Serenity Sunday: The Family Edition

What’s up, fam.

I hope everyone is good, or getting there at least. I hope those of us who need to are letting go of things we don’t have to hold onto anymore. I pray everyone is taking care, because going through a pandemic and a revolution at the same time is requiring tremendous energy.

Black people are the ones whose deaths have garnered national attention amidst both public health care emergencies. This is prompting us to have more affectionate relationships with our children when, not too long ago, all we needed them to be was strong. Also, in many ways, we still need them to be [strong].

Despite all of the paradoxes of being black in America, including those that divide and complicate our very own communities, I’ve always been driven by my aspirations to be a wife and mom. And still, I speak life over my family!

In this new day, with significant time focused on family and all of our interactions being based at home, I have spent the last couple of months deeply reflecting on cycles and patterns as they relate to home care, self-care, and relationship-building.

Girl, you know you can let things pile up and accumulate….You know you can’t let exhaustion get the best of you like this…. You should have thought about that before you said it/screamed it….When was the last time you smiled?

Y’all, it’s rough; and that’s because we tend to get trapped in our feelings, our past, and our stubborn ways. We end up repeating practices that do us and our families no good. It’s almost in our nature to fall backwards if we aren’t waking up daily with the instinct to Surrender and go to war with our minds.

“[We are] forever making peace with the reality that we cannot protect our loved ones from everything.

My parents had a way of keeping conflict quiet. My mom had a rule: “No fighting, just loving.” The rule planted itself so deeply, I have gone my entire life never engaging in one physical altercation. Now, Mama did send me and my sister off to settle things on our own before she had to “get involved”, which was a pretty good conflict resolution tactic.

Marriage and motherhood, I’m learning, requires that we learn to manage disagreements and misunderstandings in order to take true responsibility for our behaviors and actions. It is not always best to choose the flight method. Things really have to get addressed and resolved if we want truly healthy homes. We must learn to fight fair and well.

When I was little, I imagined having a family of five, and this was long before my HBCU education that opened my eyes to how slavery affected African-American families and how its legacy continues to linger in our homes and relationships. The ultimate goal of the black family is I believe– and I’m quoting Maya Angelou– to be the dream and hope of the slave.

In the paper, “How Slavery Affected African-American Families”, Heather Andrea Williams reminds us:

“Some enslaved people lived in nuclear families with a mother, father, and children. In these cases each family member belonged to the same owner. Others lived in near-nuclear families in which the father had a different owner than the mother and children. Both slaves and slaveowners referred to these relationships between men and women as “abroad marriages.” A father might live several miles away on a distant plantation and walk, usually on Wednesday nights and Saturday evenings to see his family.”

Brokenness has always been a barrier and complication for [us] no matter if we’re looking at it in terms of family or the self. The majority of black families understand this brokenness can become a curse, and requires intentionality to address and destroy the historically damaging patterns.

In this new day, we have to acknowledge the non-positive cycles or negative narratives are our families are rooted in. That’s not easy. In fact, it’s harrowing, embarrassing, and painstaking to ask the questions:

Is there alcoholism here; fear of experiencing new things; an inability to show expression, pride, prejudiced ideas about people of color or LGBTQ people [Do you come from a racist or homophobic family?]. Is there habitual lying or domestic violence? Are we aggressive in nature? Are we dangerous?

It’s radical. We have to be radical.

Today’s happy homes are homes that are into un-doing and re-writing. They look at hard tradition to peel off what’s harmful to members of their family as well as an evolving society.

I reference all this to say that my personal home is not a palace for the exalted. It’s a practice field where two people who have chosen each other are trying to position a team to come out whole, unharmed, and ready for the real experience. It helps when there are two coaches with amazing synergy, but one really great coach can do a phenomenal job as well.

My husband and I love coaching together. We both have different tactics and personalities. We show up for the team in special ways. We even have different relationships with our Maker. Similar to how there are different love languages, I’ve also learned that it is okay that a husband and wife’s God-bonds are unique. Maybe you don’t pray about the same things or go to God with the same concerns in the same hour, and that is okay. If our faith walk is different, it kind of makes sense that our spiritual landscape doesn’t look exactly like our life partner’s.

We all deserve to be in healthy relationships and raise our children under the best of circumstances– forever making peace with the reality that we cannot protect our loved ones from everything. We all deserve to be loved and, those of us who desire to raise children, value ourselves and project joy, can absolutely do this difficult thing called life/parenthood. Whether the home is nuclear or not, foundation-laying and cycle-breaking works.

In loving memory of Austin Wanzo. 💙

Rest and reflection is important to our healing. I will be taking a break from my blogging platform to soul-search, focus on my family, our health and wellness. Serenity Sunday will resume on August 2nd. You can still follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@clinneshawrites). ❤️

Clinnesha is a writer, wife, mom, playwright, literary artist, humanities scholar, and social entrepreneur. Her work is at the intersection of black/feminist thought, arts, culture, and community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s