My mother decided that Uncle Ted was not the man for her. She had seen enough distorted adult behavior exercised on her children under the guise of parenting. After my uncle’s departure, we resumed one of my mother’s favorite Sunday rituals. Church, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash filled the day while Mom let her spirit free as she sang and danced for us. Standing with her arms stretched wide, her fingers snapped to the rhythm and mood of the song. She held her head high and smiled with pleasure as she moved her hips and feet, trying to bring the family together. 

She loved us. And I absorbed every manifestation of her love; her hair brushing across her face, her closed-mouthed smile, and her thick fit swishing back and forth. I longed to dance in her arms.

To make the transition from welfare and government housing to residing in a middle-class neighborhood, my mother managed to overcome obstacles for the sake of her family. And it wore her down. Still a young woman, living without the tenderness of a loving touch from a man or someone to share her parental burdens often left her weary. we were too young to appreciate her tireless efforts to provide for us.

Years later, when I met my father, I asked him why he left. He said, “I was afraid I could not support all of you.”

My mother: one woman, no education, no money, and seven children.

She stayed.

He left.

In the absence of social accountability, men have stripped themselves of honor, like a dirty shirt. Left to their own devices and socially unregulated, men have been impregnating women for a very long time and leaving both the woman and the children behind. Why stay? Being a man throughout history has had its perks: more sex and more money. Women and children simply get in the way. Only in recent history has our government enforced support for women and children.

An excerpt from Colors of Amber, A Memoir.