Mother’s Day has always been a special holiday for me. To be honest, it’s probably my favorite. I grew up in a family that was composed mostly of women, and all those women were key in helping me become the young man I am today. So for me, Mother’s Day is a way to show my respect and appreciation for all the women in my life. Who, when I really think about it, have all been like a mother to me. What’s funny is that most of these women who are my — grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins — have their own kids, but the way they treat me, you would think I was one of their own. This year I was hit with the same dilemma I face every year, what gift can I give not just these women, but most importantly my own mother. I love all the women in my family the same, but naturally my mother will always come first.
I think Tupac said it best when describing the relationship between Black boys and their mothers. He once said “ I think all young Black males…we have a deep love for our mothers, because they usually raise us by themselves.” For me this isn’t necessarily true, because I have a relationship with my father, but I spent a lot more time with my mother growing up. After all I lived with her. So as a result of me spending all that time with her, I do possess that deep love that Tupac described.
My mother and myself have a bond that can only be developed through years of struggle. She got pregnant with me at 16, and despite all the doubters and naysayers, she went on and decided to give birth to me. The next few years were filled with valleys and peaks. For whatever reasons, her and my father weren’t together and for the most part she was raising me on her own. Three years later my little brother Robert entered the world, and now a family of two had grown to three. One woman and two boys. As a child, I was oblivious to the struggle that accompanied raising two boys by yourself. The reason for my ignorance is that my mother made sure we never went without. I can’t remember ever needing for anything. Of course I had wants, but my immediate needs were always met. She played the role of both caregiver and provider, all while going to school and working a number of jobs. Now she wasn’t alone throughout this journey, those grandmothers, aunts, and cousins that I referenced earlier, were always by her side, lending a hand in help when needed. One of my most proudest moments is when she graduated law school a month before my high school graduation. Things weren’t always easy, my mom was what some might consider “strict”, and often times I questioned her methods of discipline. But now, as an adult, I see everything you did was in my best interest. Raising a Black man in a society that is designed for their downfall comes with a lot of pressures, you were doing your best to help me understand the reality of cause and effect. That for my actions, there will always be consequences. Lessons that will forever stick with me.
Thinking about my mother and all that she has accomplished, I began to think about all the other young Black women who have thrived as mothers despite people writing them off, just because they had children “too young.” In our society, there is a stigma attached to having a baby at a young age. Especially in the Black community. As if age is an appropriate measure of someone’s capacity to raise a child. And it’s not just the young mothers’ ability to care for a child that they question, some feel that having a child at an early age puts a halt to all future career plans. That having a baby means you can no longer work or go to school. With the support of family and friends, there are no boundaries or limitations to what these young women can become. I’ve seen these stereotypes put to shame day in and day out. My mom is a perfect example. She took the road less traveled and it came with its fair share of hardships, but she is proof that women who have babies when they are young can go on to achieve great things, as well as being loving and caring mothers.
I know so many young Black women who in their own right, are extraordinary mothers. Some of these young women work, some go to school, and some do both. I think the idea of the young mother is something that needs to be accepted, and no longer frowned upon. There are going to be young women that have babies at ages that everyone might not agree with, but that doesn’t give the rest of the world grounds to condemn. So on this Mother’s Day, I’d like to to give thanks and appreciation to all the moms out there, but especially to the young Black mothers who continue to prove the doubters wrong day in and day out. There’s not a gift your child(ren) can buy that can amount to what you truly deserve. Seeing you all push through the constant struggles has made it easier for me to fight my own battles. I’m sure I speak for many when I say: “you are appreciated.”
Delency Parham is a staff writer at Afrikan Black Coalition. He covers sports, culture, and anything else pertaining to BLACK people.