Congratulations Natalee Nicole Jennings 2022 Mother's Day Contest Winner!

Congratulations Natalee Nicole Jennings 2022 Mother's Day Contest Winner!

A Mother’s Lesson
By Nathalee Nicole Jennings

I hesitantly opened my check book and began writing Kathleen Jennings in the “Pay to the order of” section of the check. With each stroke of the pen my anger grew. “How can my mom continue to do this to me?” I asked myself. She knows that I just bought a car, they are wealthy, and they certainly don’t need the money I am giving them out of my pitiful paycheck each week. I understand that I am living under their roof and must contribute to the household in some way, but my God, does it have to be financially? Isn’t it enough that I clean the house every week and take out the trash twice a week? Do they understand what this is doing to my social life? Having to pay my parents $75 every week from my measly $300 weekly paycheck is like paying a slave owner for room and board. Plus, it’s taking away from my weekly shopping spree.

I began to cry as I stubbornly slipped the check into an envelope. I labeled the envelope “Mummy” in blue ink and as I did a teardrop fell and landed on the M. It left a nasty smear, but I didn’t care, I wanted my mother to see that forcing me to give her a quarter of my paycheck each week was hurting me. The part about it that angered me the most was the fact that they did not need the money! To them, it was teaching me responsibility; to me it was ruining my life! I lived my life in the now. I have always been impatient. I got whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. If my parents didn’t get it for me, I got it myself. I had to be in the latest fashion and had to have any new gadget that was in vogue. My underdeveloped frontal lobe worked overtime. There was a mighty feud in my young adult brain between impulse and reasoning and as usual, impulse won.

My impulse was telling me to move out of my parent’s house. Therefore, I would not have to give them money anymore. Furthermore, I would no longer have to abide by their unreasonable curfews! While the more reasonable side was saying, be patient, trust your parents and try to understand the lesson they are trying to teach you. They have never driven you astray, the other side was saying, do what you want as you always do.

After giving it some thought, I drove to the neighborhood Walmart and applied for a part- time job. A week later I was hired! The money I made at Walmart was deposited directly into my bank account.

I spoke to my best friend about my plans hoping to get someone on my side, but she did not tell me what I wanted to hear. Instead, she said, “So what if your parents make you give them money each week? It’s not that big of a deal! I wish I were in your shoe. My stepfather practically forced me out of the house, and I have so many bills to pay, I barely find money for food. If I were you, I would quit complaining and stay as long as I can with my parents.” Deep down inside, I knew she was right, but her little rant did not change my mind. I still wanted to move out of my parent’s house, and I still hated giving them a portion of my check for heaven knows what!

Today is January 5th, 2001, but more importantly it is the day I will make payment number 156. I grabbed my calculator from the nightstand and multiplied 156 by 75 and realized that I had given my parents, who were making six figures each, approximately $11,700 thus far! My temper began to broil. I thought of the many things I could have bought with that money! I thought of the trip that two of my close friends took to England and Amsterdam that I couldn’t afford, and the Coach handbag that was in fashion but was too expensive for me. Oh, I was livid!

I crumpled the envelope, walked over to my parent’s room and unwillingly and indignantly threw the envelope on the bed. I was so blinded by anger I did not see that my mother had witnessed the scene from the bathroom. “Nicole Jennings!” she shouted. Frightened, I turned and walked back to the room. “Yes Mummy.” “What did you just throw on my bed?” she asked. “My rent,” I said defiantly. “Your rent? Ha!” she chuckled sarcastically. “Honey, this can’t even pay the water bill!” “Well if you don’t need it, why are you taking it from me every week?” I asked. With a concerned look on her face she asked, “Are you behind on any of your bills?” “No,” I replied. My mother sat on the bed, took the envelope up and looked at me as if she was going to say something very important.

For a moment my heart fluttered with excitement as I thought she was going to give the $75 back. Instead, she placed the envelope in her beside drawer and as she did; she let out a long sigh. Glancing back at me she slowly shook her head from side to side and said in her Jamaican accent, “yu eva hear di saying, ‘a man who is a master of patience is master of everything else’?” “Yes Mummy, but what does that have to do with anything?” I asked. “Think about it,” she said. She closed the drawer, stood up and walked slowly as if defeated, back to the bathroom. I stood there staring at her back wondering what on earth she meant by that. Her and her stupid sayings, I thought.

On May 30th I found a low-income apartment that I could afford and sat down with my parents to let them know I would be moving out on the 8th of June. June 8th came quickly! As I was packing my suitcase my mother came to my room and told me that she and my father would like to speak to me before I leave. Here we go again, I thought, another lecture. I silently mimicked them, “Nicole this is a big move, and you won’t have us to help you ...blah, blah, blah” I sighed. After packing my suite case I walked into the living room for my lecture. My mom took my hand and led me to her room with my dad trailing behind. She sat on her bed by her nightstand. I sat between her and my dad who sat at the end of the bed to my left. “You’re a big girl Nicole and I think you have your head on your shoulder pretty straight, so I am not going to give you a lecture.”

Thank God for that! I thought. “I can only hope that you are moving out because you are ready, and it is not out of anger. Is it?” “No Mummy,” I lied. She continued, “I know you did not like giving me a portion of your paycheck every week. However, I wanted you to get into the habit of not just paying bills but putting aside a portion of your income towards the future.” Hearing her only frustrated me more and I continued to roll my eyes and argue in my thoughts. Please, just say what you need to say and be quick at it; I’ve got things to do! She opened the bedside drawer and took out a manila envelope with numbers written all over it and handed it to me. “It is all yours, she said, every check you gave me was cashed and placed in that envelope. There should be $13,350 there.” My mouth grew desert dry as my eyes became river wet.

My conscience overflowed with regret as I pondered on all the anger and the ungrateful thoughts that swamped my head over the years. I thought of all the contempt I felt writing those checks and the snide comments I made each time I gave her the envelope. I cried in shame at knowing that while I was assaulting her with my thoughts and bitter words, the entire time she was diligently putting aside that money for me.

Later, I found out from my brother that mom had done the same for him and had it not been for her, he would not have had the down payment for his house. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked him. “You would not have learned as I did Nicole,” he said. Not only did I then understand my mother’s words that I dismissed as stupid sayings, I learned that patience is a virtue which takes great strength to attain but brings great rewards! I proceeded to move out but continued to put aside $75 out of my salary each week. My mom is the best because of the many lessons she imparted on me.