When I experience Mother’s Day as an aging adult with a disability, it is daunting. Daunting is the closest word I can think of without sounding like a miserable bigot. When I envisioned Mother’s Day in my mind, I believed it would be fun to remember and revisit the connecting moments that bond mother and son, grandmother and grandson, daughter and mother, aunt and niece, nephew and aunt. But it would be too right for things to go according to my plan.
Mothers are women. And women are queens on their holiday. And their holiday is an expression of sisterhood. Forget my dream that has mothers regaling us about the connectedness, warmth, trauma, stress, joy and worry of their collective parenthoods. We instead get hastily planned events. Events in which mothers don’t talk about their experiences with their children from a past perspective. No.
Mother’s Day resides strangely in the contemporary realm. Most mothers don’t want to think about who they were when they had their children. And if they did. We have to coax them into telling us this. But I understand the idea. Most mothers are simply happy their children are living and thriving. If you’re a black mother, you’re glad that your child hasn’t been killed while sitting at a traffic light.
As l gathered with two conjoined families (my sisters and aunts cavalcade of mother, children, and relatives) I internalized the stories about family drama, mutual friends, and savored the laughs I shared with sisters, cousins, and other outliers.
God told me to zero in on the mothers who were there with us. And it was only then that I understood that our lives are feeble collections of meaningless tasks. Most of us are exceedingly boring. We rely on events and exceptions to make us feel worthy. But we are all just people trying to make sense and purpose out of experiences that are mundane as hell.
When I looked critically at the women I was surrounded by, I realized that mothers, especially my beautiful black mothers are worried about staying alive, giving life and lessons to all those around.
There is no DISNEY rated G way for a black mother to tell her black child that everything is going to be alright. But it is that mother’s job to do everything to instill hope in the heart of her babies, who grow into adults … who hopefully go out in the world with something moral and unique to share with the world.
I thank my mother for not sugar-coating this world for me. I thank her and all black women for showing me how to take a torpedo and turn it into a rain cloud.
Maybe I didn’t get the Hallmark greeting card version of Mother’s Day I wanted. But I did get the privilege to say that many of the women who shaped me into the man I am are still alive making change, making sacrifices, and fighting battles.
There are those that have lost their mothers. For those such a day is filled with sadness. But having a living mother is far better than having to visit a mother that sits lonely in a mausoleum or graveyard as God’s withering earth becomes shelter.
A mother is hope, compassion, and also pain. But your mother is also a expression of you. So love her while you’ve got her… because you don’t know when her time might be up.