I’m going to be extremely honest in this blog post – so if you’re the easily offended type – don’t read any further. This includes you, mom, if you’re reading this…
My mother and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many things. Sometimes (read very often), we argue because she does things I disagree with, or she doesn’t do things I think she should (even if it’s for her own good). On a regular basis, she blocks me on WhatsApp and then sends one of my younger siblings to deliver a passive aggressive message to let me know she still loves me even though I’ve been a stubborn wretch and I refused to reach out to her first.
Like many other Jamaican kids, I could write blisteringly about every single time my mom has given me an ass-whooping – I remember distinctly every flying washing brush, leather belt, pimento wood switch, threatening knife blade and promise to ‘murder me and go sit down at the [police] station’.
I don’t have many shining quotes to share from my mom either – instead of Shakespearean eloquence, she opted for brutal truths tactlessly delivered that I’ve only been able to appreciate later on in life. She wasn’t the sugar-coating kind…and I’ve only just recently come to learn to love her for this.
Like many other moms, she meddles. Offers unsolicited opinions and advice on how I’m living. And while I sometimes (read all the time) ignore her prophesies and lectures, I listen with one ear. Because no matter how much I disagree or don’t plan to listen to her, I know it’s well-intentioned.
So, by now, you probably understand that my mom is a wretch.
Just like me.
Because I am my mother’s daughter.
And even though we don’t have the sweet storybook mom-and-daughter relationship a lot of people post about, I wouldn’t choose a different mom even if I was given the chance. Because though she may not have been the sweet cookie-baking, PTA-going, gentle-hair-brushing kind, she had a big hand in making me into the woman I am today and no-one can take that from her. And she did a pretty amazing job if you ask me!
My love of books and words comes from my mom. We were regulars at the St. Catherine Parish Library, and the bookstores in the mall all knew us by name. A huge chunk of her weekly salary was spent on feeding my insatiable appetite for reading, and she fed me indulgently.
She got me involved in everything, even things she could barely afford, just so I could choose from all the world had to offer. Piano lessons, dance, art, computer…you name it. She learnt Spanish songs just so she could sing them to me and teach me how to love languages. I still do to this day.
She told me I was beautiful everyday, and that she loved my long legs – it was only after the corruption that is puberty, and criticisms from all-knowing high schoolers that I realised that my long legs and knock knees were actually a physical flaw, instead of an attribute of beauty, as my mother had tried to convince me.
When I started experiencing the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, it was my mom who was there with me every step of the way. She defended me to those who decided that I must have had AIDS to be losing weight that quickly. And when it was suggested that I was being haunted by duppies , she reluctantly agreed to an ‘exorcism’ by my aunt, who was the most spiritually competent in the family. Looking back, I roll my eyes at this, but I completely understand that she was just desperate to help me.
When my eyesight became so bad, she would read my notes aloud to me so that I could study for my CAPE classes (although she couldn’t make head nor tail of my Computer Science notes). I would also dictate my essays to her and she would try to write them in ‘my handwriting’ so the teachers wouldn’t think someone else had done my homework for me.
The day I was diagnosed, it was my mom who took me to the hospital. While we waited in the Emergency Room, I was so thirsty and I’d already gone through the gallon of water she’d packed for both of us. We ran across to the supermarket and she bought me a gallon of orange juice, thinking it would help to slake my thirst – neither of us knew that this would have done more harm than good, but I had drained the bottle before we even got to the cashier.
We were waiting in the ER for almost two hours when I started feeling like I was going to pass out. My mother got up and started screaming like a mad person at the doctors and nurses who had kept walking blithely by. In the midst of my illness, I was self-righteous enough to be ashamed of her behavior.
Even more so, when she bodily grabbed a nurse and insisted she attend to me immediately or she would ‘burn down Spanish Town Hospital flat flat’ (sic). At her insistence, the nurse, a trainee, started doing my vitals. Four glucometers later, they realised that the error reading they were getting on the machines was not a technical issue, but a sign that I was on the edge of a diabetic coma and was about to fall over that precipice at any minute.
Long story short, my mother’s wretchedness has saved my life. She even cut sugar out of everyone’s diet after I got home from the hospital. She bathed me when I was too weak to move, and made snacks for me at 2am when my blood sugar dropped too low. She also altered all my favorite recipes so that I could enjoy her cooking and my favorite dishes without all the complications.
This in particular pisses me off, because having been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes herself, she doesn’t even give herself the kind of attention she had given to me when I was just diagnosed. So she eats cake, and drink soda and ‘forgets her meds’ more often than I like – all of which I yell at her about all the time. But that’s a story for another time.
The point I’m trying to make is that I love my mom… it’s a bittersweet kind of love…but it’s unconditional. There’s no mom more annoying, stressful, loving, loyal and giving as her anywhere, and I selfishly hope to die before her since I cannot imagine a world without her in it.
Happy Mother’s Day 💘