“Mothers love their sons and raise their daughters.”
I ’m not sure where this adage came from, but I certainly feel like there is some truth to it. I remember discussing this with my therapist as we explored the implications for the Black community. It seems that Black mothers tend to “baby” their sons and stress the importance of independence to their daughters. We discussed our various theories on why this is the case. We didn’t come to one root cause of this phenomenon, but we both agreed that males and females are socialized very differently in the Black community.
In taking a step back from the land of generalization, I think about my upbringing. I can’t speak to the relationship my mother had with my half-brother, but we never had a loving relationship. We had good times but, in my opinion, there was no depth or unconditional love present in our mother/daughter relationship.
As I think back on my youth, I’m beginning to recognize that she showed her love differently than the traditional expressions of love that one expects (physical affection, listening, investing emotionally, etc.). My mother showed a more “practical love” that was defined by offering advice and showing me how to be an independent Black woman. I can’t be upset or expect something she wasn’t able to give me. I think realizing that she was unavailable to giving/receiving emotional love allowed me to let go of a lot of painful feelings.
SIDE NOTE: I’m really grateful that my father was in the household because I’d seriously be an emotionally bankrupt person if he wasn’t there.
Needless to say, I’m still working through my “mommy issues” and this continues to be a long healing process. However, I want to take a moment to celebrate the things she did right because I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for her.
Here are some of the most valuable lessons I learned from her:
Have your own bank account. My mother was all about her separate money. Of course, she paid bills with my father, but she did not believe in the co-mingling of money. Personally, I don’t mind having a joint account with my future husband, but I do plan on having another account for my personal use.
Appearance matters. My mother was a CLASS ACT. She dressed to impress all the time. I think that is why I enjoy dressing up so much. I just remember how much she stressed the importance of appearance.
Always clean up after yourself. “It’s nothing worse than a nasty woman” LOL. I remember my mother saying that to me all the time when I was younger as she “encouraged” me to clean up. Being clean was very important to her. To this day, I still very conscientious about cleaning up, especially when I’m a guest at somebody’s house.
Be mindful of how you engage with other women’s husbands/partners.. Sometimes women are quick to give you the side eye when relating to their significant others. I don’t give anybody a reason to think otherwise of my actions. I’ve learned a few things from her when interacting with married/taken men to ensure that it doesn’t even LOOK inappropriate.
Pay your bills and be responsible. My mother was a stickler about paying bills and handling her business. Her credit score was always good and she kept extensive records/documentation about important matters. I am definitely the same way and I attribute it to her business-savvy nature.
Those are only a few of the MANY life lessons that I’ve learned from my mother. I’m thankful for her practical love and I definitely see the value in it. However, sometimes I just simply wanted a hug or an “I love you” – not a lesson. I hope (and pray) that when I’m a mother that I can provide both practical love and emotional love to my children, especially my daughter.