4am Thoughts: It’s Not Really A Job

Mommy thoughts: “How often we go behind our own black curtain definitely matters. After all, you can’t improve the things you aren’t measuring.”

The break: Was laying here trying to force myself to go back to sleep, but couldn’t so I decided to write. Most of the thoughts shared on this blog come from a place that once or currently serve as a struggle in either me or those around me, and our struggles in the parenting journey. It’s not always easy to share thoughts that come from a place of struggle, but I’ve found that sharing mine give me a way to easily acknowledge them. I also notice the more honest I am in acknowledging the struggles, the easier they become to address.

So, I ended up woke at this time of night/morning because Aiden needed to go potty. In putting him back in bed, I thought about how warm my heart felt to be a part of the entire moment. Something as simple as him dragging me out of bed, to me waiting in the hallway half asleep (because God forbid standing in the bathroom and “invading his privacy”), all the way to this exact moment of me putting him back in bed and exchanging “I love yous.” If I had any word to explain how I felt in these moments it’d be, soft. Moments like these are always my favorite because they make me feel so pure in all that I am living for when it comes to being a mother. 

In thinking about all of this, it took me to a moment yesterday when his dad referenced me being too aggressive in my interactions with A. I compared the two moments in my head and asked myself what made them different. Why am I so “tough” at times, but in moments like this I’m as gentle as can be. What makes me enjoy taking him to the bathroom in the middle of the night so much but when having to get his seat belt on I somehow end up wanting to snatch his head instead. Maybe it’s because I’m crankier in the evening or maybe yesterday just wasn’t my day, or maybe neither of them are the reasons why. Because in laying here with my own thoughts, it seems like it’s something a little simpler than we can see at times as adults, in general. And it’s as simple as this, parenting should be fun. Parenting is not an actual job. 

This may have been referenced in a previous blog, but it feels so evident in this moment. In past moments, it has been easy to live by the statement of “parenting is a full-time job,” but I don’t believe it was ever supposed to be taken literal. When we take the fun out of anything, we ruin it. It’s something we struggle with the older we get, but it’s such an important part to life. If I’m honest, the times that I am the angriest or toughest on Aiden are those moments that I am treating parenting like I’m being paid by the hour. As stated, my favorite moments are when I can be as gentle as possible with him, because those are also moments where I feel the most connected to him. Imagine how easy it becomes to guide your children if you’re deeply connected in all moments. If you’re enjoying all moments, even the tough ones because we already know they’re guaranteed. Think about how much brighter it’d make the journey of parenting, by simply making it fun. Use this time to stop and think about the moments and the reasons that you are the hardest on your own child(ren). Can you relate to it being when you’re treating it like a job? Whether you answered yes or no to the question, I wanted to share some ways in which you could ensure you’re keeping parenting fun, for not just you, but your child(ren) too! Choose to do one or all, just make a choice to do something! Let’s change the narrative because we all know that 85% of us are unhappy in and literally HATE our “jobs.” Why categorize what should be the happiest space of our lives in the same? I included seven ways to make parentings more FUN below: 

Start the morning/wake them up dancing & singing their favorite song (Ours is currently The Chicken Wing Song)

Choose something to cook/bake from scratch (Our go to is Saturday morning waffles or pizza any night)

Movie night & snacks (I usually end up sleep, but remember, it’s the attempt that counts!)

Game night (Our interests change weekly, but so far, we’ve held a long-term interest in puzzles)

Make dinner a game of “Restaurant.” Create fake $$ for child(ren) to pay, create a menu, & serve as the waitress! (Works better when you have multiple children to play with)

DIY art project (We love to paint)

Join their world for a day! (Do this with a judgement/boss free mind. For a full day bring yourself to your child’s world by doing things like playing with them and their toys, ask about their happiness, watch their favorite YouTube videos, find out what their goals are, do something they want to do, etc. Just release all your responsibility as a parent on this day, regardless of your child’s age, YOU WILL BE AMAZED)

No matter if you decide to do just one, two, or even if you find ways to make fun outside of this list…just remember when doing any of them, the why behind it. Make it fun, allow it to be fun, and create new habits out of them! The goal is to strengthen ourselves as parents and we can’t forget that in the simple moments! 

Please share in the comments or find me on social media to share your thoughts for a chance to win $10 FashionNova gift card! 

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Pride or Parenting?

There are many things involved with parenting that we don’t take the time to think about on a regular basis because it comes so natural. There are also parenting situations that appear to be so normal that most of us don’t give much thought or question to the way we were taught. Imagine telling someone that they’re wrong or that they cannot do something, all with the reasoning, “because I said so” or better yet, not being able to admit to someone proving you wrong, that you’re in fact, the one in the wrong. Probably not that hard to imagine given that just about every parent in America exercises the unwritten rule that children can’t be right, shouldn’t debate with adults, and aren’t deserving of apologies when they prove adults wrong. As crazy as it’d be not to give another human an explanation when telling them they’re wrong or apologizing when warranted, we suddenly lose that respect when it comes to our children, why?

In situations outside of my child, I have never been the one to shy away from being wrong and/or apologizing when it’s needed. It was not initially clear to me when the small habit of teaching him, “I’m right because I’m the adult,” started to develop. Now, of course this isn’t word for word what I teach him, but when thinking about it, this is how insane it comes out when taking away from children solely based on age/status. We were going back and forth and w/o any solid reason other than thinking I knew better, I told Aiden he was wrong about how something worked. He politely proved to me I was wrong and even provided the reasons to support me being wrong. This stopped me in my tracks mainly because it’s not everyday that a 3 year old knows how to prove someone wrong with facts. The other reason being it took me back to my times as a child, being annoyed with adults thinking they knew everything.

It seems that when we become parents, we lose our ability to admit when we are wrong and/or apologize to our children. As noted before, this is something I have experienced as a child myself, watching friends & family have children growing up, all the way into becoming a parent. With this being a norm around me, it never stopped me from questioning the reason behind it. In addition to questioning, it has also served as a long standing parenting pet peeve of mine. That is, up until I found myself being that same parent. When having my experience it caused me to step back and question the messages I want Aiden to receive from me and my parenting styles. It made me think about why I was so uncomfortable apologizing. In the midst of these thoughts and trying to wrap my head around how to handle the situation next time, one word kept ringing, and it was ‘pride.’ Something that can easily sneak up in parenting, but doesn’t always mix the best. As I explored deeper into thoughts, pride was the exact block between me being able to comfortably say, “I apologize for saying you were wrong Aiden, because it was me in the wrong.”

I understand, that not all parents believe it to be as big of a deal, but I will be the first to say that it is. I’ll also be the first to say that trying to teach a 3 year old that his thoughts are valid will probably serve me better than trying to get a 13 year old Black boy in America to believe it later down the line. We often times save tasks and teachings for our children, when the reality is it all starts the day we bring them into this world. I want to challenge parents over the next month to look at some areas where pride and parenting mix for you! In addition to looking at the areas, find ways in which you can exercise less pride and more parenting. As we know admitting you’re wrong is only one of the many ways we see pride take over parents.

Please share in the comments or find me on social media to share your thoughts! 

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Judge Me Not

As I have thought about things to write on, I have tried to process how to share my experience as a mother during such a stressful time. I’ve now had my first seizure at 25 years old. The frustrations of being in the house with a toddler for five months, is something I haven’t been able to put into words. Losing my ability to drive during that same period has carried me to the edge. And I’ve also thought to write about all the other things that I know we’re going through at this time.

While I realize this has been one of the most trying years for any parent, I decided that I don’t want to write on any of the topics initially thought about. After re-reading my first written book, there was something that stuck with me. Something about one aspect stayed on my mind for days after reading it again. I processed it differently and realized how it has affected me as an individual. I then thought it’d be a good idea to share with other parents who may consciously or unconsciously impose the same things upon their children and children’s friends. As hard as it may be to believe, I grew up as the kid that parents didn’t want their kids hanging around. I had multiple friends with parents and caregivers who either directly or indirectly gave clues that they didn’t think I was a good influence.

I have honestly felt over time that I did not care about this aspect of my life anymore. However, something about reading through this experience took me back to the way I felt as that girl. Knowing that I have always carried a good heart for those around me, it was painful to be in this space again. I wanted to use this feeling to share with parents how detrimental it is to stray away from judging your children’s friends, ESPECIALLY while they’re still children. On the outside I played a very tough role as a child, but knowing how people’s parents felt about me carried over into my adulthood. Being older, I am able to connect so many of my experiences to the way my friend’s parents viewed me. I am also able to see how it’s effected the way I cope with judgement in general.

I understand that as a parent, your natural instinct is to protect your child from anything that may look like harm. I have found myself looking at other toddlers and being concerned about how their behaviors will affect Aiden, so I get it. I have also been able to step back and realize what I am doing because it is something I actively work towards growing away from. Taken from my own experience I should know that, 9/10 the children that appear to be “bad” at face value are the ones that parents should be least worried about. If you have followed me for any time then you know that I experienced many things that made me look like a “bad kid” at face value. In the same breath I can offer that my friends whose parents worried the most, are the ones that wish I could’ve served as a bigger influence.

I’d like to challenge parents until next time! I’d like to challenge you to being intentional about how you’re viewing other children around yours. Be intentional about not judging them and thinking that they will “ruin” your child. Put that energy instead into how you and your child/family can influence that child because, as cliche as it may be, you truly never know what that child may be experiencing outside of what you see.

I’m Upset

The older I get, the more I find myself so frustrated with the structure and dynamics of The Black Family. Before you question my audacity during such a sensitive time, just continue…

Imagine having a passion and love so deep for something all the while deeply despising it at the same time. This is the only way I know how to word my feelings towards the dynamic of The Black Family. I have personally spent more than enough time with families of other races, to know that we have one of the most unique, both in positive and negative ways. Who is to blame comes with a story hundreds of years old, so instead of focusing there, today I feel the urge to direct my frustration at the solution.

While I may be no expert, I do feel equipped to help not just Black families, but all families. My choice to target Black Families this month comes directly from the fact that I myself am the product of a Black Family. And while being a product of such, there are many things that contributed to who I am today. There are also things that I saw and promised not to reciprocate when starting my own family. We do so much damage within the structure that many times outside factors bounce right off. We have confused this with “being strong” or being toughly built, when in actuality it’s the start of our trauma that we so often inflict upon our children and/or anyone else close to us.

I decided to offer my personal outlooks on things that we have accepted and found comfort in as Black family units. I don’t only offer these things by opinion, but through addressing my own trauma, attending therapy, my exposure through education, meditation practices, mentors, work training, experience, and the like.

  1. So lets start with the infliction of your own pain on your child(ren)

We often become so numb to our own pain that it makes it difficult to see when we are acting from a space created by that pain. It is not fair to your child(ren) to be the target and/or resource for your anger, pain, and trauma. I have witnessed this happen so effortlessly in our communities and have even caught myself in moments of addressing my own child. SEEK HELP. And when I say this, I don’t mean it in the comical way that we have created in the statement. I am a huge advocate for receiving therapy and addressing your mental health. You may not even notice that there is something wrong due to how much we’ve normalized putting the same pain that we’ve experienced unto our children. We hear it time and time again that child(ren) do not ask to be here. Remind yourself of this anytime you feel yourself lashing out, harming, and/or getting upset in general with your child(ren). It is more than okay to be upset with them when appropriate, but always allow yourself to reflect on those moments and question what space you address your children from when you are upset.

2. The idea that your children are “being grown,” ESPECIALLY your daughter

Can I just say I would love to know what the f*ck, “being grown” is?! This has always been one of my biggest pet peeves. Mainly because I ONLY hear it in the Black community. A child is not “being grown,” because they are mimicking the things that they see around them. This statement creates a fear and confusion for children and their learning abilities. It also teaches children that “being grown” is a bad thing, when in actuality it’s the thing we are grooming them for? Imagine how confusing that is. While I can create an entire blog for this section, I’ll just leave it here…Children mock what they see because they are looking for a place in this life. A child being able to express their emotions, openly communicating their thoughts and feelings, and repeating behaviors they see, is simply them looking for themselves. That’s not to say that children don’t engage in behaviors that they know are wrong, but it’s to offer a better way of communicating right and wrong to your child(ren). Because 9/10, that action that caused you to tell them “stop being grown,” is an act that they have seen and/or heard from adults that you’ve allowed them around. Let’s get and stay away from the, “I can do this in front of you, but if you mock it, you’ll get beat for being grown” ideology.

3. Blaming your children for your failure(s)

Your child(ren) hold no responsibility for how YOUR life is panning or has panned out. Release the animosity, the anger, and the blame and find the true source of blame for your failure(s). Your child(ren) don’t deserve the retaliation and we must let go of that natural space we created for the, “if I didn’t have you, I’d be here…” mentality. It’s not fair and whether you know it or not, it plays a huge role in all of your interactions with your child(ren). Use that energy, all of it, to ensure that your child(ren) are never put in a space where they could reciprocate your mistakes. It’d go so much further than the indirect blaming.

4. Choosing when your children are able to be people

Imagine how it makes your child feel seeing you argue with someone about lack of communication, respect, and support…Only to turn around and tell them that they are not allowed to communicate their feelings, because it puts you in an uncomfortable space. I allow my child to be a person in all aspects, even at 3 years old. Why? Because at 13 I was told that I was “too young” to be depressed and two years later, I tried killing myself. Why? Because I had NO IDEA how to properly communicate my feelings. Just because a PERSON is under 18, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they have feelings, they have emotions, they have all functioning parts of being a human. Black communities and families have created a narrative that does not support and/or allow children to be people. We have also created a culture in which we say things to our children that we wouldn’t say to anyone else in the world because of “authority.” If you would’t tell a stranger to “get the f*ck in here and do what I said, because I said it,” then tell me where you find comfortability in talking to your child(ren) in this manner?

5. Lack of equal respect

Imagine a world where we tell our children, “treat people how you want to be treated,” to turn around and treat them with ZERO respect. AND THEN, being flabbergasted when they grow up with no respect for authority and/or you for that matter. Doesn’t make a difference if your child is 0-18 years old, RESPECT them. It costs nothing to show your child(ren) what it feels like for someone to respect them. Imagine the amount of trauma your child(ren) would avoid or inflict, by learning what it’s like to be respected from the person that serves as their first safe zone…

LET’S DO BETTER!

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