Dreadlocks. Nose ring. Yoga instructor. Social worker. Free spirit. Lover of potato chips & lemon tarts. And if the DJ cues Al Green’s soul classic “Call Me,” just forget it. She will swivel her hips into the sweetest little dance you’ve ever seen, swaying her head and snapping her fingers to the beat like she’s been dancing since the womb. And you will smile. You won’t be able to help it. You will look at her and you will feel joy.
I’m talking about my mom.
As a kid, you don’t really get it. You don’t get that your parents are real people. They are just your parents. She was just my mom. The woman who made me sip a Carnation instant breakfast drink in the car on the way to Little Red School House because despite my not wanting to start my day with a meal, she said I had to have something in my system. And how annoying I found that. Because, again, I didn’t get it.
But now, oh but now…I’m a grown woman. And I get it.
I get all of it. The curfews that were prefaced with “I want you home by that time, Flower, not because I’m worried about what you’ll do, but because I’m worried about what everyone else out there is up to.” The jogs together in our neighborhood, and bike rides to the La Brea Tar Pits after school. The time spent in the kitchen, helping her prep dinner, carefully tossing fresh herbs into the salad, and knowing when the shrimp in the gumbo was juuuuust right. The trips to Oaxaca, Mexico well before tourists flocked there to learn how to cook molé. And the afternoons sitting with my grandma. Both of my grandmas. My mom rubbing their feet to help with circulation, brushing their hair so gently when they couldn’t do it on their own. Kissing them goodbye, and cradling their faces with such tenderness after each visit that their eyes sparkled with tears.
I didn’t get it then. But I get it now.
She was keeping me safe. She was teaching me to take care of my body. She was introducing me to history, and fostering a love of being outdoors. She was planting the seed for me to become a foodie. She was showing me how to be a daughter, not just in that moment, but for when I became that grown woman. For right now. And thirty years from now.
She was loving me. So tightly.
To all of the wonderful mamas in this world, thank you. For all the lessons, for all the love. For you.
I love you, Mommy.