June 15th, 2015 at 8pm, the moment I had been anticipating since I was four walking into kindergarten. I would be strutting across the stage, graduating with honors. I would be the first female on my dad’s side of the family to actually graduate high school and go to college. To top things off, I had a full-ride! Everything was completely paid for all I had to worry about was getting through the summer without having a heat stroke and preparing for the best four years of my life-college! Summer was going to definitely be lit, but the fumes to that fire quickly burned and adulthood hit me the moment I walked out of the coliseum to search for the piece I always seemed to be missing-my mother.
She was and still is my mom, despite it all she will always be just that. I’m not sure about you, but when I hear the word mother, I always associate it with a loving and supportive woman, regardless of if she gave birth to the child or not, a mom is supposed to love you right? Always be there to support you right? Embrace you with open arms after one of the most monumental moments in your life thus far right? Well she didn’t.
Our relationship has always been rather unconventional. “Yall are the exact same person, that’s why y'all can never get along,” my grandma’s favorite line to say whenever things would hit the fan. Little did she know, I wanted to be absolutely nothing like her daughter. As a kid, I always witness my mom manipulate people and treat everyone as if she were God himself. I never knew why but I always felt a sense of hatred from my mom towards me. At six years old, my nightly prayers consisted of asking God to make my mother love me.
I was born into the typical family arrangement in my community, a single mother with multiple kids who worked multiple jobs just to make ends meet. The thing about my upbringing that was completely different from my three siblings is that, I was fortunate enough to have a father who lived up to his title and until high school, I had never lived with my dad, but he was always there. He made sure he was in attendance at all of my school award ceremonies, cheerleading competitions, track meets and anything that mattered to me.
It may sound crazy, but my mom hated how much my father did for me. She would casually make comments about how she felt as if she had to compete with my father. She hated to be around the two of us. I never understood it because my father was a great man. I’m sure most girls say their dad is a great man, but my dad was the greatest of them all. He provided for me and my three siblings. Whenever one of my sister’s needed something that my mom was not able to provide, she would call him and he would make a way for them to have it. For her to hate a man who constantly helped her out was crazy to me.
Although, he wasn’t there for one thing, my graduation cookout. You might suspect that I was flat out heartbroken due to his absence but I wasn’t, my mom was. I knew beforehand my father would not be there and to be completely honest, I didn’t want to be there myself. My mom had took it upon herself to throw me this extravagant graduation cookout. I’m talking about bouncy houses, horseback riding lessons, a professional DJ and everything. It was nice, but it wasn’t what I wanted. The clubhouse was packed to capacity with people I had never seen or heard of, and I hated it. When discussing the graduation cookout, I told my mom I wanted an intimate gathering with my family and friends, but this had become one of the parties that looked as if it were promoted on Twitter.
The entire graduation cookout my mom kept asking where my dad was, and I kept trying to ignore it until she finally she pulled me to the side and said, “Where is that dead beat father of yours?” I’m pretty sure the people behind me heard my mouth drop, I was so shocked. How could she possibly refer to my dad as a dead beat, when he is the only one of her baby daddies that actually stuck around and held his weight? I was pissed! “He is sick, therefore he won't be able to make it,” I covered for him. She rolled her eyes and began to chuckle, I was speechless. “You’re gonna realize how little he does for you one of these days,” she stated before walking away.
That was the last conversation we had before my big day. I knew she was mad my father didn’t show, but honestly I did not care.
The day of graduation was extremely hectic. I received a text while in the nail salon, it simply read, “Find your own ride to graduation.” The tears began to form in my eyes. I said a quick prayer and asked God to allow my mother to find forgiveness in her heart and for us to be able to come together as one that night.
Like most of my prayers that dealt with my mom, God didn’t seem to answer it. I remember pushing through the crowd looking for her. I checked inside and outside, when I got tired of searching I called her. “Hey Ma! I’m outside looking for you and I can’t seem to find you, I was wondering where you were.” My voice shook. “I been left.” She quickly replied with absolutely no feeling involved. Click! She hung up. At that exact moment, I would have preferred to been hit by a bus. I started spinning, and I felt myself drowning in my tears. Luckily for me, everyone was crying so I blended right in. The only difference was my tears were not from excitement instead they were from the total opposite, emptiness.
“Don’t worry about the people who aren’t here, be thankful for those who are and who have continuously showered you in love and support,” my dad states as he tries to soothe me. I understood exactly where he was coming from, but at that moment I did not care. I wanted my mom to be there like I always did. I craved her presence, I wanted her to be there for me like she was there at my older sister’s graduation. I wanted her to congratulate me, I wanted her to be my mom for once.
Two days after graduation, I was almost homeless. My mom decided she had enough of me “choosing my dad over her,” and said I couldn’t live with her anymore. Instead of moving with my dad and looking for a new job, I chose to stay in with my aunt. Although my aunt lived five minutes up the street, I didn’t hear from my mom until it was almost time for me to leave for school.
At the age of seventeen I finally ended my quest. I stopped looking for what I never seemed to find, not because I didn’t want it, but simply because I was hurting myself. I used to always think that if I tried hard enough, my mom would want to come around, but after graduation I soon realized that it didn't matter what I did, my mom had her mind made up and I couldn’t change it.
Looking back, I would tell six year old self to not pray for the acceptance of others, but to pray for the ability to accept myself as I am. Self acceptance is something we all struggle with at times simply because, everyone wants to be accepted by others. Unfortunately, some of us want to be accepted so badly that we lose ourselves. I spent so much time craving the love of my mother that I often overlooked the ones who only showered me in love.
Lit- a slang term that means exciting or enjoyable.