Category Archives: Motherhood

Your Son is Not Broken, Stop Trying to Fix Him

“Mom, I’m not broken.”  That’s what my son told me when he was younger. I was overly concerned with how he was not being social and he wanted to let me know that he didn’t need me to fix him. He needed me to accept him.  As much as you want your son to “be himself”, there are times you don’t accept him.  I know there have been times when I’ve focused on how what’s wrong with my son instead of being grateful for what’s right with him.

Mom, Stop Trying to Fix Me

Your son is not a DIY project or piece of equipment that requires professional servicing. As parents, sometimes our view of our sons are limited and narrow, that we focus on the areas that need improvement instead of looking at the whole child.

Yes, children need discipline and guidance but it shouldn’t be our focal point. We see the minor imperfections and before you know it, we’re embarking on a mission to fix what we think needs to be corrected. We look so closely at his weaknesses, that we neglect his strengths.  Your son is not going to live his life exactly as you wish. He’s going to take risks and make mistakes. Our job as a parent is to pick him up when he falls and lead him in the right direction.

Your son doesn’t need you to point out his limitations, he needs you to guide him to make the right choices in life.  He needs you to see his possibilities. He needs you to encourage him as he faces daily struggles, pressures and criticism from society. He needs your comfort and help. He needs you to have realistic expectations and allow for mistakes. He needs your reassurance that you believe in him and love him unconditionally.

Take some time today to see your son as capable and complete. I’m learning to do the same every day.

Mom, Make a Promise to Yourself in 2014

new year new you
Dear Mom,

It’s the first day of 2014, and it’s a good time to jump start on taking care of the most important person in your world: YOU! Yes, your children important too, but how good of a mom can you be when you’re tired, weary, anxious, frustrated, desperate, overwhelmed and angry. How much longer can you go on, letting others take a priority in your life. What good is it to be resentful of others because you don’t ask for help or support.

Isn’t it time you did something for yourself without feeling guilty about it? Let this be the year you are a top priority! Let this be the year where you don’t accept the leftovers life has for you. It is possible to love and care for your family as well as yourself.  Make a promise to yourself in 2014.

Promise Yourself

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can
disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to
every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel like there is
something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your
optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best,
and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on the
greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give
every living person you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, and too
strong for fear, and to happy to permit the
presence of trouble.

The Optimist Creed
From The Optimist International

The 5 Friends Every Woman Should Have

Female friendships

I wished we saw more friendships on tv like Lucy and Ethel’s friendship. Unfortunately, we are bombarded with so many reality shows that depict women as catty and friendships as fake as their breast and bank accounts. How did this become the norm?  As someone with very few female friends, I cherish the ones that are in my life. These friends have seen me at my best and my worst. They don’t judge me or criticize the choices I make in life. These relationships mean the world to me and my life is enriched by my experiences with them.

You may have one friend who embodies all the characteristics of the friends below or may see yourself on the list. Whatever the case, as women, it’s important that we surround ourselves with friends that support, inspire and cheer us.

1. The Big Ang

The Big Ang is the mother hen. She gives you a dose of tough love with a hug. She listens to your drama without getting emotionally involved. She dispenses advice with love and candor. She’ll never say behind your back what she wouldn’t say to your face. Don’t look to her for a pity party. She’s there to pick you up and dust you off. She doesn’t judge your marriage, parenting or lifestyle. Although she doesn’t hold back when it comes to letting you know what you need to do, she doesn’t insist that you follow her advice. Big Ang is as warm and relaxing as hot chocolate with Kahlua. Just a warning: Don’t get on her bad side.

2. The Gayle

She’s the friend who knows you the best. She knows what you’re about to say before you even open your mouth. She knows just what to say and when to say it. She’s the friend who will be there through your divorce, family illness, bad relationships,  etc. She lets you cry on her shoulder and doesn’t flinch when you share your darkest secret with her. She could write a tell-all book about you but would never do it. You trust her with your life, your money, your husband and your kids. She is the sister you’ve always wanted and she means the world to you.

3. The Ethel

She’s your partner in crime. She’s your sidekick. You have coffee or lunch with mischief and mayhem. She is always ready to get into some kind of trouble with you. Although she’ll try to talk you out of a scheme, she’ll go along with the plan to help you out. She’s there for a good laugh and she always knows how to get out of a situation. If you had to rob a bank, she’d be the perfect accomplice.

4. The Liz Lemon

If you and Ethel did rob a bank, you’d call Liz to bail you out. She’s the friend who is always giving you sound advice. She helps you to strategize and plan.  She’s your voice of reason and your conscious. She’s good for borrowing money but not for fashion advice.

5. The Carrie Bradshaw

She’s the friend who lives and breathes fashion. She wears heels to the park with her preschooler and she makes no apologies for being a MILF. She’s the friend who convinced you to get rid of your “Mom” jeans. She knows the best places to shop, at, party, etc. She is generous with her fashion advice, her clothes and accessories. She’s the first one you call when you’re planning an event and she’s there to help you plan and organize birthday parties, anniversaries and more.

Who are the friends in your life?

Walking in the Eye of the Storm With My Son

Storm

The best thing about a new year is that it’s like a reset button, you get to start anew.  I’m happy that I am not looking back at last year with resentment or anger. As the saying goes, “I can be bitter or I can be better”. I know I made mistakes, missed some steps and pretty much didn’t live up to my words.

I can’t help but reflect on how much I learned in in a year. It was a year of surprises, joy, pain, and grief.

The year was difficult for my oldest son and I felt helpless because I didn’t know how to help him. If you’ve ever had to deal with a child’s depression, then you know how many sleepless nights and restless days I had. I worried about him whenever he was not in my presence and I worried about what he might do if I wasn’t around. I wanted to save him but didn’t know how. On top of all of this, my husband had just returned from his third deployment and shortly after my father passed away. It didn’t make for a peaceful life or home.

Every time I prayed to God to relieve my son of his pain and relieve me of my worry, the problem intensified.  Therapy helped but there was still that nagging feeling that all was not well.  I finally learned that it wasn’t my stubbornness or resistance to let go of control that was the problem, it was my refusal to take the journey with my son. It was my fear of walking through his pain, my fear of facing his daily emotional anguish, my fear of seeing the world through his eyes. I was so afraid of my son’s pain that I wanted to move past it instead of live through it.

God didn’t let me off that easy. I had to take the journey with my son in order to understand his pain and to get him the help he needed. Fortunately, God took the journey with both of us and showed us the way.

I can’t say that I don’t worry about my son anymore or that the fear doesn’t creep up on me whenever I see him sad.

Although he’s much better now, I still check in to make sure he’s ok.  I have to take that journey with him as often as he needs me to.

I pray that God gives me the strength to make the right decisions, be more patient, and to trust my instincts. I’m sure I’ll fumble through 2013 too, but I’ll emerge a better and stronger mom as a result of it.

Image Courtesy of Flickr

Are You the Mom Do You Want to Be?

RaisingChildrenQuote

Whether you’re known as mom, mommy, mama, ma, mum, mother; the title follows you wherever you go. Your children are never far from your thoughts even when you’re enjoying that Mai Tai while on vacation, margaritas when you’re on a girl’s night out, or drinking coffee while at work. As much “me time” as you take, you still worry about your children and their well-being.

It’s not our fault. Once we gave birth, we knew that this little person would depend on us for love, support and guidance. As we journeyed into motherhood, we started doubting  our abilities to do our best for our children. Just when we get a hang of it, the teen years slap us with the reality that motherhood is a lifelong learning experience.

We either become better moms than we set  out to be or make more mistakes than we intended. We deal with the scrutiny of other moms, family, teachers and graciously accept their praises too. We know that despite our best efforts, society will see our children’s failures as a refection of us.

With my first son, I didn’t give much thought to the kind of mom I wanted to be. I just winged it for the first 3 years. When I had my second son 13 years later (after getting over the shock), I was more aware of my roles as a mother. After all, I had 13 years experience under my belt. I didn’t realize my naivety in thinking it would be so simple. I know now that being the mom I want to be is a daily process.  I want to be the kind of mom who looks back on her life and feels fulfilled. I don’t want to live with regret, resentment or guilt.

It means ending each day reflecting on my interactions with my sons.

  • Did I spend quality time with my children or was I too busy doing other things?
  • Was I compassionate?
  • Did my sons feel respected and loved?
  • Did I neglect any teachable moments?
  • What did I teach my sons today?
  • What did I learn from my sons today?

Each day presents an opportunity for me to be the mom I want to be. I may not always succeed in accomplishing all that I set out to do, but that’s okay. I’m still learning?

What kind of mom do you want to be?

 

 

 

Simple is the New Complicated

My mother made raising a son seem effortless. I’m sure other moms of that era can attest to the challenges of raising a black boy in New York City during the 70s and 80s.  My mother made sure my brother had a strong foundation in order to avoid peer pressure, drugs and violence.

She stressed the importance of love, self-respect, self-control, faith, integrity, and education. There was never a doubt in my brother’s mind that he would be successful.  My mother laid the groundwork at an early age and because of her love and support, my brother is quite successful.

My mom never made it seem that it was hard to raise my brother. Giving up was not an option. Failure was a learning lesson. There were always second chances. My mother prayed, listened, directed, supported and waited.

Now that I’m a mother, I realize that I took parenting for granted. What I thought was simple is very much complicated. Children don’t always follow the rules. Respect is not one way. Your child may disappoint you. You don’t always have the answers.

Yes, parenting is not as simple as it looks. So to all those who offer unsolicited advice, take note. Unless you live in the home with our children, you are in no position to judge or comment about our parenting skills. If you think parenting is so easy, we’ll gladly let you raise our children for one year. Your only options are teen or toddler years. Good luck!

What did you think was easy before you became a parent?

 

10 Things Your Son Hates to Hear You Say

Angryboy
Photo courtesy of CJ Sorg (Flickr)

Communicating with our sons can be a hit or miss. There's mom language and there's son language.  Sometimes we need a translator to help each other understand exactly what was said.

1. "We're not done talking about this."

You're thinking: I have much more to say and maybe my words will get to him and he'll understand why I'm upset about what he did.

Your son is thinking: What is this? The King's Speech? I stopped listening 10 minutes ago. What makes her think I'm going to listen later?

2. "Why did you do that?"

You're thinking: I'm doing my best to raise him to make responsible and smart decisions. Why does he do these stupid things?

Your son is thinking: I just wanted to see what would happen if I burned it; flushed it; broke it; stepped on it; took it apart; smashed it; wet it; etc.

3. "I'm disappointed in you."

You're thinking: Time to send him on a mom guilt trip. Make him feel bad about what he did.

Your son is thinking: I feel bad. I have to think of something quick to get on her good side again.

4. "We're going clothes shopping."

You're thinking: He needs new clothes. What will people think if I let him walk around in those clothes.

Your son is thinking: Why do I need to go  shopping with her? She knows my size. Let me see if I could convince her to shop online.

5. "When I was your age…"

You're thinking: I have to school him on how much harder life was for me  when I was his age. I don't want him to take me for granted. I have to show him that he's fortunate. Maybe he'll learn to appreciate things more.

Your son is thinking:  Please stop exaggerating about your hard childhood. Grandma and Grandpa are generous and easy going.  Plus, you were a girl. Can't relate. Not trying to.

6. "I'm not paying that much for a video game!"

You're thinking: The video game industry is out of control. Why should I pay $75.00 for a game he'll play for awhile or get cheat codes for and be done with it in a few days?

Your son is thinking: Why do we go through this all the time? I'll wait until she calms down and get on her good side and she'll buy the game.

7. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!"

You're thinking: This kid is so disrespectful.  He better look at me in the next minute or he's really going to get it.

Your son is thinking: I wish she'd just get that it's hard for me to look at her when we're talking. I wish we were standing side by side, it'd be easier to talk.

 8. "I don't care who started it. I'm going to finish it"

You're thinking: What's wrong with my sons?  They fight so much. I feel like I'm raising Cain and Abel. I want to make sure they get along.

Your sons are thinking: Why does mom have to ruin our fun? We're  just messing around. She takes things too seriously. No one got hurt.

 9. "How was school today?" 

You're thinking: I think about him when he's at school. I hope he had a great day.

Your son is thinking:  Why does she ask me this every day? If something happened at school, she'd find out from one of the big mouth parents.  

10. "Because I said so."

You're thinking: I'm the parent. He's the child. I don't need to explain my decision.

Your son is thinking: Because why? She needs to explain.

What would you add to this list?

Why I’m Not Sharing My Favorite Foods with My Kids

Sundae
Photo Courtesy of TheCulinaryGeek (Flickr)

As much as I love my sons, I don't want to share the foods I like. I rarely get to enjoy my favorite foods, so when I can, I eat it all.  First, let me explain, whenever I buy something good to eat, someone always beats me to it or leaves me barely enough to satisfy my craving. I've thought about setting a trap, but that would be too cruel. Or would it? (Insert Mojo Jojo laugh). I've tried pleading, even yelling but no one cares, so I've resorted to hoarding and hiding my favorite foods. I know I'm being a hypocrite. As parents, we need to behave the way we want our children to behave.  This is the exception to that rule.

Let's be real. It's a rare treat  for moms to enjoy their favorite foods.

It’s funny to me how my sons seem to have a radar for when I’m eating food that I enjoy. Somehow they pull a David Blaine and show up when I’m eating ice cream or cookies.

“Can I have a taste?” Now, the selfish part of me wants to whine like a two year old and say “Why do I always have to give you some?” The nice mommy part of me lets them have a big bite. If that wasn’t bad enough, they always come back with sad puppy eyes begging for more.

As of today, I will not share my Ritter milk chocolate with almonds, my Tate's Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies, or my Cold Stone French Vanilla ice cream. Don't judge me.

What favorite foods are you not willing to share?

Puberty is Like a Sucker Punch

Suckerpunch
Photo Courtesy of Andrea Allen

I think moms of boys under the age of 10 are so cute. The way they go on and on about their little guy is so touching, you almost don't want to burst their bubble. Almost. But you know better because you are the mom of a teen boy. A different species. You've witness and live through what puberty does to this sweet little boy. You know that in a few years, she'll be asking herself: " What happened to my little boy?"

She'll notice the signs such as his increasing appetite, voice and other physical changes. She just won't expect the emotional changes directed at her. It's like overnight, her son went from hugging her goodnight to being repulsed by her touch.

It will hit her like sucker punch. Not the kind of sucker punch you get from a toddler while trying to take the remote control from him. A 1990s Mike Tyson sucker punch.The kind that makes you sleep for days.

Puberty is like what happened to Gregor Samsa in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (Yes, I read literature). Overnight, that sweet little boy who hung onto your leg and said he would marry you when he gets older transforms into another being.  This new being is taller, stronger and has more testosterone. He will test limits,  he will be unpredictable, he will have new adventures, he will utter few words, and he will spend a lot of time in his room. The more you try to reach out to him, the more rejects you and each time you go down like the Meme in Wii Boxing that gets  KO'd.

You have to keep in mind that puberty is just as confusing to your son as it is to you. He can't explain his physical or psychological changes. He is having a difficult time figuring out who he is and what he wants.

Just as you resign to the fact that your little boy is gone, the unexpected happens. One day, he comes home from school, hugs you from behind and tells you about his school day.  As he makes his way to his room, you sigh in relief that all is well again. You even make his favorite dinner. Just don't get too comfortable. Another sucker punch is right around the corner.

Hang in there. You'll just get a few more gray hairs from the experience.

How are you adjusting to puberty?

Just Call Me “Domestic Diva”

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This post is sponsored by Pine-Sol® Clean & Disinfect with Pine-Sol®: The Powerful Scent of Clean." I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.

When I was a kid, my mother (the Southern Belle by way of the West Indies) always told me that you should always keep three rooms in your house exceptionally clean: your living room (or dining room), your kitchen and bathroom. She said that if you ever had a guest come unannounced (we rarely did), they will always want to sit and chat, have something to drink or eat and ask to use your bathroom.

So every Saturday, our routine was to clean our home until it sparkled (not really). When I became an adult, I deviated from my mother's weekly cleaning routine while keeping my anal obsession with keeping a clean apartment. Instead of doing heavy duty cleaning weekly, I cleaned lightly daily. I loved my routine of light cleaning until I met my challenge with my husband and sons. If you live in a testosterone filled household, you can relate. First, let me introduce you to the mess-makers. Don't let their innocent, smiling faces fool you.

DSC00004

You should see the mess they make. Although we have a "Clean Up Your Mess" system at home, I must admit my oldest son and husband's idea of cleaning up doesn't always live up to my anal retentive standards. I'm getting better and as long as the bathrooms remain clean, I do not complain.

However, there is one cleaning that I do not trust to anyone else. It's cleaning the floors. I look at cleaning my floors as an art form. I don't just mop, I exalt my floors so each tile is a masterpiece. Of course, I am exaggerating about all this, but I do make sure my floors and kitchen are cleaned daily.This is mostly because I hate crumbs. I hate crumbs the way Joan Crawford hated wire hangers in Mommy Dearest. If you have kids, you know that crumbs and juice stains are part of your daily life.

I am addicted to cleaning my floors. We leave our shoes at the door, so that the dirt of NYC streets don't come migrate into our home. also, when we had a cat, there was fur almost everywhere, so I had to ensure that the floors were clean.

I'll admit that I am a bit extreme when it comes to cleaning my floor but for some reason it relaxes me. I feel good knowing my floors are clean. (Don;t judge me; it's my thing).

What's your extreme cleaning routine?

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