Family Feud

Remember the infamous Jay-Z and Solange elevator incident while Beyoncé looked on? There was no audio, so no one except the parties involved, their loyal confidants and God know exactly what happened in those intense moments preceding the 2014 Met Gala.

Speculation centered around Jay’s infidelity judging by the look of an unbothered Beyoncé. She never jumped to her husband’s defense which  made people think that Solange was defending her sister’s honor and Jay deserved whatever blows he was dealt. Pun intended. Others said maybe Solange was in a drunken rage and this was a regular occurrence of family drama between the  always polished, prim and proper celebrity power couple. Days after the elevator surveillance video was leaked, all three released a joint statement to the Associated Press:

Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family. The reports of Solange being intoxicated or displaying erratic behavior throughout that evening are simply false. At the end of the day families have problems and we’re no different. We love each other and above all we are family. We’ve put this behind us and hope everyone else will do the same.

That’s commendable. Not only did all of this play out in the public, they maintained their dignity and respect for each other. Kissed and made up. So, if they can do it why can’t we? Celebrities fear people getting close to them with the intent of learning intimate details about their private life and selling information to the tabloids. But some regular folks betray their loved ones for free. It boggles my mind.

Art imitates life. With the duo’s latest album releases, Lemonade and 4:44, both albums were more than likely loosely based on their life–or not at all. Hashtag plot twist. I’m sure their experiences helped shape the musical genius that was created, but I highly doubt the notoriously private couple pulled the curtains back on their marriage just to make more money.

If the elevator incident was because of marital strife, this is a great example of the aftermath of venting to your family. While you may be completely over it and back to living happily ever after, ya mama, auntie, brother, sister, cousin, Pookie and them are still upset from the last time you and bae had a disagreement. And now there’s tension all over again.

The thing that I love most about The Carters is regardless of what happens behind the scenes, the only negativity you read about them is always from outside sources. They aren’t taking shots at each other even if they have every right to do so. No one is putting the next person on blast.

That’s unity. That’s love. Because, after all….no one wins when the family feuds.

 

Hallmark Holidays Are Emotional Triggers

IMG_5310.JPG*This post was originally written the day after Mother’s Day.

I did not want to be a Debbie Downer yesterday, but that’s how I felt. 

When everyone is professing their love on Valentine’s Day, I either have to ask for flowers or we probably just had an argument in the days leading up to it. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you get the point. 

My husband thinks flowers are useless. One year for our anniversary, he surprised me with an overnight stay at a garden resort, since I kept nagging him for flowers. 

I love Christmas but can’t stand the pressure society puts on families. Early on, children don’t feel loved if they don’t receive the same amount of gifts their friends do. Easter and Halloween is no longer fun, because I find myself defending my decision to participate or sit out of said holiday. “Pagan” holidays cause ridiculous debates about their origins and friends/families become divided in the name of what they believe. 

Back to hubby. From the outside looking in, he is not always the most romantic person. In this day and age of overly publicized intimate moments and the rise of #relationshipgoals, our special moments are usually shared between just the two of us. He does sweet things on a regular basis, but he ain’t hardly trying to do stuff just because everyone else it doing it (hence, Hallmark holidays). Don’t get me wrong-he buys me gifts on holidays, but he isn’t about to pull out all the stops. That’s usually on a random day & the funny thing is…it means more to me.

I know that this year is difficult with his mother being hospitalized. She has been on life support and we haven’t been able to speak to her for over a week. I had to remind myself of this when I noticed he was cranky and confrontational. Instead of engaging, I prayed. It takes so much more strength to hold your peace.

I had to remember that he regularly shows his love and affection for me in other ways.  We have completely different love languages and that’s okay. I don’t want to seem selfish knowing what he’s dealing with, so I sucked it up and kept it pushing. I chose to be his strength and not another burden.

When mamas are to be celebrated, I am sometimes left seeking validation. Feeling depressed. But I put on a brave face and graciously face the day every year. Wondering if I did anything wrong beyond repair. Then it dawned on me. These feelings are NOT about my husband. It’s not even about past relationships. It’s about the need to forgive myself. To offer myself grace. Motherhood is HARD. I’m not perfect, but I AM a work in progress. 

I try to pick my head up and repeat affirmations. Practice routine self care. Pray. Pour into other women the things I need and would enjoy myself. But it’s never enough and never will be. Because as long as I have that void of unexplained “why me, God” moments, I won’t be fulfilled. No mass production of greeting cards or flowers can fix that wound. You can’t place a band-aid on something that runs as deep as your soul. Yeah, that’s what it is–a soul tie. I realize that these feelings probably even go back as far as my great grandmother’s childhood. There is a curse that will be broken.

 I initially thought Mother’s Day began with disappointment, but it led me to the realization that I have work to do. Marriage does not make you whole. That is an inward assignment that only you can achieve.

I became a mother at the age of 19. While the pregnancy may have been unplanned, my son’s birth was intentional.* (Jer 29:11) His life has purpose. I may not have known at that time, but God knew him before he was even formed in my womb. Then, my daughter came along and became a little mirror. Ciara, version 2.0. As I watch her walk around the house in my shoes, I’m reminded to journey carefully. Try my best to ensure I leave footprints that I don’t mind her following. To build her up so well that she never feels inadequate or the need to compromise her morals for attention. 

I went to church and began cleaning my house when I got home. I’m reminded of an epiphany I had while sweeping the floor. I was thinking about how I normally despise cleaning but it felt therapeutic this time. Then, I pictured Martha. How frantic she was trying to get her house together. Jesus was in her presence, yet she gave priority to chores. (Luke 10:38-42) I gave the broom to my son, a little bothered by the fact that I had to tell him to take over. Started setting up for my brunch then decided to stop and spend some time with God. He gently reminded me that this day was for me, but everything is not about me. 

I don’t know your story. You may have children, or lost one. Maybe you’re battling infertility or just trying to make ends meet as a single parent. You may be a mother figure or pillar of support for the mothers in your circle. Maybe you don’t have a great relationship with your own mother. Pause. Release that toxicity today. The gift of forgiveness is the greatest thing you can give yourself. 

Know that you are appreciated. If your family does not recognize your hard work, I see you. I honor you and I love you, mama. 

“If we are going to heal, let it be glorious.”

*God’s plans are ALWAYS better than our own plans for our life. What you may consider to be a detour or setback, it could be the very thing that propels you towards your destiny. 

Look Up!

In California, we lived in a townhouse at the bottom of a hill for six years that wasn’t very appealing on the outside and way too small inside. My dream home was at the top of that hill. Whenever I would feel discouraged on the way home before pulling into my subdivision, all I had to do was look up for motivation. The cost of living was expensive, but I never stopped dreaming for more.

In hindsight, the whole looking up thing had nothing to do with a house. I am reminded of the scripture that says, “I will look to the hills from which comes my help, my help comes from the Lord.” Psalm 121

The same house that I thought was out of reach because of its half a million dollar price tag, is now mine with a larger yard. God did it.

In comparison to the townhouse, our new family room is the same size as our old living room, dining room and kitchen combined. Just think of what I could have possibly blocked had I stopped believing for more or refused to look up during difficult times.

The crazy thing is I was not planning on shopping for a house when we started the process, yet we were blessed to build one. God did it.

It all began with a seemingly insignificant thought to inquire about a community. This reminds me of the importance of being spiritually connected to the Vine. Your relationship with the Father determines the quality of your thoughts.

I am believing for even greater, the same way God made so many other things possible for my family and I. Our new house is just the beginning. It was never about anything materialistic; The blessing is the ability to speak things into existence and the manifestation of my prayers.

Stay encouraged and remember, always look up!

The Dangers of Social Media

Run at your own pace

I read a post the other day that said: Stop comparing your life to someone else’s controlled content on IG. The author hit a home run with that meme.

I always come across profiles of superwomen that seem to have it all together while I am falling apart. I’ve seen women that, regardless of their profession, can give your favorite model a run for her money. I don’t have a clue about makeup, but apparently that’s a prerequisite to post a bomb photo. Here I was thinking my twist outs and dimples are sufficient. Tuh.

I can’t keep up with the DIY queens and creative gurus. I can’t sew and I don’t have time for Pinterest. I have a few staple meals that my family loves and when we are at the table I’m like ohhhhhh yeahhhhhhh. But I can easily start to feel like my cooking is sub par. I’m not a gourmet chef and that’s okay.

Don’t get me started about the hashtag “iwokeuplikedis” underneath a glamour shot. Meanwhile, I wake up frantic because chances are I’m running late since I hit the snooze button one too many times. I probably have dried up drool on my cheek and my hair is a mess. No Egyptian cotton or satin sheets here.

Winning looks different for every person and happiness has a different meaning for each family. I’m lucky if I can get to work on time, shave my legs and clean my house. Winning to me is cooking dinner at a decent time. Remembering to switch over the load from the washer to dryer, AND folding laundry the same day it was washed. Remembering my to-do list for the day.

Baewatch

What may look like the picture perfect relationship can actually be two people holding on by a thread. Last year, DJ Envy and his wife participated in a twelve days of Christmas scavenger hunt of extravagant gifts and love notes. They take a lot of vacations with their beautiful family. While the masses are all googly-eyed and deeming their relationship as #goals, DJ Envy has always been very open about cheating on his wife.

Whitney Houston sang about good love. Well, Papoose and Remy Ma are the face of hood love. But what about the fact that he waited for her while she served a several year prison sentence?

While looking forward to a Barack and Michelle Obama companionship, you have to be willing to go through some tough times together. Everything is not always what it seems on the outside. Social media has a way of highlighting the joyous moments, and leaving a false expectation that marriage is perfect. No one likes to talk about the work and constant willingness it takes to honor your vows. True love is a never-ending journey of forgiveness and compromise.

I believe that our generation misses out on a lot of memorable moments, because we are too busy documenting everything on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Heck, even the next President can’t control his urge to Tweet lol.

It’s almost like people have become subconsciously competitive with each other to see who can best portray living the life. Even when someone is supposedly being transparent and caption a photo about how their life is not so perfect, the photo usually is.

One can easily get discouraged from comparing themselves-especially when it’s a false lifestyle they are envious of. Even I had to stop worrying about what everyone else was doing. I used to get depressed around graduation time, because I’ve been in school forever. I would feel that my goals were taking too long while I sat on the sidelines and cheered my friends on. It’s hard to celebrate moments in sheer happiness when comparison, the thief of joy, creeps in and reminds you: But what about me?

I guess I have said all this to say, try inspiring someone instead of bragging. Call or text that negative person on your friend’s list who may actually be crying out for help. Humble yourself and be who you “post” to be.

Stay classy my friends. Happy scrolling.

 

OG Mamas Need Love Too: What to expect while you are raising children

I’ve been searching the web for years to find a motherhood blog that I can relate to. I’ve only come across blogs for expecting mothers or blogs written by newbie moms with babies and toddlers.

I might find something for school aged children, but nothing for tweens and teens. I always feel left out. What about the OG mamas? Ya know, the mommies that have been around the block and back. The Veteran moms that can use a little support from time to time. The moms that are not privileged enough to stay at home or work from home.  The moms that were once trying to figure out what to expect while they were expecting and are open to advice long after childbirth.

Parenting plans, just like birthplans, often fail. You may have an idea for discipline, but every child (much like every pregnancy) is different. You simply cannot have a one-sized-fits-all approach to parenting.

One day, I had an epiphany that maybe I need to create what I am looking for. I have no idea what this will look like in the long run, but I sure as heck will try to make it work.

I know that I can’t be the only one that experiences some of the joys realities of parenting. It’s all fun and games while you’re staging monthly photoshoots to capture your baby’s first twelve months of life. And then they grow up and stuff just ain’t that cute anymore. No one tells you how to deal with a five year old that lies. Or that raising a teenager can be both fun and challenging. Add in a blended family from different cultures and that’s a whole lot of mixed emotions.

Sure, my children are my biggest blessings but it does get hard at times. I would love to hear the stories behind the highlight reel as one of my favorite bloggers often says. It takes a village to raise a child, but I spent a lot of time feeling like I let mine down.

Two halves of my heart

After years of trial and error, I am ready to help other mothers cope with different parenting styles and techniques. What are some of the things you wish you knew before you became a mom?  Sound off in the comments.

Holiday Toy Shopping: Representation Matters

I took a Sociology class last year that investigated the correlation between dolls and racism. The study revealed a preference for the white doll among all children, internalized racism and self-hatred in African-American children, likely the result of segregation.

elfTaking a trip down the toy aisle of any major retail store, you will find a distinct difference between the availability of white dolls in comparison to brown dolls. Privilege. I went shopping for an Elf on the Shelf, a popular Christmas tradition for young children to be on their best behavior, in San Marcos, CA. I searched three different stores in my neighborhood for a brown Elf before being told that they are only manufactured in white. Privilege.

I couldn’t believe that I was experiencing white privilege while toy shopping. The sales associate tried to brush me off until I demanded he check the inventory for stores within a 15 mile radius.  I also suggested that he not offer information that he was unsure of. I had already checked online and knew for a fact that the brown option was available.

princess

Last year, I was shopping online to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals. As a mother of a little girl, I was super excited to find that Target had a Disney Princess 7-pack of dolls on sale. At first glance, I noticed that Princess Tiana was not in the group. Bummer. Then, I realized that ALL of the ethnic princess were noticeably absent from the 7 pack of dolls-major deal breaker. Privilege. Why does toy shopping for minorities mean not inclusive?

I searched Target’s website today and only found a $99 Shimmering Dreams collection of Disney Princesses. However, Walmart still has the original gift set. I did complain last year and posted my dissatisfaction to all of my social media accounts, encouraging my friends to do the same. I’m not sure if it helped or if Target simply discontinued the product. Either way, I look forward to a day where all of our children can feel important and represented.

Target is not the problem, it’s Disney that I had an issue with. It’s bad enough that it took so long for them to make a movie about a Black princess (I’m not even going to get into the horrible story line). I found it strange that the set included Elsa, although Frozen was released four years after The Princess & the Frog. Privilege.

Disney has recently announced their newest Princess, Moana, a Pacific Islander. I’m waiting to see if she will make the cut for the classic gift sets this year. My guess is that it’s highly unlikely.

Barbie is guilty of this as well. Their white dolls are usually adorned with all sorts of accessories and come in different careers/characters. For black dolls, selections are already extremely limited and depending on the area you shop in its worse. Upscale shopping areas will have more white dolls available.

White privilege is being able to go shopping for your children and not worry about finding suitable toys that represent your family whether it’s skin color or hair type. White privilege is being able to shop at upscale stores without possibly limiting your purchase options. White privilege is always having toys that portray your race as the norm..

This topic may seem insignificant to the average American without children. However, it represents a larger problem within society. Representation matters for all children. I know that it’s not completely up to toy manufacturers for children to be comfortable in their own skin, but it can certainly help. Body image is another thing that must be tackled to do away with perfection, but that’s an entirely different argument for another day.

I want my children to choose the toys that closely resembles their own skin. Thankfully, my son loved hot wheels and was never into action figures because that would have been an issue for me, too. I want my daughter to feel that black Barbie and baby dolls are just as beautiful as the white dolls. I wish I can go back and undo the time I had to encourage my four-year old daughter to embrace her curly black hair and not feel ostracized because all of her classmates and their dolls have straight blonde hair. Heck, I just want my daughter’s brown skin to finally be normalized.

Signed,

A Fed Up Mama

 

*Sound off in the comments section and let me know about your experiences with toy shopping this season. Thank you, for reading. <3