Kenneth L. Hardin: Mother’s Day and Mama’s Day are not the same

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 30, 2023

I don’t celebrate holidays. It’s not for any religious reason I have such an aversion to the celebratory aspect of the multitude of consumer driven designated days we fake smile through with family and friends. Why do people go into debt to prove their love, loyalty and allegiance to people they ignore most of the year?

Holidays have become akin to sitting at the cool kids table in high school. Your rep is established based on bragging about how much you spent or how much you received. I recognized the absurdity of it all and stopped bringing my bat and glove to the game to play.

The day we shower all the love and heap mounds of praise on the woman who birthed us is coming soon, so I thought I would get an early head start and offer my $1.99 worth of opinions. I don’t want it to get mixed in with the coming overload of noxious written and verbal emissions of insincerity.

I posted a quote on social media recently that read, “When I die, don’t say you wish there was a phone in Heaven so you could talk to me. I have one now and you don’t call.” I wonder how many mothers sit by the phone in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day and the months afterwards, and their phone stays silent? But on that special Sunday, stock prices at seafood restaurants, KFC, florists and Bath & Body Works will surge.

Sadly, not every mama will feel special that day. They’re the ones who walked a little more of a crooked path, who didn’t tuck their babies in at night and sing lullabies, who had to hustle and grind working two jobs to keep the lights on, who shopped at thrift stores so their kids could get their clothes from higher end ones, who made poor choices but still tried to be a mama, who was too young to wear the title of mama but fought through pain to keep it, won’t get that big bouquet of flowers on Sunday morning.

There will be no breakfast in bed for this mama because she’s already on a job making just enough money so there’s food when she gets home.

The late musical artist and poet Tupac Shakur understood the difference between a mother and a mama. He shared in song the challenges his own drug addicted, once incarcerated, but powerful revolutionary fighter mama went through to give him a better life, “You are appreciated…I finally understand for a woman it ain’t easy tryin’ to raise a man. You always was committed, a poor single mother on welfare, tell me how you did it. There’s no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand.

Mamas have been holding it down for years, some by force while others by choice. Government backed social programs make it easier for women to survive without a male figure in the traditional family sense, but they also punish them by taking away the same assistance for any level of progression shown. This was highlighted in the 1974 movie “Claudine” starring James Earl Jones and the late Diahann Carroll. When the social worker stopped by unannounced, the family went into panic mode hiding any evidence of niceties they had purchased, extra food in the refrigerator and even playing hide and seek with Jones so as not to show a male figure was in the home.

I’ve tried to explain to our leaders, who don’t look like me and who surely see themselves as perfect mothers, the continued association of our young people and drug dealing.

If a mama has 3-4 kids and is under the scrutiny of a government program, but her teenage son is selling drugs and bringing in $2,000-3,000 a week, she is less likely to care where the money comes from.

Tupac said, “I needed money of my own, so I started slangin’. I ain’t guilty, ’cause even though I sell rocks, it feels good puttin’ money in your mailbox. I love payin’ rent when the rent’s due. I hope you got the diamond necklace that I sent to you.” That’s how some people say happy Mama’s Day every calendar day, but y’all don’t want to see it.

You can keep kicking doors down, purchasing military grade weapons, gear, and vehicles, while filling up the prisons, but all you’re doing is looking good in photo ops. Until we stop babies from having babies and stem the dependence on social programs, it will always be Mama’s Day. To all the mamas that are putting in the work, “My plan is to show you that I understand. You are appreciated. Don’t you know we love you, Dear Mama.”

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a former Salisbury City Councilman and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists