Leading up to any birthday party one expects a certain amount of anxiety. But, I was in super anxious mode during my youngest son’s 4th birthday party. The day of the party I had so many competing priorities. From work projects I was dreading putting off until Sunday, to a choice between having a well-groomed lawn or clean house and all with only about 5 hours to complete both projects. Needless to say, I was slightly overwhelmed. So, it was no surprise that when my guest arrived I was not ready. The cake and ice cream were still at the grocer, the games were unplanned and the kids were just running wild.
During the thick of the party my first and closest cousin, who we call Chinky, saw my frustration and said to me.
“Muffy,” which is what my family calls me, “Do you remember when we were kids. When we had parties we just played.” That statement was enough to put me at ease.
One of my biggest issues with parenting these days is the attempt by America to hijack the experience and turn it into this USDA certified organic, kid-proofed, DIY all the time series of never-ending events. When I was growing up my mom didn’t care whether our food was organic or generic. We played outside until the street lights came on. And the answer to most questions was “Because I said so.” Not to mention, when we had a birthday party so did the grown-ups. That meant that they played two games with us, one of which was always either a dance contest or musical chairs, which I swear was for their own personal enjoyment more than for ours. What I remember most about those parties is that it was there that I formed some of my fondest childhood memories. In those instances of little parental supervision, we made one of our oldest cousins eat bubbles and he couldn’t talk for three days. At those parties, we made up dance steps and created games that were more fun than any adult could ever fathom.
Anyone who knows me (the Muffy version of me) knows I value the uniqueness of the African American perspective and I really want to pass the positives of that experience on to my children. A large part of that is allowing my life to flow the way my family did when we were kids.
My mom didn’t care if the chicken was fed corn or not when she fried it. She was just trying to feed her babies. That’s why I always have kids at my house, keep some Marshmallow Stars (the generic version of Lucky Charms) in my cupboard and will occasionally give my kids beans and franks for lunch. Yes there are always problems we can point to in the African American community, but why not embrace the things that have made you unequivocally and greatly YOU! Now that’s what a Brown Mama does!