Thursday, August 23, 2007

How The Diva-At-Large Came To Be

This month has been one of reflection because my mom is turning 65 years old on the 30th. Although I wondered what to write about in this latest entry of “This Is My Life,” the answer was crystal clear. My mom has always been a source of inspiration for me. When I was growing into adulthood she shared one of her pearls of wisdom that I carry with me every day. She said, “Ashanti, I am your best friend.” After all, her mom was her best friend. My grandmother Rolene passed from cancer when she was only 64 years old. So this is truly a milestone for us to celebrate.

I was not supposed to be. It was not until my mom was five months pregnant when she discovered that there was a life growing inside of her. And once she found out she was pregnant, she had a migraine for 1 whole month. After all, as the story has been retold countless times, she was fine with her two boys. But here I am! She was 37 years old having a baby. She had retired from the diaper duty and teething and late night feedings part of mothering almost 9 years ago. And now she was getting ready to come out of retirement. Oh my! But she has always said to me that I was a surprise, not a mistake. God wanted me to be here.

Growing up, she showed me what it was to be a strong black American woman. By example, she demonstrated how one successfully maintains a career, cares for her family and manages a household. She practically raised three children on her own – my dad had two full time jobs. At age 2, she had me potty trained so I could attend school. She instructed me at age 6 or 7 that I had to now wash dishes. I remember dutifully taking one of the kitchen chairs, pulling it up to the sink, and standing on it to soap the dishcloth and wash dishes. That was my first “family duty” chore and to this day washing dishes is my favorite household task. At around 8 or 9, I was taught about money management when she made me write out the checks to pay the bills. When I was 14 years old, my dad passed away from cancer and I learned a major lesson in responsibility. Although her job at the time was one that made her wince and gave her migraines, she had to endure for that period. She still had a teenage daughter to raise.

At 17 years old, when I joined the church, I was a little overzealous and had difficulty integrating God’s laws with everyday life. I neglected my family, especially my mom. I betrayed her and treated her poorly. Still as a mother would, she loved me unconditionally. She stayed right by my side regardless of how unhappy she was with me. As a 22 year old, I was involved in a dead-end relationship. When it ended, I am sure she was elated. But throughout the relationship, she was there listening to my drama and voicing her opinion only when she felt it appropriate.

Three years ago this coming January, my mother joined Weight Watchers. Her feeling was that she was turning 64 soon – the same age as my grandmother when she passed – and she wanted to have a long relationship with her granddaughter. So she needed to get healthy. This motivated everyone in her life including her cronies at the YMCA she attends weekly, her fellow church members, and her family. Her decision to get healthy created a domino effect that inspired others to join Weight Watchers and become conscious about what they ate. Proudly, I am also one of those members.

My mother really is my best friend. She is the most amazing woman I know. I think she is the best mom on the face of the earth or in the universe, even! But how many children say that of their mothers? I can only speak from my personal experiences. She is a phenomenal woman who has taught me so much and has always given me all of herself. I am forever grateful to her. My mother is love.