An unknown author once wrote, “If I could give my daughter three things, it would be the confidence to always know her self worth, the strength to chase her dreams and the ability to know how deeply loved she is.” When I read that quote I thought of my own parents because of my entire life they were concerned about my safety, my ability to dream and make the dream a reality and for me to know how much I was loved. I’m sure, like most parents, when I was born they imagined who I would grow up to be. Would I be a doctor, actress, astronaut, or public servant? Who would my future husband be and how many children would I have? I’m sure they also thought about all of the trials and tribulations that I would go through and worried about how I would navigate in this world. Would I face the same obstacles as they did? They were not ignorant to the fact that they were raising a little black girl that was born only 67 years after women were given the right to vote and 23 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They knew at times the world would overlook me, doubt me, and even try to ignore my existence simply because I was black and female. As a child, they taught me to believe in myself. “Always do your best Ashley.” “Never settle for anything less than the best.” “The only way you fail is if you don’t try. You might not get the result that you were looking for but if you learned something then you didn’t fail at all.” Those are some of the things that my parents would say to me growing up.
I sometimes wondered if my dad wanted a boy because you often hear that men look forward to having a son to teach him the life lessons that their fathers taught them. However, if my father did want a boy he definitely didn’t show it. He never made me feel as if I couldn’t do anything because I was a girl. So many times I have heard from other women how they have either felt pressure to get married and start a family or how their dreams were stifled and contained because they were not born as a male child. I for one personally don’t know what that feels like because I was raised in a household where the expectation was for me to be the best version of myself at all times regardless of my gender. I was raised to believe that I am not better than anyone and I should never let anyone make me feel as if they are better than me.
One of the biggest life lessons that I have learned from my father was not in anything that he said but instead in watching his life. Some of those lessons are life will not always be easy and it isn’t always fair. Even the most genuine intentions may be questioned and the greatest desires of your heart may not come easily; however, if you stay the course, keep the faith, and stay true to yourself you have to trust and believe that what is for you is for you. Also, the delay doesn’t always mean denial; sometimes it simply means not yet.
Happy father’s day to all the fathers but a special happy father’s day to the girl dads that never made us feel inferior or second-best which includes my dad. We love and appreciate you!