Saturday, May 8, 2010

Daughter #1

I just had an hour long conversation that was right on time for Mothers Day. Ive been planning all week for my Mothers Day entry. I said I was going to blog about my Dad today because his birthday is tomorrow which is also Mothers Day. I was thinking I have to talk about my mom tomorrow so I'll tell yall how fabulous my Dad is now. Well, some say "When we plan, God Laughs!", things happen just as they should and always right on time.

I was flipping through and old modeling portfolio of my moms and came across a picture of Tricia when she was a younger model. Tricia was my first modeling agent back when I lived in DE and I've known her since at least 2000 maybe 2001. But more important than her being a part of the team responsible for my fabolousness, she became the bestest friend of my mother. I introduced Tricia to my mother at modeling practice one day. My mom was going through her first bout with chemo and cancer which had made her quite depressed. I knew Shekinah Models would be a great place to lift her spirit and give her some confidence back because it worked for me. I had no idea that day was the beginning of an amazing friendship nor that on the eve of Mothers Day I'd be on the phone sharing memories with the only person who can tell a Tia Clarke story better than me. Tricia and I always spend hours talking about my mom and how amazing she was and the passion she had inside her. Not many knew my mother as intimately as Tricia does and actually in some ways she knows my mother better than me. As I discover more about myself and how much like my mother I am, I realize how important it is to stop and have these conversations with Tricia. It puts things into perspective for me about decisions I've made and decisions my mother made as I grew up. Thank you Tricia, I love you and will always be grateful for what you continue to do for me.

My mother lived a colorful life to say the least. She could dance, sing, draw, entertain, cook, speak Spanish, play instruments, there just wasn't anything she really couldn't do. She didn't appear to be afraid of anything except God which is how its supposed to be, right? Growing up in my moms house my siblings and I were also encouraged to be colorful. She put us through dance school, taught some of us how to cook (i ate mostly), danced and played music for us and spilled her cultured experiences from the world onto us. My brother is a chef and can draw his butt off, my baby sister has always been talented in the arts, my other sister could write and draw and she can sing a little too (dont tell her i said that), we all danced. Some say the most creative people are also the most insane, so of course my mom had her dark side too. Life was normal for me up until age 11 when my parents separated and we moved out the only home my younger sisters ever knew. For the next few years, my mom, sisters and I moved every year from one apartment to the next. My mother dated other men, I could never make friends because we moved so much, my mother got involved in less than desirable activities, I begin to seek attention in boys. Our colorful family life slowly faded away. My dad was around but at a distance, he's always been an amazing father but now that I'm older I understand more why he wasn't as present. As I grew into my teenage years the distance between me and my mother grew. I eventually moved with my father leaving my two sisters to stay with her. Although I was happy to be in a more stable environment with my dad I knew he had no clue how to raise a teenage daughter by himself. My curiosity and promiscuous ways increased and my communication with my mother and sisters decreased significantly. I wasn't sexually active but, through observing my mother and others things I was exposed to, I was definitely headed towards a path of trouble. Lots of time had passed and I believe my grandmother convinced my mother to pack us up and relocate to Delaware so she could start a new drug-free life away the city life of DC. When you're young and immature, you always feel like the victim and that everything is happening to you and you alone. I still remember sitting in the front seat of the car for the two hour ride to Delaware and didn't part my lips once to speak to my mother. I thought my life was over and that I'd never see my father again. Things with me and my mother definitely got worse before they got better living in DE, so much to the point where I again moved away from her to stay with my older brother. I spent most of my high school years with him and my sister in law. It wasnt until my mother became ill with cancer that we slowly rebuilt a relationship. So for at least seven years of my life I held onto anger and resentment towards her and the way I was raised and the things I was exposed to because of her decisions. My mother and I became so close that there wasnt much time that wasnt spent with her unless I had to work and even then I was only a phone call away. As she battled with cancer, I became her eyes, ears, memory, legs, everything and anything she needed. Today, I know the reasons me and my Mom bumped heads so much is because we are two peas in a pod. Talking with Tricia each time makes me realize that more and more. While I don't share her choice of bad habits fully, there are too many similarities to mention. Poor judgement in men being at the top of the list (with the exception of my dad, of course, she knew how to pick a bum and so do I).

To learn so much about myself in this past year and learn so much about my mother that it is in me is surreal, if that's the right word? Its bitter sweet because I understand so much of what she did now and shes not here for me to say that I forgive her. I know I can say it in my heart and God will make sure she knows it but I want the real thing. Tricia said things that led me to believe that my mom may have felt she left this Earth unfulfilled in her responsibility as my mother. I want her here in front of me to tell her that I don't blame her or hold any grudges against the decision she made in life for herself and for her children. I want to tell her that I'm so proud of her for allowing herself to be humbled through her illness and bringing our family back together. I would tell her that I'm sorry for wishing that the similarities I saw in myself weren't there as a teenager and young women growing up. People who knew my mother would say it all the time "You are so much like your mother" and I thought it to be like a curse. But man it is a blessing. Because I am so much like her, I can adapt to any surrounding and be chameleon-like. Because of her, I can walk into a room of strangers and command a presence if I choose to. Because of her, I can carry a load of things on my back that most are too weak to do and shake off most of the hate and negative energy thrown my way. Because I am so much like her, I have an insanely huge heart and never get tired of interacting and meeting new people and learning new things. She was a "Jane of all trades" and my gosh I think I am too. Because I am so much like her, I am determined to be right with God in the event that the word of the Bible is true so I can see her again on the other side of this life and tell her these things face to face. "Happy Mothers Day Mommy, I Love You and I'm so proud to be your Daughter #1"


  1. BJ I'm so glad to see you that you've decided to chronicle your journey. The more I learn about you, the more I learn how our lives have a strange parallel. Our mothers were both born in 1954. They both fought breast cancer three times. The progression of the battle was the same. My mother also battled depression and our relationship was "colorful" as a result but the battle brought us closer than I could have ever imagined and I'm grateful for that part of it. My father's birthday is a day before your father's. All that to say, that I believe in kindred spirits. I often feel that no one know's what I'm going through. And although different, our journey's have one too many coincidences to show me that crossing paths was not a mistake. I've watched you grow as a woman since we first met and at that time not knowing you or what you were dealing with. I've seen you open up in a beautiful way and I understand it all now. As you've supported me through my transition, please know that I am here for you as well and that I get it. I'm a little behind you on this transition but there's no turning back now. As our mothers' daughters we have no choice but to carry the banner and continue the legacy they started. Like it or're stuck with me =)

  2. That was AWESOME! This is a beautiful story that took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. Anyone who knows you, knows you loved your Mother dearly and so did she.

    She knew by the care that you took with her in most vunerable moments. You were not there out of pity or obligation but love. You are such an example for all of us. At the end of the day its not about us. God put us all here to serve a purpose and we all are on different missions some of us multiple. Like you.

    BJ you are so next level I knew it the day I met you. I was the new model on the scene at a fashion show and you were like a breath of fresh air. With all the side looks and whispers, you were open, helpful, funny and beautiful. Your Mom was what I believe just one of your many missions in life.

    BJ continue to be a blessing.