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Real Life, Mama

Work in Progress

I didn’t know a baby could be a weapon
And it took nearly 7 years to see what she represented
While idling on my phone
I came across a mention
Not of me
(Though it could have been)
Or so I felt

But wasn’t this only evidence again
Of putting myself at the centre of a stain?
Of pain
Done to others without intent
It doesn’t matter
That’s in your head
Not theirs
They give no fucks for how you felt
And that’s as it should be


But then again

When my presence was questioned by a straight cis man
Who raised an objection to the baby who can
Override the purpose and the higher plan
That her pangs for my breasts
Were reminders of the absence of a man
Who was promised to appear
Whose absence made things unclear
Because babies are weapons if they can’t disappear
When needed to

This man
Who said in an interview earlier that year
That, although he was married,
He might be queer,

Not in reality

In actuality
He had a wife
And three children

She drove the mini van with the food
Brought to impress the VIP who looked straight through her as she fixed me,
The imposter
In her glare


The one who dared to use a language rightly hers
Whose years of toil had borne no flesh


Whose weaponised baby born of love
Between two people whose separate pasts united them
In ways unforseeable
Or feelable
By those for whom their baby’s mixedness represented only privilege

A result that deserves no praise
For who would applaud an outcome already appraiseable?
From the point of view of those who think it’s typical
Of women like me.

To use a whiteness undemanded
To speak in words not founded
Not visibly grounded
In experience

And to birth a brown child who’ll grow to ask questions
Now directed at her mother by childless professors
Who give no fucks for the feelings of white women
Using stolen feminism
To demand attention
And to draw energy from the edification
Of a space too small to contain the ego of a mother rejected.

I understood it then
Though they didn’t know
Because I couldn’t show
How thoughts messed with feelings of fierce protection
Onto a baby whose needs
Overrode any mental ability
To see
The mental agility
Needed to understand
That events don’t cede to plans
And it might be my fault
But this is the reality of a world that tells us
That we’re right but we’re not

Or only partly

But I can’t take heart in it

Because I burned some bridges
Though I might not have started it
And I can’t hide behind hormones
For that’s just asking for it
And playing a game
From which it’s best to refrain
If I want to be a serious player in what isn’t really a game
It’s, as my now six year old would say,
Real life, mama

I reject the man who struck the blow
On behalf of his teacher
Whose lessons he believed more
Than his wife and lover
Another mother
Whose stories he liked to tell to others
While her photography
Was relegated to the past
Which could not last
Because of his graft.

She didn’t know that he’d be the feminist in her stead
That she’d be too busy bringing bread
To parties
Where she wasn’t invited
But from which she could transport
Ejected mothers and deadly babies
Back to the safety
Of the decoy brown man who
Or so it might be claimed
But not in vain.

Because whatever might be said
In vexed discussions on Facebook threads
Not all stories are the same

And these two knew
Their child was dyed in the same hue
Of their ancestors
On both sides
Who, though a million miles apart
Were dealt the same cards

And in their hearts
They carried their dissatisfaction
And felt the same need to dart
And flit
Like inconsolable
Lost souls
Looking for a place to call home
But knowing it was impossible
Of ever being able
To make that call.

And trying to be appeased
And pleased
If that’s the word
That no one is forcing them to flee
At least for now

And this is the story of the reason
Why, whatever the season
I will not use motherhood to lay blame
Or shame
Lay claim
To higher knowledge
Or greater ability
Or demand I be listened to
While others won’t be.

I know that’s not what I did

I have to tell myself
I am not the white mother on that thread
However I felt
Whatever was said
By those whose feat
Was to deny two mothers, one Black, a shared seat.

My label it appears
Was more significant
Than my commitment
Which is still constant
Not just for me
Nor because of my delivery
From a past legacy
Whose pain is sometimes too weighty
To bear
But for my future

For the one who has to exist in
Real life, mama.

Alana Lentin