My mom has one way, or another gotten me to bend to her will. And in one way or another, I don’t think I really wanted what it was I thought I wanted. Regardless of how I feel about my relationship with my mother in our tough years, there is something innately positive that she knows. She knows me better than I know myself. I’m starting to believe that the knowledge she has is what makes for a great mother.
Recently, I clued her into the woes of my (non-existent) dating life. I introduced her to my online dating profile. I showed her how it worked. She asked, “What are you looking for in a man?” I said generic things: kindness, a sense of humor, independent, someone I didn’t have to raise. You know, the bare minimum. My mom has a superpower of being able to look at a picture of someone and completely nail down who they are right then as a person. It’s magical. It’s divine, and honestly, it’s one of the most celestial, spiritual practices I have ever seen. I scrolled through photos and one by one she said yay or nay. It was interesting inviting her into that part of my hope of dating. She chose people I wouldn’t and with each yes, said “Oh, he’s kind. He looks goofy.” She was looking for someone who could know me, protect me, but mostly, someone who would honor me. The joy of motherhood, I believe, is knowing the worth of your children and helping them meet that worth in every aspect of their lives. Sometimes, they can’t see why their moms demand more of them, but those mamas, they have a secret that those kiddos, particularly, those daughters, aren’t hip to yet.
My mom swiped right on a man named V. V has sat in my inbox for months on unread. Mainly because we were only an 82 or 83 percent match. It was either 90 percent or higher for me. I didn’t even read his profile until my mom decided he looked like a good one. My interest was piqued once I actually started reading his profile. He could read and write the English language. For the most part, he knew when to use a comma. He was passionate, knowledgeable about current political events, an avid reader, and a nature goer. Of course, I liked his words. My mom, though, liked his eyes. So, I swiped right and we began a conversation, which led to texting, which led to a Q + A phone call, which led to an awkward FaceTime encounter. But, I stuck it out.
V is honest. He told me a great deal about himself. He did mansplain a dog gate to me, though. I figure men gotta do it in at least one conversation. That annoyance, I gave to him for free. He has a dog. He did something that I’ll see if it holds any weight later. He asked me if I had been to the Georgia Aquarium. I’ve been many times. He was so excited and said that should be our first date.
I laughed, “Sure.”
He said, “What are you doing Sunday?”
I hesitated. Was he for real? All the excuses roaming through my head never came out my mouth. “Nothing. I’m not doing anything.”
“Great, we can go on Sunday and grab a bite to eat before or after. It doesn’t matter.” We talked about how he could purchase tickets. That was that.
Now, it’s Friday, so I’ll see if that talk has any legs. But at the end of the conversation he said, “I like you. You’re sweet, kind, beautiful, smart.” Things I know. For once, my head didn’t grow. I remember what my mom said: “It’s not hard for anyone to see you and fall in love with you. All these people aren’t worth your time, though, so don’t give it to them.”
For a moment after the phone call, I was discouraged. Is this what my life has amounted to? Letting my mother make my decisions for me? I ran through everything. I went to college because my mom said I would either go to school or move out. I wasn’t ready to move out, so I chose a community college four hours away out of spite. I chose my transfer school because a friend went there and had so many wonderful things to say about the school and the community. I majored in English, not solely because of Dr. Perkins, my favorite English professor, but because English opened a world that I only experienced individually. When I joined this community of English lovers, I discovered that they created space to experience many literary worlds. I was apart of something in a community. Sadly, after undergrad, I spent a great deal of time regretting never majoring in Psychology. With those regrets, I transitioned into my first “real adult job.” Nepotism, and only nepotism, was the reason I got this job. I had a terrible attitude and it was no secret, yet I couldn’t be fired. Fast forward a lot to my house. My mom said no. My house in her eyes was a hard no. She said it needed too much work. It took her a while, six months or more, to finally see in it what I saw. Aisha: 1, Mom: 15. At least I had one.
The job I work now, I saw and decided for myself that there was no way they would hire me. One of my mom’s biggest sayings is, “Apply. Let them tell you no.” That way, I couldn’t say that I didn’t get it because I didn’t apply. I did my part by putting myself out there. My current position has allowed me to grow into a version of myself that is truer and more whole than when I began the year. I love this job so much that I dread someday outgrowing it. In this situation, my mom saw what I couldn’t.
So, should I feel some kind of way that my life has been led by suggestion or recommendation? Absolutely not. In some respect, I think a great majority of people live their lives like that. I’m sitting in my room, watching Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and I’m a little less worried about my future than I was before. I can’t see all that my future holds, but I’m almost certain my mom can, and if she can then that means that other people can too. Life takes more patience than I was born with, but I am learning.
My pre-seminary theology was God had a plan. No matter what happened, God had a plan and every ebb and flow, heartache and brokenness was a part of that plan. I no longer ascribe to that theology. It does not factor in the suffering and evil of the world. It does not factor in the sudden traumas and unnecessary violence of the world. I’ll be damned before I think of my suffering or anyone else’s as a divine plan of betterment. Now, how do I fit in the divine knowledge of black mamas everywhere? Not sure. Maybe, it’s the hope for their children that helps them see things a bit clearer than their children can. Hope is a theology I can ascribe to. Things may not always look how I want them to look, but I can and will believe they can look better.