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afford the real Sperrys or hope the fake ones will do, being a mother is goddamn hard. All of us love our kids and want what’s best for them, and the ones who have to do the same job with less deserve respect. That’s the first thing I thought when I saw the footage of Baltimore Mama Bear Toya Graham smacking her son upside the head at the riot following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police. A million judge-y blog posts followed, some lauding her as “Mother of the Year,” others dismissing her as an abuser who should’ve raised her kid right in the first place. That she is black, single and has five other children has provided much fodder for the larger conversation about desperate times and desperate actions. All I saw was one mad mother, angry not only at her son for making stupid choices but frustrated as hell that the concept of life, liberty and justice for all doesn’t seem to apply. Considering the negative narrative we all share of young black men and police compounded with the stressful vigilance of motherhood, I still think her reaction was not only appropriate, but necessary. When Graham saw her son holding a brick and the Stormtroopers in their riot gear, she knew how it was going to go down. It’s highly doubtful that he would’ve slinked home if she’d just said “pretty please.” “I don’t feel like I’m a hero,” she told the news later. “I wasn’t there to be recorded. I

was there to get my child.” Graham’s whacks on her son may not look like stellar parenting, but most of the mothers I know (or the ones I like, anyway) can relate to wanting to protect your kid so badly you lose your shit. Just wait until you pull up next to us after mine rolls through a stop sign. Maybe when he reaches full-fledged adulthood…oh, never mind. For now, my son is still around for me to wig out over, which means I got to commandeer him as my date to last Saturday’s Mother Son Ball. Hosted by Blessings in a Book Bag, the evening’s proceeds went to the local non-profit that sends healthy food home with students from Otis Brock Elementary every Friday to help their mothers and fathers make the frayed ends meet. The gala was a celebraotry affair, attended by gorgeously-appointed moms and adorable packs of boys in tiny tuxedos doing the naenae in front of the DJ booth. Personally, I was quite excited about the ball’s lookalike contest—I’d really hoped to wear matching sailor suits à la Lucille and Buster from Arrested Development, but Motherboy was having none of it. He did deign to shimmy with me for “Uptown Funk,” which was the least he could do. I mean, if my heart is going walk around outside my body and operate its own vehicle, is it so much to ask that I get to dance with it once in a while? cs

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