by Gloria Dulan-Wilson

I am so proud to be a Black Mom. I've been a mom for quite some time now, and have three beautiful adult children and five grand children to prove it. Being a Black mother is infinitely more significant, and difficult, than just being the greeting card mother that you see in the Hallmark Greeting.

Black Motherhood requires specialized knowledge, mission, purpose, love and steadfastness that mainstream mothers don't have to deal with, and are not even aware of.

My mother, who went through so much to raise me, had a double whammy, because I was the proverbial worm in hot ashes. I was always trying to go where I wasn't supposed to go, just to see what would happen. She was always having to take extra measures to protect me from my adventuresome spirit - and I was always trying to get around it. And of course, mouthing off, with the usual consequences. And I could never seem to get home when I said I was, causing her to have to wait up and worry about where I was and what I was getting into; worse yet, if I was okay or had I met some horrible accident. (And the reality of it was that had she told my dad half the stuff I was getting into while he was at work, I would have truly been dead meat).

She once warned me that when I had children of my own she hoped that I would go through the same nonsense I put her through, so I could see how it felt. I think all our parents told us the same thing - "Wait until it's your turn - you'll see what it's like!" Remember?

And I am here to say, thank goodness that my kids did not do that - though they did give me occasions to want to tear my hair out by the roots.

I remember that I definitely was a hand full as a kid, "more mouth than brains", my mom would say. But Aries kids have a tendency to be that way. We're always in a hurry to get to the next level; be the first to do the next thing. That was me. My mom, a sweet, dreamy, ethereal Pisces would look at me and wonder if I was ever going to sit still. Would I ever stay clean; stop turning flips, or climbing monkey bars. Would I ever stop trying to eat, chew, talk, swallow, dance, and run at the same time. But, if I was still for ten minutes, she would come in to see what the heck I was up to now. Because surely I was more than likely into something I had no business doing. And usually she was right, much to my chagrin.

There was very little I could fool my mother about. She always had my number. She really, literally had eyes in the back of her head; she could decipher even the most intricate concoction I could make up. If I was in a rush to go somewhere, catch up with someone, she would not let me leave until I completely finished what I was working on, even if she had to sit on me.

If I talked back, or made some snide remark, sucked my teeth, rolled my eyes, slammed the door, stormed out of the room, Mrs. Ruby Love Dulan would put me in check in a heartbeat. Today they call it child abuse, but it was absolutely discipline. The kind of discipline that kept you off the streets, out of jail, off drugs; the kind of discipline that made sure you got to school on time, were respectful to the teacher, did your home work; learned, progressed and grew up to be more than just a walking mound of flesh.

My mother taught me that if you loved a child, you disciplined them; you taught them right from wrong; you kept them involved in meaningful endeavors, even if they didn't want to be. My mother taught me to look down the road and see where it would lead your child if you did or didn't do what all Black mothers must to if they want to see their child survive and do well in a hostile world. And at the same time keeping all that hostility, negativity, and racism at bay. Surrounding us with positive Black images of heroes and sheroes who had accomplished, and were accomplishing great things. We always had subscriptions of Crises Magazine, Ebony, Jet, Tan, Sepia, Journal of Negro Life and History (Carter G. Woodson's publication); along with Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens; Seventeen Magazine; and a full set of both the World Book and the Encyclopedia Britannica; Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia and Gray's Anatomy. And we had better read each and every one of them. Non-negotiable.

My mother loved me (us, there were four of us - Brenda, Warner, Sylvester and me) to life, like most Black mothers - as well as the rest of the kids in my neighborhood. And if they hadn't we'd be a generation of statistics.

What I learned about raising Black children, about sticking with them through thick and thin, about discipline, I learned from my mother, and all the mothers in my Oklahoma City community who were likewise raising my peers. And they were all of one mind - so no matter where you were, if my mother wasn't around and my classmate's mother was, she would be just as likely to correct me as my own mother would.

Fortunately for me and my kids, I had friends like that here in New York City. They had my back with my kids, and I had their backs with theirs. We each retained those values from our childhood. Of course, my kids were absolute darlings - ask any of my friends who knew me when I was raising them - I was always bragging on them - so much so, they would frequently ask me "how many kids did you say you had?" (as you can see, I am still a bragging parent).

Actually, my kids were so wonderful because, like my mother, I put the fear (or love) of God into them from day one - practically in utero. There were non-negotiable items that I had learned from my mom that I kept in tact as I raised my three, that I now see replicated as they raise theirs. Getting a good education was and is and always be a non-negotiable item in my family; as is love and respect for elders (parents and others); knowing and respecting your history is totally non-negotiable; as is discipline and self development. My kids like me, were raised to be proud of our heritage, and to make sure that that was passed on to their children as well.

Not only do I see that in my family, but with my Black Sister/Moms, who have likewise raised their offspring wisely and well. So this greeting for MOTHER'S DAY goes out to all of you - wherever you are, including, but not limited to RUBY LOVE (my Mother) KIRA (my daughter), TRACI (my daughter-in-law); BRENDA (my sister); ANNIE G. (best friend); BOBBI (sister/friend); DOROTHY PITTMAN-HUGHES (sister/friend); SANDRA (sister/friend); ANNETTE (soror/sister/friend); ANNELL (sister/friend); NORMA (partner/mom); CHERYLE (partner/friend); CAROL B. (soror/classmate/friend)...and all those Black mothers who made and continue to make a way out of no way; who instilled all the wonderful traditions and teachings that have made us the great people we are from the beginning of time.

We know that there is truly no other mother like the BLACK mother because we have to go that extra distance, take that extra stand, reach deeper, push harder, dream bigger, nurture, sacrifice, shield and share more than any mother on this planet to make sure that our beautiful Black children live, grow, survive and thrive and make their mark in this world.


Gloria Dulan-Wilson

1 comment:

  1. Very nice... however, I'm sure the brief "tearing the hair at the roots" reference doesn't come close to the angst you had. I can recount at least 4 incidents between myself and my brother that brought us within an inch of our lives. But the main lessons imparted are truly treasured skills that I have - and the staunch independence and autonomy I wielded in my 20s, like a sceptre. I've since put that sceptre aside and treasure family far more. Interesting read; but then, I always figured it was thus.
    Thanks, Mom... from Kira (the 1st-hahaha)


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