Happy Mothers’ Day to all my mama friends! It is good to take a day to celebrate the women who should be celebrated everyday. I have great respect for women who don’t have children, by choice or circumstance, but we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the women who bring kids into the world and do their best for those children. Today, I celebrate my mothers — plural.
The beautiful woman who gave birth to me was just shy of 19 when I was born. While she loved me and wanted to raise me, she realized that she was not equipped to deal with being a mother and a full time student. She made the difficult decision to give me to her older sister who was married and had a more stable life to offer me. While I wish things had been different, I truly appreciate the courage and selflessness it took for her to do that. I know her well and love her dearly.
The woman who raised me was not able to have a baby herself, though she really wanted one. To her and her husband, I was a blessing. While my parents and I have had tough times and many disagreements, I know that they gave me the best of what they had to offer and that they both love me as if I had been born to them. My mom and I are a lot like oil and water, but she is my mom and I love her.
My grandmother, Gladys, was the driving force in my life. She is the truest example of unconditional love that I have. There is nothing she wouldn’t have done for me or for any member of her family. She showed me how to be strong in the face of adversity, tough in tough times, and how to love fiercely. Everything I know about how a mama loves her kids I learned from her. She was not perfect, and as an adult I realized how flawed a woman she was, but she helped make me the woman I am today — warts and all. I was privileged to be alone with her as she passed from this life nearly two years ago. I believe in my heart that she wanted it that way and that it was her final gift to me.
My nana, Mildred, died when I was five. I don’t remember much about her, but I do remember spending time with her. Mostly I remember bath time. I loved going to her house and spending time with her. I’m sorry to have lost her so early in my life, but I’m glad to have known and loved her in my own way.
Fourteen years ago, it became my turn to be mama. “Mama” was actually Imani’s first word. Both of my kids still call me that, and it warms my heart to hear that word. I am their first home, and I hope to always be the place that they feel most safe. I fed them from my own body, cared for them, cried and prayed over them, and felt pride in their every achievement. My kids are my greatest masterpieces, my collaboration with God in creation. I know that they do not belong to me, and that they will leave me someday to build their own lives and families. Still, I will always be their mama, for better or for worse. I hope to have given them all they need and even some of what they want. I hope to have built them strong, compassionate, and loving. I hope, despite my mistakes, that I have helped them become good people. Nothing else really matters in the grand scheme of things.
Thank you, John, for giving me these beautiful children. Thank you, Imani and Iain, for making me a mama. Thank you to my mothers and grandmothers who shaped and formed me and made me Lisa. Today, as we celebrate mothers, I am truly grateful to be a mama. It has been a wonderful blessing in my life and I am proud to be called mama.