Over the years we’ve bought my mom just about every kind of Mother’s Day present you can think of. Together with my sister and brothers, we’ve gotten her spa visits and fancy lunches, clothes and cosmetics, jewelry and perfume and one misguided year I believe my brother bought her a fancy iron. From my recollection, that didn’t go well. Mama Bella don’t play that.

And I agree with her completely – Mother’s Day shouldn’t be about getting your mom a present that reinforces household duties. It should be something she’d love, that allows for pampering and indulgence. To me, Mother’s Day should be a day where your Mom doesn’t even have to think about lifting a finger.

This year I found myself at a loss for a Mother’s Day gift idea. Normally I can come up with something cool, something she needs. In terms of material things, I think at this point she’s pretty much got it all. I asked Mama Bella what to get her, and she asked me to write a post dedicated to her.

So this post is for you, Peggy Aura Arlene Grell. We’re alone now and I’m singing this song for you. These are the top 5 things I’ve learned from you.

— How to Be a Lady (and still be yourself).

People who meet my mom describe her as “elegant.” “Regal.” “Dignified.” She carries herself with a regal bearing, and she certainly is all of those things and then some… but those of us lucky enough to love her and know her behind the scenes know she can be hilarious, bawdy, naughty, and FUN. But here’s the thing – not everyone earns the right to experience 100% of Peggy Grell. That comes with earned trust, reciprocal friendship, and time. Which brings me to thing #2.

How to Recognize Friend from Foe.

I still tend to have a very trusting spirit and that can lead me into situations where I’m taken advantage of. But thanks to my mom I always keep Trinidadian adages at the forefront of my mind. “All skin teeth is not grin,” for example. Through the years she’s been steadily showing me who’s really my friend to the end, and who isn’t. And through the years I’ve been arguing with her about it, and then reluctantly having to admit she was right about certain people in my life. Ugh. That old adage is also true — Mother really does know best. Most of the time.

That I Really DO Look Beautiful in a Nice Skirt.

In my teen years, I was QUITE the tomboy. I was sure to be in sneakers, jeans and a teeshirt, no matter where I was going. It drove my mom crazy. “You have gorgeous legs! Why not wear a nice skirt?” she would implore. “How about trying on a dress for a change?” I didn’t get the memo until sophomore year of college, when I started incorporating maxi skirts into my wardrobe. The uptick in male attention was mindblowing. I’ll never forget the first time my then-friend, soon-to-be-boyfriend, now-husband, saw me wearing a skirt. “Hey! You look so…feminine!” he said. And it was about more than just how I looked – or how I looked to boys — it was how I felt. Wearing a skirt or a dress makes me feel instantly aware of my feminine power. And now that I’ve grown up…I love it. I’m still not like Mama Bella, who would be happy wearing floral dresses every day of life, but over time I’ve learned how to play up my attributes and love the way I look. Thanks to her I know I can wear just about anything I want, and find a way to make it work for me.

That Taking Care of Myself is Essential.
My mother has a regimen for every moment of the day. She wakes up in the morning and doesn’t so much as go downstairs without having “made her toilette,” – meaning she’s showered, brushed her teeth, dressed nicely and put on a little makeup. She’s still more fastidious than me in that department, I’m working on it. I’ll get there. But from my mom I learned how to be beautiful, and how to cherish and celebrate your beauty. Just as she grew up watching her mother and her aunties getting ready every day, I grew up watching her. She taught me the difference between eau de parfum and eau de toilette. She took me to fashion shows at an early age, and introduced me to the world of hair salons when I was just a child. I got into facials and body treatments when I was a teen, and manicures and pedicures came soon after. And aside from all the external attributes, she also reinforced that “beauty is as beauty does.” I do my best to behave accordingly. Without those seeds being sewn in me so early…I wouldn’t be Afrobella today.

Work Hard. Play Hard.

My mother is now in her seventies. And I can honestly say, I’ve never known a time in my life where she hasn’t worked. She worked at the same job for more than 30 years, and after she retired she became a consultant and built her own business. When I was a preteen, she briefly owned a lingerie and casualwear store called Lounging. And despite always working hard to keep the lights and the phone on, and to keep food on the table…she still managed to raise a family of five kids, and have a full and fun social life with my dad. My parents party more than I do — especially now that they’ve retired, my dad has a running joke that every day is Saturday. They’ve never been stick in the mud parents, our house has always been the spot for annual birthday parties and the epic Old Year’s Night celebration. From my parents I’ve learned that personal achievements are important, and celebrating those achievements is equally important. Now when I work, it’s not to run some kind of imaginary race with anyone else. I work hard because I want to be proud of everything I do, and I want to build a bright future for myself, my husband, and future afrobella babies to come. And when I celebrate, it’s because I’ve worked hard and I deserve it. As it should be.

Mom, there’s no doubt that you made me who I am today. From watching you and listening to you, I learned from you. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that I’ve managed to make you proud. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you very, very much and I miss you!

Bellas, please feel free to share with me – what lessons have you learned from your mother, that stand you in great stead to this day?

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Luvvie says:
May 8, 2011, 11:53 am
*leyomi drops* at this post. COME ON, SOMEBODY!!!! Mama Bella is alla dat and then some. I've met her and she just makes me wanna curtsie and cross my legs at my ankles. She's soooo cute! This post made me slightly verklempt. And Bella, loving that tomboy pic of you. lol
Dee Dee says:
May 8, 2011, 12:00 pm
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVED this post! The things Mama Bella taught and instilled in you are some of the same exact things my Mommy taught me. Just love it. My thug is on the flo'. I love that tomboy pic of you as well! :)
Lauren says:
May 8, 2011, 12:08 pm
I love this! I dedicated a blog post to my mommy as well, in addition to her gifts: http://dlvr.it/QzzTV. Her best lesson to me? In times of trouble, pray and take action. Happy Mother's Day to your mother and all of us other mothers out there! :)
nichole says:
May 8, 2011, 12:31 pm
What's so special about your mom asking you to write a post for her is that she recognizes and appreciates you talent. How wonderful! One of the greatest lessons I learned from my mom How to be quiet. When I was little I hated people watching but my mom made my sister and I stop and sit. In silence. This lesson helped me be successful in business, being able listen, read people, and watch people's actions. It's also helped me with times are a little challenging. She taught me that you don't always have to react to every situation. Sometimes the best reaction is no reaction. Keep people guessing, it works to your benefit. Happy Mother's Day!
Renisha says:
May 8, 2011, 12:47 pm
Patrice! I LOVED this post! Your mom is the perfect example of a woman and although I've only met her briefly, she's so amazing. And you're so right, without her, there'd be no Afrobella. I'm blessed to know you and have you in my life. A few of the things you've learned from her, you've definitely passed along to me in a lot of ways. Thank you! And thank you Mama Bella. :)
bella says:
May 8, 2011, 1:05 pm
I was a BIG fan of that TV show Blossom. So I was all about floppy hats (preferably with a big ol flower on them) and waistcoats. Such a dork, LOL!
bella says:
May 8, 2011, 1:07 pm
Thanks Dee Dee!! Even now, reading this I'm thinking of all the other things she's taught me that could have been in this post! She might have a birthday post in her future :) **hugs**
Tasha says:
May 8, 2011, 1:09 pm
This is a beautiful post! The one thing my mother taught me and still exhibits to this day is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Everyone that I've met that knows my mother, whether they are young or old, never forget her. Just recently, last week, when I went to hear Rae Lewis Thornton speak, I met a young lady that sat next to my mother at an event. If my mother was rude or snooty, I don't think she would've shared this information with me. I think working in healthcare, my mother has learned that building a rapport, with docs and nurses was a surefire way to make sure you received the best care (for yourself and family) and that you build relationships with people that know people. She's such an amazing lady. I could go on, but I'll stop there! This is getting lengthy!
pets says:
May 8, 2011, 3:37 pm
This is a wonderful post! and so true and heartfelt about our Mom...she is the best of Her Mom and I hope that is true of you and me about Our Mom - she is a great sounding board and is right more times than I can count on situations in which we may find ourselves. She has been very successful in being a working Mom and none of us have felt deprived of her personal contact with us. Again, Happy Mother's Day to all of your readers.
Patrick Jnr. says:
May 8, 2011, 4:48 pm
Loved the post lil sis! I wish you were here with us today to share the day! I think we all had a fabulous time, even though I was my usual effervescent self, and I know you've made Mom's day with this post. Peace and love little sister, and in case any of your readers were wondering, I'm not the iron giving brother!
bella says:
May 8, 2011, 5:05 pm
Very sweet post!! Happy Mother's Day to you!
warrior11209 says:
May 8, 2011, 7:03 pm
What a beautiful post for your mother. It shows just how special and loving you both are.
bella says:
May 8, 2011, 7:13 pm
"Sometimes the best reaction is no reaction." LOVE that!! Words of wisdom indeed. Thanks for sharing!!
Dad and Mom says:
May 8, 2011, 7:14 pm
Thanks a lot baby. I am truly honoured. Mom
bella says:
May 8, 2011, 7:14 pm
Re you're so sweet and the feeling is entirely mutual. Being friends with you makes me a better person! **hugs**
MamaBella says:
May 8, 2011, 10:35 pm
Dearest Patrice further to my comment above, I am indeed greatly honoured by your dedication to me in your post. I am also humbled to see that you concur with my insights to you about life. Love now and always Your Mom
ty weddingdresses says:
May 9, 2011, 3:28 am
I know you’ve made Mom’s day with this post.
Carolynn says:
May 9, 2011, 8:34 am
My mother taught me to be kind :) She has a huge heart!!!
Mishara says:
May 10, 2011, 2:07 pm
I loved this post. What an awesome mom. I am just now in my mid-twenties able to become a fan of my mother. Despite our drama, she has taught me some great lessons. 1. A lady isn't about the clothes, it's about the strength of character. 2. Gender roles are to be defined by the person, not the society. 3. Business ownership is a rule not an exception 4. You neither know, nor love anyone until you have seen them angry (preferably at you). It is then that you see the bad/ugly of their usually good personality. It is then that you see if they are your true friend and vice versa. 5. Men support women's achievements (and cheerlead for them) not just the other way around. 6. Live life on your own terms. Enjoyng fullfillment is not about meeting anyone else's expectations.
Naturaleza says:
May 10, 2011, 10:27 pm
This is beautiful and really touching post. Mothers have such an important role to play. As for my mummy :o) She taught me to be hardworking. She always reminded us (there are 3 children) that we were privileged to receive free education. So we ought never to waste such a gift. We were to seize the opportunity and do our best by working hard. She insisted that she would not be paying for us to attend evening classes if we wasted the opportunity when it was given freely. Neither one of us wasted it. Amongst the three of us we have technical qualifications, BA's and MA. She pushed us to understand the meaning of survival and self-determination. So much more I could tell, but...LOL! Thanks, Afrobella. I love you, Mummy!
crystal g. says:
May 13, 2011, 3:26 am
I love your tribute! Happy laaate Mother's Day to all the mothers; every mother is a blessing to all of us (even if their gift was just bringing us in this world). Thank you Afrobella for this post.
Gabriella says:
August 4, 2011, 9:51 am
I agree with you, Afrobella, that "celebrating achievements is important." They validate and strengthen -- but it's not just physical, goal-oriented achievements that count, but everything good in life. Your tribute to your mother is one such sweet celebration, and it has inspired me to "pay forward" the concept: I plan to attach a celebratory vibe to the good people, the fortunate situations, and invaluable lessons I'm learning in my life on a regular basis. If my mother were still alive, I would begin with her; however, this week-end, I shall start my idea by having two of my friends over to celebrate -- our friendship! Cake, coffee, surprise confetti, and little "It's-not-your-birthday" gifts... Since I've learned to stand up for myself a little more this year, next week-end, maybe I'll have a Brunch to celebrate that... and the week after that, I'll celebrate something else (maybe an actual physical accomplishment) and give myself an at-home spa treatment... ... plus, if I can find a reason to celebrate something EVERY week, this time next year, for week #52, I'll celebrate THAT! :D Thank you for sharing your beautiful and compelling tribute.