With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it is perhaps seems the perfect time to celebrate the contributions of my mother. As a young black woman, I’ve been force fed the influence of countless black superstars ranging from pop superstars to reality stars. However, it was my mother who bore this original slot of influence. Her almond eyes are reminiscent of the timeless Phylicia Rashad, her smile enchanting enough to make Janet Jackson scream.
But beyond her beauty, my mother gifted me the fundaments of being a black woman in America. So I proudly bring you “lessons from my mother.”
Take pride in your appearance
As a child I recall waking up to the scent of my mother’s perfume. Her dresser could give the counter at Macy’s a run for their money with the assortment of perfume at her manicured fingertips. Each day was an opportunity to glide through the world with style and leave a trail of perfume behind. In addition to her scent, my mother was and is primped to perfection from her eyebrows down to her toenails. Now, my mother was never vain. Rather, she demonstrated courage to love her beauty in a society that conditions her shame.
This bring me to the next lesson learned from my mother: Courage.
Whether it was of merely issuing an opinion, my mom was never shy to speak her mind. While this seemed like second nature to her, her actions taught me that I was worth standing up for and worthy of having my voice heard.
The topic of worthiness is the perfect Segway to my next lesson. In my mother’s determination to teach me my worth, she made sure I would not be the means of my own destruction. One of the most resounding attempts, was in lessons my mom gave me on the importance of taking care of my hair.
Take care of your hair
Consistently praised for my academic endeavors, I was not confident in my appearance as a child. So while I see the beauty in my hair today, as a child it was a source of pain.
Though I begged for the perm that would transform my locks from curly to straight, my hair went from wavy to braided. From corn rolls to box braids, I must have adorned at least fifty different braided styles throughout my youth.
It took me years, but I was grateful for my mom’s treatment of my hair. Perms offered temporary fulfillment to those who welcomed them into their scalp early, as it significantly compromised their locks as a result.
So I appreciate my mother not only because she maintained the integrity of my hair, but for teaching me that my hair is a source of envy, not a source of shame.
Being weird is a good thing
The word “weird” is one that’s followed me throughout my adult life. The conversations with my mother that followed my labeling as “weird” resulted in an enlightenment that I’ve carried with me ever since. In response to my frustrations she responded with the following: “To me being weird is a compliment. I mean who wants to be just like everyone else?”
The simplicity of her response washed over me like a cool rain amidst the summer heat. It was in that moment that I felt the joy of my difference. I wasn’t like everyone else, and that was a good thing.
Husbands only, No baby’s fathers
The older I get, the more I am able to see that we lead best in what we do, not what we say. With that said, my mother’s performance within the bounds of matrimony were a great lesson to me. She only bore the children of men who asked for her hand in marriage, and taught me that I too am worthy of such commitment.
Education is not an option
From sitting on the wooden floor in our apartment doing Hooked on Phonics, to practicing my penmanship before beginning nursery school, my mother made the value of education the foundation of my childhood. This value for education nurtured my love for reading and writing and made me excited to begin my collegiate career.
I credit my mother for my academic pursuits and my lifetime commitment to education as a means of mental liberation.
Mothers are instantly their child’s first teachers, holding their hand as they learn to walk and eventually as they learn to cross the street.
While it has been over two decades since I learned to walk, the lessons of my mother continue to guide me as her hands once did. Her voice- whispers in my mind as I stroll through life and even as I articulate my ideas on this blog. Furthermore, I am forever indebted to my mother as my mom, but also as a remarkable woman. Performing in the majesty of her legacy as a black woman, my mom’s influence is as big as the continent that hovers over the black diaspora like a halo.
I love you mom, but more so I appreciate you-not just on Mother’s Day, but every day.