Growing up as the youngest daughter in the family created a special bond between my mother and me. As I watched her go through different highs and lows throughout her life, it taught me lessons that remain ingrained in me today. This past weekend, we all celebrated our mothers in our own special way. Some of us also celebrated being a mom (I celebrated by spending a day in relaxation!). As I reflect on Mother’s Day, I’m always thoughtful of the things my mother taught me growing up. Here are just three of those things…
Your Kids Come First: I have interpreted this saying in two ways:
- Put your kids before everything: As adults, we have had our life experiences, while our kids are still gaining theirs. We have one shot as parents at raising them the right way, so I want to be sure I give it all I have. I love hanging with my children, and I realize that they will spend more years taking care of me than I will taking care of them. The few years I have with them in my home is so valuable. So, I left a 15+ year career in consulting and acquired Uncle Funky’s Daughter to have the ability to be more present for my children. I often leave work early, and work late nights so that I can attend games, school events and other activities during the day. It’s a trade-off that often leaves me exhausted, but I don’t regret it one bit.
- Your kids are a representation of you. You may have noticed that I don’t post on social media very often, and there’s a reason for that. I often say that I’m a very private person — a natural-born introvert — and I want my personal life to stay, well, personal. But there’s also another reason: I have FOUR kids, and it takes a lot of energy to get them out the door looking right in the morning! Both my mother and grandmother taught me that “you can look crazy, but your kids can’t”. So, by the time I comb hair and get them off to school, I only have time to throw on some workout clothes and head to the office to start my day. There’s seldom makeup applied, and my hair is in a constant wash n’ go or afro puff. But, my kids look good, and behave well (for the most part)…and that’s all that counts! LOL!
Family Comes Before Everything: My mother made it a point to be sure we spent time with all of our family — even the crazy ones! (SMH) We spent countless weekends trekking up to Plumerville, AR (aka…the country) to spend time with my great-grandmother and her siblings. I vividly remember fetching water from the well, feeding the chickens, and walking down the dirt road to say hello to my great aunts and uncles. This not only gave me the exposure to my elders, it taught me a respect for my family history. In the same vein, I try to make it a point to ensure my kids do that same trek to Arkansas for our family reunions, spend time with their cousins (and 2nd cousins), and are well-known faces by our extended family. Even though we are all miles apart, it still takes a village.
Love Your Husband, but Rely on Yourself: Only my close friends know some of my story, and I’ll share a bit of it here. My mother had multiple husbands (and I do mean multiple!). Through all of them, she maintained her independence and her ability to provide for her children. That meant that we weren’t always “middle class” — we struggled together as a family when finances were low, but we made it. She never felt the need to stay in a marriage or relationship out of financial necessity, and she made sure that my sister and I both understood that we should never base a relationship on financial dependence. I saw this trait of independence not only in my mom, but in my aunts as well. So, our family, like so many others, has a group of strong, independent black women who rely on themselves and each other for success of their children. I have learned to adapt this lesson a bit, because I do rely on my husband greatly. He is my partner in every aspect, including the parenting our children. My husband and I have roles in our family and depend on each other to carry those out. But, I have always ensured that I had the ability to financially support myself and my family, and that I always understood our financial portfolio. After all, I never want to be the woman that has to say “…I don’t know. My husband handled all of that.”
My mother has taught me so much, and I am sure yours has too. Share some of your life lessons passed down from your mom in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear them all!