One of the most challenging and rewarding relationships many Black women have is with another Black woman. I’m not sure if the challenges we meet are due to our differences or our similarities, but many times they create a space that requires work. For many Black women, including myself, one of the relationships that fit this description is the mother-daughter relationship.
There is no denying the mother-daughter relationship is a complicated, enduring, and intimate connection that significantly affects who both the mother and the daughter become over-time. Traditionally, most mother-daughter relationships are built on a foundation of love and respect, but for most, at some point, there is a bit of a power struggle. More often than not, that struggle begins during adolescence, but for me that struggle began the moment I realized who I desired to be and who my mother wasn’t. Honestly, it wasn’t until I became a mother that I was able to truly appreciate my mother and fully grasp the blessing of being her daughter.
I was self-aware at a very early age, I knew who I wanted to be before I understood that there was a process of getting there. In the midst of that awareness, I found that my mother offered nearly no examples of what it took to be the woman I desired to be. Why was she such a tomboy, why was she always so loud, why did she boss my step-dad and why was she so strict, are questions that I asked myself and God often. I felt that her being who she was would make it hard for me to evolve into the woman that I wanted to be, and for those reasons the respect that I had for her was rooted in fear and resentment.
Like so many Black women, my mother’s journey to womanhood required her to travel bumpy, sometimes unpaved roads. During her travels, she encountered people and situations both favorable and not so favorable that molded her into the strong woman that she became. While I failed to appreciate many great things about my mother early on, I always admired her strength because even then I recognized that being strong was a prerequisite for Black women.
Womanhood greets every woman in a different manner; we battle personal demons, generational curses and we all fall short of being perfect. However, even in the midst of our greatest storms and with our flaws on full display, we birth and nurture greatness. We contribute to the world treasures that are plentiful and priceless. We love and war with passion, although our passion is interrupted as anger, but how could we not be angry? Our sons are being hunted, our daughters are being taken and we are devalued by everyone including our own.
What I know now that I didn’t then is that there is no one way to be a woman and while we differ in many ways, we all house an undeniable strength. Every day, this truth is more apparent as I witness the strength of other Black women. There have been so many instances where I have met an amazing Black woman and immediately begin to appreciate her mother whom I had never met because within every woman two lights shine: one that is her own and one that was gifted to her by her mother. So even in their absence, our mothers are always with us; guiding, teaching, and encouraging us.
Motherhood offers the ultimate influence and requires the ultimate sacrifice. While the mother-daughter relationship is one that proves to be challenging, it offers great rewards. Today as we salute Black mothers (in every form), I offer your receipts from women who understand that we are our mother’s daughter and we are #StrongerThanAMother.