The boy

Oh my…it feels so good to be sitting in front of this computer and typing. I’ve been taking a little time to be alone with my thoughts, figuring out what has been going on with me. I get into these little moments when I get quiet because the things that are on my mind are jumbled, almost like being in a thick fog. I have thyroid disease, so what I’m talking about isn’t brain fog per se, but a fog where so many tabs are opened that if I sat down to write, nothing would make much sense. It’s hard enough speaking with friends and trying to stay on track, let alone writing, which leads me to what is on my heart this evening.

I have these two beautiful children. A son and a daughter who are so different. One seems quite easy. She does everything correctly. She is respectful, kind, a good student, a motivated learner, funny, just a bright light and then there is the boy. The boy. The boy. The boy could care less about grades or being liked. He speaks to those he wants and sometimes downright rude. For awhile, I thought I had done something wrong in my pregnancy or something wrong in the earlier days to make him the way he is. The first few days of Kindergarten included a few notes home that led us to take him to see a psychologist. I knew the psychologist would tell us he was autistic or maybe ADHD, but instead she told us he was gifted. I was in the room during the evaluation and I saw something in “the boy” that I didn’t want to admit, but I can’t run from any longer. This little boy who was a surprise to our family is just like me.

It’s quite sobering when you figure out that the “difficult one” is you, but not you, because you are not your parents. When I was a child, I was quirky, but those little quirks were beat out of me. I wasn’t allowed to run around in circles like my son does to quiet my mind. Social cues were quickly learned by mirroring other people because family thought I was disrespectful and rude, which called for another beating. I was never really interested in school, but good grades kept the beatings away and made people leave me alone, so I followed suit. Also, school was never a challenge, so it was easy to just get along. All I ever wanted was to be left alone. I don’t remember being very happy. I had moments of happiness, but I also remember escaping to my brain a lot and being thankful for loneliness.

Now, I am raising me.When I let go of the fear of what others thought of him being a reflection of me, I saw myself in him. I saw how his brain opens too many tabs and needs a moment. I saw the anxiety. I saw the vibe feeler. I saw his genuine spirit. I saw his generosity. I saw his kindness. I saw his strength. I saw his humor. I saw his loving heart. I really saw him and I really had a chance to see me. I always use to wonder what life would be like if I grew up in another home and looking at my little boy, I can see that I would not have been so lonely. He attaches himself to the people who live within these walls and lets us know his innermost feelings, thoughts, and dreams. He is unashamed of who he is and he knows he’s different.

I believe that we all have the chance to learn so much about ourselves through our children. I’ve come to this place by raising this unique being of accepting people exactly where they are. I’ve been able to be so much more compassionate to other kids and other parents. I’ve learned to apologize without guilt to parents who don’t quite get my little boy and not see his behavior as some sort of failure on my part. I’ve learned to accept me where I am and that my parenting is about me, not about what perfect little beings I send out into society. I am learning to love me just the way I am while still being frustrated with me just the way I am. Oh…life sends you some funny shit, but one only lives if he or she takes the shit and makes something beautiful out of it. I’m choosing grace, compassion and love for my boy and for me…that’s a beautiful thing.

Love and light y’all

Racism aside, everything is going well

I’ve decided to let last week go. Anger is a terrible thing, especially when you volunteer in the class of the little kid who just hurt your child. You can’t trip him. You can’t give him dirty looks. All you can do is be an adult and sometimes being an adult sucks; however, time waits for no one, so an adult I must be.

It wasn’t that hard going in there today. I realize the teachers are doing the best that they can. My daughter was hurt, but she is moving right along and I am incredibly proud of her. The young boy with the not so kind words smiled at me today and although I got nauseous, I realized that he too probably learned something in all of this. He did write, well he typed, or maybe his parents typed a lovely letter of apology. We thought it best to keep it away from our daughter, but she saw it yesterday and she too thought it was complete bullshit. There was a line in the typed apology that was to the effect of, “after watching (insert black movie of struggle) I learned what I said was hurtful”. My daughter said, “mommy, why didn’t he know that was hurtful before watching the movie?”. I couldn’t answer that, but all we can hope is that he learned something and now we must let it go.

I read an article today about parents teaching their children to be “colorblind” and it said that when race or culture of others isn’t discussed then children form opinions based on what they see in video games, television, or surroundings. In essence, a family that doesn’t consider itself racist could have a child with racist views simply because the family chose to ignore race, deeming it a non-factor. I found the article quite interesting and more than likely true. We are at a stage in society where children are basically being raised by tablets and television, while parents bury their heads into cell phones. It’s quite possible we, as parents, have no idea what we are raising because we aren’t truly raising our children.

On another note, I got a call from a dear friend on Friday about his little one. Our children are in the same grade, but go to schools of opposite demographics. Last week, I thought I would give anything to be in his shoes, but as we got to talking, my opinion changed. He had just left the school’s morning assembly where the Principal made comments in reference to the day being the day Trayvon Martin was assassinated and references to the young men at the school having the same fate. It was a bit shocking to me because that would never happen at an assembly here and I got why my friend was upset. We both felt that it was an issue that should have been discussed at home by parents in the context that they saw fit. He went on to tell me of other occasions where this Principal made other comments that just weren’t appropriate and although they may have been in reference to issues that deal with African Americans, the issues were much too complex to be said at such a short assembly with no follow through.

After our conversation, it dawned on me that this parenting is hard. It doesn’t matter what zip code or demographic, it’s just plain hard. We try our best to shield them, but at some point we let them go out into the world and it is hard to accept that people will hurt them or even influence them negatively. No one tells you this when you’re buying the bassinet you’ll never use. Any who, all we can do is try our best and hope our children don’t talk too bad about us in therapy.

Love and light y’all.

Results of Heartbreak

Well…

I didn’t think I would make it through this week. I know it’s only Wednesday, but I feel like I’ve lived 7 days in three. I’ve dealt with so many varying emotions that everyday since Saturday I found myself crying. My baby girl was hurt was all that kept reoccurring in my mind. I couldn’t get over it. It made me anxious. It took my breath away and I literally wanted to pull her out of school and teach her from home. My husband and I discussed it. He pointed out that pulling her for the actions of another child would teach her that she was wrong. I pointed out that she spent more time at school than at home, so it was unfair to have her somewhere she did not feel comfortable. We agreed that teachers were not at fault. We agreed that no one knows how to handle these situations and we agreed that this was much more than bullying. We agreed on most things, but disagreed in how to resolve it as parents.

I realized something in the past few days that I learned in marriage, but not in parenting. We, my husband and I, are two completely different people with different backgrounds who view things absolutely different. I feel like tools and self-esteem needs to be established to handle such things as someone telling you they don’t like you because you’re black. I also believe these tools aren’t learned at the early age of 8. My husband feels that these things will happen in America and our daughter basically needs to learn early how to deal and react. We are not on the same page at all. I see his point of view and I believe he sees mine, but our backgrounds shape our ideas. He isn’t from this country. He is from a country where class is the major divider, not race. He is from a diverse family. He has never felt the sting of someone putting him down solely because of his race. I am an American. I was raised by a family who did not agree with integration. I cannot sugar coat that. My parents, grandparents, and anyone else I remember being around in the early years of my life believed that African Americans should love, support, and educate their own.  I was raised in a bubble, where I could not watch “Leave it to Beaver” or “In Living Color”. One show promoted the good white people too much, while the other presented negative depictions of black people, which was a no no in my household. I never felt the sting of racism as a child either, but I was taught that it would be inevitable if I chose to be around white people. So, you see, our backgrounds dictate how we feel we should deal with this situation and what I’ve come to realize is that in order for us to come out of this, we need to find balance. Marriage and parenting do not work without balance. If we can take positive from both of our experiences and formulate a plan that will benefit our daughter, then we are moving in the right direction.

I’ve also learned another important lesson in this and it involves people either not thinking before they speak or not recognizing that they have some prejudice. I won’t list the various things I’ve heard, but I summarize it to victim blaming, dismissing, and the belief that children just say hurtful things that may seem racists, but they are really just being naughty. Let me be frank, I know racism when I see or hear it. I know it because I was the kid who heard people speaking negatively about a certain race. I know these things don’t come from the sky. I remember quite clearly the venom that I would hear and then told not to repeat in the presence of “others”. Children do not get these ideas from nowhere and the sooner people begin to accept that the better.

Another thing, cut the bullshit with the whole “I teach my kids to be colorblind” or “I’m colorblind”. When I hear those statements, it makes me think that the person does not value my culture, my race, or the struggle that may come with who I am. I am not colorblind (actually, I am, it’s quite rare for a girl). I love hearing and knowing about other peoples backgrounds, race, and culture. To deny our differences does not make racism go away. It’s the most insane statement and it makes me question the person behind it.

So, now we work towards balance. My husband wants to impress upon my daughter that she needs to find her voice along with her realizing that there are good and bad in every race. I, on the other hand, am focusing on her learning that she is of value and that the things people say about others that look like her are not accurate. It has also become increasingly important that my children are not fed this idea that they represent the black race. Black people are not cattle. We are human just like everyone else. Black Lives Matter, Ben Carson, Oprah Winfrey, Ice Cube, or Eva from 54th and Crenshaw do not speak for me or one another. If one more person tells me that black people can’t expect equal rights until the black community addresses black on black crime, I’m going to scream. My daughter, myself, and anyone else of the diaspora have different experiences and upbringings, we share skin color, not blame. In other words, it is my duty and my mission to teach my children that they are black, to be proud from which they came, but they are also human first and no one can take that away from them.

Love and light y’all

 

 

Valentine’s Day

I’m not a Valentine’s Day type of girl. Well, I use to be, but then I realized all of the holidays were corporate holidays and decided that I wasn’t down with that. Like, I don’t want anyone telling me when I should celebrate my love because they want to make a profit. I appreciate the economy being stimulated, but don’t like the guilt that comes along with it.

Now that I have established that I am anti-Valentine, I love that my husband remembered. I’m such a hypocrite. He returned home yesterday after being away for about a week, which explains why I haven’t been writing. He came home with gifts for the kids and a special one for me too. The kids and I were happy to simply have him home. The gifts were like a bonus to an already special occasion and it was kind of nice that everything happened so close to Valentine’s Day.

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Going to pick-up daddy from the airport

All of this led me to think about what love really means. Of course I adore my husband. He’s the best partner I’ve ever had. I love the way he parents. I love the way he looks at me. I love that he has been attracted to me in my different sizes and moods. I love that he’s loved me when I was sick and healthy. I especially love that he’s put up with all my different dietary changes and the fact that I wear a fanny pack when I run. Even though I love him and love how he loves me, today I could not stop thinking of the moments in time where I truly felt loved.

There is a person in my life that has loved me like no other. She has held my hand and been a shoulder for me. She knows my secrets and she knows my heart. She loves my children as they are her own and she gently tells me when I’m wrong. I was born seven years before her and most of our time on Earth has been spent as me being the teacher, but recently, I have become the student. A willing student because I know she would never steer me in the wrong direction. I know she loves me no matter what and I hope she knows that I love her no matter what. My cousin, I know you never read these blogs, but if by chance you do one day, just know that I love you with everything I have inside of me. You are the best thing that has ever happened to my life. I appreciate you. I am honored to know you.

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Me and my cousin (side note, my hair is growing)

I only have a few real friends. The people I consider as friends are not the ones I talk to every single day (although one of them I do talk to almost everyday) and all of them have come into my life at very important times. If it wasn’t for the love and friendship I have been shown, I doubt I would be here living the life I live. I know what it feels like to be loved by strangers, who then welcome you into their hearts as family.

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Sitting here in my pajamas on a night where most people expect champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, I can only cry tears of real joy for the love I have been shown. From my mother and even my father, my husband, my children, my family, and my friends, I have been blessed with love.

 

Take a moment to acknowledge those who have been good to you and in return, try to put that out into the universe to others. I learned a few years ago that I only recognized the love that I put out into the world and everything else felt odd or extra. Not until I was able to love without fear was I able to receive what was always there. Love yourself and love will come to you in so many ways. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love and light y’all.

Monday Intentions?

I’ve been slacking…

Every time I try to sit myself down to write a blog post, something comes up. What is going on in the universe? I think I may have to stop the Sunday intentions because Sundays are family days and by night fall, I’m just uninterested in opening my laptop. Sunday intentions have officially moved to Monday intentions. For example, yesterday we drove about 90 miles to see my grandmother, visit some museums and go eat in another city. It was so much fun! Like, a lot of fun and by the end of the night, I just wanted to snuggle with my husband.

Speaking of our weekend…it was AWESOME!!! My husband worked Saturday, so the kids had some friends over to play for the first part of their day. In the evening, we went to a Mardi Gras festival of sorts put on by the Recreation Center. I did not think it would be a ton of fun, but I was so wrong. My kids had a blast. They made masks, mini floats, and beads. The children were also able to participate in a parade where they got beads thrown at them…very New Orleans, but without the whole “show me your boobs” thing.

Since my husband worked Saturday, we decided to take the long drive down to Los Angeles to visit my grandmother and visit some museums with him on Sunday. Our logic was that most people would be home watching the Super Bowl and we could have the museums to ourselves. Thankfully, we were right. First we went to the African American museum. It was really artsy and I was a little afraid the kids wouldn’t get it, but they enjoyed it, especially my son.

After the African American museum, we went to the science museum and had a blast in there too. I love Los Angeles museums because the exhibits are so interactive. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but we were enjoying ourselves and the lack of crowds.

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I think the highlight of our day was going to a seafood restaurant down in San Pedro/Long Beach and getting to see a live Mariachi band play. My husband and children had never seen that up close and personal, so it was pretty cool. I did not eat anything at the restaurant because I’m doing the vegan challenge, so I enjoyed a Margarita (no salt). I thought that was what a good vegan would do. I did have lunch at a vegan spot in Inglewood called Stuff I Eat. The food is always good. I think I’ve mentioned them before in a blog post. I will always eat there when I’m in Los Angeles. I took pics of the paintings that are on the wall. It is quite interesting. I love the vibe there.

So…what does all of this have to do with intentions. On the surface, nothing. If you look deeper, it has a great deal to do with my conscious decisions on how I am choosing to live my life. Am I making time for my family? Am I making time for what I am passionate about? Am I living the life I want?

I was so present this weekend that it scared me a little. I looked at the children that came over to play with my own and felt gratitude that my children we experiencing these moments that I never experienced. I really enjoyed being with them at the Mardi Gras festival and helping them with their floats and seeing them happy. We weren’t in a rush to leave and we just lived in the moment. I couldn’t stop from smiling when my husband discussed art pieces with me  at the museum. He also told me about a museum he use to go to in Jamaica when he was young. The man a very few words had so much to say. We laughed and danced a little to the music of the mariachi band down in Long Beach. We lived.

My intentions are always to live and to appreciate every moment. I got a little sidetracked last week, but distractions, when acknowledged, have a way of pulling you back to center much more aggressively than when you veer off on your own. For just one moment, I started existing again. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to play with the kids. I didn’t want to deal with people. I forgot how far I came out of depression. I literally had to force myself to go to yoga. It’s so easy to forget what we want and who we are trying to be. My heart is so grateful and it is my sincere intention to always find the light in all things. I’ve been angry. I’ve been bitter. I don’t want to do that anymore. I have a great life as long as I allow it to be. There is always, ALWAYS something to be grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

Love and light y’all.

 

Motherhood Mondays (A Conversation with Bridgette)

My goal for “Motherhood Mondays” is to present different views of motherhood. The idea or concept of a “good mother” usually fits one mold and we all know that is not the case. Motherhood looks different to different women and if our voices are not heard or if we box women in to certain roles, we fail at building a community of support for one another. When reading this particular blog, I encourage you to turn off your judgement and open your heart and mind.

Religion, bias, or simple ignorance keeps people away from truly getting to know the heart and soul of those that are different from them. Today’s interview is with Bridgette. She is a writer, United States Army veteran of numerous tours, lover of the arts, committed partner, and mother. She is also a lesbian. She and her partner have a blended family of 5 very successful children. I must also point out that she is someone my husband considers a mentor. He credits her leadership with the success of his military career. Here are her words…

What is the best part about being a mother?

The best part about being a mother is the fact that you have this innocent person who has trust in you. It is unbelievable the trust that children have. People often speak about unconditional love, but I think it is the unconditional trust that is most fascinating about children. They come here and it is your job to guide them and have their best interest. They start out so innocent and it’s my job as a mother to preserve that innocence.

When I think about my own children and even the Soldiers I mentored, the best part about being a mom is seeing this person become a productive member of society. It is nice to see them become successful and live their lives in a positive way.

Can you describe the feeling that you felt after having your daughter?

When I had my daughter, I was 19 years old. I had been in the military for just two years. I was scared. There are no true handbooks for children and each child’s needs are different. I was very scared, but I was up for the challenge. I knew that it was my job to give her the best life.

I know that you are a veteran of the United States Army. How difficult was it to balance being a mother while in the military?

It was difficult to balance. My initial thought was to get out. My mom sat me down one day and told me that I needed to have a solid foundation for my daughter. She encouraged me to stay in. When my daughter was 2 months old, I was shipped out to Korea. My parents took care of her for me. It was a struggle because I missed her tremendously. I struggled with a number of conflicting feelings. I dealt with a lot of guilt during that time.

When I came back, she was 14 months old. She didn’t know me at all. It crushed me that she forgot about me. I worked to rebuild our relationship and when we reconnected we were inseparable. Even though I was back and rebuilt that relationship, I still struggled with the guilt of taking her away from my parents.

I could not have done it without the support of my family. My parents and my sister they were there for me.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a lesbian mother?

I think the biggest misconception is that you’re going to raise a gay child. I always made a point to be careful of what I did in front of my daughter. When she was in grade school, we sat down and talked about what gay meant. She told me that she knew what it was and did not want to be gay. It was important for me to tell her that she did not have to be like me. I told her that she needed to be herself and build her own legacy. As parents, we need to teach our children to be better than us and that involves all facets of who they are.

What struggles do you face as a mother?

Of course one of the struggles was the military, but also society’s perception of who I am. The perception of me being a tomboy lesbian. There is always that judgment that I’m trying to be a man. I’m not trying to be a man. I know and like that I am a woman. People look at me and make assumptions about me. They don’t know my story. I’m just trying to be me. I grew up with just my father and brothers until I was 13 years old. My father didn’t get married until I was 13. I grew up with boys. I wore boy clothes. That is how I feel comfortable. I’m raising young men. I am not a man, so I cannot teach them how to be men, but as a woman I can tell them what is expected from a woman.

Society as a whole thinks that same sex partnership is not good for bringing up children. People think we are going to change children. The reality is that you never look at the news or hear about our children committing crimes or being unproductive.

How do you feel about the woman that came into your life at the age of 13.

She is the mother that raised me. She loved me even though I gave her hell. She never held it against me. She loved 5 kids that were not her own. It was not easy for her. When we got punished, she always showed an immense amount of grace to us. We did not have to relive our faults over and over again. She is the greatest woman. She is such a lady. I let her know all of the time that I appreciate everything she did for me. She is a part of the reason I fell in love with the arts. I was a part of the orchestra. She taught us that there was more to the world than just being black. We were exposed to a lot of different things. Exposure, let’s you know that there is something more to the world than what you are surrounded by. I love her.

Do you model your parenting style after you mother?

Yes, I do. I also bring the military into it. I’m very strict and hands on. I’m Vice President of the PTA and my partner is the President. It’s important to me that my children are educated and doing the right things. All of our children are on the honor roll and we have one that will be graduating early. We make a point to be a team, especially since we are a blended family.

How did you meet your partner?

My best friend kept telling me to go this church and at the time I had been completely turned off by the church. I had some very bad experiences when I was struggling with my sexuality. Anyway, I went to the church and really enjoyed myself. While I was there, I saw my girlfriend. She was sitting in front of me and my friend invited her to a New Years party she was throwing that same day. She, my girlfriend agreed to come and she took my number. I’m a really shy person, so I didn’t want to call or text. When I finally decided to contact her, she was calling me. (Laughs) We began to talk and she came to the party. We’ve been together ever since.

Do you think it is harder being a black lesbian mother as opposed to another race?

I think it can be. We have the power to not make it so hard. It depends on how we present ourselves. I think we have the power to make things better for ourselves. We do have to prove ourselves more. We have to break the stereotypes that exist for us. We can’t be afraid to show our intelligence. Being a lesbian can create more prejudice. People make the assumption that homosexuality involves promiscuity, which is insulting. I’ve learned that you just have to have thick skin. You have to be very secure.

It is harder being black, especially when it comes to our boys. They are seen as animals and criminals. We see what they are going through, but we don’t know exactly what they feel because we are not men. I tell my sons to never give them a reason to bother you or profile you. As a black mother it is difficult to raise boys.

What advice would you give a young lesbian mother?

My advice to any mother would be to approach your children as human beings and not objects. You have to understand that your child isn’t a toy. They have emotions just like you do. Always keep their emotions in mind. You have to teach your children at a young age to communicate. Let them know that they have a voice. Let them express how they feel while setting boundaries. Children aren’t your property. When you teach a child that they aren’t an object, it gives them self worth. If you do not allow them to express their emotions, then you’re conditioning them to keep it in. They become emotionally closed off. When it comes to boys, they are taught not to cry, don’t teach them that. A real man can cry. It is okay to feel. Feeling emotions is being human. Whether man or woman, you are a human being.

As a parent, you have to be humble. You have to be able to apologize.

Bridgette and I spoke for a very long time and everything cannot be included in this post, but there is something that stood out to me. When we spoke about her journey to acceptance, she let this jewel out that I believe applies to us all. She said,

“You cannot shine if you don’t know who you are. I could not be something that I wasn’t. I decided that I was going to love me and live in my moment”

Love and light y’all.

 

 

 

Tell it Tuesday

I realize that it is not Tuesday. I had every intention of writing last night, but I was exhausted.  We had a full day yesterday and my thyroid medication has been readjusted, so I feel like my body is taking some time to get use to the new dosage, but I have so much to write about Tell it Tuesday that I woke up before the children this morning to get it all out.

Every three weeks  I see my therapist on Tuesday.  There is a playroom at the office where my children can go play and I generally feel comfortable with them coming with me most of the time.  Of course, yesterday was the day that the playroom was closed and I honestly saw it as a blessing in disguise because I really didn’t want to see this therapist again.  I even asked the receptionist if there was another counselor there that fit more into my schedule.  The receptionist was not having it and told me to wait to talk to this lady who I really didn’t take a liking to after our first session.  I was a bit irritated and welcomed my son’s calls to go home. I was thinking of my exit plan and just when I was about to get up to walk out of the office, the therapist appeared.

She, the therapist, suggested we go to a nearby park and let the kids play while we talked.  I thought that was nice, but I felt trapped.  I just did not like her and wanted to go home, but we all went to the park anyway and believe it or not, I had an awesome session.  We talked about the homework she gave me, which was to open up to my husband about my activities and my life in general.  I told her that I did, but the response was not what I was expecting from him.  He seems so busy that he does not care about my life right now and he checks in with us more out of obligation and less to genuinely see how we are doing. I told her about a slideshow of pictures I made for him with that John Legend song “All of Me” playing in the background and his not even mentioning that he got it.  I told her that I tried my best to open up, but our relationship during deployments is complicated and I don’t like having my feelings hurt.  I should not open myself up during this time and I should keep things that I enjoy separate from him. I need to have my own activities just for me.  The therapist smiled and asked, “did you share those things with your husband for a reaction or did you share them for you?” I was a bit perplexed.  I was under the impression that this was all for him because I told her I did not want to do it in the first place, but apparently I was wrong.  She said, “I asked you to share the things you do or feel with him, so you don’t continuously cut him off emotionally”.  The activity was not for him, but for me and the health of our marriage.  The idea is that if I completely cut my husband out of my life while he is away, then we will have that much more to rebuild when he returns, at least from my end.  I get it, but it is hard to put myself out there because he has a whole life separate from me.  I don’t know what’s going on with him.  I get bits and pieces and I don’t like that, but marriage is not a tit for tat game and I have learned that if I open up, he usually follows right behind me.  In fact, after trying to talk to him about my activities and sending him that slideshow and not getting the response I wanted, I told him that it hurt me. I expected an argument, but what I got was a dialogue of what he’s going through and a word of understanding.  I did not get a promise of trying better, which sucks; however, the communication between us has gone from just checking in to really listening to one another.  I guess the therapist may know something after all.  My homework for the next 3 weeks is to call one person in my family once a week and let them know that I care.  That is a very hard task.  I am not that open, especially with people in my life before Iraq.  I guess it is the PTSD and I do want to build those relationships again, but the numbness that I feel during those types of conversations make me sad. I guess I’m afraid of the work, but I am smart enough to know that I’ll never rebuild if I don’t work at it.

Another thing we do here on Tuesdays is go to Yogurtland.  As I keep writing on Tell it Tuesday, I plan to post pics of what we eat.  Yogurtland Tuesday is something I started after my husband left.  Every Tuesday, I put my phone down and listen to what the kids have to say.  I have learned a great deal on these special Tuesdays.  I learned last week that my daughter keeps the bad things that happen to her at school from me because she is afraid I will beat the other kid up or their parents.  I don’t know where she got that from.  I have never shown her a violent side to me.  I asked the therapist about it and she told me that my daughter has probably observed how angry I get when someone hurts her and came up with that conclusion.  I would never hit a kid…I’ll leave it at that. My son always mentions that he wishes his daddy was home on these Tuesdays and gives me a list of what games they will play when his daddy returns home.  The most interesting thing we talked about yesterday was how caramel makes everything taste better.  Sometimes it isn’t that deep, but the children need Yogurtland Tuesday to feel listened too and I’m happy to do it.

I feel so accomplished.  I finished this blog post before anyone woke up!

 

Sunday Intentions

In an effort to exercise my thoughts and writing, I have decided to put myself on a schedule with this blog.  I need to get all this stuff in my head out and that is kind of why I created this blog, so…

Here is my schedule:

Sunday – Positive Start Sundays (My intentions for the week)

Monday – Motherhood/Marriage Mondays

Tuesday – Tell It Tuesday

Wednesday – Work it Out Wednesday (my exercise routine for the week)

Thursday – Reality Recap or Theater of Ratchet Reality Shows

Friday – Freestyle Friday (Poetry)

Saturday – Science Saturday

I want to see if I can do this for 30 days.  The children are out of school.  We are not on a schedule and I have a few goals that I would like to do long term that include me exercising writing.  Wish me luck.

For my first positive start Sunday, I would like to make the intention to be more present.  I have been struggling with remaining present because it is so much more easier to check out and be halfway here than to feel any type of loneliness or even resentment for my husband being gone.  In the military, one typically shuts off certain parts of themselves in training and definitely in war.  It is an effective way to get things done, but I am not at war and neither are my children.  This week I want to play with my children and really look and listen to them.  I want to work with them on our little homeschool lessons and actually take in everything my daughter says to me.  My daughter talks all day long, but I noticed this weekend that she often feels unheard and that it greatly effects her confidence.  When she feels adults don’t value what she says, she checks out and bottles it up inside.  I want her to feel confident in her ideas and have the ability to express them wholeheartedly.

I have a problem with being all in or being present.  I went and visited my family in Los Angeles and because I was mindful of my checking out, I made a point to really live in the moment.  For the first time in almost 10 years, I felt like my family was my family.  I have felt so distant from them.  They didn’t seem real to me for a really long time and I struggled for a while to understand why, but I know that I never expected to see them again 10 years ago.  I didn’t expect to come home from Iraq and I had in some ways killed them.  When I returned home, I just couldn’t get that closeness back again.  This weekend I felt it again and it was so heartwarming.  I love them and they love me.  The whole situation made me think about how many moments in life we miss when we are not mindful of the beauty of our surroundings.  How many times do you go somewhere and take in everything around you?  How many times do you sit with your family and make note of how they smile or raise their eyebrows?  With all of the hustle and bustle of life, we forget the life we have in front of us, the people that love us, and the words that we absolutely need to validate from our children.  My intention for this week is to practice mindfulness and really be present in everything that I do.

 

Barriers of the Mind

I have an 85 year-old grandmother who is laugh out loud funny.  She has always been funny, but now I’m old enough to laugh at her jokes without getting the side eye.  She is a gun packing, smack talking lover of pearls and all things elegant.  She is all kinds of awesome, but sometimes she says some things that make me think…is this the same lady who had a hand in how I see the world?

I was talking to my cousin on the phone the other day and she told me she was showing a few of our pictures to our grandmother.  My grandmother of course commented on my weight and hair and then proceeded to ask what beach were we at.  My cousin told her and she made a comment I would not expect from my grandmother.  She said, “those white people sure do keep their beaches nice.  I guess they keep all the Black (she didn’t say Black) people out and don’t let us come over there”.  The beach was nice.  It wasn’t the nicest I’ve been to, but I never once saw a sign saying, NO BLACKS ALLOWED.  She then proceeded to ask my cousin if we stayed the whole day and what were we doing.  This whole dialogue between my 85 year old grandmother and my cousin got me to thinking about the barriers we all create in our minds.

My grandmother grew up in a time when segregation was quite real.  She grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and has outright told me that the racism or prejudice she had to deal with came from her own people and never from a different race.  Yes, she had to ride on the back of the bus, but in her time and where she grew up, ‘if you didn’t bother them, then they didn’t bother you’ and that’s just the way it was.  The whole concept of not bothering “them” was a conscious decision to stay alive in those times.  Although times have changed, do some of us hold on to those same concepts today?

As an adult, I have been blessed to have traveled a bit and at an early enough age that I rarely feel uncomfortable around any group of people regardless of race or class.  I am a shy person, but I hardly ever let it show.  I am confident, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about being the only one in a particular setting or the instant familiarity I feel when someone who looks like me is around.  Fortunately, I push through it and let the thought pass, but I know that many people have not had my experiences and can’t simply push through it.  The idea that a group of people are keeping you out of something may sometimes mean that you are in fact keeping yourself out of it.

I am from the hood.  It isn’t something that I wear on my sleeve, but if you talk to me long enough you will realize that I’m from California, but I have only had the pleasure of seeing this beautiful State from a positive standpoint as an adult.  When I was a young adult I never traveled outside of my “hood”.  I had been all the way to Korea, but never to Malibu or Long Beach for that matter.  It is a hood mentality mixed with my elders fear from their past…”don’t bother them, and they won’t bother you”.

I don’t believe this is just a Black thing.  I believe we all have barriers in our brains that we don’t realize.  The signs excluding one race to this and another to that are no longer posted on poles, but are very real in the minds of people.  It is not just going somewhere, but it is also dreams and aspirations. If one cannot go to an opposite side of town because they don’t think it is for him or her, then how on Earth is that same person going to develop the concept that they can become a Doctor, Astronaut, Physicist, or Novelist. These barriers of the mind are self inflicted destroyers of life and sometimes we indirectly set the foundation of these barriers for our children and grandchildren.

I doubt my children think that any place is off limits to them, but as a mother I am frightened by that.  I keep that fear held inside because I will absolutely not play a part in building a foundation in their minds based on fear.  My husband, who was not born in this country, does not share my fears, which is why I know this barrier is learned.  I refuse to pass it on, so yes grandma, we were at the beach all day long and those White folk didn’t bother us one bit, they even let us get in the water and take pictures on the rocks.  They never told us we couldn’t come in the first place.  It was us who told us we couldn’t go.

For fun, or if anyone really reads this blog…What barriers do you have?  What do you subconsciously or consciously think is not for you?  Is it exercise? Dance classes? Writing a book?  Falling in love?  Leave me a comment….pleeeeeeeeease.

Memorial Day

Tomorrow, I plan to visit my grandfather’s grave.  He fought in World War II and his remains are in a national cemetery not very far from my house.  I think of him quite often.  I miss him everyday.

I doubt I would be where I am today without my grandfather.  He was the first man to tell me I was beautiful.  Not pretty, not cute, but beautiful.  All but one of my memories of him are pleasant and even the unpleasant one makes me smile.  One afternoon I was playing in my grandparents front yard and he was sitting in his chair watching me.  My father pulled up in the driveway and my grandfather calmly told me to get inside of the house.  I did as I was told, but I could see from the front porch that my grandfather had pulled his handgun out on my father and told him to leave his property.  My father quickly got out of there and my grandfather walked inside of the house as if he did not have a gun and smiled at me.  He gave me a warm smile.  A smile that I just saw pop up in my head that has made tears fall down from my eyes.  He was the protector, the comforter, and the healer in my life.  He knew what life was like with my father and he tried his best to shield me from it all.

When I left my father’s home about 6 years after that incident, I had the opportunity to really get to know my grandfather.  He introduced me to Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and other jazz artist on vinyl.  I can remember how the record rolled around the turntable like a boat sailing on water.  He told me stories of New Orleans, what he called real donuts, and art.  He also told me about his time in the Army.

My grandfather repeatedly made a point of telling me that the Army was not a place for a Black man. (I guess I took that quite literally considering I am a Black woman and went anyway) He spoke of the discrimination and outright racism that he had endured. You could feel the anger coming from within him.  He also spoke of having to prove that he knew his job and having to take orders from someone with no intelligence.  He would show me his pictures and I remember his eyes and it was clear that something had changed within him.  I didn’t understand what war could do to a person then, but I do now.  My grandfather left the United States for war a Christian and came back an Atheist.  He told me that there could be no God after seeing what he had saw. I cannot even begin to imagine what he must have seen and went through, but I am honored to have carried on his legacy, even if he is rolling his eyes at me.

When I joined the Army, I didn’t even have my grandfather in my thoughts.  When I got to Iraq, I thought of him constantly.  I wondered what his living conditions must have been like.  Did anyone ever threaten his life? How was his training? How did he feel when he came home? I had so many questions and so much pride that he made it. He made it! Not only did he make it, but he was one awesome man. The thing is, he wasn’t my real grandfather, but you or I would have never known.  He loved and treated my mother like his own when her father never even looked her way.  He moved my grandmother from New Orleans with hardly anything and they managed to own 2 grocery stores and a home.  He was a respected man of the community.  He was the most generous, loving and caring man I had ever met.  Because of him, I believed that good men existed. It wasn’t just Dr. Huxtable on the Cosby show because I had an example right before my eyes. His heart was so genuine.  You knew when he looked at you that he loved you.

My grandfather died a year after I moved into my grandparents house.  His death was an incredible loss to me and my family. He loved us and we loved him.  I’m just so thankful for him and all that he sacrificed in his lifetime.  I carry him with me always. I will remember him tomorrow as I remember him always.

Love you forever Grandpa Batiste