A Mother’s Love
How I Relinquished My Childhood Resentment
A mother’s love is one that comes with tenderness, care, and restrictions. I’m from a town called Atlanta, Georgia, and being born and raised in the south in the late 90s is a tale of beautiful unfortunate events. You see, my mother’s love came with unfinished grown folks business. I was the product of the baby mama and baby daddy curse that plagued my family. I was the middle child, which is fitting as me being connected to my mother’s hip because I was always in the middle of someone else’s grown drama.
A baby on the hip but a young adult in the way I saw love. Love was the root of my resentment for my mother. It’s the way she loved perfect appearances at events yet strife in private. It’s the way she loved my father yet hated his indiscretions that made them separate like bridges, but staying on both sides only lasted a short while since I was in the middle. It’s the way my pain was a casualty of her loveless relationships.
Now you see, my mother had her own feats in life. Grandma, my mama’s mama, was gone at my mother’s tender age of 14. Granddaddy passed at my tender age of 4. My mama’s sense and seeing of love is all she wished for. Through her quiet aura, she clothed and appeared to be as womanly as she could. Having to be an adult at 14 to help her dad with five girls; any child put in a grownup position, is bound to misstep. It’s the way she searched to be whole that left her more incomplete.
My mother’s love wasn’t wrong; it just wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t right because she’s traditional, and I’m so removed from tradition that even my questioning of Adam and Eve got me kicked out of Sunday School. I was so much not like her that she othered me for having the traits and qualities of a man she once loved. Unable to speak my mind, I was deemed too opinionated and told to stay in a child’s place. Instead of having my own sense of style, I was scolded and pinned in clothing that appeased her appearance over my love of fun. As I said, my mother’s love wasn’t wrong hell that’s all she knew. Her love was a form of survival, her love was appeasement even if it meant emptying herself. “You are a reflection of me when you walk out this door, and I will not be made a fool,” rang in my ears so much it was a part of my daily routine.
I resented my mother’s love so much I started doing things I knew would send her in cahoots. Always smart, always pretty, but always empty. I dyed my hair, covered my body in art, went natural in her creamy crack world, put holes in my face and body, and I got a degree in communications, HA! I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do yet didn’t do anything I loved. I was enamored with being the complete opposite of what my mother wanted that when she flipped the script and started to accept me for who I was, I felt like a failure. I was a caricature of my resentment towards her, her drama, her scolding, and her relationship with me. I started to other myself even when it began to become nonexistent.
But how to get over it was the hardest pill; if I’m being honest, there’s still some there, but I work not to blame myself for my mother and father’s transgressions. My mother passed on October 9, 2016, from stage four lung cancer. A non-smoker and drinker passed from lung cancer, the irony of it all. Four months before she passed, she and I had a conversation, and I saw for the first time she loved me out of fear and pain. I could feel it in the way we walked in silence. What do you say? How can you keep up with this anger? So we both stopped. We stopped skirting around painful issues; yet for me, it was the way she was honest about how she was just trying to be a good mother that it came at the expense of her pushing her kids away. I gradually stopped harboring anger, hurt, and sadness because I was only breaking my heart thinking I was the reason. In reality, I was just in the middle of grown people who are trying to unpack their childhood trauma.
Four months before she passed, she and I had a conversation, and I saw for the first time she loved me out of fear and pain.
I was in the middle of teaching a woman to go after a love that doesn’t hurt so much, even if you crave it. I was the product of what happens when you put your heart in your head’s position. So I did what I did best; I wrote my mother a letter after she passed away, crying and explaining how it felt to be Ajee growing up. Then I burned it. I didn’t reread it, I burned it, and I wrote a letter to my father, and I burned that one. I wrote a letter to my stepdad and stepmom and burned them. I wrote and released every emotion I could, and I felt lighter. [To]Me getting over my resentment for my mother, I had to get over my resentment for all the adults at fault.
My mother was a woman of beauty, grace, style, and confidence. All qualities I try to embody in my own way. My mother was a complicated woman in search of her own serenity. The Sunday before my mother passed, I called her in the hospital and told her I’m headed to church, and the breath that she took was one that eased my mind. It’s one I felt and understood. It was her knowing that her baby, her Bright Eyes, was going to be OK. It’s the way she said I love you more on the phone that encapsulated my body, and I’ve got the wish I always wanted. I just wanted to make sure my mama was proud.
My relinquishment of resentment for my mother is still a work in progress to this day. It’s not about me resenting her at all. It’s about me forgiving myself for blaming me for my childhood. A mother is just a woman trying to be the woman she sees for herself while also trying to uphold their own parent’s image. Mothers have their own issues, loves, heartaches, and heart flutters. Mothers are humans looking for that little slice of heaven, so even when they give us hell, I have to remember my mother was/is just like every person out there. She is just trying to make her own mama proud.