As I walked down the aisle of a church to marry the love of my life, I knew that our future children would have a great last name. I always told myself that I would name my children for greatness, and that is what I did. My firstborn son’s name is Sean Andre McNabb (his name had to spell out his dad’s name, Sam, since I did not name him after his father.) Four years later, we had our second son. His name is Donovan, another great name. I wanted to make sure our children had great names to help eliminate the stereotype when it was time for them to get jobs. I wanted to make sure the employer looked at their credentials and not just their names.

I began my career working as a nurse’s aide, then I returned to school and became an LPN to complete my training as an RN. I worked hard at the office, but my job did not end there. I took the kids to school and to practice, every sport you could imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a single mom, my husband was right by my side. We worked together to raise fine African American men. We went to every sporting event they had, even if it was in a different state. Sometimes we would be considered the “team parents” because we watched out for every team member. Education was very important in our house. If the boys wanted to play sports, they had to make sure all of their school work was completed and that their grades were kept up.

Sean was a good boy, he worked hard at school and thought he was cute all the time. His grandparents were living and so, of course, the first grandchild of their only child was a treat. I had lots of help raising my sons and both of them knew it. If there was something we didn’t or wouldn’t get for them, of course, the grandparents would. It wasn’t very difficult as the first born was growing up. I think now as compared to then, bullying did not occur as much, especially when parents were always around and would speak to the perpetrator as well as call the perpetrators parents.

Another comparison would be parent-teacher conferences to check the grades and even look over papers the teacher may have put a bad grade on. I’m speaking of the younger son as he grew up and was in middle school. He had a problem with goofing off in the classroom.  I feel your conduct carries on from grade to grade when the teachers talk and know they’re about to get a certain child. Well, Donovan got a D on one of his papers and so I asked if I could see another student’s paper that had a better grade and compare it to my son’s. She obliged and as we both went thru the paper, and collaborated, she gave him a much better grade. Sometimes you have to be your child biggest supporter even if he talks too much! If they’re wrong, they’re wrong and I will be the first one to agree to that, but if there is something we can do to help it, that’s what a Mom does.

We wanted good grades more than athleticism. At least that’s what this Mom wanted. So, I was always looking for ways to assist my sons and keep them educationally relevant. By any means necessary. I remember Donovan wanted to take a driver’s education class but he had a practice of some sport in the evenings so he took summer classes at 7 am to get it in.

Raising boys in that age was always a challenge. They don’t have much discussion, they slept every opportunity they got, so they have to be motivated all the time. It would wear me out, but I did what I had to do. Some of my friends would say, you’re always at or driving to some sporting event. I would respond that “It’s okay, it’s for these kids of mine.”  I made sure to keep them busy and out of harm’s way, especially since we lived in Chicago.

As a Mother, you always bring that emotional aspect into a family. I would tell them both to say “I love you, brother”. I’d make my oldest be responsible for the youngest and literally be his brother’s keeper! They would have to go together to drop off dates if the girl lived in the city. Of course, they resisted and I would always say “forgive me if I love you”. That worked all the time. There were times when boys would do stupid things, yes, I said it, stupid things, and they would get it for that too. Back in those days they would be whooped not spanked. You couldn’t even say a word like “dang”. Sean tried that, ask him how that worked out for him.

To help keep our boys motivated, we paid them for good grades, making free throws, touchdowns and of course for completing their chores. My husband and I worked hard together raising our sons. They would have to do what was right and they didn’t have to worry about the repercussions associated with doing wrong. I guess as a Mom, I didn’t do too bad. They have grown up to be responsible husbands, fathers, and sons that think about their parents too. So, that investment in your children might not be so bad after all.