Having My Say: I Had the Meanest Mother in the World
SEPTEMBER 14, 2014
The Meanest Mother in the World
My mother was the meanest mother in the world. When the other kids got to stay out late after dark, she always made me come home by the time the street lights were on. If I
When all of my other friends starting testing their new looks in make-up and training bras, she refused to let me join in the fun. She said something about not wanting to grow up too fast because I had so little time to be a child. And then, of course, she had to throw in the fact that I still had nothing to train...
Ethel didn't play, and she never lied. She always spoke the truth and respected those who heard it enough to trust them to use it as they best saw fit. No one had to agree with her for her to love them.
She would never allow me to wear the short shorts that I thought were so cute and always preached about how hard it is to remove first impressions. Sleepovers were out of the question. She made me sleep at home in my own bed on many occasions to teach me to appreciate what I have and learn how to entertain myself because we are alone VERY often in this life.
In regard to education, there was no argument. What could I say to a woman of color who had secured higher education herself in the 1940s? And then, when Daddy was diagnosed with tuberculosis, she went out and actually worked to take care of my older brother Michael, who was still a toddler. And, she kept on working. She EVEN asked to be placed on 2nd shift so she could stay home with me during the day. She even had to mess those days up. She was too mean to let even someone else take over the primary care for me even though she knew she had to work.
And when boys became an interest, I was never old enough. What kind of woman tells her daughter that if she got pregnant as a teenager, that SHE would be solely responsible for the child? What kind of grandmother says that I would have to miss school events, football games, parties with my friends? I tell you this woman was unreasonable. She even told me that I would have to wash diapers by hand because she wouldn't put the wear and tear of the extra laundry on her Kenmore. And my favorite piece of wisdom - " I am NOT a live-in babysitter. I raised YOU to be responsible for your own actions. If your choices lead to a child as a teenager, do not expect me to stop MY life to care for it when you are fully capable of holding yourself accountable for your own actions."
I still get chills thinking back to THAT 8th-grade conversation! I didn't even know how to make a baby, let alone bring one home. It took me 29 years to take Grant home to that crazy woman.
Yes, my mother was incredibly inflexible. If she said, "No," she said it without hesitation or apology. I couldn't wear Mama down with constant begging (I didn’t even try) and if I EVER complained to her about something Daddy did (he wouldn't let me go see Jenny), she would shut the conversation down immediately in full support of his parenting decisions. What a wimp!
She made me get involved in stuff at school, and she even embarrassed me by coming to ALL of my plays, concerts, and school recognition programs. She also MADE ME go to the parent-teacher conferences because she said the information was for MY benefit, not hers. I recall My English teacher telling her that I was a wonderful student, but could not get me to SHUT UP. She didn't even take my side! She told him she had the same problem at home and that they would work together to help me focus. Why couldn't she just leave me alone?
She never took my side! My first year of marriage, I returned to her after a heated argument; she stopped me at the door and told me to go home and talk to my husband and work it out. She said Grant deserved a better environment to live in. Blah, blah, blah... She didn't want a grand baby but once she got him, she forgot all about me!
As I look back now at 52, it is so hard to believe her spirit has been soaring for eight years now. When I relocated to California, I actually began to remark to Kyle that I couldn’t wait to get home to call Mama to let her know I made it. Yeah, I still catch myself thinking………Mama was some kind of mean mother.
And the, I pray, "Father, I hope my children will one day say the very same thing about me....maybe tinged with a hint of crazy."
“When you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Ethiopian Proverb
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Marsha Burson Bass, ABD