How Cheerleading Tryouts turned into a discussion about self love

My daughter tried out for the Cheerleading Team at school this year. I was proud of her for the courage to try something new. There were only 20 spots available. I made it clear to her that even if all the girls who tried out did well, people were going to be cut.

While I always speak greatness into my children, I am not the type of mom that’s irrational. I would be doing them a disservice if I did not prepare them for the real world. They will be faced with rejection and disappointment. They will have to navigate certain paths alone; I will not always be able to hold their hand through difficult times. Failure is inevitable. Steph Curry makes less than 50% of his three pointer shots, but the point is he. kept. shooting.

We had a discussion about her expectations beforehand. She said that she did not care either way, because she could always try again next year. It was a three day process. She felt super confident the first two days, but the last day was a different story. The next day at school, she received the dreaded news. She said, “Honestly, I was not expecting that. I really didn’t think that I would be one to NOT make the team. I had a little melt down because it caught me off guard.” Immediately, I had to validate her feelings.

I knew she was feeling disappointed and probably even embarrassed. The majority of her friends made the team. I knew she felt like she was not good enough. In that moment, I had to be HER cheerleader.

In sports, the cheerleaders literally improve the morale of the entire team by their positive attitude. Cheerleaders instill hope in the players even when they stop believing in their own ability to win. The football team can be losing and the basketball team can be trash, but the cheerleaders will show up to every game cheering them on no less. We have to remember to do that for our kids.

I made sure that even at eight years old, she understands that her self worth should not be based on what someone else thinks of her or a title that she has. Losing and failure is apart of life. It builds character and makes you work that much harder next time. It also makes you appreciate victory. While making the team would have been great, it does not add to nor take away from who she is as a person.

Of course, I had to throw in the “You are one of the very few students in the Talented and Gifted program. That shows that you stand out from amongst your peers. That in and of itself proves that you are a distinguished student. Try again next year. Be more fierce and make them regret not selecting you sooner. Bring it on!”

I’m not always sure that I’m doing this mommy thing right. I know I can stand to have a lot more patience and should probably retire from being the female version of Major Payne. But, when it comes to building my babies up and speaking affirmations over their lives? Oh, I got that in the bag.

We don’t run from challenges or crumble from defeat. Failure and disappointment does not define you; how you respond to it does. Chin up, shoulders back, and try again.

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. 

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.

I thought I wanted to be a Stay at Home Mom

So, I thought I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Until, my husband granted my wish and I was trying to get back to work after two weeks.

I became a mom at 19 years old, a little over a year after enlisting in the Marine Corps. I got out after serving four years and did not have any significant work experience. However, being a veteran did give me a lot of preference over other applicants when I applied for various positions.
I had to work two jobs to make ends meet for a few years. Eventually, I landed a position with great pay, but it kept me away from my then three year old because of mandatory double shifts. I decided to take a pay cut to switch careers.
After twelve years of working hard, (the last few spent working while going to school) I threw in the towel. I got tired of hurriedly running in and out of daycare to drop off my daughter, speeding around the drop-off circle at my sons’ school only to see the SAHM sashay without a care in the world. She would either be well put together as if she was fresh off the runway or she was still wearing her pajamas. She appeared to be fit because of all the time she seemed to have that must have been spent at the gym.  She would drive a brand new luxury vehicle or a messy minivan. Jealous, much? Yes, I was.
I wanted a piece of that homemaker pie.
I hated that the PTA only met during business hours. School events were even during business hours. It’s like they did not care about the working mom. Matter of fact, they looked down on you if you had to go to work and could not read to the class every week.
So, in August 2014, my job ticked me off one last time and I submitted my resignation letter like a boss. Okay, what actually happened is I became overwhelmed with all the slave labor work without breaks and I called my husband in tears. I felt unappreciated, overworked and underpaid. I told him I just wished I could quit and he cut me off, sharply responding “Do it!”
I stopped crying…huh?! Did I hear him correctly?
He said, “Yeah, I’ve been waiting for you to leave that place. You’ve been unhappy for a while but I figured you must know what you’re doing and why you’re there.” That was all the push I needed. The same week I quit I received several job offers for a promotion. So, I called them to schedule interviews. Ya know, just in case.

I lasted three months as a SAHM, To my surprise, I was more busy than when I was working. At first, I took pride in rising early to cook a hot breakfast for my husband before work and pack his lunch. Then, I would do the same for the kids: Pack their lunches and drop all three off at school. I was making hot breakfast every day, lunches that rivaled all others in the breakroom and school cafeteria.

My husband thought he could pile up honey-do lists on me since I had all this so-called free time. *Remember, I’m still enrolled in college full time! One of my courses is accelerated which means way too much work to complete every other day. Housework never ended. And all the cooking breakfast, packing lunches and making dinner all before noon? Oh, that got old really quickly. I never made it to the gym. Or running first thing in the morning. All I wanted to do was hit snooze on the alarm clock a few times. Never got a chance to sleep in like I thought I would until the kids went on Thanksgiving Break. I really became a round the clock taxi/chef/nurse/maid/secretary/etc. There was nothing glamorous about it lol.

I would like to publicly apologize to all the SAHMs that I’ve ever criticized and went so far as saying they are good for doing nothing more than watching soap operas and shopping all day. I’m sorry for thinking that taking care of the house is easy. I’m sorry to have judged you when I saw you stressed out thinking that you don’t do anything all day and should therefore be happy. Yep, I was pretty shallow. Not taking into consideration that we get breaks in corporate America as opposed to working 24/7 at home. You all made it look so easy. I signed up to chill and quickly learned that I was bamboozled.

I thought the grass was greener on the other side. It turns out, that some people water theirs more than others and make it look greener. But just because something looks better does not mean it actually is better. Other people plant fake grass, smile and wave.

The next time another woman feels the need to speak down on you for choosing to be a homemaker, just smile and wave girls, smile and wave. As for me? I’m gonna make due with what I’ve got and mind my own business from now on. Ha!

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Year In Review

Happy Blogaversary to me! This online diary as I like to call it has pushed me beyond the limitations I’ve placed on myself. I am so happy and proud of my growth.                                   As I stated before, Phineas and I grew up together. When he reached the milestone of turning ten (double digits whoo hoo) I decided to start this blog. Even though it’s no longer just the two of us, he will always be the umph needed when my motivation is running low.

I woke up and got to work before the sunrise
Tired, but keeping my eyes on the prize.
When I walk across that stage just to see the look in your eyes
Always, remember that mommy did this for you guys.”
 ~CiCi (the part-time poet/blogger, full-time working mom and wife).

Sometimes, I run off of negative motivation. When I first found out that I was pregnant with Phineas, a nameless person told me that my life would be ruined if I had a baby. And what would I possibly do about being newly enlisted in the military? I made it my business to prove that person wrong.

The moment I delivered a baby into this world and became a mother, my life had just begun. I served the duration of my enlistment and never considered giving up. I’m not a quitter and failure is not an option. No matter how high my goals may seem, I just take each day in stride and one step at a time.

A sniper is an elite marksman and even they use sights to help them focus on their target when it’s too far away for the naked eye. I have always aimed high with anything I’ve pursued. So, upon starting this blog, what I’ve learned most about myself is that I CAN  have it all. It will just take time…I’ve dubbed my journey the scenic route (no one has been in college as long as I have).

I did everything backwards as far as [cue theme song to Married, With Children] love and marriage. If I didn’t have Phineas at such an early age, I don’t think I would be as driven. Pre-babies, all I cared about was shopping and paying my cell phone bill. Now that I have a family they serve as the purpose behind everything I do.

I have an extremely supportive husband. He has been beside me even during rough waters, although I thought he’d jump ship a few times. He never deserted me and the times when the waves became too high knocking us over, he always made sure I kept my head above water. He taught me how to weather the storm and tread water. God has been an emergency raft for my family and our bible is the life vests.

courtesy of Cafe Gratitude

I couldn’t seem to find balance last month and had to take some time off of blogging. However, I am fully recharged now and ready to type my little fingers away :-). It is my hope that over the past year, I was able to offer insight, encouragement or even add laughter to your day. To all of my readers or casual visitors, thank you, for all of your encouragement and support!