by Kelvin Belfon
Over the course of my life, there have been 3 mother figures that have wholly influenced who I am today.
First there is Lizzy, my biological mother who gave birth to me in her teens. Because of our age difference, people would often mistake us as siblings. Actually, we’ve always been more like best friends more than anything else.
Mom worked long hours, sometimes at multiple jobs in order to put food on the table. She’s always been encouraging and supportive in all my endeavors. In my book mom’s number one.
Then there is Cooley, an upbeat, business minded, no nonsense single mother of 2. She had a contagious smile and persuasive personality while selling at the local market. I lived with Cooley from ages 3-5.
Finally there was Sister Nelson, a short, slim, soft-spoken but driven woman. I’m not sure of the exact number; but she had over 10 children, helped raise the majority of her grandchildren as well as the children of non-family members, like myself.
Sister Nelson had many roles: wife, mother, grandmother, friend, farmer, businesswoman, matriarch, spiritual mentor, and community leader. I lived with her from age 11-21. Two years ago she passed away. Oh, how I miss her so.
These 3 women expressed their love very differently, but equally impacting, toward me. My mom was a hugger and giver. Cooley and Sister Nelson were less emotional. But you couldn’t tell with these 2 women because they treated me like family.
I also learned many things from each of these heroic women. I’ve observed their actions, rehearsed their wise counsels, and modeled their ideals. Maybe there were life lessons to be learned after being reprimanded or spanked. I’m glad they loved me enough to correct me and guide me in the right path.
What I learned from my 3 mothers
So, here are the 16 lessons I’ve learned from my 3 mothers.
- Say please when asking for things
- Say thank you when given things
- Say excuse me before interrupting adults
- Show respect to strangers, and especially your elders
- How to wash clothes by hand and iron them
- How to be grateful for the small things
- How to clean a house and keep a yard looking good
- How to love God with all my heart and care for his people
- How to grow a backyard kitchen garden and care for animals like sheep, goats and chickens
- How to cook
- How to eat with a knife and fork
- How to take pride in how I present myself, especially in the way I dress
- How to be responsible and independent so that I can take care for myself without asking for handouts
- How to work hard and sacrifice for long term goals
- How to keep going despite setbacks and obstacles
- How to not take no for an answer, dream big and focus on ending well
I’m grateful for my biological mother. She’s been a very close friend to me. But women who care for those who are not their own, are exceptional. They have a special gift. Their love is a choice, not an obligation.
Mothers are human, not perfect. They share a unique place in our hearts. Their love is sacrificial and unconditional. Mothers work tirelessly without proper compensation or appreciation. They are willing to give up their dreams for their children. I witnessed these qualities from all 3 mothers that I’ve had.
I honor all mothers: biological, married, adoptive, step, single, nannies, and all who serve as mother figures. You never hear it enough, but…
What have you learned from your mother?