Mean Mama

Sunday mornings have always been a test of patience for me, from when I was a little girl and my mama was satisfied to get to church in time to “hear one song and the sermon,” to me agonizing over what to wear to match my required head covering at my previous church to now having the bulk of the job of getting my three sons and me ready for church. With my mama, I wanted to rebel but couldn’t because I couldn’t make her get up on time nor could I drive. At my previous church, I wanted to rebel but I knew the spiritual cost would be too high. Now that I have autonomy over the children and me these Sunday mornings, I have been determined to get us to church on time. In doing so, I see myself as a drill sergeant. Joshua sees me as mean.

“Why every Sunday you seem like you’re mad at us? You sound mean,” he has said on more than one Sunday after I spur him on to do what he knows needs to be done. I usually keep up my pace and tell him why he can’t sit on his floor and daydream or play with his ball or chase his brother. Last Sunday I stopped to tell him why it was okay not to keep his laughing seven-month-old brother company during church preparation time. In that quiet moment he seemed to understand how sitting to keep a satisfied baby company keeps us from getting ready. In my quiet moments I have sought to understand why when I spur Joshua on I’m the mean mama and when Flynn spurs there’s no other label for him. Maybe I’m seeing the early stages of gender bias in Joshua. Or maybe Joshua sees something in me that I need to see.

I wonder if the meanness comes from me seeing Joshua as the inhibitor to my finally being able to rebel against my mama’s “one song and the sermon” mentality. Or maybe he stands in the way of my desire to show my husband how to get out of the house with Joshua on time or to prove to the naysayers that people with children don’t always have to be late. I’m not sure what exactly caused Joshua to see my mean side or some other attitude that he doesn’t yet have the word for. Whatever the cause, Joshua caused me to pause to check my attitude, one that surely pleases Jezebel. I’m determined to get out of the Jezebel pleasing business and that only comes from 1) watching out for Jezebel’s arrival; 2) not allowing her to come in; and 3) wanting to be right and not recognized. Doing these three will no doubt give me a new attitude and lesser charges of being mean.

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith


4 responses to “Mean Mama

  1. Well said.

  2. Lisa Johnson

    I can relate to mean mama. My lost moments have been getting ready for work & waking up a 13 yr old a couple of times before he actually gets out of bed. I can tell you somedays are better than others. My son sometimes looks at me as if I’m a strange person & why am I going off on a tangent because he didn’t here me wake him up 3 times. So, I pray & have asked myself why am I fussing. A few answers in short running late to no fault of my son. Said- I wasn’t going to be late & now I’m running late. Had the nerve to get up early enough to leave on time & still running late. I find I do much better when I pray & spend time with God before I even wake my son up. I tell you I have to laugh at myself which he does alot when we have our off days. I have apologized to him which has lead him to apologize to me when we seem to not be getting along so well. I promised him that I will continue to seek God in my parenting & will never give up in growing & loving him the way God wants me too.

  3. musingsofastrongblackwoman

    Thanks Babe.

  4. musingsofastrongblackwoman


    Motherhood is no joke. It’s so refreshing to hear that you apologize to your son and also see the correlation between spending time with God and your attitude. I know I have to spend time with God or I will try to operate in my own strength. Chaos will surely reign.

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