We Had A Baby Last Night

“If I can’t eat, neither can you.” Those were the last slurry words she spoke to me before she fell asleep from the epidural she swore she would never get. That’s an entirely other story I’ll tell at a later date. We’d been at the hospital since 9:00am and the doctor told her not to eat anything. What should have been a routine check up turned into the doctor telling us to come straight to the maternity ward.

“You’re about to have a baby.” He said with excitement.

No bags were backed, we were in separate cars, both planning on heading to work. Now we were being told we were about to have a baby one week early when she wasn’t even dilated past three centimeters. After a couple hours of running around and making arrangements we were in the birthing room arguing about the pain medicine she swore she would never take.

“If I can’t eat, neither can you.”

I waited until she was good and knocked out before telling my mom I was going to get something to eat. The least I could do was wait until she couldn’t see me eating. Memorial Hermann in the Heights is a weird location. It’s close to a million restaurants but almost none of them are in walking distance.

Walking distance for New York maybe but not for Houston.

But right next door to this massive Hospital is a small Mexican restaurant. No flat screens or fancy tables. No granite counter tops or 12 dollar margaritas. Just cold Coronas in a big ice chest and tequilas I can’t name. Starving and needing to get back to the birth of my first son I ordered something quick and then something happened.

You know that thing that happens in the movies where the music gets dramatic and you know the story is about to take a dark turn. My mother’s name popped up on my caller ID. If you knew my mom you’d know one thing about her, she never asks me for anything. That means seeing her name meant I knew she wasn’t calling to ask me to bring her some food.

“Dr. Ahmed is here. There’s something the matter with the baby’s heartbeat, it’s dipping too low and they can’t wait for it to stabilize. They need to perform a C-section now! You need to get back here Demez.” Ten minutes ago we were laughing and anticipating my son coming at six in the morning. Now at 8:30pm they were telling me if they didn’t perform this emergency C-section he might not make it here. Throwing a twenty on the counter and running back to the hospital I stepped off the elevator and as soon as I walked into the room there were nurses and doctors everywhere prepping her.

The epidural was causing her to shake uncontrollably and the anesthesia was making her nauseas and sleepy. With her eyes barely open and squeezing my hand she asked me, “Do you remember your promise? If it’s between me and Lennox, choose him.” For months she’d been telling me this and for months I’d been telling her that nothing was going to happen. Now here we were with her having a bad reaction to the epidural she didn’t want to get and my son’s heartbeat dropping with every second.

“I remember what I promised you. I got you. I love you. Nothing is going to happen.”

My mom and sisters helped me put on my sterilization gear. I followed the doctors and nurses to the operating room. This is the part that literally shook me to my core. Up until this point I was sure everything was going to be alright but they put me in a waiting room that felt like purgatory.

I’m alone in this waiting room and there’s one bench and no one else can be in this room. The nurses tell me to wait and they’ll come back for me. I can see my family and her family on the other side of the door every time it opens begging me with their eyes for answers I don’t have. At this point I don’t have to be brave for anyone. Not for B, not for my family, not for her family. I’m alone and now I have nothing but my own fears. What if my son doesn’t make it onto this earth? What if his mother doesn’t? What if neither of them do? Closing my eyes and praying to God for what seemed like the first time in months all I asked is that they both make it out okay.

The operating room is cold and sterile and quiet. They walk me over to her and ask me to keep her calm, to make her laugh. I’m supposed to make her laugh when she’s terrified and shaking. Cool, let me do my Kevin Hart impression while his wife is delivering a baby. I tell her to remember our trips, to think about the first place we’ll take Lennox. I tell her to focus on me and to focus on what it will be like to hold him.

In the midst of me talking I hear the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my life.

I hear Lennox Noire White crying. At 9:13pm on 6 August 2018 I hear my son crying for the first time. Cleaning him up, they place him in my arms since B is still being operated on. He’s 6 pounds 11 ounces and the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen. A thick head of curly black hair, incredibly quiet for all he’s just put us thru and my world.

An hour later his mom is wheeled into the room on her bed and holds him for the first time.

That was my Monday.

That was the story of how I almost had a heart attack trying to say hello to my son.

An Open Letter to the Father’s That Weren’t There; It’s Not too Late

img_0173I didn’t want to post this on yesterday because I believe that Father’s Day is reserved for the men that deserve to get recognition. The ones that takes turns getting up at night when the baby is crying. The dads that have to rush home from work to get to little league practices and then help with homework because mom has to cook dinner. Those men deserve all the days of being spoiled they can get.

Life isn’t lunch meat or milk. There’s no expiration date on when you can say, “I need to start over,” or “I want to make things right.” There are so many father’s out here that weren’t there when their children were kids and they don’t know how to make that right. It’s too late for ice cream and Barbie dolls or GI Joes. It’s too late for camping in the backyard and little league games. So they just let year after year go until they’re strangers to the people that share their DNA. Not realizing it’s never too late to at the very least have a friendship.

Holding grudges against your father for not being there only hurts you. I spent years trying to be a better man than my father and in the end I’m no better than him because the ultimate character of a man is to be able to forgive. A lot of our father’s just weren’t ready for fatherhood. They didn’t know how to be dads and by the time they were willing to try or realized their mistakes it was too late. At least in their eyes. So it’s up to us to reach out to them, maybe we’ll never have the father/ son relationship we craved as children but there’s value in becoming their friend. In getting to know where you came from. There’s value in your children knowing where they came from.

The easiest thing in the world is to make a mistake or screw up and walk away. Saying to yourself, “They were good without me as children, so why would they need me as teenagers or adults?” Just because a child grows up doesn’t mean he or she ever stops being your child. Even if it’s just a phone call once a week or Sunday dinner at Popeye’s, that quality time does wonders.

Why I’m Afraid to Bring A Child Into This World; Why I Will Bring A Child Into This World

There was another mass shooting today. According to the news, this wasn’t terrorism or some random crazy guy. It was over a Holiday party. Men walked into a place with innocent people and started killing them because of a party. That’s the world I’m going to bring my children into.

Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.

Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Nominee for the President of the United States.

Everytime I look up there’s a new food that causes cancer or some type of ecoli (spell check, it’s 2:00am) scare. All this adds up to one or two things.

We’re either one black kid getting shot by police away from WW3 or we’re one President away from WW3 or all or food is going to kill us and they’ll be a handful of farmers in Utah left standing.

I want a son really bad. I’ve stopped writing about it over the years because I didn’t want to become one of those guys that seemed pressed. But the desire has never went away. The hope that I’d have a little man that looks just like me or like his mom or is at least healthy and happy. But the thought of raising him in such an uncertain world scares the hell out of me.

Even though I know it’s my obligation to raise him, to add some good warmheartedness and substance that our world so desperately needs. Would I be a wreck sending my child to school everyday knowing some fool could come in there and shoot it up. Would I go broke shopping at Whole Foods because I didn’t want to poison by child with McDonalds? Even though I have all those fears, I still feel good about the fact that my faith in God will protect him or her. I won’t and can’t be there 24/7 but to not have children because we live in such a crazy world would be adding to the fear that this crazy world is generating.

Living Life In the Shadow of Not Wanting to be My Father 

  I have fairly high expectations for the man I want to be. I’ve literally lived my life trying to do everything the right way. I don’t have any stories of drunken house parties while my parents were away or sleeping in the drunk tank on spring break. I have never concerned myself with what’s popular if it wasn’t right. I wish I could say I was doing this because I have this high moral compass or because I’m inherently good but that’s not the case at all. 

I am who I am because I promised myself I would never be my father. My fist time meeting him was my 4th or 5th birthday, at least that’s my first time remembering meeting him. My mom and family threw me this smurfs themed party. I loved the smurfs. He showed up with a car truck. Not the electronic type but the hot wheel kind. He didn’t hug me and barely spoke. I just remember feeling like he was a stranger and I never wanted to feel that way again. I never wanted to feel irrelevant. 

Sometimes I wonder what type of father I will be. I don’t worry whether or not I’ll be there for him or her or whether or not I’ll provide. I worry that I won’t be able to give them the emotional support they need. That I won’t be the man I always invisioned myself being. It’s a scary feeling being unsure about something that’s supposed to come so natural. 

Will I be the type of husband that just knows when my wife needs a break? The type of father that just knows when my child needs a hug instead of a spanking. My father didn’t teach me these things and in trying to be everything he wasn’t I’m afraid I’ll become some of the things I hate about him. Nature vs. Nurture.  

My Only Sunshine

I still believe in miracles. I still believe in wedding rings and bibles. I still believe the best walk you’ll ever take is walking down the aisle knowing your wife will be following you soon after. I still believe in getting lost in someone’s eyes and talking for hours. I still believe in bringing flowers on a first date and midnight drives just talking and listening to music. I still believe in getting butterflies right before you kiss someone for the very first time.

I still believe in sunshine. I still believe that that warmth on my face after rainy or cold days makes me feel alive.

There are days where I feel this enormous sense of emptiness. Where I fear that emptiness will take hold of me. I believe that I’m searching for something and hopefully I’ll find it in the sunshine.

I believe that one day I’ll hold my son in my arms. That one day when I can’t sleep and my wife is knocked out I’ll go sit in the nursery and just watch him. Just wonder about all the possibilities and options he’ll have in life.

I believe that happiness still exist. Even if it’s just in my dreams.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/df5/24251511/files/2014/12/img_0360.jpg

Wanting To Be Better For You

me

Dear Son,

In my mind one when you’re old enough to read this the internet will be replaced by some virtual reality world that makes Google and Facebook look like the slowest things on earth. Until that day comes though I want you to know something, I’m trying my best to be a better man for you. I want you to have a father you can be proud of.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve gradually toned downed the drinking, I’m eating apples for breakfast instead of bacon. Today after work I’m going to get some mint, cucumbers, limes and water to make some drink that’s supposed to make me feel better. I want to show you how to throw a baseball, how to grip a football. I want to be there when you read your first words and write your first letter.

I’m 31 so depending on when I meet your mother there’s a good chance I’ll be in my 50’s when you’re a teenager. I can’t let you beat me in basketball until you’re at least 16. In order to do that I have to do better, I have to be better. Most of my life I’ve let writing consume me. The late nights, the missed meals, the drinking, it’s all been so that I can be a better writer. I suppose I never thought about what sort of man it was making me.

I never had a father that expected anything from me because he didn’t expect anything from himself. I don’t fault him for that because it just wasn’t in him, when I was younger it made me cold. Now it gives me perspective, responsibility. I look forward to placing expectations on you, not to be what I want you to be but to be happy. To know you’re loved and cared for. I’ll expect good grades and for you to eat your vegetables and say yes maam and no maam because that’s what I’ll teach you, that’s what we will teach you. I write these letters because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. If I die when you’re a child, I want you to read these and know you were loved before I ever laid eyes on you.

Let me get to work now so that I can keep getting better.

Love Always and Forever,

Your Father

A Love Letter to My Mother

My Mother and I

My Mother and I

Dear Mother,

Last week I was texting a woman I’d met and she asked me if I’d ever written any love letters. I told her of course, I’ve written several, a lot more than several, considering I’m a writer and romance is something I take pride in. Her next question caught me by surprise. She asked, “Have you ever written a love letter to your mom?” I put my phone down and laughed because the question seemed weird. “A love letter to my mom?” However, when I really thought about it, I realized nothing in the world makes more sense.

You were the first woman I really loved before I even knew what love was. There’s no bond like the bond between a mother and child. When you really think about it, I was in your stomach, I grew from something the size of a pea to who I am today because you nurtured me. What you ate I ate, what you read, I read, what you listened to, I listened to.

Our relationship hasn’t been what a lot of son’s relationship is with their mother but don’t think I don’t love you and appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I remember when I was in the 9th grade on the bus school and you called the 97.9 to brag on me. I remember you were 8 months pregnant walking around the campus of Sam Houston when I first went to college. I had no people skills and you and my aunt found me a roommate.

The very first job I had was an internship at your company and I was horrible. I almost caught a sexual harassment charge though that girl wasn’t even cute and was sort of evil, I scanned the wrong documents, I came to work late. With all that you covered for me.

I know I can be cold at times, standoffish, but I need you to understand that’s not a reflection of you. I think you’re an amazing woman and an amazing mother. That’s just something inside of me. Something I have to fix and deal with on my own. My little sisters look up to you. I look up to you.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be affectionate or call everyday but I will always be there for you because you are my mother and I do love you unconditionally. The way a son loves a mother. So now the next time I talk to a woman and she asks me if I’ve ever written a love letter to my mother, I can tell her.

Of course. I wrote one my Mother’s Day.

Love Forever and Always,

Your Son Demez

A Brothers Honor, A Fathers Heartbreak, A Sons Regret II

Men don’t cry.

Men don’t run.

Fear is natural, only fools pretend they aren’t afraid. But be afraid of the right things! Be afraid of letting down your family, your country but most importantly be afraid of letting down the man that’s fighting next to you!

I was 16, Albert was 17, John was 18. We were sitting in a bar, every one knew our father and it was a small town so no one questioned us. 4 shot glasses and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Each of us got a shot and a lecture. I remember the look in their eyes when he talked.

Men would send him drinks out of respect, the manager at the grocery store personally took our moms groceries to the car. There were no Walmart’s or Mega Malls, Houston was just an hour away but somehow our town remained untouched.

My brothers couldn’t understand why I wanted to chase education while they wanted to chase adventure. Her accent was thick even though she went to high school in America. My electives were Arabic and Mandarin, I already spoke Spanish. While my brothers boxed I sat in the back reading with a Mexican kid who’s brother was Golden Gloves champion. It wasn’t long before I realized we were teaching each other.

Arabic was a whole other beast though. Every other person in the class was Middle Eastern, probably aiming for an easy A. I’d never dated anything but women that looked like me, I didn’t even know how to approach her in a personal way, we only ever talked about studies. To my father they were sand niggers, terrorist, threats to the real America! I’d been in enough classes to know that most of the Middle Eastern kids loved BMW’s, iPhones and malls more than American kids. The girls didn’t cover themselves, the guys listened to rap. She was different though, carried herself differently.

She was beautiful and no matter how hot she was always in pants and long sleeves. The rest of the class viewed me with mild annoyance while she took the time to help me.

Her brothers were in England, her father a translator for Exxon Mobil, her mother a professor. If gotten that much out of her. I could tell she was nervous around me, I was nervous around her.

Sitting next to her felt right but sitting next to her felt like betrayal.

20130923-131458.jpg

Fatherless Sons…

imagesCALO9ZIKI often wonder if I would be a better man had I had my father in my life. Would I be more evenly keeled emotionally and spiritually? Would I be able to hug my grandfather when I see him in the hospital? No matter what substitute a mother can come up with, no matter how many aunts and uncles and stepfathers… There’s really no equal to the love and admiration a son wants to have for his father. The man you share DNA with, the man that helped create you regardless of the situation.

You know what terrifies me? As much as I try to be the exact opposite of him, I see so much of him in myself. How do you rectify that? How do I fight what’s in my blood, what’s in my genetic makeup? How do I stop drinking or stop pushing people away when they get too close? Do you know how many hearts I probably broke in 2012? How many women were disappointed because I wasn’t there enough or didn’t call back after a date?

The easiest thing in the world to me is making a woman smile and putting words together. There are times where I feel like that’s what God put on this earth for but there’s a catch to that. When you’re given great talents often times they come with great responsibilities. I write about sex and emotion and passion. There are times when I feel like I should be writing about injustice and freedom and love. You know how cool it would be to pick up the phone and ask my father what he thinks I should do? To tell him I met a woman and I really like her but I fucked up. To tell him that my grandfather is sick and I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Boys become men and men still have questions…

What if I have a son and I’m like him? What if I become what I hate? You know how many nights I sit up at night and think about that? How many women I’ve discarded because I felt like their lives would be better with men that could give them their all.

I’d never kill myself, I love life too much. But there are moments when I go way to hard for way too long knowing that I might not make it. I’m smiling as I think about those moments because who else was it but God that saved me from myself?

In the barbershop the other day my brother told me that my father wanted my phone number. He didn’t give it to him because he knows me, he knows that I’m not a very forgiving person, I’m sort of heartless at times. Other men our age were listening to our conversation talking about how they forgave their fathers for not being there. They talked about being the bigger man and forgiving them because maybe our fathers didn’t know how to be men. How to raise sons… I listened to them, to the sincerity in their voices and you know what I thought? I thought they were weak for forgiving. I thought our fathers don’t deserve redemption. And as I sit here alone and on the verge of being drunk for the night… Maybe I’m the one that they should pity. Because a man that can’t forgive is a man that will never be capable of loving.

Where Are the Black Fathers?

You don’t deserve the right to be happy.

You don’t get to decide whether or not you’re going to be a part of your child’s life because you don’t like his mother.

When you went inside of her raw, probably on more than one occasion you forfeited your right to being selfish.

When she called you or sat you down and told you she was pregnant, at that moment you no longer lived for you.

That mindset is what’s lacking in my community. It’s the mindset that’s lacking in the men I call brothers. Somewhere along the way we got it in our heads that our happiness and satisfaction trumps that of the seeds we created. That if his/her mother doesn’t want to do what I say or act right then let her and her new man take care of that kid. You may know some really good men, I know some really good fathers. But as a whole, the African American community has more single mothers and grandmothers raising children than any other race on this planet. And I mean that literally by the way, on this planet! This isn’t Uganda where the fathers aren’t home because they’re in Civil War. This isn’t Panama where the fathers aren’t home because they’re off in mines working. This is America where black fathers aren’t home because when things get hard they just go create another family.

If you’re reading this… Raise your hand if you know a man that couldn’t make it work with his child’s mother or wife so he just left. Just left and started a new family like that other child didn’t need his love, advice, care, protection. Raise your hand if you know women that are simply happy when their son or daughter gets a phone call.

Look, I could sit up here and blame drugs, violence, the job market, racism, any number of things on a father not being a father in the black community. But at the end of the day when you go to a little league game and it’s 75% mothers out there. When you go to a church event and it’s 90% mothers. Men are around, we’re in the clubs, we’re on Facebook, we’re at Texans games tailgating but you know where we aren’t? We aren’t raising our children…

My father has 14 children by 10 different women. He wasn’t a father to any of us, that’s 14 lives that had to figure it out on their own. 14 lives that couldn’t go to their father for loan money to start a business Mitt Romney. 14 lives that at some point wondered “why doesn’t my father love me?” I was blessed to have a grandfather that showed me the way. Some of the others weren’t so lucky and they just repeated the cycle. That breaks my heart more than I could ever express. Be a father to your sons and daughters or else…

Or else they won’t make it. I’d like to write that most kids from single parent households are just as capable but that’s not true. How can you be capable when you’re worried about your mother? When you’re confused about your father? You lose that ability to unlock all your potential. That’s why children from two parent families do better.

“Where are all the black fathers? They’re somewhere not taking responsibility for the lives they helped create. You don’t get to move to another State to be happy when your son needs you. You don’t get to ignore your daughter because she looks too much like her mother. You forfeit the right to be selfish the moment she shows you that plus sign on the stick.

If you’re doing the right things as a man I salute you and if you’re not fuck you.

I don’t have children but I used the word we in this post because I’m still a black man. And it’s still my right and responsibility to hold these kids down. It’s all our responsibilities.