My daughter Maya is a smart kid. She listens intently. She remembers details. She’s starting to understand how to filter out the stuff that doesn’t matter from the stuff that does. For an eight-year-old there’s a thin line between knowing a lot and knowing it all. She’s not always on the right side of that line. There are also some consistent messages in our house and, “You speak up for yourself and demand what’s fair” is one of them and she’s certainly taken that to heart.

We butt heads. A lot. I’m in my 40s. I have the most patient, supportive spouse in the world. We’re financially stable. I’m in the best possible situation and it’s still hard!

My mother dealt with a know-it-all kid who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

If I used a photo other than her official one she would hurt me

I wasn’t exactly like Maya, though. I also hung out with worse kids, so I had a much nastier vocabulary. I’d say anything to anyone at any time. (It’s much different now. I have a mortgage.) I’ve never been called to school because of Maya’s behavior. My mother was no stranger to the school administration.

We were broke. Not the whole time but enough times to remember. Not just paycheck-to-paycheck but maybe working a 2nd job to make Christmas magical for a 7 or 8-year-old. Steady work that makes a difference but the only way you’re moving to a new neighborhood is if they raise the rent.

My wife, Amy, is the most supportive spouse and mother in the world. She gives of herself to her family consistently. My mother had a series of characters who ranged from unstable and dangerous to unserious and immature. They didn’t support a thing.

She did all that when she was still in her 20s. In my 20s I was figuring out what the world was and how I’d fit in it. My mother was raising me.

I wouldn’t be here today with the most supportive spouse in the world, two smart, strong daughters and financially stable without the sacrifices my mother made for me. She didn’t just teach me, either. She fought for me. Every one of those visits to the school was my mother fighting for my right to speak my mind and think creatively even when everybody was telling her to put the poor black boy in his place.

Again, I am using photos that my mother already put online. She can’t be mad. She put this on Facebook.

Thanksgiving was always the big tradition in our little family. It was the one time we’d get together to celebrate. In part because the Lions are on. In part because that’s the point of Thanksgiving. But mostly because my mother’s birthday is today, November 23rd. And that’s always around Thanksgiving.

Because of COVID we won’t see Grandma Coral this year for her birthday or for Thanksgiving. (Maya already made it clear she disagrees with that decision) But I wanted to take a moment to say that I’m thankful for my mother, Coral.

Happy Birthday, mom. Happy, Thanksgiving. We love you.