Gratitude For My Unconventional Mother

Expressing gratitude for my mother this Christmas day. 

I haven’t confused this holiday for Mother’s Day. I just feel this is the exact right moment to describe this awesome, untraditional, woman, and what she has meant to me. Doing the right thing for me, making the correct decisions on my behalf, wasn’t always easy for mommy.  She was a single, African American, woman raising a son and a special needs daughter, during a time when awareness was minimal and solutions were experimental or just plain wrong.  My mother had to constantly fight on my behalf regarding education and health matters.  It took a lot of courage for a low income, though highly educated, person to stand up to the schools and doctors – all alone.  She must have felt so isolated, though determined to be my protector.

School officials and doctors weren’t the only challengers for my mother regarding my care.  There were many naysayers that resented her liberal parenting style.  She received many warnings that I would “turn out wrong” if she continued to allow me to be the free-spirited person I have always been.  As a child, overhearing these expressions of doubt surrounding my mother’s parenting choices often led me to think, “Maybe she’s not the right mom for them, but she is the best mom for me!”  Strict upbringing is believed by many African Americans to be the sole way of ensuring the best outcome for your child.  Beatings and all.  I am extremely thankful that I was in my mother’s liberal hands.  I needed a mother that understood that I needed room to spread my wings and express myself – in all its quirkiness.  As I became a teenager, friends would visit and never want to go home.  They felt free to be themselves, be at ease, and speak openly without fear of being admonished – or worse.  Instead of ending up “all wrong”, I think I was allowed to blossom because of that liberalism.  

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Mommy’s outside the box approach to life and radical thinking was necessary to propel us out of dismal surroundings and unsafe environments.  Critics doubted the soundness of her decisions each move, valuing stability over increasing quality of life.  I am again grateful for her steadfast determination to elevate our lives.  If we hadn’t made the gradual climb out of crime-ridden areas, I would have experienced witnessing more of the unfortunate events that come with the territory when you live in impoverished neighborhoods.  

My mother didn’t stop pouring love into me when I turned 18 years old and became an adult.  As unorthodox as it may have been at the time, she was still as supportive as ever throughout my 20’s, 30’s, and even more still.  Her presence in my life and constant support currently impacts the quality of the lives of my children.  It is quite normal to have multigenerational households in many cultures, globally.  However, this lifestyle arrangement is not the average situation in America.  The benefits are undervalued and the challenges are magnified.  I can honestly say that having my mother have my back – as she has all these years – continues to aid me in thriving and living the best life possible. 

Thank you, Mommy and Merry Christmas!

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