Mother's Day... A Holiday that is set aside where we honor the super amazing women that we call Mama... a Holiday that resonates differently with each individual. To many it is a day of celebration. To others who have suffered loss of a mother, it can be an annual day of grieving. It really just depends. Its been almost four years since I lost my mother. She was an amazing woman. And to be completely truthful, I'm not just saying that because she was my mother, but simply because she was just that... amazing. In all transparency, typing out the word "was" is not easy. I'm not sure if it ever will be. Although my mother was with me only a short while, (passing away a little under two weeks before my 30th birthday), there are many lessons that she passed along to my sister, myself, and everyone else that met her. Some lessons were brilliant and beautiful... others were just plain out weird. Nevertheless...
Here are 13 lessons that I learned from my mother..
1. Always wear a pop of color. My mother was not a fan of the color, BLACK or GREY....by itself. If she wore black, she would add "a pop of color". She would often times nag me to do the same (FYI: I love the colors black AND grey)
2. Sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back. In High School, I remember having an extremely overwhelming week and going on a major rant regarding how much I had accomplished that week, with little to no recognition (cue Family Matters background music). My mother's response..."Brandi, sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back. There will be times where your efforts, abilities, and YOU may go unnoticed. When that happens...pat YOURSELF on the back." In other words, YOU be your best cheerleader.
3. Forgive quickly. My mother often stressed the importance of forgiving and letting go quickly. When she was "done" she was "done". She would say, "Its not worth it...Forgive quickly."
4. Take care of yourself. Go get dressed. My mother was no slouch. She took great pride in getting dolled up. She took even greater pride in getting "her girls" ready. Saturday nights were filled with hair washing rituals and hair rollers. Sunday dresses were picked out the night before and ironed.
5. Wash up AND Wash Down...Pretty self explanatory
6. For the first time having sex, use Baby Oragel to relieve pain. (I told you that some of these are weird. But hey). Her thoughts were, if its safe to give to a baby, then it must be safe to put inside your vagina....Yeah, I DID NOT follow that lesson. She also recommended peanut oil. I DID however, try that.. It didn't help.
7. Cats hate babies and children. The truth is, my mom just hated cats.
8. Stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. In kindergarten, I was teased. Why? Because in the late 80's kiddos were not encouraged to practice mindfulness, and I was 1 of the 2 black kids in my then mostly white elementary school. I would come home crying telling my mom about my day, and how a kid was chasing me around with worms, and simply not being nice. She would make me say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
9. Its ok to have a good cry... Again, self explanatory
10. My mother taught that my spouse and I come first... even before the children. Now, I know that this may seem a bit backwards or off in today's society, but it makes perfect sense now that I am an adult... married 10+ years...with two kiddos. Allow me to explain... After years of physical and verbal abuse, my mother finally left my biological dad and remarried when I was eleven years old to the man who I now call my father. He was/ and still is a pretty dope dude. Moving forward...My mother's thoughts in "parents coming first" were that if the parental units are a hot mess, a wreck, dysfunctional... to put it simply, so goes the rest of the home... the children will follow. Peace, tranquility, love ALL flow from the top down. What did this look like growing up for me? My parents (my mom and dad/ step-dad) would often take trips WITHOUT my sister and I to re-connect/ connect. They would come back after their adventures (with gifts in hand of course), beaming with joy. Love was all around.
11. Be the best Brandi that you can be. My mother stressed to my sister and I that there is and will NEVER be another Brandi or Cecili(my sister). We are it. Be great. My mother encouraged our individuality and taught us to embrace all of who we were.
12. You can buy almost anything from the Dollar Store. My mother was super creative. She had the unique ability to make the cheapest meal and table settings look like a feast ripped from the pages of Martha Stewart Living. Growing up, there were moments that we had money, and moments when we were on super budget. In those moments, no one knew the latter.
13. My mother loved her body. Up until my sister and I hit the age of bringing friends over, one could easily find our mother walking around in her full woman glory pre-shower, post-shower, pre-bed...basically whenever she felt like it. She loved and appreciated the skin she was in. My sister, Cecili could often get her to "drop it like it was hot"... and my mother kindly obliged.