In keeping with the theme of the month of honoring our Mothers, I decided to write a short profile of my Mom for today’s blog post.
My Mother was born in the mid 1950s in a small coastal commune southwest of the capital of Haiti. She was the 3rd child in a group of 6 children. My grandfather was a medical technician and my grandmother stayed at home to take care of the kids. From what she has told me, my Mother had a very happy childhood and her family was never in any financial need.
At some point during my Mother’s adolescence, my grandfather died of an illness and she and my aunts and uncle moved to Port-Au-Prince to live with an extended family member. Meanwhile, my grandmother moved to the US to work as a hotel maid to save up money to send to her children to also come to the US. Eventually, this goal was reached and my Mom and her siblings left Haiti.
From what my Mother describes, the transition to living in the US was very challenging. In Haiti, she was a stellar student in her secondary school, always consistently receiving top marks in her class. When she came to high school in the United States (she had already finished in Haiti but had to do one year of ESL in the US), she encountered racism, xenophobia, and difficulty learning a new language. After years of my own education, I can definitely empathize with my Mother in knowing what your capabilities are on the inside but living in a foreign society that refuses to recognize your potential. Regardless, with hard work and courage she was able to defie these obstacles and moved on to community college and graduated with an associate’s degree in Accounting.
At some point after that, my Mother met and married my Father, they had some trouble conceiving children, but then eventually I was born. During my infanthood, my mother enrolled at a local university to finish her schooling, eventually graduating with a B.S in Accounting. At this point, you may think that she finally made it in America; she got married, had a child, and has a college degree. Well, think wrong! What happened over the next few years would mark a very dark chapter in my and my Mother’s life.
To this day, I don’t know what exactly was wrong with my Father. The only scenes that I can recall were the physical and emotional abuse of me and my Mom at the hand of my Father. For a note for the readers out there, you don’t know true powerlessness unless you can put yourself in the shoes of a 5 year old kid and seeing your Father repeatedly batter your Mother on a regular basis and you can’t do anything about it because you are too small and too weak to do anything to stop him. Looking back, I don’t know how my Mom handled it. To have someone you love do this repeatedly to you and then to continue working to be the sole breadwinner in the household , maintain a house, take care of 3 children (at some point in my childhood, my teenage cousin and her son moved in with us. will discuss this in a later post in the future), and to put up a front to friends and extended family that everything is okay.
Fortunately, one day, when I was seven years old, my father left. From what I can remember, he left because he was sick and a group of family members came down that summer to take him back to Canada to see a physician there. I wouldn’t see him or hear for him for 16 years, but that is a story for a different post. Although my Mom could recognize that it was good that he left as our lives were infinitely more peaceful, I think that she was still bothered by his absence. Although he contributed nothing productive to our lives, I think his former presence was symbolic of a familial stability that she wanted to project to the rest of the world. With him gone, she held me and my cousins very very tight all the way up to the point when we were old enough to live our lives on our own.
During this post-Father departure phase of our lives, my Mom was laid off from her accounting job and was exposed to a market when it was very difficult to find stable accounting jobs. At some point, she made the decision to go to night school where she received certification to be a nursing assistant. It certainly didnt initally make her as much money as accounting did , and to her it certainly wasn’t as prestigious, but it helped pay the bills and support me through private school.
At some point during my adolescence, I expressed to my Mother my desire to be a physician. And a from there she made my dream her dream. She did everything in her power to make sure I realized my goal. I adopted her strength and grit and sure I enough I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.
I often think about what the next steps will be for my Mom now that I have graduated. She has dealt with a lifetime facing adversity, and even though she doesn’t show it, she has endured and definitely repressed psychological trauma from her relationship with my Father. I just hope that she can find the time to rest, face the trauma head on, possibly find the strength to be in new relationship with a man that supports her, and finally live the life that she deserves to live. I will do my best to support her any way I can the way she has supported me throughout my life.
Thank you reading Day 4 of my 5 Day blog series. I hope everyone has a nice day.