Mom, I Got My Attitude From You, And That’s Not A Bad Thing!

Dear Mom,

The big question appalled and surprised parents often ask their child after a confrontational or revelatory moment is, "Where did you get this attitude from?" I know you hate to admit it, but I get much of my determined and strong-willed nature from you.

Mom, I know it’s hard dealing with the teenage angst and the ever-changing moods that come with raising a child. But you should also marvel at the fact that I’ve made it this far, that I’m healthy and happy.

When I was small, I would attend barbecues and family events and wander away from my parents. It wouldn’t be long before someone would stop me to ask whether I was my mother’s daughter.

"Your mom is Melissa," they’d say, a warm smile on their faces. "Is that right?" I would nod, I assume, parents feel when their child talks back or defies them, I was appalled at this statement. To me, I acted nothing like you, Mom.

No one says, "I know you’re Melissa’s daughter because of your eyes and nose" it’s the character traits that seal the deal. Dry wit, intelligence, and yes, maybe a little bit of attitude—these are the things I am grateful I have received from you. There’s nothing wrong with having attitude.

Like for most black individuals, attitude is what defines you and me, and it’s what keeps us from being mentally oppressed and defeated. Attitude is a non-violent form of protection and confrontation -- where would we be in the world without this tool? Surely not where we are.

Mom, when people ask me where I get my attitude from, I tell them: you. And when they ask me where I got my drive, my work ethic, my good hair, and my sense of humor, I say you as well. I will always say this.

When I’m asked why I am the way I am -- why I refuse to allow others to hurt me with their words or actions, why I think and speak about things openly and without fear—I’ll tell them it's because of you.

I’ll complain to you about the arguments between us that leave me wondering about how God made us so much alike that we hardly even noticed.

But I’ll tell them about you.