This week my mother turns the big 6-0. In honor of her big day this today’s top ten will consist of the top ten most memorable moments with my mom. Of course I will leave some personal ones out and naturally many of them are contenders for the first spot.
10. Lion King
My mother and I had tons of Mommy-And-Me dates when I was a kid but one of the best ones was when she took me to see The Lion King. She and I laughed and sang and danced together, with no care for how we looked to the other people in the theater. No shame, just living.
9. Fuck ‘Em
My mother was there for me when I was ostracized again and again. Maybe it was because I had big curly hair in a world of straight-haired, fair headed children. Maybe it was because I said “ain’t” or “can I axe you for”. Maybe it was because I was chubby, wore braces or listened to hip hop when everyone listened to rock. Whatever the reason, I was the center of ridicule quite often when I was a kid. I remember receiving an invitation to a birthday party and being so excited that one of the popular girls had invited me. My mom and I went to the mall, bought her two presents and then headed for the party. My mom drove around for the better part of an hour. We checked the invitation each time we got lost and asked if anyone could help us. No one could. I began to grow sad and my mother was furious. Later we found that the girl had invited me at her mother’s request, and had given me the wrong address on purpose. This was when my mother taught me my first profanity. Fuck Em. I got to keep both the presents.
8. Beauty –
Having a predominantly black family and going to a predominantly white elementary school gave me complete misconceptions about beauty and where I fell in. Beauty was for blondes with big blue eyes or beautiful black girls with creamy chocolate skin, not me. I was a freak of nature, or so the other kids would have me believe. My mom, however, grabbed fashion magazines and showed me how movie stars were making their hair curly “just like yours” she showed me girls with round faces and big foreheads, showed me any model she could find that may have had the same mix as I do to show me that I wasn’t a freak, I was a rarity and a treasure. But it wasn’t JUST the models and movie stars. For my smile, my laugh,of my own accord she told me that I was beautiful, every single day of my life.
7. Washington DC-
Did I ever mention how much i was teased, particularly in my late elementary school years? Well, I was. Horribly. But I was also a patrol. So in 5th grade my mom and I went to Washington DC with my fellow patrols and their respective parents. *Sigh* Ok. After we arrived in D.C., we went out for ice cream. At some point between us ordering and receiving our desserts, I was picked on AGAIN, and this time it hurt because my crush, Chip, partook in the festivities. Before I began to cry in front of everyone, I went to sit, alone, on a boulder-like-stone by the road. The stone was on the grass, but because of its proximity to the road the other kids starting saying I was walking into the road to commit suicide. They ran and told my mom and she looked heart-broken.
I hate those fucking kids. The rest of the trip was really fun though, after my mom realized what had happened – she was used to them doing this sort of thing to me by this time. My mother and I pretended we were on our own little vacation and I never felt alone or below any of those kids who teased me. I was simply an outsider, and some part of me felt superior for it. Thanks mommy.
6. Barnes and Noble –
My mom would come to Barnes and Noble with me as much as my dad did. She would sit for hours while I perused the aisles, skimmed through books and harassed the store associates with my questions. She suggested books she’d read as a child and she never rushed me. Not once.
5. Nutcracker –
When winter comes I always remember sitting with my mother watching the Nutcracker Ballet on PBS. We would open the door or windows to let what cold Miami could offer into the house and we’d cozy up together and enjoy the show. Because my mother was a ballerina, she knew the moves and would tell me what they were called and show me how to do them myself. I always thought she was the most elegant dancer I’d ever seen.
4. Rescue –
Short and to the point- cuNo one else stood up for me. I felt like she was my warrior then. She totally is.
3. Spilling the Beans –
My mom and my aunt told me everything, and i mean EVERYTHING about their lives in Korea when my mother and I went to California two years ago. It was like my mom blossomed as a woman, a real woman, right before my eyes. The hustler, the dancer, the mother to her siblings and the lover to…well…that’s our secret ;). But it was a complete Joy-Luck-Club atmosphere. My mother allowed herself to become transparent to me and I respect, no revere, her all the more for it.
2. I found them –
So my mother lost contact with her entire family shortly after she moved to Miami and right before I was born. She felt like she had failed them as their oldest sibling. Keeping them safe was her responsibility and she thought losing contact with them to be her greatest sorrow. So I spent a decade scouring social websites to find them. Finally, I received a response from a girl in California. Yes! she said. That’s us, we’re your family and we’ve been looking for you too. When I called my mom to tell her that I’d finally found them the emotion, the joy, the excitement was incomparable. She was speechless.
1. Reunited (Watching her see her sister for the first time in more than 25 years.) –
It would be a few years before we could afford to get to California to see our family in person. My mother and I flew across the country with all the excitement two petite women could hold. When we landed and waited for my Aunt Miae and her daughter to pick us up my mom became quiet. She wondered on the plane if my aunt would think her old. She was curious about this or that, and couldn’t stop talking. But as we sat outside the airport she was reserved. Too anxious for words. And then, there they were. More specifically, there she was. The little sister who was like a twin to my mom. Someone who had taken as much care of my mom as mom had taken of her. There are no words for the sense of completion, of being whole of placing the missing pieces that could tell you what we felt. But I felt like I had finally done something right. Something worthy of such a queen that is my mother. I had given her as much happiness as I could. But I don’t think that even that moment would allow her to understand just how excited I am to be her daughter.