It takes a mother.
We must reclaim, revive, rebuild and restore the village: One child, one mother, one family at a time. For the village is broken, deeply broken.
And while it also takes a father, because of the absence of men who too often have abandoned their rightful paternal place, it will take good mothers to help repair and restore the village.
It takes a mother. Good and faithful mothers who understand that whether in utero, or out, they still carry precious cargo. That without them the village is damned. That many a mother has been the antidote to a fatherless child otherwise growing up to become a statistic.
That the hand that rocks the cradle still rules the world. That a mother has the power to raise a better generation.
It takes a mother.
Nurturing mothers who cradle their sons but refuse to coddle them. Who will not make excuses for them. Who understand that to rear an irresponsible, disrespectful and slothful son is to cripple a man.
The village needs mothers willing to stand and live as examples of the kind of women they want their little girls to grow up to be. Not brawlers or “ballers,” but builders — pillars — of the community.
Mothers who know the power in their own tongue to either uproot, or else to firmly plant their children’s souls and future. Mothers more filled with grace, compassion and also wit than with crudeness, spite and foolishness.
Enterprising, loving, selfless mothers.
Mothers who read to their children. Mothers who lead their children, guided by a deep understanding that future generations are dependent on the work they do today, particularly in times when an estimated 24.7 million American children live in homes absent their biological father.
It takes a mother. Mothers willing to be problem solvers rather than hell raisers. Mothers willing to do less twerking and more working to build strong young men and women, families, community.
Mothers secure in who and whose they are and in their great calling to nourish and nurture. Women of faith. Women of courage. Women of strength.
Mothers with vision enough to see that far too many in the village have heeded the celebratory call to, “Turn up!” But that given the desperate state of the village, the time now has clearly come to turn down.
They are the kind of mothers I have known throughout my life. No-nonsense but loving, caring women like my own mother and grandmother, like my aunts, neighbors and schoolteachers — women within my church and larger community. They poured into us all, understanding what was at stake.
“When I was growing up, all mamas were big,” recalled Jacqueline Reed, 64, a mother and grandmother who in 1988 founded Westside Health Authority, which seeks to create community empowerment zones — block by block—by providing health care, affordable housing and social services.
“While the birth mama was the primary teacher, other mothers in the community helped to nurture, protect and shape the child’s character by living out the community’s traditional norms and values,” Reed says. “Some mamas had more wisdom than others. But there was no question about showing basic human kindness, loving one’s neighbor, sharing, caring and giving to those in need.”
It is that spirit that Reed and other mothers like her exude. They are our hope.
For where, I ask, will the village be without good mothers?
To my own dear mama Gwendolyn Clincy, Happy Mother’s Day!