I’m Scared.

It’s not that police brutality or the mistreatment of African Americans in America is new; it’s that before, I didn’t feel the same urgency to consider and protect, until I became a wife to a black man and a mother to black children. I’ve been black all my life yet I didn’t become vocal about black rights—human rights until I became pregnant with my son. It was in 2015 when I was welcoming new a life while many black parents like the parents of Sandra Bland were saying goodbye to a life.

Though pregnant, I hadn’t really comprehended what it meant to mother while black. I remember reading about Sandra Bland and acknowledging that her treatment was unjust, but still being unsure of the possible truth behind the evil accusations made against the police department. I couldn’t fathom such cruelty in modern times. I just couldn’t.

It wasn’t until I experienced the first disregard to my little black baby’s life that I realized, white society doesn’t feel the same urgency to respect or nurture black lives.

“It’s no big deal,” the nurse said to me rolling her eyes as I nervously ask her what was next. With little regard, the nurse pointed to the hospital gown I was to get dressed in and exited out the room. I dressed in my hospital gown to deliver my baby boy prematurely. Although Liam was full term, he was induced 3 days early due to lack of amniotic fluid.

“No big deal,” I thought. If it was no big deal, why was I being wheeled across the hospital and being told to remain calm? Why did my baby need to be born today if this was in fact, “no big deal.” It was in that moment when my body was consumed with fear, my mind monopolized by hypotheticals, and my family still 2 hours away from comfort that I realized, I, the black mother of this black baby had to advocate for his life—our life. The nurse with her biases treated me and my unborn child as nuisances. In those moments I quickly grasped the meaning of what mothering while black would entail.

That interaction shaped how I parent and love my son. It shaped how I maneuver in life. In that same hospital days after my son’s birth I remember a doctor’s astonishment that my son had a present father in his life. “Oh, he has his father’s last name,” the doctor asked with a raised brow. Liam, my sweet baby boy hadn’t even settled in this world, yet somehow society had already written his story.

So when I hear of stories about sweet brown baby boys now black men like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, my heart doesn’t just break, it shatters. These men’s mother’s looked at their babies the same way I look at mine. The bond between mother and child is well established before the child enters the world and being a black mother to a black child enhances that bond times 10. Everything leading up to birth has been calculated, well thought out, and understood. For instance, black mothers know that the maternal rate for them is abnormally high. So a lot of consideration goes into choosing the best hospital to deliver. Black mothers understand that schools aren’t picked based solely on zoning. The school your child goes to has to be racially diverse enough to empathize with black plight, but white and wealthy enough to offer better opportunities. Black mothers understand that although they bring life into the world, they too have to acknowledge that there’s a possibility that at anytime life might be stolen from them by the hands of authority.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to let my babies grow up, “as if I have a choice.”

I’m scared.

I’m scared to let my babies “just be a kids,” “as if they have that choice.”

I’m scared.

I’m scared to send them out into the world, “as if I have a choice.”

I’m scared.

I’m scared for white society to be scared of them because of the color of their skin, “as if they have a choice.”

Times like this I question God. I do. Why? Why is this happening? Why is this still happening? Why is it happening to people of color?

My son matters. My husband matter. My daughter matters. I matter.

Today I have no powerful words or insight to share, because the truth is, I’m just scared.

The Journey to Becoming the Mother I Never Had

Coming of age memoir

The first vivid memory that I have of my mother is when she sent me to stay with my grandmother after my brother was born. The memory serves as small flashbacks; suddenly, my mother was rushed to the hospital to give birth to my baby brother, at one point I was asleep on a visitor’s chair in the hospital lobby. Next, I was handed a box of orange juice by a nurse, and the last thing sketched in my memory is my aunt’s car pulling out my grandmother’s driveway, and me, a newly promoted sister, 5 years old, watching as the car sped away. No one really explained what was happening. I was left to assume that mommy had gotten a new baby and no longer needed her old one.

Before my baby brother, my mom treated me somewhat like a burden. She took me places, and she bought me things, but often times, it felt like a tired routine that she was over performing.

I remember walking into my grandmother’s house the day my mom welcomed my new brother. The blinds were open to let in sunlight, but the eerie of truly believing that my mother was getting rid of me tented my vision with the darkest gray. Grandma’s house was dark both literally, and figuratively. My mom and my grandmother were never close. My mom had made it clear that she didn’t approve of my grandmother’s parenting. Knowing this while standing with my luggage in my hand at my grandmother’s front door solidified the feeling that my mother didn’t care about me.

Feelings of abandonment, and uncertainty consumed 5-year-old me, and even after my mom retuned to pick me up from grandma’s house (after what felt like a few years later,) the feeling of rejection never subsided.

I spent the latter part of my childhood desperately trying to gain attention from my mother. Any attention was welcomed, no matter how it was rendered. I gave my mom a hard time in elementary school, talking out in class, and constantly finding myself in disappointing situations. Although I didn’t always know why I behaved the way did, I remember just wanting to be seen, heard, and loved.

Old age and spankings quickly taught me that good behavior offered the best attention given to me by my mom. So, I took heed, and became an angel child. My favorite pastime was being around my mom on those “good behavior days” in front of company.  An audience fed my mom’s desire to appear as a doting mother, and with every ounce of praise she received, my mom performed harder.  These performances never mattered to me. I was always overly eager to indulge in any affection offered to me by her. This temporary acknowledgement that came with these shows was always worth it. People would eat up her act, and that made her perform even better. Our relationship was never organic, but situational. I knew this, but I didn’t dare accept it.

When I became a pregnant with my first child, I remember feeling lost—mostly unsure. I knew failed parental relationships dwelled deep within my family. I understood that the only way that I’d know if I had inherited this cancerous trait was after I too became a parent, vulnerable and new. It was only logical that I address my childhood traumas with my own mother before I could ever be someone else’s mom.

After my son was born, I fell into the deepest love with him. He was perfect in every way; I awaited the moment that I would fail to make him feel loved in the same way that my mother did to me. Late feedings would end with me mesmerized by a face belonging to a being that I loved more than myself. Acknowledging this admiration for my child, conjured unanswered questions as to why my own mother didn’t feel this way about me. The ache of not knowing the answer to my question began to haunt me. I was never alone in my thoughts, because every moment I was granted time to think; the ghost of, “why” persisted a fixation. The question “why” took the form of my child. Despite my baby being alive, they question, “why” haunted my child’s very existence. My son became a ghostly reminder of the love I always wanted but would never get.

Liam and Zora

 I didn’t know what to do, so I continued to do what I had been doing for the past couple of months; I nurtured him, I fed him, I talked to him, and most importantly I loved him—so much. My haunted baby might have become the Casper I never wanted to encounter, but still, I couldn’t fathom even a ghost feeling alone. So, I became a ghost whisperer and as soon as I started to accept my new norm, something happened. One day, I looked down at my son’s face, he once Casper, no longer looked ghostly. In fact, he looked new. It was as if I was meeting my son and he was meeting his mother, for the first time.

In this realization, I felt as if chains had fallen at my feet–invisible shackles broken. The ghost that once consumed my child was gone. Before I could fully wrap my head around what just happened, I had an epiphany. In that moment of cradling my baby boy in my arms, I realized what that ghost symbolized. It was a ghost from my past, a generational curse. When it realized that it had no place in my home—my life, it concluded that it had no ability, no power! By giving my son the selfless and pure love that I never had, I was discontinuing a long viciously and unhealthy family cycle. Selfless love had broken my family’s generational curse. I was free of burden! We all were. The ghost of my past no longer had a place to fester or feed. So, when the ghost and I realized that, I was immediately emancipated.

On that day, that’s how I became the mother I never had.

Liam & Zora’s Christening And Why We Waited So Long To Dedicate Liam

Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This is the Bible verse I chose to dedicate the children to. I chose this scripture because, one day, the kids won’t live under my roof and when they no longer do, I want them to understand that although they’ll come in contact with evil, their GOOD—God’s GOOD will always conquer that evil. I want them to stand firm in this truth.

With Liam, everything was trial and error. As years passed of his life, I felt like we had forgot to do something major. It all became clear when we welcomed his sister, Zora.

Haha, my husband and I had forgotten to dedicate Liam to Jesus. No worries. Rest assured. We were told that it wasn’t too late, and that we weren’t the only parents that dedicated older children.

We learned that the most common misconception is that baby dedications are just about the child and have to be done when the child is an infant. Dedications are more so about the parents and their willingness and commitment to surrender their children to the Lord and His perfect ways. Any child too young for baptism with eager parents wanting to dedicate them is eligible for dedication. Don’t be intimated to bring forth your toddlers! It’s not too late! During the ceremony, the parents confess publicly that they are dedicating their children to Christ. It’s such a special moment.

So, with this new knowledge, I didn’t feel too bad about forgetting to dedicate Liam sooner. Frankly, dedicating both kids at once made the moment even more beautiful.

Both kids were dedicated March 1st and we are elated!

Both outfits are from Amazon and eligible for Amazon prime!

The scariest part of parenting is knowing that one day, you have to send your babies out into this evil world. Cover them! Cover them with Christ! Don’t no blanket cover you like the blanket of Jesus!

Xoxo,

Christian

How A Nikki Giovanni Quote Gave Me The Confidence I’d Been Longing For

Putting your art out for the world to critique is hard. It’s one of the most vulnerable things I’ve done in life. I always knew that I wanted to explore and nurture my artistic side, but I allowed my low self esteem to dictate my vision.

Time and time, I would map out these life plans and dreams just to find every excuse in the book not to follow through. I became a first class quitter. I mastered quitting and I had grown comfortable in defeat. This was all until I learned the definition of defeat. Defeat means to overthrow. All along I had been allowing negative thoughts to OVERTHROW my purpose.

Taken from lifechrome.com

On one of purposeless days , I came across an old video of Nikki Giovanni interviewing James Baldwin. The video had resurfaced online.

I’d always been a Nikki Giovani fan, but I’d never watched or listened to her interviews. In the video clip I watched, she was beautiful and confident. There she was interviewing a legend, she a legend too, and she conducted herself with so much boldness. Seeing this made me fall in love with her even more. Giovanni dominated that interview, but not in a negative way. She asked questions and received the answers, but she never gave the impression of demure.

Sometimes, when in the presence of a powerful man, we women feel the need to stifle ourselves or hold back out of reference. It’s been ingrained in us since birth to always let the man lead. This is ok sometimes, but never ok ALL the time. In the interview, Giovanni didn’t do that. She conducted herself like she knew she deserved to be there, and she did! Nikki didn’t let James Baldwin or his status intimidate her and that…

That’s what I wanted for myself.

Afterward, filled with newfound excited, I searched for a Nikki Giovanni quote to post on my daily agenda. I’m really into beautifying quotes thanks to my favorite fictional journalist, Mary Jane Paul from the series, Being Mary Jane. In the series, every episode starts off with a profound quote.

One of the first quotes I found of Nikki Giovanni was, “I am so hip even my errors are correct.” The quote is so simple, but to me, it represents everything Nikki Giovanni is to me and taught me to be—unapologetically fierce! She taught me with that one sentence to embrace my flaws—failures, because owning them makes me who I am.

There’s no better time than now to pursue your dreams! Write! Love! Do whatever it is that you’ve been putting off!

You’ll never live the life you want if you dwell in defeat.

Xoxo,

Christian

My Husband Wasn’t My Type. Well, I Thought He Wasn’t

As a young girl, I spent countless hours dreaming of my wedding, future family, and spouse. I still have some of my dream wedding gown sketches from 6th grade. I was young and my thoughts about marriage were pretty shallow. It didn’t help that my parents were divorced and couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other. I didn’t have the best examples of what a healthy marriage looked like, so I dreamt of what I wanted my my ideal marriage to look like—be like.

When I met my husband for the first time, it was a weird encounter. He wasn’t my type. He was socially awkward, and we had nothing in common. (I thought we had nothing in common.) It’s safe to say that we both shared relief when the date finally ended.

It wasn’t until I needed a roommate that I reached out to him. He had room and he was never home. Perfect, I thought. We tried our hardest to dislike each other and remain at a distance, but the intimacy of living together forced us to learn a lot about each other. We saw each other’s dates, saw each other sad, angry, smelled each other’s poops, and saw each other drool in our sleep. Living together made having our guards up impossible to do.

One day out of the blue, my husband told me that he was deploying to Afghanistan. He was really causal about it, but he wanted me to prepare to find a new roommate. I don’t know what shifted, but in that moment, we both felt the need to protect each other. It was apparent that we both really cared about what happened to each other next. I had been saving for a car and hadn’t reached my goal. “I’ll add $1000 to your car fund,” he offered. “Where are you going to go,” he asked. “I’ll write you everyday,” I promised him.

Before he left for Afghanistan, I visited him in Virginia. Did you know that Virginia is called the love state?

We spent a weekend together, holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes. It felt right. We’d never behaved like this before, but for some reason we fell into this flow.

On the way back home, my friends and family checked in. “Did you tell him?” “Tell him what?” “That you love him…”

It took a deployment for us to realize that we were in love and had been for a very long time. I prayed for a safe deployment, but God had other plans. My husband ended up not deploying.

He came back to me and the rest is history.

You don’t make love. You grow it.

Xoxo,

Christian

My Son’s Thirst For Christ Lead Us To A New Church Home

I’ve only been a member of 2 churches as an adult. Similar to finding you’re forever spouse, searching for a church home is just as a special process. I was a member of my last church home for about 7 years, and after marrying my husband, he joined my church too. Our young love grew, so did our family, and our love for Christ grew deeper, but something changed.

Last year, my son began to ask a lot of questions about Christ. His thirst to know and understand Him brought forth my own feelings of harsh realities. I hadn’t been honest with myself. Deep down inside I knew that I had outgrown my current church home, but feelings of disloyalty filled my heart. This church had been apart of my life for so long and I felt guilty for waning to venture out. My son’s newfound interest in Christ held me accountable for how I introduced Him to my child. When your enter that sacred spiritual space with God, you have to make sure to neglect all outside distractions to ensure that you really open your heart to Him.

You see, I had been battling with many conflicted feelings at my old church. I wanted a media accessible church. Living a busy life with my phone always in hand, I wanted to be able to feel connected to my church at all times, even when I was out of town. My old church didn’t have those amenities. I also dealt with feelings of alienation. My husband and I were one of a handful of young married couples. Sometimes, well a lot of times, I felt out of place. Although no one intentionally set out to make us feel “too young or out of the loop,” we did feel that way. Lastly, a scholarly children’s church and nursery was important to me. My old church didn’t have a nursery, and sometimes mommying my little ones took away from mommy’s praise and worship.

Although I love my old church and everyone in it, with the new seasons of my life, my spirit became weary. It needed to be fed a different way and my son saw this–he felt this. I knew that his first intimate introduction to Christ was a monumental moment. I didn’t want my son to think that he had to stay in one place of worship if it wasn’t where he wanted to be–where he needed to be.

So, like a mother duck leading her little ducklings, I decided to ventured out for a new church home. The decision wasn’t easy. In fact, I went back and forth. I felt guilty for leaving the church that reared and shaped me, but I couldn’t dwell in my unhappiness.

Pharisees get back, I had conversation with my old pastor. I expressed my reasoning for leaving his church and like the wonderful man of God he is, he smiled and gave me his blessing. (I love you PG & First Lady!)

So, back to my little spiritual child Liam. We got lucky and found our new church home on the first visit! What solidified my choice was Liam’s excitement to go! He yearned for his new teachers, friends, and Bible lessons! The kid came home reciting Bible verses and wanting to reenact Bible stories. This made my heart so happy!

Another plus was that my little Zora had her own friends and class too! Our new church also has an app, YouTube page, and a plethora of ministries to get involved in. The other exciting part is, I know a lot of my church members from school, which means, I don’t feel so socially awkward! (Yay millennials!)

Our new church fulfilled everything I wanted–needed. My husband and I were finally able to really focus on getting fed the word! After a couple of Sundays, I noticed a change within my house. We were all so full–full of Christ!

There’s a church for everyone! If you don’t have a church home, visit some of your local churches and find your home!

Xoxo,

Christian 

Proof That All Parents Have A Favorite Child

My second baby, Zora just celebrated her first birthday, and although we’re all head over heels with excitement and awe, I noticed that my husband and I didn’t make the same big deal about our daughters first year around the sun like we did for our son.

Maybe it’s because she’s our second baby and subconsciously we’ve unknowingly adopted the , “been there done that,” persona. Maybe it’s because we’re exhausted. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I noticed that her birthday celebration in comparison to our sons was um, lackluster–she was loved on, we sang happy birthday, but she didn’t get the same hoopla her big brother got on his first born day. Why is that?

With your first baby, you spend so much time perfecting everything. You ignorantly promise to yourself and baby to be this perfect mom and to provide this “perfect life.” No fast food, no television, and only the best organic cotton clothes; you actually hold yourself to these ridiculous standards until one day you realize, they’re stupid standards.

So, second baby comes along and you’re excited–not as excited as you were with the first baby, because you made it through your first pregnancy and you know now that ain’t nothing sweet about swollen feet, nausea, and crowning! Nevertheless, you’re excited to meet the sweet baby growing inside of you. Paired with your excitement is understanding, you understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect mom or baby! You do away with your crazy perfect mommy ways and celebrate each day you and the kids make it another day alive! You dwell in the messiness of motherhood and overall, you have fun! The kids are happy! Mom is happy! It’s a happy happy life!

So, here’s the proof in the pudding that all parents have a favorite child, every kid after the first kid will never get the same attention or preparation as your first child. No matter how hard parents try to fight this reality, it’s the truth. After the first baby, and all your attempts at perfection, you’re exhausted before the other babies arrive. There’s no doubt that you love all your babies and would do anything for them, but unfortunately, the other kids will never know what it’s like to wear organic cotton.

Happy first birthday Zora! Mommy loves you! I’m sorry that I forgot to pick up your birthday cake before your birthday party!

Luckily, her party was the weekend before her actual birthday so, I had time to make things right.

It’s ok mamas, motherhood is a beautiful hot mess!

Xoxo,

Christian