Maybe my daughter starting middle school in the fall has me a bit nostalgic, but recently I started thinking about how much of a blessing the city I once despised has been to me since I returned in 2006.
Like most teenagers, I reached a point where I wanted to get as far away from home as possible. Call it teenage arrogance or just growing up, but there were a few days where I believed I would be just fine if I never saw Birmingham again.
Fast forward about 15 years later when life had beat upon me a few times more than I care to admit and my baby girl had come into my life. Without my permission, my heart started longing for home, and there was a huge desire to return to the people and things I once thought I never wanted be around again.
Since returning to Birmingham, I’ve realized the following, and I want my daughter to realize it too:
- Family is everything. Yes, they may get on your nerves sometimes and you might argue, but at the end of the day, these are the same people who will have your back all day every day, and you should make sure you have their backs too.
- You come from a good neighborhood. My daddy used to say this all the time when I was a kid, and the more I think about it as an adult, I realize he’s right. My parents raised me and my two brothers to love God and to make positive contributions to not just Birmingham, but the world at large. I’m raising my daughter to do the same. If people want to look down on her because of where she was raised, that’s their problem, not hers. I don’t ever want her to be ashamed of where she comes from. I’m teaching her to say “I’m from Birmingham” with her chest out.
- Love exists where you least expect it. If someone would have told me it would take me returning to Birmingham to find true love, I would have laughed until I cried, but that’s exactly what I did. I want my daughter to know that true love does exist, and it might not necessarily come in the place you expect, so be open to it whenever and wherever it comes.
- The grass is not greener on the other side. I lived in New York for almost thirteen years. I know in order to appreciate what I had here in Birmingham, I had to move away and see things from a different perspective. I know that my daughter is going to have to learn that lesson too, which leads to my final thing I want her to learn:
- No matter what, you can always come home. No matter how crazy life gets or how much she thinks she’s messed up, she can always come home. Nothing—absolutely nothing—she can do or say is ever going to stop me from loving her.
What lessons do you want your child to learn from where she is being raised?