Sherri Gragg

Juggler of words and children…collector of pottery shards

A Mother’s Reflections……

Lindito (Little Darling One)

What if tomorrow, you were gone from me?

Would I reflect upon today and wish I had loved you differently?

Would I wish I had taken the time to hold you close?                                                                     

Count your fingers?                                                                                                

Kiss your toes?                                                                                                        

Or take the time to dream of all you could be,

If tomorrow you were gone from me?

Would I weep over harsh words,

Or words left unsaid?

Would I see roads down which I should have led?

Would I wish I had let you roam for awhile, strong and free,

If tomorrow you were gone from me?

What if tomorrow you were gone from me?

Would I wish I had loved you differently?

Sherri Gragg

beachwalk            

 

Thoughts for today…..

As I look back on my life, I am amazed by how it has unfolded.  This morning, I was thinking about that question so many high school seniors are asked so that their profound insights may be added to the year book for all to treasure for eternity….”Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

I chuckle as I remember my 18 year old response – either a marine biologist or a writer/journalist.  Well, obviously the marine biologist bit was ill conceived.  I suspect, my choice of that career was motivated by my love of the ocean, rather than a love of science.

On the other hand, the choice of writer/journalist strikes a bit closer to the truth and I stand in awe that somehow, even then, I sensed the gifts God had placed in my life for future purposes.  I believe that every human being is created for a purpose and that as God weaves each baby together in his mother’s womb, he is gifting them for that purpose.

I must say, though, I am at times baffled by God’s weaving of me.  I am a woman of endless contradictions it seems and if you are going to join me on this journey, it is only fair you are made aware of them for at some point, you will inevitably disagree with me strongly or perhaps think I am just plain nuts.

I am a white, 37 year old woman born and reared in the South.  I did not have a diverse upbringing .  My parents, to their credit, have grown immensely in terms of their racial sensitivity but the truth remains that the song of racism was sung to me over the cradle and it has taken the rest of my life to compose a new song, one that glorifies The Maker.

I have been married to the same man for almost 17 years and we not only still love each other but like each other as well.

I am the mother of five children.  I have been a stay at home mom for the last 12 years.  I like to read, garden, cook and play the piano. 

What a nice, conservative picture.  But……..

Three of my children are mine through biology and birth.  Two are God’s gifts to us through adoption and when they came into our lives, this reformed racist became the white mother of a family of color.  These children of color are daughters and therefore, I have learned to corn row, braid, twist and bead. 

I have short, spiky blond hair.  My left ear is pierced in three places; the right ear, just once.  I am a gym rat.  My favorite class is Sport Boxing, where we train as if we were training for a fight.  A couple of years ago, my husband bought me my own pair of boxing gloves and I told him it was the best present he had ever given me.  He shook his head and said, “I don’t know what I think about that considering I gave you those diamonds on your left hand.”

I am passionate about racial reconciliation and occasionally write columns for my local paper, for which I receive hate mail. 

I am intense, creative, and determined to squeeze every inch of life out of my time here on this planet. 

There are never enough hours in the day.

 But most of all, most of all…….I love my God.  He picked me up and put be back together when I was helpless to do it myself.  My favorite part of every day is at 5 am when I meet with Him while sipping a cup of tea.  That, well that is as good as it gets.

So, much of what I write here will be from the reflections that come out of that quiet hour before my five kids are awake and ready to roll.  There will be sprinklings of thoughts on adoption, kids, and race but it is my heart’s greatest desire that if you join me here you will see God’s goodness and love. 

 

sunrise2

 

 

 

 

 Hair

by Sherri Gragg

 

When my husband and I committed to adopting our Haitian daughters, I knew I needed to learn how to “do hair”.  Like most white women, I had no experience with African hair but somehow, I knew that in the African American community hair was very important and that it was imperative I learn to do it well.  I never wanted to be in the grocery store and have an older African American woman feel the need to shake her head in sympathy for my daughter and say, “Look at that poor child’s head.”

I wanted my daughters to hold up their curly heads proudly.  I wanted them to feel beautiful.

So, I studied.  I bought a book to educate myself, and asked my black friends lots of questions.  I even bought a Barbie head and practiced parts, braids, twists and cornrows.

The first time I took my oldest Haitian daughter’s hair down to re-braid it she wailed!  Then, when I was finished she looked into the mirror and smiled delightedly.  She later told me she did not think I would know what to do.

Crazy white lady.  Yellow stick up hair.  What does she know about parts and braids?  I’m in trouble now! 

The Haitian women scrutinized her head with a careful eye.  You did this?” they asked incredulously.

Since then, I have done a lot.  I love my daughters’ hair. 

But I never really, really understood why it was important until I sent my black daughter to school in a white world.  Suddenly, she was outside the protective cocoon of church and home and the people who loved her.  Suddenly, she was very much the minority.  Suddenly, I realized that life for a black child in a white world can be brutal.

Suddenly, I realized why hair is important.

The attack on her ethnicity and place in our family came sometimes like an ice cold bucket of water thrown in her face.

Every day on the bus ride home…..

Is that your sister?  She doesn’t look like you.  What is she?  Adopted?

Then, spat like something indecent- She looks biracial. 

Sometimes, the attacks came like noxious fumes borne on the wind.  Stealthily, softly,  and perhaps even more deadly than more blatant attacks.

A little girl comes up to me.

Are you Claudine’s Mommy? Yes, I am! Our teacher told all of us that you are lighter than her.  What? Our teacher told us all that you found her. 

I feel sick.

Then, one day I did an innocent thing.  I bought her a new head-band.  It was wide, fuchsia and studded with “jewels”.  I saw it and knew she would love it.  She did.

Mommy, I want to have “big hair” tomorrow.  I want to wear my head band! Okay, sweetie, I will twist your hair tonight and tomorrow you can have big hair. 

The next day we undo the twists and put on the colorful, flamboyant head band.  She looks in the mirror and squeals with delight.

Pretty! she cries.

She comes home from school and some of the light is gone from her eyes.  She turns those big brown eyes up to mine.

Mommy, my teacher loved my hair but no one else did.  I don’t want to have big hair again. 

Then, I understand.  I understand down in my heart and not just in my head.  I understand why for generations African American mothers have braided, parted, and added beads, beads, and more beads to their daughters’ hair.  It is because a white world sends a very clear message to those sweet babies- African hair is not pretty.  African hair is bad.

I lean down to hold her close to me.

I love your big hair.  Your hair is beautiful.  Do you know why it is special? 

Her soulful eyes bore into mine.  No.

I have told her before but tell her again.  You can style your hair anyway you want.  We can make rows of hair planted like corn in a field.  We can twist, braid and bead.  Those little girls can’t have braids, twists and beads like yours.  Do you know why?  They fall out!  Their hair won’t hold them. 

She giggles as if I have told her a secret.

I pull her close and whisper fiercely in her ear.  Your hair is beautiful.  Don’t you listen to those little girls who tell you it is not!  Don’t ever listen to them. 

It seems so unjust for a child who has already suffered so much to endure more.  It is as if life is determined to knock her down and keep her down.

Then, I hold her face in my hands and tell her a greater secret.  I pull the sword of truth from its sheath and place it in my strong little girl’s hands. 

Listen to me my child.  You are the daughter of the Most High King and He is so, so strong.  He is so strong that He can take whatever bad happens in your life and turn it around for your good. 

She wraps her small fingers around that weapon and holds it close.

And for a moment I am sure I hear the gates of Hell shutter as the angel God has placed to watch over her shouts the shout of victory.

A conquering warrior for the Kingdom is born.

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9 comments on “A Mother’s Reflections……

  1. Dorena Williamson
    February 20, 2007

    Beautiful words that touch my heart. How can I share the beauty of these words with a needy audience, who needs to be enlightened with this truth sown from the heart of God? I welcome opportunity to share this with many. I’m honored to call this amazing woman my friend and sister!

  2. Carla Hendricks
    February 21, 2007

    Sherri, I am so excited to read your writings on a regular basis. They are truly an overflow of your beautiful heart. I love your prose and your poetry. So real and captivating. Keep writing, Sweet Friend, and God will reward your labors.

  3. Leesa Hansknecht
    February 21, 2007

    Wisdom is brilliant, she never fades. By those who love her, she is readily seen, by those who seek her, she is readily found. She anticipates those who desire her by making herself known first. Whoever gets up early to seek her will have no trouble but will find her sitting at the door. Meditating on her is understanding in its perfect form, and anyone keeping awake for her will soon be free from care. For she herself searches everywhere for those who are worthy of her, benevolently appearing to them on their ways, anticipating their every thought. Wisdom 6:12-16

    Thank you, my sweet sister, for listening to the wisdom of the Spirit and sharing it with the world.

  4. Betsy Copeland
    February 23, 2007

    As I read theses entries, I am again in awe of your God given gift to put memories, emotions, and thoughts onto a page. Your words always inspire me and never cease to make me more grateful for God’s grace. One thing I know is there are no words anyone could put on a page to describe how blessed I am to have you in my life. You challenge me to face truth, regardless of the pain, and never fail to believe the promises of our Father. Thank you… Thank you…. Thank you…

  5. Photo Buffet
    March 1, 2007

    Sherri, I’m so glad you stopped by my photo blog (Photo Buffet), because if you hadn’t, I would have missed your amazing story of God’s grace. Thank you for sharing from your heart. I’ve been blessed.

  6. everydaymiracle
    March 1, 2007

    Thank you so much for the encouragement!

    Sherri

  7. Jayleigh
    April 27, 2007

    Ahhhhh Sherri! My hairs are all standing on end. What a beautifully moving and passionate story about your sweet girl and her hair.

    My hubby and I have been 14 years ttc and one of the only reasons we haven’t gone the adoption route IS NOT because we don’t want to, but because we’re loathe to bring a child of color into our whitewashed world and then ask her to survive here when there is so much horrible racism in our community.

    Thank you for this blog. Thank you so much.

  8. everydaymiracle
    April 28, 2007

    Thank you, Jayleigh.

    It is a serious issue to consider. I believe adoption is beautiful and good but if the parent has not seriously considered the role race still plays in our society and educated themselves, it is a tremendous injustice to the child. There are many parents who do this well but I also run into parents who not only have done nothing to prepare themselves to help their child sort through the racism they will inevitably face but have deeply imbedded racial issues themselves they have never addressed. I once met man who told me about the the AA baby he and his wife had adopted. He went on to tell me (as if he thought it was the cutest thing ever) that the term of endearment his wife used for the chid was a racial slur.

    Sorry for chasing this rabbit but it is an issue that has been at the forefront of my mind recently!

    Sherri

  9. Christiana
    April 2, 2009

    I love your website and everything about it. It’s filled with beautiful words, thoughts and wisdom.

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2007 by in children, family, motherhood.

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