I know that Mother’s Day is tomorrow, so I want to write something related to my mom and mothers in general (sure) – but I wasn’t sure what angle to take. I have written the “my mom means so much to me” post before, and the “I love you” post too, so maybe it’s time I salute her mom-isms that I’ve inherited this time around.
The funniest thing about this post is that it’s going to be full of little moments that she may not even 100% remember or realize I was paying attention to and how those shaped me. I guess that’s the fun surprise part of being a parent (which I know nothing about, btw – I’m just guessing): You don’t know how you’re impacting the little human you’re raising.
All of this is paraphrased & presented in no particular order.
Anyway, let’s go.
“Always make sure you wear clean underwear.”
This was from a hilarious random life tip that my mom dropped on me one day when I was much younger (like in middle school or something). She was basically on a rant about hygiene and calmly dropped this gem. She basically reasoned that you never know when you may end up in a situation that someone needs to see your underwear, so keep them clean.
And she was right.
I have always remembered this bit of knowledge and one day in college I got into a bad car accident and had to be taken to the hospital. I was conscious, but I had to strip once I got to the hospital so they could clean me up (there was blood) and get my head patched up (there were staples involved). Anyway, I always remember how relieved I was at that moment that I was wearing clean underwear and thankful that my mom drilled that one into me – LOL!
Moral of the story: Hygiene. Practice it even when you don’t think anyone is looking.
“I’m happy with your brother being with whoever makes him happy.”
My older brother was dating a White girl back when I was in eighth grade. I recall being out with him and her one night and we walked past these two older Black women who voiced their disapproval of my brother being with the girl (it was a different time, although a lot is still the same these days – anyway…).
So, I told my mom about that moment once and I was curious how she felt about it as a Black woman herself (yeah, I’ve always been inquisitive). And my mom basically said she’s happy for my brother being with whoever makes him happy, and she’ll be happy for me with whoever I ended up with.
I could tell she was a little disapproving of it herself at the time (my mom is a Black woman from the South born in an even less racially open time), but she meant every word she’d just said. She just wanted us to be happy and she didn’t care how that looked. This taught me to accept your kids for who they are and to love them unconditionally. It also taught me that racism is stupid and I was proud of her in this moment.
“You broke up for a reason, don’t just go back.”
Every parent stands a strong chance of seeing their child experience heartache at one point or another. My mom has seen me take my fair share of lumps in that department. At one particular juncture in high school (maybe super early college), she told me that the young lady and I didn’t work out for reasons and that one day I’d realize I was being protected and saved for something better, etc. She also then pointed out that if ol’ girl tried to come back, I should think and remember everything and that we didn’t work out for reasons – and I shouldn’t be so quick to revisit that if the opportunity presents itself.
Sure enough – this woman saw into the future. When this person briefly came back into my life and tried to rekindle certain things, I was thoughtful enough to not act on past attachments but to really think about it before I acted. I did. I kept my distance, and I think we’re both happier because of it (me and the girl – not me and my mom). Anyway, I kept my mom’s words in my mind that entire time and I just know to think before I act because of this nugget of wisdom.
“Are you sexually active? Do you need Condoms?”
I remember being about 15 or 16 when my mom casually dropped these questions on me while we were out eating lunch at a restaurant. I was embarrassed by the line of questioning, but I was also comfortable telling her what was up (I told her “no” for those who wanted to know).
You see, my mom was younger when she had my oldest (eldest?) brother Kevin – so she’s never judged people who were sexually active at early ages. She’s just always encouraged me to make smart decisions and be safe because STIs (STDs at the time) were real. I learned that it’s ok to talk to your kids about sex with this one — and not just on some “birds and the bees” stuff, but legit “wrap it up” type conversations.
She has always had a way of approaching uncomfortable topics in a way that makes the person she’s speaking with feel a bit more at ease (I have seen her approach awkward talks with others in a similar way), and I try to approach difficult issues with the same tact. I am nowhere near as skilled as she is at this one, but I’m learning.
“I wish your father well.”
My parents are divorced. That happened when I was much younger.
At some point when I was older, I flat out asked my mom how she felt about my dad and things he was up to at the time. Aside from saying she’s not as concerned about it anymore, she shared that she wished him well. Knowing a bit more about what went down at the time since I was older, I remember being a little shocked by her composure about it. My dad isn’t a terrible person or anything, sometimes marriages just don’t work out — but my mom had her reasons to be upset at the time, and she wasn’t.
This taught me grace, forgiveness, and how to move on in moments where you may never get the apology that you (and others) feel you deserve. It was a powerful lesson from a powerful example that didn’t just hit home for me, but shaped my home life.
“If you smoke and drink, I’d rather you do that at home.”
My mom wasn’t “the party mom”. She was cool & still is — but she wasn’t the mom who was obsessed with being the best friend to her child. She was my loving parent and guardian first (and is also my friend).
I say that just to put the header of this one in context. She wasn’t saying, “Dear, son — Turn up.” She was just letting me know that if I was involved in anything delinquent at the time (this was back in high school) – she’d rather I did that in the safety of our home in case something went wrong.
There was a mixture of safety and psychology with how open she was in how she approached this. People drink and smoke in my family, she knew this – so there was no reason to act like it didn’t exist. She enjoyed the occasional drink socially, so she wasn’t going to tell me it was this terrible thing just because society says so. But she kind of put the ball in my court.
There’s an amazing mental element there between a parent and their child because you stop the “Romeo & Juliet Effect” thing from happening (basically, the more you tell me I can’t have something – the more I want it). Aside from the sip of my dad’s beer I had when I was like five or six (he let me sip it b/c I kept bothering him about it and cracked up because he knew I’d think it was incredibly gross), I didn’t have any alcohol until I turned 21.
I learned not to hold too tightly and let people become who they will become from this one.
“I never thought she was right for you.”
My mom said these now infamous words years after me and an ex had ended. We were talking over lunch (as we often do), and she asked me if I talked to “so & so” anymore since I was talking about someone new. I told her “no” regarding that person, and then my mom fully disclosed the unsolicited feedback – LOL!
This one makes me laugh because I completely forgot that she just wants to see her kids happy no matter who they’re with. She might have her opinions about your partner, but unless they’re completely disrespectful, my mom won’t say anything to mess up your relationship.
This taught me that I can’t count on my mom as a reliable source of who I am and am not right with romantically. She is just too nice about it and wouldn’t really help me discern from my rose-colored glasses 🤣
“Friends come and go, family is forever.”
No family is perfect. We all know this to some degree, right?
Well, my mom has always taught me to support our family members through thick and thin because blood is thicker than water and all that. No matter how mad you all may get with each other, the world is already against you pretty much all the time, you may as well support your blood when you can (unless they’re just wrong and doing criminal things or something evil).
She has always stressed to me that even though I may not be the closest with all of my family members (a lot of that’s on me), they’re still family and you should love each other. And you know what — I think we do. Family reunions with my family are always fun when I can make it. Holidays are great for catching up. Seeing them succeed warms my heart and my spirit.
I am happy my mom taught me that because I see people forsake family on a regular basis for different reasons. And I’m not saying they’re wrong, I’m just saying they don’t seem happy about it. I want to be happy in life, and I think this lesson from my mom has done more than I realize in helping me pull that off so far.
That is all I got with this one.
Moms are amazing blessings in our lives (for most), so if yours is around – call her and let her know you love her. Do that often – not just on Mother’s Day. Do it like every other day or twice a week. Something! Trust me, you’re making her day by still keeping up a good relationship with her even when you’re older and have long moved from under her roof.
Our parents do and sacrifice more for us than we sometimes realize, and letting them know we appreciate them before they’re gone from this mortal space shouldn’t be hard and is one of life’s simple little pleasures. I have seen enough friends and family talk about not having their moms around at this point in my life that I know to be grateful mine is still here.
Love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
The soundtrack for this post provided by…
All Images © Johnnie Weathersby III