Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mommy, Thank You For Never Putting Me on Toddlers and Tiaras

Today is Mother’s Day (well, in the U.S.anyway), it's the day we’re all supposed to express our love and gratitude to the women who bore us, adopted us, loved us and raised us. I have no doubt that the majority of moms out there have gone above and beyond to give their child(ren) the best life we could possibly have. I’m also mature enough to know that those who didn’t still probably did the best that they could- not all mothers are created equal- that’s just how it is.

I just happened to get lucky which is why this blog entry and permanent Mother’s Day card is a HUGE thank-you to my mom for being the best mother a woman could ask for. She gave me three things I would have never had on my own. She gave me a name, a voice and a purpose and for that I am eternally grateful.

Even before I was born she wanted me to be special and stand out from the crowd. I think she had a feeling I’d be doing something extraordinary- although I'm not sure comedy was at the top of her list, but hey, life is full of surprises, right? But that’s why she named me “Karith”- a name most people have never heard before- which by the way is not a made up or combo name like KAR-en and mered-ITH put together. It’s actually a real name with a real meaning. “Karith” spelled also Careth (and I’m sure other various ways) is Semitic in origin. It means covenant or promise. Specifically, it’s the promise that God made to Abraham about success. I appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of it now, even though it was tough as a kid when people thought my name was “Karen” and I had a speech impediment. I can still hear the whispers today, “Cute Little Brown Thing- real shame about that lisp.” But I recovered and even thrived and when I’m really famous thanks to my mom I can go by just one name. Hellooo Cher, Madonna, Beyonce…Karith- see the trend? (Well, sans the fact that I don't sing). But I got the website didn’t I?

My mother also gave me a voice. From the time I could talk she made me speak for myself. There was no hiding behind her leg when someone asked me how old I was, or what was my name (even if they got it wrong.) I had such a vocabulary at 3 and 4 years old that adults would come visit us just to converse with me. I was a little draw then. I have no doubt that I developed confidence and a strong personality because of that. Not only did my mom give me a voice because she made me speak for myself, but this voice she gave me came through in other ways too. Starting when I was six months old we took Mommy/Baby swimming lessons and I’ve been a HUGE fan of water ever since. So folks who say Black people don’t swim can kiss my sun-kissed brown hiney. (Now, I may not like to get my hair wet, but that has nothing to do with the art or craft of getting in a pool or ocean.) My mom went out of her way to make sure I got to try all of the things she didn’t get to do growing up as a kid in the projects of Camden, New Jersey. I took skiing lessons, ice skating lessons, dance- both jazz and ballet. When I was diagnosed with asthma at 3 years old she enrolled me in yoga to help with my breathing. Sure, I was the only little brown thing in a class with 40 -50 year old women, but I was there- learning to relax and focus my breathing. I played soccer and softball and took tennis lessons and when I was done she didn’t force me to continue- she applauded my efforts and helped me find the next thing that might be my niche. Because of that I was never scared of trying anything new; even if I was a little timid about it it didn't last long because I knew if I didn't like something when that time was over I could walk away. But if it was my cup of tea I had her (and my father's full support to stick with it).

Lastly, my mom gave me purpose whether it was her intention or not. She demonstrated not just how a mother, but how a human being should be the best they could be. She taught me service- not just to our family but to others. She and my father both from the time I can remember have always volunteered in some capacity whether it was to help our church or to help those who are less fortunate. She instilled that education and knowing what is going on in the world is paramount to being a well-rounded individual. My mom taught me that having compassion not just for the people in your immediate circle but for complete strangers is a good thing and one person CAN make a change. It was this spirit that drove me to be a comedian and as I see it a comedian is not just someone who gets on stage and tells jokes. A comedian is a healer, a mentor, an educator a therapist and a giver of the gift of laughter- just like my mom. The world needs comedians but mostly the world needs more people like my mother.

So thank you Mom for all that you did right- even if you don't think so- YOU DID! Thank you for letting me be myself, making my own mistakes, but mostly thank you for never forcing me to do something like Toddlers and Tiaras- cause those women are crazy!


  1. You are the most wonderful daughter I could ever have had. You are who you are because you fought hard, loved deeply and demonstrated tireless courage. If I had any part in that, I am grateful.
    I can only imagine the awesome mother you will be.
    You are loved.
    Queen Mum

  2. Your mom has also been a great second mom to your friends! Happy Mother's Day Mrs. Foster! Love Kelly!!!