My parents unknowingly brought me into this world, a hilltop hospital sitting within the curvy and consuming Blue Ridge Mountains. The afternoon sun hid away on that cold January morning. The frosty air filled the hospital room as my mom laid exhausted but satisfied with the outcome after a C-section birth. You see, I have always been unwilling and uncertain. I always come around one way or another. My Dad’s light blond ponytail and grip to his youthful facade could not conceal the soft, explicit tear rippling down his face as he stared at the smaller one that resembled his own: me. The unspoken uncertainty of my birth was no more, and pure joy filled the air. Although I was not there at this moment, I feel it in my bones. The hospital room oozed with the clammy feeling of love and sincerity. My Mom kissed my ginger head with the promise to always be my protector. At this moment, I was blessed with the purest love of all time.
Although my parents were married at the time of birth, they eventually divorced when I was five years old. For about a year, it was just me and my mom. After the separation, we moved to Birmingham, Alabama, in a red Volkswagen Beetle Bug and sang Sheryl Crow’s Detours on repeat. As I was five years old, my Dad’s divorce and temporary disappearance flooded my small body with confusion. My Mom, as a result, became my absolute hero. I watched my mother pack up her belongings on her own and establish herself in a new place. Brenda did everything; she was Mom and Dad all in one. The provider, working 8 A.M to 5 P.M every weeknight and bringing her work home when necessary. I had no siblings, so my Mom was also my entertainment at home, cooking, cleaning, and just making sure that I stayed alive. There is no limit to how much support my Mom has given me, despite all of the unexpected troubles life threw at us. The power of the single mom should never be underestimated.
I feel safe always knowing that my mom will be there and sees me. There is a search for love in the human part of all of us, but I have grown to realize that for me, there is no search; all the love that I have is already enough. My Mom taught me to be a humble and kind person, even when it went against my nature.
I learned about the power of sacrifice. How sometimes, you have to give something up to gain something else. I watched the sacrifices my Mom made when I was a child and viewed them as standard, as something that everyone does. As I have grown older, I have realized that not everyone has their Mom in their life anymore, and some never have at all. The normality of having a Mom who always saw me as my most authentic self has grown to be sacred to me ever since moving away from home.
My mom’s view of success has shaped me into a person who seeks experience and not material things. I grew up with an emphasis on trying my best and failing in the hopes of getting better. I’ve always had a too open relationship with my Mom, and at times I think she would have liked me to refrain from sharing some things. My Mom is my hero, though. The connection I feel with my Mom is natural, knowing that I am a piece of her in the most literal sense.
After moving away from home this last fall, I missed my Mom more than I had expected. Within the first two weeks of my freshman year at college, I had a UTI and the will to independently take care of it on my own. My Mom would have been the first person I told at home, and she would have sent me to the doctor right away. Instead, I walked 2 miles to my car, drove to CVS, and bought $50 worth of medication, which I later learned would not eliminate the infection. Progressively, my UTI got worse, and I still felt like I couldn’t call my Mom because I wanted to be self-reliant. I wanted her to be proud of me for being able to take care of myself. Eventually, after a week of unbearable pain, I called my Mom and she helped me figure out how to get an appointment at the student health center. I don’t consider calling my Mom a defeat though, rather it was a beautiful privilege. The care that I feel even when talking to my Mom on the phone is incomparable to any other person in this world. My Mom lives in Birmingham, Alabama, but the distance is not a barrier for us; love and support have so many different forms besides just being physically together.
Moving away from home and figuring out how to navigate the world independently only illuminates my Mom’s strength in my eyes. We all need to take the time to slow down and see all the love that the people in our lives give us. So on this Friday, before you make plans for the night, call your mom, or whoever supports you with love, and show them how much you care.
Happy Birthday to my Mama, Brenda Chancey! I love you!