Ancestral parenting practices were taken from my people when outside forces deemed our societal structures inadequate and began removing our children from their families and identities; in more ways than one.
Being born to teen parents, I relied heavily on my grandparents and elder generations, just as much as my parents did as new parents who were still babies themselves.
From childhood my mind was always fixated on how can I pay my grandparents back? Their humble lifestyles, inherited knowledge and needing nothing more than what the land offered became my morals and identity. At twenty one years old I was able to pay them back with the most precious gift life has to offer; a baby - my son, the next chapter of their legacy.
In return, my son gets to be raised so closely with his ancestors who raised me - to be loved, to learn from, to know where we come from, to know how far back in history our names go back to. A selfless cultural revitalization act. An agreement made in the skies long before I ever thought of becoming a parent - let alone a young single mother.
Coming from teen parents myself, I also got to experience the hard work, determination, and what it means to really have something to prove. Through my parents, I seen them seemingly lose everything, problem solve with little to no resources left due to assimilation efforts, reinvent, and rebirth themselves to accomplish everything that our oppressive society had put far out of their reach. They had set the bar high for me, because I now knew anything was obtainable - even when the most powerful oppressors made it so you’re left with nothing. I seen my parents become adults. I seen my parents become parents fifteen times over. I seen my parents become the most heroic grandparents. I seen my parents set stern examples after examples for me… and my son.
While time has made young parenthood something of a social epidemic, to me - it’s the traditional cycle of life. A continuous gift. Life lessons that I wouldn’t have learned other wise. Social identity and purpose beyond my own self. A belonging. My community. Our story. Revitalization.