the truth is, as any of us know since all of us were born to mommas, that it can be hard to love your momma. but then you can't help but love them either. even in those moments when loving them is the last thing you wanna do. bell hooks writes in her book COMMUNION about how part of the trouble of life under patriarchy is that women expect not to really be loved cause women are portrayed so badly in such a culture, and the love their looking for, on top of that first problem, isn't genuine love at all but instead a kind of being-owned, or constrained. bell hooks discusses in her text how women might face such a challenge and over come it to experience instead a love that is simultaneously a form of freedom in commitment. i was raised by the fiercest woman i've ever known. she epitomizes the notion of woman warrior--mother protector and i am forever grateful for it. she taught me that truth be told, bell hooks is right and in the midst of that i was to be protected and protect myself too and that in these basic ways i deserved only to be treated with respect. i've had my own challenges to face. but the fierce-protective earnestness of my mother gave me my first foundation to face those challenges, to be bigger than them, to demand more of myself in the midst of them. she taught me that women can be strong and that no matter what anyone else thought it meant to be a woman, i could choose for my own damn self. somehow she instilled in me the sense that i am to be respected the second i walk in the room. i am not to be messed with. i am to be regarded. i have had to go on to learn how to have my own softer heart. but even there she gave me clues. she loves children and animals and quiet moments more clearly than anyone else i've ever met. she showed me how to protect myself so that in the middle i can have that tender heart. and she also taught me the delicate balance that i can look damn good in a dress, then later, after we get home from church followed by pastries, or from a wedding followed by a glass of wine, i can take off the dress and look damn good in a pair of jeans too.