Note: The following story, along with several of my other works are featured in Our Black Mothers: Brave, Bold & Beautiful. This is a piece I’m extremely passionate about for various reasons. During my first few readings I was overwhelmed with joy by how it touched and resonated with the audience, resulting in future invitations to read and or speak from the heart regarding my experiences as a mother and what I’ve learned. I’d like to now share with you. (Tim’esa is shown in the above image of the book cover on the top row and far right with the beautiful smile).
My mom left me to believe I had the flu when I was 17 and had been hanging around the house for over a week vomiting, but the reality was that I’d soon become a mommy myself. Although, I wasn’t quite sure what a “mommy” was because I’d never experienced that particular relationship growing up. I had never even held a baby or changed a diaper. Yet, the instant I rubbed my belly, I knew that I would indeed be the best mother I could to the person growing inside me. Immediately I’d fallen in love with my child and in that moment there was no preference whether it was a girl or boy. Eventually I gave birth to three children over the years, but my first precious gift came on July 13th 1990 at 7:13am. I named her Tim’esa.
Being a mother has been my most cherished position in life. Even now as young adults, my children and I continue to have healthy and positve relationships even though there are constant challenges for everyone during their journey’s. While raising my children as a single mom, it has always been important for me to express honesty, love and communicate openly which happens to work both ways. I was always the “momma” which I made clear. However, life has taught me that it is especially important to listen to children. Some parents often get hung up on a power trip feeling as though their way is the only way, particularly in the old days when kids simply didn’t have a say. Yet in this day and age many of us depend on our children for input, mainly for things such as all this new technology. I personally had a hard time coming from the era of eight tracks to cassettes and from VHS to DVD’s and now iPods. I refuse to have a cell phone!
Wise mother’s learn just as much from their children as the children do from them. Children need to know they have a VOICE too. I stongly believe as human beings and children of God we can all learn from one another. At the age of four, Tim’esa and I had recently moved to a new state. We didn’t have alot and the first few days we only had enough food for her to eat. As we curled up on the floor of our unfurnished apartment, I held Tim’esa in my arms as she wiped the tears from my cheeks. She looked up into my eyes and said, ” Mommy, you know God has boxes with our names on them with everything we need up there. All you have to do is pray and ask him for it”. I admit that I wasn’t paying much attention to what she said to me at first because it wasn’t making sense. She made sure I was listening though when she said, ” He doesn’t hold what we want momma, only what we need”. Before that day, I’d never actually prayed nor was I sure how to. On that day my four year old told me “just talk to Him momma, He’s listening”. She explained to me that he actually hears us whether we talk or not because when it comes to God, even our thoughts are not private.
I was reminded of a valuable lesson that day. Somehow over the years I allowed my faith to get away from me. Later in life as my children grew older, I began to realize that the Lord had not forgotten about me. It was through my children, His cherubs, that he saved me. I was headed down a very dark, destructive and rebelliuos path. I allowed rage to overcome my heart, basically giving up. Becoming a mother restored my faith as well as my strength. I now have my babies who depend on me. Before that day, I don’t recall how many times or if ever Tim’esa had been to church. To this day, I’m still not she where she learned what she taught me that day about prayer, but the sincerity in her VOICE and the serious look in her eyes is one reason I’ll always remember that day and listen when a child has something to say.
As mother’s, we tend to be very protective of our children. Once my daughter began junior high, I was worried about the friends she’d make. Everyone always seemed to adore Tim’esa where ever she went. However, I’d warn her about befriending the “pregnant girl” concerned that such a girl would be a bad influence on my baby. I hadn’t realized or considered that I taught Tim’esa to think for herself. She was not only strong, but had proven to be a leader and very independant. One day she told me, ” momma, my friends don’t have to be a bad influence on me. Why can’t I be a good influence for them”? Silly me for never considering that perspective. It was almost as if she’d purposely seek out the troubled kids, somehow sensing they were in need of a good friend. She had never given me a reason not to trust her(other than always stealing my last slice of watermelon) and once again it was a reminder from my child to exercise my faith.