The One Thing I’d Tell My Mom

the flags

Dear Mom,

Could you tell I was crying as you dropped me off at the airport  last Saturday?  I think we were talking about french toast.  Important stuff.  That was me trying to disguise my tears.

As I got out of the car and unloaded my bags, you could sense the little shake in my voice and I could see the tears in your eyes.  We hugged, you offered wonderful words of encouragement through your tears, and I walked away quickly trying to disguise the tears in my eyes. I left that moment thinking only of how much I still need your love and your lessons. I’m grown, I think I have it all figured out, and I’m just so mistaken.

I was humbled by the reality of how much I still need you.

Then… off to this beautiful Uganda.

hajarah and sumaya

Fast forward to today.

Today I sat in the home of a mother and daughter much like us.  Well, like you and me except their circumstances are different.  Hajarah and her mother Sumaya live in a 5×7′ shack in one of Uganda’s most dangerous areas, the Katwe Slum.  Hajarah is gentle, articulate, curious, and funny.  The truth is, they struggle.  I don’t even know how to talk about the horrors their relationship has had to endure.  Advertising the details here feels like more than I can say.

Circumstance aside (which seems totally hard to put aside) Hajarah is just a fourteen year old girl.  She’s a girl who is carelessly toying with her independence in a dangerous dangerous place.  She’s a girl who likes short skirts despite her mother’s insistence on modesty.  She’s a girl who is vulnerable to peer pressure, wants to skip school, and thinks her mother is 100% not right about anything ever.

I thought back to that time in our relationship, Mom, when I slammed doors, was stubborn and lippy, and thought with all my might that I didn’t need you or the gracious lessons you had taught me.

That’s what I shared with Hajarah.  I just wanted her to know that I understand. I understand how it feels to know that your friends are more important and more correct than your mother.  That I understood that defying your mother feels like it has no consequences, or what it is to take the deep love from your mother for granted.  It’s just that… in her circumstance, the margin for error  in life is much smaller and the consequences are much more harsh.

Hajarah is part of the Compassion program with 251 other children in the Katwe Slum.  There she can get guidance from project leaders outside of the chaos of the slum.  There’s healthcare, spiritual guidance, and tender advice that can cut through a really poisonous pressure and dangers that exists within the slum.  In that way, Compassion supports Sumaya in raising Hajarah.  Being in their house and sharing Sumaya’s tears and concerns, it’s so clear that support is absolutely critical at this point in Hajarah’s life.

I thought back to you, Mom… how much I continue to find comfort in your love.  Thank you!  I want that same peace for Hajarah and other girls like her sooner rather than later.

You can make a difference in the life of a young girl by sponsoring a child.  I’ve seen it work just today.

More from Uganda from Chatting at the SkyThe NesterJeff Goins, and Shaun Groves.

Compassion provided me a link to share with you.  I am in no way compensated for your sponsorship or donation.  I love you and I’m glad you’re here with me on this journey. 

62 thoughts on “The One Thing I’d Tell My Mom

  1. Oh Joy – you have no idea of your impact. I am typing through tears. I was just lamenting to a friend about my struggles of being a single mom to a 15 year old girl that knows everything and does not think she needs me anymore. But I am typing this from my warm comfortable home in Austin Texas. I am fortunate and blessed to live where I do and be able to send my daughter to school in safety. It also brings me back to my relationship with my mother and how awful I was as a teenager. My mother is my best friend now and strongest ally. I actually just got off the phone with her moments ago ~ All of our children are at risk. Some so much more than others. I wish you and all that you are with Joy and Warmth in your missions and travels.

  2. These posts have me crying like a baby. I sent this to my mom and we both had a good cry/laugh over my difficult teenage years. You are an inspiration, Joy.

  3. Hi Joy! Isn’t Africa a beautiful place? I’m loving your posts and am so happy you’re on this trip. You’re doing great things. Thank you for your commitment with Compassion. xoxo

  4. Absolutely beautiful post! Thank you for what you have given up this week and how much of that you have shared with us.

  5. These posts are beautiful, Joy. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible experience. How lucky are these people who get to meet you while you are there? You’ve commented on their modesty and brilliance – but you’re bringing your own light and grace to them, and they are so lucky. They probably don’t even know much about your blog, your podcast, your cookbooks, etc. Everything that we know and love about you. They are meeting a different Joy. The real, stripped down person you wrote about a few posts ago. That is a beautiful thing.

  6. I am an avid baker/reader of yours and am so enjoying your posts about Uganda. Thank you for this post from a mother who has a daughter rebelling against her right now. Thank you also from a mother of a sweet boy adopted from Ethiopia for shining a light.

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