Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.–Martin Luther King, Jr.
They are home from school again—just as soon as the water situation cleared up, the snow came. We’ve had a lot of together time lately and it’s been that crazy mix of remembering the joy of being all wrapped in them and panic that I’ll never get caught up with the rest of life. When the boys are home, the kitchen is busy, the laundry piles, and my words get left behind.
January always has a sweet sense of urgency. These boys, whose birthdays are three days apart, have claimed it as their month and they are the sun for the rotation of its days. When they were small, there was just one party—soup and sandwiches, cake and ice cream. My, how things change. After Teddy was born, I gave up my career, stayed home for ten years—knee deep in hot wheels cars and oversize dump trucks. Teaching them became my career, all my moments wrapped around theirs. Birthday month seemed the crescendo for that nesting kind of love. I pray they always remember how we celebrate them in these years.
I wouldn’t trade those ten years for the world. Being their mama is my favorite thing, though what that means has shifted over time. On Monday, we drove to the Capitol for the Martin Luther King, Jr. annual commemoration. Honoring Dr. King has always been folded into observing their birthdays for us. This special day falls right in-between the two and they are always home from school for the day. I’ve never been able to get them out of bed in time to go to the ecumenical church service held in the good Drs. name, and this year we barely made it on the capitol grounds in time to hear the bell be rung.
“Will there be mostly black people there?” Jeffrey asked, on the way.
It seemed an odd question to my ears until I considered how segregated their world remains.
“Maybe,” I said. “I hope there are all kinds of people there.”
Last week we watched The Butler and I studied their young faces as the atrocities the white people committed during the Civil Rights Movement filled the screen. They know about such things, have read about it in their history books, have watched The Freedom Riders. But I never want them to get over it. After that movie, I just wanted to tell our brothers and sisters of color how sorry I am. I just wanted to wrap them up in love and step into the future together.
When I tell the boys this, they are quiet. But they hear.
As we gather around the liberty bell at the capitol, they watch me snap pictures of two little girls who are hopping on one foot. Our state senators are there, a church choir, and all kinds of honorables. I see some friends and my boys watch as I hug these beautiful people with skin a different color than mine. I wonder what they see. We balance on a stone wall to try to get pictures when the bell is tolled. And when the preacher gives the benediction, we all bow our heads.