Since she was in the fifth grade, I have kept a journal for Destani. I don’t write everyday, just when there is something special I need to share. Something I know she won’t truly understand until she is older. Most of the time she doesn’t agree with my choices or understand the reasoning – no matter how much I try to explain it to her. The initial entry was made on a night a few years ago when she wanted to spend the night at a friend’s house.  She had spent the night at this friend’s house before and I trusted the little girls’ parents, but this time was different. This night I’d just spoken with a friend who found that her daughter had been molested, it had gone on for months right under her nose. When things like this come to surface, it makes me want to hold my girls close protecting them from all harm. Today is a bittersweet entry, my Destani Belle is turning 16- that sweet rite of passage for girls of color. She has reminded me numerous time over the past few months that she can now wear makeup. I’m regretting it, but tomorrow we will visit the MAC counter, not for me this time- for her. Here is the sweet 16 entry of Dear Destani.

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Dear Destani,

Tomorrow you will be 16! Where has the time gone? I long for the sweet little young girl you once were. You were always smiling or laughing- you had the most pleasant disposition. Now, it seems that most days we seem to be on opposite spectrums of what is right and appropriate for a young lady your age. Whether it is a skirt that is too short, or a pair of jeans that are too tight we almost always seem to be at odds. You’d rather stay tucked away in your room with your earphones insulating you  from the world around you or hanging out with your friends. And yet, I miss my little girl. But, today was different. We spent the day as we have so many Sundays, with you perched on a pillow and me doing your hair. I complained about it at first, but I really enjoyed the time we spent laughing and talking. I even got to pop your hand with the comb for old times sake.

You have traded your Dora the explorer backpack filled with books and playthings for a tote bag filled with books, magazines and journals.  I often get lost in thought as I stare at you. You are such a beautiful child, but you already know that. I made sure of it. Gazing at you is like traveling back in time to see a newer, better version of myself. You are so much like me at your age, so sensitive and quick to cry. You are protective of your space and quick to find solace between the pages of a book. You have your own little sense of style that I have grown to almost admire. We are so alike, yet so different.

You will accomplish so much more in your life than you could ever dream or  imagine. But you have to believe, always believe baby. You will be a better woman than I am, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Why do I say that? Because you are so self- assured at such a young age. You are confident in who you are and that is so admirable in a young lady. You have no idea how long it has taken me to achieve that level of confidence.  You are beautiful, too but you won’t have to rely on that. The colleges have already started to recruit you. I watch as you get so excited to think that they’d choose you. Why wouldn’t they? You are brilliant. And you get that from your mama! With those characteristics the sky is the limit for you. I’d like to think that I gave flight to your dreams, and encouraged your aspirations of greatness. You, my dear have all the characteristics that women more than twice your age struggle to possess.

As you stand on the precipice of womanhood, I want you to know how very proud I am to be your mother. You complain about your name, there are many Destinys in your school. But there is only one DESTANI. Destiny means something that is meant to happen. Sweetheart you hold the power inside of you to define your own destiny. You also have to power to determine how you will respond to any curveballs that life throws your way. And there will be curveballs. Always keep your eyes on the prize, don’t let minor setbacks deter you.

May you always know that no matter where you go or what you do, mommy will always have your back. Mommy will always have your back.  I will have your back if you are right or wrong. If you are wrong, we will work to make it right. I will often make decisions regarding your care that you don’t agree with, but know that I always have your best interest in mind. Always. I am not afraid to make the tough decisions. I am not your friend. The fact that we don’t see eye to eye means that I am doing my job correctly.  I don’t mind if you are temporarily upset, it is my desire to ensure that you are permanently safe, healthy and whole. Because, I love you more than life itself.

 

Love you,

Mommy

P.S. Some day a man will break your heart, it is inevitable. You may or may not cry on my shoulder. But,I want you to always remember that you are the prize, honey. It will most definitely be his loss.