Written By Adia Turner
“We both are stronger than we believe and more powerful than we can know.”
As black women, we are constantly taught to be hard. To be strong. To be unbreakable. To be in charge. To never fail. To never cry. To never surrender.
I am the second daughter of Lisa Renee Redmond. A strong, kind, beautiful woman, who has lived her life in glorious technicolor. She has been my teacher in all ways. She has taught me that crying when you’re hurt is not a sign of weakness. That needing to come home to be reminded of where you come from does not equate to failure. That wanting to run the guy over who broke your heart does not make you crazy, it makes you human. She has given me the bravery to live my life out loud, and being her child has been the greatest honor of my life. Though, I did not always think so.
At the age of 16, like most angsty teenage girls, my mother was my worst enemy. Everything she did rubbed me the wrong way. She was too over protective. Too overbearing. Too much to handle. I was counting down the days until I was free from her tyrannical rule. Little did I know, in my self-centeredness at the time, that to my mother I may have been rude, hard headed, and somewhat difficult to handle myself. We were living our lives on opposite frequencies, constantly trying to hear one another over our own voices. It took me moving 19 hours and 48 minutes away to finally gain the ability to hear and most importantly understand my mother.
For years, I had dreamed of living far, far away from my mom. Though, when the time came for her to close my dorm room door after matriculation, I was hit with a reality I had never truly expected: I was probably never going to live in her home permanently again. With this realization came an onslaught of tears that didn’t end for three weeks. Who was I without my mom to cheer me on? How was I going to survive without my fiercest protector? Could I succeed without hearing her tell me I was worth something every day? This was the turning point in our relationship. I had to learn to walk on my own without my mom holding my hand the entire way. It only taught me how much I actually needed her love, warmth, and light.
“The toughest lesson I’ve had to learn in college is that I don’t know anything.”
I have been humbled many times over in the past 4 years, and my mom has been the one to pick me up, dust me off, and point in the right direction every single time. When I was failing chemistry and doubting if I deserved to be at BU, my mom refused to let me drown in self-pity. She told me I was born great, therefore me being anything less was not possible. When I fell in love for the first time, did something stupid for a boy for the first time, and got my heart broken for the first time, my mother was the one to let me fall apart. She gave me the space to break, and cry, and scream, and feel everything I needed. And when the time came for me to put my pieces back together, she was the one holding the tape and glue.
Looking back over my own experience over the past four years, has shown me that my mom and I have lived incredibly parallel lives. While my mom was in college, she struggled earning her engineering degree, she got hurt by a boy, and was so scared of what the future held. She even had the nickname Chip, for the chipmunk cheeks that are now visible on my own face. At 16 I wasn’t able to understand her because I had yet lived any live. But at 21, looking at my mother is like looking in a blurry mirror. It’s hard to see every distinct detail, but I recognize my own face staring back at me.
Before leaving her, I hadn’t known how similar we both are. We both share these deep belly laughs that bursts out of us like sunbeams, and can cause an entire room to join in on our joy. We both can cause harm, not with our hands, but with our words. We yield our tongues like expert swordsmen, knowing exactly what to say to pierce soft flesh. We both love those around us with a breathtaking intensity, that often times leaves little love leftover for ourselves. We both are stronger than we believe and more powerful than we can know.
Leaving my mother, my home, my lighthouse, my north star, has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But it also given me the ability to look into myself and see her shining through me. She is woven into the meaning of my name, the shape of my face, and the fabric of my being. I do not exist without her, and I don’t ever want to.