A Letter to My Daughter

A letter to my daughter. For you, Baby K…

Childhood

On their first go ‘round or their fourth, a lot of parents ask for healthy babies and only that. Others can specifically name what it is they wish their child to be and give you 101 reasons why.

“I want a boy for starts so that he can be the leader of the pack of kids I plan on having later on.”

“I want a daughter so I can see myself in miniature form.”

For me, I wanted a girl first.

When I found out I was pregnant with your oldest brother, I called one of your grandmothers after an hour of hesitation to tell her the news. I was afraid. I was not a teenage mother. I was not living in her home. I was 21 with a great paying job and afraid of her; scared of what she would think of me, of what she would think of your father. The relationship between your grandmother and I was a rocky one, with me as a small child drifting off into daydreams transported by glass windows, wishing for security and praying for stability. I always felt her own sense of those very things were distorted and her journey to searching for happiness was clouded by a past that I often felt was rooted in my existence with her bringing me into this world at the same age.

The stories of our foremothers, both spoken and silenced, are transmitted through our DNA. Through this, we learn the power of either embracing or releasing. 

When the pregnancy test confirmed that I had life growing in me, I made promises to myself that I would pick apart the moments of my childhood where Anita’s “Sweet Love” spread throughout the apartment or that time I wanted to stay in 1995 when “Dear Mama” was Tupac’s tribute to Afeni and my anthem for Angela. But I also wanted to do away with the adolescent era that created the divide between she and I. Growing into her in many ways, I attempted to fight the inevitable. Afraid of what I was becoming as time passed. Afraid of, ultimately, who I was. 

Fear. You will have encounters with it often. Fear of not living up to expectations, of repeated mistakes that would live on through me and passed on to you. Fear consumed a lot of my life. Because of it, I knew 

I was not ready for you.

And I am thankful Kaevon, my joy, came first. The fearlessness you will find in me is not a self-taught skill. It was birthed from him. A gift developed unbeknownst to me while in a labor, delivering him into the world naturally. When doctors told me that my journey with you would be drastically different because of genetics and unidentified cells that could harm you at any stage in your journey, that intrepid nature birthed on the 10th of February in 2009 played the biggest role in what would be a spiritual excursion of bettering my health, mentally and physically. I hadn’t acquired that until then and I didn’t know I needed it before I needed you. 

So, I wanted a daughter second.

Womanhood

When I was pregnant with your older brother, I went to the emergency room one night where the doctor informed me that I was carrying a girl. During the prenatal visit that would follow in the subsequent days, your father and I were told that your brother was in fact, a boy. Your father rejoiced and I felt that the cosmos rejected my pleas to find solace in bringing me someone that could help me right familial dysfunction wrong.

I asked that same Universe–that same God that I hope you grow to know and believe to be real–that when I knew who I was, it would grant me an experience where my womb is blessed to know what it’s like to carry a thought turned spirit, transitioned into a human body, transformed into a little girl that would one day turn into a woman.

When I had Kamryn, I was 23, a mother of two, and I still did not know the intricacies that made up my being. I did not know my body although I welcomed the expanding of skin, fell in love with the movements of your brothers in my belly, and felt the magic of what it is to be a woman when my body served as a tunnel that would bring all three of you into this world in a mixed moment of pain and pleasure.

But I knew that I could not be a mother to a daughter when I had to look to your father for confirmation that I was still beautiful on days where clothes no longer hugged corners and curves of flesh.

I do not want that for you.

You will grow up in a world of insta-glamour and pseudo beauty where phone screens serve as mirrors and acknowledgement of worth comes from outside forces. If we raise you in the streets of New York City, you will hear young girls be called by perceptions of their bodies rather than their names amongst sirens, train rattling, “Ayo’s,” hip-hop and bachata.

The world is fogged with so much noise, but in the turbulence of it can someone find silence and self without being consumed by it.

Let internal sounds–intuition–remind you of who you are. That voice matters more than any other.

I was not ready for you.

However, I am eternally grateful that Kamryn, my heart, came next. The compassion you will find in me is rooted in a child-like spirit that I still possess–a quality your father loves, a rare gift in today’s world brought forth because of your brother’s presence.

I learned compassion when I judged other women for their personal choices with their own bodies and found myself standing in the shadows of their decisions not so long ago–a symbolic time for me as I fought to find internal peace while picking up shattered pieces of myself from floors and the hands of others.

I glued myself together with writing, publicly and privately.

I found comfort in discomfort.

Wounds were made whole and healthy through prayers in ugly places and dark pits. 

I healed without the bandages I’ll one day place over your scraped elbows and knees and without the hugs I’ll wrap over your body when your heart feels motionless. Often, you will know “pain is weakness leaving the body” to be true. Healing does not happen without the hurt or overnight. It’s timeless. Knowing this:

Don’t forget to pray, nena. For strength. For guidance. 

And while you will undergo your own versions of experiencing compassion and humility in its many forms, it is my wish that that story does not intersect with yours. I do not wish that for no woman; I do not wish it to be your own. But you will know what it’s like to undergo love and loss. 

That is life.

Motherhood

Going into 29, I was finally wrapping up a never ending chapter and finding closure when it came to my father, your grandpa. I still do not have all of the answers and I may never get responses to questions I’ve had since the age of seven, or questions you will ask me later on down the line. I do know, however, after taking a trip to Puerto Rico–the country where I became pregnant with you–that peace comes to the surface when:

forgiveness is found,

the understanding of a journey you have no control over no longer feels like a battle,

you look at the hardest moments of your walk through life to be the most significant,

you can weed out lessons in the mundane,

you can find answers in self-reflection.

This part of your story, this lesson threaded in your DNA, is inescapable. 

I now get that in my circumstance surrounding my father.

I will never know what it is like to be raised in a two-family home, but for most of my pregnancy, I have thanked the Higher Powers that be that you will. Papa and I are still learning what it is to be protectors and caregivers. I am continually learning about what it is to have a father in watching him with your brothers.

I want that for you.

I pray your first love is the man who cut the cord that tied us together for 37 weeks, but I hope you know, I will forever be there, connected to you through hand and heart for as long as I live. I do not wish for a mini-me, but a better me. 

Struggling with health, I yearned for your survival–in the womb and Earth side as a Black girl–as much as I do my own now.

During your formation, I prayed for fearlessness to vibrate through your body’s most vital organs. Your spirit and story needs it to thrive.

I shot up pleas to the Universe for your voice to be as loud as the construction of constellations and the roar I let out when your transitioned into new realms you could call home.

Be a better me. 

I hope that our ‘Mommy + Me’ nights are more than lacquer and laughter at girlie flicks, but conversations on revolutionaries of color, the complexity and magnificence of being an Afro-Latina, shattering cycles that limit our ways of thinking, critiquing literature centered around womanism while dissecting legendary sounds of art like Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You or L. Boogie’s The Miseducation

Parenthood and what it looks like has evolved for me over the course of 29 years, but today, it has more meaning than ever before, just as the words in this letter will change for you over time.

When God gave me you, I knew then that I found the answer to the most difficult question we all encounter: “Who am I?”

And while my answer will not be yours, I hope you are the accumulation of wildflowers, personified, a Willow Smith-spirited, free flowing goddess wherever you step foot. If you are organically liberated in your soul like Kaevon, I hope you never allow anyone to make you feel confined or conflicted about the essence of who you are. If you are quirky by nature as Kamryn is, it is my wish that you do not feel restricted to fit the molds of what popularity looks like. Being yourself is more of an attainable aspiration than squirming your way into boxes that are neatly packaged and specifically designed for others. 

Be you. 

In the meantime:

I thank you for being the answer to whispers sent up to God at midnight as a child, the fruition of prayers that did not go unheard under stars, cigar smoke, raised wine glasses and revelations between Daddy and I at 2:00 A.M. on a balcony in PR. 

In late April of 2016, in a small town called Manatí, I knew I was ready for you.

I am finally ready for you. 

On the day of your conception, birth, and forever…

I love you, Kairie. You have changed my whole world.

xo

Mom

Possessions | Part I: The Arrival

The arrival meant the start of something new. I unfastened my seatbelt before the light signified it was okay to remove it from around my waist and he grabbed my shoulder from the row behind as if to ask, was I ready?

The warmth of Puerto Rico didn’t bother me. In fact, it was knowing that I had stepped on land–the same soil that was noted in a permanent ink on his death certificate that had my palms soaked with a moisture that could not easily wipe off. I came here with a purpose. There is nothing like clear visions and transparent intentions guiding you towards something. It’s inextinguishable and undoubtedly a feeling that causes you to feel the least afraid, even if you aren’t aware of what actually awaits you. I did not know what this trip would do to me. I’m still feeling the effects…

We were picked up by José (we called him Junior) who took note of the fascination in my eyes to be somewhere other than New York City. The familiarity of the smell in the air made Rob feel somewhat at home, even if he hadn’t been to this country before. Kae and Kam’s inquiries on destinations and now what’s whispered past my ears as my eyes wanted to be a pen to a mental page, jotting down architecture and vibrant colors, jammed traffic and the sounds of fluent Spanish. I wanted it to feel like home. I just didn’t know what home–the feeling of comfortability and security–felt like. And maybe taking in the newness of this place spilled out of me when Junior suggested driving along the coast of Puerto Rico, wanting me to experience this place that he came back to after the death of his wife. I didn’t tell him about my father, but death wove two strangers with a half century separation in age together looking for a new way to view and maneuver through the remainder of life. The Universe made no mistake with that.

That was all I could think of as we drove past coconut trees and sand where footprints had not yet been erased by the water, inhaling the smell of the ocean on the coastline that naturally drew Puerto Rico. I thought of the ways salt is both a curing and cleansing agent and it was an accurate reflection of what this trip would be for me–an introspective adventure that wouldn’t grant me every answer, but would offer some healing to the hurt. The drive through the towns–Toa Baja, Dorado, Vega Baja–gave us the opportunity to hear about their history. It was important for me to swallow every story he told, and in interlacing words together, I sought to bridge together parts of my past and present. Junior told us a story about his former life and his own present-day experiences with restoring his spirit that would make for the beginning of a trip that would affect us all.

He lost his wife after 48 years of marriage and said “If you really want to know how happy you are and what your spirit looks like, it should radiate and bounce off of you unto others. Positivity spreads. Joy glows. It’s evident what’s in you when you see it on others in your space. My wife made me see how happy I was through her and I’m trying to find that with her being gone.”

As much as I wanted to move forward with my life, the things of the past were weighing me down and holding me back. My children sensed my unhappiness. My partner did, too, and it caused a trickle effect that lead to arguments and division. My household fell apart. Stress contributed to my hair falling out. My health slowly deteriorated. Goals went unaccomplished and ideas were clouded by self-doubt. All of these things were implanted in the news of 2015 and feeling stuck.

Tweet | We cannot advance if we do not adapt.

But that car ride and conversation allowed me to see that if I wanted to move forward, I had to adjust to the current tides of life. We cannot advance if we do not adapt. Life will continue to issue out discomfort until we learn to take the lessons that are produced from them. I had found out this information about my father and I told myself the day I paid for that death certificate that I wouldn’t find out anything else. I got the answer I needed and it was good enough. I wouldn’t dig for family, refused to find out who’s facial features it was I had, what parts of my personality came from the other side, couldn’t see myself playing with more puzzle pieces because every connecting fragment would lead to a door that would expose me to more than I was prepared for. I knew I had to push past that, but I was afraid. Fear kept me from progressing; I was in its possession.

We don’t say that enough out loud–that we are afraid, that we don’t know what it is that’s next for us because we want to live organized, neatly packaged lives adorned with ribbons and feel-good quotes. We don’t want to say that we don’t have it all planned out; that we don’t know what it’s like to be genuinely happy and stay happy; that we have no idea what it is to come to terms with our past because it has such a grip on us and in all of it’s painful glory, it still feels like home. It’s all we know. We have such a deeply rooted affiliation with apprehension and just a small taste of relinquishing that fear means that we are ready for more. Most of us will never know what ‘more’ feels like.

Tweet | I am afraid, but the choices I will make from here on out will reflect my hopes, not my fears

But when we let those things go and can truthfully say, “I am afraid, but the choices I will make from here on out will reflect my hopes, not my fears” that is when we have arrived.

Possessions: The Pilgrimage to Puerto Rico

Flight

Possessions

/pəˈzeSHəns/

The aches of the past.

A thirst for peace.

You could have everything.

But when there is a collision–a divine entanglement of the two–you will see that you are merely nothing. Life is more than the fulfillment of worldly possessions, more than just the gratification of temporarily quenching your thirst with accolades and approval. You could have everything.

But who are you?

Who lives within the rooms of your bones? Who resides in the corners that never see the light of day? The person that comes out unaccompanied during the late nights when the world is asleep and there you are.

Wallowing in puddles of your own tears, doing laps backwards and in butterfly strokes around that motherfucker. Drowning.

Who are you? You could have everything.

In the dark, you feel most alive, but you cannot thrive in sunless areas of your soul. You cannot produce in the dark. Nothing grows in gloom.

You could have everything.

You could be the recipient of an award for your words; have your employer be the woman you idolized–a public figure for Black girls looking for a break when theyve hit bottom; be amongst a community of Black women who, like you, are driven by personal narratives that are often silenced in spaces occupied by notable white women who focus on Outfit of the Day posts like that belong on an ad for a store that does not cater to curvy girls like you.

You could have everything.

You feel like you have almost everything.

You have a partner who has simultaneously been the source of the pain you penned and the person who knows the intricate details of your life. Your skin. Your trepidation.

Maybe, he knows you better. Maybe, you relinquished that much power for someone to understand your why’s and how’s more than you ever could because you have ran for so long. The lies you have interpreted as truth are entombed within the bowels of your belly and you cannot fathom facing anything else head on. 

You are the head of the household of a family who brings you the most pleasure in life, although you are still trying to decipher those terms to align with the hopes you have, personally.

Family and pleasure. What does that mean?

You could have these things and still feel like something is missing. Still feel like you are just an empty vessel because you simply do not know where you came from.

I booked a trip to Puerto Rico–my father’s birth place per his death certificate–to find the answers to those questions, responses that mirror that of Zora Neale Hurston’s words, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” I understood success to mean a few things in recent years by way of the Universe blessing me after taking the leap to invest in myself, but subsequently, amassed a different level of what personal feats are during my unexpected five month hiatus from this platform.

This new series (and official return), titled “Possessions,” will unearth the discoveries of who I am, truly and wholly, as I live out the last year of my twenties. It will delve into me asking myself what is it that I am in charge of in my life? What worldly possessions have taken control and seized me? What is holding occupancy in my spirit without my permission and what can I take ownership of? What are some intangibles that I must acquire in hopes of tapping into my fullest potential?

The words will either serve as extensions of what you may have read on my personal Instagram account (you can play catch up here), or be constructed from my experiences at a place that felt both familiar and foreign, for the first time.

As bloggers, writers, and creatives, we put an exceptional amount of focus on our content, and rightfully so, as we all aim to leave our imprints lingering in an air long after we’re gone, but what lives are we creating outside of our spaces? Everyone if offering how-to guides on how to monetize your blog but what good are those tips if your life is void of the essentials needed to be better? Who can teach you how to be a better woman? Better mother? Better lover? Human? What words can someone offer you that will support you on your quest to discovering the interpretations of hope, love, forgiveness, renewal, awareness?

You have to live some life. You have to do it alone, most times.

You will see the words, legacy and longing, impact and influence, transitioning and transforming, planted a lot in forthcoming posts. It will be broken into seven parts over seven weeks to reflect my thought process on each day of my trip:

The Arrival

The Path Towards Healing

The Exposure

The Town

The Vow

The Removal of Chains & the Result of Change

The Departure

I was a mother who felt confined behind her own walls labeled Childhood. I emerged a wild woman with a vengeance on this vacation.

“There is a crack in everything.

That is how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen 

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