Last night I received some pictures my mom had taken while at a celebration with her colleagues for Teachers’ Day and the first thing I exclaimed was “gee, is my mom getting younger or is it that she stopped aging?” I swiped across photo after photo admiring the beauty of my mother. What stood out for me was her smile. And you’re probably saying “oh lots of people have nice smiles”. True but that’s not even close to it.
My mom’s smile is nice. It’s lovely yes. But it is not merely her perfectly straight row of teeth or her adorable cheeks that make it beautiful for me. It is the story behind it. It is the fact that in spite of all she has been through, she is able to smile. To give a toothy, genuine smile to say to the world, “hey, you’ve knocked me down but not out!”
As a little girl, like most little girls, there were many days I found my mother to be overbearing. My mom was strict. I rarely had my way, if I ever had it at all. I didn’t go out much. Home, school, church and Grandma’s. In my mother’s opinion, there was nothing on the street for me and I didn’t need to go outside because there was food in the house and I had a computer and a TV and toys. (No wonder I was so pale at one point, a girl couldn’t even get some sunlight). As for school, there was no room for slipping. “You slip, you slide” – that’s what I constantly heard. Grades had to be up to par. Behaviour had to be in check. And if I ever fell out of line, she was right there to slap my ass back in while saying “likkle girl, yuh smell yuh arm and think a charm?” or “yuh nah go rule mi in here innuh”. Following this, she would normally tell my father he needs to address me because she’s always the one talking. Probably sounds familiar if you were raised in the Caribbean or by a Caribbean mom.
But to speak only of my mother’s ‘miserableness’ would be a gross injustice. Though miserable, though at times we seemed to have this great personality clash, I can’t help but love this lady. The sacrifices she has made and continues to make for me can never go unnoticed. My mom always saw to it that my sister and I got the best things in life. My books were always bought for school. School fee was always paid and paid on time. My needs were always placed above hers. I know there were many days my mom wanted to buy things for herself and she could have but she didn’t. When my mom got her salary each month, between helping to take care of the household and vehicle expenses, insurance etc and my sister and I, she rarely had much left for herself, yet she never complained. And when I asked her how she would manage, she’d often remind me – “you were where you were and I went and got you, I chose to have you, you’re my responsibility”.
There were many days my mom went without lunch at work, just to save money to ensure that my sister and I never missed out on the opportunities that other children got. I remember at one point she really needed a new car and I would say to her – “Mommy, why don’t you buy a new car if this one is giving you so much trouble?” And she would begin to explain that if she should buy a new car at the time then it would affect me, her words: “right now, I can’t afford to buy a new car. If this finally stop work, well just so it go. But mi prefer walk and know seh you and Nats (my sister) can go school than go buy new car and then inna trouble.”
She has been the backbone of my family, from being in court for over 11 years to being the planner behind funerals and the one everyone calls when they run into trouble. She has been through some even deeper waters, some things a bit more personal that I won’t share here but I know, would have caused many to give up a long time ago. I’ve seen her cry when the storms crashed in on our lives. I’ve heard her voice break when she tried desperately to hold it all together for us. I’ve seen her fall ill when it seemed to be just too much for her to bear.
But best of all, I’ve seen her rise above everything. I’ve seen her close her eyes and fall to her knees praying to God for strength and courage. I’ve seen her boldly step up and face challenges head on. And today I still see her fighting in spite of the odds.
She was never perfect. She was not the perfect parent. There were things that she did as a mother that I will do differently when I have my own children. But she tried her best and that for me, is good enough.
Your mom – she’s not perfect. She’s not the perfect parent. There are things that she may do that you will do differently when you have your own children but if she tries her best to make ends meet, to give you a good life and cater to your wants and needs, salute her. Appreciate her. Make her proud. There are many women who have neglected their responsibilities to be good mothers. Trust me, just as there are negligent or absentee fathers, there are absentee mothers. So if you have been blessed with a real one, a true one, be grateful because a good mother is one of life’s greatest treasures.
“My mother, my hero, I can never repay but I sure will try to make her proud one day”- Natrishae Hird
HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY!
- Nashelle Hird