In the 43 years of my life, my mother has always been my strongest supporter, even when she knew and/or believed I was making some silly/terrible mistake that she knew she couldn’t save me from or knew that saving me from it wouldn’t help me learn from my own experiences.
My parents taught me to walk and talk, to read and write, to be a good citizen, to work and play well with others, to brush my teeth in the morning and before going to bed, to wipe my rump, to blow my nose, to tie my shoes, to cook my own meals, to manage my money, to be self-sufficient but to know I could depend on them if I ever took on more than I could handle, to believe in my abilities, to love the me that God created me to be and learn about Martin and Malcolm; Booker T. and W.E.B. and all the ancestors before, between and after them, to help those I could help and know my limits when helping others would be a detriment to my own well-being and so much more.
My daddy taught me to “go ask your mother.” He also taught me that a B+ was beneath me when I definitely had the knowledge and skills to get the A+. He taught me how to think and learn for myself by directing me to the proper references when I asked him, “Daddy, what does thus-and-such mean?” This is a lesson my brother, Carson III, continues to reiterate to our father every chance he gets (inside joke between my daddy, my brother and me ).
I can remember, even when I was as young as five and six, that my mother never told any of us–my older sister, me and my younger brothers–that she would do something and then she didn’t do it.
There were a lot of “we’ll see” moments when I was growing up, and even now, but once my mother said she’d do this or that, give this or that, help with this or that, it was like a commandment written on a stone tablet.
It is truly a blessing to have at least one human in my life, because God will never fail me, who I can 100% depend on to be a woman of her word, point blank and period.
Momma has often said, “No,” and I’ve been disappointed in that I didn’t get what I wanted. However, Momma has more often said, “Yes,” and I knew that her “yes” was solid and firm.
I’ll give you an example…
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When I was in college, I ran up a very high phone bill accepting collect calls from my then-boyfriend who was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. I couldn’t pay it, and my home phone got cut off.
Please keep this in mind: it was before cellphones became popular, and I was living in Washington, DC. At that time, DC was labeled the “Murder Capitol of the World.” It wasn’t just the murder capital of the nation. It was the murder capital of the world, and since I didn’t have a home phone I would have to use the payphone on the corner when I needed to make calls.
Long before I’d been foolish enough to run up this $1,500 telephone bill, my mother had told all of us that she would never pay our phone bills for us. What she said, and I’m paraphrasing just a bit here, was, “You can’t always control the heating bill, because there might be a bad winter and you have to use more gas. I’ll help you with that, but don’t ask me to help you pay a high telephone bill. That’s something you can control. You don’t have to call every friend you have long distance and sit on the phone for hours at a time talking about stuff you can put in a letter.” (yes, this was way back when we were still mailing letters )
I run up this bill, get the phone cut off and live with going to the payphone for a few weeks. Of course, I got tired of that, and I thought, “I know my parents worry about me living all by myself in DC, so if I play the “safety” angle, Momma will help me get my phone turned back on.”
Keep in mind, though: my mother’s word is her bond.
I call home and have the following conversation with Momma (again I’m paraphrasing):
I know my mom and dad were worried about me not having a phone. I mean, I didn’t have a phone for about two years. However, it never occurred to me to ask again or to be angry that they wouldn’t help me pay off that bill. My mother was right on many counts: I had no business running up the bill. I didn’t have to be out at the payphone when it was dark if I planned my calling times accordingly. I already knew that they weren’t going to help me with my telephone bill. I’d actually disobeyed her by even asking for help with the telephone bill.
I say all that to say this…
Every time I break my word to someone, I immediately think about how it goes against everything my parents emulated for me when I was growing up. Although I focused more on my mother, my daddy was the same way, but he did defer quite a bit to my mother, so she was the one giving us her word more times than not.
The purpose of this post is two-fold:
1) I was talking to a friend who was telling me how her spouse tells their children he will do something, but he hardly ever follows through, and it got me to thinking about my own experience with my parents and I just wanted to get my feelings out in written form.
2) I also want my parents to know that the life lessons they worked so hard to instill in their children were not taught in vain. Even though we may not always do the right thing, we definitely know the right thing to do.
Thanks, Momma and Daddy, for being the parents God called you to be. I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn for my siblings when I say we love you, we respect you and we will always honor and cherish you.
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