When the Mother Doesn’t Know Which Way To Go the Child Still Must Follow

This is the third entry of “The Chip On My Shoulder Is A Boulder,” a series on the complex relationships between black women and their mothers. The series will run over the next two weeks. Previous entries include “The Adoptee” and “The Rebel.”

Parenting can be hard to grasp for any mother, but for the teenage, unwed mother childrearing can be a crap shoot.

It’s not that these young women who become mothers before their maturity are bad people. They’re just lost people. Confused and making things up as they go along for good and for worse.

In today’s entry on the complex relationship between mother’s and daughters The Gypsy writes about being the child of someone who was still mentally a child, struggling to raise her two daughters and find herself while drifting wistfully through life.


My mother got pregnant the night of her high school graduation and thus begins the demise of our relationship.

She went away to college in complete denial of my existence. When she finally accepted my imminent arrival, she decided to give me up for adoption. That didn’t end up happening, but I believe these were the seeds of my discord.

I hold equal parts admiration and frustration towards my mother. I admire her strength, tenacity and fearlessness. She was able to raise my sister and I basically singlehandedly. She juggled full time jobs and school and kept us in line. My mother has gone to school for accounting, real estate, cosmetology, phlebotomy, bus driving, computer science and security, and is now in school to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License so she can drive trucks.

Most of these were while we were growing up. Some she completed, some she didn’t. Thus the frustration. Now in her early 40s, my mother has yet to choose a career path and rarely stays in one locale or job for more than 6 months. Her gypsy ways have left me longing for stability and unsure of my own path. I feel like the world holds endless possibilities for me, but I’m also fearful of making the wrong choice that could leave me in ruin.

We speak every so often, once a month would be considered frequently. She is loving, yet incessantly critical of me. The last thing I need is someone buying me fruits and vegetables reminding me how they’ll help my hay fever. And if she tells me how I’ll never get a husband due to my penchant for clutter one more time, so help me God.

I think we are at peace now because I have come to realize that parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. Having kids so young essentially forced her to put her life and personal growth on hold for 20 years. It’s like we’re at the same stage of life, finding our passion and purpose. I love my mother dearly, and even though I think she could have made some better choices, I think it all worked out fine. Let’s face it, all of our parents screwed us up somehow. I choose to learn from her mistakes, and likely make a set of my own, with my future kids.

5 thoughts on “When the Mother Doesn’t Know Which Way To Go the Child Still Must Follow

  1. I feel this post. My mom had me too early and seemed like she was still trying to live her teens & 20s for ever. Now 50+ & all of the kids are adults now she claims she “has her life back” and how she felt cheated.My mother (and father) have made what I judge to be some bad decisions – poor spending, no saving, not watching the economy, etc. I feel like I’m the parent (older person) and she’s the frivolous teen when we discuss things.I sometimes feel life I grew up fast because I got irritated with all of the uncertainty and instability (moving EVERY year, changing schools, losing personal things and memorabilia). I hate moving and resist sudden change.But like the writer, I realized my mom was only trying herself. And I think she was honestly depressed for a good portion of my childhood. So many of her “crazy” decisions don’t seem so crazy now. I’ve learned my mom is human, hurts, and wants/need forgiveness and another chance to try.

  2. DN LEE, you are telling my life story i swear…I am the author of the story, and i hope people can relate and not have to struggle through unnecessary bitterness toward their parents, it’s just not worth it!

  3. I identify too but my mother did not wander. She was too fearful and afraid to leave the incubation of her mother, whose love she was waiting for to come wrapped in a bow. My mother was afraid of everything: new ideas, new news in the world, new expectations for her or her children, everything.To overcompensate for her fears, she played the role of an adult in mimicking adulthood in paying bills and acting dignified. She just did not try to discover and in discover — plan or blueprint. She thought is she was a good person that was all that life required. She shafted me and my siblings to be stronger to enable and lie in covering for her cowardice.But I totally understand. I am just bitter. It’s the adult in me that was a school teacher and saw so many mothers like this or my mom not prepared for a post-integration world that required more than role playing. It required maturity and courage to learn, adapt, and protect your children’s future over your immediate comfort and fears of “what other people think”.

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