Back then we all wore our hair long. It was the late 60’s and mine was long and straight. I remember my mother would tire of the straight hair and give me a home permanent. It felt like it took hours just to get my hair secured in the rollers. When there was money, we would go to the beauty salon. It had no name, the sign just said “Beauty Salon”. I remember getting a bag of chips and sitting on what seemed to be the largest round stool my eyes ever saw. The beauty salon was one of my favorite childhood places. It was like a top secret place. I would go in with straight hair, and leave transformed as a princess with long curls and salty fingers from my snack.
As a child my mother taught me almost every hand craft you can imagine. She trained me to use my hands to create. I have a successful business using these talents. I love how God continues to bless my hands as I craft in the ways my mother taught me. She also instilled the importance of taking care of myself. To fix my hair and paint my nails. She showed me less was more, even as a child of the 60’s and 70’s.
My mother also taught me to cook. She was a southern cook, making meals with white gravy, a lot of fat and fish complete with heads. Frying up a fresh caught catfish with the tail on along with fried okra and black-eyed peas is one of my husband’s favorite meals. Although, won’t eat the fried tail of the fish with me. It was a treat as a child and one I still enjoy on occasion. The skill of throwing this or that into a pot of beans, a stew or chicken fried steak, and making it my own recipe were my education. My mother began teaching me to cook at 10. The kitchen is one of my favorite places to be. She exposed me to cooking, she also shared her time. I learned the love of cooking from my mother.
For years I refused to spend time in those memories. I left home at 15 and tried not to look back. To say I had a volatile relationship with my mother would be putting it mildly. As much as I tormented her in my teenage years, she tormented me physically and emotionally all of my childhood. There were too many memories of the bad and not enough of the good.
On my birthday in 2003, I received a phone call that changed everything. This would be the day my mother died. Even in her death, she created drama and I wanted nothing to do with it. This was her last jab. The memory would last a lifetime and the hurt was deep.
Six years later, God told me it was time to forgive her. I knew it and had even thought it, but had not been ready to do it. There was plenty to forgive it and wasn’t easy. Forgiving her meant laying deep wounds at the cross. I had nursed them, held onto them, and grown them within for years. They were battle scars, and proof I was a survivor. But it was time to let go, so I did. Since then, God has healed my heart. Anger and fear kept me from appreciating hidden blessings. God had begun to reveal those blessings, one by one.
Unexpectedly, my mother taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I learned what it meant having lived with her rejection for years. She gave me conditional love. I am loved unconditionally by my heavenly Father. He never left my side or rejected me. I love my own children unconditionally because of His love. Over the years, the emotional and physical pain came and went. They are now distant memories, but the hidden blessings my mother gave will stay with me forever.
Jesi Steiber lives in Fort Worth, Texas and is our newest addition to the MPN authors. She is married to a man she describes as “awesome,” who makes her smile every day. They have four children and four grandchildren. A favorite scripture is Ruth 3:11: “Now my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask. For all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.”