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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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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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.