“Sins” Of Our Mothers
The clip that I posted from Mad Men the other day, reminded me of a conversation that I once had with my mom and some of the differences between my generation and hers. One of the things that I give props to Mama SoJo for is that she never allowed her experiences with or feelings about Papa SoJo prevent me from building a healthy relationship with him. Any “daddy issues” that I developed came from direct interaction
(or lack thereof) #bygones with him…and my stubborn nature.
It felt good to be able to tell him during our powpow a few years ago, that he couldn’t blame our lack of communication on her as hard as he tried. Whenever she spoke of him…and even now…she speaks of the things that attracted her to him. She explains that in doing that she wanted me to understand WHY she chose him (because yes, we do choose our mates – they don’t fall out of thin air). She has also done a thorough job of helping me to understand his background and struggles. That extra effort from her is the thing that honestly allowed me to understand him and forgive him in a way that he couldn’t do on his own.
Even though she chose to not remarry, she also made damn sure that I knew that I was not supposed to be alone. Unlike a lot of women that I see that were raised in single parent homes, I don’t subscribe to the “I can do bad by myself” ”Niggas ain’t shyt” ”Ain’t no good men left” mentality. Just because her relationship with my father didn’t work out, it didn’t stop her from reinforcing the importance of a family unity. My cup runneth over with GOOD men in my LIFE and I attribute that directly to the way that she fed my Spirit to believe in abundance, not lack.
One of the things that The Peanut Gallery and I discuss off and on is the unintentional effects of the Civil Rights era mothers on the psyche of their daughters. These women worked HARD for their men – oftentimes being the brains behind some of our most famous spokesmen. They wrote speeches, campaigned, organized, made love, built up their mates lowered self-esteem and BELIEVED in the power of their men. Some of the women who SHOULD have received accolades, medals of honor, monuments and national holidays for their efforts are to this day unrecognized. Several of them found themselves heartbroken as they experienced the human flaws of their counterparts. They remained silent through the infidelities, deception, abandonment and general human flaws of their men. They showed a selflessness to the overall cause of black empowerment that I don’t think our generation has…or even should have anymore.
One of the effects of that, is that our mothers taught us to achieve for ourselves, think of OUR goals, not to shrink to fit in an attempt to cover for our mates. They instilled in us all of the things that they weren’t able to experience in their own lives at our age. As much good as they taught us, for a lot of us one major thing is missing… TRUST in members of the opposite sex. Sometimes it hits me that WOW…we are currently the age they were when they were in the thick of the movement. Some of us have daughters of our own. Before you think that this is purely a black woman’s problem, it’s not. White women began to quietly encourage (and discourage) their daughters in the same way. Their rebellion just appears to be less damaging because they have better PR….and less airtime. :-)
So what happens with our daughters? Are we giving them a healthy balance of the lessons from us and our grandmothers? Is that balance something that you currently experience? Is it something that you’ve always had or have you had to work at it?