How Do You Learn Womanhood When You Lose Your Mom At 13?
The story of Robin Nicole Kindrick, as told to Michelby Whitehead
Before finding my calling as an Inspirational Specialist, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker, I was always the go-to girl for advice within my circle of friends. People knew that whatever they shared with me would be kept confidential and that I was there to help, not judge. My mother was that type of person and it rubbed off on me. I grew up rather quickly because I had to, but I never had an inclination of how life was preparing me to be “the strong one” until I actually had to be.
One scorching July summer in New Orleans before my 13th birthday, I went to Eckerd’s drug store with my mom. She was showing me condoms and explaining what they were for. Then she took me down the aisle where they kept all the maxi pads.
“I’m going to get you a whole bunch of these because pretty soon you’ll be starting your period,” she said.
I had enough “big girl understanding” to know what condoms and pads were used for, but I couldn’t understand why my mom had brought me on a field trip to the drugstore to talk to me about them suddenly. What was this all about?
Well, when I was 11, I learned that my mom had cancer. Within a few months, she went into remission. This hot day at Eckerd’s was her opportunity to give me the facts of life before I officially became a teenager in August. I thank God for my mother’s insight on that day because her cancer returned and she died that September, one month after my 13th birthday.
There are many of us who know a Black girl trying her hardest to figure out life after the death of her mother. More specifically, trying to figure out how to become a woman. And even though my mom dropped plenty of jewels before she passed, I still had a lot to learn before I turned 18.
Mentorship was very important, but it was an interesting process for me. I was already a part of my church’s youth group and choir, so one of the adults immediately started taking time to mentor me and help me work out my feelings about my mother’s death. However, my mentor was male and he could only do so much when it came to issues of womanhood. Even as a church kid I was still rough around the edges (my “curse you out” game was strong). Moreover, I truly longed for female guidance. As I began to get older, the task became a bit daunting. At times I’d come across people who actually cared; other times people were vultures that attempted to prey on my insecurities. But the more I began to love myself and realize that my anger wasn’t cutting it, the right people gravitated toward me.
One person I could always count on was my dad. Overnight, he became “Mom & Dad.” He made it very plain that he was both. He also made it clear that he would not pursue another marriage until I was done with college and out of the house. I didn’t understand the value of his level of respect for me and our family until I got older and saw how rare it was for dads to step up when the mom is gone. My dad did everything a mom would typically do — take me to doctor’s appointments, buy all the girly things I needed, have serious heart to hearts. Many of these things were not necessarily easy for him because he’s a man’s man. Nevertheless, he still pushed through and made it clear that I’d never have to want for anything as long as he was here. I’d never have to feel at a deficit as a result of my mom’s passing. My Dad is indeed the epitome of a man and for that reason, I say I have the best father in the entire world.
Still, there are lessons I wished I would have been taught sooner. But life doesn’t work according to what’s convenient for us, and that’s okay. Sometimes the message reveals itself over time, sometimes you have to be in a place to actually receive it, but it never hurts to have a head start. Here’s what I would tell a young queen who’s growing up without her mom:
- Know the importance of self-care. This means taking care of your inner woman and working on cultivating who you can become, not what others want you to be. I now walk in this daily, but I would have tapped into my potential sooner had I already had this mindset.
- Women’s intuition is a real thing. I had it and I had no idea what it was until I got older. You’re not crazy, girl. If you feel like you’re being played in any way by anyone, call a spade a spade. Don’t try to rationalize the situation and continue to be mistreated; sever the ties in a classy manner and keep it moving.
- Watch the company you keep. I think my mom had an incredible work-life balance. As I got older I realized only seasoned women could help me understand that from a purposeful perspective. That’s why one has to watch the company she keeps. The African proverb remains true: It takes a village to raise a child.
For more inspiration follow Robin @imwiredtoinspire.