Lest the world eat you
In Annie John, one of my favorite books of Jamaica Kincaid’s, the theme of mother refining daughter lays bare. The nature of refinement by your mother seems harsh to young girls but with age they find it as a preparatory and loving gift. A gift and cycle women who become mothers are bound to repeat in offering. Why is that?
Maybe because they know just how greedy and grubby the hands of the world are.
Because they see in us a naïveté others will recognize and weaponize against us, they blot it out. Replacing it with observance, silence, and discernment.
They see in us bits and pieces of them before their eyes reddened with regret and flooded with tears over a boy, then a man, and a life, a mortgage, mistakes, and consequences.
A mother’s love to her daughter cannot only be close and coddling. It must be firm to callous over the fleshy bits of inexperience, ignorance, and bated-breath like hope the world devours. From them we deserve warmness, yes, but a proud embrace is earned. Reserved for knowing and subsequently doing better.
Mothers do something fathers cannot wholly do. Giving a daughter a womb that is warm, a bosom that is warm but knowledge for a world and a people who are not.
Bracing daughters for encounters that threaten to shatter their countenence and eat them alive.