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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Just Stop.

Mommy thoughts: “As difficult as it may get, you actually have to keep going. Don’t let all of your work up until this point, go to waste.”

The Break: This is the 1st time in a while that I’ve sat and wrote a blog out on paper before publishing. For a while now, I’ve been in the habit of typing within the same 24 hours of sharing…I wanted to write on paper because 1. Today called for a separation from electronics and 2. When I write physically, I feel more connected to my words.

Anyhow, I knew it was time for me to slow down when I pulled up home and realized I had not strapped my kid in his seat during our 30 minute drive from school. I also realized that I had spent most of all the drive lost in my thoughts surrounding business, day job planning, to do lists, and so on. And while this wasn’t my 1st, nor will it be my last parenting extreme, it reminded me of that message I can’t seem to connect with. Or maybe it’s that I spend so much time wanting others to get it, that I keep missing it in my own reality. Whatever it be, it continues to be a struggle. Without taking breaks and allowing ourselves the space to stop all movement, we set ourselves up for experiences like mine! Now, does it make me a bad mother? Absolutely not. What would make me a bad mother is allowing these things to continue by ignoring that it’s time for a break.

What myself and I’m sure so many other mothers have to understand is that being a hard worker does not align with not resting and allowing time to stay grounded. We all allow our thoughts to convince us that we’re not doing enough and these thoughts usually lead to us into overdrive to “work harder.” As with the time I left the egg on the stove, or slept through his pick up time, and now this, the message remains that I am not focused enough, because I’m lacking in the areas of rest and recover. Being a mother in itself is hard, so let’s commit to not make it any harder by avoiding the things that are required to succeed. If no-one knows, we should understand that life itself cannot be “built,” no matter how hard you work at it. Life in all it’s forms can only come from another living body, so why not ensure that we are nourished in all aspects to be able to remain that source. At the point that I realized that a break was what I needed I planned a 10 day break from social media and committed to existing only in present moments. I told myself that no matter what was to come “next,” or what I had planned, whatever was meant to be, would be. It took for me to convince myself for the millionth time, that if I am no good mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and socially, then I can be of service/good to no-one!

We have to remember and hold on to the idea that strength does not always come from fighting, working, and moving. We get our greatest strength in silence and stillness, but I can obviously understand how we get away from this concept in today’s world. For today and maybe even the rest of this week, I want you to just stop. Even if every thing in your mind is telling you not to. Take time to stop the norm and commit to only doing things that will nourish you for a day or two! You will notice better moods, more patience for your child(ren), and the ability to see things much clearer. I know we may all have different reasons for why our brains are on overdrive so take time to figure out what your reason may be! Some of the things that helped me during my 10 day “stop” period included:

Wrote a journal each day to measure my own emotions.

Had dinner with family.

Scheduled a full spa day.

Finished an old & Started a new book.

Got dressed up & went to the bar.

No social media.

Spent time with my brothers.

Watched a movie w/ my kid.

Went Hiking

Because it’s usually those smaller tasks that we take for granted that so easily throw our focus. Please share your tips or experiences with taking time to just stop in the comments or find me on social media to share your thoughts! 

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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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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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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.

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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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.