Have You Seen Her? How NOT to lose yourself in Motherhood

Two and a half years in and I am still learning about mommy-hood. By no means did I ever think I'd know it all by now but I also did not think I'd be learning things so rapidly. There are things I was told about "having a baby".  Most of which had to deal with actually being pregnant and bringing home the newborn. You know... stay away from foods that'll give you indigestion, sleep when the baby sleeps, don't put the baby on his stomach when he's sleeping, don't hold him all day or he'll be spoiled. That kind of stuff. But those things have more to do with learning your preferences while becoming a mother.  In 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Mommy-hood I wrote about some of the things I learned in the first year or so of motherhood. Out of all the unsolicited advice, no one told prepared me for any of these things. 

Along the way I'm discovering more things I've either never heard of or I never have given thought to before. I can't remember what I was watching or who it was that said it but it was a woman who was settling with becoming a first time mother. In the middle her interview she said, "When you give birth and become a mom, you lose a piece yourself". By the time I heard that my son was already almost two years old. How come didn't nobody tell me that?  Her statement resonated with me. When I actually took time to think about it, it dawned on me... I'm losing me! How do I get me back? Is this normal? I had a bunch of questions and for the most part, with time, I was the only one that was qualified to answers these questions about myself.

After some self-evaluation and even self-discovery, I comprised a list of things I vowed to commit myself to. 

Here are ways NOT to lose yourself in Motherhood:

Stay connected with friends

Motherhood takes a lot out of you, especially during the child's earlier ages. Time! It takes a lot of your time; early morning diaper changes, late night feedings. If mom is employed, she spends more time with her co-workers than she does with her family. Consequently, she feels obligated to spend the rest of her time tending to her family. I did. It's easier to decline phone calls and ignore text messages. Most times turning down invitations to meet for lunch or coffee is easier than finding a sitter. That becomes a norm and the next thing you know, a whole year has gone by and you have neglected your friends. Friends are the connection to the outside world. Hanging out with them will ultimately be relief, even if it is just 2 hours away from the normal mommy routine. You need your friends, to help keep you sane and to remind you there's more to life than hearing mommy 50 times in one hour. You may not get to see them as often as you'd like but stay connected. 

Learn to become OK with being a way from your child

Separation anxiety is real! With parents too! I learned that the hard way. When life happened, my son had to stay with grandma for an entire week. I didn't know what to do with myself. I found myself calling and Face Time more times than I should have. My mom kept reassuring me that he was fine, which I knew. But something about being away from my child made me super anxious. How am I gonna act when he goes to school? Will I be able to enjoy myself when I go on vacation without him? As time progressed, the anxiety began to lessen. I was able to get so much done for myself. I could sleep! Once you find a trustworthy, reliable person to care for your child, rest when you are apart

Do not neglect your hobbies

Remember those things you used to love to do before you had a child? The things that never felt like work? Those things that left you feeling fulfilled? Do not neglect those! Pick them back up. Keep going at it. Sure, you may not be able to do them as often as you'd like. Purposefully schedule time to connect with those things. Schedule them on your calendar. Make reminders to yourself.

Stay organized

As a single mom who commutes 30 miles each way, daily, staying organized is absolutely essential. I soon discovered that when my room was cluttered and unkept it made my life more stressful. I was scattered brained in the morning and exhausted at night. Once is started to make strides towards remaining organized I felt relieved. I've even committed to preparing clothes for myself and little man for the entire week, every Sunday night. Now, I have time to do other things throughout the week. Being organized saves time and energy.  Let organization bless you.

Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care

Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash

I always felt just a little guilty for even thinking of the notion of putting myself before my child.  Truth is, if you don't take care of you, you can't take good care of your child.  Sure, we cannot control everything that comes our way, because... life. But, self-care is absolutely essential. I can admit, I didn't start practicing self-care until I felt I had no other option. I was (privately) in a very low point mentally and emotionally.  My therapist suggested self-care and mindfulness exercises. Me, take care of myself. What?  I am learning that taking care of my body, soul and mind is keeping me "in shape", if you will for handling stress. I have been on an journey to resilience and self-care is helping me along the way. Self-care can include, getting proper rest, eating right and exercising. My favorite self-practices typically include pampering myself.  I take time, after my son has fallen asleep, to read, journal and pray.   It gives me space and time to process my thoughts and emotions. Self-care makes for a better me, all the time.

 Motherhood is one, if not, the most intense personal growth journey I’ve ever taken. I am learning to listen to myself a whole lot more.  I discovered a while back that when I stopped listening to myself and when I stopped caring for me, I somehow found myself resenting my child. That led to displaying that resentment in the form of misplaced anger. No bueno.  I have now endeavored to love myself enough to not lose myself. Because if I lose myself, everyone that surrounds me will lose.

 

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The Waves and Winds

The Waves and Wind still know his name...

Unlike most folks, it takes more than just a good beat or a catch melody for me to like a song. I actually listen to lyrics.  The "music-head" part of me will get going but the inquisitive part of me will always wait and listen for the lyrics. Sure, I love the musicality of what I deem good songs but it is the lyric that resonates.

A friend of mine posted a song on her Facebook page a not too long ago. I know her well, so I trust her judgement when it come s to pretty much anything. Without question I pressed play. It was a worship song. I am not sure how to categorize it, so I will just say it was about Jesus. I saw someone's comment below the link my friend posted and it was just one lyric from the song. The waves and winds still know His Name. "Ive got to go back and listen to this song again. I don't get it," I said to myself.

Truthfully, I'd forgotten all about the song until recently. I was driving in the car and the wind was raging. Ok, not raging but the wind was blowing more than usual. The lyric came to my remembrance. The waves and winds still know His Name. I pull up the song and before I even heard that particular lyric, I got it!

Most times during a storm it's hard to sit still. We get so consumed with which way the winds are blowing us. As the church folks say, we are tossed to and fro.  The waves of life seem to be crashing from all angles. But the waves and winds still know His name.

Y'all know the story. There was storm and the disciples were all freaked out but Jesus was somewhere on the boat asleep. Yes, he slept during the storm.  They woke him up like, "Lord what is we gon' do?" Jesus woke up, rebuked the winds and spoke to the sea, "Peace! Be still" The winds ceased and all was calm. But Jesus wasn't done yet. He asked the disciples why were they so afraid. He questioned their faith. In their fear, they had to ask themselves, "Who is this man that even the winds and waves obey him?"

In the midst of the storm, our Savior isn't asleep because He doesn't care about us being tossed all over the place. Could it be that our storms are a test of our faith? When it seems like the waves are clashing against us and the winds are flinging us back and forth, we must rest in the knowing who the captain of our ship is. Our storms are at the mercy of Jesus Christ our father. That means they answer to Him. Just as the winds and waves were silent at His command then, they are to be calm at the sound of his voice now.  God's faithfulness to calm our storms is ongoing. If the winds and waves know his name, how come we are so quick to forget?

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The "R" Word

For some odd reason, it may not be that odd, but my stomach actually drops when I type the word rape, at least it feels like it. It's such an ugly word. It's one of those words that make your face scrunch up.  So, to avoid that feeling as much as I can, I won't even bother putting the word down on paper. Well, I will try not to anyway. The "r" word and I have a pesky relationship. To be honest, I hadn't given the word, the meaning behind the word, nor any actions associated with the word any thought until that whole thing with my brother.  Now my ears and eyes are open and I have noticed that my perspective is uncommon. I think it's safe to say that most women haven't had their younger brothers taken to prison, falsely, on a rape charge? Most mothers did not have to witness their 16 year old son being dragged away by the cops because some girl said he raped her, to know her son is no rapist. Most families don't have to worry about reading the local newspapers wondering how to respond to all the folks slandering your loved one's name in their defense. I get it, they might not get where I am coming from. That's fine. They might not ever understand my perspective and that is fine too.  Truth is, when I hear the "R" word I am sometimes skeptical. There I said it!
 

While there are ton of folks out there quick to call Nate Parker a rapist, I am still choosing to call him brilliant. Hearing of his rape incident in which he was exonerated I was absolutely appalled for a few reasons:

1. This wasn't new news

2. There were folks selecting to hop on bandwagons without fully knowing the details

3. There were and still are talks of boycotting his monumental film "Birth of a Nation"
 

This is was my take on it in a series of tweets, initially:

This is how I still feel now, so there is no need to elaborate on any of these points. I took a few days to calm down because I was just at the point of lividness about the entire ordeal. There were attempts to stay away from bloggers and even his own social media accounts because I knew what I would see; commenters simply making presence known with one hateful or another.

Then I saw some opinions of men and how "white girls" approach the "r" word. I could relate to their accounts because I have had my share of "white" roommates. It got me thinking to my own story.

This was YEARS ago. I am not going to say any names or give any specific time just to protect him. I was in a relationship with a guy. We visited each other frequently, as those in a relationship do. This particular timeI was visiting him at his place. Unfortunately, I was sick, like really sick. I had a horrible cold and it could have possibly been the flu. I had to have really been sick because I took some cold and flu meds (which I normally don't do) and went to sleep. It was one of those after church and brunch kind of naps. Somewhere in the middle of the nap I wake up, woozy, not really sure what was going on but I do know that my then boyfriend was feeling me up. Maybe I drank too much Theraflu. Maybe I was still asleep and kind of dreaming. I wasn't sure at first. So I just laid there. I was definitely not in the mood to be intimate but there was something holding me back from saying or doing anything. Finally, I got the strength to open my eyes, just before it got real heated. I mustard up enough fortitude to say very quietly and calmly, "hey, what are you doing?" Do you know he looked at me like nothing was going on. "What?" He shrugged. It was almost like he was completely clueless that what he was doing was not ok. I sat straight up in the bed and said "um, how could you possibly be think I want to do it right now? I am sick." At this point I don't know what was going on through his head but the look on his face said that he was embarrassed. He apologized. He got up and left the room. I rolled over and went back to sleep. We never spoke about that moment again. Did I say no, absolutely? No. Had we had sex before? Yes. Had he waken me up to have sex before? Yes. So was this time an attempt at rape? I don't think so. But I am sure somewhere some "feminist" will have something to say about him and how he handled this situation. Now if I would've gone full throttle with this incident, I could have had gone ballistic and accused up of trying to rape me. But I don't play with the "r" word. EVER.
 

The point I am trying to make is... I think we have all encountered some form of blurred line, rather it was the "r" word or some other kind of word that makes you extremely uncomfortable. I honestly feel really bad for Nate Parker. This one incident has seemingly negated all of his brilliant work. Again, I am not defending anyone who is an actual rapist but do we really know who is a rapist unless we have been on the other side of the rape? Are we just quick to judge? Are we saying once a rapist, always a rapist? Is it the same for thieves, adulterers? Are we saying one cannot grow, mature, reform and be redeemed?
 

Just something to think about. What say you?