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Earliest Memories

The earliest memories I have are laying in a crib watching my surroundings and wondering where I was. I remember hearing the song Ben by Michael Jackson played occasionally. When the music wasn’t playing, the house was quiet. This song, which I’ve heard endlessly and loved, was released in 1972. I was born in 1973. These memories used to pop up often, but not so much as my life became filled with my own responsibilities like working and raising my own children with my husband.

It wasn’t until years later, when I was an adult that my mummy told me something that shocked me. I was absolutely SHOOK (in todays vernacular)! Mummy feared a whole lot and was very strict with me. I don’t recall what prompted the conversation, but she revealed to me that one day while she was on the bus with me as a baby in Chicago, this lady, who mummy didn’t know (a stranger), commented on how beautiful I was. The lady offered to care for me during the week while my mummy worked. Mummy accepted the offer, so I spent my days at this lady’s house. Mummy would meet the lady somewhere at the beginning of the week and hand me to her. I don’t recall if it was for weeks or months.

This definitely speaks to the different time we live in now (or even 20 years ago) because no matter how nice a person appears, I would never let a stranger who is not a child care provider and I’m paying, or who just offers because she is kind, babysit my children. If I did that when my kids were growing up, I would never hear the end of it, especially from mummy. I was shocked she would allow this.

I have empathy for her and the choices she had to make as an immigrant woman who came to this country to make a better life for herself and her children. She didn’t know she would face this life without her abusive husband, my father. She had limited education and was the single parent to 4 children living in the big city of Chicago. She did what she had to do.

In those early memories, I don’t recall being unhappy. I just lay there, watched, and listened. I was fine. Later on in the eighties, I was one of those latchkey kids who knew how to take care of myself.

God’s grace and covering were on us.

I’m so thankful for mummy’s sacrifices and her putting me on the path to do better for my children.

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Reflections on Life Without My Best Friend on Mother’s Day

Growing up, especially as a teenager, I never thought of mummy as my best friend, let alone friend. She made it clear we weren’t friends by her stern approach to parenting. Plus, I’ve heard her boast many times about not viewing her children as friends. Mummy was tough. She lived a hard life as an immigrant from Haiti. She worked hard to provide for her four children…much of that time as a single parent. She learned how to speak English, worked jobs she could with her limited education, helped support her own siblings/family, and laid out a foundation for us of strong moral and spiritual values.

It wasn’t until much later in life, well after I had children, I realized she was my best friend, and of course, much more than a best friend. When I think of a best friend, I think of someone whose been there for you through thick and thin, who knows your family, who has witnessed your history, who you spend lots of time getting to know, who tells you the truth when you’re right and wrong, and who demonstrates their love and support over and over again. My mom was all of that and more. She always had the best intentions for me even if I couldn’t see it at the time.

My relationship with mummy was rough even through adulthood (though not as intense). She was strict and fearful. I was stubborn and wanted to make my own way. That’s the American spirit many other cultures fear for their children – the spirit of Independence. After all, I was born in the United States…the only one of my siblings who was. What more could have been expected? She served as my constant reminder through her example that caring for others is necessary in life. It was not just about me and my independence.

The values I embody: faith in God, hope, care for others, family, support, keeping my word, doing my best, working hard, being a nurturer, being the bigger person, forgiveness…I learned from her.

It’s been almost four years since she’s passed and the hardest thing for me is not being able to have a reciprocal conversation with her. We spoke almost daily, especially the last 4 or 5 years of her life. I speak to her in my mind on occasion though. It’s hard not being able to experience her reaction to all the good that’s happened in my life, including my husband and children’s lives. I want her to know, “See we’re OK. You didn’t need to worry so much because we’re GOOD.”

On this Mother’s Day, if you’re grieving the loss of your mother or mother figure, you’re not alone. Extend yourself some grace, cherish the memories, love on your own children and family, and prioritize rest and relaxation when you can.

Happy Mother’s Day from my heart to yours.

Roses from my crew. The vase behind has hydrangeas which are becoming one of my fave flowers.
Out Friday night for a pre-Mother’s day treat of dinner with my husband and daughter.