Today my mom turned 70 years old and I want to take you on a small journey through my childhood. :)
This morning I was taking a shower and it reminded me of the time when I was a man/boy she would MAKE me take a shower cause I stank. I would stand in the bathroom and refuse to wash my nasty butt. I would come out after a while and go downstairs to watch TV. She would holler, “SEAN get your ASS up here now!!! Did you take a shower?” “Yeah.” “No you didn’t. The soap is not WET!!!” In my mind I am muttering, “Shit” but dare not say it out loud. “Get your ass in that tub and WASH!!!” “Okaayyyy” was the response. I wash my ole crusty ass and we would do it all over again the next day only this time I would wet the soap.
Once me and a friend took some cigarettes and climbed onto the roof of the laundry mat in our neighborhood. Mean ass lady across the street goes to our house and tells my mom. Do you know she climbed up on that roof and beat my ass right then….“Don’t you ever let me catch you smoking EVER AGAIN!!!!”while SHE was smoking a More Menthol 120. Yeah mom I didn’t forget that one.
Fast forward and I remember when at 14 years old she would let me drive her Nova around Brandy Chase apartments so I could “wash” the car (wink wink). I would drive for hours going absolutely nowhere and then do a quick wash of the car. I bring it home and she would run an errand. When she comes home she says, “Why is a quarter tank of gas missing?” “Ummm, ION know.”
One day I meet this woman named Beverly. Beverly is 24, sees me driving the car and we start talking. I lie and tell her I am 18 years old (I did look older than 14) and pretty soon I am hanging out with her. I tell her I am out of school and need a job. She hooks me up with my first job at Burger King on Old Natl. NO ONE knows I am 14. I tell mom about Beverly and mom can’t WAIT to meet my FIRST girlfriend. I invite Beverly over. Mom smiles, shakes her hand and says, “It’s so nice of you to help my fourteen year old son get a job. What exactly do you want with a 14 year old BOY?”
My mouth drops as Beverly looks at me and mom in STUNNED silence. She stutters, “Ma’am, I am SO sorry. He told me he was 18 and graduated high school last year.” Mom straight busts me out and tells her everything about me, still in school, driving MY car, no license etc. I was so PISSED!!! Beverly excuses herself from the house. I try to call her but she won’t answer the phone. The next time I go to work I find out she quit. A few days after that I learn she moved from the complex. My momma BLOCKED ME!!!!!
I also remember being somewhere between 6-8 years old, living in Valley Estates off Stanton and Delowe in the SWATS. I distinctly recall her telling a boyfriend how my father (her ex-husband) was not helping take care of us and she couldn’t afford to keep us in day care and go to work. Pops was sending the child support but that was it. I told her, “Momma, I am a big boy. I can catch the bus home and stay in the house.” She knew this wasn’t a wise decision but the 70’s were just like today, everything was too damn expensive. She reluctantly agreed and made me learn how to call the police if anything happens. “Call the police and then call me at work” and the very next day I became a latchkey kid. I walk into that big apartment scared as shit. Almost immediately I heard creaking noises and freaked out. There was somebody in the house!!!! I called the police and then I called momma. Damn near the entire APD show up at the house and not too long after they arrive so does momma. Turns out the apartment was creaking or as old folks call it, settling. So much for being a latchkey kid.
My mom worked two and sometimes three jobs just to make ends holla at each other from across the table. It was a constant struggle between her paycheck and the food stamps. The one thing I loved was milk. I drank milk like it was water. She would get so pissed with me because I would knock back a gallon of milk in a day or two tops. “Where’s the milk?” “I drank it.” “ALL OF IT?!?!? DAMN!!!!!”
Mom would get a roll of hamburger meat and that would be what we ate every day for a week. Hamburger and mac n cheese, spaghetti and hamburger meat, meatloaf and taters, meatloaf sandwiches. Shit, sometimes the meatloaf had so much bread and other fillers like eggs and onions we didn’t need bread. The piece of meat on the plate was a meal in itself. To this day I hate meatloaf and don’t get me started on the whole chicken that was baked, fried, souped, sammiched, pulled, yanked and picked clean. Damn carcass could be a stand in on the Walking Dead. One time she made jello and put vegetables in it because someone told her that’s “how you make them eat veggies”. REALLY?!?!?
My mom has been through a lot. Sometimes the world was kind to her and sometimes it wasn’t. She struggled financially for a long time but did what she had to do to keep the house afloat. She experienced racism from both ends of the spectrum because her kids were black. Once some white guys busted her tires when they saw she had black kids. She wouldn’t remarry because she was afraid of what someone would do to us. I can’t even BEGIN to tell you the crap I put my mom through as a man/boy. I damn sure didn’t help make things any easier.
Now, as a senior citizen, her life is a lot better and easier. She has a really big house, nice car and a dog named Roscoe P COLTRANEEEE!!!! She doesn’t want for anything and instead of meatloaf she has…well she still likes meatloaf. Some things never change. She retired from one job, became bored and went back to work. The person she works for now is super nice and takes really good care of her. Guess what? She is ready to retire AGAIN. How many people can say they did that?
Mom, you have come to my rescue more than one time from childhood to adulthood. You were more than a mom to me. You were a peacekeeper, negotiator, friend and confidant. Sometimes you had to be a dad as well. You kept me clothed and fed with a roof over my head. You gave me freedoms most kids would never see and you whupped my ass something fierce whenever I effed up. Because I watched you do it every day for years and years, I learned to work hard for what I need and want. You made choices and decisions for my betterment that helped mold me into who I am today. I thank GOD every day that He allowed YOU to be my MOTHER.
One of my favorite songs of all time is Tupac’s “Dear Mama”. Some of his lyrics sum up what I am trying to tell you. “And even though I act craaazy, I gotta thank the Lord that you made me. There are no words that can express how I feel, You never kept a secret, always stayed real.” He also says, “And there's no way I can pay you back, But my plan is to show you that I understand. You are appreciated!!”
So everyone PLEASE join me as I say a loud and joyful HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Mother who turns 70 years old today!!
I love you Momma!!!!
P.S. Folks, call your Mom and talk with her. If she is not with you any longer “Call” your Mom and talk to her!!! She still hears you.