A Message to Mama.

I discreetly toyed with the lipstick that sat on the bathroom sink, bold enough to open it, but hesitant to smear the deep red paint across my tiny lips. The bottle of White Diamonds stood taller than the other perfumes my mother let collect dust on her dresser. “I can’t wear perfume when seeing patients, but people still give them to me as gifts,” she’d always explain when questioned about the full bottles that occupied the small corner next to the jewelry boxes. Again, I’d open White Diamonds, almost out of habit, as if I’d forgotten the distinct smell since my last visit to her dresser. Still, I knew White Diamonds was a “mom smell;” I couldn’t dare wear that to school. Everything I obsessed over seemed so unattainable to me, yet was mundane, almost insignificant in her eyes. 
And then I grew a bit older. Still not old enough to escape her side, I sat intolerantly as we traveled miles to and from Amelia…Petersburg…through Chesterfield, even, discussing board games with a funny-looking woman. Okay, not “funny-looking,” just…different. I didn’t understand why she had suddenly become her sidekick, especially since she clearly lived a different life and looked like no one we’d been directly exposed to before. Over time, I warmed up to the idea of jamming to oldies, listening to stories of the Chicago Bears, and even getting at-home pedicures. She gave my mom the nickname “DOC,” which I later learned had nothing to do with her profession, but rather it was an acronym for Disciple of Christ. But the lady came and went, while the memories remained. More than the stranger-friend, I remember my mom’s willingness to open up to her, invite her in, and love her like a sister, demons and all.
People always look at their past and try to pinpoint events that contributed to who they are today. Maybe they were molested, bullied, or lost a loved one. Maybe they resent the way they were raised and vow to be nothing like their parents. The list is endless; everyone has a unique path. What I can say, though, is that my childhood wasn’t picture perfect. My parents divorced, I gained and lost friends. I coped at a young age with adjusting to a new father figure and even welcoming an adopted sibling. My childhood was always changing; I was always adjusting. I’ve come to understand that my 3 brothers and I weren’t the only ones adjusting. My mom endured the most as she guided her children through each difficult time with class and grace. She provided when she didn’t have, gave of herself when she was absolutely spent, and kept us involved in all things church. In the midst of change, my mom made sure she provided one constant—a constant shining example of Christ, of a woman, of strength. Her smile continues to light up a room, her level of munificence is something I can only hope for. Whether for her children, her husband, or for her friends (mostly church friends), she’s subconsciously set the bar high for the caliber of woman I want to one day become. 
Now that I’m all grown up, I notice the four different shades of red lipsticks and lip-stains that sit on my dresser, right next to my fancy perfume bottles, most of which collect dust. My fanciest bottle is only for special occasions; I can’t wear it to work. 
I notice the friendships I’ve nurtured since moving to New York: people from all walks of life, most of which I was never exposed to in Chesterfield. I welcome the opportunity to build with people who are different than me, yet have something incredible to offer. And that “something” isn’t revealed until I put down my barriers and accept them for who they are and what they have to offer.
I notice how much of myself I give. The idea of munificence rests in the back of my mind constantly as I search for ways to be a blessing with what I’ve been blessed with. Everyday, I’m fighting to become a better me, a virtuous woman, full of class and grace (I’ll get there one day, I promise). Everyday, I sit on the phone with my mom, gushing about the perils of dating and seeking career advice and can only hope that I’m becoming half the woman she is.
And I can only pray that my daughter will love me half as much as I love her. 
Thank you for being you. Happy Mother's Day.

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