One of the best gifts my mother gave me was going on a getaway. I was a junior or senior in high school when she cut off her nearly waist-length locs, fluffed her fro, and packed her bags. She waved goodbye to me and my father and took off in a plane to South Africa. It was the first time I had seen her go on a trip by herself that wasn’t to visit family or travel for work. I decided to take note.
“You always say no.”
My son said this to me nonchalantly at dinner one day as though he were casually observing a fact, like, “The sky is blue,” or “You’re wearing a dress today.” I wanted to mount an argument, but the truth is that I had gotten in the habit of saying, “No.” It was a little bit of a problem.
After more than 20 years as a Black woman in the workforce, I’m finally learning to know what I want, to ask for it, and to not be (too) surprised when I receive it.