Thankfulness is a beautiful fruit to bear. For most of us, we all know what it means to be thankful but have you ever considered how the concept was introduced to you? Low and behold parenting to introduce another lesson imperative to our baby’s spirits—the lesson of thankfulness. Don’t you love the lessons parenting bestows on us!
In our home, we started teaching thankfulness as soon as our babies were born. From encouraging them to thank us for common occurrences like meals or gifts to encouraging them to thank each other for sharing, we really wanted our children to know that no one is entitled to anything. And we should be thankful for everything, even the things we assume we’re entitled to.
Despite my husband and I never allowing our children to go without the bare necessities, we make them thank us for basic things to teach them that everyone isn’t in their position. In fact, we explain to them that in our city there’s a child wishing they had what our kids have and for that, we explain to them why they should never take anything for granted.
Because most children learn from example, we grant our babies opportunities to display their gratefulness and thankfulness by sharing some of their blessings with others.
Here are few ways you can mold a grateful heart in your babies.
We pray with our children daily and I make it a point to welcome them into intimate parts of my conversations with God. This means they see mama cry and cry out to Jesus! Including them in prayer has really enhanced their perspectives!
Paying it forward
More recently, my four year old has been more observant about recognizing people in need. In addition to explaining that everyone isn’t as fortunate as others, we encourage him to share his blessing. This means allowing him to bless the homeless with money, food, and when we don’t have physically things, prayer and smiles. This means blessing neighbors with some of his old toys. Doing these things on a regular basis has positioned Liam’s heart to always be ready to give!
Respecting their things, selves, and others
Respect coincides with thankfulness more than you think. We teach the kids that respecting themselves, others, and their things not only shows God a grateful heart but it shows Him that if they can cherish what they have now, they’re ready to be promoted to something bigger and better.
Holiday season can be a dark time for many living without, especially this year. Remember to be thankful for everything and everyone you have in your life. And to those in fortunate positions, share some extra kindness this year!
Covid-19 might have postponed a lot of things, but I refused to let it stop the Halloween celebrations! Despite me encouraging my children to be whatever they want to be every day of the year, Halloween feels like the one day of year that even adults can join in on the optimism!
I grew up extremely sheltered and Christian so Halloween was celebrated sparingly. With my children, my husband and I vowed to still withhold our faith’s beliefs but still allow the kids to have fun!
This year I decided to crank up the celebration by making some scary treats! Cook with me!
Disclaimer: I am not a professional chef or baker.
This treat is super easy to make! I figured, we couldn’t have a scary food night without a main course shocker!
•blood, I mean ketchup!
-cut nail shape out at the top of the hotdog
-boil hotdogs for 4-5 minutes
-serve in bun with lots of ketchup!
This treat was the scariest one of all! My four year old was slightly freaked out when he saw the finished product, but he got over his fear after he tasted his first bite!
•cinnamon roll dough
I’d recommend using some red food coloring to enhance the red color! Mine came out pink!
-unroll cinnamon rolls to look like intestines
-bake cinnamon rolls as instructed on packaging
-mix frosted glaze with strawberry jelly
-frost your fresh intestines and serve!
This recipe is so cute! My kids loved how they turned out and this recipe only took 10 minutes!
•crescent roll dough
•shredded cheddar cheese
-on a baking pan, spread dough out until flat
-sprinkle shredded cheese on the dough
-roll hotdog in dough
-bake at 350 for 10 minutes
-with water, base and add candy eyes
Tada! You’re all done! You’re officially the coolest mom ever! You’re welcome! Happy Halloween
While baking with my oldest, I couldn’t help but observe how every ingredient in the dessert we were baking served as the perfect analogy for parenting. The fruits of the spirit are as pertinent to our parenting as each ingredient my son and I tossed in our mixing bowl. Every ingredient serves a special and divine purpose. Despite their different flavors, when combined they make the sweetest combination. Motherhood entails that we nurture our trees to ensure our fruits (our babies) roaming the Earth continue to plant other decent trees (their children and so forth.)
Becoming a mom is hands down the most beautiful thing to happen to me. I can remember the day I found I was pregnant with both kids like it was yesterday. With Liam, he was unexpected, so my excitement took a while to brew. Zora, she was planned, but we didn’t expect to get pregnant with her so soon, especially since our doctor hypothesized it taking us a year to conceive. Nevertheless, each one of my babies blessed my life in different ways and for that, I’m forever grateful. Yet, even with all the beautiful moments that parenthood brings, I can’t negate the hard days. The truth is, everyday of parenthood isn’t rewarding—at least it doesn’t feel that way. Some days I question God’s plan. I question my abilities. I even question my children.
Besides having an incredible group of mothers that I lean on for advice and assurance, I lean mostly on Jesus. But, my first few years of parenting I didn’t know how to lean on Jesus, or what to even ask of Him. If I’m being honest, sometimes I felt selfish for asking any more of Him than I already had—I mean there I was vexed with motherhood when so many women wanted the life I had.
So, I took some time to walk with Jesus. On that walk He lead me to some impactful Bible lessons that just seemed to say all the right words when I needed to read them. Since seeking the godly way from Jesus, I’ve noticed a change within my children and me. I learned that instead of praying for my children, I needed to first pray for me. Ask God in what ways do you need to be fulfilled, redirected, or even reshaped. Instead of asking God why my child was giving me a hard time, instead, I’d ask God what did my child’s outburst mean? Changing my perspective in those minor ways, helped me to gain hold of the bigger picture.
I know many of us don’t look at motherhood as an opportunity to serve, but tantamount to your marriage or any other God appointed position, parenthood is another opportunity to be selfless—another opportunity to share God’s love.
Below I’ll share my favorite Bible verses that keep me encouraged when satan tries to mask my blessings as burdens.
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Ask God to order your steps. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to get our children to be like us that we forget to teach them to be like Jesus!
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we live by faith, not by sight.
Satan likes to plant evil seeds in our mind. Whether you’re wary of how your kids will turn out, down about your abilities as a mother, or just unsure how to be the best parent, BE STILL! Remember that faith is believing in the things we can’t see! All you can do is cast your fears on to Jesus and continue to sow good seeds—hope and believe all will be well and it will.
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
How often are you breathing life into your children? It’s easy to get caught up in shelling out demands. Remember to affirm your children. Build up your house!
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
No matter how hard your day was, thank God for blessing you with your children. Children are a reward from God! If you have them, you’ve must been doing something right! Give yourself grace. Give your babies grace too!
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Don’t let satan make you think your kids are too much to handle. Even on the days when both kids are bickering, the youngest is throwing a tantrum, and you’re at your wits end, God didn’t enlist you for an unreasonable task! On these hard days, remember to change your perspective!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
God gives us peace, peace that can only be obtained through Him. Use that peace to maintain it within your home—your children. It’s already yours! Claim it!
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
God moves through people! Surround yourself with other godly parents and lean on each-other!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Keep your joy, in fact share it with your little ones! The hard days of parenting aren’t bad days! They’re days you need a little more Jesus and guess what? There’s no such thing as too much Jesus, so indulge in Him!
Parenting never gets easier, because everyday we’re faced with new obstacles. Although that might frighten you, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Do it with Jesus!
Buying my first home was much deeper than just owning property. For me, it was breaking a generational curse. My parents never owned homes, neither did my husband’s parents. It felt like a childhood dream that felt tangible yet unreachable. So, when I married my husband and we started to expand our family, we prioritized not only finding the perfect home for our family, but also ending the cycle of renting within our family.
Unlike what’s seen on television, purchasing a home is a stressful and tedious process! However, on the day you sign what feels like a trillion papers, and you’re officially handed the keys to your new home, the stress you were once anxious to neglect, becomes a faded minuscule moment.
Because this was our first time buying a house, we experienced a few stressful moments that we could’ve avoided if we were more knowledgeable about the home-buying process. Now that all our boxes are unpacked, and we’re comfortably settled in, let’s go over some essential nuggets I wish I new before buying our home!
1. Find the perfect lender!
What’s a lender? Your lender is the financial institution that finances your home with the expectation that you’ll pay them back. After a credit check and an extensive loan application, your lender tells you what you’re qualified to borrow. Researching what lender is best for you is pertinent. Different lenders have different interest rates and some lenders even offer incentives. Don’t get caught up in JUST being qualified for a loan, search around and make sure you’re using a lender with the best benefits for you!
My family chose to use veterans united for our lender. Using them guaranteed us not only one of the lowest interest rates, but they also supplied us with a realtor. A perk of using their realtor was an additional credit for an even lower interest rate.
2. Find the best realtor for YOU!
Find a realtor that is willing to fight for what you want! Don’t feel pressured to use any realtor. Use someone who understands your wants and is willing to go above and beyond to find them for you! The realtor we originally started the process with turned out not to be the realtor we stuck with. While searching around for the best realtor, remember to be honest about what you want and your wariness about not wanting to commit to one person upfront. For example, before fully committing to the realtor we closed with, we worked with someone else. Thankfully, we didn’t sign any paperwork binding us to our first realtor, because of that, when we decided they weren’t the best fit for us, we were able to use another person.
3. Understand the housing market!
Is it a buyers market or sellers market? This determines how much power you hold as a buyer. When we purchased our house, it was a seller’s market. This meant that the seller had the upper hand. Houses were selling fast and because of this, we had to not only act fast in putting in an offer, but be willing to compromise on certain upgrades.
4.Just say NO!
Be willing to walk away from bad deals. Remember, buying a house is a serious commitment. Stay within your budget, and be willing to walk away if the price and home aren’t up to par. Separate your emotions from your reality. Take a step back and consider life after your emotions have settled. Is the house worth the cost? Can you see yourself in this home forever?
5.What’s Earnest money and why do you have to pay it?
Earnest money is the money you put down when you make an offer. The amount can be as little as $500. The amount you put down shows the seller how serious you are about purchasing. In the end, your earnest money is used towards your closing cost!
6. Find the perfectinspector!
When making a serious purchase like purchasing a home, getting an inspection is important. You want to ensure that the home you’re purchasing is quality! The worst thing that could happen is finding out your dream home is more than you bargained for after already closing. Finding a good inspector is easy! My realtor provided me with a list of prospect inspectors. I selected the inspector that provided the best price. I urge you to find an inspector that bundles the first inspection and re-inspection in one price. This tidbit can save you a few $100. At this point, you’ve probably already shelled out a lot of money not to mention the money you’ll have to pay at closing. Cut all frivolous cost!
5. Check every corner of your house at the final walk through!
So far, you’ve had an inspection performed by a professional inspector and an appraisal (another inspection to dictate the home’s worth.) You’re probably tired of hearing about inspections but take heed of the final walk through! This is your FINAL opportunity to have anything rectified before you officially own the home!
Everyone doesn’t have the liesure to take a homebuyers class, I get it. Or maybe you didn’t expect to be buying a house so soon; so, you didn’t have the proper time to educate yourself on the process. Look, buying your house doesn’t have to be stressful, utilize these tips to your advantage! I hope you find your dream house!
My daughter has never had her own room. Immediately after her birth, we shared a nursery and a few months after that she was moved into her big brother’s room. I’m sure she’s dreamed of her own space since her days in the womb! Recently, we moved into a new home and the most exciting part of the move was knowing that I’d get to decorate my daughter’s room!
To cut cost, because buying a house is EXPENSIVE, I decided to repurpose everything we already owned for her room makeover. Kids are destructive, and too often do parents spend money for elaborate room decorations and furniture just for the kids to break it! I didn’t want to be that mom.
I sought room decor ideas from Pinterest. I like to think of Pinterest as the little encouraging angel that sits in my shoulder reminding me that, “anything is possible.” And it is! I found several ideas for inspiration!
I already owned a lot of bohemian furniture so the boho theme was definitely a no brainer. No matter your style, finding a theme is poignant. Your theme is the overall goal for the space. Within that theme, you can play around with colors and style!
Another goal I had for her room was to make it practical and light. I didn’t want my daughter to feel like her room was crowded or too perfect for play. I kept decorations light and fun!
To add some character to her walls, I purchased polka dots to create an accent wall. Overall, her room makeover cost $10! That’s it!
Remember, you don’t have to be rich to live the life you want! Repurpose what you have! Create new memories with old things in your home! Most importantly, think twice before you throw things away!
“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” ― Oscar Wilde
Hallelujah! My husband and I just bought our first house! We dreamt and prayed for this moment for years! We’re so grateful for God’s grace and timing! Who knew we’d be moving during a pandemic? Not us!
My husband and I have experience moving as singles but moving with two little ones presented an interestingly intimidating challenge. How do you pack when your kids keep unpacking things and more importantly, how do you keep them out the way and occupied so you can achieve productivity?
We’re no packing and moving professionals and I won’t dare say we have all the answers but I believe we adapted and conquered the challenge of packing with babies well! Let me help you!
1. Don’t wait until the last minute!
Procrastination might be the worst thing you could do before moving. Once you have your new move in date, begin packing. Even if you pack one box a day, don’t wait until the day before the big move to start packing. Waiting until the last minute to pack adds additional stress to the already stressful and tedious task of moving.
2. Organization is KEY!
Pack with purpose. Don’t leave one stressful mess for another. Invest in labels and plastic storage boxes in addition to traditional cardboard boxes.
I packed each room one at a time. I labeled everything from kid’s wall decor, to specific sheets, and toys. I did this to relieve us from a stressful unpacking. Labeling boxes specifically also helps movers to group similar boxes in the same place. The plastic storage containers come in handy because let’s face it, most of us hoard a little more than we’d like to admit. Packing things in plastic storage containers helps you to hoard things more neatly in the new home!
3. Share packing responsibilitywith kids!
Your little ones might be a bigger help to you than you think! Make packing fun and remember, no matter how exciting moving to a new place is, moving still brings forth some sadness. Use packing time to talk about your feelings on the new move.
Maybe you can put your kid on toy duty—get them to pack all their toys. Or maybe you can put them on clothes duty;depending on how adamant you are about packing your clothes folded, you could allow them to toss clothes in boxes like a basketball game!
4. Wash every dish and wash all your clothes!
Don’t add more tasks to your list. Wash all your dishes and wash all your clothes! Invest in paper plates and plastic cutlery. Eat quick and mess free meals like sandwiches or bake a casserole that you and your family can eat until you’re in your new kitchen! Pack an overnight bag with a few outfits and travel size toiletries. Wear those clothes the days leading up to moving day and pack your other clothes in boxes! This means, you’ll have a fewer clothes to wash once you’re settled into your new home instead of loads of laundry.
5. Keep your clothes on hangers
There’s no need to accumulate more boxes. Keep your clothes on hangers and slide them through a clean trash bag! This saves space and time!
6. Get free movers!
Remember on the first day of college classes when your professors would make you introduce yourself to the class? You thought it was to make friends in class when in actuality it was to make long lasting moving buddies! Don’t pay for movers, put your friends and loved ones to work! Ask them to help you move and pay them in pizza of course! Don’t forget the wings!
Happy moving! I hope these tips make your next move as smooth as Pinot!
Returning back to school for our kiddos isn’t its usual thrill. Many parents were forced to decide whether to continue with distant learning or send their children to physical school. These decisions weren’t as easy to make as some might assume. Choosing whether to keep your child home or send them to school turned out to be a question of privilege; because the truth is, most parents don’t have the leisure of keeping their kids home. I mean, who would work if everyone stayed home, better yet, how would parents work while exclusively homeschooling their children?
Nevertheless no matter what decision parents chose, every parent shared these feelings; homeschooling is HARD! For me, when quarantine was first set in place, I looked at staying home with my kids as a blessing. Quarantine allowed me to put a pause on my busy and fast paced life. Being home more often—permanently felt like a prayer finally answered. Though I’d never trade bonding with my family for anything, what I didn’t anticipate was how quarantine would lessen the time I’d have for me—mommy time. A few months into quarantine sent me into a deep depression and suddenly I found myself missing adult human interaction and car rides alone. On top of that, I now had the responsibility of teaching my children a strict curriculum. Yes, I teach them daily, but we can’t deny that we heavily rely on schools and daycares to fill in the gaps.
In fact, many people were forced to acknowledge just how influential schools are to our communities when they closed. We all learned that schools are far more than buildings with teachers. They’re shelters and food kitchens, amongst many other things. So while being forced to transform your home into a school is intimidating, I assure you that, YOU HAVE THIS!
While on my own journey of mastering homeschooling, I found some YouTube channels that made the task less difficult. And since our kids are all generation z(ers) YouTube is something they’re all born and programmed loving. School commences soon and I don’t want any parent left behind. Below, I’ll share some of my favorite educational YouTube channels!
Cosmic Kid’s Yoga
There’s no doubt that little ones have short attention spans. To keep them entertained or to tire them out before nap, try Cosmic Yoga. This YouTube page has fun yoga exercises your babies can follow! Mom and dad can do them too!
What kid doesn’t love a sing along? This YouTube channel features a chipper teacher, Ms. Rachel! She’s usually dressed in overalls and prepared to sing about just about anything! My children are mesmerized by her voice and smile! Sometimes I find myself singing her days of the week song in the shower!
For months, my husband and I were searching for bilingual instructors to teach our children another language. Our search stopped when we stumbled across this YouTube page. Rock’ N Learn teaches children languages like spanish, mandarin and many more!
School and daycare are so pertinent to a child’s growth and development because children tend to learn better with and from their peers. Akili is a 4 year old girl who goes on adventures. On this YouTube page your child gets to follow along with her school and life lessons. Your child gets to learn alongside of Akili and ultimately become virtual friends!
This channel is hands down my kid’s favorite channel! On this YouTube channel, Jack teaches about the alphabet, days of the week, months of the year, and he even teaches sign language! His videos are so fun and easy to follow along with!
There aren’t enough words to describe how important dads are. I mean for starters, they play an important role in creating you, then they spend the rest of their lives loving you outside the womb. Despite society knowing how vital dads are, for some reason, dads always seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to Father’s Day. In comparison to Mother’s Day, it seems that dads don’t get as much appreciation. I mean, most restaurants don’t even offer dads FREE meals on Father’s Day. It sucks, because dads deserve love too!
Someone who once shared my same notion was, Sonora Smart Dodd. Dodd founded Father’s Day in 1910 at the YMCA to celebrate fathers like hers. Her dad was a single father rearing 6 children. She wanted to dedicate a day of appreciation to him and others that shared his same plight.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has us all forgetting what day of the week is. This means special holidays like Father’s Day feel as if their date is approaching out of nowhere! Don’t let this pandemic make you forget about Father’s Day!
So why not buy the gifts for all the special fathers in your life now? Let’s knock this thing out the park! Let me help you!
Dads might not be as straightforward about the gifts they want compared to moms, but it’s safe to assume that most dad’s don’t want another tie! Being in the midst of a pandemic has affected many American’s pockets, but what if I told you that you don’t have to break the bank to find dad the perfect gift? Frankly, I’m confident in my abilities in assisting you find the special man in your life the best and most affordable gift. Why, because I’ve already purchased all my Father’s Day gifts!
First things first consider what the dad your buying for likes. There’s no such thing as a one gift fits all.
Due to Covid-19, many stores are still closed. This makes ordering all your Father’s Day gifts online a no brainer! Thanks to quarantine my online shopping skills have enhanced immensely meaning; I’ve learned how to really navigate and shop purposefully online. I told you, I’m the perfect person to help you with Father’s Day shopping!
Below I’ll list some of my favorite gift ideas! I also enlisted some things we bought for my husband!
1. Running Shoes
You can never go wrong with running shoes and because we’ve all recently been enjoying outdoor exercise, it’s no better time than now to indulge in new running shoes. I visited the site bestproducts.com to find the perfect running shoes for my husband. The site details what sneakers are best suited for certain fitness activities. You’ll be sure to find the perfect shoes for dad!
You might not be able afford the most expensive dad bling, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still purchase jewelry dad likes. Search for personalized jewelry. In the past, I got my husband a wooden watch with an engraved message on the back from the kids. He wears it everyday!
I know when you think of purchasing clothes as gifts, you probably think you have to purchase expensive namebrand clothes. You don’t. In fact, my husband tends to cherish personalized tees the best. You can get a special message plastered on a shirt and gift it to dad. I promise he’ll cherish it forever!
Buy your dad a book about fatherhood, honoring fatherhood, or a book that has a personalized story about him! There are books that give you the option to add names and personalize your stories! Gift a gift dad can keep forever.
If you have children, chances are, the kids have already made dad some type of art, and although dad will appreciate that art forever, consider making dad something more long lasting than a drawing. Visit an art center and make dad a plate or mug! You can customize your gift and guarantee that it’ll be safe for dad to use!
No matter what you decide, the best gifts should be heartfelt. I try to gift my loved ones gifts that are meaningful to them. This means that my gifts aren’t always the most expensive. Sometimes they’re not even store bought. Remember to buy gifts based off what you know the recipient would appreciate. Happy early Father’s Day and Happy shopping!
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 to let my babies grow up, “as if I have a choice.”
I’m scared to let my babies “just be a kids,” “as if they have that choice.”
I’m scared to send them out into the world, “as if I have a choice.”
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 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.
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.