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Everyone has a first memory. While I can’t tell you exactly how old I was, one of my first memories is a bittersweet one. I was at school when a boy in my class decided my hair wasn’t pretty and he wanted to do something about it. He grabbed a handful of my hair, balled it up and ripped it from my head. My scalp was bleeding, and I was hurt and embarrassed by what had happened.

On a typical day in Senegal, your entire family will be outside after school, visiting and having tea,  but on this particular day, it was just my mother and grandmother. They were sitting together on a mat enjoying one another’s company when I ran to my grandma sobbing about my hair. My grandma laid me on her lap as my mom went to get shea butter. My grandmother slowly massaged it into my scalp as she sang to me, my mother joining in on the harmony. We sat there for what felt like an eternity. Though it started out as a bad day, this first memory is actually one of my favorites. The love and tenderness I felt through my mother’s and grandmother’s hands and voices made me feel safe. 

I’ve had that feeling a few other times in my life, always with those I love. Anything traumatic that has ever happened to me has been soothed by a woman, whether it was my mom, grandma or best friends. They have relieved my pains, allowed me to express my emotions and rejuvenated me with their love. Women are blessed with the gift and ability to console, nurture and care for others. They’re selfless and underappreciated, but so needed. 

When I think of Mother’s Day, I don’t just think of my mother and grandmother. I think of all the women I’ve crossed paths with who have given me pieces of themselves without expecting anything in return. I can’t think of anything more beautiful. Mother’s Day isn’t only about those who raised you, or those who have had children from their womb. It’s about those who nurture and love you unconditionally. That’s who I’m celebrating today. Women. Nurturers. Those who pour love into those around them. I hope you know that you are loved and appreciated for your selfless care today and always. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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