In wake of the “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries and looking back on the life and upbringing of Cyntoia Brown, I have been super cognizant lately of my role as mother bird, caregiver, co-parent, and shero for my daughters. I can’t seem to stop looking at them (my children) and asking myself, “are they okay”, “will they be okay”, “when they look at me, do they think I am okay”…. There are no perfect parents and there are no perfect children; but, there are perfect opportunities to nurture a parent-child relationship.
While some mother birds do disappear, I deeply admire the bird who covers her eggs to keep them warm– protecting her babies while their brains and bodies are still developing and, if it comes down to it, fighting the hungry gulls that try to hurt them.
To the mother birds:
1. Let your young know they are smart. Affirm them.
2. Let them know they are beautiful or handsome. Re-affirm them.
3. Let them know they are enough. Value them.
4. Let them know they matter. Show them.
5. Pick them up and spin them around. In other words, love them radically.
6. Believe them.
7. Fight for them.
8. Protect them and make them feel safe.
9. Remind them they are yours.
10. Be instinctual, attunded, and meaningful when it comes to teaching lessons.
11. Check into your personal state of being. They take their cues from you.
12. That actually did affect you when you were younger. Acknowledge and unpack it in counseling and get a healing plan. (When culture hurts, effective therapy helps.)
13. Never let economic abuse/pressure or not being able to provide certain needs be an excuse.
14. Teach them to fly, and give them courage to one day leave the nest.
15. Build your nest carefully–giving them fond memories of their environment. For one day, they will return.
Clinnesha is a writer, wife, mom, meta-artist, and social entrepreneur who feels most accountable to southern, black citizen-artists, elders, children, and families. Her work is at the intersection of arts, culture, innovation, and community.