Re-Learning Them!

Have you ever taken the time to try to re-learn your child? Maybe not, because it is not often that you are given enough space to even think about re-learning them, but maybe it is time to start creating that space. In a world that makes it a crime to take a break as a mommy, it may be hard for you to purposely take space away from your kids. However, you may be amazed at how healthy and helpful doing so could be for your job as a mommy. Since inviting Aiden into this world, I have been shown how much positivity comes from being given a break and accepting those breaks. It has always allowed me to bring my mind back to my body, care for myself, and replenish the parts of me that are needed in order to be a great mommy. For this entry, I wanted to share what has been a reality for me after having a 3 month break from Aiden over the summer. Once mommies have “learned” their child, it is rare to make this an ongoing thing. So often, we as parents will “learn” our children and tag them with this idea that we have of them, even knowing that we are a changing species.

When Aiden returned to me there were obvious differences within him from when he left. It was not the point of me noticing those differences, that I believed that I needed to re-learn him in order for our relationship to be in it’s most healthiest space. It was not until I was listening to a video of Les Brown speaking and he said something along the lines of, “as long as you have something to learn then your business here on earth is not finished.” It made me think about the fact that life is a continuance of learning. And if something as precious as life is meant to be continuously learned, then what makes your child(ren) any different.

It was within the first two weeks that Aiden had returned, that I had heard this quote and thought about it. I thought about how hard re-adjusting was, I wondered if the changes were taking a negative tole on him, I was feeling overwhelmed, and the list goes on. I had been working to fall back into a routine with a kid who had went through changes whether acknowledged or not. I started to focus less on the things I knew about him and instead focused on what seemed to be different and how I could find ways to adjust to those things. How I did this was by acknowledging what he likes and does not, giving options, and learning his new communication styles. As crazy as it may seem, there are many mommies who understandably struggle with something as simple. Not because they are not qualified, but instead because it is easy to fall into the mindset of believing that once you know your kid, you “know your kid.”

I hear mommies especially, say all the time, “I know my kid.” This separation from my own kid and coming to a new realization, makes me want to ask the question though, when is the last time you attempted to learn a new part of that kid that you believe you know so well. I had to realize that there was no routine for me to fall back into because we both came back together new individuals. I understand that not everyone is afforded extended breaks, but that does not mean you cannot apply the practice. It doesn’t matter if you have a toddler, a pre-teen, or an adult child, attempt to re-learn them as PEOPLE, and watch the growth. Do not fall into the normalcy of being ok with re-learning a work system, re-learning your intimate partner, re-learning your friends, the education system, and not giving the same space for your child(ren) mommies!

Summer Break Is Over

On my first day back to class this semester I had a professor tell me, “something is different about you, you have a different glow than you had last semester.”

Crazy to think how fast and slow my break from mommying went by. Also crazy to think how effective the break was for me. I remember calling my cousins earlier this year for motivation to send Aiden to Michigan with his dad for the summer. And as you may recall, in my last entry as well as others, I stress just how important it is to take a break, and here I was finding ways to make myself feel guilty for needing one. Without doing anything spectacular, having a break allowed me to explore myself outside of mommy hood. Whatever your version of a break may be, do not be afraid or embarrassed to take it. Being a mommy is a JOB, you are an EMPLOYEE, and you have a boss who would love you the same whether you choose to stay with them 24/7 or exercise your motherly right in taking a break.

During my three month break, I was able to experience small things that you no longer have once you cross over into mommy life. Things such as, being able to get up and go, engaging in last minute plans, having my own sleep routine, not having to wake up an hour early to get ready for the day, freely scheduling appointments, leaving the house without making additional arrangements, quietness, stillness, and more. All may seem like very simple things, to those who are not mommies, but for those of you that are, you know it serves as a huge release to be able to move freely when given the chance. Or to even spend time alone in your thoughts without hearing the words, “mommy, mom, or ma.” Aside from the “small” things, the break also supported me in developing new business ideas, making exceptional progress on my first book, learning a new skill, I’ve read more books than I have in years, I’ve began meditating, and just so much more.

Truthfully speaking, this break has made me feel refreshed and renewed. I don’t say this to brag, boast, or make mommies who don’t have the option, feel bad. I say this to encourage mommies to let go of the guilt built around taking time off, if it is available to you. I have previously stated how important it is to re-learn and re-develop yourself as an individual once you cross over into this mommy life. If it means for good, no matter the age of your child(ren), take that break that is calling your name. You’d be amazed at what it does for you. I could write for days about how my entire mindset has changed over this summer break, (but I would rather show you how much work I have put in) & believe me it is coming soon!

From being recognized for having a “different glow,” being more in tune with myself, and having developed so much mentally and literally, I feel as if I am in the best shape to get back to the swing of my mommy duties. I am sure September’s post will be all about us re-learning each other’s space as he has also grown beyond what I imagined he would!

It’s Ok To Take A Break

July’s post didn’t come to me as easy as the last few months. Spent a couple days wondering if I would have to come up with an excuse as to why I didn’t write it. To hear that Georgia has some of the strictest child maltreatment and abuse laws, not due to the fact that they care about children the most, but because they experience child mortality rates that are very much so alarming, I instantly felt inspired. After talking with a friend and my second time being in a statewide training on How to be a Good Social Worker: 101. We began talking about the process of potty training toddlers and how some parents struggle with such a simple task to the extent of causing physical injury to their children. It reminded me of why I wanted to start MommysBreak in the first place. When I first had my son and realized how much work it came with. I thought about the fact that there is no epidemic or group of people who are advocating for how important it is to take time from the job of being a mommy.

This conversation sparked a thought process in my head of how easy it is to get frustrated as parents. I thought about how I could not imagine not being able to catch breaks from the job, due to not having a strong support system, especially coming from a co-parent. Mommies have one of the toughest jobs in the world with what sometimes feels like, comes with no reward. We have moved away from the notion of “it takes a village,” when the purpose of this was so that mommies did not have to do EVERYTHING. This often leaves mothers feeling like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Although I have experienced this mostly in clients, I have also seen this in my own personal life. What separates, is that some of us are more determined than others to feel comfortable with taking a break without shame.

And in no way does some mommies having a different way of dealing with the stress of the job, make them “bad moms.” The world can barely handle working a job for 8 hours a day with typically, two full days off. Imagine having a job that’s “never done.” I say all of this to say that the stigma of a mom needing a break having a direct correlation to bad parenting, needs to be removed. As a mom and a social worker, I see so many situations that could be avoided if moms were afforded a simple hand for a break.

I am forever grateful for the people that have assisted me in this mommy journey. As without being able to have a break to be myself outside of mommying, is something I could not imagine. I encourage all to remember this when judging a mom for being tired, needing help, and/or making a mistake. Changing the attitude of judging to one that is willing to help. For mommies who do not feel as though they deserve to receive help parenting, I advise you to seek and appreciate a hand.

Mommies Are Human Too

There was no point before or during my pregnancy that I ever saw myself as a single woman with a 2 year old. Time after time I have looked at other women and not understood how one could conceive a child with someone they knew were not fit for longevity together. It was not until I came to the realization that I was no longer marrying my child’s father, that we were separating, and that our paths were going in two different directions. It wasn’t until that point that I was able to humble myself, putting myself in the shoes of others. Realizing that no one PLANS to have a child and end up single. No one WANTS to be separated with someone who helped them create life. Life just happens.

Fast forward, once I reached an official year of being alone, the fact of being single has been a lingering thought. One that has drove my mind to wonder how someone whose always been characterized as “independent,” can be so fixated on the idea of being alone. My mind has raced with my “dating life,” the lack thereof, who or what I’m attracting, my standards, and all else as it relates. These thoughts eventually turned into self-destructing thoughts. Questioning myself, giving up on the idea of having someone, and questioning my standards.

As I found motivation for my June’s post, I literally felt hit. It hit me that immediately after splitting from him, I dived head first into the dating game. Prior to, I had been romantically involved with the same person since I was 16 years old. 8 years later, we have created a life together, we have been engaged, we have planned AND paid for a wedding, we have lived together, we have experienced and learned everything about adulthood TOGETHER. I have given myself no time to be an individual. I have given myself no time to know who I am. I have given myself no time, period. And this would not be the first time that I have told myself to stop, breathe, and slow down. Somewhere between all of this, there was a fear built. And this is where the realization has come in. My relationship practically picked me up from the friends, family, & other adults that cared for me as a teenager. For the first time I’m existing without the direct support of another adult. So yes, fear lies all within me.

I am scared. I am scared to be alone. Hell, I don’t know how to be alone. But what I do know, is that it is time. It is time to stop putting it off for another day, because what I am finding is that I have continuously engaged in situations, that would only result in me losing myself.

There is enough that comes with the job of being a mommy. I shared my personal experience for the same reasons I always do. I wanted to share the advice that I’ve given myself to reach the point of realization. Nothing is wrong with you, you are human as the rest of the beings in the world. No matter how many times you hear “your baby should be enough.” Yes, Aiden is enough. He is enough & more for being my child, not a mate. Although, I think it’s completely normal to desire a mate, know when it is time to shift the focus. I have had to tell myself to slow down over & over. When the time is right it will come to you. Don’t lower your standards, don’t fault yourself, don’t go backwards, don’t beat yourself up, don’t engage in negative self-talks. Just simply shift your focus. Put the energy into you, your child, and the universe. Because what’s meant for you will always be for you, without force.

Happy Mother’s Day

0E32494F-FB7C-46EE-BF80-7DE1C740E41CMotherhood is hard. And if you’re conquering it, I have nothing but love, gratitude, & respect for you. We live in a world where Mother’s are not readily afforded the level of respect & uplifting, as it’s deserved. Mother’s are given one of the most difficult tasks of conceiving, carrying, birthing, raising, shaping, & preparing another human being to be something that is greater than she may even be. On top of these tasks, Mother’s are not afforded the human luxury of making mistakes without the world crashing down on us. But today, I’m taking the responsibility of praising the one that birthed me.

My theme for this post was going to be how much me & my mother have grown past our differences. I wanted to show how strong a relationship could get with mutual effort, forgiveness, & love. As I searched for a creative space to began writing I decided to instead share all of the great things about my mother. To use this day to celebrate everything I love about her. There are no amount of mistakes, struggles, arguments, or punishments imposed (& there were a lot), that can take away from the amount of love my mom has for me and my brothers. She has proved in every sacrifice just how far she will and always has went to love & protect us.

Mom, thank you. Thank you for the lessons, the sacrifices, & the limitless love. Of course as a teenager being told my shorts are too short, not being able to attend every party, or getting my phone taken away, I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see that you are everything I needed in a mother. You’ve made me into who I am today. I couldn’t be this without you, no matter how much I’ve ever tried to take credit for who I am. It’s because of you that I have a backbone. It’s because of you that I know how to love. It’s because of you that I know how to help others. It’s because of you that I know what hard work looks like. It’s because of you that I know what it means to be a protector. It’s because of you that I feel like a confident mother!

If you’re reading this, use this Mother’s Day to celebrate your mother. Not just by buying a a necklace, sending flowers, or taking her out to dinner. & if for any reason you can’t, celebrate another mother that you’re close to. Tell that mother how & why she’s valued. Let your words be the gift.

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” – Robert Browning

Sleepless Nights

Imagine having to deal with everyday stressors of parenting, on top of having a black son in this life we live in. There is something different in me as I began to write this entry. Something I don’t usually feel when I set out to publish. I usually try to go in with a clear mind and in a peaceful state. I am not at peace at this moment and my mind is totally disrupted. 

When I first got pregnant, I begged & pleaded to the universe that I needed a son. When he was still an infant, I remember my family joking that I might as well put him in a life size plastic ball because I was SO obsessed with protecting him. I was SO obsessed with the idea of not allowing him to feel pain. I begged the universe because I needed to fill a void of my brothers belonging to me, but not being mine. I needed to feel the same love for a black boy & know that no one could take him away from me. But I guess I never thought about the fact that in this cruel world anyone or thing could take my baby from me. The fact that my baby would have one of the most easily disposable bodies in this place I call life. 

At the point that I split with my child’s father, I knew that statistically speaking, I would be running a higher risk of losing my baby in some form by separating him from a two parent household. & over the last year I have struggled in silence with forgiving myself. I have wrote it out, I have stared myself in the mirror, & I have spent many nights fighting tears because I have struggled to forgive myself. Forgive myself for begging for & being granted with a boy with brown skin. Forgive myself for creating unfair circumstances for him. Forgive myself for the stress that me & his father had to go through, effecting our ability to love him, to be present for him, to focus on him. Forgive myself for not being as ready for him as I thought. Forgive myself for disrupting his innocent life. And MOST importantly, forgive myself for bringing him into a world that is not equipped for him to survive in. The scariest element being that I could lose him to this world. & of course I am aware that the one thing that is inescapable in this life is death. But there is something different about the death of black men & boys who are murdered. Connected or not, I ALWAYS feel physical pain in my heart. 

As I have come closer to terms with accepting it & doing the best that I could to forgive me. Death has taken me back to that space that I was starting to crawl out of. Knowing that if I do not educate him on this place I have invited him into, that creates a target on his back & if I over educate him, that too will create a target on his back is an extremely overwhelming feeling. I had been doing so well, so well that I have not had to hear myself say “I forgive you for bringing a child into this unfair world.” Something I had to hear myself say to stop tearing myself apart. & now as I lay here with my baby, I do not wish to move. I keep replaying the conversation with my family about placing Aiden in a life size plastic ball. Because along with that unforgiving feeling, fear lives within me. 

This goes for not just mommies, but parents in general. Forgive yourself. For any reason associated with bringing a child into this world. I share my personal struggle to let all know that you are fighting a fight that many of us do as parents. Although, you may not even be able to identify what it is you’re feeling. We all go through it. & I’ll share what my therapist tries to drill in me in hopes that I could get another parent to believe the same thing. Along with identifying my feelings, I also am able to identify how my ability to parent is effected. When I focus so heavily on self destructive thinking because I can’t forgive myself it blurs the vision of what my role is. My role is to love Aiden unconditionally, reciprocate the peace that he brings to my soul, & to guide him to the best of my ability. Identify your parenting purpose & make that a starting point. Let’s forgive ourselves together! Imagine having to deal with everyday stressors of parenting, on top of having a black son in this life we live in. 

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So, Terrible Twos Really Are A Thing?

If you are anything like me as a parent, I am sure there has been a moment or tons of moments of you “knowing” your children will be different from other children. You “know” this because you will raise them different than other parents. Although, I do believe there are things that you as a parent can deter them from doing based on how they are raised. I am also learning that there are some things that you just will not fall exempt from. One of those things being that stage we call terrible twos. I have been told, time and time again that “terrible twos” are really a thing. And time and time again I have told myself that Aiden will skip that stage because I have already learned how not to parent. 

I gained a little more confidence in this idea when I noticed how advanced he started to become, how we were past the one and a half year mark and I had not noticed any changing behaviors. Of course that being because we are always the last ones to notice our children’s toxic behaviors. I thought, “he’s so smart that it will be easy to teach him how not to behave.” I believe the moment happened for me when we were in a grocery store where he cried to help carry items, then threw them all on the ground when I refused to buy him a toy (in which they did not sell). This is when I questioned if I had done everything right to avoid the stage that everyone claims to be the worst.

As his 2nd birthday approached us, he learned how to say “shut…up mommy,” and also learned to yell at me to “sit on the pot right now.” All things I would look at other parents with a side eye for before becoming one myself. Entering this stage with your little one can be extremely frustrating when you have to also deal with the everyday stressors that come with parenting. Especially when you have focused on avoiding this moment. It will seem as a small deal to those around you. Even those who have had children because for some reason people tend to forget or ignore that this is really a thing.

Going through this stage will also seem like an easy fix when you consider that you are the adult dealing with a toddler. However, these are the moments that require the most stop, think, and deep breathing time. I constantly have to remind myself that as smart as my kid may be he still holds a brain that is not even half way developed. Meaning his ability to act and think logically does not necessarily exist. When I want to drag him out of stores for screaming for a banana or yell “WHAT?!” when my name is called for the 4000th time, I literally have to stop and think before responding.

I would advise not only parents, but anyone who spends time around toddlers, to remember that they are just that, toddlers. I asked a cousin of mine how I would explain that my son is a nut case and she responded when people stare, just say “he’s two.” This is how I remind myself that his behaviors are not a result of what I did wrong in the first year and 23 months. Attempt to let frustration go, even if it means ignoring before you respond. There is something natural about this stage of life for them. Try not to punish or traumatize them for what they cannot even fully understand.

Co-Parenting; Just do it.

When I decided to bring a child into this world, I had no thoughts of what it would be like to co-parent. In fact, the idea of co-parenting was almost like a foreign thought to his father & I. As we know, things happen & life unfolds in ways that aren’t able to be controlled at times. 

From what I saw between friends & family, I knew that co-parenting could be messy, stressful, & unhealthy. This month marks 10 months since I have began the journey of co-parenting. Like all, I have experienced rocky moments, but me & Aiden’s dad have had to communicate throughly & throw the individuality in parenting out of the equation, in order to do what’s best for not only Aiden, but for us as well. 

Of course, there has been times that I have wanted to make my point or ideas behind parenting more important or dominant than his, but it comes down to really talking to myself & reminding myself that this parenting ordeal is bigger than me. There will be things that we don’t agree on & there will be things that we have to make sacrifices & compromise for, but if there is no middle point, the only person/people that suffer are the child(ren). So often, parents think that kids are unaware of their unhealthy relationships, but THEY FEEL IT. 

Co-parenting in itself can be a very contriversial & an easily avoidable topic to discuss, but it’s worth it. My advice to all parents together or not, when it comes to co-parenting, stop making it more complicated by acting off of emotion. It helps to put logic over emotion when considering two different options & ideologies. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to apologize, stop, sit back, & THINK about decisions that we need to make together. The key to co-parenting is “loving your child, more than you hate/dislike their other parent.” Look at your own behaviors during interactions instead of being opt to shun the other for what they’re doing wrong. Parenting in itself is an extremely difficult task, make this one of the easier elements behind it. 

23.

So much has changed in my life between my last post and this moment. Although, writing serves as one of my greatest abilities as well as one of my best coping skills, I have had a hard time trying to actually launch my vision and manage the reality of my life.

Year 23 was such a disgusting one, but in the same breath I’d say it was one of the best years I have had. Being 23 broke me down to the very core and humbled my entire being and for that I am forever grateful. I am grateful for all the lessons in the losses. Year 23 gave me a lot to be thankful for, but it also took a lot from me. 23 took a wedding, my best friend, family, finances, normality, my dignity, my peace, happiness, self respect, life, and stability. Instead of soaking in everything I lost in the last year, I got up every single day and started over. 23 showed me to never get comfortable because at any moment life will come for everything I know to test the strength I believe I have. 23 put me in a boat of vulnerability & desperation to show me that I was getting complacent in the wrong circumstances. On the other side of the coin, 23 motivated me to start grad school, relocate to a different state, seek peace, and learn who I actually am. For these reasons, I characterize it as one of my best and worst years, a concept I have never truly understood until life forced me to.

With all of this, being a mommy did not stop. It took me lying in bed crying while my one year old climbed over my head, jumped, played, and stared at me with confusion, for me think about why it was so important to me to start MommysBreak in the first place. There was no break, there was no pause, there was no moment for me to gather my life while someone else ensured that my motherly duties were done. I felt guilt, I felt sadness, I felt drained because I had never imagined getting to a point of doubting my ability to be a mommy, especially so soon in my journey. I had to find force to turn what I wanted to call “shambles” into my “moment” to grow, to find myself, and most importantly to find peace.

Mommies, we will be ok. As I have written before, there is no rule book to this mommy thing. It did not come with a book of directions, so when things do not go as envisioned, it is extremely hard to remind yourself that it will be ok, but it will be. I know that this will not be my last run in with feeling broken and doubtful, but I have found it extremely helpful to talk to myself, encourage myself, and remind myself on a daily basis of the long term goal. I would encourage you all to do the same. Find healthier ways to create strength for you to continue through any storm you may be facing. Talk to someone, see a therapist, utilize your support system, meditate, write, do anything but give up or in.

“Love Yourself Girl”

I have heard J. Cole say, “Love yourself girl or nobody will,” over 1,000 times in my head over the last 3-6 months. As I begin writing this post, it was literally the only thing I could repeatedly think of. I have spent time trying to think of topics to write about that would hold interest and make a real impact on the mind of many mommies. I thought, “hmmm…I could write about me and Aiden’s first vacation together…” or no! “I could write about being a mommy and doing things like working or going to school…” As I began to type about these topics, I couldn’t even keep my own interest.

I then thought about the things that go on in my everyday life as a mommy. I thought, “what would I want to hear another mommy talk to me about. “That’s when the light went off! How about I write about one of my insecurities as a mommy. I am sure all mommies have them and could use a boost of encouragement. So, after jotting down a few ideas and thoughts, I decided to narrow it down to one insecurity that I know just about EVERY mommy has experienced, unless of course you’re in the 2% of moms that can afford a “Mommy Makeover” immediately after giving birth. Or the 2% of those that snap right back without a tiger mark, an extra pound, or any boobie changes.

 

When I initially gave birth, of course my body was the last thing that I had thought of. I didn’t care to look in a mirror, I didn’t care to compare to another mommy, I was just amazed by the fact that my body had given birth to another human being. As time went on, I begin to examine myself, notice other mommies and their changes, and realize how differently my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Like a human being, it started to weigh heavily on me and my thoughts. Sort of became something like an obsession.

Sacrificing your body is hard. It is not only physically hard to become a mommy, but I have had the experience of it being emotionally hard as well. I myself, have tried many creams to rid of the tiger marks, researched plastic surgery, changed my eating habits, worked out, quit and tried again! Having such extreme body changes on top of all the other things that come with being a mommy can be very stressful.

I would like to encourage all moms to LOVE and ACCEPT YOURSELF. With all that comes with it. As cliché as it may sound, your body did something that not everyone has the capability to do. Love the tiger marks, the extra belly fat, the change in shape, the not so perky boobs, and whatever else may have come with you walking into mommy hood. With that, I would also like to encourage all moms to take care of yourself. Mind, body, and spirit. I started noticing changes with my body when I spent more time trying to eat right, working out, and doing things that promote a healthy mind. Of course, I still have my moments, but let’s do it together mommies. Love ourselves, or nobody will!