I debated & debated on whether I would keep this moment quietly between me & my children. The pride I felt watching ALL the children who completed their pubescent Rites of Passage this past weekend made me want it for ALL the children I have worked with--EVER! I realized that, while I was not directly molded by the hands that have spent the last 6 months re-affirming for my children, the way I was raised is so similar that I teach in the same manner. I want all my students to have the audacity to be who they are, & rep that in their poise & posture, attitude & aptitude, pride & principles. So, I've decided to share the words I wrote to my daughter in the event that ANYONE who may need inspiration to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING to help put those things in or build those things up in their own child[ren].
To my daughter:
You have been my joy, my smile, my pride, my challenge, my thrill, my thorn, & my silk for the last 13 years. Our collective journey began in a large hospital room, surrounded by family, welcoming your big face and bright eyes into the world. As you’ve expanded my heart I’ve tried to expand your mind and your world. You figured out very young that the world is your oyster and set out to shuck it. It has been a tremendous pleasure watching you develop and I am grateful that your mother thought enough of lil’ ol’ me, at the young and tender age of 23, to find me worthy of participating in the tremendous responsibility of raising you.
Munchkin Mommy, you child are phenomenal. You possess drive many adults don’t have. One day your maturity and your innate wisdom will come together and make this all make sense. Your foundation is solid, built on a wide variety of traits you’ve picked up from your great many parents and those that you came here to bless us with. All of these tools will serve as your flashlight during dark times, your pillow to soften your landing when you fall, your wings to lift you higher when you need to be the bigger person… All that you need you possess, including the ability to find anything we are incapable of giving you. Parents are not perfect people, I am not a perfect woman, but what I am you may have.
Woman–child, you are ready! You have successfully crossed the first of many burning sands, proving your worth. There will be many more opportunities to test your merits and prove to yourself that you are a righteous addition to the Sisterhood of African Women. I reserve a space next to me so that we may walk hand in hand, or sit if need be, to laugh at what this womanhood thing is all about. There will be tears, but your laughter will be greater, the rewards will be many. As long as you live your life full of commitment to a greater cause than things or men (relationships) you will know your value and seek validation from no thing and no one. Those of us who love you will serve to prop you up when necessary or blow up your celebratory balloons when you are triumphant.
This exciting day marks the end of your general girlhood and now you must pay close attention to the words and deeds of your mothers, especially, and those around you. You must decipher what messages the world sends that are beneficial and learn to leave the rest behind. Your eyes are wide and bright and your vision is better than you know. Be both watchful and mindful. Continue to tackle your pursuits with the fervor you applied to Rites and you will create your way in this life with ease.
Spirit full & heart swelling with love,
To my son:
You have successfully crossed the first of many burning sands you will encounter on your way to becoming a man. You have proven your diligence and your drive, your will to succeed by meeting the challenges necessary to say to your family and community that you are ready for the next steps.
As a woman, I certainly cannot tell you what it takes to be a man. However, I can tell you that the examples are broader than the people we come from. Identify the positive traits of manhood from the MEN around you, not just your father, or your uncle. Your father is a good man, but even he must seek examples in other men, as we all must seek positive examples in those around us. Be thankful that you come from 2 people who love you more than life itself and are willing to go the distance to provide all that you need or introduce you to people who can help where they may fail. Be thankful that you are loved and supported beyond the 2 people who gave you life, ready and willing to help buffer when you stumble and fall along the way. Your protection is far reaching.
This journey is not perfect and you will learn more from the rough seas than when your craft drifts calmly on smooth seas. You are more than capable of finding your way in this world with the tools you’ve been given and the others you’ll acquire along the way. I am so very proud to have shared in your development and continue to hold you close in my heart, my son in spirit. Your accomplishment is a gift, seeing my 2 oldest children, begin in their journey toward becoming an incredible young man and woman. I am thrilled to be able to watch you from a distance as you make your transitions.
Continue to obey your parents, align yourself with positive influences outside of your family, and keep setting your personal bar high. If your own bar is high you will never have to worry about being compared to others, you will be your greatest competitor. CONGRATULATIONS!!
Spirit full & heart full of love,
Love ya kids, y'all! Don't just love 'em, but raise 'em up on your shoulders so they can see past you. Expose them to people who will help them grow into themselves through positivity. Diminish their distractions to the best of your ability. Promote critical thinking & live the value of education (which is BEYOND the concept of school walls). Be examples of fulfilling relationships, even if all you're working with right now is friendships. If you aren't with the other parent, try to relate to 1 another like you share a treasure--you do. Be honest when you don't know something & remind them that they have what it takes to find the answers to ANY questions they have. Water & feed your seeds like you depend on them to eat, but don't eat away at them. Lets love these babies, y'all!!
Watch me move.