COMMENTARY: A Reflection on Motherhood
Rev. Dr. Martha C. Taylor
Mother’s Day is a very special day in all communities.
It’s that time of year when the sale of Hallmark cards quadruples, teleflorists spike the price of flowers and See’s Candies hires extra workers. Even with a reservation, restaurants make you wait in long lines.
Mother’s Day is a time set aside to show the one you call ‘mother’ special appreciation with gestures of love.
African Americans embrace motherhood in unique ways. There are biological mothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, and guardians. We have enduring terms for ‘mother’ such as Madea and Mama. The strength of mothers comes in all sizes. Big Mama can be short, 4’5” and is still be called Big Mama. Lil’ Mama can be 5’9”, and still be called Little Mama. It is not unusual, for grandmothers to be first responders and caregivers for their grandchildren.
For the most part, mothers are brave, courageous, and will stand by their children through thick and thin, regardless of whether they are successful, or even those who have fallen by the wayside. Christian mothers have a strong belief in God – somehow, God will make a way out of no way. Even when going through trials and tribulations Christian mothers will be singing – “Troubles don’t last always.”
Mother’s Day also brings a mixture of happy and hurt feelings. For many, Mother’s Day is a reminder that mother is no longer here. In some cases, a mother’s only child has died. One mother told me this would be the first year without her son who passed away last year from COVID-19. The death of a child does not mean you are not a mother anymore.
Some mothers are doing double duty raising their grandchildren. Some men, as single parents, have assumed the role of both father and mother. All mothers are not “mothers of the church” wearing white dresses, big hats with special reserved seats.
Still others have assumed the role of mother through adoption or by extended family.
The population of homeless mothers has significantly increased. Some are living with children in broken down automobiles trying to make ends meet for their family while the system professes to be doing a study of their plight. Some mothers are in convalescent homes, many tucked away out of eyesight of the family. Still others are blessed to have family visits.
Our hearts grieve especially for mothers who are imprisoned; they decorate their prison walls with pictures of their children.
Songwriter-rapper Tupac Shakur wrote musical lyrics about his mother who struggled to raise him through poverty. Shirley Caesar, a famous gospel singer, wrote the song “No Charge” in response to the little boy who was going to charge his mother for doing chores around the house.
The lyrics to the song “I’ll Always Love My Mama,” by the R&B group The Intruders, is a Black man’s testimony on the love of Mother.
“She’s my favorite girl, (You only get one, you only get one, yeah)
She brought me in this world.
She taught me little things like ‘Say hello’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ while scrubbing those floors on her bended knees.”
A walk back in history is a reminder of the horrific experiences Black mothers endured that started in the Middle Passage during the Transatlantic Slave Trade era and continues in many ways.
The auction block, a place where enslaved African people were treated as material where families were torn apart and sold to the highest bidder. Black women were forced to be slave breeders to keep the slave industry alive. Children grew up motherless while being forced to toil and labor under the yoke of slavery.
But through it all, there is a strong belief within most Black mothers that God has not abandoned them. The hand of God elevated Black mothers from slave pits to the White House when Michelle Obama, became First Lady of America.
The bond and love between Michelle and her mother was so strong that Marian Shields Robinson retired early to live in the White House to be close to her grandchildren. Michelle and Mother Robinson wanted the sense of normalcy a genuine Black grandma could bring to the everyday life of her grandchildren.
One thing we do know, the only earthly DNA connected to Jesus came from an unwed teenager, whom God chose to be the mother of Jesus. Thirty-three years later, Mary stood at the foot of the Cross and watched the crucifixion of her son, Jesus.
And lastly, Mary is not the only one to see the light go out of her child’s eyes. Thousands of Black mothers have endured the crucifixion of their young sons and daughters through police brutality. Every Mother is special in some way.
Happy Mother’s Day.
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