A community of mothers

Published 5:46 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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For the past few weeks, I was privileged to observe a wonderful event. A bird had built a nest in a large shrub next to my bedroom window. I watched the mother bird feed and care for her three nestlings. What amazed me the most was her endless quest to find food and feed her babies.

As quickly as she brought food to the nest which she put in the mouth of her nestlings, she was off again to find more. She did this at least 20 times in the hour I watched her. Motherhood in nature is an amazing thing.

With Mother’s Day coming Sunday, I thought about all the years I raised my daughters Sonja and Terri Michelle. Those years seem to have flown by so quickly, but each day was amazing and filled with wonder. I cannot thank God enough for the privilege of being a mom.

I often think about my mom and the precious gift from the Lord she was to me and my siblings. “Motherhood is hard work” she was often say. I realize that now. She poured her life, her love, and a respect for God, family, education and people into us.

I was blessed to grow up in a ‘community of mothers.’ In addition to my mom and grandmother, I grew up having ‘neighborhood mothers,’ who were church mothers, school mothers, beauty parlor mothers and prayer mothers, many who didn’t have children of their own, but each having a direct and positive impact on my life.

‘Neighborhood Mothers’ were ALL the women in my neighborhood who took looking out for the neighborhood kids as a responsibility. They made sure you were behaving properly any time they saw you and they could correct you, and if needed discipline you. They would report to our mothers if they saw us somewhere where we weren’t supposed to be, like cutting class and going to King Chicken for milkshakes. Most of us kids back then didn’t have telephones in our homes, but we had ‘tele-mothers’ who made sure our parents knew what we had done or where we were before we could even get home.

‘Church Mothers’ were the women at church who made sure you knew who Jesus was, and made sure we went to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and the youth events at church. They always had a never-ending supply of ‘church candy’ and gum for us like Life Savers, peppermint and butterscotch candies and Teaberry chewing gum. They always made sure you learned a Scripture correctly.

‘School Mothers’ were the women who as teachers did more than teach. They loved on us, encouraged us, brought lunch, shoes and clothing for kids who needed it and taught us how to live in the world we were learning about.

‘Beauty Parlor Mothers’ weren’t really beauticians, but they always made sure you had your hair nice and neat. They could call you over to their front porch as you walked home from school to re-braid your hair if came loose while playing at recess or some sports activity. When I was a teenager, they would offer to comb through my afro after I had spent an hour on it to get it just right!

And the ‘Prayer Mothers’ would call you over to them as they sat on the porch and pray over you for God to bless your life.

I am so thankful for all those women who cared for us as children and still do.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOM’S! And to those who serve in the role of loving and caring children who are not your biological children, thank you for the legacy of love you are leaving in their hearts.

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-curator of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.