Monday, May 13, 2013

To My Mama on Mother's Day (Baby On the Hip Tho Remix)

 I got a baby on my hip yo
What, what, what!!

I got a baby on my hip tho
My tummy's flat and buff

I got a baby on my hip right
That's my sugarpie
Me and my baby gonna ride or die 


I don't know why I thought of that rhyme but I did. I was sort of daydreaming and there was this scene of a woman with a baby on her hip but she was dancing like Beyonce (in my head though). I identified the thought as a sort of mental music video.  Next, I started to hear the beat.  I made up the words. And finally I did actually dance it too but that part is private. 


Anyway it's Mother's Day and I woke up thinking about my mom. She's been very ill for several weeks with several different ailments. She was crying earlier because she feels so badly. She's got this awful bronchial cough going on and it racks her when she coughs.

It's always jarring to think of yourself as you are right now, then consider that your parents were once this same age....and then most jarring of all to realize that they were your age when YOU were actually here in the world. They were young. As you young as you are but with kids. 

And that made me remember being a very young child and what she was like then. Very young and beautiful. Her most commented upon feature was her hair. She had hair that was so thick and long that it waved and flowed down her back and over her shoulders. Many women pay good, dear sums of money to purchase hair in sufficient amounts to achieve this cascading waterfall effect that my mother had naturally.

 In old pictures you can see her sitting with a baby on her lap, hair perfect and gorgeous. If you were on her hip then playing with her hair was a thing to do. "Stop it. Stop it," she said often in alternating tones of semi-boredom or excruciating pain and panic. "STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!!!" That was my brother who generally elicited the screams. He was just a toddler sitting on the hip and his little fat hands would get tangled in her hair, she'd freak out and try to make him stop, he'd pull, there would be drama. "KELLI!! COME GET HIM!!" she'd be screaming. So then I'd come and hold the baby just so and she'd wriggle out of the hair clench, take some deep breaths, then recover the baby from me and pop him back on her hip.

Mom complains so about her knees and her arthritis these days but even she doesn't realize that these are not just some kind of old folks' complaint but injuries she procured in the heat of battle.She became a figure of aero-dynamics with a baby on the hip.  Like an athlete or a soldier or a dancer perhaps she was able to enact amazing feats as long as she had a baby on the hip. It is strange because my mother is fiercely non-energetic. She adores furniture, chiefly the chaise lounge above all other pieces. She does not enjoy "activity" as she terms it. But you'd never know that if you had been around her when she was about age 30 with babies in tow. 

It was just me and my brother Chip and her. She often says that as an only child herself she didn't understand and still doesn't our sibling-hood relationship. She just can't imagine it. She says, "I had no one to play with. But that's okay. I had some babies and then I did have someone to play with!" And thinking back there is no denying that she was a superior playmate. However it should be noted that most children who discover that their parent is a superior playmate tend to be screwed when the time comes for superior parenting. This was not the case with my mother. She was a fantastic and effective parent AND playmate. 

 Now as an adult woman facing her last years of fertility I can see how difficult it is to do the tasks she did and even more so, how difficult to do those tasks with the resounding success that she achieved. Down to the smallest details she got it right and everyone knows how  hard it is to get those right; in fact those small details require such skill that you can't truly understand unless you have been intimately tied to the process. I'm thinking of such things as physically maneuvering oneself over a number of years with multiple children on the hip. She could even function with each child on either hip!!

People would come to our home and be amazed by any number of things because confronting my mother's alpha female dominance in the home sphere causes amazement. . But if I had to choose one single activity or action to sum up her amazing-ness then I would have to say that the Baby Flip Thing is the example that incited the greatest awe unanimously.

By the time I was two-and-a-half my mother and I had created this game that could only have come about because I was always on her hip. My grandmother and all the other old ladies would fuss at her "Put that girl down! You keep on coddling her!! Let her walk she don't need you all hugged up on her all the time!!" Both Mother and  I were very offended by this meddling and we continued to stay hugged up on the hip together. 

We did everything together. After my half day at school she would pick me up and we'd go finish the day's errands before coming home for lunch. "What you want for lunch Kell-Kell?" Then after we had our lunch it was time for nap. We had our nap in my parents' big bed while the soaps played so we could "listen while we're sleeping" my mother said. Sometimes I did not want to take a nap. This did not matter. Mommy would put the flat of her palm on my face and press it to the bed.. "Rest!" she'd say. "But I'm not--!!" ...."Yes. Yes you are tired." she insisted. This argument has not yet been fully resolved. However I remained in bed and had my "nap" no matter if I slept.

This close proximity bred its own kind of fun. We had a game we played for when it was time to get off her hip. I would stand facing her with our hands interlocked. Then I would walk up her legs several steps until I reached her waist. From waist- point I launched backwards and did a full flip landing in starting position on both feet at the finish. When my brother arrived in the family and got big enough at about 18 months old he too did flips. 

Once, on the plane to Chicago, which was only about an hour fifteen minutes away (this was back in the day) my mother sat in First Class and distracted my brother from Baby Rage (which strikes screaming infants on planes and causes brief but intense thought of murder in everyone located within proximity of screaming infant) by doing Baby Flips. To be precise, my brother did the Baby Flips but she served steadfast in her role as the post of whatever. The other passengers on the plane were deeply awed. Also they were entertained. It turned into a flight off watching our baby flipping when it could have been a terrible, torturous flight of Baby Rage. 

That didn't happen in your family? Right. You didn't have my amazing mom. Some people have families where infants scream on planes. But that is not my experience. Also my mother was a Baby Whisperer. She can calm any fretful or enraged baby and they will obey her. Babies become gentle and cuddly. She charms them by rapping her fingernails together to create hot little beats like some kind of drum  machine and you can see them following the wild colors in their  rapid movements.  

Still it is the Baby Flipping she is most remembered for. It became a party trick that people asked for when we were around. She'd say "Okay show your flip!!" She was also that Mom who rarely went to parties but if she did go the hosts always said "Oh just bring the kids then!"  We were kids who were always around adults and because we were well behaved it made other adults tolerant of us. So we'd go to the party with Mom who always got bored early. One time she said to her friend "We'll be right back!" and my brother and I were like "What are we doing? Why are we leaving the party?" ..."You'll see!!" she said. 

(I had just won thiry-five dollars at Tonk against four other women who all were staring daggers at me across the table as my Mom said I had to go. Things had been hostile for some time when she arrived. "Those bitches were just mad that they lost to a twelve year old." was how my mother explained it. And also they clearly forgot that you were Claude's grand-daughter.")

 We still didn't understand when we arrived at the movie theatre. It was packed that Friday night. That was one of the best nights ever watching going to that party, winning at cards, leaving the party to catch I'm Gonna Get You Sucka at the show, and then we went back to the party after the movie.

Baby Flips weren't the only thing Mom did well but this is merely one example that is instructive regarding her personal flair in life from a generalized perspective as well as her skill as a mother. She was fabulous like that. Magic to the eye but beneath the magic lay lots of work in achievement. So today as I sort of day-dreamed my trippy dream with the dance video in my head and the popping little song I made up I remembered the Baby Flips and decided to write this essay for my hip-hop Mama <3

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