Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Escaping my life


As I sit here with my hands folded, I am refusing to be the kind and supportive mother and wife I have always been. That is how I feel today! Quite honestly? Lately, most days have felt that way.

So when my days feel overwhelming, over scheduled , and underappreicated, I shut down.Do I continue to function? Yes. I still cook, clean, wash, dry, fold, drop off and pick up.

But as I move in auto pilot, I am no longer connected to my children or my husband. Or not like I should.
I have conversations that revert to simple “ yes “and “ no ” answers because I am not listening. I revert to deep sighs in moments of frustration instead of teaching my children and husband how to treat me in those moments.

There was a time when I  have felt significant guilt about “auto pilot”. I can’t say I am proud of it,  but I am aware of it.

Dr.Phil moment: “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.”

For a long time I did not realize I was so “glossed” over and “glassy eyed” in certain moments of life. So my realization is a huge accomplishment.

I am not perfect and my goal is to have less auto pilot moments and to really be ” in the moment” of life . The task at hand is to find the appropriate coping skills, right?

That really is the purpose is to learn, to understand, and to grow. I will have a few bad days but that is okay. Right?

Having the bad days, as I stated earlier, is not the issue. But not knowing I am having a bad day and insisting that “I am fine” ( as I often do …clearing my throat) is the problem.

I now have to, with a deep breath, admit when  I AM NOT FINE.

Ultimately, it is MY fault if I don’t admit I am tired, scared, frustrated, or need a moment alone.

The blame falls on me for not being open, honest, and vulnerable enough to say what I need.

Once I say what I feel, I can then ask for what I need.  I can’t get on a plane and run away when I need time away. But I can take a moment to relax and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


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Finding my way back to you.

It is so amazing how I lost track of time. Summer came and it is now gone.

With a new school year comes a new set of "mommy fears" for us. With each fear, I over analyze then panic sets in and I worry.....only to realize I am the only one worried.

The children are not as worried about the new school year, teachers, or friends as I am.

With all the Lifetime movies, family specials and breaking news stories I forget that, at their core, my children are okay.

Once I reminded myself, I reminded them that WE are okay.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do you have GREEN eyes?

Do you look at the lives of others and wonder why they have “that” life? Do you compare your life to friends and family members? Do you ask “why can’t my children act that way?” or Do you ask “How did she get him?”

 If so, you may have GREEN eyes. Green eyes as in green with envy.

 Envy, for most is considered a bad thing, but I see that greenish tint in your eyes as an opportunity for growth. There are some people who want to be envied. They want you to wish you had their life. They are hoping you are somewhere “hating” on them.

 Then you run into people you genuinely admire….okay…maybe envy. These are the folks make you feel good about you when you are in their presence. They are hoping your life is as great as their life.
If you know others look up to you  it is important to be kind to others. You want to make sure you inspire others because  you never know who is watching you.

If you have GREEN eyes  you can have everything they have and more. REALLY, YOU ASK? Sure…..
 Being GREEN gives you the chance to dream.

 This a chance to re-evaluate your life. The purpose is not to be like that person but to be a better you.
Taking the chance to dream for a mother may include re-evaluating your parenting style. I have heard that imitation is the best form of flattery. GREEN dreaming can give you a chance to watch and learn about being a better mother, friend, or wife.

 Everyone has an area in life that you want to improve. Be it work, home, family, weight, parenting, or lifestyle changes. You cannot continue doing what you have been doing and get a different result. NO…NOPE…NOT GONNA WORK.

If this person is willing to help you, ask them to help you reach whatever your goal may be. Ask them how they got where they are in life.  Know that with all the success you see there have been great sacrifices made.You don’t have to recreate the wheel…walk in someone else’s footprints.

 Don’t be afraid to have GREEN eyes and dream. Reach beyond your comfort zone and try something different. Who knows…someone may envy you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Falling From Grace

All children are born loving their mother. Somewhere between birth and high school every mother will fall off that pedestal. It is inevitable. We will make mistakes. We will have “uh-oh” moments and “oopsies” along the way.

So when did I fall from grace?

Girls want to know the details. “What was your first date like with daddy?” “When did you have your first boyfriend?” ”Did you graduate from college?” ”When was your first kiss?” “Did you have fights with your friends in school?” and list goes on and on….

For example, I remember when my daughters began to realize I was a teenage mother. Once they learned to add and subtract, I knew it was coming so what did I do? I had to talk about how having a child changed me. And then there is the reality of sex. My daughters know that I was a sexually active teen. So then there are additional questions and talks that came with that reality also.

This is the mistake I made.

When my daughters began to ask questions and probe into my obstacles, I felt hurt. I thought they were judging me. I felt attacked and sometimes criticized. But now, I realize that it was none of those things. My daughters were trying to renegotiate our relationship. They were trying to get to know me. They were asking how I got over my poor choices and continued to live my life. They were looking for me to comfort them through their mistakes.

For my “girls”, as I call them, I am a women teaching them to be women in a very “real world”. I see things that a father can’t see. I make sure to teach and train. But in those times of teaching and training I forgot to tell them how I overcame and “kept my life moving” after I made a bad choice or hit a stumbling block.  They needed to see me as a women and not a perfect mother.

When you make mistakes in life, and I have made some big ones, you have to keep living. The same is true for parenting. When I make mistakes, say so but keep it moving. You may have to apologize and have a few discussions on the topic. That is just life. Is that not the goal- to teach and train?

I have to open the door for my daughters to be honest with me by being more open with them about my life’s experiences. I don’t share all the details but I do talk more openly than before.

For some people, it may be addiction or abuse. The list of obstacles can go on for miles but the need to understand who our mothers are is the same for every girl.

What did I learn?

I have not fallen from grace. I am still and always will be their mother. I am a human being and not perfect. I had to get over myself and all the fear, hurt and anxiety that comes with falling from my own pedestal. Once I forgave myself, I could really open up and talk about how I moved forward.

Talking about your obstacles allows your daughter to not expect to be perfect, permission to be human and make mistakes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When “Mean Girls” Grow Up

We have seen and known children have been bullied for years. But what about adults? Mean girls grow up and become mean women. Bullying boys become bullying men.

 When mean girls grow up they are the women who create hostile work environments. These same women are the women that dare you to be yourself at home, at work, or at play. The walk around  looking “mad” for no reason. They lie and create chaos. These women doubt everyone’s actions and motives.

Truthfully, can you blame them for being mean?

Mean women  are a result of what we don’t tell them when they are mean little girls. If this behavior is not addressed and corrected very early it only gets worse.

Are you a grown up “mean girl”?

 Do you watch other people and only find fault in them?
Do you look at other women and roll your eyes?
Are you irritated by people who are individuals?
Are you the person that others are afraid of crossing?
Do you apologize when you are wrong?
Do people feel comfortable approaching you?
Do others fear you or respect you?
Do you want others to fear you?

 If you are a grown up version of a mean girl, you are increasing the chances that your daughter will be a mean girl. Parents have to make sure not to be bullies to their children. Children are taught how to treat others. It is a mother and father’s responsibility to make sure that the children know how to be good friends.You have the power to change this behavior in yourself and in your daughter(s).

Try a few simple  changes:

Ask yourself “why am I mean?”- Be Honest!
Become more understanding
Respect people’s right to be different
Smile at people when they approach you
Speak in a kind tone of voice
Ask your friends for honest feedback
If you have “mean” friends, make new friends
Talk to your daughter(s) about what you are trying to change
Ask them to help you

We will never rid the world of mean people. But, we all have “light bulb” moments in our life. I have learned that making a few changes in my thinking and behavior helps other people treat me better.

I am constantly learning to self evaluate. It is okay for my daughters to see me growing and ever evolving as a women. It shows them I can be vulnerable and I am not perfect. Watching me tackle big issues and talking about it gives them permission to do the same.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Life with Charlotte!: Parenting: Routine Check Ups

Life with Charlotte!: Parenting: Routine Check Ups: "When you start a job you have to go to a training. The training is about helping you and the company becomes more productive. I feel the s..."

Parenting: Routine Check Ups

When you start a job you have to go to a training. The training is about helping you and the company becomes more productive. I feel the same way about parenting classes and training. I go to parenting classes yearly ( for check ups) so I can get better and be the best for my child(ren).  I know, as some of you roll your eyes, it sounds crazy.

Why do I need someone to tell me how to raise my children?

I felt guilty because I needed the help. I felt ashamed because I must be doing something wrong. Right ? wrong!

First, I had to decide and make up my mind to take the classes. So I made the call. It was  a small fee ($15.00) and I have found others for free. I signed up and showed up- another big step. I talked myself out of it several times before the start of the class, saying “Oh, I am fine” or ‘ I don’t need any help- she’s just a baby.” So I got the courage up and I went to the first class.

WOW! The room was full.

I realized was that I am not alone. There are other families and mothers who are frustrated and at their wits end about one or more children they are raising. They are afraid for many different reasons but they want and need some practical advice. Or…..they want to  the best parent they can be so they enrolled to help prevent, as much as possible, problems in the long run.  We shared our experiences and  I felt stronger just being around them.

What have parenting classes taught me?

  1. Parenting is a learned behavior. We learn to parent from our parents. That’s great!- If you have perfect parents. I don’t know a perfect parent. Do you?
  2. Parenting classes are about me and not my children. I could not change my children but I could react different to my children.  
  3. I learned to know my limits and how to ask for help. There are Social Workers and therapist usually teaching the class.
  4. My children appreciate it. They know I want to be the best mother I can for them.

Classes or No classes? I realize everyone can’t go to five week long classes. Not everyone wants to be in a classroom setting or to connect with other mothers. So then what?

I read a lot of parenting material. There are books, local magazines and Internet articles on parenting. Yes… it helps.

I also subscribe to emails and newsletters about parenting so I can simply have reminders of some good techniques.

For more in-depth help, You Tube/Google parenting techniques or call your school counselor for step-by-step things to do.

But don’t be afraid to need the help and get it. It makes you and your family better.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reflections of Motherhood

I found this and started to really reflect my time as a mother. I know it is far from over. Actually, it never ends. That is my new never ends. For some , when a child turns 18, the journey is over but for others the journey is really begining.

Having the chance to move from motherhood to friend, for me, is a really hard transition. It forces me to relfect on the choices I have made for my children and respect the choices they have made for themselves along the way- good or bad.

I am learning to hear the voices of the young women and young men deeply embedded in my four children.  I am have to see them for who they can be while I am teaching and training even today. Although, I have an adult child, I must admit, it is even harder knowing that I can't make choices for her but I have to listen and hope she makes the choices that are best for herself.

My reflection is bitter sweet. I am both happy and sad. I would tell myself:

"Relax, this is a marathon not a race. You are doing your best. You can take a nap, not clean your house, and not have to worry about what others think of you."

In another ten or twenty years, hopefully, I can say, " you did it, they are as awesome as you thought thet would be"

But for now, I will relax and enjoy the ride.

What would tell yourself?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Faith Without Works is Dead

 A + B = C, 1 + 2 = 3. These equations seem so simple but look closer and there is a lesson. A lesson I seem to be learning over and over again. To receive something I have to give something. I can’t just “wish” it into existence. As I look at my most recent dilemmas of life, I realize I did not follow that simple rule. You give what you get.

In relationships, I am finding the same simple rule is true.

In marriage, you have to give as much as you expect. If I want my “honey” to know I love him, I have to say so and show him. To expect him to love me and make compromises for the good of our family, he has to see me do the same for him. It’s just that simple. We, together have to lay the foundation.I want a healthy and happy family so I have to put in the work that it takes to make a family healthy.

In finances, how can I be prepared for retirement if I have spent my money and not saved? I have to be disciplined and do my part to have the life I want.

In motherhood, I have to give what I expect to receive. I have to teach kindness and patience to expect my children to exhibit kindness and patience. The same is true for rules and behaviors. If I have not taught them to behave in a certain manner then how can I expect them to know how to behave? I want my children to be successful and they want to but if I don’t teach them about study habits and discipline, how will they know?

I know it’s hard and I get lazy and don’t feel like teaching. Yes…it is easier to do it myself than to wait for
them to learn it but that’s because I know how to do it. Now, I have to teach them so they can learn to do it. I know it can be scary as they make mistakes but I still have to teach it. I have to do my part to help them be who they need to be. I can’t expect them to know anything other than what I have been disciplined in teaching them.

For me, this is a lesson I continue to learn often. Or maybe I am not learning all there is to know about wanting to have something and expecting it to happen to me without doing my part completely.

 It’s human nature to want what you want when you want it, right? So I have to fight that desire to just “wish” for  something  to happen without making some sacrifices along the way. I have to push away the thought that my children should be better at something when I have not invested any time teaching them how to do it.

It’s unfair for me to act as if  I should have what I want and then pout when I don’t get it.

It’s not them….it’s me. It’s just that simple. I have to do my part.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Each generation has it’s title based on their cultural movement. There are the baby boomers, the Gen-X, Y, and Z. My parents are more baby boomers and my children are more Gen Y and Z. My husband and I are Gen Xers.

Baby boomers are influenced by respecting elders and respecting job titles. As we grow older, I see more of the baby boomer mentality ingrained in me which I can feel my children fighting.But, Generation Y and Z see respect differently.

 I could see signs of this shift in “what is respect and who is worthy of respect?” in my oldest daughter. But, at that time, I could not grasp it. Now, as I look at my youngest son and my two middle schoolers, I can see the divide a gaping hole.

This generation of children born near the millennium and into a more digital world do not respect relationships as we, Gen Xers were taught. On some level, through our rebellion of baby boomers, we taught our children to challenge the status quo authority.

 I have found this generation of children requires constant communication. Where we played outside to have friends, they are connected constantly through technology.

They find it hard to accept “because I said so”. They expect to be respected equally- as adults and want an explanation. This is where it gets sticky. I am an adult and I believe in earned respect. That’s I was taught. That was the influence around me as I was growing up. My children can feel that influence and see  it in me and my husband.  However,my children expect respect just because. It is not just them but their friends too.

 I know there is a careful balance to minimize to this conflict. But to do my part,I am forced to find new tools to maintain and develop a relationship with my children. I could hold on to what my grandparents did and what my parents did but I have discovered the world is functioning different. Different can be good or bad. I am the one who determines if the changes are used for good or evil. I am the teacher( mother). I am the person who will train them to navigate the traditions of family and the realities of a changing world.

This is what I  have learned to do differently:

 1. I understand and utilize “Teamwork” as part of home. We clean as a team and eat as a team. We support as a team. This is not a new concept. I just present it as a “the way we do things”. I have read over and over again that Gen Y and Z are motivated most when doing team concepts. So that’s what I use. We are a family (a team).     

 2. I listen and respect their opinion. We have respectful dialogue. We, as a team decide what we want to eat. My husband and I present the choices based on my budget and we go with the majority. I cook everyday and offer everything. But I allow them to decide what goes on their plates. I have one rule: At least one vegetable. I could tell them what to eat and how much but when will they learn to make decisions if I tell them everything? My goal is to empower them to make decisions and understand the consequences of their choices.

 3. I am tone specific. I use a tone of mutual respect when I communicate with my children.  In return, I get the same thing. I could use give directives,  use sarcasm, and anger but I am trying to teach them how to talk to and treat others with respect and maturity. So I must exhibit control over my tone.
 Yes, I know….I know…. I could make things very easy and tell them what to do all the time. But what I have discovered is as a mother, trying to teach and train, how can I teach you respect if I respect everyone else and “boss “my children around? I know my power and so do they but, like superman,  I don’t use it unless I have to.

Got thoughts, ideas, advice and/or suggestions? Let me know. Leave a comment.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Doing Nothing on Purpose

As I sit here, I am watching The Today Show on  NBC. Meredith Vieira is doing an interview segment on mothers and daughters. The panelists on the show state that 80+% of girls feel overwhelmed by their life. Wow! Then they talk about how a mother can decrease that percentage by simply talking to their daughters. Good news for mothers? Maybe.

Mothers, our daughters feel overwhelmed and over pressured because we feel overwhelmed and over pressured. We have to teach our daughters how to relax and let go. As a former corporate fundraiser, I can see where I instilled this overarching “ go get it” attitude in my daughters. I have fiercely independent girls. But that’s what I taught them. The opposite of independent is dependent. That, in a woman’s vocabulary, is blasphemy. But, dependent can mean many things. I can depend on my husband to listen to me. I can depend on my BFF to laugh with me and encourage me. I can depend on my mother and father to help with my kids if I need them. I can depend on myself to remember to ask for help.

Somewhere between corporate America and housewife, I learned to stop being afraid of dependence. I learned to ask for help and rely on my support system. I stopped needing to be the person that can do everything. I stopped needing to control what I can’t control.

I started allowing my girls to see my vulnerability and weaknesses. I talk openly about my failures and mistakes. I laugh at my feeble attempts to try new recipes which results in ordering pizza. I give my girls permission to be human. I apologize when I am wrong.Yes….I have some super mommy tendencies. But, I am learning…. Repeat….I am learning to let these tendencies go.

This is what I am learning: I am learning to do nothing with my girls on purpose. I am learning to sit in a room with them and just enjoy them. I am learning to have conversations with them. I am learning to talk more about friends and fears over coffee (yes…even with my 11 year old) or after movie. I am learning I have to stop planning their next move and pressuring them to achieve. I am learning no pressure… just time.

Mostly, I am learning to just relax and enjoy the ride with my girls.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It’s Just Hair!


You know why I have grown to like Wendy Williams? She has honesty about herself that I can appreciate. She has been brutally honest about her love for wigs and makeup. We all know she had a boob job. Well, I can admit that I admire that honesty. Like Wendy Williams, there are a lot of women out there who get up and “put on” their best face for the world to see. I am included in that group as well. I change my look often from long sewn-in tracks to a wig to a natural.

Thinking about Wendy and hair, I am reminded of a saying I grew up hearing, “It’s just hair”. On the surface, yeah hair can be changed to fit any look or image. But much deeper, it’s not about hair. It’s about the things women, ALL WOMEN, do to impress on another but lie about it. We wear body shapers, wigs, make-up, butt lifters, ect. Now I am not one to criticize, especially on this topic because I have used all those tools at some point , but lets be honest.

Most of us use some tool to make us look a certain way to feel more comfortable. I know the self esteem gurus will tell you, “You don’t need those things to be beautiful”. I agree…. I don’t need them, I am beautiful and You are beautiful, but I want them. I want them without apology.

I am learning that my love for make up and dress up is okay. I don’t feel “ un- natural” or “not authentic” because I have on my gear. Being authentic is knowing who I am enough to be okay with using all these tools. No, I don’t rock my stilettos in the house. But when I go out I rock ‘em. I am learning to “do me” the way I want to without guilt or shame. Anyone can tell you I have a very high sense of self and I love me like nobody else, so I have no problem telling people how I achieve my look, be it  a weave, a wig, a body shaper, or whatever. These things don’t define me but  they do accessorize and enhance me.

Understanding me helps my children embrace their own sense of style and wonder. I am teaching my daughters to “be you” in whatever context that may be. Also, I am teaching all me children  to not be afraid of new trends and styles but to embrace change in yourself.

 Not everyone has the same sense of style. Not all girls are “girly” as in wanting lace and flowers or butterflies and bows. But whatever you are “do you”. Me? I am just going to relax and enjoy this ride.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saying the dirty word – NO!

As I sit here at my desktop, I am looking at massive amounts of laundry and dirty dishes piled high. I know…I know…. I should be cleaning and getting ready for my children to get home but I want to write. Or maybe I want to avoid cleaning.  Today as it is raining and pouring I am reminded of an incident I had as a new mommy.

It was raining like it is today and I needed to go to the grocery store. The cupboards were bare and my daughter’s class was waiting on the cupcakes for the class party that I agreed to bring so off I went. My children at the time were 9, 2 ½ , and 1(this was before my youngest son was born). My nine year old was at school and I took the other two children to the store.  In the store, my beautiful and lovely babies began to act as if we had never been out in public. My 2 ½ year old started getting undressed ( shirt, shoes, and socks) and my 1 year old cried unmercifully through the store. I had to shop because I promised the cupcakes to the PTA and there was no food at my house. Mostly, I refused to admit I needed to regroup.

I was visibly shaken and began to cry. YES! I cried in front of Kroger on JFK  as I saw the rain was not going to let up and I had to unload these groceries and babies, I was just…ummm… it was too much. But, I managed it. As we rode, the children fell asleep, wouldn’t you know it?  I arrived at the school with the cupcakes. I unloaded my children and went to the classroom. I know you are wandering where are the groceries? I forgot they were in the car (oops!). I went to the office to drop off the cupcakes , walked them to the class, and to my surprise there were 100 other types of cupcakes there. What? Are you serious?

What did I learn? I learned to be organized when I go in the store every time. Even when I am organized I will overspend sometimes and there will be chaos if my children, even now, are with me so I remain calm. I don’t shop when I am in a hurry and have somewhere else to be. I later found that if my children were tired, sick, or cranky, we need to come back later. I also learned that I can say N-O. I can say no to the teacher and my children when I can’t do something. I am not the only parent who was called and now I realize I would not have offended anyone by simply saying “I can’t do it.”.

Use this: I found I can’t say no to people face-to-face so I learned a great technique at a conference I went to once upon a time. When someone asks me to participate I don’t say no right away if I really can’t participate. I say, “Let me check my calendar” or “Can I get back with you?”. I write it and their number down on a piece of paper, an index card, or put it in my phone. When I get home, I call them and politely decline. It seems shady but I really do ponder over it before I decide I can participate.  If I can I  say yes but If I  must say no, I call as soon as I know I can’t do it.

What happened to the food? As I was sitting in the classroom, I remembered and jetted out to the car like a bat out of hell to run home. It all worked out but I learned to be organized and plan for cupcakes.

This is not a race….relax and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Death of an Expectation

When death occurs  someone is left behind to grieve.  When our expectations or our current dreams die we have to grieve to find new dreams.  Sometimes, if we are lucky the death is slow and gradual. But there are times when death is sudden and immediate.  Everyone grieves differently. Some people grieve faster and others slower. Some grief publically and others privately . The seven steps to grieving exists after every death.  The steps are shock, guilt anger, depression, upward turn, reconstruction,  and acceptance/hope. We may not all grieve in the same order but, at some point, everyone feels some of these emotions. We all know how awesome and wonderful our child(ren) will be but when they start to renegotiate their lives and make their own choices, we have to realize death of our expectation is certain.


When I was seventeen and found myself pregnant, I don’t see how I could have been shocked- the writing was on the wall in huge neon letters. I was making choices that would lead to pregnancy. But nonetheless I still had that moment of “ Pregnant!? Who!? Me!?” I am too smart so how could this be?   I laugh now because how could I be shocked? Even though we choose behaviors we still are surprised by the outcome. In our children, these are the behaviors and choices we suspect and see but won’t entertain nor correct. This is the teacher conference  that leaves you speechless or the doctor’s visit  that leaves you breathless.


 In my life, I felt guilty because of the person I mourned the person I thought I could have been. I second guessed my decisions and constantly wondered if I was okay or qualifies to make the decisions I needed to make. This is what has consumed , I think, people the most. It is the most overwhelming feeling . This is the reality that what could have been.

This, in mourning  expectations, is really about being hurt. When we hurt, as humans, sometimes it manifests as anger. So when we exhibit anger we have an “ attitude”. We walk around as though we have done nothing wrong, all the while needing to held and told that “ it’s okay”.  Anger and lashing out is part of what helps release the pain we feel.  During pain, we sometimes bargain asking for relief or promising to be different . Anger, for me, is knowing I have not done what I am supposed to do to prevent this from happening and now I have to answer for it.


In quiet moments, we feel our hearts ache and allow ourselves to know that this is real and we can’t change it.  We feel at our lowest and sometimes refuse to move forward afraid of leaving what little of the current situation we have behind. This stage is when we have to really feel what anger only admits.

Upward Turn:

 And then one day we wake up , for whatever reason, knowing it will get better. There is a definite change in attitude and understanding during this stage.  It’s the most amazing feeling to know that life goes on and it gets better whatever the situation may be.

 This is where the building blocks of the next dream or expectation comes to you . During this stage , we see life as yet another opportunity to dream. We create alternate ways of thinking to help us rebuild our lives. But the difference between this dream and the last is the lessons we have learned about dream expectations.

Acceptance and Hope:  

This stage is just what it says. We accept whatever the loss is and we decide that we can continue to live life to the fullest . We can have more children, go back to school, vlounteer, or teach.

This is what I have learned: Dreams die and people live to tell the story. Everyone has a dream. I have seen my dreams and expectations die but I continue to live. I live my life looking through a different lens of life. I am looking at the lessons I have learned so I can teach my children how to handle life when dream don’t manifest  right away. They can live their lives after they are disappointed and hurt. I have learned to love them for who they want to be and not who I think they should be. I have learned to celebrate the person I am and the people my children are instead of the who we are not.

I know as parents, especially as a mother,it is hard to see your child pull away from your dreams and have their own but I encourage you to relax and enjoy the ride.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life Unplanned

It’s funny now but at the time I was so scared. When we started having children, like most parents, my husband and I had an idea of who they would be. My sons would be just like my wonderful husband and my lovely daughters would be just like me. Right?

Somewhere between toddler and teen  life happened . This is where plans go wrong…wrong…wrong .
While we are planning, life continues to happen. While my mother was planning, I got pregnant at 17 years old. While my friends were planning, their children were diagnosed with severe illnesses. While planning, my  son had to have surgery that would change his life . There are Autism diagnosis’, Cerebal Palsy, Genetic Disorders, Lukemia, Brain Cancer, and list goes on and on for families all over the world. Then there are the routine issues of allergies and tonsils that cause us to worry day in and day out. None of this was planned and for some never expected.

 What happens to a mother when the child you thought you, as if you have control,  planned for  is not the person you thought they would   be? There are parents who find out daily their sons and daughters are gay, pregnant, dropping out of high school, addicted to drugs and alcohol or in a tragic accident which will change their lives forever. This is not the life they  planned for their children. So now what?

 Some will ask and others will wonder ”How did this happen?” or “Why is this happening to me?”
 There will be times of fear and sorrow. There will be times of embarrassment and judgment. Then there is the ultimate guilt. Parents, when faced with these adversities will question themselves and every step and every breath of everyday of that child’s life.  Some will wilt under the sheer idea of the death of what could have been. Others rise to the occasion like champs never missing a beat.

 There is so much fear associated with difference. We forget to be there in the moment to help our  children process their fear as they realize and embrace their own difference. If the diagnosis or prognosis  is not what we planned, we freak out and from that day forward  we find ourselves looking for all the things we somehow missed to make them “ normal”. We somehow become bogged down in the titles of our children's diagnosis or their issues.  We use this diagnosis or difference to define them and our relationship with them.

 We say things like:

 ”My child is____feel in the blank_________.”

 ”My child has________feel in the blank___.”

While paying careful attention to doctor’s appointments and teacher conferences don’t forget to say :

 “My child is great and wonderful .“

 “My child has brought me joy. “

 Truthfully, I know how hard it is to take off  that “ under construction” hat ,constantly  teaching, training, and trying to fix them.  It makes it difficult sometimes   to see the foundation that  we have already laid. It’s hard in everyday parenting not to mention under the most severe circumstances.

 What I have learned is to focus on the entire family as change and difference can be very difficult for everyone to grasp.  I had to remember to use available resources to renew and refresh my spirit.  I have also learned to rely on the wisdom of elders while knowing what my child needs.

 Most all I had to learn to just breathe, relax and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Ugly Reflection

In my last post I mentioned that ten percent of all people we come into contact with will not like us. But, I had to think about friendships and women in general. Friendships for women, the younger the women the more this seems to be true, are very complicated. For us women, friendships are an extension of all our other relationships with the exception of intimacy. We love to spend time with our friends and we love to be in their presence. As women, we feel better having a friend around to talk with as we complete the most mundane tasks. But what happens when a friendship hits a rough patch? It’s almost a painful as a bad marriage.

 Now, I have had a few friendships “ go bad ”. Most of them stem from middle school to high school and a few in college and adulthood. But recent moments on the Oprah Show between Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi  put a mirror to my face about friendship and maturity.

 Just like most people, I look at the friends of my face book friends just to see who can see my posts and to later look at their pages and photos. Yes…I know this is some form of stalking but I know I am not alone. To make matters worse I have looked up a few people I don’t associate with anymore to see how bad their life must me since I am not in it. Yeah right!  I have found their lives to be as fruitful and happily blessed as my life has been without them.

 Every now and then, I will poke out a piece of an olive branch to see if they miss me in their lives as I have secretly missed them. To my surprise, they grasp that olive branch as if we were never apart. With maturity and age I have learned that true friendship can survive a lot more than a teenage squabble and spat.

 What I see in myself now, I would have denied only a few years ago. I had to learn to value friendship once I became alone. I had to walk alone to value the voices that were there to undergird me during my most pivotal years. I have had great friends along the way. But I missed the friends who knew the “back story”- the ones who had been there all along. It’s difficult to reach out but I believe it’s necessary to be whole and complete especially when you know you were wrong. It may not work but forgiveness is about extending the olive branch even if they never grasp it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You Don't Like Me?

I was watching television and heard that ten percent of the people we come into contact with don’t like you.  I think we all have an inkling when a person does not care for us, right? We all notice the body language and the nonverbal clues which lead us to believe this person is “not feeling” me. Well…I have two thoughts on this statistic and a possible follow up post. The first thought is knowing this statistic, how do we handle it and teach our children to understand this fact of life. The next thought is I am part of the ten percent thus I am part of the problem.

I know there are folks who just don’t like me and somewhere over the years, I have conditioned myself t believe that there must be something right about me and wrong with them because I am awesome. Right?  Well, to some degree this is true. While believing that I am wonderful in every way I have to examine myself from time to time and ask what am I doing to make others see me ”this way”? Sometimes I have to correct my people skills to tweak my first impressions. I have found that being open the possibility of  not always putting my best foot forward is only human. In other words, we all have bad moments in the presence of strangers and new comers.

I would be lying if I said my feelings have never been hurt by hearing someone say, “ She says she does not like you” or by realizing that my calls go unanswered when I believe I have made a BFF connection with someone. I am human and I believe it’s human nature to feel that pain of rejection that comes with knowing that someone finds  fault in me for being myself. It’s  the rejection that causes me to in turn judge them and finds reasons to not care for them either.  It’s the rejection that makes me second guess and replay the five minute conversation we had. It is rejection that hurts me not the other person. They have a right to choose to befriend me or not.

Does that mean I can change the way others feel about me?  NOPE!  It means , I know that I am mindful of my surroundings and try to be the best me I can be all the time. Not fake or phony… just the best part of me. Because that’s  what people connect to - the best of you. Your friends are your friends because they know about the best of you and then they learn about the weaknesses you are trying to strengthen.
In these days of “mean girls”, what do I teach my daughters? I teach them the truth. There will always be those folks who don’t like you. Even, in their presence, you showcase the best of yourself. That means remembering that you never know who is watching. I remind them that they are awesome and if there is a situation where folks are constantly getting the wrong impression, then we need to take a look at the image they  are putting out there. Also, I remind them that we don’t act like others people. We act like ourself---ALWAYS.

For my sons, I have learned they don't measure friendship the same as girls. The same is true for men. Friendship is an event and not a way of  life. Betrayal and spending time together are not a vital part of tenants of friendship. Other people don't determine the way they feel in each moment. They have others measures but friendship is not one of those measures. I tell my boys to understand the importance of first impressions and respect the moment because it can and will define how others see and judge you.

As I write this blog, I am sharing with you’re the most candid thoughts I have about life- MY LIFE. I am learning in this very moment and I am sharing the lessons I learn as I go with each of you. In my life and I am certain in yours , we have all run across people that rub us the wrong way or we don’t mesh with easily. We have several categories that we place people in to help keep them  at arm’s length  or to keep our distance. We have our reasons for sizing people up in the first few moments of meeting them to protect our own interest. But why? What makes us decide we have to make a decision about another person after on five or maybe ten minutes with them?  Remember this...that same ten percent  applies to you and me, so we are part of the problem.

I am as guilty as any person of watching a person when they are not in their finest moment and deciding I can’t associate with that person. Also, I have been known to meet a person and then decide to hold them at a distance because I met them and moved them to my “ do not call list”. I have a whole list of reasons why I could not befriend a person. But I have decided to take a different approach. What if I meet someone and just decide to get to know them first? Befriending someone is creating a relationship. Relationships meet many different needs. Maybe just maybe if I take the time to get to know someone and they get to know me, we may develop a friendship. Maybe not…we may develop an acquaintance instead. Knowing that someone is not a "bestie" may save me and that person a great deal of pain, heartache, and frustration in the long run. I think I will slow down the process and develop quality friendships instead of gathering friends like apples in a baskethaving to throw some away because the basket is too full or too heavy for me to carry.Whatever develops with my next casual meeting  I will be pleasant and open minded.

The best lessons I can pass along to my children is the ability to give people a chance. Giving people a chance may increase the chance I receive the next time I have a casual first time meeting. Next time I will remember  and I hope you will remember to just relax and enjoy the ride.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Love is Pateint,Love is Kind

After watching the recent disaster in Japan, I was really struck by  the patience of the children and their parents as they waited in monstrous lines to receive what could possibly be the only meal of the day. I was in awe of the softness of their tone and the stillness of their posture, demeanor, and body language as food was growing shorter. How could any person, especially one with children, stand in such solace during such devastation? Well , after watching I was reminded that children, for the most part, practice what they learn.

Now I realize that this is by and far a much different culture but I believe that each culture has value and worth. There was a lesson to learn. As my children are older now, I can see the patience I have taught them about some things. Other things? Ahhhh…yeah see……not so much. I can see that the things I have little patience with they now have little patience with me about the same things. For example, I have a very hard and fast idea about responding to me when I ask for something. That seems good, right? Well, now, when I am ambiguous about answering a questions (because they always have a bunch of questions) or slow to answer as I search for the best words, they get so irritated. Now, as I look back, I know that I set this situation up.I try not to get angry when they are inpatient. At times, I try to remember to correct my behavior so they can learn to correct theirs. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. 

On the flip side of that, I know that my children have great respect for adults and know how to be kind to the “least of them”. They know what charity and volunteerism is and when to jump in to help those in need. In everyday situations, although they bicker as brothers and sisters often do, my babies know how to apologize and be kind (sometimes).Sometimes there is a timeout, consequence or very careful parenting involved.

I have learned that what was a pressing pet peeve five, ten, or even two years ago may not be as pressing today or tomorrow. I may have to re-educate myself and my children on better ways to cope with whatever the situation may be. More times than not, the job of mother, will make you SUPER proud. You will look back and know that you have made some mistakes and you have done something really great. Wherever you fall in that spectrum, remember to put your best foot forward so they will learn to put their best forward. The best you have is all you can give.

Relax and Enjoy the Ride.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


As I sit here today focused on writing my thoughts, I am listening to the washer churn and the dryer moan. I have the privilege of doing laundry Monday through Thursday. Fortunately, my children are old enough that they have learned to do their own laundry (shameless mommy brag coming…they ask me to teach them). I am responsible for the laundry my husband and I generate which is quite a bit with him traveling and both of us working out daily. But, I have spent the better part of this fifteen year marriage drenched in laundry detergent, bleach and clothes.

Laundry has been a very normal routine in my home. Everyone has a laundry day and I have days throughout the week to get it done. The routine of laundry is part of what creates normalcy, meaning that I know what’s expected and how to get it done in a way that does not break the routine of home. When I get out of routine which all people do, I have to say, the laundry is my biggest dread. I hate the thought of coming in and having piles of laundry. When I was a young mother, God bless, I could never keep it up. My house would have piles of laundry stacked about- some folded, some not. Between the breastfeeding and two toddlers as well as one child in school my laundry life was a mess-literally. Laundry or the lack thereof defined my very existence. When I was working, the laundry was always waiting to be done. Even with help from my hubby, I had my own system and I was the only one who could get it done, right? Wrong!

What laundry taught me was to relax and pace myself. I put so much pressure on myself to be what I thought a mother was supposed to be. You know the images we soak up like sponges as a little girl:

Ms. Becky Home Ecky , Beautiful and Sexy with the baby mouth wrapped around your nipple because you have to breastfeed to provide the most nourishment for each child, make up perfect, great cook and intellectually stimulating plus have the best girlfriends…, right? Wrong!

No matter what I did, I realized one thing, be it the laundry , hair, my cooking, my organization skills or my make up, something would not be done perfectly. Because (deep breath)…I am not perfect. I am a mere mortal – a mommy. I cannot fix all things and sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am not the best I can be. I could be better organized today but I will focus on it tomorrow. I could be a better friend today but I will do better tomorrow.

It is so annoying to constantly receive images and ideas of perfection knowing that it can’t be achieved. I would suggest that as a mother, new, expecting, post partum, or present that you resolve in your heart and mind as I did and forgive yourself in advance for all the things that will go wrong because of you and because of others. I think knowing that you are not perfect gives you permission to acknowledge your imperfections and it allows others to forgive their imperfections as well. Create a circle of unconditional love and laughter with people who can laugh at your quirky mishaps and see your heart, not your faults.

Relax and enjoy the ride

Monday, March 14, 2011

Speak Up...I can't hear you!

Recently, I had a " light bulb " moment. There was a recent event at my youngest son's school which caused some uproar and frustration among parents. We became angry with the choices and direction of our local school district. Please keep in mind, this is far from a new issue here in Arkansas. We are the home of "school based drama" from the Little Rock Nine (integration) all the way to desegregation cases to school choice act. We have, as do all states, our fair share of educational upheavals. But this event hit close to home and right in our neighborhood, literally.

As news spread of changes in the school, we, the parents, became frustrated and concerned. We had not heard of or even suspected of the changes in our school. The teachers we love and respect were being affected and we had to do something but what? As we spent a great portion of the night texting and posting to our social media outlets of choice we began to have some consensus about the overall feeling of dismay. We passed along contact information such as names and numbers. We vowed to make phone calls, send emails, and have a united front. Yea... we were on our way to making a difference, right?

The next day, there was obviously enough noise made as the parent teacher meeting had to focus some attention to addressing this matter. Our principal stood and spoke for a whole three minutes. She ended her very brief speech with "any other questions should be directed downtown [ to her supervisor]”. I felt the air leave the room and the momentum of change came to a screeching halt.

Now what?

I realize, as this experience is still evolving to this very day, that we complain but don't speak up. We have been programmed to accept the "word" of an authority figure without question. But why? If not the mothers and fathers of these children then who? I know parents are concerned as are most Americans but what keeps us from speaking up, standing up, and pushing for change?

Based on many conversation I have had and observations in my circle and in the circle of others, I have come up with three very distinct reasons why people don’t get involved when change is needed.

Reason 1: We are too busy. We don't take time to hear what is going on and decide if it’s worthy of action. Parents like me in their mid to late thirties are still focused on attaining wealth and prosperity. We are working so hard and so much we can't fathom the energy to fight back even when we know we need too. Somehow or somewhere we decided parenthood was about providing only. We continue to buy more things and gadgets to make up for the time we are spending away from home to buy more gadgets.

Reason 2: We are undereducated. With world wide web, we have become information overloaded and totally technology wasted. We see information passing us by with statistics, studies, and quotes so much that we no longer pay attention to the details. We no longer seek to verify and validate information. Instead, we chose to accept what we see in sound bytes, blogs, and blurbs. I say WE because I had to look at myself and found that I am as guilty as the rest of my circle. We use our remotes to surf from channel to channel looking for the station with the most information in the breaking story instead of reading about it and understanding the sources of information that feed us the news stories they deem worthy.

Reason 3: We don't think it matters in our circle. In spite of the work and change we see happening form the grassroots efforts which help gather support for Obama, to the Tea Party, to Egypt, REALLY? We still fear being seen as a radical. We sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else fight for their rights but choose not to fight for our own children. We have sidebar conversations about what we want yet we never talk to officials or board member about helping us get to a legitimate compromise. We use our social media to socialize but we don’t want to be the person that’s always got a cause, right?

I am always amazed at the number of people who call me when they are concerned about a local issue or ask me to lend my research skills and ideas about what "we" should do about "their" issue. But it never ceases to amaze me that no steps are taken and therefore things remain the same.

We all know that the smallest pebble can cause a ripple. So we can all be a small pebble in our areas of discourse, your circle of friends and your social network.To be the small pebble of change ,you should have a sense of direction as you encounter situations that require you to use your voice of change to speak up and be heard.

 So how can I make a change?

First, when you have an issue, decide what are the fundamental offenses and write them down.

Second, relax and remind yourself that I have a right to ask questions then formulate a respectful letter to request a meeting or create a dialogue.

Third, once your meeting is confirmed, write down the points you want to be sure to cover in the meeting.
Lastly, remember to relax because you have a right ask questions. Remember, this is not personal so be kind and gracious .

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So how do I make change in my small circle?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Will the REAL housewives please stand up?

USA Today  recently reported  the Neilson Ratings found that in black households the show Basketball Wives outscored (pardon the pun) the NAACP awards by seven points in the ratings. Basketball wives -#5 and the NAACP award- #12. Wow! What does this mean? CAUTION…RANT AHEAD:
I will tell you what this means. It means that we, the black community choose style and entertainment , over substance. Shows such as Basketball wives, Football wives, and Housewives of Atlanta are all based on superficial relationships put together by a group of producers and executives to generate “real” conversations for our entertainment. Then the producers, directors, and executives edit the film to create scenarios that look as if these women are drama filled tyrants who have no class. Now, if that is not the case then these women, based on the film shown to the American public, really are tyrants who lack enough class and dignity to control themselves in public arenas. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt but I doubt the benefit I am giving them.
I am a bit turned off by these shows, as I have attempted to watch them on more than one occasion only to turn the station in total frustration. I have been involved in discussions with my  educated friends who have jobs and families and found they love this show and will debate any passersby about the substance and quality of this type of entertainment. I am in the minority apparently because I hate these shows. In attempting to show others the flaw in supporting such shows, I have been met with statements such as “It’s just funny” or “ We know it’s not real”. Well the problem with these types of arguments is that although you and I know its fabricated  there are people who  believe that to be the basis for judging all of us. Also, we have to examine our motives. We love for our people to “keep it real”. Well , in that  very spirit, I want people to know that we all grow up and when we change from one socioeconomic status to another, we change- it’s not a bad thing to grow up and have to behave accordingly. In the black community, this change is considered bourgeois which literally means middle class. It can also mean a person whose  political , economic, and social opinions are based solely on protecting their property and respectability. We have enjoyed watching the best of us behave as though they were the worst of us.  When will we insist on having better images of us in media.

Although, at one point I thought could watch and empathize with their various situations, I have found otherwise.  I thought I could liken a character on the show to a friend in my circle but still-nope.  I have to explain time and time again with no avail that these shows reinforce horrible stereotypes and ideals about black women. The constant perpetuation that we, black women and our friends, lack emotional control in situations of conflict feed into the ideas that we are aggressive versus assertive and we are not able to utilize the King’s language peacefully to resolve issues.  Another reason I worry about this show is because  the show is referring to wives and I have found that a vast majority of the women on these are not married and the shows  focus very little on relationships with the children in a healthy way. Yes, they show the children buying new things and going on trips but not as much about the reality of being an affluent family trying to remain grounded. When they have an opportunity to show more grounded personalities who have genuine partnerships with their spouses and value their families, they are cut for not being dramatic enough. In other words, they are “ too boring”.
I want to reassure America that the REAL housewives are not behaving in such a manner as this. In fact, the stay-at-home mothers, otherwise known as housewives, are too busy being mothers and wives to have these drama filled outbursts  over one another’s “business”. I have found that we, the stay –at-home mothers, struggle to find time to call and hang out with each other because we are focused on home, family, school, business, and community.  As a mother who happens to be at home each day, I am concerned that the word and role housewife may be receiving a bad reputation.  Yes, we all understand the blessing of being home and we don’t  take it lightly. We respect it and one another.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Motherhood is Not Enough

Women are so multifaceted and amazing. We believe we can do anything and will try to do everything. But in our effort to serve our children we often forget to love ourselves along the way.

The spirit of motherhood cannot feed the needs of the sister, the daughter, the friend, and the lover in us simply because we are mothers. Mothers, at their core, are women. We need to feel the love of friends over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. We have to have the moments of solace that come with watching the sun rise or set. We have to have the steady beat of music pumping through our veins as a theme song to get motivated each day.

The reason shows such as The View and The Talk are successful because we crave intellectual conversations with friends along with bursts of laughter and hugs filled with love. Lifetime and Oprah are equally successful because we, the women, the wives, and the mothers, require empathy. We need to know we are not alone in our struggles, our victories or successes.

Every women, mother, sister, daughter, friend, should take time to carve out a moment to love herself without the validation of another person. Its simple - take a warm bath after all the children are in bed. Turn on the music and light a candle. Maybe pour a glass of wine and read a book. To create physical balance go for a walk alone in a park or simply sit in the floor to stretch.

There is no guilt in loving yourself enough to preserve your individuality. Although we are connected like puzzle pieces to so many things, we are still one piece of the puzzle. It took me 14 years of marriage and four children to decide I am a priority. When I was a “new mommy” I had a great women who I consider a mentor say, “You can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself.”

In the book, The Seven Highly Effective Habits, Covey calls the seventh habit sharpening your saw. In essence he says finding time for me allows me to be a better mother, a better friend, and a better wife. Personally, having that time to reflect personally and sit in the presence of friends who love me makes me a better me. I am stronger and wiser when I have this time. I can focus on my family more after I have had time alone or with friends.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Love without Possesion

  In Maya Angelou’s Letter to My daughter, I was struck by her revelation that she could love her son without possessing him. I had to really examine what it means to love someone, especially as a mother, without possessing them. I realized that as a mother of four, I love my children. I would die for them at a moment’s notice- lay down my life for them to live and prosper, but in spite of all that, I don’t own them. I don’t own them. Although I raise them and instruct them on life, I now know that they will be their own person and will own their own choices someday- sooner than later.

  Knowing this gives my job title, MOTHER, a much different perspective. I know that I have to prepare them for life, real life, not just the sugar coated sweet stuff that we fanaticize about when the pregnancy test shows a plus sign. I must determine myself, along with my husband, to raise them with the full intention of letting them grow and then watching them go. I am obligated to encourage them to tackle unforeseen and new endeavors. I have to prepare them by placing real expectations and consequences in place to teach them the realities of inevitable failure in life, because no one wins all the time. I have to allow them to feel disappointment and not shield them because I can’t endure watching their hurt.

  Being a mother has some allowances which can be an emotional advantage. We can and should nurture their sense of adventure and natural wonder of curiosity whenever possible. We owe them warm smiles when they enter a room. We, as mothers, allow them to talk and be expressive. See fathers have a different set of allowances that make them fathers and us mothers. Mothers have to be careful and allow fathers to do their job without running interference.

  When you posses something you own it and it does not own itself nor can it be owned by another. When you own something, you can manipulate it and make it move the way you can position a vase or a table to accessorize a room. Children, for all intensive purposes are not accessories of our lives. We can’t have them “sit” and “stand” mindlessly as children and expect them to be critically thinking adults. We can’t bark out directives and expect them to follow 100% percent of the time without question then push them in to a classroom or a boardroom, expecting them to know how to be participative. I believe in discipline and structure but I believe with balance. Children need to have conversations about expectations, rules, and consequences. I believe in re-evaluating the traditions and status quo to ensure determine what is working and not working for my family. I believe in pushing through and making difficult decisions where my children are concerned. Because I don’t feel ownership over them, I can be more objective, less emotional, not afraid of losing them ( or ownership of their choices).

  Relinquishing this possessive mindset helps me prepare my sons and daughters to challenge the status quo, the courage to question traditions, the satisfaction of self validation, to love with vulnerability and the freedom to own their own lives and choices.