When I was a junior in high school, a friend of mine became pregnant by her boyfriend in May. I wished her and her bean a Happy Mother’s Day. “Happy Mother’s Day” felt new toward one of my peers.
Fast forward six years– my first Mother’s Day. Ellis was three months. That day doesn’t strike me as memorable. I forced AJ to walk the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk with Ellis and I. And I drank, under the anxious pressure that I shouldn’t be drinking, for the first time in twelve months. Those memories are pending erasure.
I stand corrected. Later that week, I got a necklace from AJ’s mother. And I got my dad. My dad came to visit me. He brought me flowers and the positive vibes that come with him. And then I uploaded a throwback photo of AJ and Michele to AJ’s Facebook captioned, “Love you, mom!”
Mother’s Day, let alone motherhood, hadn’t quite hit me yet.
The year before, I put together Mother’s Day packages for my mother, my grandmothers, and all the women in AJ’s family. Candles and cards and stuff. The basics. I suggest to AJ that he do the same for the men in his family come June. He agrees but does not. The holidays as well as connecting to his family was my responsibility.
The day before my second Mother’s Day, I took Mother’s Day photos for another mother on base. She paid me two hundred dollars and her mother slipped me a fifty. The photos were redemptive as their relationship had been strained.
Later, a neighbor of mine gives me the “Best Mom Ever” sign her husband got for her and we babysit some drinks that night.
The next morning, AJ wishes his mother a Happy Mother’s Day with a long passive aggressive Facebook post. He then comes into the den where I was sleeping and hands me a Mother’s Day card signed “Daddy and Ellis.” I thank him. He asks me for the two hundred dollars. I ask him what he needs it for. He needs it for equipment for his new business. I ask him if Ellis and I could take the drive with him. He tells me he’ll be downstairs. I give him the money.
As Ellis and I are getting ready, AJ leaves. I call him and he tells me he just wants to run out and come right back. Why can’t he just run out and come right back?
Ellis and I walk to my neighbor’s house. She was putting her baby gate up and she kept asking me for AJ’s drill.
“He just doesn’t like anyone touching his tools.”
“Just tell him I’m asking for it. Tell him Jamilah needs it.”
I take a deep breath and ask AJ for his power dill. I also ask if we could go to a carnival downtown. All I want for Mother’s Day is to spend time with my family.
He tells me he needs to focus on his new business. I take Ellis to the carnival alone. And I never see the bits to the power drill again, Jamilah!