“The determination of how good a fellow you are
is the conduct of your grandchildren.”
– The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
When I read this quote in a business book, I sighed with relief, because this is exactly how I’ve tried to live my life since I was four years old.
I’m a VERY anxious person, which is why I find comfort in interconnection. There’s a sense of peace I get in knowing that my fate has already been written, by God and the women that came before me.
My great-grandmother was my best friend when I was four; she got me started drinking coffee and going on shopping trips with her to Caldor on York Road. (I find it fate, not irony, that drove my mom to work on that same plot of land decades later.) But one night while we lay in bed, in the middle of a bedtime story she suffered a heart attack. I got scared, jumped out of bed, and told my grandparents, who called 911.
I will never forget that story: it was about a princess. No prince. I didn’t hear a moral. I never heard the ending, and I never saw my great-grandmother again.
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about my grandmother, I’ve already said more than enough about how important she was to me. Her handwriting is tattooed on my body and in my heart. But when she died, her legacy became very important to me. She was not perfect, but she acknowledged that and in all relationships, tried to right her wrongs. She also had an uncanny ability to make every person in her life feel like they were the most important person on the planet to her; that their relationship with her stayed top of mind, that it was her reason for living.
I hope my conduct shows that my grandmother taught me this. If I die today, and what I’m remembered for is how creepy, passionate, persistent, or annoying I was in telling people how much I loved them, then I would have died a happy woman.
If a God is a superhuman being with power over human fortune, then it was not facetious when Thackeray said, “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” My mother is my God.
I tease her. She’s a whole lot of woman.
But so am I, and I’m proud of that. I can say, without question, that I am as successful, as happy, as beautiful, as blessed, as strong as I am, solely because that whole lot of woman did it before me. I sometimes feel guilty because it’s almost unfair for other women my age- all I had to do was build upon a blueprint.
Never, in my life, have I encountered a woman so strong. Not even Beyoncé. Because when Beyoncé was faced with the decision to choose her marriage or her happiness, she chose the former. My mother, under no circumstances, will ever choose anyone or anything over her own happiness. That takes a tremendous amount of resolve, courage, and independence. I had to do that once, and holding on to that conviction nearly drove me insane.
I got to spend more time with my grandmother and mother, and the two of them live in me like the two twins that make up the Gemini constellation (fate again, since I was born June 14). Yeah, both women literally served as housing advocates in their own ways (my grandmother in her neighborhood, and my mother in government). But my grandmother taught me to love publicly and my mother taught me to support publicly. Both are forms of advocacy. That means the women that came before me wrote my fate to serve as an advocate: for myself, for those I love, and for others.
That’s so powerful. That is divine. I pray their powerfully divine legacies live through me.
I guess I won’t know until my grandchildren are born. ❤️
Bio: Featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, Christine Michel Carter helps women navigate the significant impact of motherhood on their professional careers. She elevates the honest truths of working motherhood as a Senior ForbesWomen Contributor, the author of the children’s book Can Mommy Go To Work?, and the author of the adult novel MOM AF.
Since adding working mother as one of her job titles on LinkedIn, Christine has amassed a large LinkedIn following and has been called the “mother of LinkedIn” by the New York Post. She is a career coach (and is also known as a career doula). She has been called the “mom of mom influencers,” a “branding mastermind,” an “inspiring black mom to follow,” a “mom on the move,” an “inspiring, empowering millennial mother,” the “exec inspiring millennial moms,” and the “voice of millennial moms.”