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Growing up, I was the only child for the first five years of my life. Who knew that only three months after turning five, the 100% attention I had become accustomed to having would now be split with another human other than myself. Being the oldest, I often wonder if this is now how my son feels having a little sister in the house. For over four years, my baby had both of his parents all to himself. This meant unlimited cuddles, a lot of spoilage, and constant attention. If anything, it was he who was splitting his attention between myself and his dad. Then along came this new baby in the house who required constant attention for feeding, changing, and putting to sleep. Every two hours she was making it known she was the new baby in the house. I could see that my son was slowly growing impatient when he would ask for things and be told, “wait, I am feeding your sister.” He was not used to this kind of response from me. t
The great thing for me was that I already had experience in what he was feeling so it was easy for me to catch onto the signs. Now don’t get me wrong, Jay is wonderful with his sister, very attentive, and always so eager to help. The thing is, when he wants hugs or cuddles from mommy, it can be frustrating when there is this little human hogging her all the time.
One thing I had to learn for myself as now mom of two, was balance is the key to everything. You have to balance being a mother to not one but two kids, who equally are deserving or your love and affection. It is important that the older child not feel forgotten or neglected. It is also important to ensure that new baby is properly tended to at all times as well. I found what worked for me was to include Jay in the care of his sister so that they equally received my time and he felt included. I would pump a bottle so he could feed her, ask him to get her pampers and wipes, or just sit and sing to her for a few moments. One routine that greatly changed for us was bedtime, so a few nights a week I take Jurni in Jays room and we get in his bed until he falls asleep. For store runs, I found that Jay felt special when I would take him with me and leave Jurni with her dad, because this was mommy and Jay time.
Being a mom of two has taught me more patience and allowed me to play with my creativity when it comes to picking activities around the house. These moments of bonding are not only important for the parent/child relationship but also for the bond that is starting to form between Jayden and Jurni as brother and sister. While it can be exhausting and even sometimes frustrating, the result is always the most rewarding.
To be a millennial in 2018 is an interesting time. I constantly feel as if I am surrounded by individuals who believe that being average makes them ok. When I was growing up my mother would push us to go beyond what was expected of us. Just going to school and being average was not ok. Simply striving to just get a 9-5 was not ok. The expectation was set on us from an early age that we would be more than what society expected of us. This was especially important being African-American in a country that despite its’ progress still saw me as a potential statistic. Everything that I did was done with the intent that I was going to prove that I was the exception to the rule. I tried to surround myself with people who had similar aspirations as myself and who believed in being better than average. I did not want settle for average friends who did not mind doing just enough to get by. I wanted friends who wanted to stand out and be different in a world of followers. It felt good to say all my girls had degrees, their own place, or their own business, or their own achievements. The reason I chose to surround myself around these folks is because my mindset was that, people who are constantly progressing forward will never attempt to pull you backwards because they are moving just as you are. All too often average folks want you to be average just like them and that was not good enough for me. This does not mean I completely distanced myself from those “average” folks. Everyone deserves a chance to grow and sometimes they just need a push toward being great. At Hampton University, they teach all incoming freshman the phrase, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best.” Up until this point, if I have offended anyone, I apologize because my intent is not to put down those who are considered “average” but to say that we should never settle for just being “Average”.
See the thing is, we define what average is to us. For myself average is not using every minute of everyday to gradually improve myself and those around me. Average is not striving to be better than I was the day before. Average is doing what others tell me is the right thing to do instead of figuring out what the right thing to do is. Average is not being with the person I love because society deems it unacceptable. Average is going to a job everyday that I hate because I refuse to make the effort to start the business I love. Average is getting a “C” on a test knowing I was capable of an “A” but just didn’t care enough to put in the extra study time. Average is knowing that I have an opinion but never voicing it. I refuse to be average. I refuse to just do enough to get by. I refuse to live paycheck to paycheck and be ok as long as the lights are on. I refuse to be successful on the level that society deems “I have made it” if I don’t feel that I have made it. I refuse to let others around me fall short of great because being average makes them feel content. When is just being average going to not be enough? When I spend to much of my day not being productive I feel I have wasted time. It is ok to sit back and enjoy life but that doesn’t mean be “average” while doing it. Too many people who came before me worked too damn hard for me to just accept being “average”.
Throughout my life I have found that I was always in a rush to do things before God intended for it to be done. With this comes the onset of stress, anxiety, and worry. All three of these negatives can take a physical toll on a person and affect their way of life. Patience has always been one thing I lacked because being ahead made me feel as if I was accomplishing something. For this reason, I have never really taken a true break. I skipped a grade when I was five and have been skipping ahead in life ever since. When you go through your life this way the possibility of meeting disappointment becomes increased.
I had this special plan for my life that included being married by 21, and my first child by 23 with three more to follow each two years apart so I would be done by 29. Me and my husband would buy our first house by 23 and by 35 we would be on an island somewhere enjoying the start of our early retirement. Sounds perfect right? Well, the thing is nothing in life ever happens the way that we plan it out. What I had to learn was that the plan for my life has already been laid out and my job was just to follow that plan as it is instead of trying to make endorsements. Every choice we make, every person we meet, every evolution within our lives happens for a reason. God is just waiting for you to figure out that he is the one in control not you. We feel like we are in control because we are making the choices but subconsciously we are only doing what was already in the plan.
See as I got older, I found myself getting more and more frustrated that the plan I had set was not going the way I had planned out. At 21, I was not married, although I did have my first child by 23. Seven years shy of 35, I am nowhere close to that early retirement on an island somewhere and well lets just say my child does not have two other siblings each two years apart from him. What I had to learn was that although I thought those were the perfect times in my life, there was actually a different plan set for my life. Too often I see female friends forcing relationships because they are in a rush to be married or male friends making choices based off what they think they should be doing right now instead of letting life happen as it should. I watched a friend of mine go from guy to guy trying to make something out of each one just to by chance meet the perfect guy who it was clear she met when she was supposed to meet him.
My sister once said the mistake that people make is they pray to God to make things happen for them as opposed to asking God to guide their steps in the direction to make the thing they want happen. God does not just give you things when you ask for them and this is key information when walking through life. At 27, I have learned to walk in my faith and trust that God will lead my steps and bless me when the time is right. Your journey is your journey only, no one else. There is no perfect time to do anything and no guidebook that says you have to complete certain life milestones by a certain time. The thing is sometimes it takes a few of us longer to realize this but that is ok because you realized it at your time. Patience is a key and good things really do come to those who wait for them to happen when it is right. You have to remain positive and know that your blessing will come when it is least expected. Things may be hard or seem frustrating but you cannot let that remove your faith that life will work itself out.
So the other day, I am minding my business tweeting away and I randomly receive a direct message. Now, I will be honest, I usually do not pay direct messages any mind because it is usually just someone trying to say follow them or a thirsty individual who I plan to show no interest in. This particular day though, I had a different kind of message. A very nice young woman named Michelle, who authors the blog High Heels And Homework .
Michelle, started the message off by simply introducing herself, stating that she authored her own blog, and she loved to meet new people. I thought her introduction was very genuine and simple. She was not asking me to follow her, buy something, or spamming me. She simply took solice in meeting new people. What started out as a simple introduction turned into a conversation about kids, work, and school. I learned that like myself, she was a member of Mom Bloggers Club and that we were both in similar fields.
After that brief twitter conversation took place I received an e-mail to my personal account from Michelle with an offer I could not refuse. Michelle had graced upon my discussion post on Mom Bloggers Club where I stated that I was looking for someone to review my book Sliding into Motherhood: Life lessons from a bad mom. At the time I had not had any offers so she became my first.
Not only did Michelle offer to review my book, she finished it in one day and had the review written by late evening. What started out as a small form of being kind and genuine, the act of just wanting to meet fellow bloggers turned into a review for my book.
It goes to show that the small act of kindness can go further than just that initial interaction. Here was a message that normally I would have never responded to let alone open it and this perfect stranger showed genuine kindness to me and assisted in this journey I am taking on as a new author. Thank you Michelle. Your are proof that there are still genuinely nice people in this world.
Please check out her blog in the above listed link.
Dear overwhelmed mommies,
Let me start by saying that when God made women he knew exactly what he was doing. There is nothing that God does that he does not do with purpose. Women are given the job of carrying a baby for 10 months (not 9) and from the day that embryo is implanted life as we know it changes. This life controls what you eat, what you drink, how long you sleep, and every move you make from that day forward. There are some nights that sleep is just out of the question and I am not just referring to the infant stage. This goes on even as they grow. I can remember being an adult and my mother sat up all night in an emergency room with me even though she had work in the morning. Those beginning stages of waking up every 2-3 hours, constant crying, and non-verbal cues you are still trying to decipher set us up for what comes later in life. The thing is being a mommy does not mean that life around you stops. Food still has to be cooked, laundry done, work completed, homework if you are in school, house cleaned, etc. I cannot count on one hand how many times I heard a friend complain that she was not even sure how to squeeze in taking a shower. When you are not a mommy you laugh and you tell them stop complaining. When you become a mommy you stop laughing at their complaints because they become your own. Your whole day is built on a routine centered around this life you have. The crazy part is, I only have one. You mommies with multiples are the true epitome of strength. It takes a lot of energy as well as balance to be able to work full time and be full time mom. If you are like me and have to find time to do homework in between all that then you will realize why I titled this overwhelmed mom. My day is filled with running around, cleaning up the same room 3-4 times, trying to decide what we should eat and hoping that Jayden will eat it and not dump it on the floor, trying to make meetings, making sure bills are taken care of, keeping up with my homework assignments, and making sure I spend quality time with my son and not just stick him in a room with a tv and some toys. I do laundry daily and by time I fold it, it is in a messy pile on the floor from him playing in it. We prioritize our time and some of us mommies even schedule everything out in the hopes that things run smooth but then life happens. They spill something on their clothes just as you are ready to walk out the door. You get ready to leave and realize that you sat your keys down somewhere and it is a possibility your child touched them and hid them. You mop your entire kitchen just to come back an hour later and find your child sitting in a pile of animal crackers. You drive all the way to the school just to get there and realize you left the exact paper you drove here to turn in on the table because you got sidetracked when your child pooped after you had finished getting him dressed. You make breakfast for your child and maybe you have a snack bar or some fruit, potentially pick something up on the way. Every morning I am describing I have had. I have combed my hair in the car and even taken my son to a majority of my meetings. Mommies with older kids have sports and recitals and dance classes to get too. Let me not forget the husband or boyfriend who basically serves as another child looking for attention (not all but a good majority). Then you have the days where it seems like nothing you do works and your child is upset at the world and sitting down is not an option. I remember once I sat on the couch for a second and all I felt was Jayden tugging my arm because he did not want me to lay down. I was exhausted but he wanted to go in the kitchen for a snack. Then after getting his snack and attempting to lay back down, there he was again tugging because he needed to potty and then tugging again because he had hit mute on the remote and could not figure out how to get the volume back and then tugging again because his snack was gone. Finally, I just got up and said forget it let’s go for a walk outside. My thought process was that I would use Jayden’s nap time to get work done. Yeaaaaaaa, NO! If Jayden takes a nap then mommy takes a nap.
The truth is when the day is over and we have eaten, Jayden has taken a bath, has pj’s on, and prayers have been said, my most peaceful moment of my day is when he cuddles up to me at night. Everything that could have went wrong in that day is ok because we got through it in one piece. Mommy may have been frustrated or even caught a headache. There is a possibility I screamed in the bathroom really loudly or wished I had a strong margarita in hand. However, if baby boy is good then mommy is good. Sometimes it is true, I feel overwhelmed as if I am trying to do too many things at one time. Then I remember God made women for a reason. He knew how strong we could be and the battles we could endure. God would not place on me and burden he did not feel I could handle on my own.
No mommy is perfect and that is ok. Mommies make mistakes, they lose things, they forget things, and they just want to cry sometimes because it helps. On the other side that mommy is doing the best she can the best way she knows how and every move she makes is motivated by that life she is responsible for. We all get overwhelmed with life sometimes and the key is to remember that it is ok to stop sometimes, breathe, and relax. Life will not end and you will not automatically be thrown into the bad mommy category. I would not change anything about my life with my son because he keeps me on my toes. He makes me question if I have everything together. So, from one overwhelmed mommy to another try not to worry because that smile from your child at the end of the will always make things better.
In the year 2016, we are experiencing things we thought we would only experience in our history classes. People are threatening lynchings, KKK rallies are being held, black churches are being bombed, cops are being killed maliciously, people are marching for equality, and police brutality is rearing its ugly head.
My grandparents grew up during the Jim Crow era of history and even went to all black high schools. I remember visiting with my mawmaw on my others side, in Mississippi to her high school. Her graduating class was the size of one of my English classes I took in school. She showed me the historic drive in movie theater where they would go watch movies and talked about having to go underneath houses to go vote. She attended a historically black college and went on to participate in protest just like those we have now. On my dads side my grandmother told stories of being called a nigger in a grocery store while shopping with her children. My parents were born two and four years prior to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. They were born right into the civil rights era which ended in 1968. Countless people before them fought for integrated school systems, which was achieved in 1954, the dissolution of colored only water fountains and having to sit at the back of the bus. They fought to be able to vote as an equal citizen and have the right to purchase homes in neighborhoods they were once not allowed to step foot in. They just wanted the same opportunities everyone else had.
Now…skip forward to 2016. Someone please explain to me why we are still having to march and ask for the same equal opportunities as everyone else? Some individuals might say, were all free, our schools are integrated, we go to college like everyone else, blah blah blah. However if that were the case, how come when educator and activist Jane Elliot stood in front of a room and posed the statement, “If you white folks want to be treated the way black citizens are treated in this society please stand…”, absolutely no one in the room stood up. Her response to no one standing was, why are you who did not stand and aware of what is happening so willing to accept it for others knowing you would not want it for you. My bigger question is, why are we still having this conversation in 2016.
Now…skip forward again…I have a son now. I have a son who will be two on October 19th and every time I look at him, I ask myself, will we still be having this conversation 10 years from now or 20 years from now. I become extremely paranoid every time his father leaves the house and is gone longer than usual. I have actually called the hospital and the local jail scared that something had happened to him before. As a mother, no one wants to make that phone call for their child or have that phone call made to them. Every time I am in a car whether alone or with my son in the back seat and a police officer is either in my lane or viewpoint, I drive a little more cautiously because I don’t want him to pull me over. Someone please explain to me why in 2016 I and those who like myself have to feel this way? I did not grow up afraid of cops or being told that police officers were bad. My father use to work with the K-9 unit for the Navy, so I never had a bad view of police officers. I have family and friends who swore to protect and serve. Why am I now afraid to have a broken tail-light, a graduation tassle hanging from my mirror, forget a turn signal, or just be in the wrong place at the wrong time? I was arrested once last year. There is a mug shot for me on file with the Virginia Beach city jail. If I am ever wrongfully shot by the police will Fox and CNN parade my mugshot all over the screen to justify why I was most likely shot? Will they treat me as a past criminal instead of a college graduate, a woman with a career, a mother, someones child? Will they dig into my past to find out every time I did something that justifies my being killed. The constitution states that ALL MEN and WOMEN have the right to a fair and speedy trial. Why are people that look like me and my son not granted that opportunity?
I write this long excerpt as my son runs through the house care free, unaware of the world he has been born into. I write this excerpt afraid that society will never change. I write this excerpt afraid that my son will always have to work 10 times harder because he was born black. My family who came before me fought hard and worked hard so that in 2016 I would not feel this way. I kiss my baby boy every night and every morning and wonder what hand life will deal him. What five lessons has society taught me as a mom?
- Even though legally by law me, my son, and those who look like us are free, we are still enslaved by our skin color. We will forever be judged and assumed to be animals regardless of where we come from.
- Not all police are bad but anyone who can stand by and defend their brother or sister knowing they have committed a wrongful act is just as much a part of the problem. I sell insurance but that does not mean I will stand by a fellow insurance agent who shows prejudice and makes racist remarks.
- All lives matter but Black Lives are a little lower on the totem pole and my son falls in that group. When Dylan Roof can kill 9 black people in a church and be given a bullet proof vest for protection, bought Burger King, and a chance at a trial BUT Alton Sterling can be pinned down to the ground and shot point blank range seven times for simply asking, “What did I do wrong officers?”, our lives are not as high on the priority list. What if that were your son?
- Raising a son is not the hardest job I will ever have. Raising a black son is. What type of life would 12 year old Tamir Rice have had if cops had handled the situation better for a little kid who had a toy gun? (Sold in toy stores everywhere) I guess toy guns will never be on the Christmas list.
- As a mother I will teach my son to love everyone regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. , but I will also teach him that sometimes the love we give is not always received back. He should be kind to those who do not look like him but realize they may not be kind back.
My job as a mother is to teach my son in the way that he should go. He should seek education outside of what he is taught in school. He should ask questions. He should form his own opinions and mind, not be swayed by others. He should treat others the way he wants to be treated back. He should be able to speak his mind but also know how to use respect when conveying a message. He should love everyone as a person and not place them into a category. He should be free to love as he chooses to love and be friends with anyone who treats him back with genuine friendship. He should be able to wake up and not be afraid to lose his life for being different.