Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I was talking to my mom the other day and she was telling me that she got a call from her former college classmate saying that the ladies of her Nursing class were having a 50th reunion (dayum! FIFTIETH??????.... I should be so lucky). I said “Mom,….I just CANNOT believe that it has been FIFTY YEARS since you graduated from undergrad!” I meant that in a “wow, it seems like yesterday” type of way and she got it as such. She said “yeah, I know! It is amazing. Well, my Mom lives in Florida and she said that the reunion is gonna be down there. I was like “why is it gonna be down there???” (because my mother’s college is in Detroit, hence my confusion). She replied “because most of these folks have retired down here, so…… it’s more convenient for people”.

Ohhhh I see. So, I asked her “did you always wanna be a nurse?” She said “yes, even as a little girl, I had told people that that was what I wanted to be…… but then again, there weren’t many role models to do other and greater things in my tiny little word”. “what do you mean? If you had had those role models, would you have aspired to become something different??” I asked. She said that for her, NO one in her family or close to her had gone to college. Let’s remember: My mother will be 72, so were talking about growing up as a child in the 40’s and early 50’s. She goes on to tell me that she “could have been a teacher, but felt that teaching wasn’t for her…..many girls were interested in being a secretary as well, but that wasn’t something she aspired to either. She said that it wasn’t until she was in high school and a counselor submitted her name for a scholarship and she won , in the same year, both the Delta Sigma Theta and the Alpha Kappa Alpha scholarship, that she even REALLY felt that she could go to college. Without those, she would not have been able to at the time (right outta high school) . My grandma had no money and it was SOOOO not heard of “saving” for your children’s futures, hell they were doing GOOD to feed ‘em. So, those scholarships really jump started her life and in return, mine as well.

So, we talk some more and I, out of the blue, just wanted to ask her “Mom, how hard was it to be a single mother?” You see, she left my father when I was almost 3. And truth be told, she said that she had decided that she didn’t WANT to be married to him anymore BEFORE I was even conceived, but that she gave him another chance and voila….here I come. I am my mother’s ONLY child. She said that not long after I was a year old, my father had a bad accident at work, which left him severely incapacitated and unable to work, or even provide most of the daily are for himself. And my mother's saying has always been "you don't kick a person when they're down....". So, though she did not want to stay in the marriage, she also was not going ot leave him incapacitated. So,my mother stayed with him (though at this point she was PLANNING her escape). My mother had bought the house they lived in with HER money and it was with her money (my father , per her, usually spent HIS money on drinking and hanging the fuck out) that she planned our escape.

She said that she had to find a place where it was “safe” for me & her because my father (being the alcoholic that he was) would have NOOOOOOOO problem coming to yo job and performing, or coming to yo house and performing! So, she opted to live in an apt. building that had security where not just ANYBODY would get in. The building also had secured underground parking. She said that she planned to leave for OVER A YEAR, scrimping and saving for me and her. After all, she was planning on leaving EVERYTHING. She would therefore have to buy furniture, new beds, bedding, some kitchen supplies, kitchen table, etc…….

Well, she finally did what she set out to do. Leave. She said that basically she left one day when he went to work and then took me over to my grandma’s (her mother) house while she went to tell him she and I were OUT. She said that we walked out of the house RIGHT into our apartment. I was about 3 years old. The same building I think of as home (because I do not remember EVER living with my father). I grew up in this building and was there until my mother mover to Florida when I was 17 years old and about to become a senior in high school. But, this was only part of the story…… I , as an adult, can only IMAGINE how difficult it was to have a young child, limited funds and be a single parent. And though I know a whole LOT of single parents had it WORSE than she did, I know that her journey was STILL not an easy one.

I asked her, “I remember that you told me that it was hard at times, and I NEVVVVER knew it.”. She replied, “You weren’t supposed to know”. I could feel her smiling through the phone. She went on, “I didn’t want you to have that burden on you. You were a very sensitive child and I knew you would worry so much AND to top it off, you didn’t NEED to worry about grown-folks stuff…. You were a child and it was your job to go to school, study and have fun growing up…..it was my job to make SURE that you had what you needed, and some of what you wanted……your didn’t need to know that sometimes I didn’t have lunch money or that I had to budget carefully to make sure I had money for gas……that wasn’t your worry to shoulder sweetie….”

I thought “wow”….. I literally thought my mother had money GALORE when I was younger…. She ALWAYS took me shopping and would buy me at LEAST one item when we went. I remember times where I would want more stuff than she would be willing to buy (when really it was probably more than she could afford) and I would have the NERVE to get a FUNKY-STANKIN- ATTITUDE !!!! I wish I could go back and smack the hog SHIT outta my 10, 11, 12 or even 13 year old self! My mother was just always soooooo secretive that I had no IDEA what she made per year, what our rent costs were or any REAL sense of what stuff cost and how far money DIDN’T go.

I mean, looking back, I don’t know HOW my mother was able to do what she did! When I was 4, she went to grad school and eventually got her Masters of Nursing. I can’t IMAGINE doing that and I HAVE A HUSBAND! There is simply NO TIME for you when you have a very little one, yet she was able to do it, with help from my grandmother and grandfather and a couple of my “play” aunts (my mother had one brother, who lived out of town, and later died when I was about 11). She told me that she was so happy to have me though , that there was no sacrifice too big for me. It brought tears to my eyes.

So, I am proud to have my Mom as MY Mom....she really is the best and I commend all GOOD single parents out there and can only say that they really hold up the truest meaning of the word : PARENT


YouToldHarpoTaBeatMe said...

Wow. THAT's a MOMMA right there. I think I'mma tear a page out of her book and keep my mouth shut sometime. I'm bad about it.... I don't have an ounce of hesitation when I tell my kids we can't afford this, that and the other.

I think I pray just as much as I save up for their college education. That's something I remind my daughter of, everytime she shows me some funky pink Nikes.

Your Mother sounds like a wonderful lady.

Knockout Zed said...

I couldn't raise a FORK by myself, let alone a CHILD. That's the shit that amazes me about my outstanding friends that were raised by single parents. Y'all parents have to be the shit!

Kudos to your mom!


The Goddess said...

WOW! Your mother had quite the journey. It's great that you appreciate her for her accomplishments, what she has provided and instilled in you. I can relate because I was a single parent until I met The God 3 years ago and it's no easy task. There are a lot women out there that are mothers that need to take a lesson from yours. She seems like a truly wonderful mother and person.

Luke Cage said...

Great story miss Robyn. I'm not a parent, but your mom most definitely represented! And its good to know that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Kudos to you both for getting it done like you should!

The Phoenix aka ThatGirlTam said...

Wow...your mom sounds like a great person...but DAYUM if she ain't just a couple years younger than my GRANDMOTHER! WOW...

JoJo D. said...

Wonderful tribute to your mom, Miss Robin. Momma left Daddy after eleven years of horrible marriage. She had six YOUNG kids in tow, and one in her belly when she told that negro to get to stepping. They say money is the reason why the majority of married couples split. I beg to differ. I think it's alcoholism. Praise God none of us inherited that man's "love" of the bottle.

I am a single mother myself - raising a "special" one. When I look at my gal and she smiles and sticks her tongue out at me, trying to be funny, I have to run in the bathroom so nobody will see me crying my tears of love and joy. I thank God for the divine privilege of being this child's mother.

Tired of being broke said...

This is a special piece. Your mom is a divine and wonderful woman.
I think was stood out for me more than anything was the time period that she was doing this in. This is a time when as a black woman it was not very common to be college educated.