She’s the Queen of forgiveness, the Queen of treating herself, and countless others, just an all around Queen!...and guess what? Today is her Earth Strong Day (birthday) WOOT WOOT! In case you haven’t figured it out I’m talking about my mumsie, my mother, the person who has been so influential in my life.
Now I can say all that now because I’ve come to realize how many a lessons she has taught me. Now mumsie if you are reading this I’m going to need you to have a bit of a thick skin for a few.
My mother and I did not have a good relationship for many years. We actually started working on our relationship back in 2008. It was still a bit strained. It wasn’t until I met Marshall (my recent ex-boyfriend) that my relationship with her blossomed. He brought us together and for that I am eternally grateful. You see he lost his mom at an early age and so he knows how that lost feels and how important it is to have both parents in a household. Especially a mom (Fathers don’t bite my head off). Mothers are supposed to be nurturing, loving, have patience, have a sense of humor, show strength and courage, be protective, treats her children with individuality, be supportive, a mentor, guide her children along a positive path, a great listener, provide comfort and the list goes on and on.
Being raised in the Caribbean (Jamaica) by her grandmother how to love were taught a tad bit (when I say tad bit I mean a lot) differently. Not only her but majority of that generation and possibly several generations prior. For example, loving. Of course she loves all her children but she wasn’t raised to hug us, ask about our day at school, read bedtime stories, kiss us, that sort of thing. First of all from a very young age, maybe 8 or 9 years old she had to help her grandmother raise her brothers, sisters and even cousins. You see her mom quite possibly get the mother of the year award, but I commend my grandmother for dropping off her children at her own mother’s house in the country and my great grandmother took them all in one at a time with open arms. God Bless her for that but she too is coming from parents who didn’t express love like that. Instead there were a lot of discipline passed down from generation to generation to generation that the United States of America consider abuse. So ya my mother was not afraid to use the rod or staff or hands or whatever that was close by to ‘discipline’ me. This discipline, unbeknownst to her caused me to be rebellious and resentful. No, I didn’t stay out late or partied or any of that stuff. I just gave a lot of ‘talking’ according to her. I don’t agree with that. I just don’t like stupidness, I didn’t put up with crap starting from a very young age and spoke my mind all of which I learned from her. So when I puffed up my face or express how what she’s getting mad at makes no sense and then I receive a buss a$$ for talking back then you can understand were my resentment came from. HOWEVER folks, as I got older I learned that in everything she did for every, discipline I received there was a lesson in every single thing. EVERY last one of them. Do I agree with her methods? No not at all. If/when (still rocky on that subject) I have a child I will teach the same lessons but won’t use the same methods. Let me share some of those life lessons that this beautiful Queen taught me.
1. One day I was told to clean the bathroom and I did. At least I thought I did. I made sure the shower curtain and tub were scrubbed. The sink was nice and sparkly and the mirror had not one spot on it. The toilet bowl head, both lids and the insides were sparkly and the floor was swept. Job well done right? NOPE! I don’t know why I thought I did a good job because nothing pleased her was always my thought. She’s always on my case about something. So she comes home and calls me into the bathroom and she started in on me. I didn’t scrub the tiles of the tub and she pointed out the little bit of grime (I mean she cleaned it the week before so it really was a tiny bit) that were in between the tiles. Then she showed me that I may have cleaned the toilet bowl but I didn’t clean it in its entirety. Seriously? What else is there on the toilet bowl to clean? Well there’s the lower part on the sides of the bowl that up until this blessed day I don’t understand how urine gets there. Then there’s behind the bowl Seriously? Who’s seeing behind the bowl? How do even reach behind the bowl? Doesn’t matter it needs to be cleaned. Then she pointed out that that behind the bowl also needs to be swept. As I was standing there getting this loud tongue lashing, my ears and face hot from anger, all I kept thinking was how she’s Mrs. Perfect and Mrs. Clean and there’s nothing I can ever clean to please her. It doesn’t stop there. The aluminum kitchen sink, the floors, furniture, every crevice of the house must be spotless. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is what she would always say. She would also always say to me that I ‘may have book smarts but if one day I land a job where I have to be a janitor or do cleaning work to work myself up, what happens then? You must learn how to keep a house clean’…and that folks was the lesson. Did I see it her way back then? Nope! However, once I entered other people’s homes and see what a hot dirty mess it is it’s a huge turn off. When I lived with other people I was always cleaning. When I got my own place it was kept clean. I don’t mean that it’s never unkept but it’s never dirty. They are some days you don’t have the energy but notice how much lighter and refreshed you feel in a clean house. I remember when she came to my house warming when I was living with Kenny and while folks were having fun there I was washing the plates. It was driving me crazy seeing it pile up from the guests (I didn’t use plastic because it was a formal house warming). Then when I moved to my current location and she came by to visit. I offered her a beverage and as soon as she drank the juice I gave her I was washing the cup. She was like: “Jeezam peas Shan you couldn’t let the likkle juice go down mi belly good before you wash the cup?” Meaning that I didn’t even let the cup hit the sink. As soon as she was finished I took it from her and washed it. I HATE seeing dishes in sinks. Especially left over night. Good gracious me! *clutches pearls while shivering* Overnight dishes is a no no. I could stomach a cup and MAYBE a fork but there should be nothing left in the sink. So when she made that comment, I had a flash of the discipline I received from her about keeping a clean house and folks I smiled with gratitude. Until that moment I didn’t realize what a good habit I picked up and it just warmed my heart.
2. I don’t recall how old I was but it was my birthday. I LOVE birthdays. Bump any holiday in the year but let it be my birthday. I also love making someone else’s birthday very special. So it’s my birthday and I just couldn’t wait for my presents! It was also a Saturday. I woke up and there were no presents. Not even a card! I got ready for church and still no presents. All I got was a measly ‘Happy Birthday’ from my mom and stepdad. Needless to say I was fuming during church. After church no presents. Sun set and STILL no presents. I was VEX but held it all in. Of course I wear my expression on my sleeves and so it wasn’t hard to see that I was pissed! I went and showered for bed, furious that my birthday is about to end and not one gift, not even a card from my own parents. I was too pissed to cry. I got out the bathroom and there on the table…in the living room…was a Word Processor (yall remember those?), bags of gifts and cards all about. I was elated! Mumsie pulled me aside and said, “Shan lemme tell you summin. I noticed your face ALL day and I jussa watch you. I said to Del, lets hide all the gifts and see how she behaves. Your attitude was stink! Lemme tell you summin I want you to learn that it doesn’t matter WHAT you receive you should always be grateful. B.E (she always says ‘be’ by spelling it out) grateful fi anything you receive. Even if it’s a five cents candy be grateful. Even If its one degge degge crayon, not even a whole box, be grateful. If it’s a card be grateful. And even if it’s as small as just saying ‘happy birthday’ then B.E. grateful! Cause guess why? Because that person remembered your birthday and took the time to say happy birthday. They took the time to go to a store and buy summin fi you. Appreciate dat! Cause you could’ve never get a gift or a call.’ WHAT A POWERFUL lesson. Let me tell you something I never ever EVER forgot that lesson. That’s why as soon as someone mentions their birthday I ask the date and jot it in my phone. We don’t have to be the closest of friends but once I record your birthday, you will be getting a call or a text. If I’m close to you and can afford it I’ll buy something for you and even go all outfor you on your special day. And so when my birthday rolls around (#teamsag) I’m appreciative of anything I receive from a text to dinner on a yacht. So big or small my heart opens up and gets warm and fuzzy with gratitude. What a lesson!
3. This is the last lesson I’ll share with you. There are COUNTLESS others that as I got older I see the lesson in everything that her nontraditional methods taught me. I don’t recall my age but I was working the summer at Downstate Hospital. I was a junior in high school so whatever age that was (can’t be bothered to do the math right now). I was getting my own money each week and I was having fun with it. Thought I was grown. Mumsie had stopped buying me clothes when I told her one day that her style was too old. LOL. She was like oh yeah? Then buy your clothes yourself. Except for church clothes. HUNNY, no exaggeration but we were the best dressed at every church we went! The woman can pick a church clothes. We always received compliments. She always wanted her children and herself to look good going to the house of the Lord. Anyway, each week I was buying clothes and whatever else. One day I came home and she called me into the living room. “Shan! Mi know seh you wear mi shoes and you a go pay me back for it!” “WHAT?” I exclaimed. “Yes. How much times I must tell you, you must satisfy with what you have. I mek sure you have your OWN things. Don’t touch mi tings dem man.” Now I did wear her shoes. She’s a size 10 and at the time I was 10.5 and I stretched those suckers out. I did have my own things. We never shared brushes, cups, toothpaste, not even forks! She had the letter of her first name on hers. Now this made me grow up to not share but it actually came from way before that when I got sick for sharing my juice with a boy that turned out to be sick. The teacher was teaching us to share and I was so used to from such a young age to have my own and I didn’t want to share. Long story short, I got sick and my mom flew to the school and raised hell. WOOIEEEE *LMAO remembering that* Gotta love mumsie. Anyway I veered off topic. So then she goes on to say I should pay her $50 for the shoes and that she knew I wore her other pair and I should pay her $50 for that one too. Again I exclaimed, “WHAT! Mommy I didn’t touch the other pair. Mommy look the tag still on it.” Mom: “you a chat back to me? Just for that gimme a $100 for EACH pair. And don’t mek me haffi ask you for the money next time you get pay. Friday as soon as you walk in mi want mi money inna mi hands.” Okay here’s the thing that had me so darn mad. They were PAYLESS shoes!!!!!! One pair ain’t $50 much less $100 (now I choke at the prices. You aint paying less at Payless anymore). Well needless to say I had the lady’s money in an envelope with her name on it. It was two crisp $100 bills.
Fast forward and it’s my senior year. I got accepted to a college upstate and the registration fee was $300. I had no money and it didn’t seem like mommy was going to cough up the money and I wasn’t working. The last day for sending in the money came and she calls me to her. She hands me an envelope with her name on it in my handwriting. In it was $200. Two one hundred crisp dollar bills. She asked me if I remembered where it came from. I did! How could I forget paying $200 for two pairs of shoes that cost $40 for both! She then goes in another draw and added another hundred dollar bill. There in the palm of my hand was $300. All she said to me was: “Go pay your school fee and learn fi save.” A whole year this lady, this amazing Queen, held on to this money. I don’t think she knew I would need it for school but she knew at some point I would need it. Later on she told me how my dad taught her that she should save. He told her every paycheck she gets she should save something out of it. He even took her to get a bank book (open a bank account). Yet another amazing lesson.
Although mumsie didn’t hug us, tell us she love us, read us bedtime stories etc she DID love us and raised us the best way she could. None of us are stupid. We are all intelligent children. For her, education is key. She made sure her children went to the best schools and attended every single after school program (at the time to our dismay). She never once said to me how proud of me she was when I left out my report card for her to sign but I will never forget waking up one night and hearing her boast about my grades to her friend. I felt good and although I had my own motivation going it made me feel good to know that she did in fact care. She never laughed at our dreams. Whatever we wanted to be when we grow up was fine by her. As long as it wasn’t bad or illegal or anything along those lines. Then she was introduced to Oprah via channel 7 and she thanks Oprah for all the things she learned. She regrets a lot of things. She didn’t know that hugging us and saying she loves us is a part of nurturing us. Now with our relationship blossoming she greets me with a hug. Not only me but my sis and to her grandchildren. She says ‘I love you’ at the end of a call and she would randomly text me how proud of me she is and that she loves me. When she gets down about her regrets I simply tell her that she raised us the best way she could. She wasn’t taught these things and she knew no better. There was no Oprah or any figure around to teach her. I would remind her of all that she has taught me and look how good all of us has turned out. I would commend her on a job well done!!!!!! Shucks I turned out brilliantly if I do say so myself. hehehehe
There are a lot of great things about my life today which comes from having this Queen that raised me right and has loved me through all the stages of my life. For all the large and small ways her wisdom and caring have made a difference in my life and for that I love her.
Well today is her birthday but yesterday I took her to have her first professional massage at a spa. I had booked it from September (I’m a planner) and told her about it two weeks ago and she was squealing with delight. She called up all her friends and told her about it. She thoroughly enjoyed it! She won’t stop talking about it. She had a pain in her shoulder that prevented her from raising her arm and now she can. I keep telling you folks that massage is healing. I wouldn’t go after a profession that wasn’t beneficial to folks. Well of course she has called her friends to tell her how amazing she feels and now she wants to book her own massages and enjoy not only the healing but that spa environment. Woot woot! I’m happy that she’s happy.
In honor of mumsie’s birthday please give your mom a kiss or call, email, text whatever and tell her you love her. No need for a conversation. Just say ‘mommy I’m just calling you to say I love you…anyway gotta go.” Lol. Do you know how much that will warm her heart? So go ahead and do that now.
Mumsie, if you are reading this…I love you!
Love you all folks! Thanks for reading. Stay Blessed!
Shy (SAGITTARIANS RULE!!)