Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires.

The above is a portion of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s quote about her daughter Willow’s hair choices. It got me thinking about what passes from mother to child. We want the best for our children (I hope. I’ve been watching a lot of holiday SVU, so you’ll please excuse my glibness). However in addition to the things that make us awesome, we can pass on many parts of ourselves that we’d rather not*. I love my mother to death, and much of who I am (the great and not so great) is because of her. Here are a few examples of the her in me:

  • 14 shoulders. We could start a football team with all the shoulders between the two of us. Linebackers for days.
  • The cuteness of my nose.
  • The inability to admit to or articulate my own beauty.
  • My eye roll.
  • My smile.
  • Intellectual curiosity.
  • 17 boobs. All of the boobs. You want some? Please. Rid me.
  • The capacity for deep, consuming, thoughtful, and deliberate love.
  • Good legs. That cut down the sides of the outer thighs that says ‘I could kick you, and it would be a death blow (smile).’
  • A fear of looking too good. Shame from attention or compliments on physical appearance.
  • Fierce independence. Or, less flatteringly, a reluctance to accept help when offered. A complete inability to think of asking for help.
  • My passion for the arts.
  • My assumption that what I want will happen, eventually. The expectation of success.
  • Let’s call it ‘edge.’ It’s a biting tone that does not make friends.
  • The habit of shooting out an arm and snapping my fingers to punctuate a point. Last week, we did it in sync. It was beautifully horrific.
  • The voracity for completely divergent interests. This woman is (among other things) a playwright and director, attorney, activist, seamstress, crafter, and professor. And she made that varied life feel like a baseline for normalcy.

We admit to it, we relish it, we laugh about it, and we grow (or shrink, in the case of the shoulders *crosses fingers*).

So, what did your mama give you?


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