Her smile spit-shines rainbows;
mosquitoes hush their humming
just to hear her sing;
dusk awaits her warmth impatiently…
Excerpt from “Libations” by Tamara J. Madison
I am my mother’s daughter.
I clean house on Saturdays and labor weekly over a spankin’ Sunday dinner. I make luscious homemade gravy and cakes from scratch like nobody’s business while fried green tomatoes and savory sage dressing are just a few of my specialties.
I was raised in church and attended college just like my mother.
I am married, have a house full of children (my own and others), and have friends of all ages that trust me with their confidences at challenging moments. I have that quick wit and sass and love to laugh, just like my mother.
And yes, just like my mother, it scares me sometimes when I look at my daughter boldly making her way through life.
I am my mother’s daughter, through and through, but,
I am my own woman…
To my mother’s embarrassment, while still in my youth, I threw out the notion of girdles and other feminine foundations and defiantly confirmed, “My jelly is supposed to shake and breathe!” To this day, I avoid pantyhose as much as possible and abhor high heels.
I am more earthen in style and rough-edged at times with nappy locks and bright white hair that I refuse to dye (so far).
Unlike my mother, I don’t have a bacon grease can on my stove; I prefer olive and sesame oils though butter remains a staple in the fridge. Instead of my mother’s beef, pork, and potatoes, seafood, avocado, mango, and organic greens are permanent on the menu at Tam’s Café.
Genteel gypsy, I have lived in seven cities, 5 states, and 2 countries. I speak 2 languages not at all like my mother.
I graduated from college. I rarely attend church and consider my home and body to be my most sacred sanctuaries. That would have made my mother very nervous.
Unlike my mother’s quiet patience, I am quick tempered and quicker to cuss (though I am working on both of those).
I was born with a mic in my hand. I have rocked stages before thousands and have penned my passions for all to see. My mother avoided public speaking and kept many of her own passions neatly tucked away in the family cedar chest.
Though it scares me sometimes, when I look at my daughter, I love the thrill of the ride! I am inspired by her and learn from her every day! I encourage her to be “her very own.” My mother often worried about how “different” I was.
This week marks the 16-year anniversary of my mother’s death.
Today, I celebrate her life in me, my sister, her grandchildren and the many others she touched throughout her life as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, school administrator, and church secretary.
Today I heed my mother’s mantra whispered to me often those last few months of her life, “Take care of yourself, Tamara; just make sure that you take care of yourself.”
I understand her words meant for me to honor myself and take care of myself completely (body, mind and soul) as a woman first before taking care of all others. There simply is no other effective and healthy way to serve.
I also honor the dreams she tucked away and sacrificed as I embrace my own dreams and desires knowing their sacrifice is NOT required.
I embrace owning my mistakes and failures, victories and successes with equal attention and appreciation. I embrace my freedom and my voice in ways that my mother never could.
Thank you, Mama, for everything...
Despite the tension and discomfort it often causes, being “our own” does not mean that we turn away from being “our mothers’ daughters.” It simply means that while we carry the legacy and wisdom of our mothers, we free ourselves to birth our hearts’ deepest desires.
In doing so, we ignite the fire in our sons and daughters and allow our mothers to savor that fire through us.
Thanks for reading this newsletter and for sharing this special memorial moment with me. Yes, that is my lovely mother, MariOla Martin, at the tempting age of 21 in the photo above. You can find an audio poem, “Libations” in honor of her here.
So what about you? How are you both your mother’s daughter/father's son and "your own" at the same time? How do you manage to honor yourself and your dreams while serving family, friends, and work?
P.S. I have simplified the site, added new pics, and poetry! Check it out and share it! Let me know what you think!