It’s sad because I bet Brenda doesn’t even know/Just because you’re in the ghetto doesn’t mean you can’t grow. 
 – Brenda’s got a baby”

I originally had a rant lined up that condemned the irresponsible actions of mothers raising children in the ghetto. I was going to talk about how they condoned the immature, reckless behavior of certain men like drug selling and being absent fathers or ending up in prison – about how they continue to choose men with the same behavior, often in the same neighborhood, thinking the next guy will be different.

But as I listened to my favorite, often-quoted, often-misunderstood ghetto philosopher, Tupac Shakur, I realized my kaleidoscope of emotions about women boils down to the way I view my own mother. And since I am still in the healing process of this relationship, I thought I could offer hope rather than chastise you.

I get that some of you had children before you were able to afford decent housing. I get the idea that with the Earned Income Tax Credit at tax season you were able to buy your first car, new furniture, and new clothes for the baby and a little something for yourself because of all the hard work you put in during the year.

Being a mother does not define your ultimate contribution to society. The beauty of being a mom is that it only accentuates these endeavors. Some of you still have dormant potential. You just need to know that your worth goes beyond that title of “mom.”

It does.

You are the budding nurses hiding behind the title of CNA because nursing school seems daunting.

You are the teachers who are so desperately needed in a failing education system, but someone told you that you could never make it through college.

You have a business-savvy swagger and people keep telling you to open up your own business, but you worry about who will get the children to and from school.

You are the lawyers and advocates lined up at the courthouse, supporting your boyfriends.

You are the news broadcasters who report on events, and your name is a source of credibility.

Your kitchen doubles as a hair salon, but you are so afraid to get your own license (they offer financial aid for cosmetology school, too).

Everyone requests your special dish at the cookout.

Or you could be like my mother with a hidden talent as a social worker, but you think time or your past will hinder you.

You will always be a mother/something. But only you have the power to ultimately define what that “something” is. Celebrating Mother’s Day is great, but realize that your children grow up, and raising children is only part of your destiny. You still have so much to offer the world in spite of who might have told you differently and no matter how high the odds against you.

There is a legacy of women who paid dearly for your existence. Be who you are and not who people say you are.

I am my sister’s keeper. I am just fighting daily to get better at it.

Happy post-Mother’s Day.

austintalks.org@gmail.com