love, light & sandwiches

written for cocotique.com 5.2104

A couple of months ago, this woman’s story* about making 300 sandwiches to get an engagement ring went viral, and women everywhere were outraged! Normally, I’d join in the outrage; I mean who doesn’t like a good social media rant every now and then? Not this time though. Instead, I immediately thought about my mother, my Rosie.

I always struggle with how much of my Rosie’s story is hers, how much is mine and where I should draw the line in telling hers, while telling mine. While brainstorming for this piece, it hit me… she started off with her very own story! She met a man and her story merged into his; she had three kids and BAM! her story was no longer hers–it became ours. So stay with me as I attempt to tell you our story and how I learned all about making sandwiches.

I think that girls either grow up in their mother’s light, adoring all that she is and wanting to be everything that goes into her; or they grow up in spite of their mother’s light, wanting nothing to do with anything that she has going on! I was the latter. Please don’t misunderstand me; my mom is an amazing person! There really isn’t another word for her. She had a lot of life happen to her at a very young age, and she managed to produce three amazing humans, all on her own. So why didn’t I want to be like Rosie if she’s so great, you ask…because she made sandwiches. She also made dinner. Every night she gave my stepdad the biggest piece of meat, made him a plate and set it in the microwave for when he stumbled into the house 3 hours after she cooked. He then ate the meal, took a shower and put on the clothes that she picked and laid out for him. If she didn’t lay out clothes, he would wander through our tiny house, looking for her instead of his clothes. I hated sandwiches.

She slowly liked the foods that he liked, watched movies that he liked and became an extension of all things him. I began to see less of the woman that I thought she was and more of this woman who looked a lot like him. I found myself living for Fridays when I would rush home after school to meet her and go grocery shopping… just us. She would lead us through the store, subconsciously teaching me the basics of what’s necessary and what’s not, how to budget with an iron fist, and that no matter how tight things are you always deserve chocolate. I lived for Fridays, when I caught glimpses of her. I wanted nothing to do with this life of what seemed to be living for another, and to end up making them sandwiches. My mom used to be the chick on some dude’s shoulders at a Bon Jovi concert! I was trying to be that woman…where did she go? My guess is that she disappeared somewhere between daughter 1 at 16yrs old, daughter 2 at 18 years old, working 80 hours a week as a waitress who got paid under the table and trying to pee without a tiny-human audience! I didn’t have this clarity until I too was a young woman who had a lot of life happen to her at a young age…

See, I too started off with my very own story. I was a little girl with big dreams, so I pushed myself to get the best grades so that I could get into the school of my choice, and go far far away from the little town where I’d end up living my mother’s life and making sandwiches for someone. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college and then grad school. After school, I chased my dreams as a dancer, took risks, traveled, broke hearts, and did everything that I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I felt free. Then, I met a man and decided that I didn’t want to be free anymore. I wanted to be attached to him. I slowly began to like the foods that he did, watch the movies that he liked and I happily became an extension of him. I made him sandwiches and dinners. I helped pick out what he wore, and when I wasn’t there to make small life decisions for him, he wandered through our tiny home looking for me. We got pregnant, we lost it and shortly after, we lost us. In that small amount of life, I saw the beauty in making sandwiches for someone and felt a different kind of freedom; the kind of freedom that only comes from having someone to make sandwiches for. I knew from that moment on, that I wanted to spend my life making sandwiches.

This past Mother’s Day, one of my friends thanked her mother,

I’d never be the woman I am today if I hadn’t had her to rebel against.

I second that emotion. Without seeing my Rosie give everything she had to the person she loved: making him sandwiches, picking out his clothes, and being dedicated to his happiness in every way possible, I would have never run…no soared. I would have never soared and experienced half of the very beautiful life that I have. I wouldn’t have seen the world. I wouldn’t have every moment that I ever dreamed of, and I wouldn’t know the value of it when it was taken away from me. I wouldn’t truly appreciate the beauty in having someone, being able to make them sandwiches. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

My Halfietruth is that I don’t know the woman who is making 300 sandwiches and I don’t know her story or how she came to find the beauty in making them for the man she loves, so I’ll reserve my judgment and social media rant for something deserving, like the person who uses the wrong form of you’re/your. I’ll never know my mother’s whole story either or how she came to appreciate the small act of making a sandwich, but I do know that her story, her adventures, battles, love affairs and beautiful moments in between were the set up for all my great mistakes. I could work every day, in attempts to not become my Rosie, but that would be like fighting gravity. I hear her in my voice, feel her in my kindness, see traces of her in my face and all my victories are our victories. Her story, my story, our story is like light and whether I grew up in it or in spite of it… it cannot be separated. So ladies, hug your mom, love her for who she is and take a moment to say thank you for however you became you. I love you mom! Thank you for being the best woman I could have rebelled against. May we always be blessed with people to make sandwiches for!

xok

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Kenya Raymer is a writer, blogger, dancer and the hostess of the natural-hair meet up Curls & Cocktails. She is a self-love enthusiast who uses her natural-hair platform as a space to discuss hair and all things beautiful & real. She is loving in Nashville, TN, where she promotes the local eats, animal rescue, self-awareness, personal growth, happiness and finding comfort in your own skin.

One thought on “love, light & sandwiches

  1. This post made me cry because I too, rebelled against my mother and said she’s amazing but taught me everything not to do and every way not to be. She was last of 14 children so I guess cleaning and giving and doing for others wasn’t really a choice but a perfected craft. I watched her cater and forget about her dreams her life because she has 3 kids. But it wasn’t until the divorce that I saw less of a woman and more of a worker. She did everything because to spite her he did nothing. So what was a woman with 3 kids divorced going to do? Everything but make excuses.. So I watched my mom work 3 jobs to make sure we had but still had to do things for my dad just for the child support money he was ordered to pay. So I said I will not cater to anyone and I will not be a typical house wife I will not depend. And though my mom is my heart and soul I couldn’t allow myself to be “Suzie Home Maker.” That woman was bored, homely and worn out. I skipped cooking lessons she tried to give. And went to school. First to graduate college get a good job all that jazz.. But then I saw myself turn into someone i felt my mom should have and exactly like my mother. How? Well when I love I loved hard. I thought love was giving all you have to that person. Working hard, paying bills, buying materials doing whatever so I learned how to cook, clean and all that for him. Just for him to give me. Nothing. And I stayed because you don’t leave people you love right? You make it work right? You do it all right.. Just like my mother. But now older, WAYYY wiser I learned that there isn’t anything wrong with Suzie Home Maker. I still need a piece of her not for me but for my future children and husband. I needed to give until empty so I could make room for love that would refill itself; make room for forgiveness, for understanding and for other little things. Because at the end of the day we need Good meal filled with love to warm our hearts. I truly adore the strength of my mom for that. Thank you for sharing..

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