The earliest memories I have are laying in a crib watching my surroundings and wondering where I was. I remember hearing the song Ben by Michael Jackson played occasionally. When the music wasn’t playing, the house was quiet. This song, which I’ve heard endlessly and loved, was released in 1972. I was born in 1973. These memories used to pop up often, but not so much as my life became filled with my own responsibilities like working and raising my own children with my husband.
It wasn’t until years later, when I was an adult that my mummy told me something that shocked me. I was absolutely SHOOK (in todays vernacular)! Mummy feared a whole lot and was very strict with me. I don’t recall what prompted the conversation, but she revealed to me that one day while she was on the bus with me as a baby in Chicago, this lady, who mummy didn’t know (a stranger), commented on how beautiful I was. The lady offered to care for me during the week while my mummy worked. Mummy accepted the offer, so I spent my days at this lady’s house. Mummy would meet the lady somewhere at the beginning of the week and hand me to her. I don’t recall if it was for weeks or months.
This definitely speaks to the different time we live in now (or even 20 years ago) because no matter how nice a person appears, I would never let a stranger who is not a child care provider and I’m paying, or who just offers because she is kind, babysit my children. If I did that when my kids were growing up, I would never hear the end of it, especially from mummy. I was shocked she would allow this.
I have empathy for her and the choices she had to make as an immigrant woman who came to this country to make a better life for herself and her children. She didn’t know she would face this life without her abusive husband, my father. She had limited education and was the single parent to 4 children living in the big city of Chicago. She did what she had to do.
In those early memories, I don’t recall being unhappy. I just lay there, watched, and listened. I was fine. Later on in the eighties, I was one of those latchkey kids who knew how to take care of myself.
God’s grace and covering were on us.
I’m so thankful for mummy’s sacrifices and her putting me on the path to do better for my children.