Ma, Mom, and Momma
by Minolta White
My momma was eighteen when she had me. Daddy said I almost killed her coming into the world. As tiny and fragile as a sunflower seed. I lay inside of an incubator prematurely fighting for my life. Daddy said momma never left my side. It was the sound of her voice, the purity of her touch, and sheer presence of God that helped us walk out of that hospital. For three days I was just the baby Walker without a first name. Daddy and Momma compromised and met in the middle. The M in my name would represent my father Marvin and C would represent Connie. From that day forward I would be known as Minolta Cherquita Walker. School children would mimic my name for years to come and I cry in a pillow with confusion.
For two years I was the only child until my sister and two brothers would come along. Even to this day those were the two best years of my life. Connie, was just MY momma, she belonged only to me and I to her. Yes, first birthdays will always be memorized through photos and year old conversations. However, I’ll always remember the first time my momma straightened my hair with a hot comb on Easter Sunday morning. The first time I scooped the pudding out of the cake bowl as my momma baked me a pink cake for my fifth birthday. I’ll always remember the day I crossed the line and called my momma by her first name and how she hit me so hard that I saw rainbows for days. She forewarned with a firm index finger that I shall never call her anything except momma. That was a lesson I will never forget as long as I live.
Over the years I’ve watched my momma age as gracefully with time as good wine does. She was just a fresh faced young girl with olive skin, big brown eyes, a Kool-Aid smile, womanly hips, and a heart made of gold. In my eyes she was a hero that could conquer any and all things. I only knew her as momma. The world knew more.
Childhood days became vivid memories of progression into the inevitable adolescence and womanhood. I remember my first day of school like it was yesterday. Believing in my heart of hearts that school was only a temporary situation until my momma could spend more time with me. School wasn’t for me. I wanted to be at home with momma eating vanilla wafers, playing go fish, running around in the backyard barefoot, and combing momma’s hair. Several butt whippings later my hopes of staying at home diminished. Momma went to work and these other people started showing up in our group. First my sister and two boys behind her. I quickly learned the meaning of sharing.
The older I became the more I wanted to be like momma. Momma wore her hair down, wore red lipstick, plum red polish, and high heeled shoes and I wanted to too. Well, over the years I quickly learned that I couldn’t do everything momma did and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t beat momma at her own game. I remember momma buying me my first bra and showing me how to put the bra on. You wouldn’t believe how many times I forgot to put a bra on. Momma would yell and I’d give her a look of confusion. After a few slaps against the head I finally figured it out. My body changed, hormones flared, and teenage adolescence became a territorial war between momma and I. Many days I’m sure she rolled her eyes and prayed to God to give her the strength to raise a woman child. Daddy was dead but I’m sure if he wasn’t, momma would’ve killed him dead many days before. Many boyfriends, headaches, backslap, and curse words later my momma and I are like best friends again.
In 2005, I gave birth to my first born son. During the delivery my momma held my hand, wiped my tears, and kissed my cheek as I brought my child in the world. I was scared. There was no one else in the world I wanted by my side other than my momma. We’ve laughed argued, exchanged gifts, bonded, and even shared a couple of recipes on keeping a man over the years. I love my momma because she’s a woman of strength, stature, love, resilience, and beauty. There isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t get on my nerves. It’s only payback. I call often and sometimes too much because momma’s got a life too. You only get one momma and I’m glad Connie Mary Walker is mine.