Dear Swooney,

Dear Swooney,

I’m so glad to know that soon enough you will decide to be born. You probably won’t remember this but you came to me in a dream—you were speaking and eating ice cream and walking slowly beside me while balancing along a small two-wheeled bike. You had a lot to say but I’m not quite sure what you were trying to tell me, do you remember?

I am so excited to be my best self with you. Last week I was sitting at my desk at work and overheard a child trying to get her mother’s attention. She kept calling her Mom Mom Mom Mom until I wanted to answer yes in her mother’s place. I realized how much impatience we have on all sides. I hope you don’t ever have to call me more than three times to get my attention—I will try my best to remember I told you this.

Swooney, there is so much scary stuff happening in the world right now that I want to protect you from. I’m trying to find a balance between a) wanting you to see and feel it all so that you can make your own decisions and b) guiding you with conclusions I already have in mind. I hope to provide you with the conditions to reach out and grasp your own freedoms, knowing that your work toward liberation may be different than mine, and that they are so braided together. How exciting to be working on the same patchwork quilt before you are even born!

Here are some things you should know about your aunty: We don’t eat meat at my house. I chant (sometimes I chant for you!) and you’re always welcome to join me, I try not to wear shoes on the rug so that we can roll around on the floor as much as we want, I am a writer, I don’t think I will ever be done growing and changing (I’m made most hopeful by this), I love to travel alone (you’ll be invited once you get big enough!), some days are easier than others for me to get out of bed, and I absolutely love reading books! I am also unraveling some knots in our family karma. I am trying to create a clearer channel.

I remember as far back as kindergarten having the knot that lives in my belly. I was sitting on a bench during recess behind my classroom and worrying, like I had been all day, that the police would soon come to arrest me. The knot was so heavy I couldn’t even get up off of the bench to play. Years later I would begin to see the strings that made the knot. They became more and more visible on the arms and legs of my parents and other loved ones in our family—the strings that pulled them in this direction or that without their consent. When the strings held onto them tightly around the neck, none of us could breathe. The strings began to have names like childhood trauma, sexual assault, probation/parole, addiction, incarceration, low-income, ‘at-risk’, ‘system involved’. I am unraveling the knots so that you can continue to breathe easily through your belly many years after you’ve grown out of your crib.

The place in our family that we have prepared for you is big enough for you to outgrow our wildest dreams, collectively. The place we have prepared for you is not perfect. The preparers of the place we have created for you are not perfect. (We are not perfect).

Swooney, I will be healing while you grow. I know that your eyes on us will bring pressure to make things better and I hope that doesn’t make us phoney instead. We each have work to do in our own mirrors. Some of this work will require calling on the help of others. Some of this work will require adults talking about very difficult things that we do not want to. Some of this work will require forgiving without ever hearing an apology. Some of this work has been being done incrementally, quietly through courageous prayer and brave support. You may witness some things that are uncomfortable while we heal—but I vow that you will always be safe. You will always be loved. You will always be watched over and looked after and held in the high cradle of generations past, (some so far back that I have never even seen their faces), marveling and laughing over you and seeing their own smile in yours. You are so loved already.

The year is 2017 and the location is Planet Earth. The place and time that you are approaching is very sick, Swooney. It is not well. It has had a nasty cough for a really long time, before anyone alive in our family was even born. You will grow up experiencing a time in this place when the nasty cough has broken and the virus is beginning to pore out. It will be gross. But know that getting all the gunk out, can give us clarity, can help us breathe easier. Thankfully, your mother is a magnificent balm and a fierce warrior. Thankfully, I have made myself strong to carry you both on my own back through hell and/or high water (hot or cold).

Oh, Swooney, you are so precious.

I feel like I know you already. Like we were good old friends who used to play chess across from each other in a park. I’m not sure who used to win.

I look forward to this lifetime with you. Where we sing and dance when the spirit moves us to do so. Where I introduce you to some of my favorite ancestors. Where I invite you to close your eyes when there’s a horn or a piano playing and ask you what you see. Where we practice dropping the needle onto a record. Where we learn together how to grow our own food. Where we snark as we translate rhetoric on comfy couches like our own sport. Where we become and never stop becoming feminists/womanists. This life when we self care and seek refuge inside. I very much look forward to it all with you.  

I’m so honored to be gifted the duty of carework by loving on you. I’m so grateful that you are a phoenix on fire in the dark. Thank you for bringing new life to me and my little sister (your mother). Together, the two of you have been my favorite teachers of love that I’ve been humbled to learn from and be loved by in this life time.

With fierce love,

Your Mimi, Tanea