I always knew the day would come. From his entrance in 1993. His in 1998. Then she came in 2001. 2004. And 2006.
2008, I packed up my single life in Los Angeles and made my trek to Atlanta to get custody of my sister’s children. Her five children.
I made this privy decision after the second girl was born in 2004. When “it” was now apparent in my mother. I could hear “it” in her voice. But “it” was loudest in her silence. The flat breath that would catch happiness and linger trapped between her sighs. My mother not being able to enjoy the fruits of being a grandmother because she was in a position of subordination to being a mother all over again. Her angered disappointment, which is different from both anger and disappointment. Her thanksgiving needing to be a holiday of receiving. Our conversations gave guilt to the quiet jazz filled afternoons in my LA apartment. Our conversations consistently robbed Roy Hargrove and I of the enjoyment of our new bottle of chilled riesling. I needed to resolve. The options: the kids become wards of the state or raised by my mother, who had become quite lenient with her home rules and expectations. Foster care had already been in the picture. The kids had already been split up before. The boys stayed together but the oldest girl, only five months old, was sent to be cared for by another family. Stories formed with the youngest boy being mistreated by another child in a foster home. Stories of the kids crying at the end of visitations upon not being satisfied with the answers they received to their inquisitons, “can I come home yet?”
I wanted to create another story. Help write another ending for them. After all, intergenerational family rearing is nothing new to most cultures. Even my grandparents’ modest three bedroom home had ever revolving doors to their nine children and 17+ grandchildren so this decision seemed natural for me too. But like most, I presume, who choose this, we do not see the stories that await us. The stories of the hard adjustment to living in a new city, the demands of your time (or what used to be), the depression, the anxiety, creating a personal/social life with five kids, dating, finding the “mommy button” and the arduous task of re-membering who I am and re-inventing my self as a woman, artist and active aunt of five. Some stories are funny and some are serious. From journal entries to day to day tales, this blog is about me going from zero to five in 32 hours.