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  • Valerie Bryant

Mama, Mama - Stop the Crying

We’ve spent these past few years under siege - Covid siege. If there were ever a song to define these recent past years, it would have to be Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?”. It’s a song that talks of confusion and dealing with life-impacting question. In one stanza, Gaye talks directly to mothers when he sings:

"Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
. . . what’s going on?"

I aim to show you what those words mean to me today. My interpretation helps get me to the other side of my “through” – and if you can adopt that same perspective for 2022, it might do the same for you. It’s time we stop the crying, figure out what’s going on to the best of our abilities, and then establish solid TUFF Mama stance to make it past any mess 2022 aims to throw our way. You ready for this? Let’s go!

I remember my early childhood as a time I spent as a latchkey, elementary school-aged kid growing up in a Chicago ghetto. It was a time marked by social unrest and national confusion. Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been assassinated. How I knew was by the hot red embers that filled the night skies as neighboring streets were torched and literally went up in smoke. My parents whisked me away to a safer side of town until unrest subsided so we could better see our way.

I’ll share at some point about my inestimable father – a man given to provide for his family at all costs. But today, it’s about how I learned from my mother how to get through nasty challenge. I saw her as my example of what it meant to be a strong, God-fearing woman. I call my business “TUFF Mama Time” because I was daughter to the original “TUFF” Mama. I intend to hone four specific “TUFF Mama” traits to become the greatest version of myself. I invite you to glean here for what you might find for yourself to accomplish the same.

Also, I challenge you to welcome the new year with realistic, sensible excitement – not given to fall into a groupthink where everyone’s excitement is based on belief that the new year will magically erase all the misery and pain of the old one. And then we live with expectancy waiting for the new year to bring us something good. No! Mamas, Mamas. There’s way too many of us crying and afraid to move “it” forward, allowing demon forces to redefine us and figuratively tie our hands from being rightly effective for ourselves and especially for our children. We need to stop screaming “what’s going on” and go on what we got. We must be TUFF for tough times, even if in this new year,

- Friends or spouse abandon you,

- Your children diss you, or

- Life chooses to sucker punch you with what you really couldn’t see coming,

Choose anyway to

Live the Greatest version of you in 2022

Follow the “T”, “U”, “F” “F” - TUFF Mama standard my mom lived before me when I was a child.

How Mama exemplified the TUFF Mama “T”.

The “T” she lived was being “Tenacious”. I learned from her that life might push you down, but with right mindset, nothing and no one can push you out unless you allow it. Mama lost her own parents while yet a child. Still, something God planted within her spirit propelled her to live forward the legacy she had seen her mama live. Something in her sounded out like Marlin in “Finding Nemo” when he yelled, “It’s NOT going to end like this!”

Mama prayed. She believed in praying, asking direction, and asking God to equip her as a doer. She didn’t wait around longing for a “hocus pocus” moment to materialize out of thin air, either. Mama believed God placed her here to do a mighty work through her hands and heart – and did she ever.

Prior to my birth, Mama served in the army working finance. After my appearance on the planet, she worked one job to its end. She would absorb her gains from one employ and take them into another. When she could not find adequate work, she studied, certified and opened her own income tax business from our home. She was always purposefully doing. When the cost of living overextended our budget, she magnified the industry of her hands by knitting and sewing and dressing me and my brother – and my dad as well. The woman was scary tenacious – one who brought a powerful “T” into our home that I learned to live by.

How Mama exemplified the TUFF Mama “U”.

The “U” my mama lived was being “Uncommon”.

She used powerful, uncommon oration, encouraging me onward with statements I never heard anyone else utter to me. She spoke real encouragement,

- When I was about to face difficulties,

- When she knew I might face opposition from some who might not accept me,

- When she suspected others might try to discount the good she helped nurture in me,

I remember mama saying to me, “Go work your magic, Girl!”. She didn’t borrow sayings from her friends that may have worked for their kids. She didn’t impress a temporary kiss on my forehead that would last only a moment. Mama fashioned words from her heart that were so far-reaching until they still speak to my soul today. As a child, they led me to believe that I was somehow magical. Her words said that something about me was positively and purposefully different. Her uncommon speech led me to believe I could make things happen that no one else had or would because of God’s blessing on my life. I merely had to believe and remain heart-connected to the Master for what, when and how to turn it on.

When I would forget her magical reminders, Mama uncommonly pulled out her Drill Sargent talents. Realize that when this woman sounds out in strength, she is not playing. You listen and act. Once, when I was a high school senior, Mama recovered mail from the trash. It was addressed to me, but I had thrown it away without opening it. This was an offer letter from the Air Force, and they were wanting to award me a 4-year scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. Honestly, I had no plans to wear combat boots for anybody, so I tossed it. “Next!”, I thought.

Well, I have Mama to thank for calling me out that day because I did follow through, was awarded the scholarship and my life was then set on a very positive, sure trajectory. Why was this such an uncommon act? Because as mothers, we can at times be afraid to share influencing counsel with our kids. We ask ourselves,

"What if they get upset – and don’t like me . . . or hold this against me?”
“What if others don’t agree?”
“What if (fill in the blank – your deepest fear about “telling it like it is” to your child)”

Sometimes we need to take a path others won’t. Lay it out like it is to your child to help them be visionary, learning to assess their future based on choices made today. They can often make their own right choices, but if a bit of data from a loving mom can guide them, all may not be lost. Being uncommon means doing or saying what God has guided you to. He may need you to be a little different for this uncommon child he assigned specifically to you.

How Mama exemplified the first “F” of “TUFF”.

When you have a forward-facing, resiliency-based motherhood mindset that bespeaks who you are and how to lean doggedly into your destiny, there’s no stopping you. Life, regardless of its negatives and disappointments, becomes exciting because you are “Fireproof”! Though life will hurl its best obstacles at you, you won’t let your truest purpose go up in smoke from flames of self-doubt and hesitancy. First, we moms need to stop fanning the flames of uncertainty with hopeless tears – always ever hopelessly asking, “what’s going on?” Such extinguishes our heart fires to live boldly before our children for the Lord!

My mama had feelings that I saw people trample and bruise. Yet, she never retreated into a fetal position to cower and proverbially suck her thumb – wishing and waiting for

- Matters to improve

- Somebody to rescue her

Yes, people talked about her, as fickle people are inclined to do. She might ruminate over it for a short while, but then she decidedly took the next best step forward and focused on who she knew herself to be. Life threw her nasty curve balls with the early passing of her mom and departure of her father. She might have accepted a fate that would say she would never succeed because of it, but then she reminded herself of the God-given identity granted her as victor – never a victim. I saw her figuratively smack nasty spit-soaked curve balls out of the park, scoring one home run after another.

When you choose to live a “Fireproof” existence:

- People might try talking you down and/or walk away from you (but it’s not for them to see or understand God’s hand fashioning your path, right? Please understand that it’s often only for you – your eyes – your heart),

- Life might deliver you any variety of devastating sucker punches,

- Your children might surprise you by taking stance against you on who you are and what you believe,

Nevertheless, you know why you are here, who you serve, and how to push forward to “get through”. You don’t ever let unpleasantries burn up your dreams or your desires to grow into the greatest version of you.

I have one more “F” to cover – the last one in “TUFF”. Still, I’m choosing to have you wait at least one week for that one. Science reveals that the brain works in chunks of three, so I’ve given you your dose of 3:

1) “T”- Tenacious (doing whatever it takes)

2) “U” - Uncommon (doing what others are often ill-equipped to do – or maybe they haven’t yet figured out how to stop crying so they can see)

3) “F” - Fireproof (doing life intentionally, even when all tries to block your way)

Use this week to do some self-reflection to figure which of these three standards you’ll incorporate as a new habit this new year. Without new, better and purposeful habits, this year will pass uneventfully, just like any before. I welcome you to plan your year with me - aim to live the Greatest version of you in 2022 – the “TUFF” Mama way .

#mothering, #motherhood, mindfulparenting, #newyearsresolutions, #habits, #goalsetting, #raisingchildren, #positiveparenting, #singlemoms, #singleparenting

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