“Precious Lord, Take my hand/ Lead me on let me stand!”
Those were the lyrics twelve-year-old Pearl sang during her first church solo. It was broadcast on the radio, and at the conclusion she received thunderous applause amidst loud exclamations of encouragement. Her heart swelled. Instantly, she knew- she was destined to sing.
My mom grew up, the sixth of thirteen kids, in a tiny three bedroom house in Compton, California. Her dad was a tradesman and her mom, a stay-at-home mother. Things were tight, but she had a beautiful voice, a sweet disposition, and a hunger for more.
Growing up, she loved music and dreamed of being an opera singer. She listened to classical music while mimicking the vibrato of the sopranos. In college, she took voice lessons, and majored in music education. She was featured in recitals and gave concerts; all the while imagining one day her passion would be her profession.
In 1975, at the age of twenty-three, she married my dad. Together, they decided she would stay home and take care of the children. At the time, she believed she could raise a family while simultaneously pursuing a music career. However, within the span of nine years she gave birth to six children. With each birth, the light dimmed a little on her dreams. The lessons and rehearsals that were required appeared to be insurmountable obstacles. At twenty-eight, she vowed to record an album by the age of thirty. Unfortunately, thirty came and went but it did not happen.
My mom focused on caring for her family, and ensuring we had what was needed to achieve our dreams. She took care of our spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. She is the prototype of what we are told a mother should be; she tirelessly and selflessly gave of herself to me and my siblings. In many respects, she sacrificed her dreams for us. Through the years she gave concerts at church but those were infrequent and not what she dreamed of in her youth.
Through it all, she taught me and my siblings to always be kind, live with integrity, and put God and family first. Although I appreciate the sacrifices my mom made, I hate that she sacrificed so much to be a mom. I wish she could have found a way to raise a family and achieve her dreams. I would gladly sacrifice most (not all) of the home-cooked meals and her attendance at all of my events for her to achieve her dreams. She says she found satisfaction in making a home and feels she is where God wants her to be; but I know in the crevices of her heart and mind, linger dreams of being a star.
For Mother’s Day, I would love to make her dreams come true but sadly that time has passed. Her voice is no longer as strong as it once was; time… and perhaps the screaming she did to keep us in line, put a strain on her vocal chords. However, I hope she knows she will always be a star in my eyes.
To the moms reading this, I hope you find a way to make room for your hopes and dreams. Life passes so quickly; in the blink of an eye thirty becomes sixty. Always remember, your children want you to achieve your dreams as much as you want them to achieve theirs.
Happy Mother’s Day.