I have been reading Kelly’s blog for a few months. She is a freelance artist who chronicles the ups and downs of the freelance business. At the same time, she explains the difficulties of being a working mom. Check out Kelly in all her glory over at The Miller Mix.
We were all sitting around the dinner table when it happened. My nephew, E, piped up with “I was born last because my mama had to sell Javi first.” Between choking and fits of coughing, I immediately searched for the right words to clear up his confusion regarding how his half-brother came to be my son.
Everyone knows that my older sister is Javi’s biological mother and that she was ill equipped to raise a child when he was born, even though he was (thankfully) not born with any major neurological or physical disabilities. When Javi was a baby, my oldest nephew (who was five and living with his father at the time) asked why he couldn’t come be my son, too. When E was born 14 short months after Javi, the world asked one question: Why one and not the other?
Sitting there at the table, my first plan of attack was to give E “the script” — his mother couldn’t raise Javi just then so she asked us to. I quickly realized that wouldn’t answer the looming question, so I took a big gulp of Diet Dr. Pepper to steel my nerves and asked E to start at the beginning.
E: Well, my mama sold Javi to you so she’d have room in the trailer to have me.
Me: Honey, nobody got sold.
Javi: Yeah! She didn’t sell me. She gave me away. You didn’t have to pay for me, right, Mama?
Me: Hold on, you two. Listen. She didn’t sell Javi and she didn’t give him away. She let me have him.
Javi: Yeah, so she gave me away.
E: Are you sure she didn’t sell him? We usually sell stuff. I think she sold him because if she didn’t sell him she couldn’t have room for me. I’m eight and he’s nine. So she sold him.
Me: Nobody sold anybody!
Javi: I think I’d be worth like a thousand dollars maybe. Don’t you think, mama?
This is when the mountain man decided the best way to back ourselves off of this landmine was to turn the tables on E.
MM: Alright, E. You got us. Your mom did sell some kids, and she said we could sell you right after dinner.
E: She did not!
MM: Yep, sure did. We have a new family coming to test you out in about 20 minutes.
E: You’d better not!
MM: Go on and eat up so you’ll be ready when they get here.
Cue distraught tears. Listen to Javi still trying to factor up what price tag he’d put on himself and the mountain man hooting with laughter. How did a simple family dinner spiral so far out of control in just a few torturous moments? How many times in my lifetime will I have to address the misconceptions — and the hard truths — surrounding my son’s birth?
Because sometimes holding it together is the most you can offer, I assured both E and Javi that their biological mother loves them both very much. And then I retreated to the bedroom where the dark wouldn’t stare at me with big eyes, waiting for an answer that makes sense, and the silence wouldn’t ask questions that I don’t have the right answers for.
I sat there for a while, sulking that my son — my family — rarely gets to be normal. Then I listened to the boisterous and loving laughter of the people in my life, remembered what the point of living is, took a deep breath, and dived right back into the fray.