The wrong story was posted earlier today. Sorry for the inconvenience!
This is the eighth 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 through this week. Previous entries include “The Adoptee,” “The Rebel,” “The Gypsy,” “She Did Her Best,” “The Reluctant Mother,” “The Narcissist’s Daughter” and “The Survivor.”
Our mothers may be flawed, but they can also be beautiful in their own colorful ways, just as a fighter can be beautiful in spite of her scars.
For The Baby, she grew up feeling cherished by her mother even if she could take things a little far at times. Her love was always there even when things were going at their worst. She was always a fighter, right or wrong, for her children.
I find it really hard to really pinpoint my relationship with my mother. She is my best friend in the sense that while I do not call her every day and tell her every detail of my life, she is my TRUEST friend. She is my unconditional friend. If I killed someone she’d probably turn me in (depending on who it was and how it went down), but she would still love me and root for me during the trial.
Anyway, here’s just something that I wrote about her:
One day while in college my mother came home from class to find that her roommate had hung her stuffed animals from the ceiling in individual nooses.
My mother tried to kill her. She told me the story once ending the tale with:
“Now, in retrospect, I can understand how people might think that my response might have been a bit extreme but I must assure you that I was left no option other than charging that girl and putting my hands around her throat and applying pressure until her eyes began to pop and she began to change color. She had to be stopped. That kind of thoughtlessness cannot be permitted to exist in the world. First my babies then Lord knows what else she was capable of. This is how sociopaths get their start. And I was raised Christian. An eye for an eye.”
Luckily her other roommates succeeded in pulling her off the girl and Florida A&M responded by giving my mother her own room for the next three years.
When I was eleven, she took my siblings and I to the little park near our school for a talk and told us she was leaving Daddy. She told us that Daddy and Mommy weren’t making each other happy anymore and that she wanted to take us to Connecticut with her because we were her babies and she loved us. She was discrete and even though we were children we knew that Daddy’s drinking had gotten out of hand and that the scary incidents were happening too frequently for comfort. And I’d heard the story of what’d happened to the last person who’d messed with Mommy’s babies.
That was 17 years ago. We moved to Connecticut. My mother was on welfare for a while but eventually got off of it and bought a little house. My mother was demanding. Unrelenting. Unrepentant. Imperfect. Particular. She was a rock for us even when she didn’t have one for herself. After life as she’d planned it fell apart and she found herself suddenly 40 and a single mother of 3 she soldiered on. Through depression and piling credit card bills and loneliness she kept us in house and home and clothes and school trips and vacations and hope and love.
Dad disappeared. After the last ten years of complete radio silence he’s re-emerged. Navigating the possibilities of a relationship is hard for me. He has not been making it easy. My mom said, “Listen, I called your father and told him that he needed to get it together. I told him that this was no longer about he and I but about you kids. Frankly, that’s all that I care about in this situation, my babies. I told him that he needed to get it together and stop hurting you because I wasn’t going to stand for it. I’m your mother and I love you.”
Because I’m still her baby.