All of My Help
Mama, let me confess some things to you today, on this Mother’s Day. First of all, Buster Browns were not cute. They were the color of kitchen cabinets and just as indestructible. Other girls had pretty patent leather, pointy-toed shoes. But you didn’t care about that. No. Like Black mamas everywhere, you “refused” to explain to my “ungrateful behind” why you didn’t bring “patent leather, pointy-toed shoe money.” And when I simply suggested that maybe you should have brought that money to the mall instead, I don’t appreciate how you called on Jesus to give you the strength not to knock my teeth down my throat right there in the middle of Montgomery Wards or Sears or wherever we were when you bought those ugly shoes.
And it wasn’t fair to me, Mama, that you would try to multi-task while hot combing my hair. What kind of contest were you trying to win? Who told you it was ok to fry chicken, talk on the phone, and solve puzzles on Wheel of Fortune while you pressed my hair? I was being still, Mama! You were not focused! You can’t do all of that with a 500 degree hot comb that close to my vaselined scalp! And I don’t appreciate how you called on Jesus to give you the strength not to burn every hair out of my head when just a moment before that you were acting like you were standing there next to Pat Sajak losing that trip to Hawaii.
And you had everybody at church fooled, Mama. When that music from Clay Evan’s “All of My Help” started playing, you would feign politeness as you sashayed passed the other altos and take your place at the microphone. You would close your eyes and do one of those Holy Ghost wind catches. You know, where you would hold the mic with one hand and lift the other one high in the air and just before you had to belt out those first four syllables, you would dramatically snatch what I never could see from the atmosphere. Those people didn’t know that you were threatening me from the choir stand. They didn’t know that you did the same thing right before you were about to whip me. You made me wear those thick, sweater tights in that hot church. They made my legs itch, Mama. I wasn’t wiggling to embarrass you. I had hives all over me! And I don’t appreciate the look in your eye that let me know that you were secretly calling on Jesus to give you the strength not to come out of that choir stand and make me act like I had good sense.
But Mama, I forgive you for the misery you caused. I understand now because my own kids (with their ungrateful behinds) think I have new Jordans money and designer lipgloss money and golden drum set money. I understand what it means to squeeze a week’s worth of activity into the hours between getting off work late and bedtime. I understand how the best thing I can do for my kids is make sure that they go to church on Sundays and pray and read the Bible and see me do those things, too. But most importantly, Mama, I ask that Jesus gives me the strength to be the kind of Mama who knows that all of her help comes from the Lord, like you. Thank you for calling on Jesus, Mama! I love you!