Mayday, Mayday! I've Turned Into My Mother
As we close out the month that we celebrate Mother’s Day, let me take a moment to speak for all girls who said you never wanted to be like your mother. If you’re an adult woman age 30 or older, you have probably surrendered to the fact that you are essentially, your mother.
I mean, never did I think I would somehow make my way from, ‘I’m too hot and sexy to be my mama,’ to ‘Hey, girl, they got butter on sale for $2.50 each, limit 10.’ What in the ham sammich is going on around here? Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, and I’m grateful that she’s still here with me but her life wasn’t one I was cutting out for the dream board party. I remember watching her get up at dawn to make biscuits, scramble eggs and straighten up from the night before, even after entertaining guests well past midnight. By the time I rolled out of bed, my mom had served breakfast, cleaned the kitchen and was nearly done prepping for lunch.
There were times when I knew she was exhausted from a long day of teaching, but that didn’t stop her from spending an hour on the telephone with a parent discussing how they could work together to improve a student’s performance. Some evenings she graded papers, went to choir practice, visited her mother, hauled baskets of clothes to the laundry mat and more. In the midst of all of that, mom managed to cook dinner every evening, back then we only ate fast food the last day of the month, also known as teacher’s payday and for us, grocery shopping day. Every night she helped me with my homework. Mom covered English and Reading, and Dad covered Math and Social Studies.
I remember her baking cakes or sweet potato pies and hauling them to friends and family in their times of need. As she carefully packed care packages and iced cakes, I remember my selfish teenage self thinking, I can’t believe mama is going to miss Dallas to sit up with people at a wake. I couldn’t fathom giving up J.R. Ewing or anything I enjoyed doing for something that lacked excitement or at least entertainment.
It wasn’t until Father Time walked me down that I finally realized I was always my mom. I fought it, but here we are as I’m sitting here fresh off of baking a batch of buttermilk biscuits and chopping my children’s favorite fruits. And yes, it is the buttcrack of dawn as I’m doing it. Nothing about where I am is where I thought I would be. I used to put my headphones on when mom walked through the house singing hymns. Now I sing old school common meter hymns, you young folks don’t know about that, and anything else that speaks to my soul. My mom has a beautiful voice and has every right to sing throughout the house. I do not. I sing in the privacy of my home and car and lip sync in church as I should. I know my tribe was side-eyeing when they read that I was singing anything.
For as long as I can remember, my mom would get up before sunrise to read the Bible and pray. I now understand the value in that alone time with God. I used to get so aggravated when mom wasn’t easily provoked and ready to cuss and fight when someone did me or her wrong. She was always calm and collected as she shook her head and said, “Child, I’m not worried about that.” I could not understand how she could easily let things slide. I now know she didn’t let everything slide, only the unimportant stuff that would just waste her time and energy. About a week ago, I found myself in a similar situation of it’s-not-worth-my-energy. I was on the phone with someone who clearly should have gotten a Grade A, organic, grain-fed cussing out. By the time I ended the conversation, I laughed to myself and said out loud, ‘Ride on, King Jesus!’ In that instant, I knew I was too far gone to ever return to any semblance of my former self. I was definitely my mom, and I was placing people in Jesus’s lap instead of bestowing upon them the cussing they so rightfully earned.
I wonder if that’s where all mothers are at a certain point in their lives – out of energy to worry about insignificant things? Energy may be responsible for a small portion of it, but judging from the way my mom does life, it’s an understanding of what really matters – health, wholeness, family, faith, peace, joy and most of all, love. None of us are born into this place of Momness – this badge is earned one moment at a time and experience is the only way to get here.
I never wanted to turn into my mom, and I’m sure she didn’t want to turn into her mom, either. But here we are, the last to go to bed, the first ones up, baking biscuits, icing cakes, missing out on our favorite things to do for others, and a hodge-podge of other ridiculous things we said we’d never do, all in the name of Momness.
To all my young girls who think you’ll never be like your mother, one day you won’t remember what it was like to not be her.
To those who don’t have children, don’t think for a moment that you are safe. You will still turn into your mom, whether you’re a mom, aunt, Godparent, cousin or friend.
To my friends whose moms are no longer with you, tell her story to keep the legacy of her Momness alive for generations to come.
To those who didn’t have the best mom experience, think of the aunts, siblings, family and friends who did their best as mother figures.