Not All Mothers are Worthy of Praise

Societal views of motherhood are typically one-sided. Mothers are usually seen as nurturing, supportive, caretakers, delicate, loving, the child’s first teacher and the backbone of the family.

In the black community especially, mothers are revered and viewed in high esteem because historically our families were matriarchal due to the emasculation of black men during slavery. In the past men were present in the home as providers. But it was still the women who had the greater influence in the important decision-making and affairs of the family. Today, matriarchal families are ever more present with the rising number of black mothers raising children alone.

The majority of black literature also depicts black mothers as strong, unflawed characters willing to do anything for their children. With the exception of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Quicksand by Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and a few others, rarely do we explore the very real black mother who is the antithesis of the one we laud.

Mother/daughter relationships with all their complexities are as imperative to a shaping a woman’s character as the one between a girl and her father. Typically the mother is a black woman’s best friend. And there is no room in society for the woman who speaks quietly to admit, “My mother and I aren’t close.”

I am that woman.

Raised in a single-parent household, I must give my mother props for the level of financial responsibility she carried on her own. We never lived in the projects, never received government assistance and for the most part I never wanted for anything materialistic. I also am indebted to her for instilling in me the value of education and knowing the history of my people. Thanks to her and scholarships, I also walked across the stage in undergraduate debt free. For that I will forever be grateful.

But I would quickly trade in all the financial stability in the world for a mother who emotionally was attached to me.

At a very young age, I remember being the brunt of my mother’s bitterness and frustration of what my dad never did in her eyes. She hated that I loved him so much. Any sign of happiness after talking to or visiting him, I would be met with curses and suggestions that I get out of her house and go live with him. At the age of nine mind you.


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