It was the height of the massive weight loss. I sent the picture of myself in a Jamaican flag swimsuit. It was originally too small and now it was big on me. Friends sent words of joy and encouragement. My own mother responded with, “Great. Now all you have to do is lose another ten pounds.” Her text perplexed me. My weight was always more of an issue for her than it was for me. I informed her that she was the only one that had something negative to say. She responded with, “I’m the only one that told you the truth.” Her phone rang. My voice was soon heard explaining to her that I sent her that info so that she could be happy for me, not call me fat. The call did not last long because it was most unpleasant. In retrospect, I realized that she was jealous. My own mother was jealous of me. Unfortunately, I do not think it was the first time.
While preparing for my debutante cotillion, my dress had been fluffed. My hair and make up were complete. Someone was even present to make balloons for me. My mother said, “Boy, when you get old, no one pays attention to you.” Why would she make such a comment during such a happy time? She had a role in it. She put most of the after events together. Why then would she feel so insecure about herself?
At some point, my father told me that I was dealing with a fat, insecure, jealous woman. As an adult, I have often wondered what my father saw in her. She always complains and is never satisfied with anything. It has been one of the greatest mysteries of my life.
As an adult, I have come to realize that I always hated when my mother would try to talk to me about personal matters: my first kiss, my first boyfriend, always asking questions about my menstrual cycle. In my opinion she simply was not the right person to have an open conversation with and still is not. Why?
Imagine wanting to have a genuine conversation with an individual that is supposed to automatically be on your side. Now you hear criticism that is not constructive for every action or feeling that you have followed by negative commentary. Throw in unsolicited advice here and there for situations that were never brought to said individual’s attention. Why on earth would anyone subject themselves to such misery?
Serious relationships have come and gone. Pain and heartbreak. Joy & euphoria. None of it has been shared with her. I look at other mother daughter relationships and admire how close they are. What is it like to have a mother that is fierce with her support of her daughter? Even without this important relationship in my life, there are still many blessings.
There are other maternal women that treat me like their own daughters. There are friends that treat me more like family than a friend. Such bonds help me to remain thankful for the life that I have and the people that I know. There is more to life than a text or FB messenger.
It was another church service. I must have been in middle school. There I sat in the church service next to my mother. We never sat in the front but more towards the back. People were going up to the altar as the pastor gave his call. This is something that never resonated with me. It was a very emotional time for many people but it simply left me in an unbothered state. However, on this day, my mother decided that both of us were going to the altar.
She was sitting to my left instead of my right. I would have to move in order for her to leave the pew. She stood there hastening me to get up and go with her. It was the last thing on earth that I wanted to do. My eyes could have cried tears of embarrassment. There I was in front of the entire church; uncomfortable.
It has been about four days now since the verdict was announced. The reality that many had thought was of yesteryear became present day. The argument about the law, race relations, riots, and protesting all run wildly on the Sahara of America today. My exposure has been limited to the radio and Facebook which in truth is too much. The pain of the people is a great weight to feel.
As my mind wanders through the tragedy over and over again, my heart returns to the same place. At the center of this, there are two parents that brought this child into the world; that child is no longer here. There is a mother that is mourning the loss of her baby. There is a father that will never see his son again. Their pain is in the spotlight. They went from being unrecognizable to having their lives splashed all over the media.
I have heard about all the things that are being planned. Stevie Wonder refuses to perform in Florida which is significant because this is the same individual that fought with his talent to make the birthday of MLK a national holiday. Boycotts of the state by other groups are openly being discussed on Facebook. It looks as tourism is about to take a hit. Others yet plan to move away out of fear that their sons will meet the same tragic fate. One mother has removed all of the hoodies from her home. How does this permeate my humble existence? How do I feel?
My feeling is one of sadness. My feeling is one of regret. My feeling is that the spirit of the Civil Rights Era is about to explode. Then there is the question of what can I do? What is my role? For maybe the first time in my life, my role is very clear to me.
There are many people that are actively working to do something positive about this situation. They will need prayer. Aren’t you the same person that just posted that prayer also requires action on your part? Yes, I did. While I do not forsee myself participating in a protest, there are other ways that I can assist. Someone may need to relax their mind and escape for a while just to breathe. Harp music soothes all nerves. There are women that may want to talk about their fears for their own children in the wake of it all. I facilitate womens’ circles and would gladly offer to do a special ongoing series for this matter. It is now my honorable duty to make certain that I keep myself balanced so that when it is my turn to help, I will be ready.
Yes, here I am. Looking out of my window and thinking about my day. It will not be long before I petition Archangel Azrael to remain at Sabrina Fulton’s side. She must fight this battle while the memory of her son is fresh in her mind and heavy on her heart. Dear God, if I do nothing else today please let me ask you to hold her. No parent should ever have to bury her child.
In school, we learned math, science, reading, spelling and a few other things that were deemed necessary for graduation. However, I have found that the things that I truly needed to learn were acquired after college through life, well chosen workshops, and conversations with open minded spirits. One thing that I learned was how to keep my plate clean which proved to be an especially valuable lesson given that I am a pisces. We tend to absorb everything that everyone has. This places us at a disadvantage as our own voices are drowned out, we are taken advantage of and are left as gulliable voids. If you know how to clean your plate, such predicaments can be avoided.
My mother purchased a beautiful hand made bikini for me from Jamaica. As I tried it on, I was admiring it. She grimaced, started tapping my stomach, and said, “Don’t you think that your belly is too big to be wearing a bikini?”. I paused for a moment. I am in my mid-thirties. I never enjoyed my body in my twenties and celebrated my body now in the twilight of my massive weight loss and was working out two hours on a daily basis. I DESERVED TO WEAR WHATEVER I WANTED. Instead of blowing up or making a terse remark, I politely responded. “If I do not wear a bikini now, when do you suggest I wear it? My stomach isn’t a problem for me, and I happen to like the way that I look.” That was the end of the conversation. Why? I stood my ground as she served her insecutiy about her weight and placed in in my plate. I did not eat it or accept it. I removed my plate. I have found that such comments have ended many a conversation with her that could have gone another way had I lost my mind.
In their loving zest to sacrifice everything and do the best by their children, mothers often make mistakes that require both parties to seek healing on different levels. Children do not come with a manual but sometimes, life does scream to allow the ebb and flow of the waves to have its way. It is nice to have a vision, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and all of those other wonderful words that come to mind when the future is pictured for a parent. However, the child may have a different view for herself as to what will happen in his or her life. An agreement may not be reached but love and respect must endure and envelope the relationship.
The generation that gave birth to the free spirits, liberated souls, and modern thinkers, did not have the luxury of doing what they wanted or so they thought. They did what was expected: get married, have kids, please your husband. There wasn’t an understanding of living life on your own terms or making yourself a priority. Many of us our now approaching our prime and rock our own grooves; however, there is tension between us and the ones that gave us life. The major tool of conditioning has been the damaging negative comments that ring so very loudly in our ears. Let us start with the touchy subject of our body image and how it affects our mothers.
Bellydance used to be my way of life. There wasn’t a single event on the planet that had a bellydancer in it that I did not know about. I often wore a midrift and long extended pants to class. It was not that long ago when I had an uncomfortable ear full from my mother about the size of my plump stomach.
“You know, your belly was exposed. And it was big…”. The tone that was used to describe my belly made me feel bad. The artform embraces women of all shapes and sizes and I was happy to be what I was. My size was not an issue; however, it was an issue for my mother. I was told that I should not dance in front of people and that bellydance was not helping me lose weight. I found all of this to be quite strange because I started dancing to find out more about other cultures and beliefs. Weight loss was far from my mind. Pilates changed that.
My body changed dramatically. I dropped water, pounds, and energy vampires. People were stopping me in the streets over how amazing my body looked. My mother said, “You have come a long way but you still have a lot of work to do…”. Thank goddess that I learned a long time ago, the hard way, that you have to do things to please yourself. If other people like it, WONDERFUL! If not, then that is not your problem. I was not changing my body for my mother’s approval which meant that her comments did not hold much weight except for the fact that she is my mother. How does one deal with the constant barrage of, you should do this because that is what I did?
As an adult, there were many times when my body image was questioned and openly judged. I was dressed for a dance class once. My belly was exposed. My mother later told me over the phone about how big it was. Her comment made me feel bad because of the tone that she chose to use. I was healthy and not overweight, but my belly was big. Based on her comment combined with the tone, I understood my big belly to be a problem. It did not change the way that I dressed for dance class, but I did make certain that she never saw my exposed belly again. When I did begin to lose a lot of weight, that still was not enough. “You have lost a lot of weight, but you still have a long way to go…”. My response was that I was happy that I was losing weight for myself and not for her. Last summer, she purchased a bikini for me to wear. It was beautiful. I immediately tried it on. She started tapping my stomach and said, “Don’t you think that you should lose more weight before you wear this?”. Instead of telling her that I normally grace the beach topless, I instead chose to tell her that if I do not enjoy my body now, when am I going to enjoy it? Furthermore, I was happy with the bikini and the way that it looked. Because I did not appear the way that she thought I should look, I was deemed inappropriate and not fit to wear something skimpy in spite of the fact that I was in the best shape of my life. It took a long time for me to learn to politely avoid the insecurities of others including family members.
Such things have been on my mind since there seems to be an issue with free spirited daughters and mothers that do not understand them. Bouts of tension often lead to volatile situations and constant misunderstandings. There is no middle ground in that the mother thinks that her child should be just like her or at least normal according to the picture that she has in her head. However, what is considered normal? Whom is in charge of setting those rules? You are called plastic for not sharing the same beliefs or loose for being unwed with a child. Perhaps you lifestyle is questioned and scrutinized on a daily basis leading to further turmoil. How does a girl cope with it all?
A strong foundation is key in such a situation. You must understand yourself first and foremost. One would think that the one that gave birth to you would have a better understanding of you but all too often, the level of comprehension is poor. Understand that you must live your life for you on your terms.
You do not have to justify anything to anyone. If it is something that you consider private, then do not feel guilty about keeping it that way. The aspects of your life do not have to be the side dish at the family dinner table. You do not have to be subjected to misguided comments that make you feel bad. You can address the issue directly, or respond with something positive. Take the statement and turn it around into something joyful.
You are something divine and powerful. You are made in the likeness of the creator and nothing can harm you without your permission. Think highly of yourself and always try to be positive. Along this journey that is called life, there will be many trials and tribulations. The way you handle them will be your lasting legacy.