A Letter to My Mom on her 50th Birthday
Today is my mom’s birthday! She finally hit the big 5-0! Unfortunately because of the coronavirus we weren’t able to plan the big birthday extravaganza that we wanted to. Safety First! It’s disappointing though, because for a woman who does SO much for everyone else she really deserves to be spoiled. Nevertheless, we’re still going to make her feel special. So, I figured the best way to do that is to let her know how much she means to me.
Obviously I haven’t known my mom for her whole life, but I’ve known her for all of mine! I first met my best friend on December 2nd, 1994. AKA, the day I was born! Since that day our bond has been unbreakable. Sure a lot of people can say they have a close bond with a parent. But ours is like no other. I can tell her anything, sure she may not like to hear every detail (especially when it comes to guys), but she’s always there to listen day in and day out. When I was struggling in school, she would be there to talk. When I lost my confidence in myself at my new job, she would drop everything and talk me through it. I may be the Justin Timberlake of the family as she says, but she truly is the glue that holds us all together. Kind of like the stream of endless bops *NSYNC had over the years that made them the pop culture mavens they are today. And she’s been like that way before even starting a family of her own.
My mom grew up in Brooklyn, NY. She didn’t grow up in a fancy neighborhood, it wasn’t anything near fancy. When my grandparents split up, she knew she had to step up and help my grandma out with things like the paying bills, keeping up with the house, and taking care of her little brother (my uncle). So she did just that. She would work and go to school, and then come home and cook dinner for my uncle. They always joke because one of the only meals she knew how to make was stew chicken, so they’d have that almost every. single. night. From a young age she always knew how much work it took to maintain a family. My dad (who was actually friends with my uncle first!) saw this and knew she was the total package. An independent yet supportive woman who was fiercely protective of her family and knew how important it was to hustle in life.
My dad always says he really wouldn’t be the man he was today without my mom. She always pushed him, and supported him through all of the ups and downs of his career all while keeping things afloat in our home. Oddly enough, they are the perfect example of “opposites attract”, and somehow they make it work. She’s his voice of reason and moment of peace in times of chaos. I’ll never forget when she would tell me she would sneak and put cash in my dad’s pockets or glove box, because she knew he would always forget to bring cash. And that’s just who she is! Ten steps ahead, and always thinking of others.
I used to take the bus to school, until this creepy bus driver stopped at the gas station to get a drink before dropping me off. (Yes, true story). Because my mom always taught me to tell her everything, I immediately told her how uncomfortable that made me feel and she didn’t think twice about putting me back on there. She even confronted him about his behavior. From that day on, until the day both my brother and I were able to drive ourselves, she would drive us to and from school EVERY day. That’s almost 20 years! She was at every sports event, every play, every art show, you name it. Because my dad was often traveling for work, she knew how important it was for us to look out in the crowd and see a familiar face.
When I moved into my first apartment, she was there to tour different options with me and when I finally found the perfect place she shopped all day with me for food and necessities to make sure I’d be 100%. And she did the same thing years prior when I went off to college. After I moved out of my parents house I was afraid that we wouldn’t talk as much. I’ll admit it is pretty weird not seeing her face everyday, but luckily FaceTime has made things like that easier to manage.
Though I’m on my own in the world now, I know I’ll never lose my way because my mom has taught me so many things throughout my life. Sure my teenage years were definitely rough (honestly her fault for making me so vocal LOL), but I’m woman enough to admit that she was right about most of those things she tried to tell me about. She was right when she said it’s important to set your own goals and stick to them. But she also said if I don’t like something, I should stay true to myself and voice my opinion. So from a young age I’ve been pretty outspoken. Even sometimes maybe a little too honest with people. She was also right when she told me to always walk with my head up high and to make sure my handshake is firm, because not only am I already being judged for being a woman but I’m being judged for being black. And as a black woman, we have to work 100 times harder, and go above and beyond. Once my dad became more successful, she would always tell me that “they” (meaning her and my dad) were wealthy and I wasn’t. I’m sure this would sound harsh to some, but her point was that I wasn’t entitled to their wealth, and if I wanted that for myself I too would have to work hard and not depend on anyone else. And that’s stuck with me ever since!
I can go on and on about what an amazing person my mom is. Because she truly is the best role model. When a person looks back on their life, I doubt many people can say that they worked hard their entire life to make sure their family was taken care of. Not many can say they maintained a 27 year marriage and raised two awesome children. But the greatest gift she has ever given me over the years is the immense knowledge she passed on and strength she has both possessed and given me over the years, so I’m not sure how I’ll ever repay her. While I save up money for that Ferrari, the next best thing I can do to pay her back, is try to make her proud every day and show her that I was actually paying attention to everything she was saying over the years! Grateful doesn’t even describe what I feel truly toward my mother, but it is the most fitting. Being that I know you’re reading this Mom, thank you for being such a fierce Leo momma. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. I hope you have a fantastic birthday… and most importantly, I love you.