It was Mother’s Day 2009. Grandma had been gone since February of the previous year. It felt like I’d lost my mom too. That’s why we were there, at the Hilton, downtown. I think Mom enjoyed the Broadway musical we’d gone to see. The rhythms and colors of the stage reflected their life upon hers, if only for a couple of hours. I’d decided mom and I needed to celebrate the holiday differently that year. There was no way we could’ve gone to church and then out to dinner like we always had. The void would be too large, the pain too deep.
As I finally heard her snoring from her hotel bed I was relieved, but then I couldn’t sleep. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a complaint; her heavy breathing and subsequent peaceful rest was like music to my ears. It was just my turn to grieve. Grandma had told me before she went to heaven that I was only allowed to cry every other day. As the tears fell I felt her-- like a butterfly on the end of my pen, giving me the words to Pigs Don’t Wear Pearls. This is how my first children’s book was born.
As women the pressure to be married is one practically all of us are familiar with. One of the reasons I love The Six Brown Chicks mission is that they deal with the sum of our parts: body, mind and soul. To be sure there are articles on finding and keeping love, but the headline has always been one of nurturing ourselves so that we can in turn serve others better. And yet if marriage is seen as the answer to life’s success equation, it is only a fraction. Motherhood too, is certainly a part of the formula. We are expected to multiply. And so as I approach 45 on the age number line, the question of whether or not I am less of a woman because I’m not married with children weighs as heavily as the last few minutes of a math major’s final calculus exam.
I can remember a guy I used to date telling me that I was selfish, even questioning my Christianity because I hadn’t adhered to what in his eyes was one of the Bible’s greatest commands—to be fruitful and multiply. Others have looked at me suspiciously when the basic first date questions are posed and I disclose that no, I don’t have any children. There have been times when I’ve bought into the hype and thought maybe something is wrong with me. But then there is the memory of my grandmother again. She was the kind of person who never met a stranger. She was the greatest giver I have ever known. Her umbilical cord extended beyond the womb and to this day I still meet people who say she was like a mother or grandmother to them.
I may not have children of my own, but I have decided to adopt my beloved grandmother’s way of living. I am a Special Education teacher and a children’s book author, but most important I am a surrogate of love. Through Pigs Don’t Wear Pearls bedtime stories I seek to foster a new way of thinking in today’s children, awakening them to the gem that lies within. I want my students and readers to know that they are greater than average, that they and those around them have value. In my own way I hope to decrease the violence by increasing their self esteem. I haven’t given up the hope that God’s time table for me may one day include a family, but in the meantime I am a mother by nature. I am working hard to carry on my grandmother’s legacy and when I join her I hope to have left a positive remainder for years to come.
Celeste T. Parker’s children’s books include Pigs Don’t Wear Pearls, Beware of Bacon Bits and Chop Shop. They are available online at www.pigsdontwearpearls.com or by contacting her directly at email@example.com Twitter Celeste T.Parker @pigsdwpearls.
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