Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there! Whether you have biological children, step children, foster children, adopted children, angel children, or act as a mother in some capacity as a teacher, I wish you happy day and sense of accomplishment in knowing that YOU make all the difference in the world.
Today I would like to dedicate this post to my own mother. No, I didn’t hatch from an egg; someone actually birthed me! My mother’s name is Jackie, and she married at 18 and had me, her eldest, just a hair shy of her 20th birthday. During my childhood and adolescence my Daddy made a decent salary that enabled Mama to stay home with me and my little brother. She did all the requisite mother-type things: she cooked, she cleaned, she did laundry, but there are also alot of special things she did that we took for granted. In our family is it a well-known fact that Mama absolutely HATES eating breakfast; she says eating so early makes her sick to her stomach. In true mother fashion she always made us breakfast, usually a bowl of grits or some cheese toast, even though her stomach churned while doing it. On cold winter mornings she would heat our clothes in the dryer before we got dressed so we’d slip out of a warm, snuggly bed and directly into warm, snuggly clothes. She drove us to school every day and kissed us goodbye, always telling us, “Have a good day, and do your best!” She picked us up every afternoon, and if I had afterschool obligations such as academic team practice or flag corps practice she would pick me up at whatever odd hour I needed.
My Mama is a wonderful cook; her own parents were born and raised country folk from Georgia, and Mama learned how to make good ol’ Southern food like fried chicken, biscuits, black eyed peas, fried okra, cabbage, etc. My Cuban grandmother taught Mama how to make Cuban food for my dad so in addition to cooking soul food Mama made awesome tamales, picadillo, ropa vieja, black beans and rice, mojo pork, papas rellenos, empanadas, yucca, and plantains. Mama taught me how to cook as a child when I showed alot of interest, and I’m proud to say that I could cook spaghetti, eggs, and bake cakes by the time I was 10.
Mama was there for me as I grew from a child into a teenager and then into a young woman. She told me once, “If you ever have any questions about whatever, just come and ask. No judgment. You won’t get in trouble.” I took that to heart, and she stayed true to her word. She took me shopping for my first bra when I was 8 (I developed kind of early), and she taught me how to shave my legs too. She hightailed it to the A&P and bought me maxi pads when I got my first period. She was there my senior year in high school to take me to my first gynecologist visit, and she held my hand during the exam.
Mama was excited for me when I met my first husband and was ecstatic when we got engaged. She really liked him. Hell, we all liked him until he showed his true colors and started abusing me. She was thrilled when I filed for divorce and insisted that I leave my apartment in Georgia to move in with her and Daddy in Texas (they lived there for about 8 years because of Dad’s job). I did. When I worked as a travel nurse and booked a job in Alaska for a summer she was really happy. She cried when I left home with my red Corolla packed to the brim and Daddy next to me in the front seat. Daddy, bless his heart, took two weeks of vacation and drove with me from Houston to Anchorage, and the best part was that I paid for the entire trip. Daddy got me settled in the company housing then flew home. At the end of the summer it was Mama’s turn for a trip; I flew her to Alaska, and we spent 3 days touring Anchorage and the surrounding areas. She and I drove to Las Vegas where I was to work next. We had so much fun. When we got to Vegas she took me to my first casino and gambled with me!
Mama (and Daddy too) were absolutely thrilled when I married J. J is from the same small town in GA as my family, and they know unequivocally what kind of man he was. J and I settled in Arizona, and I talked to Mama most every day on the phone. When I got pregnant with G the first person I called was Mama. Her reaction shocked me though; she was upset. Years later she said it was because she kept thinking of me as being too young, even though I was 26. She quickly got excited though; as I called other family members to tell them we were expecting I found that Mama had beaten me to the punch. My parents have always lived paycheck to paycheck, but Mama insisted on buying G a car seat and stroller and his crib. I was touched. When I flew home to GA for my baby shower, my darling Maw-Maw (my mom’s mom) took me shopping at Carter’s to buy a ton of clothes because she worked for Carters and got a 50% discount. I would go and pick up a pack of onesies or a sleeper or an outfit and Mama would blurt out, “I already bought that!” She had bought so many things for G at Carter’s that I barely got to shop! She flew out to Arizona the day after G was born, and when she entered the hospital room and saw me holding my own baby she burst into tears. She was such a big help. She held G while I napped, she helped me bottle my pumped milk, she cleaned my apartment, and she cooked some food.
Years and years of working as a nurse and the associated stress began to take a toll on me, and I became more and more depressed. I mentioned in another post that I just couldn’t cope anymore and started using drugs. When I hit rock bottom I told Mama what had happened. She cried but assured me that she was there for me. And she was.
When I got pregnant with P in late 2010 my mom was so happy! Around 28 weeks or so I started having really frequent contractions, and my doctor put me on bed rest. Mama, bless her heart, left my Daddy and flew out here to take over the house and caring for G. She cooked. She cleaned. She played with G for hours on end. She made me rest, she rubbed my feet and legs, and she played with my tummy non-stop. Her favorite thing to do was perch the remote control on top of my tummy while I lay on the sofa; whenever P moved or kicked the remote would wobble frantically which made Mama laugh. One time P kicked so hard the remote fell off my belly and onto the floor; I think Mama peed in her pants laughing. As my due date approached I started having BP problems. Mama continued to help as much as she could. We would get ill with each other and yell sometimes, but I knew she loved me and put up with my shit because I was a giant, uncomfortable hormonal blob. The doctor decided to induce me on July 27; we had planned to take G to his kindergarten orientation that morning, but Mama said she would take him. I labored for hours and hours with my cervix stuck at 4 cm, and late that night the doctor took me for a C-Section. We didn’t tell Mama because we didn’t want her to worry. When P was born J took a picture of him on his cell phone, and sent it to Mama while I was still on the table getting stitched up. Not 5 minutes after I got out of surgery and back to my room Mama and G were there. She had even stopped at Safeway so G could buy me flowers. I delighted in watching her with her second grandson.
I miss Mama every day, and I hate living 2000 miles from her and Daddy. She is my best friend. We talk on the phone most days, and I sit in front of the computer with the kids and Skype with them 4 or 5 times a week. Mama sings P songs and tries to get him to laugh; she listens to G talk about school and games he plays on the Nintendo Wii. It’s beautiful to see Mama be a Na-Na, but it would be a whole lot better if we lived closer so she could do it in person.
So, Mama, thank you for all you taught me growing up and all you did for me to make me into the woman I am today. I am a good mother to my own boys because I learned from you. I love you.