Life Lessons from My Mother
Usually when you hear, “She got it from her mama” this refers to a certain set of “assets” but when I think about the things I got from my mama, they are way more meaningful than that. I attribute a large part of who I am and who I strive to be to witnessing my mother navigate life. I know it’s cliché but when I was growing up, my mother truly was my greatest role model. I thought she was magical because she made things happen out of what seemed to be thin air and as I look back on my childhood, I still question how she was able make most things happen in my life. She was a single mom without a lot of money but somehow she managed to spoil me. I had so many pairs of J’s (not all, but I’m sure more pairs than we could really afford) and most things that my heart desired. My mom was a beast at doing anything she could for her baby girl. On top of all that, she was my best friend. We could talk about anything and I never felt afraid to be vulnerable with her. She trusted me more than I deserved which is the kind of love that I’ve tried to show others in my life.
Losing my grandmother last year made me realize the importance of giving my mother roses while she is still here, remembering the things that make her such a powerful force in my life, and cherishing the moments we’ve shared as well as all the memories we still have to make.
I could go on forever about all that my mama provided, but for now I will highlight some of her life lessons that I follow every day.
There is always a way.
My mother was 16 when she had me. We lived with my grandmother and my aunt for the majority of my early childhood. We didn’t have much but my mother went out of her way to ensure that I was taken care of and didn’t miss out on experiences. Seeing her go through the process of making a way out of no way is where I got my perseverance. If for some reason something doesn’t work or I fail at first, I get creative and figure out another way. Often I realize that it’s ok to give up on something, but only after I’ve figured out how I could achieve it.
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.
As my biggest cheerleader, my mom was always front and center at every play, pageant, and performance. She celebrated all of my milestones equally—no accomplishment too small, no role unimportant. Her support made me feel safe to take risks, especially when it came to following my dreams. Knowing that my mom was going to be there to see me through whatever I tried or decided to do was the motivation I needed to go after anything that I wanted. When I have doubts, my mother is a constant reminder that I’ve achieved great things in the past and there is no reason I can’t do that in the future.
After seeing how much my mother’s girlfriends meant to her, I knew when I grew up that I wanted to have relationships like those. The love they had for one another and the support they gave to lift one another up in times of need—those women were and still are like family to us and witnessing that instilled in me the importance of having my girls. I hold them close to my heart because I saw my mom and her friends do it so effortlessly.
Trust can be given freely. It does not have to be earned.
I learned a special way to trust others from my mom. Most relationships are formed after earning trust but I tend to start by trusting and only taking that trust away if I’m betrayed or hurt. Mom allowed me to go out and explore the world without limiting me because she wasn’t sure of what I might do. She allowed me to have experiences without hovering over me so I could learn without her having to instruct me through everything. She allowed me more freedom than most teenagers were given (which may be why my friends were always at my house!) And the amazing thing is that, in return, I didn’t break her trust which allowed her to give more and we continued with that feedback cycle. So I choose to give my trust freely just like my mom gave to me.