I’ve tried to parent differently from my mom. I haven’t always succeeded, because my formative years were spent under her wing and in her shadow. For part of my life, I probably was closer to her than her own shadow. I hung on every word she said as if each syllable came directly from God. Much of who I am today is
her fault because of who she is. I’m stubborn. I’m an innovator. I am always wondering how something can be done better, and why someone never thought of changing things before.
The best advice I got from her was always money advice. I remember her telling me to always put something away… and to have “vex money.” The running joke during the first years of my marriage was that I always had some money stashed away somewhere… in an old purse, in an account that I didn’t think about, in a jacket pocket in the back of the closet. We still laugh about it.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with vex money – it is that couple of dollars that you have in your purse when you go out on a date, just in case something happens, you don’t like him, you get in an argument, or he won’t take you home as promised and you need to catch a cab or call someone. In America, back when pay-phones were a thing, women would be told to put a dime in their penny loafers instead of a penny so that they could make a phone call should a date go awry.
I always had some vex money. Not in case I got mad at my husband – but for life. Life can be mean, and angry, and it can try to leave you behind. Vex money keeps you getting left out there with nothing.
Sometimes we don’t pick up on what our Caribbean moms are trying to tell us until life hits us right in the face. It is hard to sift through all of the sayings to get to what we need to know – those real-life lessons. Some moms, like rapper Trina’s mother, said, “I can show you better than I can tell you.”
In 2019, during an interview on Angie Martinez’s show, Trina broke down exactly how her mother showed her how to prepare for tough times – something that a lot of Caribbean mothers seem extraordinarily prepared to do.
Here are some highlights from the interview with Angie Martinez in which Trina talks about how her late mother gave her back half a million dollars.
“I got my first check from Atlantic. I was excited. How much was my check? It was like maybe like 250,000. So, I come home, I show to my mom, she takes it and puts it to the side.”
“I was getting out of my deal from slip and slide … whew it was bad. Like, I mean my deal was up, I was going back and forth … I got out the deal, and I was just out here by myself – no deal no label no there’s no nothing.”
“…and then my mom called me one day and she was like, ‘well when you get back home come over to my house.’ So, I’m like okay imma come…”
“She was like, ‘I see like I can see on the inside what you can’t see… everybody loves you to see working but it’s something that’s making you go crazy,’ and I was like, ‘what are you talking about?’ She’s like, ‘I don’t know if this from the breakups or whatever it is from all this stuff that you were taking on…’”
“She actually said, ‘let me see your bank account…’ So she was like, ‘so, I don’t need no loan…’ She said, ‘here.’ She open up an envelope, right? And [in] this envelope she had the check I gave her from Atlantic in 1999 plus doubled it… there was like half a million dollars. My mom because of her investing in real estate properties and stuff for me… so she doubled up just to make sure. [She said] ‘I love your mind. Know that I’m watching you work. I’m watching do your thing, but I gotta make sure you get what I’m saying… hold it down and make sure your money makes sense.’”
Trina’s mother, Bahamas-born Vernessa “Nessa” Taylor, died at 62 on September 2, 2019, after battling breast cancer. She appeared on Love & Hip Hop in 2018, and Trina’s 2018 song “Mama” featuring Kelly Price is dedicated to her.
“You always warned me about these streets and this crazy world, taught me how to survive and keep my head up. Taught me how to be a lady, stack my bread up.”Lyrics from “Mama” featuring Kelly Price
Half a million dollars… now THAT is vex money. While my mother and I don’t always agree – or get along – I agree with this quote from Trina to Grammy.com about her mother.
“Respect, admire, love your mom. You only get one mom in the entire world. You can never, ever get another one. No matter what happens, one only comes your way, that’s a blessing.” – Trina to Grammy.com