I'm into mental health. Y'all know that.

I'm very much into the mental health of minority children -- especially black children. Unfortunately our community just doesn't value mental health and aside from not wanting to send our kids to therapy we also aren't the best stewards of their mental health to begin with.

One thing that all my education makes hard is talking to my mom. I get, on a much deeper and effective level, so much more why I am the way I am and why our relationship is the way it is: functional. Don't get me wrong: we love each other very much and I think it's pretty safe to say we'd both die for each other in a heart beat. But that closeness that a lot of mothers and daughters have -- that friendship that a lot of adult daughters have with their mothers -- is not quite what we have. I'm still fighting, at almost 25, for her to see me and then treat me as an adult. My counselor really put me on game when he suggested that our communication style is partly to blame. She talks to me like I'm 12 and I immediately respond like it's 1998 and then it's all downhill from there.

I've tried to communicate some of this to her, but it's not information that really jives with her own opinions. Basically, she's just not at a place to hear it and I'm learning to accept that maybe she never will be.

Today I remembered an incident that happened when I was about 9 years old that has always been a little touchy for me but I never knew why. All in all, it was really an innocuous happening. My mom struggled for years to get me up in the morning. I am NOT a morning person. Wasn't then and I'm still not. I'm a night owl living in an early bird's world and it's horrible. In any case, one morning she'd had enough of threatening me and almost being late so she decided to teach me a lesson. She let me go back to sleep and she left me at home. When I finally woke up, I panicked. I remember searching the house and eventually finding myself standing in front of the phone trying to figure out who to call or what to do. In my recollection, it was just then that the phone rang and I grabbed it, hoping it was my mom. It was -- she laughed at my concern and told me my godmother would be by to pick me up in the next 30 minutes. She briefly lectured me on why she did that and everything was "fine."

I was a little traumatized though. Waking up to no one in the house at 9 when you're not expecting that can throw you off. And when my mom would re-tell the story in later years (and she, in fact, will STILL tell this story: she gets the biggest kick out of it) she seems to most enjoy telling everyone how "the phone didn't even ring before she picked it up..." and then she gets a good laugh along with her audience, at my expense, and wraps up telling everyone she didn't have a problem out of me after that... (which is probably stretching the truth a bit; did I mention I'm NOT a morning person).

Now, with my education in addition, I look back on that and get it -- because I get cultural norms here and I get the single parent thing and I get discipline and all that -- but I can't help but wonder what the incident and continual joking about the incident really taught me. That it's ok to scare a 9 year old like that and have laughs for years after if it means she learned a lesson about getting up? That that is more important than figuring out why, she has a hard time falling asleep AND waking up?

If I tried to talk about this with my mom, she'd tell me I was being way too sensitive and a few choice other things, and she might be right, but what if she's not?

It's like her with nutrition. My mom's been trying to help everyone around her be healthy for over a decade now and it's taken just that long for people to listen. When my mom was first talking about juicing in the early 2000s, my family thought she was certifiable and they HATED for her to get on a lecture kick. Nowadays they call her up first to ask about this vitamin or this new juicing recipe or whatever. I try to remember that when I think about opportunities to talk to her about how we can be better and support each other's mental wellness better. Hopefully it won't take 10 years though.

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