What kind of mom do you want to be?
I want to be my own #goals. So I took the best parts of myself and fashioned my savior.
MetaCocoMom is my superhero alter ego.
Our culture insists that a working mother be superwoman, so I decided to create my own personal hero.
And it’s proven to be my most effective choice in my parenting practice.
My alter ego surfaced two years ago; her entrance coincided with the news that I was pregnant. She manifested the day I brought my son home.
She’s the one who gets up for me in the middle of the night. A thorough and restorative disciplinarian, she takes over when I give in to exhaustion and frustration. Ej didn’t clean up his toys. I don’t feel like fighting, I’ll just clean them up later. Pause. No. “Ej, time for clean up,” she says. Ej hit his brother. Oh, I’ll give him another warning, I don’t feel like executing a structured time out. Pause. No. “Ej, you are going to the Calm Down corner for hitting,” she urges. She is cold and pragmatic; always chilling me into appropriate action. She’s a hybrid of Claire Huxtable and America’s Supernanny. She really has her stuff together.
“I am the antihero of my own parenting fable”
It’s 6:30 on a Monday night and we are on the train home. Factoring in how late it is, I estimate having an hour to cook, feed, bathe, and read to my son otherwise the bedtime routine is thrown. My sanity won’t stand for another sleepless night. My phone chimes. Another work email, great one more thing to do before bed. Somewhere in the distance, I hear a faint “Mommy? Mommy?” I look up and lock eyes with my son. “Mommy, look” is followed by a semi-coherent observation. He wants to talk to me. He is trying to talk to me. My mind slowly registers this as he repeats, “Mommy?”
I am the antihero of my own parenting fable.
That’s when MetaCocoMom steps in. She assesses the situation and acts accordingly. She performs C.P.R. when she senses the failing heart of a future Black man.
“How will your reaction influence the man he must become?” she asks.
You see, MetaCoCoMom has taught me how to look and how to see. I look at my son in the present tense. I must simultaneously see him concretely in the future. Each action has an immediate and long term reaction in parenting. A curious black boy instructed to be quiet and stop asking questions will eventually be the teenager who sits quietly and confused in my classroom. This teenager will sit quietly confused waiting for me to answer my own question because all of his questions have been shut down before. Soon, he will become the Black man that doesn’t vote. “Why vote? My vote doesn’t matter anyway,” he reasons.
MetaCocoMom knows this. She reminds me “Curiosity feeds thinking. Thinking feeds metacognition. Metacognition feeds resilience. Answer his questions.”
She was there when I chose his name. She pointed out that an ethnically generic name on a resume is more likely to be called for an interview. She’s very thoughtful that way.
There is a clear tension between us though. Sometimes I think she’s too strict. I’m annoyed at her militant approach to parenting. A zealous activist, Meta CocoMom is always eager to engage in the next struggle for equality and access. She is a social arsonist gladly willing to set a place ablaze if it provides an opportunity for the next generation to build something beautiful from the ashes.
I just want my kid to be a kid.
I just want him to run around laughing at nonsensical things. I want him to be as unburdened by the world for as long as possible. And then I read about an officer-involved shooting or an overdose or a hate crime.
I hate that she makes so much sense. I give in to her every time.
But really, why?
I am a researcher by choice and by trade, so my instinct is to look it up when I feel ill-equipped for the problem in front of me.
I came across a place called the Child Mind Institute. It’s a nonprofit (and I am grossly paraphrasing here) dedicated to helping folks like you and I understand our kids’ brains.
In an article entitled “How thinking about thinking can help kids”, researcher Rae Jacobson points out that “more and more studies are suggesting that kids who are taught to use metacognitive strategies early on are more resilient and more successful…”
Resilient. That’s a dope attribute to develop in my child. Adolescence is hard, no descriptors needed. When you start throwing in things like race, ethnicity, religion, and gender it becomes a circus of humiliation. Add a shot of social media, and it’s a downright mob of hormones and emotion. I totally want my son to navigate those waters.
According to the article, our job as parents is to:
(1) ask open-ended questions;
(2) be judgment-free;
(3) talk our fledgling geniuses through alternative solutions.
This is Kool-aid I can drink.
And, that’s what I am here to do, to find out how.
Will you join me?