Updated: May 31
“Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck” - (Proverbs 1:8-9).
So, listen. I will just go ahead and say it, it’s been a minute since I have written to you all. Not because I did not have much to write. And not because I did not want to share. But, because life has been throwing me test after test. And, I have been allowing God to teach me just how to curve them.
I mean I haven’t curved them all, but I have passed a significant amount a test; and honestly I am ok with boasting a little on my strength in the Lord, these days.
However, today I write from a place of deep revelation, as always. I felt extremely compelled to share this with my mothers, more specifically my mothers of color. Why? Because this is something that we suffer from, with, and sometimes refuse to break as a culture. And that is, HOW WE SPEAK TO OUR CHILDREN. This has been a recent notification in my box of thoughts as lately, I’ve been advised of the things that roam my daughters head, as well as her inability to seek her personal perceptions. Everything specific to her, at the early age of eight, has begin with the declaration of “my mama said”...
And I know for some, in hindsight, like to believe that the ego has a need for such an inaccurate verbal boost. All at the same time, what happens when “what I say” is wrong, or hurts, with falsified conceptions, and disbelief? What happens when I create a mini me, even when I am not pleased with me (and my decisions)? Listen, this is not to confuse my successes with self-doubt. Or to pity myself for the testimony that I have been blessed with. But, to keep it a buck, the pressure of being a Black Mother raising a Brown Skin Girl scares the hell out of me, literally. It is not enough, that I parent for two. It is not enough that I keep the lights on and craft her creativity, too. But I also have to watch what I say and how I say it. She will be a woman one day and my words will become her alter ego and the voice of approval that she prays to when God's voice feels like an invisible response. I just want to give her life, in what I speak.
Something that I have not always done.
Da’Veys absence of self is the prominence of my voice. That has not always served her well. My honesty here is to be used in the sense where you learn from me, and not repeat the same mistakes that I have or that your mother has, with you. I have carved out all of her flaws. I have spoken them aloud. I have placed them on a pedestal, directly in front of her. I did not do this to hurt her, please understand, but simply to encourage change. We have all heard that saying, “once you accept your flaws, no one can use them against you”. And, so I led with that. I thought let me tell her (my daughter) all of what “I, her mother” saw that was wrong about her, so that no one could beat me to the punch. How flawed was that? Why would I use such pain as a way to parent. Why? Because I was hindered by my personal flaws. Because instead of me owning mine, I owned the rights to other peoples opinions about me. Instead of loving everything about she and I, I decided to lessen her security in herself and strengthen my control in parenting. I decided to re-write my past, but only backwards, using her story. I provided no grace. And she felt it. And I felt it every time that she repeated how she felt about her own personal flaws. Why though? Because I was wrong. And, because I knew exactly how she felt, even still today about mine. That’s why.
God’s word describes a mothers teaching as being, “graceful garland for your [child’s] head and pendants for your [child’s] neck”. Would I want her to walk around with a gold chain that exalted her flaws? Or did I want her to see herself for the beautiful, strong, intellectual, creative that she truly is. So what, if other people noticed her imperfections. So what, if“I” had thoughts about them too. She deserves to be graced with nothing but love and positive affirmation. And that is what she will get. This is a transition that I will never forget. It taught me just how to teach her self-love, but also how to accurately lead myself into a place of Gold.
De'dria Louise Bynum