When I held Row in my arms for the very first time, drowsy and pumped full of surgery drugs, my whole world shifted. He was so small and innocent. He smelled so good. He nuzzled in quickly and trusted me to provide all of the things he needed to survive. And I felt a giant wave of love and anxiety. What was I supposed to do with him now that I had him here in my arms?
I had been hoping for a baby for a very long time. When I got divorced from my first husband, the biggest grief I worked through was the loss of children I never had and never would have. I promised myself in those darkest times that if I wasn’t partnered by 35, I would find a way to be a single mom. Even when I went through a period of time when I questioned why I wanted to be a mom and if I should be a mom, I still wanted a baby deep down no matter what logic told me.
So, when I got married to the love of my life (Seriously. I will choose Michael everyday. He’s my music.), I was pretty dead set on getting pregnant as soon as I could convince him he was ready.
And then we did get pregnant. It was August 2019, pre-pandemic, and the two of us went into the bathroom together to see if the stick I had just peed on was positive. We were both overjoyed and laughed a lot about our positive discovery. We couldn’t even wait one day to tell our families. Who am I kidding? I told my parents and closest friends about twenty minutes after realizing our baby was already growing inside of my womb.
Which brings me back to that very first meeting—here he was, the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, and now what?
When I talk to other parents about raising their children, they all say similar things. They want to raise a good person: someone who stands up for what is right, someone who is compassionate and empathetic, someone who doesn’t ignore the needs of the people in their community. But how does one parent in a way that ensures this can happen?
I have been a teacher, a minister with children and families, a student of education and social justice, and a creator of resources that seek to dismantle the foundations of colonial Christianity. I have counseled children and their parents, led trainings about choosing curriculum, and consulted with churches as they set their visions and missions for the children in their congregations and communities. But I keep coming back to this question: How do I raise Row to be antiracist, feminist, inclusive, and free of the garbage that too many of us grew up with? How on earth do you raise, from the beginning, a good person?
Let’s find out together.