It’s Challenging

Mommy thoughts: “Having a child makes it hard to let my emotions unfold naturally. Always worried about what I’m teaching my child when the reality is, allowing my emotions to operate naturally won’t do anything, but teach him how to have the best control of his.”

The Break: My point in sharing my struggles in parenthood is never to completely change anyone’s parenting style or even convince anyone that I have it all figured out. I realized over the last month that the only thing separating me from a parent who society would call a “bad” one, is my desire to do the job better than I did yesterday. This and knowing that I want to create a different narrative than what I’ve seen and known parenting to look like over my life span. We all make the same mistakes, we all struggle with it, we all experience the moments that should be smooth, but parenting makes 10x more complicated, and the list could go on. None of us have it “figured out” and that’s why Mommy’s Break remains and will always remain relevant. To remind mommies that you got this, you’re doing your best, and as long as you dedicate yourself to learning within the job, there is no failing. We only fail when we convince ourselves that we have all the answers to a job no amount of practice could’ve prepare you for.

I’ll always believe that motherhood is the one of the most important jobs. We all know there’s no “how to” manual or anything close, despite how easy most of us make it look. Even in believing this, there are certain concepts that it seems impossible to do the job without. One of those being intention. If I had to name the top 3 most important tools for parenting, intention would be at the top of it! In previous blogs I have spoken to intention in parenting and yet, like many, it remains an ongoing lesson for myself. Like spoken to in March’s blog, it’s the ongoing lessons that seem to be the biggest challenges within parenting. The areas where we can all use constant reminders, so I wanted to use this month to provide just that. March was a time of heavy reflection as it practically forced me to embrace the words transformation and acceptance. I took time to reflect about halfway through the month because it felt as if I was losing control of just about everything around me. I also used the time to acknowledge how chaotic things had gotten for our household since the start of 2021. Despite the many things to be grateful for, 2021 also came with new sets of challenges. At least this was my thought during initial reflection.

The reality is, these new sets of challenges aren’t as new as they appear to be.

So what made them feel new? The way they have directly effected Aiden this time around. As they get older, these repeated lessons do come with certain changes, making them even more important to master at each level. The irony lies in the fact that these lessons are usually the ones that have the most potential to become challenge. For this reason I’ve dedicated myself to stopping through EVERY uncomfortable parenting moment and asking myself what my role was and if I was intentional in it. It’s so easy to look outside of our parenting flaws to find blame or reason in someone or something else. When sorting through my own for the past three months, I surely wanted to name the lack of connection from my son as the biggest challenge. When the reality is, our lack of connection is no where near the problem. More so an end result of the actual problem, which is my own lack of intention. And I wouldn’t pretend nor act like going behind your own black curtain is fun or easy. However, I will say its very necessary when you have someone who’s heavily effected by the things behind that curtain, watching your every move.

I want to challenge mommies/parents to join me the next 30 days in practicing intent. Once you finish reading and sharing this post. Write down your top 3-5 intentions/goals as it relates directly to parenting. After writing, store somewhere easily assessable, repeat OUT LOUD to yourself, daily. I would love to hear the changes that naturally come with this practice, during or at the end of your 30 days.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_MsMackkk

Instagram: @_imaniwatson & @mommysbreak_

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24

How can you teach your child(ren) who they are, if you have no clue who you are? A question I struggled with answering since separation from my child’s father. As shared before, being alone is something I never had to experience. From teen-adulthood I formed an identity around my relationship further losing sight of a person I didn’t know in the 1st place. Being able to recognize an identity struggle comes from a place of pain. It isn’t easy and I’ll be the first to admit that it may come with extreme breakdowns. I’ll also admit that this is not my first time trying to explore who I am. However, in order for me to teach my African American son who he is in this world, I know the importance of this personal journey I’m exploring.

One would think that spending 48 hours with no human contact in 2019 is next to impossible, but I made it my reality last month. I spent time going back through the last 24 years and beyond. What was learned is that I have struggled with who I am because I was not taught how to be who I am. Instead, I spent most of my child and teen years covering up certain parts of me to avoid judgement. When your friends and family spend time criticizing you “acting white,” or “being weird,” or the world criticizing you “being  ghetto”, as a child it is easy to revert to hiding. As I have struggled, it has led me into a space of knowing how important it is that I help and support my child as he finds who he wants to be.

Year 24 was undoubtably a great year for my personal development as a mother. As I walk into the milestone year of 25 in the next 17 days, it feels amazing to finally be able to accept myself. I know exactly who I am and can embrace every inch of me. It isn’t for anyone else to understand and knowing that, makes this journey so much easier. Sometimes I like twerking and rapping songs that correlate to my life in no way. Sometimes I’m a book reading nerd who gets fascinated by learning. Sometimes I irritate everyone around me because I don’t know when to stop playing. And sometimes I like walking around in oversized clothes, meditating, and thinking about how I’m too deep for any living being. I am all of these faces and I wear all of them extremely well.

I no longer feel the need to go out of my way to prove  that I was born on the south side of Chicago, I grew up in the struggle, I fought on a regular basis, and that I came from a toxic household. I no longer feel the need to go out of my way to prove that I read for fun, I’m fascinated with school, and that I enjoy conversations about social change. I no longer feel the need to go out of my way to prove that I meditate or that I’ve experienced out of body experiences connecting me to the universe. I am all of this and more. It’s so easy for the world to tell us who we are and what’s wrong with who we are, because the world only sees one body. This entry was so important for me because I am the groundwork for everything as it relates to parenthood. So I challenge not just mothers, but any parent going into this next decade, ask yourself, how can you teach your child(ren) who they are, if you have no clue who you are?

 

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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.

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.

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