Life Support

Introducing Mama P./

Along with the horrors that 2020 has wrought on my life—especially the sudden closure of my 8-year old brick and mortar business, the pandemic went on to reveal some silver linings. No longer busy and instead, encouraged to stay at home, I was furnished with time and space to write.

I also became a grandparent—a profound gift during a profound moment in history. It is in this context that I begin this newsletter and I am thrilled and grateful that you have read this far! Thank you —I think you will like it here! :)

Mama P. Writes includes 3 types of posts:

Hand-Me-Downs: I am interested in the things we pass down and around, intentionally and unintentionally in our relationships, what we carry forth wittingly and unwittingly, what values and rituals we treasure and in what ways we never want to be like our mothers or fathers.

Homeschooling Reflections: These posts will reflect on the 5 years I spent as co-director of a homeschooling family with a child on the autism spectrum. 2020 will be remembered, in part, as the year families were forced into an educational model that I chose voluntarily and from which I learned so much.

Kitchen Sink: Any topic that’s on my mind about which I have thoughts and opinions and not very many answers: From Black Lives Matter to Bird Watching, Cancer to Shadeism, Growing Readers to Grand-parenting, Tips and Tricks for Living, Books, Podcasts, Films I’ve enjoyed, and so much more!

I guarantee that you will learn a little bit about a lot of things.

Why should you subscribe?

Interesting

Informative

Honest.

We all have a story to tell — mine is, if I might say so, pretty interesting. Childhood in Jamaica with a large boisterous family and a larger than life mother, the homeschooling years, raising an autistic child, scary cancer journey, family estrangement, running a small business, and now, becoming a grandmother. I am here for it—writing and sharing all manner of things to inspire, entertain and educate.

A version of the following story was frequently told by my mother, Jennie. This little girl went on to become my mother. She was an awesome, awe-inspiring and quite awful mother, to whom I owe so much. Why did my mother share such horrific stories with her children? What message was she wanting to hand down to us?

THE DOLL

“Jeeennnnnie! Come inside!” Jennie’s mother called from somewhere upstairs in the faded wood clapboard house.

“Cooo-ming!” Jennie returned, not taking her eyes off the doll. There’s a brown girl in the ring, traa-la-la-lala! There’s a brown girl in the ring, traa-la-la-lala! 

She held the doll’s porcelain hands and tap danced the little feet in white plastic shoes along the wooden railing, down the five concrete steps that led from the kitchen into the grassy backyard. The rectangular space was edged with a barbed wire fence, broken intermittently by waist-high tree stumps. On each post was a potted plant, her mother’s favorites: a colorful croton, flaming red euphorbia and a variety of ferns. Her mother loved plants, speaking softly to them, encouraging them to grow and thrive.

“Jennie! Come!” Her mother’s voice had an edge that Jennie either did not notice or chose to ignore.

She had named her Merry because she had come from that far away place A-Meri-Ca, a gift from her auntie who had migrated and promised to send her something special. She’d waited patiently for days then weeks, annoying her mother with the daily question, Any packages came today? until finally the tightly wrapped brown paper parcel covered in smudged postal circles and paper stamps, arrived just the day before.

The doll wore a white blouse with multi-colored embroidery, and a swirly rainbow skirt. Her head, arms and legs were made of smooth white porcelain but her torso was soft—Jennie loved to tickle and blow pretend bubbles on Merry’s belly.

She leaned in, her face nuzzling against the doll’s nose, “You have to be careful of boys not seeing under your skirt,” she admonished, giggling and tugging at the wavy brocaded hem.

You’re so pretty! You’re so pretty! Wish I had a little mirror, just to show you how pretty you are!” Her fingers circled Merry’s waist and she began to swing the doll from side to side, lifting, swaying, laughing as the skirt billowed with her movements, squealing with delight,“Whee! Here we go up-up-up! Whee! Here we go up-up-up!”

Suddenly, as she held Merry way up high, she felt the doll being ripped out of her hands. Her mother grunted and spun on her heels then moved quickly to the steps which minutes before had been their stage. Jennie watched as Merry’s head, now upside down, with eyes wide open in fright, fall over her mother’s shoulder, and then she heard the loud crack. And another. Shards of porcelain scattered like a flock of startled birds, flying up and all about before tinkling down and finally coming to rest. Her mother threw the broken doll down and turned to Jennie.

She delivered a quick hard slap to her bare arm and learning forward she hissed, “That’s to remind you that when I call, it’s not com-ing,” she spat out this last word and shook her head sharply, “you, come, immediately!”

Straightening, she turned on her heels and without a glance at the smashed doll, Jennie watched silently as her mother walked slowly up the steps into the house. //


I never met my grandmother, directly, however I certainly met her indirectly, through my mother’s mothering and through stories such as this one.

I look forward to greeting you here and thank you in advance for the trust conveyed by your subscription.

Warmly, Mama P./