America and Eternity: A Letter to My Three Year Old - Mutha Magazine

99 Problems

Published on October 9th, 2017 | by Juniper Fitzgerald


America and Eternity: A Letter to My Three Year Old


My dearest child. When my belly swelled with your imminence, I collected every queer children’s book I could get my hands on. As a white mother raising a partially Serbian child, I was strangely ignorant to issues of race—I only thought of gender. You were born dark, black hair and the nurse said, You sure that’s your baby?

You and I went to a party for the 45th presidential election at The Coffee Shop.

The Coffee Shop is woven into my fabric, needles plunging into those empty spaces and the holes we fill up with other people to hold it all together; it’s hard to separate the time I spent falling in love with the owner from the time I spent falling in love with the idea of open spaces. Now, you and I spend considerable time there, here, The Coffee Shop, where a decade ago I was a prostitute, pedaling pederasty, snorting lines of cocaine on the tables with the owner who, when we went for an abortion, looked into the eyes of men who called me Monster and said, “YOU. NO YOU ARE THE MONSTER.”

Now a young professor, hallucinating Arkansas, and your mama, breastfeeding you at the very tables upon which I used to pass out hysterical naked.

Your father likes The Coffee Shop, too, but he cannot come in when I am there he says it’s too painful and I say, You are a liar you are a liar you are a liar. There is no pain there I say.

And I say, I would howl at the blood moon but I do not know how I have only howled in the arms of men borrowed their equipment never came prepared with my own and if I were to howl alone they’d call me nuts and use my honesty as evidence; a woman is all the evidence they ever need and so when I say I feel the skin of my ancestors, forcibility institutionalized, I am not speaking hyperbolically.

But I am wrong to feel these things about your father because while he cannot love me, he loves you—he loves to you—and that is all that matters.

At The Coffee Shop the other day I saw a man shit on the floor. Accidentally, of course, he was having a stroke.

You and I went to a party for the 45th presidential election at The Coffee Shop.

You held a plastic bowl, excited by its contents, popcorn, “Pa-pa-popcorn.” You were two years old. I picked you up. I held you. I put my head down and rocked you back and forth. I took you home. My love is thick. Your love is too thick, Toni Morrison warns. I put you to bed. I chain-smoked. Outside, of course.

You are three years old and I do not know how to tell you that there are Nazis in the streets. I do not know how to tell you that I lost my womb and I lost my brother and I lost my cousin, a bullet in his brain he went to shoot his pregnant wife but decided on himself instead, America and Eternity. So now my childhood memories are darker they are marked with stains of a ghost all those afternoons on the prairie on the farm and picking green beans from the garden with a boy who would become a man who would point a gun at a woman with child and who would ultimately listen to her when she said, No, you! You lost these things, too. Even without words for loss, or words that come out in pieces, fragmented, mirroring the chaos of the day you stutter now because everything is so fucked.

Black mothers have been telling their Black children about Nazis in the streets forever.

The other night, while you slept at my side, I went into a room with a witch. I looked around and said, This is my room, which meant, This is my historic suffering, a suffering I share with generations of non-men. My suffering is not unique, it is not isolated. My suffering is a shared suffering and it is undeniably femme and it is undeniably in you.

A force of masculine energy possessed my body. It contorted my limbs, determined to break me, but instead I awoke. I awoke next you, [redacted], and I held you close. And I looked into the darkness and into the hearts of men and the white women who apologize for them and I looked at the parts of myself that are likewise dead and empty and I said aloud, Fuck! You!

And you and I remained swaddled in my armor.

On several occasions, white supremacists have threatened to “put [me] in an oven.” And my brother, being a violent drunk, like his father, shoving women around, a rite of passage, an expression of love under a white supremacist heteropatriarchy said, Hitler wanted what was best and so I said, You will never see my daughter again.

But there won’t be ovens now. There are only necropolitics and the discourses that make them appear natural. Ovens are obsolete. We are content to destroy one another in the politest of ways. Love wins, they say, smiling, as they slowly slowly boil you like a frog.

I am a scholar of war and this is America and Eternity. Sadness and anger are righteous, [redacted], they are fucking righteous and I love to you more than I can possibly love to anyone or anything, always.

And I will always be your(s)


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About the Author

Juniper Fitzgerald is a mother, former sex worker, and academic based in the Midwest. Her children’s book, How Mamas Love Their Babies, was published by Feminist Press in 2018 and was the first to feature a sex-working parent. She contributed to We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival and her memoir, Enjoy Me Among My Ruins, is out now. She holds a PhD in sociology.

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