I absolutely adore my mother. Growing up, minus a heavy spat or two here and there, she was my best friend. I could tell her anything, and I did. From issues dealing with my other friends, when I lost my virginity, to what to do about a guy who was lame in the bed, I always consulted my mother. If she didn’t know, who else could I talk to?
I felt like this was the type of relationship that a daughter should have with her mother. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of women that we can trust. Even other family members. We’re such a competitive bunch; it’s hard to tell who is really for our individual well-being. A mother should be a girl’s teacher; she is the woman she looks up to and searches for guidance. A mother should show her daughter how to be and grow into a woman. We should not have to experiment with this as trial and error. There are certain guidelines that every girl should live by that she will definitely undergo during her course to womanhood.
My mother was my idol, apart from Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, and the occasional Julia Roberts. She was classy, beautiful, and leapt through boundaries to make it where she wanted in life. All odds were against her, and she defeated them. She was Wonder Woman to me. After raising my aunts and uncle from the time she was six and becoming their legal guardian at the age of 17, I trusted her words of wisdom. She was sophisticated; I remember looking up at her when I was only three or four years old thinking how gorgeous this lady was.
When I was little, my mother mainly stayed at home. My father worked mostly nights and weekends, which left my mom as the homemaker majority of the time. Before I entered school, the two of us would spend hours running around our small country town together, shopping and visiting family and friends. My mom was also one of the main mothers to volunteer at school. At every event my older brother had, my mother was right there helping with each school function. Parties, football and basketball games, bake sales, you name it. Of course, I would travel right along behind her footsteps. She made dishes for church events, sang in the choir, forced my brother and I to perform in the Christmas plays; it was the life we lived as small children. She was like the modern-day June Cleaver, but much flier. Momma packed snacks and sandwiches on our long vacations to Florida or the mountains in Tennessee, taught my brother and I how to roast marshmallows while camping, she kept a goody bag when we went to the drive-in theatre, and kept my hair in cute twists and bows. She planned our birthday parties, and I got to go along with her as she hosted Mary Kay parties throughout the town. She was like Aunt Viv from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show. Poised and daunting supreme elegance, as much as I could imagine in our small Kentucky town. Through my mom, I found ideal femininity.
However, things changed.
Over time, I saw the divorce between her and my father. I remember the fight they had in the hallway of our bedrooms and the cigarette she smoked afterwards on the back porch when I was only six. I remember the name calling and distance that deepened to the point where I had two homes. Later, I had a step father come into the picture that furthered my perspective of men, especially considering the relationship he had with my older brother. Down the line, came another divorce, more men, and at this point, I was entering the dating game myself. However, after all of that lifelong drama, I can now look back and think, why would I ever want to do that to myself?
Growing up as a young woman, I saw liars, cheaters, was warned against men who would steal my innocence, men who loved the high of drugs more than their families, men who couldn’t keep a job and didn’t want to; it’s a surprise that I didn’t become a psychological-lesbian. I loved my mother because she presented the truth to me regardless of how much she wanted for my brother and I to live fairytale lives. However, it always hurt me how she would handle some situations. I saw men put her down at times, challenge her physical appearance and keep her sheltered like a puppy, sabotage her name so that people no longer looked at her the same as I did when I was three years old, and it made me hate the power that men held. I would see her come home and slave over making dinner or have me clean the house for men who would just sit and watch the television. I vowed to never be like that.
For a period of time, I never wanted to cook and clean for a man who would underestimate my intelligence and talent and thought that domestic gender roles were the norm in our relationship. So, for quite a few years, I did just that. I never wanted to cook for a man unless he made me a meal first. That never happened. So, I hardly ever cooked, and yes, I received a lot of grief for not being the at-home Betty Crocker. Still, I saw my mother make pork chops, homemade rolls that took two days to prepare, full-course dinners for men who still cheated, lied, didn’t work, and humiliate her in public. So, if a housewife and perfect cook can’t stop them, then who can?
My mother taught me a lot of what I needed to know. She told me secrets that I would never forget, and all of which I took into my adulthood. She helped me understand men, and more importantly, how to understand myself as a growing woman. To figure out what I really wanted in life and what I wanted in a partner. She always told me that you have to make sacrifices; everyone has their faults and baggage, but you just have to decide which you can deal with.
At this rate, I don’t think that option exists.