8.04.2010

My Parents Pt. II

My mom is one of my closest friends.  We talk almost every day.  We've always had a very open relationship.  I could ask her anything and she would give me an honest, age-appropriate answer.  That's why I think it's really weird when people can't talk to their parents about s.ex.  My mom and I have been talking about it since I was 7.  I haven't wanted to talk to her about any of that since it was actually a possibility because she reacts ridiculously and I also don't ever want to be that age appropriate.  The time she told me I shouldn't kiss until I get married kind of killed it.  It's gross now.  Lol. 

Growing up, we always knew we would go to college.  It wasn't presented as an option or even pushed on us.  It was just the logical next step when you finish high school.  Oddly, though, she never got bent out of shape about grades.  In some ways I think I needed a little more pushing to overcome my sense of procrastination and sometimes laziness.  I wanted to test her theory of not caring about grades but my competitiveness wouldn't let someone I knew wasn't smarter than me do better than me constantly because they worked harder.  But that's not the mother she was destined to be.  Her own mother ruled her with a sort of iron fist.  Not like she beat her but she told my mother what to do with her life and my mom did it with little to no argument.  So instead of majoring in history or political science, she picked the major her mother wanted, music, and has not stopped regretting it.

However, it shaped the mother she is today.  She always made big life choices OUR choices, not hers.  She always tells us we're the ones who have to live with it, not her.  This is huge.  I realize how huge the older I get as I see many of my friends and acquaintances struggling under the weight of dreams of their parents without being given to chance to develop their own.  She delights in our successes and brushes us off when we fail.  Sometimes I want her to commiserate with me when I'm down or at least give some sort of helpful instruction or advice and she's more like, "What do you want me to do?? It's going to be fine."  This can be infuriating!  But I've learned to just pick someone else to help sometimes.  Lol.

My mom struggled with depression when we were younger but rarely let that effect us.  Sometimes when we talk about times she was mean to us, she admits it was a symptom of the depression.  But because she got help, she has become an advocate for mental health in the black community, both in helping to erase the stigma by talking about it and in her job.  She has worked in the legal profession as a paralegal for nearly 20 years and in the last 10 years, she has been able to combine her love of helping people with her job.  She helps the low income get their benefits, whether disability, SSI, the new welfare.  She helps AIDS patients, the homeless, adults who can't read and she loves it.  She finds herself becoming a pseudo-social worker because she wants to help them in every facet of their lives and I love her for it.

We had a very difficult relationship when I hit the age of 9 and began emotional puberty.  There were crying and shouting matches between us.  I was sullen and angry and I didn't know why.  I still don't really understand it but it took us almost 10 years to recover.  I'm sure it amazes her that we're as close as we are now.  It certainly helps that we don't live in the same household.  What also helped was seeing how close my friend B was to her mother.  They talked several times a day.  I was jealous of that relationship so I began working on my relationship with my mom.  Several times a day, though?  That wasn't going to be us.  We did well to start at once a week. 

Despite the rocky years, I felt a connection to my mom.  I followed her footsteps to Hampton and considered majoring in music (but hated theory).  She was happy I went to Hampton but would have supported me wherever I went, just like she did when my sister did not go to our home by the sea.  We grew up surrounded by her involvement with the alumni and her sorority, which is now our sorority.  When I learned through research she was among the first initiates of our sorority at Hampton, I felt even more drawn.    Now me and my sister can also call our mom our sister.  It's really cool.  But today what I'm most proud of is our great relationship and the fact that she supports me and my goals, even if they're not hers.  I have an awesome mom.

8 comments:

Adei von K said...

Awwwwwwwwwwww! dat-toe-tweet!!! ("that's so sweet" in silly baby talk)

I can hear her when you typed, "What do you want me to do??" LOLOL, your mom is so cute!

It's so interesting how Baby Boomers raise their children opposite of how they were raised by their Depression parents. Supposedly, we're going to raise our children closer to our grandparents' style b/c our parents were too lax/free...

Not so Anonymous said...

What an awesome post about your mom! "She always made big life choices our choices" - That's something all parents should strive for! My mom would dictate our lives, if she didn't have two strong willed daughters...we pushed back on that style very early.

Sparkling Red said...

Your mom sounds like an amazing woman. I can see where you get your confidence from.

Nerd Girl said...

Great post! Glad that you and your mom overcame early struggles and get along well now.

Our moms may know each other, 'cause my mom has that same "what do you want me to do?" approach and it can drive me batty!

GorgeousPuddin said...

Very touching! I love too hear stories of loving parents! I like that your mom has a heart to help the low income get what they need! I'm like that too! I'm glad that you shared about her early depression. It's so taboo in the black community but it may explain some of my mother's early actions I never considered depression as her reason for being mean. Hmmmm. Thanks as always GREAT! post

SincerelyGo said...

That wasn't bad at all. I was expecting bad news. Other than the normal puberty shouting match parts, which sounds normal sounds good.

Sincerely,

Go

Jameil said...

Adei... Umm... thanks for the baby talk? My mom drives me nuts sometimes!! I wouldn't consider my mom's style too lax and free at all. We had restrictions, boundaries & guidelines. We tested them and learned it wasn't going to be tolerated. I can see myself raising my kids closer to how my parents did.

nsa... thanks! my mom doesn't even know how to be dictatorial. they're both kind of amazed by me. i have more confidence and drive than either of them. they don't have low self-esteem or anything but i'm such a strong force i think they look at me like, 'where did that one come from?' lolol

red... she is! :)

nerd... i am too! when you wrote that about your mom i was like I KNOW THE FEELING!!

gp... thanks! as we're growing up, we don't realize that our mothers are human. she's just mommy. it's a rude awakening when we find out she has flaws and makes mistakes, too! LOL

go... why did you expect bad news? because i started with my dad? our relationship has just had the most recent significant evolution.

Naima said...

*wipes tear* Awwwwwwwwww!!! Your mom sounds like an awesome woman :o)