"Letter" of Appreciation
When I was growing up, I preferred the company of males. I was a Daddy’s Girl, was in love with 1 or 2 of his friends, enjoyed playing with the boys more than the girls (until 4th grade), and have always had a plethora of male friends. NO ONE would ever have mistaken my mother and I for Besties. She was busy serving her true purpose as the main financial provider and the keeper of the Life Lessons that would guide my sister and I into becoming the Power House Women that we are today. Mommy held it down in such a way that I was pretty clear that [Black] women are super heroines.
We were raised with fear in our hearts and a SUPREME respect for adults and elders. My mother kept us well groomed, well coiffed, well fed, learned and entertained. She did it all with a tight face and a tight grip on us so we didn’t ever confuse her for a friend or look down our noses at her like she was short. We learned early to keep our voices in check so as not to get too high or too low so she wouldn’t have to decipher whether we were out of pocket and required knocking back in place. My sister and I were reminded often that we were children and that we had BIG responsibilities as such. They were as follows:
1. do what we were told.
2. do it without back talk. everybody had the right to get smacked in the mouth.
3. respect house and home and never forget who provided it for us.
4. take what we were given and APPRECIATE IT.
5. if you don’t appreciate it, everybody has the right to shut the fuck up or risk that aforementioned smack in the mouth.
6. take care of what we were given or risk having nothing.
7. go to school and do the best you can. the rule also known as “don’t bring anything less than a B in here.”
8. remember we represented her/them when we were out, so don’t embarrass her so she wouldn’t have to embarrass us.
9. everybody up in here has to be about the business of DOING something. no one gets a free ride.
10. don’t let your friends get you in trouble. never get confused on whose house you live in and what family you belong to.
11. don’t bring no babies home cuz I only had 2 and that's all I'm taking care of.
12. if you can’t share a comb, don’t date him.
13. don’t put it in my face and I don’t have to know about it. do it under my nose and it becomes my business. and my favorite,
14. I don’t care how old you are, I will BEAT you so you better watch yourself.
Had you asked me in the mix, I’d have told you my mother was a dictator with some really unfair requirements and expectations.
Now, I’m not so much of a Daddy’s Girl, having discovered he’s just a dude. A good dude, nonetheless, but just a dude. I know too many of those to be too impressed by that. These days I often enjoy talking to my mother, something you couldn’t have told me I’d ever be able to do. Some things I still don’t bring to the table because I know how our personalities clash and it’s just not worth the drama and heartache. We love hard, we’re both very opinionated and I sometimes have difficulty when she doesn’t offer me the warm and cuddly Mommy model I’ve seen in friends’ homes. But I love her. She minds her business, respects us, loves us pridefully, and supports us however she can.
In these years since we can BOTH be considered adults, I’ve discovered the beauty of her smile [that wasn’t offered to us much when we were little] and laughter, the similarities in our carriage, and the depth of her wisdom. I guess I was Daddy’s Girl, but I AM the woman that Mommy made. I’m proud of her and I’m proud of that.
Watch me move [in her footsteps from time to time].