One of the greatest gifts that we can give any one is self-acceptance. When we resist others, we build into their subconscious that they are not good enough. Your relationship will suffer, because holding on to what we want for another, rather what is, no matter how ‘right’ you may be, will cause a friction that will manifest itself into abuse, pain, and lay the seed work for trauma.
Trauma is fear. It is how masters keep slaves in bondage. It is how America keeps us racist, sexist, classist, and elitist. We fear blackness, poverty, and ignorance. We perpetuate that fear through language, images, and education. Most people want to be white, rich, male, and get a college degree because that is the PROVEN and accepted pathway to freedom. The problem with this sort of reasoning is that we overlook the systematic complexities that have taken and are taking place, because we feel like being like a white man, and speaking like a white man, or obtaining a college degree are the measures one must take or align themselves with so that they can feel a bit more humane, a bit more free. We assume that freedom is earned and not deserved. We come up with superficial solutions to problems that are much more deeply rooted. So rooted, that we don’t question our seeds, because we are use to eating the bullshit.
As a parent, one of the biggest lessons I have to consciously practice is acceptance. I have to be VERY careful on the language I use with my daughter because I always want my daughter to feel like she can confide in me and more importantly that she can trust in herself. The ONLY way to receive complete honesty from a person, is to let them be themselves without judgement. And the only way to have an empowered child, is to cultivate in them a sense that they are more than enough. That nothing in this world can take away their value. The value is not based on superficiality or an inflated ego, but a sense of feeling comfortable in belonging very deeply to yourself—because you do.
This is why it is so hard in this society to be other, because for our whole lives we have been fed a one dimensional viewpoint on what it means to be the right woman, the right mother, the right sex, the right family structure, the right career, the right education, the right love. In this country, we have narrowed down what is right to the point where when you try to be yourself, because this is all you know how to be, you feel resistance, you feel fear, doubt, and pain. You feel like an outsider in your own home because we decided to be ‘wrong’.
Yesterday over dinner, my mom (instead of asking me) made a statement that I didn’t wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. I didn’t respond or acknowledge her statement. In fact, I wanted to say, you didn’t wish me one either. The truth is that I am not interested in pretending. So, I couldn’t muster up the words to fall out of my mouth. Yea, I ate, was clothed, and sheltered, but that’s superficial, just like this holiday.
I cannot give what I do not have. And for the past couple of weeks, my mother and I haven’t been talking much. In fact, I am annoyed, hurt, and bothered by her want for me to be different. She doesn’t get my intellect, and therefore, doesn’t understand me outside of the confines of what she thinks I should be in Christ, or who I should be to her because I am beneath her, her child.
I grew up in a home that valued European standards of beauty. A home where my mom was subservient to abusive men and I came third after them and herself. I also grew up in a home that is homophobic, prohibited premarital sex, and thought that praying to anything other than Jesus meant you were diabolic and highly feared. I grew up in a home where my independence and outgoingness was looked down upon and was constantly stressed about marriage, my appearance, and gaining employment within the confines of a nine to five model. These values are really hard for me because I was brown skin, curly mess of a girl, who loved being outdoors, playing with dirt, climbing fences, riding bikes, talking to my dead grandmother, was sexually curious, and severely emotionally/intellectually neglected. My femininity was always in question and I was assumed to be a lesbian because I was so sure of myself.
My mom just didn’t get me. I was wild and rebellious, but also very reflective and introverted. My introversion, I believe, stemmed from the lack of understanding and intellectual investment in the home.
My mom loves God more than anything. She spent all her days listen to Radio Visión Cristiana (a Christian radio station) and attached to her friends. I teased and call her, La Santa Chismosa, (the Saint of Gossip) because she will sit on the phone for most of her day, talking to her friends, than interacting with me, her husband, or my brother. In fact, the only way you can bond with my mother is over scripture, which is annoying because she could be very dogmatic in her approach, which leaves little room for possibility and discussion.
Don’t get me wrong. My mother is a super kind person. She will cook for you, lend you her bank account, and pray over your head, but when it comes to the real you, the one who isn’t in despair, it is really hard to relate to her. My mom has no idea who I am sleeping with, who my friends are, nor of my writing. She doesn’t know me outside of my introversion.
It must be hard raising your first child without the love of your husband, being a single mother, and living in poverty. But, to me, it is so much harder, raising a child you don’t know because you will not allow yourself the relief in letting go of your perceptions of the other, or how your child's life should look like. For me, it would be so much harder to hold on to what I want for my daughter than to know who she is meant to be, because somehow I got in the way of her dream, her imagination, her freedom.
All in all, the closeness that I wish I had with my mother is based on the desire for her to see me as I truly am, outside of her distorted and limited view of the world.
As I grow into my seventh year of being a mother, I have learned how to be a parent mostly from her being a non-example, but I will never blame her or fault her, because she stayed and made way through this imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy (as bell hooks says). My lessons from her have been practical in learning how to survive. I will teach my daughter how to thrive.
I am sorry Ma, but this is the only way that I can say, Happy Mother's Day.