“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”—Proverbs 31:11-12
GROWING up, it was evident to see that my mom was unlike any other moms. She is one of the feistiest individuals I have ever come to know, and with her, there were no mincing of words, no sugarcoating of realities, and most importantly, no coddling.
My mom says it like it is without worrying about what others thought about her. People who are not used to this kind of personality may be surprised upon meeting her but people eventually love and value her for it because with her you never had to second-guess her intentions.
Because of this, my siblings and I grew up in an authentic environment.
There are many people who claim to be real and authentic but were simply lurking in the shadows of who they really were; my mom is and never was like that. So in our household, black is black and white is white. This taught us to be honest in all our dealings despite living in a world that wasn’t as pure or as straight at times.
From an early age, my mom exposed us to the realities of life. She would lay our choices down on the table, telling us the consequences of hastily made decisions and how one wrong turn can impair one’s life purpose.
Because of this, we grew up with a strong sense of self because my mom never let us see life with rose-colored glasses. By dealing with reality at an early age, it was inevitable for us to grow tougher. We were free to make our own decisions because she’s confident in the values she has placed in us when we were younger.
Yes, she was a disciplinarian who often said no growing up but we don’t resent her for it. All the things she kept us from taught us discipline and threw entitlement out of the window. Our college graduations were never celebrated with a big bang or with lavish gifts simply because my mom believed that graduating college shouldn’t surprise anyone because it was only to be expected for us to finish school.
It’s my mom also who taught me, by example, that love languages can be different. While her love language may not be through words or affection, her dedication to our family by first quitting her high profile job with an advertising firm when I was born, to waking up at 5 a.m. to make sure breakfast is served. My mom also taught me to vicariously feel my emotions, to not hide from them, but fully embrace them.
My mom also continues to teach me to fight for what’s right. She never backs down from a battle when she knows she’s right or when someone’s aggrieved. And never, not even once, did she ask my dad to fight for her. Even before feminism became the rage, my mom was already that kind of woman, and I am grateful to grow up with that kind of example.
But more than anything, I will forever be thankful that my mom taught me about God and His grace. My mom, despite her tough exterior, raised my brothers and I to be kind, to be generous, and to be empathetic with people. She despised people who looked down on others and believed in helping the unfortunate no matter what the cost.
She would often remind us that we were not better than anyone no matter what jobs we were in, who we married, or who we were friends with. Those things wouldn’t matter if you were not kind, loving, or sympathetic.
On her birthday, I would just like to say thank you mama for being you, for raising us, and most importantly, for sacrificing your own personal success to do so. And while some people may never understand you or appreciate you, know that we do and know that without all you’ve done, we will never be as tough or as loving as we are.
We love you.