Once a year we devote a Sunday in May to Mothers. This is the day we celebrate ALL the wonderful moms by showering them with cards, gifts, and a good meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner). Some moms get to enjoy more than one good meal that day! The streets are filled with vendors selling baskets filled with things a mom would love. Restaurant wait times are always long because everyone wants to take mom out. However, there are some moms who opt out to stay home and DO NOTHING! They are always so busy doing everything that they want that day to relax. This year I wanted to do something special for my mom. I want to devote this blog all about HER.
Who is she? Who deserves an entire blog written about them? None other than Toni L. Simmons, my MOM!
Toni Simmons was born to be a mother! She is nurturing by nature. Even as an adult I can call my mom because I am having a bad day and she always knows how to remind me to smile through it all. My mom birthed 2 children, a son and me, however, she has SOOOO many bonus children. I love how she takes her mother role and shows love to all who need it. I can’t lie…growing up I was not always in favor of this. I wanted my mom all to myself. Which of course did not happen. She had girl scout children, friend children, church children, neighbor children…you name it, she had them. It was not until one of my Girl Scout sisters shared her dad with me at a father daughter event for me to realize that it is a blessing having bonus siblings.
My mother is the strongest woman I know. She is a rock in hard times. The first time I witnessed her strength was the Los Angeles Riots. We were at the church attending our Girl Scout ceremony when the security guard came in to tell everyone they needed to head out immediately and go home. Being that she was the leader it was her job to ensure that everyone was out safe. She could not allow her fears to stop her from being the mother bear she is. I remember the moment we got in the car she let out this cry of terror. All she could do was push our heads down as she cried and drove home (ok…more like speeding home). That was the moment I knew I had one of the strongest mothers ever. I learned that strength comes from within. Sometimes I wonder how she does it. How can she be so strong during hard times? Have you ever held someone's hand as they take their last breath? Have you ever stepped in the gap for a family member during a medical crisis. Well, my mom has done all of it. When my God-sister was in the hospital and the doctors told her parents they had done all they could do, they lost it. The doctors told them she had a few hours to live after they took her off the machines. It was a parent’s worst nightmare. While her parents dealt with losing their two-year-old, my mom sat by her side and held her little hands and prayed over her body. Shortly after she took her last breath – my mom allowed her parents to not have to live through that pain. It was a strength that I just can’t put into words.
My mother always showed up and showed out for me. As a single mom she had to do it all. She worked full time and still made time to attend ALL my events. I loved looking out in the stand and seeing her face rooting me on. During cheer season when my friends would come over to practice, she would be right there helping us with our routines (making sure our arms were straight). Growing up I would be so annoyed when she would do it. I felt she was all up in my business but over time I realized she was just looking out for me and my team. Yet another example of her always being there for me and her bonus children. As I write this blog, I realize I am the mother I am today because of her. I learn from her daily. Even when I am exhausted from work and my kids would have a game or practice, I am there. I am open with my boys just like my mom was/is with me. There is nothing they can’t talk to me about. Friends have told me they wish they could be as open with their moms as I am with mine. She just always made it a safe place.
Now don’t get me wrong…Toni Simmons was a tough mom. Like most, she expected nothing but the best. She would say to me, “Aisha is that the best you can do? Are you pushing yourself to your greatest potential? If not, keep going.” When I messed up (yes, I did have my faults) she definitely punished me. Taking my house phone away or grounding me was the worst. Oh, and let’s not even get on proper etiquette in church. Don’t you dare get caught chewing gum in church. She would walk right up to you with her hand out and demand you spit your gum right into her hand (looking back that was super gross of her). You always heard the kids in church saying, “Here comes Mama Toni,” or “Ms. Simmons is coming, you better stop chewing!” The funny thing is, she did it all out of Love.
Now my mom is one hell of a mom, but she is an even better Grandmother. She takes that role to another level. Those grandkids of hers can do no wrong and if they did, especially when they were young the most, all she ever did was make them stand in the corner (while she went in the other room and cried because she had to be mean to them). Just like she ran around attending all my events, she does the same for her grandkids. She attends baseball games (out of state), she attends swim meets, soccer games, wrestling matches, speech contests and whatever else her grandkids are involved in. She shows up and shows out EVERYTIME! But she is not just a grandmother to her grandkids from her children…she also has bonus grandchildren. It never stops with her. She says God gave her a Big Heart and she intends to love as many kids as she can. The neighborhood kids call her Abuela because she is their bonus grandmother. She makes sure they have all the snacks because that’s her thing – she has to make sure the kids have snacks. One day we were in Target and this mom was shopping with her daughter. The little girl wanted this box of fruit snacks. The mom told the daughter, “Baby, mommy don’t have the money for those right now…next time.” Once they left the aisle my mom grabbed the fruit snacks and put them in her cart. We all were checking out right in front of them and my mom paid for the fruit snacks and gave them to the mom for the daughter. She told the mom I am just doing what any grandmother would do. The mom was so happy and thanked her. That is what I love about my mom. She did not think twice to step in and be a grandmother (giving the baby what she wanted) to a child that she did not even know.
So, this year I celebrate her – I honor her – I LOVE HER! Happy Mother’s Day to the BEST MOTHER…
T – Tenacious
O – Obedient
I – Incredible
AKA – Nana, Mama Simmons, Mama Toni, Starr, Auntie Toni, Abuela, Nana Starr, and so many more names :)