Who Are You Choosing?

Listening to a speech by Will Smith last week there was a line that stuck out to me. “Everyday we wake up, we are choosing sh*t that is not in our own best interest.” It sparked a thought in my head, of all the choices I make for myself on a daily basis. It made me wonder why we are so easy to choose something no matter how negatively it may affect us, or how many times our gut tells us to choose the opposite. Even in situations where we can recognize that we should choose ourselves and what’s best for us, we still find ways not to.

As a mother or caregiver of any sort, you have been conditioned to believe that choosing yourself is, “selfish.” The society that we live within has told you that it’s not ok to put yourself before anything that you hold a title over. This is especially true for those of us who are mothers. It’s almost as if you choosing yourself becomes a sin the moment after peeing on a stick and it’s emphasized beyond measure once you give birth. You easily lose sight of not only who you are, but also your ability to put yourself before all other things. You eventually won’t see how choosing yourself is not only a priority, but it should be your 1st one.

I have found my biggest struggle in choosing myself, lies in my relationships. Before 2020, I don’t think I have ever lived on a path of consistently choosing myself. I actually learned at 24 years old that I have spent most of my time being a “people pleaser.” I put it on my “master list” for this year and have found that it’s a path of pure happiness. Has it been perfect? No. Has it been easy? No. Have I had people misunderstand? Yes. But, has it been worth it? Absolutely. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to trade any of the “loses” in people I have experienced over time, due to choosing myself. As stated, I have spent just about my whole life, choosing everyone around me and valuing their happiness and peace over my own. I was conditioned to believe that keeping the people around me happy and “pleasing” was the key to keeping my relationships strong. At the point that I began simply, choosing myself, it was easy to see that my pleasing and choosing of others was the only thing keeping some of those relationships going.

Think about when you were a child. How hard was it to ALWAYS choose yourself? We have to start seeing it as a natural and pure act. If we don’t sell ourselves short on anything, we make sure to do it in our abilities to choose as we get older. If we lost everything we had in life, the one thing that would remain constant is our ability to choose. Choosing ourselves, what’s in our best interest, and choosing the things that choose us back. We cannot allow the world to tell us that there’s something wrong with this. I want to challenge mommies and all other readers to use the next month to be intentional about choosing yourself. I am also asking that you share in the comments, 3 ways that you have chosen yourself in the last month! This will enable you to think about how much or how little you choose yourself.

Find me on social media & share on the your thoughts on this blog post!

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Quarantine Learning

Funny how in the beginning of quarantine, I was in bliss with finding time to embrace solitude. Two months later and I have now realized that this can also be a formula for  leading someone into insanity. Sitting at home for 8-9 weeks at a time, with a toddler who can only understand current times as an extended vacation can be one of the hardest jobs. I have no problem admitting that this has been one of the most trying times for me as a mother and as a person in general. I initially wanted to isolate to find some balance within finishing grad school, parenting, working from home, and adjusting to rapidly changing times, but I found much more than what I was looking for.

During the month of April, I took 2 days to be completely isolated from the world. I did this with the intentions of finding balance and understanding where I was struggling with this new way of life. To my surprise, the uneasy feeling that lead me into this, had more to it than just my struggle with abiding by a “Stay in Place” order. Some of the things that I learned during these two days included…

  1. Quarantine is getting to me more than I was able to admit. The lack of structure in life and uncertainty has had an effect on my thought process and mind.
  2. I have to change my DNA to fully achieve the transformation I am looking for.
  3. I have a problem with my attachment to people.
  4. Love is not an emotion & “need love” will never work.
  5. I need to be back in therapy and stop taking breaks.
  6. We are not all in the same boat. We are just experiencing the same storm.
  7. I need to be more serious about my craft.
  8. I have not been grounded in a healthy space.
  9. I want 100% happiness & peace and I won’t stop until it’s there, no matter what.
  10. Aiden brings light to my life in ways that I don’t fully understand.
  11. I truly want to give up hard liquor.
  12. Physical health is more important to me than I realized.

Even with being the author of the list, it still caught me by surprise. These were not things that I went in thinking that I needed to address and/or work on. They were things that came to light when I took time to figure out why I felt so imbalanced. I have not completely worked through all 12 learned points, but I have definitely been able to find some peace and balance in knowing exactly what it is I am to work on during this time and after! With this, I would like to encourage mommies and any one else to take time to balance yourself in whatever way that may be.

Those of us at home with children know that there has not been an “abundance of time,” afforded during this time. Or so it may feel that way. Do not beat yourself up further, but instead figure yourself out and where you are struggling the most. Meditating and writing are responsible for keeping me out of a mommy psych ward & I would love to hear about how you are keeping yourself out of one!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND MOMMIES!

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Solitude

626BD9D6-3242-4068-9169-93A9933CD65DSolitude and its power has to be one of the most underrated things to value. I have been wondering why I feel so calm with everything going on around us in the world. It was not until I began writing that I realized exactly why I am in a state of calmness. It is in direct correlation with my level of gratitude for being alone. Being “quarantined,” is an  escape I have been longing for weeks. And while it is under strange circumstances, I am grateful.

I stated this year, I would release all of my blogs on the 12th of every month. Following my verbal commitment to that, I have constantly found myself in weird spaces since the start of this year. I have also hesitated on this entry as I knew what I wanted to talk about, but could not find the words as easily as usual. I decided to use one of my journal entries for this month’s blog. It is my desire that my mommies/followers will look at my personal stories and find relief in knowing that we are all trying to figure this out.

3/11/2020:

“Solitude…It’s so very often taken for granted. Throughout life we’re taught to forget that we enter & we leave alone. We’re taught that when we want to be alone, we’re “being weird.” We’re taught that our space should be filled w/ activities & people…we’re taught how to drive ourselves to insanity. Two weeks ago, I expressed to Desmond that if I don’t get days to myself then I know I’ll lose it soon. Luckily, I’ve been so dedicated to my emotions & inner thoughts that as I felt myself losing it tonight, I pulled this journal out.

When you become a parent, a mother in particular, it’s rare that you achieve meaningful moments of solitude. If you’re anything like me as a mother, then you fill those moments w/ working down your to-do list, catching up with other people, or creating more things to do. 1/15/20, I moved. A week later I booked my weekends w/a second job. I’ve had visitors none stop. I haven’t spent a day alone with my child, let alone a day w/ myself in almost two months. If this isn’t self destruction then I don’t know what is. I have learned and I have accepted that in this current space of trying to figure out who I am, I function best alone. & what have I been doing? Avoiding and abandoning that time. The why? Something I can’t understand & probably the reason for these tears. I can’t answer the why, but I can recognize the problem and I know how to address it. When you get to a space where you see yourself adding to your demise, but you can’t answer why you’re doing it, it causes a pain. A confusion that I’d call beyond frustrating…

Advise to self: Take time to yourself before you destroy yourself.”

I felt so sad writing that entry and a week later, I know exactly why I have been avoiding being alone. Sometimes, it takes stepping back and watching yourself from another perspective. Pain is not a natural feeling and when you have experienced so much of it, it is easy to make yourself believe that it is a part of who you are. As Aiden’s dad told me, if I am not being all that I can be for myself, theres no way possible to be all that I need to be for Aiden. My avoidance of being alone, was to run away from the emotions of lost. As I entered 2020, I experienced great losses. I knew that I was not ready to deal with my natural emotion of lost so I purposely filled my time and space with people and things.

Telling myself that it is ok to experience unpleasantness and to acknowledge that I am feeling it. However, running away, pushes me further into that unpleasant space. Challenging all my mommies & followers to make that a goal for the next 30 days! Take time to yourself and find a deep appreciation for it. Don’t fill your empty spaces and time, with people and things.

Keep The Same Energy

Isn’t it funny how adults will acknowledge that children are sponges in all areas, BUT energy and emotions. I have always found frustration in adults not allowing their children to have emotions as it relates to being sad, mad, or frustrated. Especially when children are picking this up from the adults around them who are feeling these emotions. As adults, we transfer certain energies onto children and get frustrated when they exhibit them in their own ways.

I remember growing up hearing, I was too young to have an attitude or that I did not know what it meant to be mad. It was not until I was on the floor crying a few months ago that I realized that being a sponge goes beyond the scope of repeating cuss words and saying “oh lord,” when he is shocked. As I was on the floor crying, Aiden not only demanded to know what was wrong, but seconds later he was on the floor pretending to cry beside me. Immediately I thought this was hilarious, but over time it has provided me with a new perspective. He initially came into my space very energetic and this quickly turned into him worrying about me and trying to match the emotion that I was feeling at the time. Children are sponges to much more than what we like to acknowledge. Imagine if we taught our children how to be happy, how to properly love, and what it feels like to have internal peace.

With this, I have been doing a lot of spiritual/soul work to be more in tune with my own emotions in order to better regulate them. It has led me to the question of, “What kind of energy or emotions am I comfortable with transferring to my son?” Adults have one thing if nothing right about children experiencing chronic negative emotions, it isn’t natural. Children are experiencing anxiety, stress, and anger at higher rates, not only due to the world we live in today, but parents are unintentionally transferring these things onto their children. It is not something that is thought about on a regular basis, because most times it is not something that is being done purposely. And while it is easy to get lost in the stress of all that parents have to worry about, it is important that we start being more intentional about the emotions and energy that we are teaching our children to carry.

I  do not say all of this to say that it isn’t normal to experience negative emotions because they are too natural emotions. What makes it scary is the fact that when you have no control over them you are not able to teach your children what it means to be be sad, mad, or hurt. Speaking for myself, I grew up a very angry child and person because I did not know what to do with the emotions or energy of being “down.” I lived in spaces where arguing and fighting was normal, negativity was normal, and being stressed was normal. This led to me picking these things up and exhibiting them in my own ways. which often led to me being in trouble. We set children up for failure when we can’t tell  them something as simple as, “you are upset right now, I will let you feel this emotion.” Believe it or not, I have people that actually judge me for allowing my son to have emotions. At two he is able to communicate when he is mad, when his feelings are being hurt, when he feels someone is being mean to him, and so on. I am happy to say, that he will never get in trouble for telling me or his dad that he is upset.

I’d like to challenge all my mommies this month to be intentional about what emotions and energy you are transferring. At the same time, when your child experiences an emotion that they were taught, but have no clue what to do with it, use it as a teaching moment! I’d love to hear feedback on how this goes!

 

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“Oh Sh*t!”

Your kids trying to be like you and mimicking your every move can be the most adorable thing. That is until you’re in the car, police sirens go off, and your two year old is throwing his hands up yelling, “oh sh*t, it’s the police.” Or when that same two year old is shocked by your action and responds slowly asking, “what the hell?!” And while some may find humor in this, I wanted to use my experience to remind mommies this month to be mindful of what you say and expose your children to. Having a potty mouth is not the only thing I have unconsciously rubbed off on Aiden. He has also threatened to “whoop my butt” for saying things like “shut up,” and has even started telling me, at two years old, what he doesn’t care about. Of course his every action is not necessarily something that he got from me or even his dad. However, seeing that parents are the closest and most influential for their children, I think it is important to remember they are watching and learning from us on a daily basis.

When I first noticed his sponge like behavior it was during moments of him saying things like, “are you kidding me?!” or “I’m dead,” to insinuate that he thought something was funny. This did not cause me to be more mindful because I was trying to convince myself of him being too young to start reallytesting the waters. It was not until he started doing things like telling me to lay down before I get in trouble or telling me what “gets on his nerves,” that I paused and realized that I should start taking what he’s exposed to just a tad bit more serious. He has slowly but surely fell into his phase of repeating everything he sees. He is learning independence and in that process, both appropriate and not so appropriate behaviors are being copied as he finds his way into who he’s going to be.

I did not believe that at two he’d start wanting to brush his own teeth, wash his own face, put on his own clothes, and at least attempt to make his own bed. Let alone, would know how to use cuss words in the correct context or repeat stories with extreme detail. I truly thought that I had a couple more years, which I’d assume many parents make the mistake of thinking. And sure, I have always been told “they are watching” or that “kids are sponges,” but it’s not something that resonates when you’re going through the motions of day to day living.

They are not too young to understand and on the other hand, it’s not fair to punish them for things that YOU are teaching them, whether unconsciously or consciously. My experience these last couple months have made me think about how I always hear parents say things like kids are being “too grown,” or punishing their kids for behaviors that they have only learned from adults. I want to challenge parents to instead start thinking about and looking at their behaviors and where they are learning them. It may be time for you to take the exposure more serious. From yourself, the people you allow around your child, as well as what you’re allowing the media to expose to them. It is great when Aiden’s asking to wear my glasses to read, when he’s asking if I’m ok when distressed, and telling me “it’s ok” when I apologize. But, as parents it is important to remember that those cute things are not the only things that they are soaking in.

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.