Hey Ma, I'm Sorry, But Your Son's an Artist

My mother loves me, which is why she's so worried I decided to be an artist. I'm sorry ma.
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My mother loves me, which is why she's so worried I decided to be an artist. I'm sorry ma.

If she knew what time it was right now (5AM), she would give me that silent, stern, motherly stare that would fill any son with the shame of bringing home an inadequate report card. When I was a jobless, passionate writer our mornings would begin with her scolding me about sleep. The rising sun would be dim compared to the glint of fire in her eyes. It wasn’t insomnia but uncertainty that kept me awake. I didn’t know where I was going or how I would get there. It made me restless, anxious, my eyelids were heavier than Snorlax on Route 12, but I couldn’t stop. She became the sunrise that ended my nocturnal aspirations.

The phone rings around the same time every day, the good morning, the “don’t forget to eat” and the goodnight call. If I cared for ringtones, the instrumental to Common’s “The Light” would play. She’s my light. The kind of mother that lost all selfishness after having her first born. She’s an entrepreneur, has been since I can remember, but no business was more important than her boys’ health and happiness. She stayed up with me as a boy when I had asthma attacks, stayed with me as an adult in the hospital when my lung collapsed. I could lay the entire world at her feet and she would give it back if it meant I stopped treating Chick-Fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich like a source of nourishment and slept for more than five hours. It’s this unwavering concern and loving care that made her ask if I enjoy what I’m doing. It was a random question, one I wasn’t prepared for. I realized that when she calls during my work hours, which means most of the time, I tend to sound frustrated. She doesn’t hear the joy of someone working from home but the irritation of trying to write the perfect closing paragraph.  

If I had taken a few creative writing classes or enrolled in a school as a journalism major maybe she wouldn’t be surprised that I abruptly quit a job to work for a man I met on the internet. (She spent most of the MySpace era regurgitating news stories of unfortunate events that befell people that shared too much and met people online. She has a talent for finding the worst possible scenarios.) I wasn’t on the school paper, didn’t spend hours scribbling in notebooks, there was no forewarning that I would be a writer by trade. Once I caught the bug, I was too busy writing to ever proclaim myself a writer. I wouldn’t be surprised if she thought I was going through a phase, a paid hobby, that I’ll eventually move on to something else. I’m sure Fetty Wap’s mother thought the same until he bought her a home with money accumulated by a song released the previous year. I wonder how Donda West felt during the three summers her son spent in his room, dedicated to making a masterpiece. When the days are much too long, the placements weren’t being achieved, did she have doubt? I like Raury’s mom on the Indigo Child skits, she was adamant about education. Unless the skits on his album were also planted by the industry, she’s a realist. The kind of parent that isn’t jaded by studio sessions and major label promises, she wanted her son to have his dream and security. What parent doesn’t?

I imagine all parents are worried. Jobs are scarce, bad influences are inescapable, the world doesn’t resemble the one they were raised in. We are all adapting to this ever-changing society. The same uncertainty that keeps me awake is plaguing others. The unpredictable future of an artist. The unforeseeable journey that we are all currently walking along. The drummer banging away in the garage and the young woman clocking into the cubical don’t know what tomorrow will bring. He’s a Soundcloud upload away from touring the country, she’s a mistake away from a pink slip. Unless you are swimming in a bank vault full of gold coins, no one is safe. I think the traditional minded parent still sees college as a guaranteed path that will minimize hardships and reward with some form of security. For some careers, this is true, but I feel that my generation has discarded this mentality. We are seeking unconventional ways to achieve the same goal. No, we are stepping on the idea of security and seeking ourselves in the center of uncertainty, regardless of the hardships that await.

Luckily, my parents aren’t traditionally minded. They pushed me, pressured me, but always instilled that I could be whatever I desired and gave me room to search. They gave their silent support, especially during that long year of unemployment after I quit working at the gas station with no back up plan. It was the same year I started to blog, the reason I'm here today.  Now, I have to prove that my decision is one that I won’t look back with regret and repugnance.

To my radiant mother, the greatest woman I know, your son is a writer. It’s not always enjoyable or fun, but it’s the daily fulfillment that reminds me I’m alive. It’s like breathing for my lungless soul, spiritual asthma medication. I don’t know if I’ll ever make enough to buy you that home, with the gigantic kitchen and swimming pool, but when I sit down to write my novel, the mother will be an effulgent angel made in your image. Until then, I’ll keep writing. Striving to eat better, drink less, and be home at a reasonable hour. I know after 4AM the only things open are the Waffle House, police doors and the lovely legs of temptation. And this keyboard.

Thank you for everything, love in its purest form from your middle son.

PS: Don’t be jealous Dad, your words are coming.
PPS: Read this while playing Chance The Rapper’s "Hey Ma."

[By Yoh, aka Mr. Skip The Yoh's Mama Jokes, aka @Yoh31]