I Wasn't Born to be a Wife

The year was 2006. I, a newly minted freshman at Howard University, stayed up past midnight in my dorm on a three-way phone call with my besties from high school who were both attending college in New York. “Happy Birthday!!!,” they screamed when the clock struck 12, and we squealed with delight. Even with a late birthday, I was still the first of our crew to turn 18—an official “adult.” (11 years later, I know that adulthood beginning at 18 is a whole ass joke, but that’s another topic for another day).

The next morning, I got ready to go to class, and my home girl met me in the lobby and happily pinned a dollar to my shirt.  I looked at her puzzled, and she responded with her signature Texas drawl, “don’t worry about it—it’s a southern thang.”

As the day drew on, I received more phone calls, more Happy Birthday hugs, and my shirt was piling up with George Washingtons'. Heading to my 11am class about $12 richer, my phone rang. It was my mother.

“Hi mommy!”

My mom, responded: “Now, you can get married without my permission.”

Wives Blog Confused

I paused. Stared at the phone.

She laughed. “Happy birthday, my daughter.”

“Thanks mommy.”

After a couple minutes, I politely excused myself from the conversation, stating that I was going to be late for class and that I would call her back. I’m the youngest of my mama’s kids, so it was quite an accomplishment for her to have three “adult” children. What she said though, stayed with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mama, but I was slightly annoyed that before she wished me a “congratulations on going several years without accidentally killing yourself,” she talked to me about getting married.  To who?? I was still a child.

But this wasn’t new.

As far back as I could remember, my mother—a modest, prim and proper Baptist woman from the countryside of Jamaica, had talked to me and my sister about marriage. We were forced to accompany her to the laundromat, to clean the entire family’s bedding, play and school clothes. We were herded into bathroom, accosted with smells of bleach and other cleaning supplies, armed with rags and toilet brushes to learn what a good scrub looked like.  

When I whined to her about my brother not having to do any of the house chores, she’d simply reply, “he’s going to have a wife.”

We on the other hand, would be wives.

 I didn’t have a word for it then, but that’s probably when I became a feminist.

In retrospect, I can’t blame her. My mama is old school. Church every Sunday, marriage before children, no living together before marriage, type. Sex? Don’t even hug the person too closely before the rings are exchanged. Modesty was key, no skirts above the knee, kinda thing. I mean, let’s be real. Her mom-- my grandma--was a housewife who had 14 children. And even though my mom worked, and her marriage was... (another topic, another day) this kind of mindset was engrained in her.

I knew from an early age though, that life for me wasn’t JUST going to be about finding a husband and having children. As early as 7 years old, I had career goals of being either a musician or Oprah, and maintained hobbies and interests that didn’t only involve church. But as I grew up, and interacted with other young girls, especially those of Afro/Caribbean descent, I became increasingly aware of what society expected of us, and what I “ought” to be doing to prepare myself to be someone’s future wife.  My sister and I were in training, whereas my brother was virtually absolved of any household responsibility—something that seemed to be popular among boys. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, that attitude can trickle down into other things---entitlement, irresponsibility and the rampant “boys will be boys” mentality that have these grown folk running around acting an entire fool.

It’s more like boys got to be boys, and girls had to prepare to be women.

But I digress--

In terms of the marriage piece, y’all know that I am all for Black love. I’m all about romance, friendship, healthy relationships and building families. It’s equally as important however, for women to be able to grow up into who and what they want to be, personally, and professionally, in addition to being wives--if they choose to be.

There’s undue pressure from the time we are girls that to “get and keep” a man is the highest achievement. (In my 29 years, I’ve learned that you can’t get or a keep a man that doesn’t wanna be got or kept, but again, another story for another day.)

It’s also funny, that I’ve participated in conversations with some men who express a slight disdain toward women, claiming they “ just always want to be married” but then deem her unworthy, bitchy, crass, or worse—angry and bitter—if she reveals that it’s not that high up on the priority list.

Newsflash, beloved—Disney has been lying to both of us for years.

Finally, I’d surmise that if I perceived my biggest goal in life was marriage ( for arguments sake, in the so-called traditional sense) I’d likely be fine with doing all the damn cooking and picking up after a man and children. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s who I was.

But I see my future being a little more balanced. My partner will understand that the goal is to take care of each other, and of our home. Tending to our emotional and physical needs in the way that makes sense for both of our personalities, not just because it’s demanded of either of us. Because the fact is, if a woman is expected to do everything inside of the house, in addition to working, then that begs the question of what exactly the man’s role is?  We spend so much time talking about what it means to be a wife, but what does husbandry look like?  (You guessed it… another question, another day)
Now. I can bleach down a bathroom, and also cook some killer meals, but I’ll raise my future girls to do that so they, themselves can eat and because they have to wash their own ass—not necessarily only to be found competitive as a wife. I’ll raise them to have goals, to be generous, to have standards, to be a good person, teach them emotional intelligence, how to recycle...Shit like that. Because, her personhood, her individuality, her personality. —all those things matter for her to be whole, notwithstanding a partner.   

He who finds a wife, does find a good thing, and I completely agree.

But that’s not the end, or the beginning of her story.

The Power of Vulnerability

Pull up a chair, sis. (And fellas too) This is exactly what it sounds like.  Let’s get right into it.

Vulnerability. Man, look.

The simple mention of that word is enough to make me shift my weight and squirm in discomfort.  
Allow me to explain:  I consider myself to be, pretty much, an open book. Folks know that I share my experiences online---that I can be super transparent and often use my daily situations, accomplishments and failures to both express my humanity, and to encourage myself and others on this journey called life. Even with all the perceived negatives of social media, I’ve come to find that shared experiences make one feel less alone. To know that you’re not the only one going through life's challenges in the way that you are, can be a huge relief. At any rate, even with all of my so called “openness”, I still have the tendency to distance myself from certain situations that call for just that.  What are they? You guessed it; matters of the heart.

First, let’s look at the definition of the V word. I can barely say it without flaring up my acid reflux.

Vulnerable: adjective
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.

Bruh. Who the HELL wants to be that?

It is simply basic human instinct to strive, at all times, to protect ourselves. Even the homie Sigmund Freud said, that "the deepest essence of human nature consists of self-preservation."

What a mind f**k.

How in the hell am I supposed to self-preserve and seek love at the same damn time?  And that, my friends, is the question I ask myself every day.

I have literally ruined great potential partnerships by my unwillingness to open up completely, in that regard. As caring of a person that I can be, when it comes to dealing with relationships with men, I have only allowed them to get but so far, until I feel myself falling. Then, I take a lap and trap myself behind this proverbial wall.

Now, this wall? It’s not like Cheeto Satan’s alleged wall, but it might be just as absurd. In my mind, it’s made of glass, so technically, I’m able to see bae on the other side, and he can see me. (hey boo!) We talk to each other, we send cute gifts and exchange texts and calls. Every now and again, I come out from behind it when it’s time to be intimate, but I always return to my side and he’s simply not allowed to cross the line.

Not only can that make one look emotionally unstable and partially insane, it can also be truly exhausting for the other person to think for example, that he’s getting ready to play basketball, and then I show up with a hockey stick, some cleats and a relay baton, smiling.  Girl, get your life.

The truth of the matter is, in order for me to truly love and be loved, that wall must come down. This is also not just a woman thing. I recognize that male vulnerability is a unique nuanced experience, that can be beautiful and just as difficult.

So, what does it ultimately boil down to, friends?


Jazmine Sullivan said it best:  *sings* ‘’I’m not scared, of lions and tigers, and bears, but I’m scared of loving you.”

I feel you, sis. It be’s like that. We all know that when you lend your heart to another person, you're essentially giving them the ability to break it into a million bite sized pieces. One day, I’ll tell y’all the full story. but basically-- many moons ago-- a bright eyed and bushy tailed Grace entrusted her heart to someone. Needless to say, brotha man violated in the most horrific of ways, and I haven’t quite been the same since.

Therapy? Yes. I go. But a decade later, I realize that I am still subconsciously fearful of the possibility of being hurt to that degree ever again. That said, a more recent romantic situation has taught me how much I can lose if I don’t overcome this obstacle.

I've come to understand that you have to harness the power of the V. (no, not that V. Nasty… Although, that post may soon come) and let it work for you. Understand that:

1. Great things are on the other side.

You might get hurt, granted. That's life. But you also might flourish and find the great love that you’ve been yearning for. Discernment is key to deciding who and what to expose yourself to, but completely guarded emotions, cannot and will not work.

2. Self-Sabotage ain’t cute.

It doesn’t look good on you. Why push yourself further away from the things and people who are beneficial for you?  As ambitious women especially, I have no doubt that we will go for the jobs, apply for the promotion-- but with love, we hesitate. Emotionally blocking yourself for the sake of safety is natural, albeit. But it can also be unproductive.

3.  You’re worth it: Say it with me. Vul-ner-ability. You will literally get nowhere from behind a glass wall. In order to move forward in love and in life, you have to open yourself up. It might not always get you the answers you want, but you will have the ones you need.

Trust yourself.

If for the first time, or like me, again.  

After all, Freud also said, “out of your vulnerabilities, will come your strength.”

It’s about time for me to take his-- and my own--advice.

Don't Block Your Blessing...Or Nah?

Here we are at the end of the year. Whew! For many of us, 2016 was a doozy, honey

it took Prince and damn Willy Wonka smooth out. Mercury seemed to always be in retrograde,  there was apparently a New Member Intake into Petty Phi Petty Inc., and The Angry Cheeto was unfortunately elected the next Commander In Chief.  On a more personal level, three friends of mine passed away and it hit me harder than I could have ever expected. 2016 was akin to that drunk uncle that shows up to family events, talking reckless and starting drama-- making everyone super uncomfortable. You’ve been told repeatedly to just ignore him, while Granny threatens to hold the good part of the cornbread hostage if he keeps acting like a damn idiot.  

To top it all off, my love life was super, sucky. By July, I had had enough of the Series of Unfortunate Dates, and took it upon myself to go into seclusion. To give myself a Date Break-- so to speak, and redirect my focus to my personal growth among other things.

It was such a liberating decision and one that I desperately needed to make.  I had begun to hit the gym harder, bypassing jars of Talenti in exchange for carrots, (a big deal, by the way) my hair was growing, #locnation, my skin was glowing, #melanin, #coconutoilandtings, and I truly felt like things were finally on the upswing. Overall, I found myself happier and in a much better space.

They say that you attract what you put out, right?

So, less than three weeks into my #GracePeriod (see what I did there?) I met someone who shot his shot in my DM’s after we’d both made comments on a mutual friend’s post. We began chit chatting, and getting to know each other. I thought he was handsome, had a great personality and was overall an extremely interesting person. We clicked.
Be that as it may, something in me just didn’t feel ready to take the plunge.

*Enter, well-meaning girlfriends.* Also known as the Don’t Block Your Blessing Crew.

DBYB Crew: God done sent you a good man, who puts your needs first, is super sweet to you, and seems like he wants to commit. Girl, you better not block your blessing.



Now, I love my girlfriends. I do. But I was terribly confused. Granted-- I did tell them how great of a guy he was. But I also placed just as much emphasis, if not more, on the fact that my Date Break had just started and I wasn’t necessarily willing to sell myself short by jumping into something before I was ready, just because I presented with a viable enough option.

Their responses/suggestions though, seemed to sidestep my thought process, dismissing it only as self-sabotage and putting it second to the idea that I could have possibly found my “happily ever after.” *Insert deep eye roll*

 Against my better judgement, I decided to date him, and at first it was going well, but my greater sense eventually kicked in and it ended up being only something slightly short of a disaster. He was amazing, but I was hesitant. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Thankfully we were able to salvage our friendship by having that, “this is where I am in life,” conversation that I should have had in the first place, but it surprised me how many of my good and dear well-meaning friends seem to ignore my need to be with myself, almost filing it under some kind of life crisis instead of a true feeling.

I’m all for a great romance and partnership when the time is right, but women are routinely questioned when they make a decision that seems to be against the norm, while men never get that push-back. It’s accepted as law that a man has to be “ready” first.  Have we become that socialized in this endless search for male companionship that we’d be willing to sacrifice a personal journey for the sake of a good man coming along? Why do we continue to perpetuate the narrative that our identities are almost completely rooted in finding a partner?

As if a few months of two-stepping to Drake in my underwear with glasses of Prosecco, and not worrying about anyone else isn’t a thing that I needed.  Tuh.

Will Great Guy be there when I’m ready to try again? Who knows. When I come out of this, will I even want to date him again?  It could go either way.

If the, DBYB Crew had it their way, I’d be with child and planning a wedding.

Be clear: A good thing at the wrong time, is still the wrong thing, and that is something that I firmly stand by.  Who’s to say that a blessing won’t end up being a curse if you’re not in a position to receive it?

As we head into the Year of Our Lord 2017, I learned to respect my greatest know it all well-meaning girlfriend I have—my intuition (Hey girl, hey!) To be fair, she’ll also tell me when I’m trippin—but she knows me better than anyone else and I have to honor that.

Ultimately, I am looking forward to what love (both external and internal) and life have to bring in the New Year, and I am optimistic.

Oh, and, 2017-- don't you come in here with that bullshit. We're gon' have a good year, ya hear?


Love, Peace and Grace.