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.

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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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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. 

11 Months Later

Imagine being a full time mom, a recent college grad, starting your career, moving into a new apartment, maintaining friendships & kinships, and trying to run a social blog for moms who need a break?! How ironic. For lack of better terms the last year has been, eh, scary. Life has felt like it’s been in overdrive & the saying, “A mothers job is never done” has become a reality for me. I thought with the ending of college, my life was on the road to peace, normality, and free time, when in fact it’s been nothing but the polar opposite.

When I first started MommysBreak, I thought I’d use this as my free time. That every week I’d take a few hours to myself to be dedicated to this. It is hard. It is hard when you haven’t seen your kid(s) for 8 hours of the waking day & they’re sleep for another 8-10 hours a day. When I get home from work, I’m immediately rushed by thoughts of what to make for dinner, bonding time with baby, and trying to be in bed before midnight. I used to think mom’s who were oh so busy wanted their lives to be that way. I thought how could a baby who can’t talk or walk really keep you busy 24/7. I have been humbled over the past year without a doubt. I have learned that it isn’t necessarily the baby who is keeping me busy, it’s the point of having a baby & trying to lead a life that includes things outside of him.

As I write this entry, I think about why I wanted to start MommysBreak. I think about my state of mind after I didn’t post for 30 days, then 60 days, then three months, then 6 months, & before I know it, it’s been 11 freaking months! I was tempted to let it go to waste. The website I built & paid for, the drive I had at the beginning, & all my ideas. I thought “I should just wait to do this until Aiden is older.” Or telling myself “I just don’t have time right now to run a blog.” And that’s just it mommies. We convince ourselves that we don’t have time for anything extra outside of the necessities. I am very well aware that this is the start of sacrificing things that make you happy, welcome to mommyhood right?

Please take time to yourselves mommies. As mothers, we can easily keep up with the excuse of not having time. Make time. Create a strong support system and make time to do something that makes you happy. Start that gym membership, go pamper yourself, go out for a girls night, register for that class, open that book, start that business, engage in a hobby! I’m not giving this advice because I have it mastered, but because as I’m working on it, I would like other mommies to do the same!

I Know You’re Weird, but What Am I?

Hi mommies!

Funny how if you choose not to share a part of your lives with social media, people automatically equate it with something being “wrong.” Every now and again people around Desmond and I will express their opinions with us about how “weird” it is that we choose to keep Aiden off of social media. What baffles me about choosing to keep him off, is that we’re occasionally hit with how “stuck up” or “weird” we are. When people realized that we were choosing not to share him, we were swarmed with remarks such as being “like Kardashians,” or “thought Aiden was Blue Ivy.” I understand that we live in a world where we cannot brush our teeth without letting social media know how many times we stroked the toothbrush, the type of toothpaste we used, and how long we brushed for. But sheesh! I can’t choose to enjoy my son in REAL life without incorporating social media into his life, without being treated like I walk around with a blanket over his face?

Somehow keeping Aiden from social media is always equated to him being a “secret.” We do not give those closest to us any notion that they cannot see him. There hasn’t been a week since he has been born that he does not have visitors at the house, we take him to all events we have attended, his grandparents and close family receive pictures of all his cutest moments, he’s even been out of state three times. And yes, IN PUBLIC. What we are doing IS normal.

As I have grown older, I feel the need to share less and less with social media. Watching those around me and their use of social media shows me more and more how much of a false sense of security it creates. We as a society have grown very fond of maintaining self esteem and approval based off of likes and emoji heart eyes. I initially did not want my son or his value to be based off of how many likes or comments his pictures received. We all know that it just happens, even if sometimes unintentionally. I didn’t even want to chance me having to think about the judgments of social media, how many people screenshot him, or how many group chats he would end up in without my knowledge. I get it, some people thrive off of knowing that they or their children are apart of conversations, but not me. One mom put it in perspective in a way that I am sure we don’t all think of when choosing to share our kids most adorable moments, “Posting that takes advantage of our children’s vulnerability to gain attention for us, the parents.”

Once he was born it made me not want to share him even more. From his innocence to enjoying moments in real time, it just drove me further into not wanting to share him. When I post pictures of myself, I sometimes find my self looking at every detail of the picture before posting it, to ensure that it’s the “right” one. Sometimes taking a selfie 20 times before deciding that I have the “right” one. I remember thinking to myself, do I really want to create that environment with my child who has NO idea what this life thing even means yet? I thought, why would I subject our relationship to that when I can just enjoy EVERY single moment in real life and it’d always be “right.” Enjoying him in reality, there is never a “wrong” face he could make, a “wrong outfit,” or a “wrong” moment.

Now mommies, you all have the right to choose what and how you  want share your child(rens) moments (with input from dad) lol. What we are seeing with this new generation of children is something we have never seen in the history of humans. They are the MOST exposed generation known to man. We don’t know in what ways it will effect them and won’t know until they are older. Subjecting children to the judgments and creating a social media identity for them before they even have a chance to know who they are, is a risk I am not willing to take as a parent. This is not to say that I will blur his face out of all wedding pictures next year or I’ll never share a family photo. I will say that, for now, I like it how it is.

I am not here to influence mommies one way or the other! Just wanted to share my own experience. We did not decide to shield him from social media in hopes that sites would pay us to post him. So for that matter, we’re nothing “like the Kardashians.” Neither are we trying to build up anticipation for the public, “like Blue Ivy.” We are just simply doing what we feel the most comfortable with as Aiden’s parents!

Catch a break next week with MommysBreak!