it just because she can.
Me: Good morning, baby!
She also thinks my phone is *her* property. And when I'm eating, *we're* eating. Essentially, there's a tiny Debo living in my house. I’ll be dealing with a bigger, stronger version of this person when she becomes a “threenager”. And then a teenager. She's already strong-willed and vocal and I don’t ever want to suppress her personality. BUT she'll always need to understand *I’m* the HMIC.
Mr. Nash and I doing pretty well so far. We won the kid lottery, honestly. She's the queen of blowing kisses when she leaves a room, says "thank you" to whoever will listen and she laughs from her belly like her mama. Our daughter is a joy. But she won’t be this tiny person who we can protect and influence forever. She’s going to grow up. She's going to have other influences and develop even more personality and try new things on her own. And that's the way it should be.
As much as I’d like to protect her from any bad thing that can possibly happen to her, the truth of the matter is that she’ll have to go through the good and bad parts of life things in order to become that well-adjusted adult that I’m hoping to raise. All told, she'll have great experiences and meet good people that she'll grow to love and vice-versa. The good will always outweigh the bad and her life is her own to live. My job is to do my best to guide her, advise her, protect her and cheer her on as she grows. I just hope I get it right.