Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s out there! Now that I’m all grown up I can reflect on my childhood and can actually see how big of a job being a mom actually is. Anyone can have a kid and be a parent, but it takes something extra to be a dad and whole lot more to be a mom.
Growing up I wasn’t a bad kid (at least I don’t think so, lol) but I wasn’t the easiest kid on earth to deal with either. I remember vividly many times I did things that I’m sure my mom didn’t find ideal but despite our difference of opinions, she still allowed me to be myself. I remember when I was a kid and first infected with the virus I grew to love called hip-hop; I could damn near see the “why!?” in my mom’s face as she yelled and complained about my “rap crap” as I shuffled around the house with headphones on as if they were soldered to my head. My mom used this true talent hundreds of times over the years. No matter how odd crazy I dressed, the phases I went through and changes I’ve made over the years my mom always allowed me to do me. A few years after I was infected with the previously mentioned virus, I underwent numerous style changes (as most teenagers do) and no matter how freaky I dressed or how bizarre I started to look my mama never let her age, rank in the household and general parental authority take control and totally regulate my attire and appearance.
I remember when I was around fourteen and developed a fondness for high heels. That seems normal enough for a girl going through adolescence but since I’m not very tall I wanted to skip kitten heals and wedges and hop straight into four to five-inch stiletto heels. For ages my mom called them “hooker heels” (I never showed it then because I was too busy pretending to be tough, but I thought that was hilarious!) before finally loosening the reigns a bit. For a while high heels were all I’d wear to school but once the practicality wore off, so did me wearing those high ass heels. Around this same time I decided I wanted to try dying my hair. All of the other girls had blonde highlight so I wanted to experiment with my hair as well, but me being the jeanious that I am could not settle for normal hair colors like everyone else. Oh no, I wanted to be “different”. After months of begging, pleading and trying to explain why it wouldn’t be so bad my mom finally allowed me to color my hair for the first time. I chose to get a midnight blue rise; that way my hair would still not normal but color would be visible at the same time. Who would’ve guess that-that damn rise would deposit itself onto my clothes? lol. I ‘d come home from school, hop out of my school clothes to find a big glob of blue dye on the back of my shirts. Damn. After my rinse idea was foiled being the stubborn ass that I am, I didn’t give up on getting rinses, I simple changed the color and as opposed to coloring my own hair in the kitchen I had my (then) best friend who was pretty handy with a hot comb help me out. Once again, my mission was botched. My hair refused to turn red and I was sent back to the drawing board and back to my mom. After asking to move up to some more heavy-duty dye (semi-permenant) and with parental consent I proceeded. After coming home with bleach blonde roots, bright orange hair with fire engine red roots I saw my mom’s eyes get big as flying saucers. I was convinced she was either going to A) kill me B) beat me or the more logical C) flip the fuck out! Much to my surprise, she did none of those; she simply stared at my multi-colored head and tried to find the positiveness in it my telling me the colors looked nice together. Talk about shocked! That’s another thing that I’ve always wondered about my mom. I did a lot of dumb shit growing up and she got mad a lot of the time, but there were plenty of times when the reaction was nothing like I expected and actually turned out well. Was she being nice or did she really mean her kind-hearted response? Who knows! But it helped back then and that’s all that mattered.
In addition to me adding my own oddity to everything, my mom did a lot to ensure my upbringing was a bit different from my peers. I was one of the very few kids that had a home cooked meal every night and for damn sure was the only kid that had a real lunch packed everyday. Most kids had Lunchables but I brought chicken wrap pitas, fruit, beverages as well as snacks. I always had the best and most well stocked lunch bags but for some reason, didn’t eat any of it and generally gave it away to the (less fortunate) kids. For some reason I wanted to bring Lunchables like the other kids rather than eat my gourmet feats; the mind of a child, what a strange thing. My mom always made sure my sister and I ate well, lived well and knew right from wrong. It was a royal pain growing up but as I started to get older, I grew to be even more thankful for all that my mom had drilled into my mind.
Despite what seemed like a good idea to me, my mom took my education above and beyond in a number of ways. My mom did everything imaginable to ensure that my sister and I were not only book smart, but pretty street savvy as well. She gave both of us extra homework to do after school which put us both light years ahead of our peers, taught me how to be a lady but not dependant. I learned that ladies wear stockings, say “please”, “thank you” and use perfect manners, ladies are tactful and polite but never a push over. I learned that a lady should welcome help when invited but never go looking for it. If a man wants to date you, let him pay but never be a gold digger; those aren’t ladies, they’re hoes. A lady should be able to provide for herself and have a man as an accompaniment when things in her life are in order; not a sugar daddy that she can live off of. I learned these life lessons and more from my mom and it pains me that there are so many other girls in the world that didn’t learn these things from their moms. Oh well; guess that’s what makes my mom so awesome! 🙂
Another thing my mom taught me was to always think for myself. With this lesson learned after three semesters of college I chose to follow a different path in life. Rather than staying in college, getting a degree and getting a regular job like my peers I decided to answer Uncle Sam’s calling and join the Army. Initially when I enlisted into the National Guard my mom was not a happy camper and didn’t seem to support it one single bit. Either way, I did what I thought was best. After I returned from Basic Training and sat through another semester of school, scared as shit and prepared for a long, hard, stern talking to I told my mom that I was going to join the active Army and that I would not be returning to school the next semester. I can’t remember what she said to that but I remember clear as day that she wasn’t angry (or at least didn’t appear to be) and did not contest my decision. I thought I was going to pass out! I was so counting on a harsh reaction that I hadn’t even considered what I’d do in to alternative scenario. I also felt a little silly that I’d been planning what I was going to say and how I was going to tell her for the last two weeks, lol. Had I known things were going to go that easy I would’ve just spat it out, lol. Nearly three years later I couldn’t be happier in the Army and even happier that I held fast to what my mom taught me: Think for yourself. Do what’s best for you and don’t live your life for anyone other than yourself.
As I really reflect on my life up until this point there are still hundreds of situations I can recall when my mom was an actual mom when others would’ve been parents. Before I continue, let me make it clear, not all of these lessons were taught through loving lunches and uplifting talks; some of the most impactful came from quite the contrary. My mom is a really nice and kind person within reason, but when that reason expires, watch out! Growing up my sister and I lovingly called our mom “The Warden” and once I joined the Army she moved up to “Drill Sergeant” and that is the way she ran that house. Despite the fact that I was hell-bent on doing things my way, I damn sure followed the rod of correction’s directions and if I didn’t I had hell to pay. I used to think my mama was mean and vicious but after growing up and moving far away from home I can see clear as day that-that’s not the case. My mom taught me discipline, hard work, honor, order and respect. Those things I live my life by and truly hate that there are few left in the world that hold on to those principles. I’ll admit, it sucked learning those sorts of lessons growing up but I’m damn glad that I did.
There was a few years of my life when I was a very dishonest and untrustworthy person. It’s not my intention to make excuses for it, but I was going through a lot in my small world and generally lied to cover what I did and more commonly, didn’t do. I lied to damn near everyone about damn near everything and at one point it’d gotten so bad my mom actually told me how she felt about it and explained that my word was no good and why. That part came as no shock to me; who would trust a liar? What did shock me though was the sheer conviction in my mom’s voice and the look on her face when she was yelling at me. My mom yelled at me a lot so the harsh words weren’t new to me but that dead-serious look of “Why are you doing this? You know better and you’re better than this” in my mother’s eyes pierced my soul and inspired a real change. Ever since that day (which was many years ago) I’ve never told a lie and work double time to be the most honest and trustworthy person you’ll ever meet. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but until that very moment with my mom I’d never known how important things like honesty were. The same applies for the other previously mentioned principles.
On that same two-headed coin, there were plenty of times when my mom’s forward and direct to parenting although hurtful at the time, but came in really handy! Due to my age there were plenty of times when people spared me the harsh reality of what was going on or hid the truth; not my mom! I remember one year I wanted a specific dress to wear on my birthday. I begged, pleaded and actually thing I cried to get this dress but my mom’s answer remained the same: “No! You don’t even like dresses and that thing looks like a drape!”. I was so hurt, and ever determined to get that dress! Finally, I suckered one of my Grannies into buying my that dress and much to my surprise but none of her’s, I wound up hating that damn dress. The Warden was right; it was hideous, didn’t fit right and I really didn’t like it that much at all. I hated when my mom was right but this go round I learned a valuable lesson: when in doubt, seek a second opinion, lol.
Since the start of this post I’ve been trying to narrow down what I think the single hardest part of being a mom is. There are so many parts of the job that are difficult. The whole process of labor probably sucks, stressing out about where your kid is after 10:00 PM probably is no fun, but I think the toughest part of the job is being able to let your child be themselves despite what you think and how you personally feel. I think this can be most clearly illustrated when I got my first tattoo. In the state of Michigan you can get a tattoo if you are under age if you have a parent or legal guardian sign a waiver for you. It was my 17th birthday and I’d told my parents that the only thing I wanted was permission to get a tattoo. I can imagine my parents went back and forth on this for a little while before coming to a consensus and much to my surprise, they said “yes!”. Neither of my parents are tattoo people so as you can probably imagine this wasn’t an easy situation for them either. Despite their personal beliefs and opinions my parents drove me around to various tattoo shops in the Detroit area before we found one that I’d get the work done at. After that huge step was taken my mom signed the waiver allowing me to get a tattoo and I made my appointment. I’d asked my mom to drop me off at the tattoo shop on the day of my appointment (since she really didn’t support it I didn’t think she’d want to watch me get it done) but much to my surprise she accompanied me to my appointment and once it was completed cleaned it for me for the first few days, put the ointment on it and changed the bandage because I was too much of a weenie to do it myself. Wow! I think that was really big of my mom and why I think putting the needs (and sometimes wants) of your kids above your own is the hardest part of a mom’s job. It takes a big person to support someone who is partaking in something that you don’t condone. Despite how hard I’m sure it is, I’m happy and truly thankful that my mom was big enough to master that skill.
Sometimes my mom got her point across with kindness, sometimes by force, sometimes with her conviction and other times just by living her life. Either way, no matter what it took, how long it took or how I received it I learned everything my mom tried to teach me and can finally see how hard of a job it is to be a mom. Not a parent, but a mom, a mother, one how takes care of her children and goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure they will not only survive in life but also has the tools to surpass what they were able to accomplish in their younger years. A mom is a very special person and one hell of a job. Big up’s to all of you mom’s out there and an extra special shout out to my high-speed and equally motivated mom! Happy Mother’s Day Ma!