Today is International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day celebrates the contributions of women across all spheres of life. I could write an endless list of phenomenal women who inspire and challenge me but I’d like to focus instead on three of my favourite women- my Mom and sisters, Tebby and Tania.
I grew up around mostly women so I’ve learnt and understood that women come in different shapes and sizes- physically, mentally and emotionally. Some of us love the kitchen. Some of us don’t. Some of us love the workplace. Some of us don’t. Some find meaning bearing children. Some don’t. But we’re all still women.
For this open-mindedness, I have my Mom to thank.
Mama Tess is the original carefree black girl. Long before I became aware of the likeability politics that women often struggle with, I watched my Mom live her life unapologetically. She taught me to walk into parties by myself at an age when I was afraid to be seen without friends. She taught me not to centre my life around the opinions or activities of other people. Likeability was not romanticised in our house- there were (are) far more important things in life.
My mom taught me to love my hair. Not just through words, but most importantly by action. When she undid our braids, she always took her time to section it and gently comb it before we went to the salon the next day. She never said our hair was difficult, or tough or unmanageable- it was just our hair. At the salon, hairdressers would beg to put relaxer in our hair- it was too kinky and needed to be tamed. But what could be more glorious than the tufts of afro hair that grew graciously out of our heads? You couldn’t convince my Mom otherwise.
My mom is also an amazing storyteller. She’s animated, she’s expressive, she’s full of life. Ask her about her day and she’ll tell you about it in vivid detail- from start to finish. That’s my mom- thorough and deliberate and never wanting to miss a detail. She can sense when something has gone wrong. She’ll tell you your mood before you realise it yourself. She knows when one of her glasses is missing. Basically, she runs a tight ship.
My mom is also an aspiring member of our sister squad- I don’t blame her. My sisters and I are inseparable. You could give us all the beds in the world, but we still want to squeeze together in one bed.
My sister Tebby follows me in age, but too often precedes me in thinking. Occasionally, when I’m not in the mood to act grown, she’ll take over and do a damn good job at it. She’s my big little sister. She loves the Lord. And I love that she loves the Lord. You can hear life speak through her. She also cooks and bakes the most delightful food and treats. If there’s a cooking gene, it missed me and found a home in her. Can you help me pressure her to start a bakery soon? Thanks.
Tania is our littlest, but tallest and fiercest sister. She’s a fairy- always in her own world, but a magical being in every sense of the word. She stands up to the big ones, with no fear of contradiction- you can’t get away with much with her. She is grounded in herself and moves with a confidence that I can only wish I had at 16. Tania is the one person I feel comfortable taking my picture- she gets my aesthetic visual preferences. She also beats me up and bullies me. Mom, I hope you’re reading this.
Happy Women’s Day, Mama, Tebz and Tania. I love you!
To all women,
“Do not live someone else’s life and someone else’s idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you, womanhood is everything that’s inside of you” – Viola Davis
© Tessy Maritim