Motherhood for Dummies

1When my husband left for a few weeks earlier this summer, I dreaded being home with her as much as I looked forward to it. Not simply because of the anxieties that came with being home alone with her, but because she is the biggest daddies girl I have ever met. Her father can do no wrong in her eyes. Why yes, he did go hang up the moon last night, and he surely put the sun in the sky this morning, all for her. She’s convinced. He’s her knight in shining armor. He’s the peanut butter to her jelly, the Boots to her Dora. He is E V E R Y T H I N G. And I don’t mind at all. I prayed while she was in my womb that she would be a daddies girl and that they would have the best relationship ever because I’ve seen what happens when some girls miss having a daddy and, well, that wasn’t going to be my child.

While I looked forward to some bonding time with Johanna, I knew I was going to be tested, tried, exhausted, and pushed to my limits. Like most kids she missed her dad big time and I was left hyperventilating over not having a break. I mean, who was going to entertain her while I tried to use the bathroom? Who was going to answer all of her demands? Surely not me! That’s her father that likes to run himself crazy every time she yells “I want juice! Where’s my gummies! I want to go outside! Play with me!” Those are the things her daddy does. And while I love him and appreciate him for being that father, I found myself worried about the connection I would have with my own daughter since I can’t give her that magical thing she finds in her daddy.

The one thing that bothers me about motherhood at this particular point is the emotional mood swings these kids go through, and trying to decide what’s punishable and what isn’t. My goal with Johanna is always to keep the lines of communication open. I want her to grow up feeling like mom is a soft place to fall, and like she can tell me anything. But I also want her to grow up being respectful, kind, obedient, and trustworthy. While JD was away I found myself daily sending Johanna to timeout and giving her spankings at least twice a week. I was confused and upset. Trying to decide if her offense was a punishable one, or if it was a time to only have a talk was so frustrating for me. It was in those moments that I wish I had a mother to call and ask for advice. Although truth be told, I have a feeling that no matter what Johanna did, my mother would’ve been on her side because she would’ve been so enamored by her.

I was in serious emotional distress and having to make those decisions on my own had my head spinning. I never wanted my child to fear me, I wanted her to respect me. She doesn’t fear me now, but I’m afraid that if I don’t figure out this discipline thing, she will. Honestly friends, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. For the first time on my journey of being a mom, I’m looking for the darn manual!

Johanna is super smart, sweet, and stubborn, disobedient at times, sneaky other times, a ball of laughs majority of the time. I’m trying to figure out the right ingredients to make the sweet sweeter, and the disobedience evaporate. I don’t know how to do that. I’m not afraid to say I NEED HELP!

I’ve been reading proverbs as part of a bible challenge for July, and it is full to the brim with good advice. It gives a great foundation for how to raise your kids. I’m still learning. I’m just waiting for the day where this becomes second nature. When I know exactly what she needs at the time. She’s so hard to read. I want to be able to read her and get my response right. I don’t want to make any mistakes, although I know that’s unrealistic, and not only will I make mistakes, I actually already have. Always in the back of my mind is that I don’t want a ruined relationship with my daughter. I don’t want to hurt her soul. I don’t want to make those kind of mistakes.

As I watch her balled up in bed snuggling the cat, I am reminded of two instances with my mother. One when she was alive and well, the other when she was lying in the hospital dying. I asked her on both occasions what she thought of me being a mom. Both times, even with dementia the second time, she said “I think you’ll be a great mother. I really, really do Yeah, you will be.” And I know that she meant it. She looked at me in a thoughtful way and her face showed that yeah, she’d made up her mind, and she knew it to be true. So while I’m making my mistakes, and I’m trying so hard to be the mother Johanna deserves, I’ll remember that my mother, even in heaven, already approves, and that means the world to me.

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Hello Anxiety

Friends…we’re friends, right? I mean you all know more about me than most of my family does so, friends it is. Friends, let’s talk about how May – June was the most anxiety laced time of 2014 for me. Every time my husband goes away for work for weeks at a time, I question my sanity.

Let me tell you something that not many people know about me. I hate houses. I hate places with lots of corners because, well, you never really know what’s around them! Which is weird because as a child I LOVED horror movies and eventually even found them to be funny. Not as an adult. I don’t do horror movies and I don’t do corners. My studio apartment, which was my first apartment as an independent woman, was the best to me. Minimal corners, in the city, in a high rise building where my neighbors could hear me scream if I cried out for help. So imagine me being in a house with a cat and a preschooler…by myself…for 4 weeks…

We slept in the living room every night. Two house lights had to be on btwn the hours of midnight-5am, and sometimes the tv as well. I couldn’t really decide whether or not to have the tv or a/c on. I mean, if they were on that would lessen my chance of hearing that ax murderer breaking into the house. Or that snake coming out of the vent. Or the dryer bursting into flames. So that’s when I would turn the fans on instead. They were noisy, but not too noisy. Low enough for me to hear if someone had scaled the back deck and was trying to blast through the door.

At night I barely slept 3 hours. For one I was hot! And two my anxiety wouldn’t let me fall asleep at first. But between the hours of 4:30-7, as the sun was just beginning to rise, my nerves would calm down as I turned off the lights, and succombed to the fatigue that would overwhelm me. Being anxious is sooooooo draining!

I would love to say that by the time JD got home I was over it and sleeping well, but truth be told, everytime the boiler clicked or the neighbors walked up their stairs I was freaked the heck out and on alert with my knives ready! Until I started thinking about what if I passed out, and one of the knives fell and the baby got the knife and hurt herself, or was running with it while trying to take it into the kitchen and fell on it, or or or….

le sigh.

Well my friends, one thing I know for sure is true. If any of you offered to stay with us the next time JD goes out of town, I might just be anxious enough to take you up on that offer.

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Time to Let It Go

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I bet you know exactly what movie that image comes from. For the longest time I was ignorant to Frozen. I didn’t understand all the hoopla and I certainly didn’t appreciate Let It Go winning best song all over the place. I certainly preferred Pharell’s Happy, although I had never heard let it go. And just to be clear, I still prefer Happy. That is my go to song when I’m in a slump. It immediately makes me feel, well, happy!

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in;
Heaven knows I’ve tried

But for the past couple of weeks the song Let It Go has been having a new meaning for me. I didn’t understand it for the longest time. Whenever I would hear it, or sing it with Johanna, a new feeling came with it. I connected with it. Kind of how I connected with the song Reflection in Mulan. I didn’t understand it, until I really focused on the lyrics.

Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be

I started thinking about everything I risked when I decided to audition for, and commit to, Listen to Your Mother. I have experienced a lot in my life, a lot that I have kept hidden from everyone. A lot of hurts and pains. You know, in the African American community there is a strong belief in not letting the outside in. Family business is family business. You don’t discuss it with others. What happens in the family, stays in the family. Well my immediate family was small. In my house it was me and my mother. My father lived 10 minutes away. So really most things stayed between my mother and I. In many ways it brought us closer in a good way. In other ways it wore me out emotionally. I would watch her have her own personal struggles that she wouldn’t let others in on. When she was around them she was reserved, yet smiling. You would never know. So, I learned the lesson of my mother.

Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know

I didn’t tell her until I was in my 20s about when Sister Marie Helene knocked me out of my desk when I was in 1st grade and how I hit my head on the radiator. How I blacked out for a second and woke up in my own vomit consisting of the milk at I had snack time and that, THAT is the reason why even the smell of milk causes my stomach to turn to this very day. I did let her know when I was touched inappropriately, but by the time I was 16 I had decided not to tell her about the rape and the pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage. Part of it was the shame that comes with rape. I learned in my 20s (my 20s were apparently good to me; I learned a lot) that sexual abuse is one of the few crimes that make the victim a participant, and that brings with it a lot of shame. But that’s another topic for another day. The other reason I didn’t tell her was because of our issue with discussing sex and everything it brought with it.

Well now they know!

I kept the little things and the big things to myself. I learned not to trust anyone, but God. I’ve often said that one of the best gifts my mother ever gave me was knowledge of Jesus Christ. He has always been my very best friend and my confidant. Eventually, in my 20s lol, I confided in my pastor about my rape. I knew I had to say it out-loud in order to release the burden I was carrying. I had to speak my truth and she seemed like the safest place next to God. And that’s where my healing began.

When I did my LTYM piece, I knew there was a chance that there would be some backlash. Not from my friends, nor from strangers, but from family. How dare I let others know? How dare I talk about my mother in that way? People love and adore my mother, but I can assure them that no one loves and adores her more than I do. She is in heaven now, but I love her more than words could ever say. But that doesn’t stop my truth from being my truth. I was so tired of what happened in my teen years weighing me down. I just wanted to be free, and if it could help someone else in the process, even better. And now I have my freedom papers! I still have a lot of other stuff to work through, but the issues I had from 10-16 are finally dead. I can finally let them go and not have them threatening me emotionally and mentally.

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I’m free!

It did initially scare me, the thought of my family seeing my piece. Even up to the day that the videos were released I thought about blocking my family from seeing my wall for a week, so that the video would be buried way down on my facebook timeline and they would be none the wiser. But then I decided no. NO. This is my truth and if someone has a problem with it, bring it! And I don’t mean that in a huffy, chest puffed out kind of way. I mean it in a “God has set me free from that internal hell and nothing you say or ask can take me back there; I love you, but I love me even more; God has work for me to do, and I can’t do it if I’m being held hostage by my past, so sorry, not sorry” kind of way. In the words of Elsa, I’m never going back, the past is in the past.

So, yeah, that’s my story of how I fell in love with the movie Frozen and the song Let It Go. It has a way deeper meaning for me than I’m sure it should lol, but that’s ok too. God often talks to me through music and movies, so I’m not surprised. Oh, and just in case you love the song as much as I do, here’s the video!

 

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Without Further Ado – Me.

My palms are sweating. The ball of nerves are hitting me all over again. It’s real. It happened. I didn’t dream it. And now it’s out there for the world to see forever on the greatness that is youtube.

All of my friends know that I am a social introvert. In fact, you know it too by now. So I’ve been ignoring the posts from my Listen to Your Mother about how our videos would be released on July 9 at 11am. But now I can’t escape it. I can’t outrun it. It’s here and it’s happening. You know how nervous I was that day and how nervous I was to even audition. Today I am nervous about exposing myself further, but I”m also super excited to show myself to you. So, without further ado, here’s…me.

 

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Did you miss me?

Surprise! I’m back! I know I’ve been gone for quite some time, but things have been all over the place for me. First Johanna’s Daddy (JD) went to Afghanistan for a little bit, leaving me a single mom for a while. Then I got a really bad sinus infection. Soon as I was beginning to recover from that I was whisked away to the Dominican Republic for our family vacation, yay! And now I’m back and settled and ready to write again. I’ve surely missed writing.

Oh the stories I could tell you from the past two months. I won’t today. Today is my welcome back, I didn’t quit on you! post. But perhaps this evening or tomorrow I can tell you about feeling like an utter failure as a parent, because I did and, well, heck, I do.

I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. If you’re going on any fun summer adventures be sure to tell me about them! Lataz guys and dolls!

 

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