For My Daughters-Lesson 1: I. Love. You.

Dear Babygirls-

I want you to know that I love you. For this cause, I will always have something to say about anything that happens in your life! If love holds up the world, nothing can be lost. But I want you to know one crucial thing:  the people that say they love you will always want the absolute best for you, whether it benefits me or not! Remember this.

What I want you to remember these three words are going to be influential, manipulative and anchoring. What I want you to remember is that being in love and loving someone is not the same thing. Being in love with someone means that they are a support, a pillar and resource. Being in love with someone means you are concerned with someone–down to the minutia of them. Loving someone? That is a little harder. It is harder because loving someone (besides yourself) requires more of you. Sacrifices. Patience. Stamina. There is something in you that wants the best for another person–and hopes that it will be enough.

However, there is one thing more thing crucial to this concept of saying ‘I love you’:  say it to yourself first. You have to be able to love you–all of you–before anyone else will! You need to know what it looks like, feels like to love and accept all of you independent of what people think of you. I want you to value all that you are, are you will become, despite what the world outside of you may think. I want you to know what it feels like to look in the mirror and love the girl you see.

Sometimes, I won’t lie to you, that is he hardest thing to do. It will be hard to love you when the world sees nothing to love about you. It will be hard to tell the girl in the mirror she is lovely, brilliant and worthy! But you must tell her anyway. You must tell her until you begin believe it. Once you believe it, and belief it whole-heartedly, no one can give you less love than you give yourself.

Your greatest love, the greatest commandment I can give you as a Black woman and your mother, is to love yourself. Love yourself first. Last. And always. From there, no one can love you less than you can ever love yourself.