‘Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.’ Nicolo Machiavelli
My daughter has one of the best imaginations. I can send her to her room for a “punishment” but no matter how or why I send her up there, she always ends up having a blast. One of her favorite things she likes to pretend to be is a teacher or a secretary- two of the career choices that she has seen me perform. She likes it better when I play along with her, but she can have the time of her life without my presence just the same.
Yesterday was such a great day that we decided to play a new game- investigation. Let me tell ya, this girl could put Horatio out of business, she really looks for all of the details. I was to play someone who was getting investigated. So, my first character was a mild mannered woman who had never been investigated and she was absolutely terrified of being around an investigator. During the theatrics, I had to step away for a moment, but when I returned, my daughter the director was ready for me to change my character’s position.
“Mommy, I know I’m a kid, but I need you to woman up for me.” she declared.
“I am playing a woman.” I respond.
“No mama, I need you to woman up. Don’t be afraid. You know how kids tell other kids- be a woman about it.” she responded.
Then it hit me- I thought the same thing when I was her age. Growing up in a single parent home taught me a lot about the roles I would soon play in life. Though my mother worked hard to take care of my siblings and I, she also felt like her home was incomplete without a father figure.This made me view my mother as a weakling. By the time I was in the third grade, I was learning about how women could do anything that they wanted and here was my mother sitting around crying over a man not being present.
Television also made a huge impact on my views of womanhood. Many of the images that I saw were of middle class European women who were in control of themselves and big corporations as well. They made the bacon and also cooked it without shedding a single tear or murmuring a complaint. The images of African- American women were of either strong, and driven women or highly paid prostitutes.
These many images became the seasonings that created my contorted jambalaya of what womanhood should have been and my mother was not holding up that standard. She was the urban version of June Cleaver- nurturing, loving and repulsively submissive. It was like she was stuck in a 1950’s musical and I was a 90’s hiphop video. I knew that I was going to be the leader of the pack and no man was going to out do me. I would never allow a man to tell me when to come and go and most definitely not tell me to cook him supper. I was a material girl living in a material world and I wanted to know what have you done for me lately.
“It’s so disappointing to see some of these young girls that will never know what it’s like to be a woman. Not in age but in actions.” – Maurice Johnson
My perception of my mother changed when I became a mother and it continues to change daily with the many women I come into contact with. With each passing day I become more and more aware of how my actions impact my daughter’s daily interactions and I begin to change my patterns slowly but surely.
One of my biggest patterns is pretending to be strong when I am faced with adversity. This thought has been the driving force of my life. I must be tough and show the world that I can make it without anyone’s help- especially a man’s help. I don’t have to depend on a man to pull me through my hardest times, I have the power within to make my life complete.This thought I have found to be true to a certain extent: Though I believe that women can do anything that they put their minds to, I cannot deny the fact that men are needed in this world. No matter how liberal one may feel, babies cannot be produced without egg and sperm- point blank.
As I have grown I have learned that being submissive is not being weak, it is actually strength. It takes a lot to keep calm and cool when someone is getting on your last nerve or seems to be barking orders at you. Though my mother chose to be humble it did not subtract from her inner strength that rose to each and every occasion that presented itself. My mother worked hard to ensure that her three children attained a quality education and that they became productive citizens.
Strength is not being able to win every fight it is being able to decipher when to fight.
Let us not underestimate the “plain Jane” women who choose to devote their lives to raising their families with humility. Not every woman is fist fighting or breaking dishes at the dinner table. There are women who honor their husbands and find it not strange to ask for their guidance. These women are also hard workers and some are even business owners. They are not primitive nor are they weak. They are my mentors, teachers, aunts, and mother. Their Divine wisdom illuminates my ever growing path.
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* Images found on http://www.google.com