(pictured; American Actress Tracee-Allen Ross and her mom, singer Diana Ross)
One day as I was walking down Grant Avenue I bumped into an old friend. She was standing outside a restaurant having a smoke and talking to someone. We were so surprised to see each other because it had been such a long time since we met. Jedi! She greets me, her face lighting up. Hi! How are you? What are you doing here? We asked in unison. I’m here for work, how about you? Well it’s my birthday and I’m out here having dinner with my family, this is my mom. She said, introducing me to the woman who was standing next to her having a smoke. Hi, nice to meet you! I said. After which my friends’ mom began asking me questions I couldn’t really answer. Are you in business? No, I’m not. Oh, you look like someone who is. No, no I’m not. Are you married? No, I’m single. Do you have children? No, I don’t have any. I was starting to feel very sorry for myself when she said, Oh good, You mustn’t be like her she said pointing at my friend, she has three children from different fathers and she’s not even married. Yes, you must stay single with no children.
At first I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, I looked to my friend for support and she looked at me with eyes that said don’t mind her let’s talk about something else. So I actually live down the road from here! Oh do you? Yeah, we should arrange to meet some time, she continued. Yes, sure that will be great, I responded, I’ll find you on Facebook I concluded and continued on my way. That moment was hurtful. I felt so bad for my friend afterward, I wished I could have taken her away somewhere nice to celebrated her birthday. I wished I could have said something to her mom about how awesome I thought my friend was. How I had seen her drive and determination to build a great life first for herself and then later for her children. She worked hard as an architect for her firm despite everything – despite the turmoil in her life she kept it together. But I also didn’t want to be the one to get in between a mother and daughters’ relationship. In that moment I could not come up with a diplomatic response that would both affirm my friend and her character while still respecting her mom whom I had just met. There was just not enough time.
So I followed my friends lead and talked about something else. It really broke my heart that despite everything else my friend had achieved in her life her mother chose to focus on her weakness. As if she was the only one to blame for the fact that her relationships didn’t work out. Relationship always take two people to work. Even though her mom may have been right about her daughter’s poor choices, it was her daughter’s birthday, a day usually meant to celebrate someone’s’ life instead of pointing out all the areas in it that are not so great. She chose to say nasty things about her own daughter in front of someone she didn’t even know on the day she was meant to celebrate her and her life.
Even though that situation left me feeling sad for my friend it also at the same time made me feel proud of her. I was amazed by her strength of character because she didn’t respond to her mother’s hurtful statements. She didn’t try to disprove what she was saying or even disrespect her. She just continued talking to me as if her mom had paid her the biggest compliment a daughter can ever wish for. She was stronger for it. I admired her more after that very brief encounter because she was able to rise above a situation which would have destroyed me had the roles been reversed. She chose to honour and respect her mom in that moment, regardless. My friend had grown up.
Come to think of it, I also walked away without saying a word in my friends defence because she was her mom right?
So, as hard at it may be sometimes, remember.
She’s your mom.
“love does not begin and end the way we think it does. Love is a battle, Love is a war, love is a growing up” James Baldwin