I know everyone says this, but I literally have the best mom. So much so that I idolized her for a large portion of my life, and it led to major disappointment when she did something that in my eyes was not “perfect”. As I’ve grown older and experienced what it’s like to be an adult, I am now able to humanize my mother, accept and embrace her imperfections, and not be upset by her limitations.
As you know, writing is therapeutic, so here I am, about to bear my heart and the intimacy of my relationship with my mother. I hope these insights will empower and humanize your relationship with your mother too. In this present world, grace is often withheld from black women at every turn, the least we can do is to provide that for one another – starting with our moms.
My Mother, My Rock, My Hero
My mother is the only person I’ve never lived without. She birthed me, nursed me, raised me, and still at my big age puts her cape on anytime I feel like my world is crumbling. As a child, I watched my mother do everything and could not wrap my head around how. She fed and clothed 3 kids every day without ever having a day off. It was crazy that she took care of 4 people and I didn’t even know how to take care of myself.
The little things would amaze me. Like how she ironed clothes so perfectly. From knowing the correct setting, to getting the creases right every time, to knowing how and when to use starch(I still don’t understand what that is) — I was fascinated. I turned to her for every single thing happening in my life… and honestly still do. If I had an ailment, she had a solution. If I had an accomplishment, she had her pom poms cheering me on. For this reason, it was hard for me to grasp the fact that she could make mistakes. How could someone who did everything so right, ever do anything wrong?
Now That I’m An Adult, Whew, I Understand.
I could write a chapter book on adulting and how many times I’ve stumbled on this journey, so how could I deny that my mother probably experienced the same things? I sometimes sleep through alarms and make it to work way later than I should. I get caught in the heat of moments and wish I’d reacted to a situation differently, and sometimes I work so hard and still can’t spoil myself how I want to. I get it. And because I’ve gotten accustomed to giving myself grace when I mess up, I learned to give that same grace to others. Becoming a parent doesn’t absolve anyone from being human.
Aside from finally being able to put myself in her shoes, I now understand that my mom was many things outside of being a parent. We are all multi-faceted beings. I haven’t and don’t think I ever will define or confine myself to just one thing. I’m a writer, and an accountant, and a plant mom, and a friend, and the list goes on. So now especially, when 20-somethings are opting for solitude, and compassionate friendships over building their families, it allows us to reflect differently. At our age, our mothers were exploring careers, friendships, marriages/romantic relationships, AND motherhood. Knowing that we’re struggling to do just a fraction of what was expected of them allows us to sympathize at least, and give grace unconditionally.
Dehumanization Is Influenced By The Power Dynamic Between Children and Adults
Although most of my epiphany came from maturity, I was also able to humanize my mom when she showed me that we were equals. She did this by acknowledging my feelings – by being patient and gentle with me when I was upset, and by being just as excited (or more) when great things happened for me. I can also remember times when my mom scolded me harshly, and came back to apologize for the way that she reacted. All of these things helped me understand that my feelings were just as valid as anyone else’s and that she made mistakes just like I did.
There are some adults I had trouble humanizing as a child, but not for the best reasons. I know we’ve all seen an unhealthy power dynamic between an older and younger person. We hear the saying “respect your elders” all the time. And many ‘elders’ are under the impression that this respect still stands, even in the midst of them being disrespectful. I’ve had teachers, counselors, and even other family members who made it their duty to let me know that they were not my equal. Some examples of this are not listening when a child is speaking, name-calling, and most importantly never apologizing for times you are in the wrong.
This doesn’t mean that adults shouldn’t have boundaries or set rules for children that they do not have to adhere to themselves. It just means that adults should avoid making themselves exempt from basic decencies. An adult can tell a child they can’t touch the kitchen knives because they will hurt themselves, but it would be wrong for an adult to tell a child they are allowed to cry because the adult doesn’t want to hear it. Danger versus disrespect.
As we grow, we will undoubtedly come to new conclusions that are in and out of our control. My relationship with my mother has grown stronger by talking with her every day even after leaving home, whether it be a brief check-in text or a 2-hour FaceTime call. Being actively present in each other’s lives and making an effort to spend quality time has been so impactful for our communication and healthy relationship. I hope this article helps you see a parent or influential adult in your life as a human, that is allowed the same mistakes as the rest of us. Remember, these relationships become healthy and mutually beneficial when they are nurtured. And most of all, I hope this encourages you to give grace to those around you – children and adults alike.
Asya is an accounting and finance professional who loves fiction novels, travel, writing, nature, and being a plant mom.