Passing the Torch and a Ribbon Pinning


There’s a reason that I haven’t really been writing about the cellist this year. I’m pouting. He’s graduating from 8th grade in a few days, and I’m kind of having an emotional boycott. Yeah, I said it. The time has come where I have turned into a full-fledged sobbing mother. You see, the cellist and I go back a ways. 14 years ago, I was just a kid in college, who happened to have a kid. I was a statistic, and several people didn’t mind reminding me of that each and every day that I walked out of my front door. The cellist, or – big breath – Nathaniel to most who know him, didn’t know that according to society, I was meant to be a failure. A mom by 20, who wasn’t married to the father of her child wasn’t a place that most people saw themselves. Nowadays, celebrities seem to make it a cool thing to be, but a celebrity I wasn’t. 

Nathaniel and I spent many days when he was an infant in my little apartment in Waukesha, Wisconsin staring at each other trying to figure out this thing called life. He ate and slept and laughed, and pooped, and I attended classes and worked a modest job at Dairy Queen. He attended daycare at La Casa de Esperanza, and I still worked and went to class. 

As you can see here, he grew up, and so did I. I married Mr. Houseful – who also happens to be Nathaniel’s biological father. Who woulda thunk it! So many things didn’t work according to my plans, and if I step back and take notice, I realize that while I may have taken an alternate route, my destiny is still the same. 

I’m destined to be the mom of an awesome set of children – even if there is an 8 year age difference between my first and second. I was destined to marry Mr. Houseful, even if we did have our first child seven years before saying our vows. I was destined to have a kid that challenged me in more ways than I could ever imagine. Between raising a God-fearing, respectful AND respectable young man, I also wanted to raise someone who was sensitive to the plights of others, and didn’t take himself too seriously. I wanted to raise someone who could look back and say that they were proud of the mom that I was. I may not ever hear him say it, but I think maybe, sometimes, he thinks it. 


During this ribbon pinning ceremony (which reminds me of a pinning ceremony in the military) one parent from each family was called up to put the ceremonial ribbon on their child. It made me so happy to see parents come up and whisper things unknown into the ears of their children as they attached the blue and gold ribbon to the shirts and dresses of these young children. 

I’m not sure that the weight of the ceremony hit me until Nathaniel’s name was called, and I wondered what I would say to him as I pinned the ribbon on. 

Fortunately, I said what I’ve always thought, “I’m so proud of you, and it’s awesome being  your mom. Thank you for the privilege and honor, ” and he smiled. He even let me kiss him on the cheek – no recoiling, no embarrassment. For a moment, all was right in the world. We were back again to that two bedroom apartment in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Just me and him. Instead this time I looked up to him, and knew that no matter what society said about little black boys in Chicago, he is the most awesome of them all. 

AND I didn’t cry. I’ll save those tears for his graduation. 



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