Thirty-three years ago Evelyn Hughes, my momma, was preparing to be a mom for the first time. I can only imagine how nervous she was. The fear and anxiousness she felt as she would feel that tiny person moving around in her belly had to be, at some points, intimidating. Another thing…could she be as good a mother her kids as her own mother was to her and her siblings?
I once heard her tell a story about when she was in her final few weeks of pregnancy. She was standing in the mirror looking at her belly and was in amazement how much it had grown since she found out she was with child. After a few minutes….her belly dropped! In a confused state, and in near shock, she called the one person that she knew would have all the answers…her mom. ”Ma!” She yelled in a panic. ”My…my belly just dropped! What’s going on? Is there something wrong with the baby?” With the calm, cool manner only she seemed to possess, Mrs Annie (Grandma) told her to “calm down child. That just means he is on his way. So, relax. You will be a mother soon enough. Don’t worry child of mine. You will do just fine.”
And do just fine she did. On July 8, 1980 Re-Re became a mother for the very first time. Little did she know that this day would be the start of many firsts, seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, (Geez…this is getting to be a lot. Rest break. My hands are cramping………Ok, let’s continue.) sixths, sevenths, eighths, and ninths. (Whew…talk about a mouth full.) Changing diapers (and I mean real cloth diapers…no Huggies for us back then buddy.), wiping away poop, and many hours of missed sleep were all in the coming days, months, and years.
She knew that the road ahead would be filled with challenges, heartaches, and blessings. Her worries and concerns would only be temporary, because she had the love and guidance of her own mother to help point her in the right direction. Whenever a question needed to be answered, she called Ma. Whenever there was a baby mystery that needed solving, she called Ma.
Raising her first born was a piece of cake. I mean, that kid was perfect in every way. Never cried. Always ate all of his food. Heck, he even changed his own diapers…Ok, ok, ok, maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad bit. Those may be stretches of the imagination, but one thing is true. She was proving herself to be a fantastic mother.
In the coming years J.D. and Evelyn welcomed eight other blessings into the world. Sam, Joyce, Alisha, Kenny, Krysta, David, Caila, and Carolyn. Having all these people in one house definitely made for some interesting times. There are tons of stories I could tell, but I’ll just give you a couple.
Having that many people in one house proved to be a challenge at times. My father was the only source of income, so he worked long days, and sometimes long nights to ensure that his family had everything they needed. So, Ma sometimes had to assume the role of both parents. She was our tutor when it was time to do school work. She was the amazing chef that always made miracles in the kitchen. Being the disciplinarian was a role that she had to assume as well.
My mother did a great job ensuring that we all did our homework, and did it well. If we ever had problems figuring something out, she would always be there to aid us in finding a solution. I know that had to be mentally draining, but she managed to do it every day. I’m pretty sure she looked forward to summer vacation just as much as we did.
My mom always made sure that we had something to eat. No one was going to go hungry in her house no matter how hard times were. Whether it was cooking simple meals that were cheap (spaghetti) and filling, or making something that we thought was normal but was unconventional to other families. My favorite thing that she would do is make breakfast for dinner! Oh boy! There is nothing like getting grits, eggs, and sausage at 8pm. The Waffle House ain’t got nothin’ on Re-Re when it comes to that late night breakfast/dinner.
Now, having 9 kids means that there are 9 times the problems that you can have in the house at any given time. Trust me, we made her earn her stripes any chance we got. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t bad kids. We were what I would call “active.” Actively getting into things we knew better than to get into. With all this activity going on around the house, my mom gradually became a supreme disciplinarian. She became a 9 time champion and 1992 inductee in the “Butt Cuttin’ Hall of Fame.” Boy oh boy, Re-Re could hand out a whoopin’ with the best of them. I think they have her belt bronzed somewhere. There are times I have flashbacks of some of them and think to myself….”what was I thinking?”
Let’s get one thing straight here. There was never any abuse in our home, just discipline. Trust me. Any time we got disciplined, we deserved it. Like the time Sam and I threw snowballs in the front door (I’ll tell you about it later…what idiots we were), or that time Joyce and everyone under her poured baby powder on the carpet (so glad me and Sam were with Ma when that went down), or when we would fall asleep in church on the front row and start snoring. I’m pretty sure that Ma has developed some sort of selective amnesia when it comes to us getting disciplined back then, but it’s ok….we remember.
Now a true butt cuttin’ pro like Ma only perfects their craft as the years go by. So, she soon retired her belt. We were all so very thankful that she did. Then, she developed the art of the stare. My God what a tool to have in your arsenal. That was almost as bad as getting the belt, because you would think of all the ones you have gotten, and feared getting another one. Ma would call your name with conviction “Melvin.” Then she would give you this look that would send chills down your spine. All she would have to do is utter the words “sit down now.” That’s all that needed to be said.
Although Ma was great at teaching, feeding, and disciplining us, there was one thing that she perfected…loving us. Not one of her children can ever say that Ma ever neglected us or ever made us feel unwanted. She has always supported us in whatever we wanted to do. No matter how tired she was, she would stay up as late as she needed to to hear us tell her about our adventures of the day. Whenever we needed a hug, she was there. If we ever desired a shoulder to cry on, her’s was always available. She always put her children above her, and still does.
Even when she doesn’t give birth to a child…if they are accepted by us, they are loved by her. So, that’s why she has 10 kids rather than her original 9 (welcome to the fam Malcolm), and why she has 7 grand kids instead of 6 (we love you Lil Ant). Her love has no boundaries.
So Ma…This day, and every day moving forward. We love you, and we will always be there for you like you’ve always been there for us. Thank you!
Happy Mother’s Day