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

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.

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 Jameelah)

I believe the American Muslim woman is very misunderstood. Society has attempted to identify these women as oppressed, weak, fanatical, and mysterious. I know a number of Muslim women, in fact, I grew up Muslim and I think people would be surprised at how wrong their misconceptions are. Muslim women vary in a number of ways and it is only through dialogue that ones prejudice ends. 

Meet Jameelah. She is freaking awesome!!!! She is a married, stay at-home mother to three wonderful children. She represents a face America typically does not see…she is Muslim, African American, and in an interracial marriage. Here are her words…

What do you feel is the best part about being a mother?

The best part about being a mother is the level of fulfillment it gives me. Nothing else I have done in my life compares to being a mother. Motherhood fills a desire in my life that I never knew I had. If I wasn’t a mother, I think I would know something in my life was forever missing.

What was your mother like?

My mom is great. Growing up, my mom worked and was a stay at-home mom for a portion of time. No matter what she was doing, she was always a mom. Now, I’m 35 years old and she still drops everything she is doing to be there for me. She doesn’t pry. She is just there whenever I need her, which is amazing considering she has nine of us. She has always been a mom. That has been the best thing about my life. If I can be half the mom she is, then I could look back and consider myself successful.

I hear you using the word “mom”. Can you define what “mom” means to you?

Well, I’m mommy in my house, but mom or mommy includes a connection of love and respect. There is a need and desire by both child and adult. The word mommy to me is like a type of completion. Being a mommy involves laughter and humility. This role breathes life into me. I am comfortable being mommy. There are days I don’t want to do anything, but when my kids call, I’m not resentful. Life simply starts when they call. I feel special that I was picked to be someone’s mom. Little ole me was picked. In all of my faults, I’m someone’s mommy. They wake up and love me. There is no judgment. I don’t have to put on heirs for them. I look at my children and think to myself, I did that; those human beings came from me. Mom or mommy involves this unique power that children have that can fill your heart and break it, all in the same moment.

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You’re Muslim, African American, and in an interracial marriage. It would appear that a lot is going on.

It is a lot going on if you think about. People look and want to ask how my husband and I happened. It’s not a lot. It is just life.

What has been one of your biggest struggles?

The biggest struggle is that I grew up in a Muslim household and my husband did not. Race is not a struggle for us. We have totally different viewpoints on things. There were conversations in the beginning that needed to be had. There was no religion in my husband’s household. They believed in God, but not in an organized religion. I grew up in a very religious household. We prayed 5 times a day, attended Muslim school, and fasted during the month of Ramadan. Our upbringings are very different. He goes off of what he knows and I go off of what I know. Simple things like when to start the kids doing Ramadan have the potential to become problems; however, when you get married you have to consider that person. It takes compromise.

What keeps you continuing to be Muslim?

There is a part of me that knows Al-Islam is my saving grace. My faith is the thing that has kept me from going too far off track. Al-Islam keeps me centered. It keeps me mindful of God. It makes me tolerant. It makes me patient. It makes me more accepting of those who are not like me. It is a part of who I am.

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What struggles do you face as a Muslim mother?

If I’m in a moms group, I have to decide if I want to participate in that Christmas or Halloween playdate. Those particular holidays are not in line with my faith. When I decide not to participate, some people continue to ask why or totally disregard the conflict. As a Muslim, I don’t feel heard. People continue to test limits that you have clearly set. There are incidents where people want to see how far they can push the Muslim thing. It is as if they want to see when you will go against your faith to be included.

What would like non-Muslim mothers to know?

I would like non-Muslim mothers to know that all I would like is to be heard. Don’t try to question my loyalty to my faith. When I decline to participate, don’t ask me why and continue to press the issue when I have already articulated my feelings. Respect my faith as I respect yours. You do not have to accommodate me, just accept my decision not to participate in things that go against what I believe.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a African American Muslim mom?

People think I’m militant because I’m black and I’m Muslim. They think I’m part of the Nation of Islam. Those aren’t my only options. People look at me and ask me what am I? When I tell them that I am black. I was born in the south and grew up in Compton, they say, “but you don’t hate white people”. Some people also expect this caricature of what Muslim woman are supposed to be. Either you have to be crazy hardcore or this woman who is hiding she is Muslim. They critique your actions, as you have to live up to this image in their heads that has nothing to do with your reality.

 

How do you prepare your children for the misconception people may have?

I tell my children to be good with being themselves. What others expect of you doesn’t matter. On top of being Muslim, they are biracial. Just be you, the rest of it is window dressing. It took me a while to get to a point of being comfortable with just being me. My mom promoted that growing up and I am promoting that in my children as well. I always tell them to not worry about others opinions. There is always going to be someone with a hang-up.

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What advice would you give to a mother similar to you?

Are you comfortable in your relationship? Are your happy? Don’t worry about the rest of the world. If you and your spouse are reading from the same book, don’t worry about everyone else. My family has faced some hardships because of our religion and my race. It has been both hurtful and eye opening. I always want to know how does my life affect someone else to the point of hate. Honestly, there are hateful people. You have to learn how to tune the hate out. You will go crazy listening to the worries of other people.

What would you like people to know?

I would like people to know that I’m a person. Take time to get to know people before judging them. I’m not an angry black woman. I’m not angry at all actually. I may be black, I can’t change that, but all of what you see about black women doesn’t define of us all. We are not all the same. I am a Muslim, but I’m still just a girl who fell in love with a guy and we are raising a family.

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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!

 

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.

 

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month and Invisible Illness Awareness

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month and I think last week was Invisible Illness Awareness week. Okay, I know someone is probably thinking that this has nothing to do with the adventures of a Black Stay at-home mother, but oh, you don’t know the half. I don’t and have not had thyroid cancer, but I have had my thyroid removed because of a cancer scare. That’s right, I’m walking around with a missing organ.  I had my thyroid removed a little over a year ago.  If you check out my Instagram, there are some pretty funky pictures of my neck.  The scar is barely noticeable, but I still deal with trying to feel like the person I use to be.

I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is basically when your immune system attacks your thyroid, sometimes making you feel hypothyroid (brain fog, fatigue, weight gain).  Technically, I don’t have Hashimoto’s because my immune system no longer has anything to attack, but the 2 pills I take everyday don’t always do the trick and I am left with body aches, exhaustion and inflammation.  This whole thyroid thing came out of the nowhere and took my life in a completely different direction than what I expected.  I use to be quite active.  I use to run almost everyday and work out 3 times a week, but now I am just happy to walk my daughter to school.  Really, I am happy to do it because there was a time I could barely lift my head up to do anything because the fatigue was so bad.

Okay, I’m going off topic, but I wanted to write this post and impress upon everyone who reads this to CHECK YOUR NECK. I come from a long line of thyroid disease, but I just thought it would never happen to me.  Well, it did happen to me and if I would have been keeping an eye on my thyroid, I probably would still have it.  I had been living with Hashimoto’s (thyroid disease) for a long time before my body just crashed.  Please request labs from your regular doctor to be done yearly if you don’t have a problem and every 6 months if you do have an issue with your thyroid.  If you don’t believe that thyroid cancer and thyroid disease are a big issue in our society right now, then do a google search for all of the new cases popping up just in the entertainment world. Doctors call thyroid cancer the “good cancer”, but one only has to look at the late Roger Ebert to know that’s a bunch of crap.

Also, I consider myself to be someone who has an invisible illness. I don’t look sick and I don’t plan too, but when I’m sick my family doesn’t give me any crap about it.  This may come off a little rude, but if you know someone who suffers from thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other autoimmune disease don’t roll your eyes and think they are just complaining because the truth is (why have I just started crying) we don’t want to be sick. I have just come to except what my body can and cannot do and it has been quite humbling.  I have changed my whole diet (paleo baby!). I do yoga. I pray. I light candles and meditate for goodness sake because I want to feel good by any means necessary. Thankfully, I have friends and family who love me and know that this is not some wacky thing I’m making up, but I have seen with my own 2 eyes people put down others like myself by calling them lazy, fat, and cry baby’s.  We are not lazy. Our bodies are just attacking us and although the outside world can’t see it, we feel it almost everyday, so cut people with invisible illnesses some slack.  Okay?

I have a whole other blog that I haven’t shut down dedicated to my story at http://www.hashimotosmyjourneytogettingbacktome.blogspot.com. If you know someone who has some questions or if you are having some thyroid issues, check it out and also check out Thyroid Sexy, Stop the Thyroid Madness, Thyroid Change, and my personal favorite motivational thyroid blog ZenThyroid on Facebook or their individual sites.  Also, don’t forget to CHECK YOUR NECK!

 

Resentment, love, and strength

My husband has been gone since July.  Okay, that’s not entirely true because he came home for 32 hours in August, but even now that short bit of time we had with him seemed like a dream.  I miss him.  I noticed last week when I was walking up my stairs to go to sleep that the anxiety that I usually feel being in this house all alone had gone. I had somehow gotten use to being here by myself and the reality of it all made me a bit sad.  I consciously know that I should be able to do everything by myself, but I don’t want to do it all by myself.  I did not sign up for this…

So, resentment set in last week.  I was beginning to get short with my husband.  I didn’t want to sit on the phone with him.  In the beginning of this set of training, I would ask about what he ate and if he went into town.  When he went to open up about his day last weekend, I cut him off quite quickly and told him that it must be nice to have some free time all by himself.  His response was that as soon as he got home he would find a way to take the kids and let me have some alone time and although I could still feel the resentment, my mood lighten up a bit…until he informed that he would likely be extended after we saw him for one day this month, which puts him home for good (not really, for good) in late October. I was pissed and instead of pushing my feelings way down inside of me and continuing to be resentful, I let them out.

Thankfully, he listened and listened and listened.  I didn’t take any digs at him because he is only doing his job.  A job that affords me the opportunity to stay at home with our children. I just needed to stop being strong for one moment and be vulnerable with this man that I love. I am thankful that our marriage has grown enough that I can be vulnerable without him taking it personally. My husband is a fixer and when he can’t fix the problem, he gets frustrated with everything. He told me that my feelings were valid and I can’t even express how awesome that is to me. He also shared with me that he feels like he’s missing out and it makes him feel bad.  He missed the first day of school, our son’s first soccer practice, our daughter’s first ballet class here in California, our son mastering the potty, our son finally riding his bike, and the biggest thing, not being here for our daughter when someone said something mean to her at school.  I could not feel any resentment after that. He is missing out and I know with everything inside of me that he would rather be here than there.

Being an Army wife is hard.  It was much easier when I was in the Army and when we didn’t have children. I worry for him. I want him home. We need him here with us.  I don’t want to get use to him being away.  He leaves in February for his third deployment and this is the first time I have been scared. I know that I must continue to be strong, but I now know that love and strength can include vulnerability.  The road is long up ahead, but we will make it.