New Year’s Intentions Revisited

The saying always goes, “be careful what you ask for”. I wrote down my intentions for the New Year with every intention on accomplishing those tasks, but I really wanted to spread them out over the year. I did not want to realize all of them by February. I actually haven’t realized all of them, but the biggest item on that list was reconnecting with my father. Well, I thought I could get around to doing that in July, but of course that is not what is happening.

I got a call not too long ago from a strange number. Typically, I wouldn’t answer, but something told me to see who it was. I think I knew who was on the other line because I wasn’t totally shocked to hear my father’s voice. He seemed shocked that he heard my voice. I can only assume that it must have been quite odd to hear someone pick up the line after being blocked for almost 2 years. Yes, I blocked my father’s calls. No, I don’t feel bad for it, not even a little. My father and I have the strangest relationship where I love him deeply, but neither understand nor agree with his actions in the past or present. If you go back a few blog posts, you will see an article I wrote on domestic violence. He was not the nicest of men when I was growing up and I had to make a decision of either distancing myself from him or living in the hurt. I chose distance and I am better for it. So…he was shocked to hear my voice and I was a bit amused. I don’t know why I was amused, but I was. He changed his number or rather, my little brother bought him a new phone and this was a way for him to get in contact with me at least one time before I blocked the new number. We spoke for maybe 5 minutes and it was pleasant. I don’t intend on blocking his number from this point forward, but I do intend on stopping his rants before they get out of hand.

My father raised me. I did not have an absent father. I do not remember a time when he was not involved in my life. For a period of time, he was my only parent. My mother had to leave to get better. My father tormented her and if she would have stayed, I doubt I would have had either one of them. He eventually would have been arrested and she would have eventually lost her battle with life or her sanity. It is hard to come to terms with that as a child and surprisingly as an adult. It is even harder after having children. I do not even want to argue in front of my children much less raise them in a chaotic environment. There were times I did not know what house I woke up in because of the constant back and forth. I was overjoyed when their relationship was over, a fact that still baffles the both of them. They swear it was because I wanted more gifts for my birthday, but the truth is that I was happier when they were apart. I was filled with anxiety when they were together. It made me physically ill when they hugged or kissed. Words cannot begin to describe how at war you are with yourself when you love the abused and the abuser.

It becomes worse when you realize that the abuser is someone who loves you and isn’t all monster. My mother wasn’t the only one my father hit. I had a number of step-mothers who came and went and suffered at the hands of my dad. I just became numb to it all, but when I got married, I could no longer push it down. I had to face what I had been through or I wasn’t going to make it. Up until my marriage, my father and I had a cordial relationship. My husband met me when my father was completely out of my life. Because my father did not agree with the Iraq war, he never wrote me and did not accept my calls. I was without him for 14 months. My husband says that Iraq recovered me from my Stockholm Syndrome. I think he may be right about that.

When I came home from Iraq, I no longer felt obligated to be at my father’s beck and call. Our communication became less frequent and my father became more intent on having his time uninterrupted. If I did not answer one phone call, he would continuously call. I showed my therapist my call log once and he was shocked. In a 24 hour period, my father would call maybe 30 times along with leaving 3 to 4 minute messages. It was obsessive and the more we communicated, the more my marriage suffered. I was always irritated after talking to my father. I always wanted to pick a fight. My normal was not being good or happy. I reached a point where all of it was exhausting and with the help of my therapist at the time, I made the decision to let him go.

When I made the decision to stop communicating with my father, it was never with the intent for it to be permanent. I just needed to heal and not be affected or infected by him. I had to do the work to get past my past and learn to accept who he was and not what I would like him to be. I needed to stop viewing my husband as my father. I needed to learn what love really was and what it wasn’t. I needed to breathe. I did it and I thought this would be the year. I wrote it down. I put it in my heart and then my father called. Isn’t it funny how the universe words?

It’s been about a 2 weeks and he’s only called one other time. He has left some interesting messages, but he is an interesting human being. We did have a heated conversation in which he apologized. I am thankful for that, but I know it won’t stay this way. I know he’s going to go crazy when he doesn’t get his way. He requested to see my children and I remained silent. I did not have these children alone and the one time my father was around my children, he said some horrible things about my husband. He basically called my husband a murderer for being in the Army. It took a very long time to explain what he was said to my daughter. In order for him to see my children, he will have to agree to some rules and he will have to speak to my husband. That may be too much to ask for, but it’s what I’m comfortable with.

All of this has led me to evaluate some things. First, even with all the bad that happened, it warmed my heart to hear my father’s voice. I know that he loved me the only way he knew how. I know he could have left and been absent and I am grateful that he tried his best. Next, relationships are what you make them. A relationship can be toxic if you let it be. If it is toxic, let it go, even if it is a parent. Toxic relationships will only screw up other relationships. You, me, he or she don’t owe anyone our happiness. Lastly, my parenting has nothing to do with the outcome of my children. That’s weird, right? I know others feel different, but reevaluating the relationship I have with my parents made me see something that I think I did not see before. Who they were as parents has everything to do with them, not me. Yes, their actions affected me greatly, but their mistakes affect them even more. The way I parent is my choice. It is what I want out of it, not what I expect to raise out it. When it is all said and done, will I feel good about how I treated them, loved them, listened to them, or nurtured them? I make those choices as I make all of the other choices in my life.

I am very curious to see how this all turns out between my father and I. Hopefully, things will go well.

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.

The Mall

I don’t go to the mall.  I don’t enjoy the mall.  It just seems like a place where bad things can happen.  I guess that could be my PTSD talking (I did mention I went to war, right?) or the fact that the mall is just an uncomfortable place for me.  When my husband was home, he would take the kids to the mall and buy their clothes.  I usually stayed at home or went along for the ride, but never to just walk the mall or even hang around.  It’s not my thing.

Imagine the anxiety I felt when I came to the conclusion that my daughter absolutely needed a new bathing suit.  I’m sure girls her age have plenty bathing suits, but we just moved from North Carolina.  In Charlotte, NC,  you only wear a bathing suit in the summer for a week to go to the pool.  You only wear that bathing suit for a week because the rest of the summer is too hot to swim.  Anyway, I had to venture into the mall with my very active 3 year-old and my fashionista 6 year-old.  I was not very happy about it, but decided to act very happy because happiness, after all, is a choice.

The trip went well.  I even relaxed enough to go look at clothes for myself.  Not only did I look at clothes for myself, but I went into another store and bought a few dresses for my daughter, a few t-shirts for my son along with the bathing suit I initially went to the mall for.  I was quite impressed with myself.  The day was turning out awesome…until we got back into the car to leave.  All of sudden, my son became this maniac.  He demanded quite loudly that he wanted to put his new shirt on “NOW!” and when I told him no, he began kicking and screaming. I would have gotten really angry at this scene if it wasn’t so funny.  Yes, I laughed a little to myself because who does that over a shirt.

Honestly, I saw it coming before we go into the car.  A clear sign that something was wrong was when he was making snow angels on the floor of H&M while looking at himself in the security camera, but I just wrote that off to him being tired.  I was wrong.  He wasn’t tired.  He was frustrated, angry and sad – his words.  I’m glad that I asked him what was wrong because my initial reaction was to yell and slam the door in his face, but his response and my daughter following it up with, “I’m sad too mommy” made me really take in what was happening.  They missed their father.  This was a daddy activity and this made him being gone very real. I could not help but cry.  I told my son, right there in the parking lot with a lady looking at me sideways for my parking space, to scream.  I told him to scream if he felt angry and frustrated.  I told him to cry and let it all out.  I looked at my daughter and told her to cry if she wanted to cry, so we all cried together.  My son and daughter screamed that they were really, really mad and I just stood there allowing them their time to be mad, frustrated and sad.

It didn’t last long. The annoyed woman got her parking space and I did the only appropriate thing one can do in these types of situations.  I gave my children a hug and  then I took them to the bakery for pastries, so we could sit and talk.  My daughter talked and my son ate and I learned something about myself.  I learned that I am pretty freaking awesome and my kids are too.

 

The absurdity of a play room

My mother is here visiting me.  She has been here for about 3 days now and I have enjoyed her company.  I always find it interesting to watch her watch me as a parent.  I can only imagine what it must feel like for her and it makes my heart smile that I often see pride in her eyes.  Of course, my children were angels for the first 2 days.  They were polite and respectful.  They were concerned about her and wanted to make sure she was included in all our family activities.  The first 2 days made me feel like moving to California was the best thing that ever happened to us because now they get to have a real relationship with my mother, their grandmother. It was all great until…today.

My children woke up in rare form this morning.  “The boy” wanted to be held all morning and “the girl” just seemed overly emotional.  I got my children to calm down and started to prepare their clothes and lunches for the day while they played in the play room.  Well, the emotional roller coaster they were on this morning started back up quite quickly when “someone” spilled milk everywhere.  I asked who did it, and first there was silence and then there was the blame game.  I don’t get mad for accidents, but I think it is important that they learn to clean up their own messes, so I gave them both rags to clean up the mess and I don’t know what I was thinking because “the boy” fell on the ground acting like he was having a seizure and “the girl” started stomping all over the floor as if there were ants on the ground to be killed.  Instead of me freaking out and yelling at these lovely gifts that I have been given, I told them to sit in “time out” until I was done cleaning up the milk mess that was slowly spreading all over everything.  I don’t know why I sent them to time out considering that time out is right across from the guest room in my home, which is where my mother sleeps.

Obviously, my mother woke up and she was not too happy about the whole thing.  I really didn’t want to make eye contact with her because although my mother may have spanked me once or twice in my life, I know she is not a fan of “time out”. She looked at “the boy” and “the girl” on the steps and told them that they needed to be more appreciative of all that their parents do for them.  She went on to tell them that when she was growing up, she didn’t have a play room, park, or toys to play with and that she had to make her own toys.  What I took away from her lecture were a few sentences that I had never heard her say in my life, which were:

When I was growing up, we couldn’t go to the regular park. We had to go to the Black park and it was not nice.  My mother didn’t have money for toys, so outside was our toy

The funny thing is that my mother never spoke about segregation or Jim Crow to me.  Of course, she had to have gone through it because she is from New Orleans, LA and was born in 1945.  I thought about what she must think about this whole room I have in my house that is totally dedicated to toys and the children having fun.  It must seem absurd, right?!? A whole room full of toys…

Never mind how I discipline my children because after everything was said and done, my mother told me that she was proud I didn’t just hit them because it teaches them to think.  I was kind of shocked by that, but I wanted to ask her more about what it was like for her as a little girl and if she thought that play room was absurd. I didn’t ask, but I might ask tomorrow.

 

Enough with the race stuff, back to being just a MOM

Two things that don’t mix:  Potty training the boy and My little girl being sick

I’m a bit embarrassed to write that my 3 year-old son is not quite potty trained.  I didn’t think much of it until I moved here to California.  It seems here that the children come out of the womb potty trained.  I mean, the kids are like 12 months old at the park walking to the bathroom by themselves.  They can’t even talk, but their going to the potty.  Of course when I saw this, I made a point to hide my son’s diaper whenever we would go places and then got on the ball with potty training.  His late induction into the potty training game is not totally my fault.  It is delayed for a couple of reasons.  One reason is that I tried a little before he turned 2, but was so traumatized after he picked up his boo boo from the pot and threw it across the room that I had to stop for a bit.  Another reason is because we moved here to California and my husband thought it would unwise for us to potty train him when we were going to spend such long days on the road.  Did I mention we drove from NC to CA in separate cars? It took us 6 days to get here and I think he was right in delaying the potty training. Fast forward to today and now I’ve (not us) got a kid speaking in complete sentences who can’t use the potty.

The first week was HORRIBLE!  He simply didn’t get it and honestly I don’t know what to tell him about his equipment. I’m not a boy and my husband is away.  I didn’t know if he should sit down or stand.  I didn’t know how to explain to him to just let it go.  It was a mess.  He kept peeing on the floor and I thought maybe my whole Zen vibe I was giving him was not enough for him to get the picture, so I started being more firm, like the Russian chick at the park told me.  Yes, I took advice from some random lady at the park, but her son was potty trained.  She told me to get these training pants (not underwear) from the Walmart and follow them up with the old school diaper liners, so like cloth diapers, but training pants. She also told me that when her son had an accident, she just let him sit in his stuff for a while and then he finally got the picture.  Well, the only good advice I got from the Russian lady was the cloth training pants because EVERYTHING else backfired. He didn’t care that he was sitting in his own “stuff”, he just kept right on playing.  He could have cared less about the potty, so finally I woke up one day and made up a character called Mr. Potty.  I can’t believe my life has come to this.  Mr. Potty has a distinct voice and he loves it when you give him something.  There are days I can’t believe this is my life.  Anyway, Mr. Potty was a hit and we have gone 3 whole days without an accident even when we leave the house.  Those cloth training pants were the best thing ever because now he feels when he’s had a bit of an accident and runs to see Mr. Potty.

So life is good, my son is finally going to the potty and now I can be a cool Mom on the playground. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, just as we get the potty training on the road, my daughter gets sick. GREAT! Potty training and the cold just don’t mix.  My daughter is a diva and my potty voice is just another way I’m giving her brother more attention than her, so she has requested that I make her a sick voice.  I can’t with these two.  I offered to cuddle with her on the couch and even came up with the grand idea to make her chicken soup. Of course, she reminded me that her father makes chicken soup better and while at the store buying the things for the chicken soup, she informed me that she must have potatoes in her soup like her Dad makes it.  I really wanted to tell this child that her daddy wasn’t here, but I bought the potato anyway.  I was so proud of myself.  I’m even going to insert a pic.

photo 1 photo 2

So, the kids ate my soup, but they did not eat it without reminding me that their father makes soup better.  I almost want to scream sometimes, but I love that they love him and that’s the only positive thing I have to write about that.

I guess it didn’t dawn on me that the broth from the soup would have my son on and off the potty the rest of the night.  I usually cut him off around 6 p.m. for this reason. Does anyone else have a son who literally seems to be in deep thought every time they go to use the potty? There is a whole process to him using the potty. Meanwhile, my daughter needs a cuddle and my son is yelling for Mr. Potty to come look at what he’s done.  Oh my, what a night.  I cannot wait until my husband gets home.  By the way, he called in the midst of the madness and quickly got off the phone, but he did send a text about 30 seconds later saying, “I love you!”.  He better!

Do all Black stay at-home mothers feel this way?

I never set out to be a stay at-home mother.  I had many assumptions as to what my marriage, career, and mothering would be like.  I assumed that I would be married, but in time the love would fade and we would fall into a rut. I also assumed that I would stay in the military until I retired and care for my children like my mother cared for me.  All of my assumptions were wrong.  Fortunately, I married a man that I love deeply and doubt that a rut would ever last for very long.  I’ll write about this man later, but the love and friendship that I have built with my husband has surpassed any dream I ever had for myself. Obviously, I am no longer in the military because I’m a stay at-home mother and I definitely don’t parent the way my mother did because…I’m a stay at-home mother.  This lifestyle chose me and there are times I struggle with this choice.

My struggle doesn’t involve money, although it would be nice to have more of it. I have an internal struggle of not feeling as if I am doing or accomplishing anything in my life by being a stay at-home mother.  I have a friend, let’s call her “Brooke”, who I share these deep internal struggles with and I found that she and I feel about the same.  We both struggle with the idea or fact that being a mother is enough.  Now, let me give you some background on my friend “Brooke”.  She is also a Black stay at-home mother.  She has a loving husband and 3 children.  She, like myself, lives in a predominately White neighborhood and has adventures of her own out in the suburbs of the South.  We talk quite often (everyday) and we cheer each other on, laugh, cry, and get angry together.  I cling to our friendship because this life that I lead is foreign to me and every woman in my family, so I cannot talk to my mother about certain struggles that I have because no matter what I say, my mother feels that my life is perfect and I have nothing to complain about.

The truth is, I don’t have much to complain about, but I do feel inadequate at times. “Brooke” and I share these feelings and it led me to wonder if this is the plight of Black stay at-home mothers. Of course, “mommy wars” are not exclusive to Black mothers, but the idea that being a mother is not enough may be something that is exclusive to women like myself.

Truthfully, I chose to stay at-home with my daughter because I lost a child a year before she was born and somewhere in the mix of all the feelings of loss and gratitude, I couldn’t bear sending her to daycare and missing a moment of her life. Her life was just that precious to me that I didn’t want to miss one day or one milestone. I felt and still feel like she is a gift that I should treasure for as long as I can. I desperately wanted to be her first teacher, but when I accepted the role, I had a very hard time enjoying it.

I constantly thought that I had let my family down.  I thought that I was squandering all that had been put into me.  I would say to myself sometimes, “why on Earth did your parents send you to private schools if you were just going to be a housewife?” or “your husband’s military career is taking off and now you’ll never be able to catch up”. Somewhere inside of me, I thought that my job as being a mom was not important.  I also struggled with my husband being the only person bringing in an income. I almost felt like I was taking advantage of him and I had been raised and outright told that a woman must have her own money because one never knew when a man would leave.  The lessons of these strong women that had come before me were ingrained into me and I had and sometimes still do have an internal struggle of telling myself that being a mother is the most important job in the world. You see, when your mother catches 3 buses to make sure you get to your private school on time, then catches 2 to make it to her job on time and doesn’t make it home until 11 p.m. just to do it all over again, you grow up thinking that the overall responsibility of wearing many hats is something that you are required to do and anything else is just being lazy.

So…what is a Black stay at-home mom to do? I’ve been at home with my children for almost 6 years now and in that time, I have never completely given my children my undivided attention.  I have always had “something” to do.  In the beginning, when it was just my daughter and I while my husband was deployed, I finished my degree.  Next, I became the running and workout queen. Now, it’s I want to get another degree and become a therapist.  It’s always…something.  I wonder when am I going to just sit down at night and embrace that this is my dream come true and this life and where I am right now is enough.