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.

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.

 

 

 

Happy New Year…Again

Wow, it is hard to believe that the last time I entered this blog was a full year ago. I kind of took a very serious break from many forms of social media. I wanted to refocus the time that I spent in these areas on my family, but mostly on my husband. After he came home from his deployment, I think it was important to me to make an effort on my part to consciously add him back into our lives. One of the major issues that plague military families is the balance between life while your spouse is a away and life when they return. The last deployment was my husband’s third. I was with him on the first deployment and the second deployment almost ruined our marriage. We both did not know how to balance his coming home. He did not know where to fit in and I continued living as if he had never came home. I am thankful we got over that rough patch, but I am even more thankful that this last deployment was living proof that we learned from our mistakes.

So…he’s been home for over a year now and it’s time for me to return. I kind of laugh typing that last sentence. I am known for starting and stopping a many of projects; however, I’ve written this one down. If you write it down on a piece of paper, then it will more than likely happen, right?

Right! It will happen and with the New Year comes new hopes, dreams, and possibilities that can and will be achieved. My most important goal for the New Year is to write. I want to write like my life depended on it. While I have a few fears, writing is the one that keeps me up at night. Writing haunts me. It is always watching. It is always standing around a corner peeking in with eyes of judgement. It is the one thing that opens my heart and flows through me. It is when I am most honest and it is when I am most vulnerable. It is me.

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I believe in New Year’s resolutions or maybe New Year intentions. My intention is to be me and all that entails. My intensions are:

1. Attend yoga at least 3 times a week

2. Learn how to design in Adobe or find somebody who can (sign-up for a class)

3. Launch my crazy ideas/designs (look at that, I’m too afraid to write them in detail)

4. Let my daughter be her own damn self (why do I struggle with that?)

5. Nourish my son’s passion of art (sign him up for art camp in the spring)

6. Call my mother more (at least three times a week)

7. Love my brothers without judgement (a loved ones addiction and distance are difficult to get over, but I am trying)

8. Listen to my cousin in all her hippie wisdom (be open to things I do not know)

9. Make an effort to communicate with my father once a week (figure out if I have healed)

10. Make a mala

11. Read at least seven books (one cannot write if they do not read)

12. Save more money (beasted this goal last year, but then I got a tummy tuck, lol)

13. Love my husband without fear (stop comparing him to my past hurt)

14. Nourish friendships lost and gained in 2015 (deal with my PTSD)

15. Listen

16. Write, write, and write

That’s it! Not a very long list and not a list that cannot be done.  What are some of your’s?  My hope is that everyone achieves growth and joy in the New Year. Until next time…

Love and light y’all.

 

Sunday Intentions

Okay, so I’m really not doing too well with this 30 days of blogging every single day.  I missed Friday and Saturday, but technically it wasn’t my fault.  I wanted to post a poem on Friday, but I wanted to do a slide show.  I still haven’t figured out how to put my voice with the slide show and I’m such a weird person that I didn’t feel right blogging Saturday because I didn’t do Friday.  I’m a bit weird; however, I’m going to get that together. Anyway, on to my Sunday Intentions for the week.

Today is Father’s Day!  I always call it the holiday that ends at about 3 p.m. or even sooner if the Dad is on the grill.  It always seems labor intensive for fathers, but I guess they enjoy it.  Here, we are without our fearless leader and father’s day was not celebrated in the typical fashion.  We heard from my husband early in the day.  The children got to talk to him twice because he kept calling back and I actually had the opportunity to have a long (about 10 minutes) conversation with him.  He unloaded on me and it was magnificent.   He was not telling me very nice things about his job, but HE OPENED UP TO ME!!!!!  I won’t discuss in this blog what he is going through, but I want to start a support operation for him with family and friends.  He needs to know that there are people back home that have his back and support him.

That brings me to the 2 things that I intend to focus on this week.  First, I need to start taking in the advice of my therapist.  Although I write this blog and can open up to my close friends, I am a guarded person.  I am even more guarded when I think you can hurt me.  My husband leaving felt like an abandonment.  Consciously, I know he did not just up and leave to get away from us.  It is the nature of his job, but one is still left with certain feelings.  When he left, I went into my shell and I just kind of wanted him to be gone without having any emotional attachment while he was away.  The funny thing is that, what I put out into the universe, I got back.  I was going out of my mind losing that connection of knowing what is going on with him and didn’t realize that I too had taken away my connection.  Last week and 2 weeks prior, I took my therapist’s advice and started opening up and I thought it wasn’t being heard or appreciated, but today showed me something different.  I need to be more vulnerable with this man I married.  I need to make an effort to share more and I need to make a point of letting him know that I have his back even if I don’t get the response I want.

The next intention I have this week is to love myself.  This may be an ongoing intention.  I have a friend here in California that says things to me that make me really think about what I say about my body, how I treat it, and what my insecurities are teaching my children.  Of course she can say all of these things because she’s gorgeous, but the message is still valid.  How we see ourselves sometimes transfers into how our children see themselves.  I know this to be true because I saw my daughter step on the scale too many times and I realized that she was only copying me.  I’m happy to say I haven’t been on the scale in a very long time because it is not necessary.  That number on that scale does not dictate anything that has to do with my life being fulfilled.  I refuse to pass this obsession with weight and looking a certain way to my daughter and son.  Truthfully, I have a bit of body dysmorphia. I am working on it.  It’s not an easy thing for people to understand when you are thin.  People don’t get it, but I get it and slowly I’m learning to let go of the negative image I have in my head and replace it with who I really am. I also consciously know that if I tear myself down and I am never happy with the way I am now, both body and soul, then indirectly I am teaching my children that they are never good enough.  It’s kind of the same approach that I took with no longer relaxing my hair. (NO JUDGEMENT ON THE HAIR THING) I knew I was not going to straighten my daughter’s hair very early on.  I didn’t have my first relaxer until I was 21 years old, so I wasn’t raised with the idea that straight hair was beautiful.  I wanted to give this gift to my daughter because I had met women who were literally afraid to go without their hair straightened.  I thought the best way to give her the gift of accepting her hair naturally was to give her an example of her mother being natural.  It was the same gift my mother had given to me and my grandmother had given to my mother.  Strangely, no one stopped to think that hair was such a small part of who we are and that an example of self love would take one so much more further in life.  I think back on how many bad dates I wouldn’t have gone on or how I might be able to look in the mirror at my body and see how awesome it is.  Self love teaches one that societies concept of beauty has absolutely nothing to do with how beautiful one is.  How one feels about themselves has everything to do with how he or she views themselves internally.  The external is just a small portion really.  People hide behind the external because if I woke every morning and realized that I gave birth to 2 children like a boss, that I am intelligent, that I am worthy of everything good in my life, then my perspective of who I am externally would change.  Instead of being disgusted by my stretch marks, loose skin around my belly and my surgery scars, I would feel honored.  Every single one of my so-called imperfections tells a story of how awesome I am.  I earned it all and I am a better person for it all.  I should be smiling when I stand before myself in the mirror, realizing that this body that I am in is just a vessel used in this life.  I should look at it in admiration because I am more than beautiful.  I am divine.

Love and Light

 

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!

 

Motherhood Monday

Throwback lesson from my momma:  The value of teaching the children to say thank you for every damn thing.

I had an interesting discussion in my brain today about this thing called motherhood.  I was pondering on what is this season in my life is all about.  I never envisioned that I would be a stay at-home mother and the thought came to me that this has got to be the most thankless job I have ever had.  Please allow me a moment to keep it real.  When I wake up in the morning, I am allowed exactly an hour (no matter how early I rise) to myself.  First, my son wakes up and demands at least 5 full minutes of cuddle time.  The cuddle time is quickly followed by his declaration of hunger and my need to get him something to drink.  In the midst of my son’s demands, my daughter wakes up in a funk (she is not a morning person) needing her cuddle time and to do her obligatory shoving of her brother.  A fight typically breaks out while I remove myself to brush my teeth, fill my water bottle and take my thyroid medication. That is how my day starts probably 5 days out of the week.  I cook breakfast.  I clean up.  I entertain. I find cool science projects.  I teach manners and the value of not eating boogers.  I do it all and I never once hear a damn thank you!  I was thinking about this as I took my quiet moment in my toilet room this afternoon and it dawned on me after I saw fingers under the door, that these children don’t appreciate me.

As quickly as those thoughts came to my brain a question came to the forefront of my thoughts…Did you become a mother to be thanked?  I did not become a mother to be thanked. I did not become a mother to be told that I do an amazing job.  I, unlike a lot of mothers I meet, became a mother because I love my husband.  I did not have an idea of some sort of parenting technique I wanted to use to shape perfect adults.  I was in a romantic haze and the standout reason that I wanted to have children was to see what our (my husband and I) love could create.  I know that’s totally sappy and probably irresponsible, but it is my truth.  I also kind of wanted to have  a child because doctors told me I couldn’t. I absolutely know what I did not want when I had children and that was to feel like they were work.  Right now, they are starting to feel like work and I know it is partly because my husband is gone, but it is also because I am not taking the time to really enjoy them.  I am focusing on my lack of personal space and time, not realizing that I have really good children who didn’t asked to be here. I will not be able to get these years back, so why not laugh at the fingers under the door in the bathroom or enjoy the cuddle time in the morning.  Very soon, my children will no longer want to cuddle with me and it would really suck if all I could remember is my frustration and not my appreciation for their presence.

Current lesson:  The value of appreciating my children being here and teaching them thankfulness by example. 

 

 

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.

 

The New Counselor

A common viewpoint in the African American community is that we absolutely do not go to therapy.  We go to church or to the mosque and read our holy books to get us through tough times, but we do not go talk to some stranger to help us with our personal problems.  Culturally, it is frowned upon and looked at as a way “other people” get through their problems.  I am proud to say that I break this stereotype.

My first time seeing a counselor was when I returned home from Iraq and it was a pleasant experience, but I only went once.  I was still under the idea that this just wasn’t what strong Black women did. That idea changed when my husband suggested I see someone before we moved to California.  I had major anxiety about moving back to my home state, considering that I had been gone over 10 years and had visited maybe 3 times.

The experience that I had with the therapist in N. Carolina was a positive one.  He got me to see that my anxiety was from the relationship I had with my father and that the relationship needed to end.  At that moment in time, my father was calling about 16 times a day and when I would not answer he would call back to back and leave messages.  He was still trying to control my life.  Before we left N. Carolina, I struggled with having to live so close to my father because I knew in my heart that I didn’t want my children to be around him, so this therapist helped me reach what was really bothering me and told me that I needed to heal from all the abuse from my father before I even began to try to have a healthy relationship with him.  I left N. Carolina feeling awesome and knowing this was the right thing to do, but after I got here, the guilt set in.

It is unnatural to cut communication with a parent, even a parent who has a personality disorder.  The guilt was eating me up, so I decided to see a counselor here in California and she was awesome.  She was a veteran.  Her husband was deployed to Afghanistan and we had similar backgrounds in regards to abuse and religion.  She helped me let go of the guilt, but just when we were making some great strides, her husband got orders moving them to the Carolinas and I was left to have to meet and open up to a new therapist.

I met the new therapist today and I don’t like her.  I didn’t realize that I didn’t like her until I left her office.  I don’t think she is doing anything wrong, but she is from a different time.  Apparently, I have some emotional disconnect, which I would have to agree with, but that’s kind of what happens when you’ve been through some traumatic things and would explain why I’m sitting on her couch to begin with.  [Full disclosure:  I don’t share this blog with my husband.  I don’t share my Instagram, workouts or yoga with him.  I have in some ways cut him out of my life by not sharing these things.  It is a defense mechanism and it is also just being a stay at-home mom and wanting to have something to myself that doesn’t include the kids or him.] The therapist told me that I should look at things from my husband’s point of view and the fact that I am preparing myself to live a life without him is not fair.  I agree with her, but I could have done without the judgement.  I don’t ever want to live a life without my husband, but the Army makes it very clear sometimes that I don’t have a choice. I am not consciously preparing to live life without him, but what I am doing is getting a life that does not include me being sad all of the time because he is gone.  I do not live in fairytale land.  I know that my husband will come home different and I need to be able to carry on until he mentally returns.  Am I shutting him out because I don’t want to miss him. Yes.  Am I keeping a slice of my life separate from him because a whole chunk of his life does not include me right now, absolutely.  Is it right?  I don’t think so, but this is my 3rd deployment and I learned the last time that if I don’t have something that I hold dear to myself when he returns that does not include him then my world seems like its crashing down.  The scariest part about all of this deployment crap is that when they return, you don’t get them back completely, which means you have to adapt to a whole new person and you don’t even know why.  It’s hard, but because I have experienced it, I completely understand.

The therapist asked me, if my husband came back with severe PTSD or angry and downright nasty, would I stick by his side?  I told her that I probably would not and the reason being my children.  She then gave me examples of women who she works with who have been married to war veterans for over 40 years and they have just had to learn to deal with these men the way they are.  I reminded her that my husband and I are a dual military couple.  I served just as he did and I have taken the steps to get myself together.  If he cannot make an effort to keep our home peaceful, then as my children’s mother, it is my responsibility to remove them and myself from a toxic environment and that is when she told me that I had some emotional detachment and we needed to work on it.  I don’t agree with her, but I will go back and see what she has to say.

I know that I am not always right and that’s why I go to see a counselor.  I sometimes relate my past experiences to my present and that is not good, but I genuinely love my husband.  He is a good man.  He is an awesome father.  The way he is with our children has healed me in ways that I can’t begin to articulate.  He really is my dream come true. I couldn’t imagine being with someone else.  I don’t think about us not making it.  In my heart, I feel that we will be together forever, but my life goal is to provide a home for these souls we created that is safe, free of chaos and loving.  Am I wrong for that?  Are military wives supposed to be martyrs?  Did I miss that lesson or am I really just emotionally detached?  Hmm…

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.

 

7 minutes

On average, I speak to my husband 7 minutes per day.  I divide that 7 minutes between my son and daughter along with the necessary business we need to discuss.  I probably end up really talking to my husband for about 2 minutes per day.  I have in some ways lost a very important person in my life and I think I just came to that realization today.  Of course, I realized it before, but I don’t think it quite set in until today.  My teammate is gone.  I know that sounds incredibly sad, but the idea of having a teammate is something that I only dreamed of in my life.  My life is probably someone else’s nightmare, but it is my dream come true.  I actually have a teammate, who I like and want to grow old with.  How incredibly awesome is that!?!

My daughter had a school program today, which is probably the reason why I am reflecting on this.  I fully expected to go this program, enjoy it and get a little sad that my husband wasn’t there with me.  Surprisingly, my husband tried to Facetime specifically to see our daughter sing the songs she had been telling him about for the past 3 days.  My heart melted when I saw him and it made me love him so much more.  He didn’t get to see it because the internet connection was bad, but he saw her walk in and just the effort alone makes me incredibly proud of the man he is.  If you take into consideration that he is 11 1/2 hours ahead of us and probably dog tired with a crappy internet connection, he moved mountains to see his baby girl.  He is my dream come true.

It may seem small, but I grew up in a home where things like this were glanced over.  I was valedictorian at my graduation in elementary school and my father didn’t even show up.  I still hold that with me today.  When I told my daughter that her father had the chance to see her, her face lit up.  During our 7 minute evening conversation, he told her that he was proud and happy he got to see her walk in.  She could not have been happier.  I doubt she gets how awesome he is, but in a society where fathers who are not at war don’t think to call their children everyday for whatever reason, he’s pretty damn awesome.

Really, 7 minutes is not a ton of time to stay connected; however, it is more than enough time to show that one cares.