I was in high school and had gone to a slumber hangout and took JaLisa with me. She always wanted to go with me EVERYWHERE and was never shy; cautious of new people but never shy.
As a child JaLisa was loud, ridiculous, funny, compassionate, loud, talkative, smart, friendly, generous, kind-hearted, spoiled, loud, imaginative, thoughtful, resilient, courageous, loud…
Here we are all these years later and she is still all of those things. She’s lived through a lot; more than most women her age and she’s still standing.
From birth I watched her scoot, crawl, walk and run. There was stumbling and falling but she got up and kept going.
From adolescence to adulthood, I watched her go through the same process from scoot to crawl to walk to run. Sometimes, things got out of order but Tomi & I, her grandparents and the rest of her ‘village’ were there to help guide, dress wounds from the falls, counsel and keep her moving ever forward.
And today, she enters her 27th year. She’s out there moving through life…from a scoot to a crawl to a walk and then a run. She stumbles and falls and we’re still here to guide her; kiss the boo-boos and hug the hurt and tears away. She needs to lean on us less, as is God’s design. More independence; less hand-holding. It’s like I blinked and my Baby Bean became a woman and I wasn’t ready.
Recently, I watched a clip from when Janelle Monae was on The Queen Latifa Show. It was beautiful to see her surprise her biggest fan on the show. What affected me most was Janelle being overcome with emotion at the idea that “little black girls would want to look like me”. Are you kidding me? There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
My thoughts went to my daughter and who she looked up to and emulated as a child. My baby was a child of the ’90s/ ’00s and was a huge fan of Taina, Hillary Duff, Raven-Symoné and lots of other age-appropriate things. She wanted to be a Cheetah Girl and loved reading Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants..
But what about her personality? Her morals? What was/ is she presenting to the world? Where is she getting those things from? Oh shit! I should be her example for those things. I freaked out thinking back on all the times that I’m sure I got it all wrong; this whole mom thing. Deep breath…in through the nose, out through the mouth.
After I calmed down, I realized a few things. I did my best. I was a mom at 14 so I know I stumbled along the way but I had my grandmother, mom and aunts to help guide me. I was there. I made mistakes but I was there; volunteering at school, helping her through homework and heartbreak. I taught her to love her light-brown skin as part of the beautiful spectrum of little black girls.
I taught her to love her natural hair in all its wooly beauty. She’s growing dreads right now.
I taught her to love
and value herself.
And you know what?
My little black girl loves music, singing and dancing…just like me.
My little black girl loves books…just like me.
When I asked friends and family who know us both they say that my little black girl is sweet, funny, articulate, kind, giving and gorgeous…just like me.
My little black girl (although she’s a woman now) likes Beyoncé, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott but regardless of all the other influences, she’s always wanted to be like…Mommy.