I wish that I could write a book of all of the things that I want to tell you about the world…
All of the good things to come and all of the bad things lurking in the shadows-
But if I did that you would be trapped in a room, reading about what life has to offer-
completely safe from pain but also from joy, just to prevent me from worrying every time that I close my eyes.
You’re growing up, sir.
I probably don’t say it often enough but I am extremely proud to know you. I am so amazed every time that I get to listen to how your mind works and understand more about what you like and who you hope to be. The reasons are selfish, granted, I can’t believe that someone like me, has been able to create such a smart talented young man and I can’t believe that I have been able to keep him alive this long, and strong. Thank you for letting me be your mom and for trusting me to tell you things that I know to be true and will help you on your journeys.
I cry at every one of your milestones but you know I won’t admit that out loud. When you learned to walk, to talk, to tie your shoes, to ride a bike, to go to school, to read, to use manners, and make friends and make wise decisions and study, and write and treat your body and mind with respect, I was somewhere in tears. So basically I cry all of the time when you aren’t looking. I worry about you a lot, not because I don’t think you are equipped to handle the world that is coming but because I know one day you will have to, and I wish some things I could keep from you.
I wish I could protect you from the people who will not like you before they even meet you because your skin is brown. I wish I could protect you from manipulators and liars and con artists and people hell bent on breaking your heart. I just hope that no matter how old you get you continue to follow mom’s two rules:
1) Don’t do anything that will hurt you.
2) Don’t do anything that will hurt anybody else.
Now that you will be 16 soon I feel like I should add onto those a little bit…
3) Do the things that you love and that make you happy.
This is mom’s third rule.
There are few things worse than a man who doesn’t know who he is or what he wants or what he is about.
Whether its a job, or college, or art, or acting, whatever it is that makes you feel good about being you, and being in your skin, do those things. Never let anybody tell you that its wrong to create or dream or be the very best version of yourself at all times.
You’re stuck with you, so like yourself and love yourself and appreciate yourself more than anything else. Real love, true love, will never make you feel badly about yourself. People who truly care about you that come along in your life will always want the best for you, even if that means not being around them.
If you want to try it and it doesn’t break the first two rules, try it.
If you want to go to that town, go.
If you want to sing, do it.
This ride seems so long for you right now but trust me, before you know it you will be my age. You don’t want to look back on your life and regret the things that you did not do that you wanted to. Always be grateful for opportunities that present themselves to you and take them. People will try to make you feel badly about not having your dad with you growing up, or not being rich, or not having a trust fund the size of Montana but I promise you, that is because they hate themselves, and not you. All you can do is feel sorry for them but you keep striving, you keep trying, you keep going for what you know that deep down in your heart keeps you healthy, and grateful and smiling. People will try to discourage you from being great because you are a black man. But that is only because they are afraid of your power. All you can do is continue to shine, take care of yourself and your loved ones and stand up for your right to exist how you choose to when you have to.
There is never a reason to start a fight, son, you only learn by listening. But if you are challenged for your rights to exist and live in peace then you better fight for them. Nothing is given to any of us. If we want it we have to work for it, reach for it, grind for it and take it. This is your movie. You’re the star. Be good to yourself and to others, that’s all I ask. And make sure that you are never too afraid to live the life that makes you feel the best.
I won’t always be around, to whisper in your ear that you are loved.
I won’t always be there to give you answers and honestly, I don’t know all of the answers.
But what I do know is that you can always start over as long as there is breath in your lungs.
You can always walk away if whatever it is isn’t serving your happiness anymore.
You don’t owe anybody anything but your very best, your truth and your kindness.
I tease you a lot but its because I don’t know how to show affection that well, but know that I love you very much and I hope that you love you as much as I do. And even if I move into an RV and travel the United States, or relocate someday to some obscure island with no WI FI, wherever I am if you need a place to be you can always come to Mom’s spot until you are ready to go out and face the monsters in the world again. I have never made a sacrifice for you in my life and even on those times when I didn’t eat so you could, it wasn’t a sad day, I was just doing my job. When the universe gave you to me to love and to raise, I was shocked and scared but not for one second have I ever regretted bringing you into this crazy world. For all I know you could be just the guy to change it for the better.
And my job doesn’t end when you grow up and leave.
It doesn’t end if you decide to have a family of your own.
I will always be the first lady you know who would give anything she has to make sure that you know that you are important, special, individual, brilliant, gifted and valuable.
Never forget that, okay?
My job doesn’t even end when I die because I hope that even then you remember whenever you are afraid, or sad, or alone, or tired, or worried or broke that I wanted absolutely nothing but the best that life has to offer you; you can choose your reactions and you can choose to hold your head up, regardless of the circumstances and thrive!
I know that you can do anything and I know that you will choose the right things for you.
Don’t be sad about people or things that you have to leave behind.
Don’t feel bad if you have to save to afford material possessions because in the end they don’t matter as much as the people you want to spend time with anyway.
Learning is critical, so always learn something from your mistakes, because that’s how humans grow.
Take your time. Enjoy sunrises and sunsets. Take calculated risks. Don’t cheat people or lie because it will haunt your every move. Remember to relax, and to wear a jacket. Get sleep. Pay your dues. Show respect to those who came before you. Black History happens every single time you achieve so do your best, always.
I always have your back.
Happy Early birthday, my son.
May you see many many more with love in your heart, happiness in your step and a smile on your face.
I’m gonna go cry now. :)