Updated: Jan 17
I remember the day my dad passed away so clearly. Starting the night before. My mom received the phone call that he’d “taken a turn for the worst.”
I knew something was wrong, but my mom was calm. We packed up, my oldest sister picked us up, dropped me and my baby sister off at her house on Menlo Avenue in Hawthorne with my brother-in-law, niece and nephew. Still dark out. We played as usual.
Daylight when they came back. As we played in the back room, I could hear my sister crying and screaming from outside in the drive-way. My mom still calm. I knew he was gone. I remember feeling like, as the oldest of the bunch of kids, I should be strong. So I didn’t cry. Like my mom. I didn’t cry.
I remember people coming over later that day, the house filled with familiar faces, a thick gray cloud of unspoken mourning lingering. Not until one of my sister’s friends gave me permission did I let the tears fall.
I remember the ride to his funeral in Inglewood, not far from my elementary school. It poured buckets of rain, just like he liked it.
I remember some time later my mom was sitting in the bathroom at that house on Menlo. Her eyes were sad. I was at eye level with her. She asked me, “Do you miss Daddy?” I remember thinking, “Don’t you miss him?” Because she never cried, or I never saw her cry. Don’t remember my response.
I can now appreciate her composure. She didn’t cry, but she did other things, like cut her hair short, dyed it auburn because my dad wouldn’t have wanted it blonde (she’s naturally a brunette), and kept a smile on her face. Strong, no doubt,
Mamas, motherhood is so friggin hard. It’s okay to feel your feelings. No, your children are not containers or dumping grounds, but they are natural comforters. It’s okay for them to know you are sad, frustrated, tired, unsure.
In fact, it takes great strength to be vulnerable in just the right dose in their presence. Save the rest for Jesus, your therapist, and your safe people. But please, allow yourself to be human first. You are strong because you are tender, too.
Shush Your Shame
Jennifer J. Jones