“I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”
Child, can we talk about Beyoncé and this visual masterpiece of an album known as Lemonade? My family and I came back from a week-long trip in NoCal, and I had no idea this HBO special was in store for BeeHive fans on Saturday. Hell, I’m still trying to brace myself for Game of Thrones today — in case George R.R. Martin decides to play with my emotions. (Jon Snow is alive, damnit!)
Back to Bey.
As I was unpacking my suitcase, I happened to flip past HBO and was immediately glued to the visual testimony Beyoncé delivered. It was surreal. It was honest. It was a throwback to strong black women of the past, and those who are paving the way for generations to come. It was a voice to mothers and queens everywhere, who’ve often had their voice silenced — or have felt too paralyzed to speak.
“I tried to change. Closed my mouth more. Tried to be softer — prettier, less awake.” — Beyoncé, Denial
Lemonade was eerie to watch at times, but is a message that definitely can resonate with women everywhere. This visual album was sweet, bitter, and gave me my life — more than tea ever could. Here are a few things it taught me about being a woman and mother.
1. Trust your intuition.
“Something don’t feel right, because it ain’t right. ” — “Hold Up”
I’m a firm believer that all queens are equipped with female intuition. Sometimes we listen to our inner voice, and other times, we make excuses why we need to put it on mute. Looking back at my life, there were guys I dated who I knew damn well weren’t right for me, and yet, I silenced my inner voice — the alarm of my well-being — for the sake of “love.” Whether a romantic relationship, career, or anything else under the sun, it’s so important for us to trust our intuition.
2. I can do bad all by myself.
“And keep your money, I got my own. Get a bigger smile on my face, being alone.” — “Don’t Hurt Yourself”
At the end of the day, no relationship should make you feel like you can’t live without it. (Unless we’re talking about God, of course.) Too many of us invest too much time, energy, and resources into something (or someone) that doesn’t invest in us. If there’s one thing I learned from seeing both good and bad marriages, it’s this: Your spouse can’t be your everything — and honestly, he/she wasn’t made to be. (Only God can be your all.)
Should my marriage last until my dying breath, I’ll be good. Should it collapse, however, I’ll be okay.
As Bey says:
“Me and my baby, we gon’ be alright. We gon’ live a good life.” — “Sorry”
3. Invest in you. (Make your own paper.)
“She fights and she sweats those sleepless nights. But she don’t mind, she loves the grind. She grinds from Monday to Friday, works from Friday to Sunday. Yeah, yeah, she gon’ slang. Too smart to crave material things; stacking her paper, stacking her cake up.” — “6 Inch”
Speaking of “investments,” sadly, there’s a number of ladies who aren’t securing their financial futures — for whatever reason. Now, please don’t get it twisted: I love my husband. I also love our marriage, including being able to stay at home. (He’s the main breadwinner.)
But, you know something else I love? Making my own coins.
As a work-from-home mom, I’m not only storing away for me and my husband’s future, but my future and dreams, too. I have two retirement accounts. I have a brokerage account for investing. I have 529 college savings plans for each of my kiddos that I contribute to monthly. I’ve seen good women burned too many times from putting their all into a man who holds all the cards and later decides he’s done with the relationship.
Every woman needs to know it’s okay to invest in herself. It makes you a stronger lover, mother, and provider.
4. We often marry our fathers.
“Did he bend your reflection? Did he make you forget your own name? Did he convince you he was a god? Did you get on your knees … daily? Do his eyes close like doors? Are you a slave to the back of his head? Am I talking about your husband, or your father?” — Beyoncé, Accountability
The first man a girl will ever love is her daddy. He will be the one who helps shape her sense of self-worth, and the image she will likely seek in a partner. Being a father can truly impact a generation, as failure to be present and loving will leave a lasting presence on granddaughters to come. I’m thankful for the relationship I have with my dad, and am proud to consider myself a daddy’s girl. While our journey hasn’t been full of rainbows and roses, my father influenced my life in a major way.
“Came into this world daddy’s little girl, and daddy made a soldier out of me.” — “Daddy Lessons”
My dad usually pointed out the people in my life who would do me no good, and wasn’t afraid to point out when he knew I was settling. Through his best traits and weaknesses, my daddy showed me the type of man I should marry. In many ways, I did say “I do” to a guy who shares similarities with my father.
(I’m constantly amazed by this parallel.)
5. Revival takes letting go.
“…Nine times outta ten, I know you’re trying. So I’m trying to be fair, and you’re trying to be there and to care.” — “Love Drought”
I’m not talking about forgiving a man who did you dirty. (I know Bey was touching on infidelity all up and through Lemonade. That’s a personal decision only you can make for yourself.) The song “Love Drought” really resonates with me — and made me think about my own marriage. While there hasn’t been any cheating, reconciliation (after a fight, for whatever reason) isn’t always speedy. Sometimes, my husband and I stay in our feelings. Sometimes, I feel more enraged, because I don’t think my point was made. There are millions of reasons why couples can and will fight. What’s important, however, is to focus on the love you have for each other during those trials, and the reasons why you got together in the first place. I might not always see clearly when angered, but one thing I do know is that my guy loves me and has my best interest at heart. This can often make coming together an event that doesn’t require a ceasefire or treaty.
There is such an amazing power in forgiveness that releases you from the shackles of the very pain that held you captive for so long.
6. Raising black sons makes me nervous …
Day in and day out, I look at people’s faces every time they gaze upon one of my sons. Within seconds, they light up, often smiling and saying things like, “How precious,” or “They’re too cute.” And as much as that warms my heart, deep inside, I know those same smiles will start to fade with each given year. As my sons start to get older, the baby features once considered adorable will evolve into those of a black man. I’ve witnessed the stares of uncertainty and angst my husband receives on the regular. No matter all the polo shirts and khaki pants he wears — or the Masters of Engineering degree he earned at one of the most prestigious institutions in the country — many individuals will only see his blackness, and will deal with it accordingly. He’s been profiled (including in the very community where he owned a home), threatened, and had to grit his teeth and “just deal with it,” in order to make it home safely.
As the daughter of a retired police officer, I often have deep talks with my father about ways I can help protect my children from harm. And while I don’t carry a “chip on my shoulder,” as many feel those who acknowledge this country’s race relations do, all I can do is pray — and raise my gentlemen-in-training to be respectful individuals who stay out of trouble. Even then, there are sadly one too many situations involving a mother’s son who was taught to do the same thing, but met his demise, because a person in his presence reacted off of an assumption — or stereotype.
Beyoncé’s song “Forward” reminds me that my sons’ time of being “cute” and “adorable” is running out. It’s an inevitable reality I’ll have to face that makes me nervous.
7. I am here because of my ancestors who came before me.
“I break chains all by myself, won’t let my freedom rot in hell. Hey! I’ma keep running cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.” — “Freedom”
Yas! Pass that collection plate over here!
One of the things I love, love, love about Lemonade is the album’s ode to women. Beyoncé did a fantastic job of providing glimpses of black “her-story” told through the presence of beautiful women throughout the hour-long special. Grandmothers, mothers, and future mothers alike stood together as a testament of how far we’ve come, and how much further we need to go. Even though I’ve never met my grandparents (all were deceased before I came along), I’m constantly reminded of their spirit and their fight through my mother’s eyes.
I want this power to flow through me, so I can empower my children to tackle life head-on — making lemonade out of lemons — without fear of the unknown. There is a beautiful freedom you feel when you let go, let God, and never give up. Though I can never tell them in person, I hope my life is a living testament to the sacrifices those who came before me made. I’m thankful for what they did, and the battles they fought.
8. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my family.
Watching Lemonade sparked a fire inside of me. It made me feel alive, empowered, and grateful for my life. It exposed me to the truths a woman can face in a relationship, and the strength she builds up to make the best decision. Motherhood, in particular, has given me strength and courage I never knew I had. It’s what keeps me up at night, prepared for the dawn of the coming day, and relentless in spirit.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my husband or kids.
Man, never did I think an album would make me take pause — and write so much about it! I guess that’s Bey’s magic for ya!
Image via beyonce/Instagram