Sunday, May 13, 2018

Looking at Mom in a Different Way This Mother's Day

A year ago on Mother's Day I wrote a blog post titled Some Mother-Daughter Relationships are Complicated  In it, I talked about the challenges I faced with my mother throughout her life.  I wrote about her negative behavior, which I thought was some type of mental illness and our fractured relationship, which has been that way as long as I can remember.   

But today when I went to church and listened to the Pastor's message, I began to see my mother in a different light.  I think I gave her too much credit for knowing exactly what motherhood meant. That would have to be difficult if you had no one to nurture you, especially since my aunt (who was five years older than my mother) always took credit for raising her since their mother was dead and as the Pastor pointed out, we all know there is no training manual on How to be a Mother.  It is on-the-job-training so if you aren't trained properly, then you will go through a baptism by fire and hope you come out unscathed. Personally, I don't think my mother ever came out of the fire but I do believe she gave what she could with what she had mentally.

As I reflect back on my life, there are things I clearly remember about my mother going to bat for me as a child. When I was in elementary school, they used to do something called "tracking."  That's where you separate kids by their academic abilities.  When it was time for second grade, I noticed that all of the kids I thought were smart (and white) were all in Miss Malone's class.  I, on the other hand, was put in Miss Glendenning's class with the average kids (most of whom were black).  I went home crying because I wanted to be in Miss Malone's class and felt I deserved to be there.  My mother took me to school the next day, met with the Principal and the next thing I knew I was transferred into Miss Malone's class.  That was MY mama's doing I'm sure.

Another incident occurred when I thought I should be in the 2nd grade Bluebirds reading group (for the BEST readers) but I was in the Redbirds (a step below).  I complained to my mother.  She made another trip to the school and I was moved up.  That was my mama's doing AGAIN.  And I'm proud to say, she didn't live to regret her decision to fight for me.

Since I went to a neighborhood school within walking distance, many times she and other parents would rotate and open up their kitchens as the cafeteria and become the "lunch mom" for us.  She treated my friends as well as if they were her own---and yes, they got yelled at and spanked too!

She was active in the PTA and never missed any school events or performances I was involved in.  She made sure I did my homework before I could go outside or turn on the TV.

Before every High School Speech tournament, I would practice my Original Oratory in front of my mom.  She didn't offer much feedback but she did listen.

When I went away to college, she would call me every year on my birthday at 3:11 p.m. to remind me that's the time I was born. She did that for many, many years and then all of a sudden just stopped one year shortly after my dad passed away in 1983.  She also came to my Homecoming Weekend to support me in my quest to become the Homecoming Queen (I was 1st runner up).  And what I remember from that was, she rolled her eyes at the person who won.  But that's who she was.

She and my dad made me go to church every Sunday and I always remember her telling me to "look up and know where your help comes from."

My mother was bold and brash.  She didn't take anybody's mess and once you got on her bad side, you stayed there forever.  She wasn't the most forgiving person and she didn't bite her tongue about anything.

So instead of using this Mother's Day to reflect on my mother's negative qualities, I choose to remember the good things she did.  This is a part of my healing---letting go of the anger and bitterness I've felt and choosing, instead, to reflect on her redeeming qualities.  Just as the Pastor said, "moms give what they can in the best way they know how."  And why should I blame her if she just didn't know how to give it the way I felt I should receive it?

I may not have gotten the Mom I wanted but I have to believe God gave me the one I needed.

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