Sunday, May 14, 2017

Letter to My Mama

This was written back in March, but I find it important to share on Mother's Day! A big thanks to my mama! Without her I would not be the woman I am today. A little background on my mama: She got into nursing because she wanted to help people. She got into the field of High Risk Obstetrics & Gynecology because she wanted to help women. For the past six years, she's worked in NICU, but prior to that she spent nearly 32 years helping women from all walks of life heal and recover. My mother not only worked full-time at night, but was the breadwinner in our family (which was rare among the families we encountered). She did this partly because she had to, but partly because it was a great fit for our family. My parents worked opposite shifts so that we spent minimal time in daycare and were rarely unsupervised after school. In addition to providing us (my younger brother and me) with any material possession we could ever desire, my mom found time to volunteer in our schools and at our church, sew the majority of our clothes and all our Halloween costumes, transport us to and from whatever activities in which we were involved, and when we got older she stalked us to make sure we didn't skip school. She taught me to stand up for myself even when I didn't think I could!  I love her more than the letter below illustrates, but to quote the late great Tupac Shakur, "You are appreciated."

I just wanted to write a little letter of appreciation to my mama. I've been participating as part of the cultural competence committee for our district for the last six months and yesterday we presented to the superintendent's council to propose implementing cultural competency trainings for our principals, counselors, teachers, etc. During this time, we've talked a lot about race and culture and what education systems are in place that act as barriers for student success. We've had to deep into our own story as well.

Often times people ask how I became the strong black woman I am and most of the time I give credit to Grandma Rawlins. She was the main woman of color figure in my life and her resume of activism for civil rights in Kansas speaks volumes, especially considering how little voice women had back then. However, when I think about who taught me to have pride in being a black woman, it was you who did that. I can remember you cutting out articles about the things Grandma Rawlins had done for me to take to school to share with my peers who were mostly white. Now that I have a daughter who has hair identical to mine, I realize what a struggle it must've been to not only learn about hair completely different from yours, but master styling it and then teaching me how to style it as well. 

So thank you for always making me feel beautiful, teaching me to be strong and to be proud of my heritage. Now that I have Lena, I realize that raising a black girl is not easy. I struggle with embracing her sassy, bold personality, but also keeping in mind that she's going to have people tell her she's too loud or too black. I just want to nurture her the best way possible. 

I love you and I love you too, Daddy! Obviously, you had an amazing impact on who I am today. I just think sometimes moms don't always realize it or get the praise they deserve, especially white moms of black children. 

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