Thank you for choosing to begin your journey through me. As the vessel to nurture you and bring you forth into this world, I accepted the responsibility. Not a light one either.
Each day from the moment I knew of you, my decisions have caused me anxiety. Am I teaching you the right things? Am I nurturing enough? Do you REALLY know how much I love you?
Even now, as the ‘original kids’, you have reached that milestone of adulthood and I am terrified. Did I show you enough love? Was I affectionate enough? Did my failures in love dissuade you from seeking it? Did I inadvertently pass down hurts that were passed on to me?
Motherhood is a strange emotional ride. The never ending roller coaster. More so for me as I am still trying to figure out my combination lock to life. It feels like the calculus class I took multiple times as a freshman in college and never passed. Some days I feel like I am drowning in the center of the ocean and other days I feel like I am sprinting down the coast with warm sand under my toes.
Amidst the tears, uncompromising expectations (of self) and unpredictability, I wouldn’t change being a mother. It took 20 years to appreciate my stretch marks, but I earned every one. Thank you to all of my children for choosing me to be their mother.
As I celebrate my new year, a return to my sun rising, many are mourning loss. And as I empathize with the pain, I already understand the importance of showing love to those you love everyday because you don’t know when the last time you see them is the last time you see them. So for those you love, make the time to see them. Make the time to call them. Make the time to tell them how you feel or clear up any misunderstandings. Time is precious and stops for no one.
That is why for my birthday this year I chose to do something just for me. My birthday has been like a rose bush for me, pretty but painful, for too long. The short version – my father never bothered to remember my birthday, ever. He remembered my brother’s birthday which is 2 days after mine. From 1987 on I do not recall one birthday call. So my birthdays have always been bittersweet…
Fast forward to 2020. My birthday has returned, the bitter has lessened and the sweet is increasing and for those who choose not to see – well, it’s their loss not mine. Our time in these bodies are not infinite. So I choose to walk into my new decade, into my new season, leaving any and every thing behind who does not honor or cherish me as the divine being that I am. I am here on purpose and for a purpose.
Many times when October rolls around many people are thinking about Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. Many times the quiet woman nursing bruises is overlooked. The timid woman in the office is ignored. The mother who averts her gaze when picking her child up from school is mistaken for being stuck up. Many times this is not the case. Many times she is trying her hardest to avoid abuse at home should she not return fast enough, should she be caught or suspected to interact with others. Our job as a community is to learn what the warning signs of domestic violence looks like. Our job is to speak up and speak out to end the cycle of domestic violence in our communities.
The media always portrays domestic violence as always being physical violence, like when Rhianna’s image flew across the internet after Chris Brown abused her. Yes, that is domestic violence but that is not the only form it comes in. Because society believes that is the only face of domestic violence many women stay silent for fear of being ridiculed and judged for not resembling Rhianna. In all cases of domestic violence the beginning stages include emotional and psychological manipulation. Loving words and gestures while slowly, methodically, and quietly separating the prey from any and all forms of outside support, i.e. friends, family, loved ones. Once the separation is complete then the loving words turn into judgments, put-downs, insults, ridicule and cruelty. The longer this stage is allowed to continue unchecked and unchallenged the more dangerous the situation becomes. In the most dangerous cases sexual and physical abuse begins.
Recognize the mental and psychological abuse: “You’re fat. Nobody’s gonna want your fat ass!”; “You didn’t have anything when I met you!”; “Everything you have is because of me!”; “I saw you looking at that person, so I know you slept with them!”; “You ain’t shit! Everything you think is an idea that came from me!”; “If you try to leave me I will call the police and have you arrested!”; “But baby I said those things because I love you. I NEED you! I can’t be without you!” Other forms of domestic violence include financial abuse, and sexual abuse. Being in a relationship does not entitle anyone to sex. NO means NO! Another misconception is that only women get abused. It is rare but men can also be victims of domestic violence too. Recognize the signs, ask careful questions, lend a listening ear and offer genuine help. Especially when children are involved. Children learn what they live. If you or someone you care about is in an abusive situation call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (from a secure phone line) for help: 1-800-799-7233
Well, I have been fighting back tears all day today. Happy tears. Tears of joy and acceptance. My little girl is on the road to growing up and growing independent of me. She has started preschool today. Gone are the innocent days of her looking solely to me for her answers. Newly arrived are the days of testing the rules and challenging her limits (more than she already does).
I dropped my daughter off to school this morning half hoping for, but not really, some resemblance of her wanting to miss me. Not a screaming fit or anything like that but just some sign that she would miss me during the time that she would be at school. I received a good bye hug and kiss and off she ran to play with her new school mates. Not a glance back was had. Not a ‘mommy don’t go’ like some of the other kids. In a way I guess that means I have raised her to be independent so far and that’s good – right? Could it mean that she couldn’t wait to get away from me and school is a welcomed reprieve? A mother wonders sometimes.
I believe she is courageously independent and well adjusted for a three year old. More wise than her years and in her wisdom, did not cry when I arrived to pick her up this afternoon. She was excited to return home and when I asked about her day she told of some of her adventures with excitement in her eyes and laughter in her voice. She recalled that she had meatloaf for lunch and a banana with her breakfast! She told me that a little boy took a red ball from her and the teacher said to him, “Give Yehudi back that red ball!”
Yehudi is asleep now. She is eager to wake up and go back to her school so she can play with her friends some more. She is excited to sing the alphabet song with her peers and to recite the story time rules we have here at home:
rule #1 – sit down quietly
rule #2 – put your hands in your lap
rule #3 – listen and enjoy the story
How can you not enjoy story time with easy to remember rules like those? Then on twitter this afternoon I found this inspirational quote to cheer me up. Well, it’s time for me to pick out her school clothes for tomorrow and begin to plan toddler activities for Chava for this school year. He’s one now but he’ll be three and headed to preschool before I can blink!
Lisa Sparrow is an inspirational woman. She sat with me for an hour on my blogtalk radio show, On Why Yet’s Watch, and was completely open about her daily battle with mental illness. That in itself is bravery in my book. Mental illness is such a touchy topic to speak on because growing up we (as a society) were taught to only speak of such things in the house – especially when it pertained to a relative or close loved one. Lisa shared her story with our listeners and I am truly grateful.
Depression is the most common form of mental illness that people are familiar with. There is NO one single cause of depression. There can be a combination of causes that can trigger depression:
Trauma – a serious trauma that occurs early in life can change our brain’s response mechanism.
Genetics – mood disorders and risk of suicide tend to run in families but anyone with a genetic tendency would be more likely to show signs of depression at an early age
Life Circumstances – marital status, financial standing, where you live could all influence or trigger depression
Brain Structure – depression is associated with changing how your brain responds to hormone stimulation
Drug and Alcohol Abuse – 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have depression
16 million Americans had a least one major depressive episode last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression. Young adults aged 18-25 are 60% more likely to experience depression than people aged 50 and over. Unfortunately, Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be misdiagnosed.
There are many forms of treatment:
Brain Stimulation Therapies
Self Management Strategies and Education
Should you or someone you know suffer from depression or believe you do, seek help. There is strength in asking for help because we all need help at one time or another. For more information about depression and some of the causes of depression check out the following websites:
Good morning. *Yawn, stretch, rubs tired eyes* Yesterday my baby girl turned three years old! Her nanna had bought her a pretty pink princess dress with matching princess shoes and she had been waiting patiently (or as patiently as a two year old can) for two months to wear them. “You have to wait until your birthday comes to wear your princess dress,” I had to remind her – at least once a week. Yesterday was the day. She woke up ready. Came downstairs, ate her breakfast and once she finished she dashed back upstairs to put on her princess dress. Princess Yehudi proceeded to enjoy the rest of her birthday in style…
Three years is a long time. And Yehudi has grown – a lot. I didn’t realize how fast she was beginning to develop her own personality so fast. I should have took notes when I was pregnant with her because she had her own mind, even then. In the womb she was bossy. Dictated what I would eat and when. Dominated my sleep patterns and positions. Physically assaulted my ribs from the inside, hahaha. I can laugh now but I wasn’t laughing then. We didn’t want to know her gender until she was born so everyone tried guessing based on the shape and positioning of my stomach. Even strangers waiting at red lights stopped to yell across the street and predict what gender baby I was carrying. She had fun tricking people. She even dictated my delivery.
When I went into labor it was normal for my fifth child. Contractions began speeding up in frequency and intensity while my body aches increased dramatically. By the time we arrived at the hospital I had enough strength to walk in and sit down in the first wheelchair that was within reach. Anticipating the cooling relief of an epidural my daughter played one her final jokes before arriving. While lying on the labor room bed and waiting for my epidural this little lady decides to karate kick my water bag AND dilate my cervix to the full 10 centimeters! Yup, no epidural for me. Then she practically delivered herself because she wasn’t waiting for anybody. Luckily the nurses were there to “catch” her as she, for her final joke before birth, showed me what the ring of fire really meant. Heh, Heh. Again, I can laugh now but I wasn’t laughing then.
She is definitely her own person. And that makes me smile sometimes. Other times it causes mounds of frustration because she doesn’t want to do what she has to do or what she is told to do. I see her laughing and blazing her own trails as a beautiful young woman and I pray I have the fortitude to allow her the flexibility to do so.