I won’t claim to know the depth of love a mother has for her children; how she will war for them without hesitation, disciplines them when it’s necessary, and sacrifices to keep them sustained.
She is a queen who does not own any crowns except the one on her head, yet she dazzles the earth with her power.
I can’t say I know what she has had to do in order to make $15.00 last until the next payday with two other mouths to feed, but I know the glow around her as it shines to reach the rest of us.
And as we stand outside of her realm, us … the mothering ones, watching her and taking notes, we can somewhat understand.
If you are a nurturer, caretaking for someone who needs an extra hand, I see you. If you race toward the overtime offers to pull in additional funds for a senior pet, a niece or nephew, or your neighbor’s neglected twins, I see you.
If you haven’t slept in three days because your dying cat’s medicine cost more than your groceries, I see you. If you are an older sibling putting your sisters and brothers ahead of your wants & needs, I k n o w that place.
And as we all catapult ourselves into a constantly taking world, we give and give and give until the last bit of us is dried up and gone.
And even then, we’ll give some more.
For the mothering ones; Your plight is one that cannot be denied, and with every piling day, may your existence be praised from the pits of full bellies, from the mouths of babes, and from the people who need you most.
The workaholic Who never has enough sleep Cares for everyone
Undeniable My gift to you is this love Your existence saves
Mothers, God bless you You bloom when we all wither Weeping willows sing
Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who are mothers, those of you mothering others who are not your own, caretakers and rescuers and do-gooders. Thank you for who you are and what you do. I celebrate you.
Part VI: Realizing my mothering days will never be over
My mother came to stay with me from April 20, 2021, until April 24, 2021. The intent? To be here with me after my consultation and workup for keratoconus on April 22, 2021. I had been informed prior to the appointment by the nurse that I could have blurry vision for a few hours. My mother thought it best to be here so she could help with Jernee. I will preface this by saying, I am not used to having someone in my space for more than three days (or needing assistance or reaching out for it) and each time my mom stays with us past that mark (it’s not often — it’s quite rare), I am further reminded of why I left home at such a young age.
To say that we are vastly different would not cut it. I am daytime and my mother is nightfall. We are at two different ends of a spectrum yet — the love we have for each other knows no bounds. As I age, I thank God for lending me another year so I can continue to try to understand the woman who gave birth to me.
Will I ever succeed in this? Or, will I die trying?
I want to be optimistic about who we are and the fact that we still have growing to do and we will accomplish that together but an aching nag in the back of my mind tries to subdue me and cause me to believe it is impossible.
I can see a picture of us with growth behind us that leads to a positive outcome years from now, but I can also see a picture of the opposite. Which one will prevail?
Those days spent with my mother a couple weeks ago, ushering in earlier dinner times and trying to be patient with her long, drawn-out stories and rehashing of things said earlier in the day could not end soon enough. My mother will be sixty years old this year and there are already signs of her mental faculties closing in on her. When I was in my teens, she spent most of her money and time depositing various drugs into her system including copious amounts of alcohol.
She had been running away from who she was for several years and now it seems as if she is circling back to that past person sans drugs, of course. Her temperament is easily disrupted. A word that is spoken out of turn or in reference to something she may have said that was incorrect will send harmful epithets flying in the very direction of those she loves.
We have many conversations about her failing memory and how if I truly needed someone to take care of me should an extreme turn of events occur, she may in fact not be that person. I do not feel confident lending my life to her — not in that way and it pains me to say so — to even see the words typed on-screen, causes me to tear up.
What do you do when you’ve mothered a mother who was a mother before her time and you may have to keep mothering her well before you think it’s time?
At the age of eighteen, motherhood was thrust upon her and although she used to tell me she was ready, she truly wasn’t. Neither of my parents was. The two of them have my great-grandmothers, grandmother, godmother, and older aunts to thank for helping them raise me. And with this, what did they get? A little girl who was mature enough to handle certain situations they could have never thought of handling while they were growing up. I also had the label “grown” thrown at me more times than I care to remember.
To grow alongside one’s parents is an odd thing. My mother was my mother but felt more like a friend. My father was my father but felt more like the homeboy up the block I played basketball with to sharpen my skills. We were all growing up together but I was being groomed, it seemed, to be more of an adult than them.
And when their divorce happened, so did the crash into drugs for my mother and my taking over her mothering role, and it kind of stuck. So, instead of being an actual sister to my siblings, I am more of a godmother or a mother or a being they show far more respect to than they do their own parents. It doesn’t feel good — it isn’t something for which I applaud them. I am rather upfront about how I feel they should treat our parents.
I don’t like the angered human being who spews out never-ending wrath because of trapped pain or perhaps the fear of aging or perhaps the fear of losing a handle on her children even more? I believe my mother felt useful being here with me during those few days but swiftly noticed that I was still as independent as I have always been.
So, where did that place her? How could she try to insert her mother role if there were no more opportunities?
In walks Jernee . . . the nine-pounder who has truly stolen my mother’s heart. I enjoyed every moment (as I always do) watching my mother and my dog interact. Jernee has a favorite spot whenever my mother visits or when we visit my mother and that’s as close to her nana as she can get. My mother is calm with her, undeniably sweet, and rubs or pats her tummy or back until Jernee falls asleep.
She is cautious in how she prepares her food and is rather vocal to anyone who thinks Jernee can have every treat there is under the sun (she can’t, she has various allergies and I am serious about not having her hospitalized again for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis). She will let you know in a way in which you will not forget that Jernee “cannot have that. Thank you, but no thank you.”
She loves on her with genuine sincerity and this touches me at the very center of who I am and I cannot help but appreciate the love she pours into this pet who means so much to me.
Not a grandmother (my nieces and nephews are my dad’s grandchildren), my mom shows me the mothering qualities she has stored up over the years in hopes of using once again, are carefully being issued to her “granddog.”
It is in her voice — in the way she lures Jernee to her. It is in the way she takes her time with Jernee who now, sometimes struggles to see late at night. It is also in the way she disciplines me for attempting to demand something of Jernee.
I look at the two of them together and there is no doubt in my mind that my mom is mothering the way she has always wanted to. And all it took was a connection to my dog who has really become “our family’s dog” since I introduced them to one another thirteen years ago.
We may not be the best mother-daughter team but we know our flaws and we’re willing to continue to work on them and get better at being open to the changes occurring. We will forever be works in progress but we have come so far and the war still rages.
Both of us are warriors, ready for battle — ready to keep each other first, no matter the cost. I realize now — I’ll always mother someone for it is deeply ingrained in who I am. And perhaps my mother will no doubt use her newfound mothering skills to press forward into the coming years sharpening those skills.
Maybe with her human grandchildren, if two of my brothers decide to actually make that dream a reality. I can almost smell the love in the air.
I think we’re ready.
To those of you mothering mothers who have lost their way, mothers who cannot remember their roles, or mothers who look up to you more than you can fathom, this is for you. Mothers and mothering people giving your all to your children or someone else’s, thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.
I mother no one. There’s no one for me to mother. To hold, to kiss, to shelter away from every storm . . . I want the one thing I cannot have and this damn global pandemic is making it worse. I missed the opportunity of spreading love to my own, of carrying on a bloodline that would have my eyes for years after my death. What it felt like to learn, to know, to be told that had I pursued attempting to have children, I would not be successful: I had no words. But my mother — she took a chance on bringing me into this world. No one had a say in if she would or would not do it. She wanted to. I hear my mother’s voice — the phone is an okay replacement, but it doesn’t give me the full view of her.
There’s no surround-sound Angie.
I want to see her in animated form, in her bold and “say what I want to say” presence. My mother doesn’t care about the thoughts of others — how one may view her, viewed her, will view her . . . She has always been matter-of-factly, no-nonsense, and vocal. She is a spark — she’ll light up any room.
Every year, I am given another three hundred sixty-five days to grow with her and learn her too. She is sometimes fearful of what to say around me, though, of how to say what she wants to say. She tells me, “I can’t say things the way you can. It won’t sound the way I want it to sound.” I encourage her to “just say it, Mom.” And she does, no holds barred.
I envy that — the courage to speak without fear. To be brave enough to open my mouth and say what I truly want to say, but most times, I cannot. I have to write it, instead. And the thing I want most is the opposite of what my mom wants. If we traded characteristics and did things differently, we wouldn’t be who we are. I lift her up when she needs it. She makes me laugh when I need it. Have you ever heard anyone cuss better than a sailor? You haven’t heard my mother . . . She can hopscotch with shit, plant marigolds with fuck, and damn anyone from North Carolina to Texas without flinching.
It is not her use of vulgar language that I want to highlight. It is not her boisterous ways or her inability to care about the thoughts of others when pertaining to her, no . . . it is her undeniable source of strength and never-ending love for me. To have a child who ventures out into the world to a job that exposes her to a threatening virus daily and not lose your mind takes resilience. It takes a healthy dose of sanity and resistance to breaking. I will never know the pain she knows. I will never feel the emotions piling up on her wondering, praying, and hoping for her child — for her children.
I am ordered to call or text her when I get home. If I am off, I am asked to let her know this. My whereabouts are simple; work, home, and the occasional errand run if needed. Before this downward spiral of our world, we spoke almost every day — her calling more than I would. Now, I make it a point to pick up the phone to let her know when I have made it home and when I plan on venturing out again (if I need to). I am covered by her love. I am surrounded by her prayers. I can feel her tears. They are all a part of every breath I take when I step outside my door.
I have not seen my mother since mid-March. I have not held her. I have not hugged her. I have not dwelled in the welcoming fragrances of her home in two months and I would be lying if I said it is not affecting me. It is. I have lived farther away from my mom than I do now, but that was by choice. I needed to be away from her. There were circumstances then that had proven best for the both of us for me to be as far away as I was. Now that we have grown and significant changes have taken place on both our parts, I would not want to be that far away again.
The simple act of a hug, an embrace calls to me more than it ever has before. I yearn to hold my mother and I cannot. I yearn to stand near her, to welcome her into my home, and I cannot. The last thing I would want to do is put her in any semblance of danger given my place of work and what I do. If I did not have my wits about me, I would pull my hair out. I never thought I would miss something as small as a hug — the physical act of showing someone you truly care . . .
This Mother’s Day, I cannot do what I want to do most — hold mine in my arms.
*For mothers yearning to hold their mothers. Mothers who have lost their mothers. Mothers who are mothering their own without being able to mother them. For mothers yet still holding on to the power of not letting go. Happy Mother’s Day.
For Mothers Lost, Mothers Yet Still Mothering, and Mothers Who Mother Others
It is Mother’s Day and I am outside walking the dog, listening to the sounds of the closest highway, hearing them, there is nothing that I can say that I have not already said about this day. But, I will say what I can. Mothers, you have a gift. You were given the knowledge to raise and keep up with little versions of you. How tiresome that must be on a daily basis. How incredible the strength must be to last for days on end. Knowing that you would be someone that someone else would look up to is a pressure and a weight that I cannot even bear.
Mothers, I appreciate you.
As I walk the hills of my apartment complex, I envision the days that my mother and I had our outs. But, we survived and are surviving. I am grateful for the chance to say that we moved through a tumultuous time and we are rising to the top. It is 2019, and I have entered my 39th year, and I still mother no one in the actual defining terms of a mother — one who gives birth to someone. But, I did mother. I do Mother. I am mothering younger versions of me, my cousins, and others and I get to see what this life could have been, but only part-time. And that is best for me. The older I get, the more I know this to be true.
Part-time mothering of others is significantly different from Full-time mothering of your own.
On this day, I wish you peace, love, light, a home-cooked meal that does not come from your hands and toil in the kitchen, and the overwhelmingly powerful gift of appreciation. You deserve it. If you are mothering the way you should — you deserve it. If your children can say positively that you are their mother and they say it proudly — you deserve it. If you have given your all, including everything left after it — you deserve it. If you messed up, lost track, received help, and are on your way to the betterment of both you and your children — you deserve it.
I wish I could make each and every one of you smile, offer a hug, a kind word on more than just one day of this year, but here are a few…
For those of you yet still mothering, those who mother others, those who are growing from the pain of not being mothered, and all others who fall in the category of mothering and the mothered…
We are sending you a heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day.
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