Raising Up A Woman: My Daughter, My Heritage

From her highchair, she gazes at me with admiration. Enchanting brown eyes follow me as I bustle about cleaning the handful of Honey Nut O’s she’s tossed on the floor.

She’s a year old, gorgeous and her daddy’s joy, and she’s smiling so sweetly; at her tender age she’s already taking in tidbits of information that will shape her into the woman she will eventually become. I can’t help but think of the position I’m in. I have a huge responsibility to her.

By my example, my daughter, Alysia, will learn to respect herself and value her mind, body and spirit.

Through my actions, I’ll teach her to make sensible choices. I’ll advise her that people will judge her by her attire and by the company she keeps. I’ll gently steer her away from anyone and everyone questionable in her life. I’ll always be in the background watching, leading and guiding.

I’ll take a strong interest in her abilities, and when she becomes an adult, I’ll think highly of this stunning young woman with the amazing personality and numerous talents.

She is learning everyday, from the way I interact with her father, how to relate to men. She sees a loving union between us, and she will use it as a guide for her own relationships, but I will also instruct her on the benefits of using her head instead of her heart.

I’ll rejoice when she makes the right choice in a mate, but I won’t ridicule her if she makes the wrong choice. In fact, I hope to instill so much love in her that she will only attract loving and supportive people.

I’ll always speak honestly about life because what I tell her from this point forward will shape the way she views the world. This is precious cargo, you see; an African-American youngster destined for great things.

And great she will be! I knew this the moment the ultrasound technician told me I would be blessed with her. I realized that being her mother would be the most important job I would ever have. I thought about how, if my husband and I instilled in her all the hard-knock lessons we’ve learned through the years, she would be tough, intelligent and well-rounded. She would be knowledgeable. I was more than ready for the challenge because, sadly, I’ve seen the other side.

I know the mothers who’d rather invest more time in their latest boyfriends instead of spending time with their daughters.

I know the mothers who leave their daughters with whomever is willing to baby-sit, even the new boyfriend; a stranger. Too bad mom can’t see that baby girl is afraid and would rather be home with her, secure and protected.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen those same daughters, who had so much potential, grow up and try hard to pull themselves out of the cycle of abuse and neglect to no avail. I’ve witnessed them reaching out for someone, anyone, to fill them up on the inside with the love distant mommy and absent daddy wouldn’t spare. Sometimes they’ve reached out to the wrong crowd. Sometimes the end results were tragic.

Thankfully, I was raised with strong women in my life. I had aunts and grandmothers and my own mother who were excellent examples of what a nurturer should be.

My childhood wasn’t perfect, but I revisit it with joy when I remember all the things mom helped me to accomplish. I learned invaluable life lessons from her. She was always nearby; she shaped me into the woman I am today.

I feel honored that I, too, have the opportunity to mold my princess into a queen and, one day, her own daughter will admire her from a distance. I’ll be there also, embracing them both. My broad smile will be a declaration of triumph; our legacy of successful black women continuing.