Across the nation yesterday, millions of people paid homage to the one who gave them life. And as I reflect on Mother’s Day, I realize that the lessons and sacrificial love our mothers have bestowed upon us is what has helped us all grow through life and navigate obstacles. I have come up against some tough times in life and God’s love coupled with sound instruction and advice from my mother has made all the difference in the world. Even at 30 years old, it’s almost second nature to pick up the phone and call my mom when I need confirmation, advice or just a listening ear. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. And for those of us who are close to our mothers, nothing else will ever come close to her love and support. For those who have lost their mothers,she left a void that can never be filled. Ever.
My mother’s greatest mantra is, “If you are going to be a bum living in the streets, be the best one there is.” I remember her telling me this at a young age whenever I set out to do something or carry out a task. I certainly had no aspirations to become a “bum,” but no matter what I did, she always expected me to demonstrate my best efforts. I think she knew that life and society could be harsh for a little black girl and even harsher for a black woman. So in every way possible, she set the standard high for me, so I would never take any opportunity for granted. I think others saw her as an overbearing, teenage mother or a perfectionist who would not cut her kid any slack. At times, I felt that way … like I never got a break from her expectations. But in retrospect, it was exactly what I needed. My mother was in tune with me and knew me well enough to know that I needed to be pushed in the beginning, so I would never settle for anything less later in life. I’m forever grateful that God gave her this wisdom at 16 years old. Most teenagers do not have a firm understanding of life , let alone the ability to rear another child properly and with such maturity. When I have kids, I will teach them this mantra because it, along with several other lessons, has gotten me so far in life. My mother somehow balanced letting me be “me” and grooming me to take on the world with confidence, love, and grace. I pray I will become half the mother she is. I pray I can do it with half as much tenacity and grace. She’ll probably read this post and say, “No. You won’t half-do anything… you will do it all the way.” That’s the spirit of my feisty, 4’11 mama. Dynamite most certainly comes in small packages. And I would not change a thing about her.
Last week, I thought about all the motherly mantras I have lived by and asked some of the great mothers I know to share theirs with me. Here’s what they had to say: