Mike Jackson once dedicated himself to a lady in his life.I’d like to extend a similar offer.
Today, after a little contemplation in school, I realized how blessed I am to have the women in my life, and how they set a precedent for not only how I interact with women who are complete strangers, but how I’d like to see the very young women maybe grow up to be. Strong, independent women who at least give off the impression that they have their priorities straight. At parent-teacher conferences, I highlight to the parent of many of the young women my resolve to help them see that road at least as far as I can (which the moms appreciate usually). In turn, they even feel comfortable enough to tell me things they wouldn’t share normally, like pregnancy scares, their crushes, and other things they may not necessarily share with a male teacher. After all, I already have a set of women who’ve helped me understand what I need to say.
I can’t form any one specific image of what “strong and independent” looks like. Some might refer to that as “sassy“, but that’s only a part of the whole picture. But I’m also fortunate that I got lots of love for those inspirational figures. I’m definitely not one to deify the women. I learned long ago that that kind of attitude usually leads to misogynistic tendencies. It’s just that not enough dudes celebrate the women in their lives, mainly because we don’t know how to handle that mush. We’ll give a headnod, or say something privately, but maybe if we can reciprocate that love and respect, we’d get that back.
I mean, I love the woman who birthed me, because even through some of our issues, she was / is everything for me. She’s the first woman I ever knew, thus I have no choice but to compare every woman I’ve ever met to her.
I love the women who took on the role of a mother for me at times. The first was more than capable, but a woman who temporarily treats her man’s child as her own gets respect from me.
I love my girlfriend who redefines that word every few months or so. I try not to bring her up in these parts, and she’ll probably get the hardest cheese after reading this, but I appreciate the example she sets for me, and the other little nuances that make this relationship more than worthwhile for me. I love her writing, her pragmatism, her drive, her heart, and her cooking, none of which she doesn’t think is that great, but I tend to disagree. She’s a beauty to behold from the outside and in, and she makes me want to protect her.
I love the women in my inner circle, the ones who stuck by me through the successes and the defeats of the last 3-4 years of my career. They all have found ways to challenge me, to the point where they made things difficult just to keep me on my toes, and I respect that. They also show me the most love and praise when my confidence starts to suffer a bit. Most of all, they still have this determination that makes me want to do better for self. Only one of you can claim me as an actual sister, but the rest of you are sisters in soul. Much love.
I got love for the women who inspired me to write and write on, too, especially Sonia Sanchez, Staceyann Chin, and Tara Betts, who I’ve had the great pleasure of not only meeting but having solid interactions with. Their lyrical talents and sound advice made me want to write my poetry more raw, more potent, and certainly more verbose, bringing power into my prose as well.
I got love for the lady bloggers here too, because you tend to be the ones who write the more extensive comments to this blog, the ladies who put me on their blogroll, and the ones who’ll write me a letter or a note outside of this blog and tell me how you enjoy my content. The fellas are cool, but that’s not how we roll. We’ll link each other in our posts, maybe do the blogroll thing, and if there was a poignant idea or conversation to be had from a specific comment made in either one of our posts, then they might write. The ladies who read this, and I’m sure this goes for everyone else out there, far outnumber the men in my comments because they don’t have to have a specific reason to comment other than to say “Thanks” or “That was dope” or even to recall an experience shared. It’s powerful stuff.
Secretly, I love the first girls I ever taught. I grew up with them for 2 years, and really, they taught me a lot more about the older women in my life than the aforementioned women could have told me about themselves. I’m not afraid to say that, but anytime a male educator says they have love for one of their female students, alarms go off, another reason why there’s a dearth of male teachers. Really, I was their father figure much the way I am with my male students. I watch them mature and hopefully they look at their futures past the boys, bubble gum, and drama that they delve into for the grand majority of their junior high school years. Of course, I don’t involve myself in any sticky situations (i.e. no R. Kelly antics here), but they were the glue when I needed this job to stick. The birthday party planners, award givers, and the ones who ran after me to get their picture taken before they left graduation.
They each have their own purpose, and the definition of love in each case varies from person to person, but frankly, I love (or got love for) the women in my life. Sometimes they frustrate me with their … inability to translate their actions into man-speak, but damn, I’d be 1/2 the man I was without them. When I have one of my own, I hope I can bring up that girl to be strong like her momma (whoever that person is), her grandma, and the other women who’ve inspired me to write this note.