By Amoye Henry
Love has saved the day, like she always does. This is a love letter to my mother and this is for all mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, friends and caregivers. Happy International Women’s Month, may we infinitely love and recognize each other outside of the boundaries of one day, month and lifetime.
Mother: A human being who is instinctually and intuitively connected to our highest source of existence through her power, patience and constant ability to give, despite at times having nothing more than her love to offer.
The generations of people I see around me, especially in my circles of friends are building, expanding, investing and creating the reality we want to not only live in, but the world we want to thrive in. It is not easy but we do it because we are trying to leave this world with a legacy. Often times, we are ridiculed for being “too strong,” “too opinionated,” “too aggressive,” “too demanding,” yet are we not expected to live in a world that requires we armour ourselves with such characteristics to survive? Unreasonable conditions result in drastic efforts to maintain our humanity. To outsiders, we may appear to be void of “softness” and “lack femininity”, be deemed “less lovable” and capable of doing it all on our own, but we cannot. Much of the “black community” and its emphasis on ‘revolution’ is reliant on the strength and will of our women, primarily our mothers.
Our mothers are builders, self-sacrificing agents of change and visionaries.
They are women who put it all on the line relentlessly to ensure we could be here today with the opportunities we have.
Women who build us, so we could build others…
Who would builds her?
Who builds the builders and who heals the healers?
We love them through it all and understand their baggage is our baggage. We internalize the idea that their pressures relate to us and their choices result in our lived experiences. No matter how angry they make us, we love them.
In over a quarter century of being on earth, I have only seen my mother cry once. It happened upon receiving news that my younger brother, who at 17 was diagnosed with a rare autosomal recessive disorder. The news of a prognosis with a suggested death sentence of “12 months”, (which he has survived by almost 10 years, Thanks to Universal God) traveled to every Allen/Henry member from every corner of the earth, each one displaying no short of the emotion, broken.
Our entire family was devastated.
I called out sick for weeks off work, missed weeks of classes at the University where I was enrolled. My other siblings cried in disbelief and worry, my grandparents took days off, my father and his family were stunned…
My Mom was still.
No mother wants to receive news that they may outlive their own child and for this, my mother stood still to process it all, while shedding few tears. Even though she had every reason to give up and falter, to cry out towards the heavens in despair, she was still, trustful, faithful and powerful in her stillness. Bills had to get paid, and her son had almost died, but she would be by his hospital bed every day and still to this day is in the emergency room with every relapse of his illness.
She has been through so much.
How much more can she handle?
Throughout the years of my childhood, I never saw my mother in breakdown mode. She could never be found in her bedroom crying or thinking about her life and the decisions of the past. I believe now that she likely went through her own set of traumas, but she would never allowed us to see her in this light, for reasons I think I can understand. In just her early-mid twenties, she was a new immigrant, student, career woman with not two but three jobs, a supportive partner fighting to hold onto a failing marriage, a warrior raising three children (four in 2000 when my sister was born) living in a structurally neglected but regularly patrolled rent controlled housing community. When the soundtrack of our lives were the sounds of gunshots, when coming home late from school/work meant walking through the block to catcalls from aggressive borderline pervert-aged men – she pressed on, earning her academic accreditations, saving every penny and pursuing all the actions she could to move us out and on up into a community and home she could call her very own. I feel she was so conscious about her movements and vision for her life because she had us looking on. Every man she ever had, every family member (with the exception of my grandparents) had failed her and she was left with God and her deepest, most sincere desire to succeed and breathe with ease knowing she was responsible for her life’s outcomes.
My childhood/adolescent life while beautiful, was plagued by horrible experiences with many, including my mother. We could never see eye to eye. A woman who had limited chances to be at home because of her work and school schedules and a determined daughter who thought she would have a better life than her mother because she read books, travelled and always had an entrepreneurial spirit. This daughter, unlike her mother, had no time to be birthing ungrateful children who would eventually abandon her when she needed them the most. She would never be caught dead waiting on a man for anything, nor would she be stuck with the “single black mother” label…
I looked down on my Mommy.
In my mind, she wasn’t this cerebral, self-made boss. I made her out to be this woman that I would never be… I would never let “society” be right about this black woman I was becoming.
How wrong I was.
Today, I wish I was ¼ the woman my mother is today. You see, I realize now that layered beneath her “nagging” was divine wisdom and underneath the veneers of anger, exhaustion and disappointment was unreciprocated love and ride-or-die loyalty. In spite of this, she pressed on, never holding anything against me, recognizing my naivety and the growth to come within me.
In a world where black women are raised to be strong and taught to neglect feelings of weakness and vulnerability, in a world that liquidates and delegitimizes black girl and black women’s innocence and defenselessness, in a world that teaches us to be these robust indomitable caricatures…
when do we get to just be?
“I’m still learning the parts of me that no one claps for” – Rudy Francisco.
Dealing with generational pain that manifests itself as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can feel defeating. As a people, many of us live in an oppressive system of racism, white privilege, micro aggressions, constant media and judicial erasure, resulting in internalized rage, fatigue, distress, mistrust and suspicion amongst our own kind; broken families, broken relationships, distant parent-child bonds, black-on-black violence and economic disparity. It is not rare to find that a lot of us may be dealing with undiagnosed and undertreated mental illnesses and/or disorders. Our spiritual intuition tells us we will be okay, but our mother’s prayers are likely what protect and guide us. When society and everything around us encourage insecurity and self-doubt, I’m learning to love the parts of me that no one claps for, because my Mom loved them, and now this love within is big enough to return all my love to her.
If I could go back and speak to the heart of a teenaged Amoye, I would tell her; no matter what the world tells you and how grown you feel, your mom is right 90% of the time. And though our mothers themselves are not without error, and also need to listen to us and trust in us– listen to her, tread lightly, heed her warnings and admire her for having the patience to be a mom. Be still in your moments of irritation, but move through them with gratitude when the time comes because love literally saves the day, and life is about making every day count.
Learning to love my mother has helped me to learn how to love myself. It wasn’t always this way and approaching my 30’s I am starting to see that everything happens in its time. Thank you mommy for being a G, birthing me in your youth, never giving up on me, fighting with and for me…and helping me to expand so I could turn my dreams into the reality you have dreamt about. You make me so proud. You deserve so much more than the words on this page and the treatment you receive from life regularly. You are an oracle, a source of light and a pillar of magic to all of your children. We’re grateful and honoured to share the genealogy we have because of you. I love you.
My first Ride-or-Die. ❤
A song to inspire all the mothers out there:
Loving you is the very essence of being in the arm’s of heaven. – Yahzarah, Soul singer.
Amoye is a passionate, creative, hard working project pilot who takes pride in building and cultivating relationships, both professional and personal. She is resourceful, supportive and a natural born achiever who inspires and is inspired by art and life. She takes temporary breathers from social media to enjoy her own little world, but when she’s part of the matrix you can find her on FB “Bronzey Amoye” on IG/Twitter as@Legallybronze
(Words by @Tammy Soulful)