If you have ever met my Mama, you have probably met one of the warmest and friendliest women you ever did see from Mississippi. Everybody in my hometown knows “Ms. Bernice,” and if you don’t know her, she’s gonna ask you a million questions about who “yo’ folks” are so that she doesn’t leave your presence without making a connection with you. I never realized it until now, but my mother has a gift for making everyone she meets feel seen, heard, known, but most importantly, loved. I’m so grateful that gift runs in my blood.
There are so many things about my mother I never truly realized until I became a woman. One thing that sticks out this morning is the way she recited my birth story to literally every person connected to my life. I used to be so embarrassed, y’all. PTA open house with my teachers? You’re gonna get the story. An usher at my church? Oh, she’s gettin’ the story too. Random stranger in the grocery store? Hang tight; you got a few minutes to get this story, too. She’d always say, “Now this one right here, this is my miracle baby. (This is usually where I’d squirm and roll my eyes.) I had my tubes tied, and here she comes. Tied and burned! (This part was always for dramatic effect so you knew it was real). And here she is.” And this is where she never failed to smile with pride.
As I’ve gotten older with a much tamer mouth, calmer spirit, and heightened awareness for how the world treats Black mothers, I know that birthing life is the biggest trophy my Mama ever needed. I now know that story means, “the odds were stacked against me and my seed, but I fought through. I survived. And look what she is becoming because of the God who loves us both so deeply.”
Mommy, you are my truest miracle. If I am ever blessed to leave a mark on people in my life the way that you have, I will know that the prayers you have prayed for me and all my brothers and sisters will have been answered in accordance with the deepest desires of your heart. You fought battles we knew nothing about. You smiled through some of life’s lowest points to spare our joy. You made our lives simple when life was making everything as hard as it could for you. You didn’t pop me in the mouth as much as you could have (because I deserved it; thank God for growth, won’t He do it?). You reminded me that I could always do whatever I put my mind to, and I cling to that when self-doubt continues to try to creep into my life. Thank you forever.
Tekita Bankhead is the Creator/Editor-in-Chief of the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tekita aspires to live a life that glorifies God above all and prides herself on being unapologetically authentic. In her spare time, Tekita loves reading, writing, traveling, cooking, concerts, sharing doggie cuddles with Roxie, and spending time with loved ones. She is an avid music lover, prefers 90s R&B over most new music, and is best friends (in her head) with Brandy and Beyoncé. Her Pinterest boards are filled with natural hair tips, quirky quotes, and every wedding pin ever created (What can I say, Real Gs love romance!). Connect with Tekita on Instagram and Twitter @tekitaapplebum.