Although I had a very pleasant day, it is always a bittersweet experience for me. Since birth, my sister and I have gone to church with our mother every Mother’s Day. Unless of course I was living out of the country on an island, or the sister was away in college. Yesterday, we came together with my granddaughter in tow to continue that tradition. The Pretty Princess and I rose early to make it in time for service at Morehead Avenue Baptist Church to get the word from mommy’s pastor, Reverend Charles C. Barnes, Sr. My mother was ecstatic and that brought me much joy. I don’t take it for granted that at her age, with her declining health, that we are immensely blessed to still have her here with us. Brunch followed. We laughed and reminisced and our time spent together was a breath of fresh air for my spirit.
For many, many years I have claimed six children. The ex-husband came with four, fathered the fifth with his mistress and we shared the youngest. Some who know me, believe they are all mine by birth, and I have never before felt it necessary to correct that assumption. They were mine and I loved all of them with every fiber of my being. I took them to school, cheered at all their extracurricular activities, wiped away tears and fussed when they did wrong. I was there during their formative years, the younger bunch from birth. I did what a mother did to the best of my ability and I was practically a child myself. More times than not I got it right, but those times when I made mistakes, I thought them monumental. Most mothers do.
When the divorce happened, the older kids were adults with families of their own. I know that their father smeared my name at every opportunity, but I was so hell bent on being free from his abuse that I didn’t care. I thought the bond I shared with them would be enough. They knew me. Knew my heart. Knew I loved them beyond measure, no matter what was said about me. That first Mother’s Day when I heard not one word from any of them, I was devastated. I sat in church with my own mother trying to figure out what I’d done wrong.
The second year didn’t hurt as much. By year five I’d become numb to it all. The one child I had birthed still wished me a good day and joined me and his grandmother at church. Then suddenly that went left. I became persona non grata. He told me he hated me and blamed me for everything that was wrong in his life. He turned on me, his wrath so vapid that it still has me reeling. I had to be reminded that it wasn’t personal, it was his mental illness. But it felt as personal as personal could ever get. It was pain in a way I have never experienced hurt before. I cried continuously when no one was watching. There were times I could barely breathe thinking about it, wondering if I would survive. It was unfathomable grief and through it all I kept smiling, kept saying I was fine, and hid it from others to the best of my ability.
Big Daddy and the Pretty Princess gave me a Mother’s Day parade. They showered me with affection and love and presented me with the sweetest cards and the most generous gifts. And then I sat in church with my mommy, feeling immensely blessed.