“Either follow my rules or leave,” I remember my mother saying.
So I left.
I was 17-years-old and fresh off an argument with my mother and step-dad. That night, a guy six years older than me called our house phone. The guy hung up, but my mother and step-dad knew exactly who it was.
As I walked down the street, my step-dad came after me. He carried me back into the house. My mother spanked me. The next day, I went to my school’s guidance counselor, still with visible spanking marks, and told her I was being physically abused at home.
That wasn’t my first spanking, and I didn’t honestly believe I was being abused. But I wanted to hurt my mother. I was sick and tired of her being so strict and so overbearing. Six years didn’t seem like a big age difference to me when I was 17.
I was young and dumb.
As I look back at my childhood, I didn’t appreciate my mother. I didn’t appreciate the single mother who pulled us out of poverty and into a one-story house we could call our own. I didn’t appreciate the mother who worked countless hours, but still was at all of my basketball games. I didn’t appreciate the mother who supported my tomboy stage, my beauty pageant dreams and my writing career.
But now that I’m a mother, I do.
It all makes sense.
Every spanking, every punishment, every scolding was all because she loved me.
She wanted the best for me. My mother wanted to see me live out my dreams. She wanted me to have opportunities I didn’t. She didn’t want her 17-year-old daughter dating a 23-year-old man because she was wise enough to understand what that meant. She knew 23-year-old men who wanted 17-year-old girls didn’t want a relationship or a commitment.
And the longer I parent my little boys I’m realizing my mother understood a lot more than I thought she did.
As the day we honor mothers nears, I am blessed she didn’t give up on that foolish 17-year-old.
Tunette Powell is married with two children. You can read her every Tuesday on momaha.com
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