Today, Bean turns five and Button turns one! Five years ago, I gave birth to little brown dumpling of a baby I called Bean. She is responsible in many ways for this blog. I started writing online in earnest to try to make sense of giving birth, of becoming a mother. And then one year ago exactly, Button was born. I am the mother of not just one, but two little girls born on March 8th. How did I not know until much later that both my daughters first drew breath on International Women’s Day?
Meet Bean. She’s a bubbly, vivacious, precocious little girl who loves an audience. She has yet to meet a human she doesn’t like. Some days I think she is the antithesis of her introvert mother. I grew up awkward and tomboyish; my dancing frilly filly needs a tutu for every outfit.
Still, just when I think we are opposites, she will surprise me–last week I caught her reading a book underneath the blanket after bedtime. That’s totally something I did as a kid. Bean also loves to be right, even when she’s wrong. Again, ME. She adores her daddy for his coolness and thinks I’m the cook, maid, and instructor. And then she says things like this:
“Mommy, thank you for taking care of me and for being my teacher.”
I joke that Bean is the mouth and Button is the face. Button has been my little side-eye queen since her newborn days. She’s just now coming into her baby babbling (her favorite word is “BA!”). But this little girl is so expressive in other ways. If she doesn’t want you touching her, she will very deliberately push your hand off of her. Button is good for giving you the hand when she needs you to back out of her face. She’s my shady baby. Her smile, though? It’s all sweetness, and it’s why I call her my Button-Pie.
Having daughters forced me to think deeply on what to teach them about being girls and women. I remember when I wasn’t sure if Button was going to be a boy, in the middle of all these Black boys being shot and killed by police. It gave me a lot to think about. But for all of those possibilities, God gave me girls. I’ve had to closely examine what I feel about being a Black woman.
If I had to bottle up everything I feel about mothering two girls, it would be this:
You are worthy. Don’t let anyone tell you that they are doing you a favor by loving you because you are Black and female. You are worthy of love, of happiness, of education, of good things. Do not claim the inferiority others will ascribe to you. Choose greatness as your birthright. And always remember your womanhood is a strength, not a weakness.
Around the world today, women are staying home from public spheres to show what spaces without women would look like for International Women’s Day. I don’t have that option. (Not a gripe, just a simple fact of childcare). I’m wearing red in solidarity for those striking. Their labor matters. If you don’t think women have any reason to protest, watch this video.
But on Bean and Button’s birthday, I choose instead to celebrate that I am here with them daily. This gives me a precious opportunity to teach them not to see me as merely the cook, the maid, or the instructor. I deliberately tell Bean when “Mommy is working” so she understands Daddy isn’t the only one in the house who works–even if Mommy is always there with them. It’s not just important for them to feel my absence, but to appreciate my presence. And yes, I do make sure I take time to myself so they experience an occasional #DayWithoutAWoman. Because I need breaks, too.
Today, we are putting on festive clothes, and eating cake, and bacon, and dancing to all our favorite tunes. Four years apart, I gave birth to two beautiful brown little girls who were born on the same date, at the same weight and the same length. On International Women’s Day. During Women’s History Month. And I didn’t plan ANY OF IT. I am twice blessed with miracles. Happy birthday to my littles loves. I can’t imagine a single day without you.
Bean ADORES videos! If you want to wish her (and Button) happy birthday, tweet her a short video here and she will never ever stop talking about how much she loves you. Are you joining the activism for International Women’s Day?