Once my mother ate a habanero pepper. My aunt had warned her that she only bought them for decoration and that my mother shouldn’t eat it. “Oh no, I like it hot, I eat peppers all the time,” she said. We all tried to warn her again to no avail. Well I’m sure you can guess what happened next. She danced around that kitchen like MC Hammer!
My mother reminds me of that habanero pepper. You take a bit and at first you think, “I can handle this.” But the longer it stays in your mouth, the more you realize that if you are not strong enough to stand the heat, you’d better spit it out. In other words, my mom is one tough cookie—strong-willed, fiercely independent, feisty and assertive. And she does not play.
But once you get past the tough exterior, she is one of the most nurturing, caring and giving people that I know. She has a very tight circle, but if you are fortunate to be invited in, what is hers is yours.
Growing up with her was like going through a boot camp for life that I secretly entitled Get Up, Get Ready, Get Out. Core courses included:
- Cooking And The Importance Of The Family Meal
- Clean Like The President Is Coming For A Surprise Visit
- Ask For What You Want, Then Ask Again
- Everyone is NOT Your Friend
- As Long As You Are Under My Roof & Other Annoying But True Clichés
- Street Smart/Book Smart: Separate But Equal
- The Difference Between A WANT and a NEED
- How To Earn Money For The Things You WANT
- What Happens When You Miss Your Curfew
- How To Make A $1 Out Of 15¢
- This Too Shall Pass
- Do Not Borrow & Do Not Lend More Than You Can Afford To Lose
- Lead Like The World Is Following
- If You Cannot Change A Situation, Change Your Reaction
- The Only Thing You Can Change About A Man Is His Wardrobe
- Tough But Fair
- To Thine Own Self Be True
- Please, Thank You And Other Social Pleasantries
- You Are Smart, You Are Beautiful, You Are Worthy
- Leave The Right Way And You Will Always Be Invited Back
Boot camp was not easy. The grades were pass or fail. I had to repeat quite a few courses over the years. But when graduation day finally arrived, my mother sent me out into the world prepared and ready to deal with whatever life threw at me.
As I write this, I realize that I have started a boot camp of my own, give or take a few courses. Funny how sometimes you swear you are not going to be like your parents, then find yourself starting to morph into them. I can’t tell you how many times I catch myself sounding EXACTLY like her. Or how many times I find myself doing things that she does, that I vowed I would NEVER do. Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of myself mirror and see her face—mannerisms and all.
Maybe the reason I was so against becoming like my mother was because of how tough boot camp was. Just like any other teenager, I though she was too strict and too hard on me. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t just be happy that she had a kid that did well in school and stayed out of trouble? But looking back, I realize that as a single mom, she was trying to provide me with what she did not have. She wanted to teach me the lessons that she had to learn the hard way. Though I may not agree with all of her methods, I am so grateful that I was blessed to have a mother that cared more about being a parent than being a friend. It is because of her that I am the woman I am today. And I am honored to call her my friend.
So I have decided to embrace the part of me that is like my mother. And pray that one day, when my daughter has matured, she will embrace the part of her that is just like me.
Love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day!
What part of you reminds you of your mother?
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