I often reflect on how fortunate I have been. I was born and raised in Negril, Jamaica, in a poor family, surrounded by paradise, white sand beaches and magnificent sunset. The odds of me remaining in poverty, or turning to crime, or just existing, was in my favour. I wasn’t supposed to go to university or be able to even put two sentences together. I wasn’t supposed to be able to write this story.
You see I am fortunate, thanks to my mother. The role of mothers in the Caribbean are often times underrated. Even those who once wore those shoes tend to give little support to mothers. Mothers in the Caribbean are more likely to be judged by their weaknesses rather than their strengths.
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Against all odds, my mother was able to feed me and my three (3) brothers and sisters. There was no daddy around, he had taken off with another woman to sow his seeds. He was too busy to be concern with whether or not we were hungry.
I thank my mother for helping me let go of that anger towards my father. She said,
“yuh can’t change him but yuh can change yuh self, mek him rule him roost yuh wi soon rule di world”.
My mother never consider herself a single parent, she was both mother and father. When she needed to show the warm and tenderness of a mother she did and when she needed to show the strong and military like father she did.
My mother was not perfect. She was human. She needed affection like any other woman. She needed male companionship. But my mother never allowed HER relationships affect OUR relationship. My sisters and brothers knew that we came first and I have never felt otherwise.
When it comes to discipline, my mother said “I won’t spare the rod and spoil the child”. It is hard to explain this to my non-Caribbean friends, for the majority, they consider it physical abuse. But only on few occasions would my mother “take out di belt” and often times it only took the presence of the belt to make the point, “nuh do it again”.
My mother taught me confidence. I remember when I was 10 and had a small part in a church play. The evening of the play, I was so nervous I was shaking. I was leaning against my mother hoping that a hurricane would come and save me. My mother whispered to me “Nuh worry, when I was growing up mi was the best actress in the district”.
Whether or not that was true my mother was simply teaching me that believing in yourself goes a long way.
Yes there are many challenges facing mothers in the Caribbean and many mothers have responded to these challenges in a negative way. However, I think the majority of mothers in the Caribbean are just like my mother, strong and brave.
So thank you momma, thank you all mothers in the Caribbean!