Motherhood: The good, The bad and The (My) Truth

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”
— ― Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

As a young girl growing up, I had my life planned out to the Tee. I saw things I wanted. Life's experiences showed me what I didn't want and from there my awesome planned derived. I was graduating high school at 17.  I would  obtain my bachelor's degree  from a HBCU no later than age 22. I would be married by 24 and by 27 I would have my first child. Ha!

Real life didn't come to anything remotely close to this plan. I didn't have my son until I was 32 years old. I am so glad I wasn't 27. I can't recall all of the things that were going on when I was 27 but I am sure I was not ready to have a baby. 

Over the course of the past 4 years I have learned so much about motherhood. In 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Mommyhood, I wrote about a few things I learned that those freely handing out unsolicited advice neglected to tell me about while I was pregnant. I have learned so many lessons since then. It would be remiss if I actually attempted to list them all. My son is only three and I am sure I have tons of lessons to learn before he even turns 10.  Therefore, I am no super mom expert. I don't claim to know it all when it comes to motherhood. I actually know not much at all. What I do know... Motherhood has probably been the most impactful thing I have experienced in my entire life.

The Good

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In the hustle and bustle of life's winding turns, motherhood has its awesome perks! Moms always have an excuse to leave anything... "I gotta go, my kid is _____". I do all the time. My child is also the excuses I use when I am opting out of attending an event. "I can't. My kid". And that is all I have to say and most seem to understand.

At the end of the long, grueling days, which is pretty much every day for us, I can always count on my little guy to get real close to my face, look me straight in the eye and... cough, sneeze or do something horrendously gross but funny at the same time.  It's the most conflicted time. I don't know rather to be grossed out, upset or amused. I guess in hindsight, it's pretty hilarious.

Being a mom, a good one, gives me the opportunity to impart wisdom, teach things, you know. But the good thing about motherhood is, I get to learn. My son teaches me things every day. I observe how he handles certain situations and people and I am in awe of how clever and responsive he his sometimes. Alex started praising himself after completing a task, very early. If no one else claps for him when he has completed something he has set out to accomplish, he will clap for himself. He's taught me not to wait on others to celebrate me. Clap for yourself.

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On our walks, he ALWAYS stops to pick flowers. Yes, they are out of someone else's yard most of the times but there is still a lesson in that. As cliché as it is, he's taught me to stop and smell the roses. My three-year old son has taught me that it is perfectly fine to take time, while you are on your journey, to stop and admire the beautiful things that are surrounding me. So profound.

And while I would like to believe that motherhood is all love, smiles and funny moments that make laugh so hard you snort, there are some not so good things about it.

The Bad

 They grow up! I look at Alex every day and think... "one day you are not going to want to have anything to do with me". And for a moment I rejoice. But then I think about all the snuggles I will miss out on. He doesn't even want to kiss me anymore and when I kiss him, he wipes it off immediately. BRAT!

The Truth/My Truth

Motherhood is hard. No, like, seriously. It's no walk in the park, as my mom would say.  Every decision I make affects my child. Yes, every single one; from the small ones to the big ones. They all matter to him too. That's hard. Motherhood is doing my very best to make each decision a good one. Sure, I am going to make some bad ones and maybe even some dumb ones. But the thing about being a mother is that those decisions will impact Alex at some point, if not right away. So what I am learning is to try my best to make sound, wise decisions on the daily basis. Decisions on what we eat, what he watches on TV, who he is around, what books to read, what relationships to entertain or not to entertain. I have someone I am tied to for the rest of our lives.  I heard somewhere that motherhood is the true marriage. That actually might be true.

Yes, motherhood is hard. It's even harder when you have to do it alone. And if I were to be completely honest, I would say that sometimes I want to give up. Yes. there. I said it.  Sometimes I want to just run away and come back on his 21st birthday. Surprise. But who am I kidding? That is not what motherhood is about. It's about love, yes. It's about nurturing, yes. But it is also about sacrifice and responsibility. There were plenty of other times I could have gotten pregnant. But I have learned to trust that God knew what he was doing to bless me with Alex and the time that he did. I am being entrusted to raise the little guy to the best of my ability and I am owning that responsibility. So, nope, there is no giving up. Motherhood is a journey. It's probably one of the most, bumpiest yet adventurous rides I have ever been on but I am so grateful I get to do it with the little brown boy that calls me Mommy.

 

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The Inner Circle

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For years I spent so much time avoiding and even slighting the “inner circle” idea.  Just me, myself and I… That was the mentality I subscribed to.  I didn’t need anyone and I didn’t want anyone. For what? All they are going to try to do is tell me how live my life.  The inner circle would be filled with disappointment, rooted in cattiness.  I had family.  Who needs friends, an inner circle if you’ve got family? So, I wasn’t necessarily out there searching for an inner circle, nor was I submitting applications to join anyone else's inner circle.  No matter how much I ran from it, an inner circle or the likes thereof, always managed to find me.  Coincidence? God ordained? Were these real inner circles or were these folks just around to be around, masking themselves as an inner circle for selfish gain?

Growing up, I always struggled to believe “friends” were genuine; that they wanted what was best for me and that they would help push me towards my goals. Truth is, some “friends” were around to take advantage of me.  They took my kindness for weakness and some even walked all over me because at some point in my life, early on, I was not bold enough to stand up to anyone.

Nearing the end of high school, I think I had one friend.  One real friend.  Someone who I knew was inner circle.  But that was more like a straight line, because it was just the two of us.  Everyone else was just… part of the 72 and I was ok with that.  Once I got to the Mecca, Howard University, as much as I wanted to stay closed off with a wall built up around me, I realized I actually needed an inner circle.  I was in a place I had never been before. I was 3,000 miles away from home.  I experienced LIFE while I was in D.C. and I am so glad I actually let people in close enough to teach me new things. Close enough for them to reach in and pull me back from doing some really stupid things.  These folks came looking for me if they hadn’t heard from or seen me in a 12 hour span.  They could look at me and tell I needed one of those let’s talk it out in the hallway all night kind of talks.  They dragged me to church.  They fed me; physically, spiritually and mentally. They celebrated with me and there was never a time they had to hold back from telling me some hard to swallow truths.  And to this day, I thank God for that crew.

It took me while to lend myself like that again once I came back home to California.  In addition to grasping the culture shock, I was extremely apprehensive.  I didn’t know who to trust and if were to be honest, I probably didn’t know how to trust or how to even let my guard down.   Eventually, I had a group of individuals I could say was my inner circle.  We got into some pretty winding turns and loops and sometimes it took a while but, we managed to stay on track.

As I continued to travel through this thing called life I started to learn that a lot of people that were around me really liked the idea of having me as their friend (or even more) but they just did not posses the maturity to handle the reality me.  Quite frankly, I ain't for everybody and that is ok.  I can usually determine this early on for some but they don’t realize it until adversity arises.  Eventually, they choose to abort the relationship instead of committing to reconciliation.

The one inner circle I actually sought  after failed me.  Well... I don’t know if they failed me but the circle was definitely broken.  What I had so much faith and hope in, diminished and it very well could have been because of the high expectations I had placed on my inner circle.  At the very least, I was disappointed.  I felt deserted. When disappointment emanated, some chose to relinquish the relationship.  I actually had to terminate a relationship because that particular person should not have been in my inner circle anyway.  For the most part, I can not really ascribe any one thing that dismantled my inner circle but I do know that joint blew up right before my eyes. It put me back into a position of building walls of protection back up.  I didn’t want to be abandoned again.  Once I allow people in and I get hurt, it is extremely difficult for me to trust again, as I am sure is the same for most.  Yes, I have forgiven this particular group of people, but I am definitely still very guarded about another inner circle.  The trepidation has actually led me to a place of isolation.  I can actually see myself keeping to myself and being ok with it.  It's actually not a healthy place to be in. Isolation leaves you to your own devices and while no one is all up in yo bizness, no one is in your business. Sometimes you actually need someone to be in your business. 

One tricky part about friendships, relationships and even the inner circles… EXPECTATIONS.  We expect them to last forever.  We expect them to never disappoint… WRONG.  It doesn’t even matter if these relationships are “godly” relationships.  They still consist of regular people with real life issues.  So, that doesn’t negate the possibility of disappointments, offenses and full on, never to return, falling outs.

Another delicate aspect of an inner circle is trying to navigate through the changes in the dynamic.  If your inner circle is full of single women, what happens when one gets married?  What is supposed to happen when a member of the inner circle changes their church membership? What happens when someone moves out of state?  How should these dynamics impact the inner circle, if at all? How does the inner circle continue to prosper and flourish with such reconstructions?

While there are intricate parts to bringing people together to form an inner circle, I am now learning that an inner circle is absolutely essential, no matter what stage of life I am in.  We need to be empowered, encouraged and sometimes we need to have our coat tails pulled.  Our inner circles are a part of our journeys to fulfilling our purpose.  I am learning I NEED an inner circle.  I have gone through a whole bunch of things: having a child, unemployment, going through a divorce and I know I should not have gone through them alone, in silence.   As much as I have run away from the idea, I know an inner circle is necessary and watching the videos below helped me to realize this.

So, I have begun to pray. And before I pray for  an inner circle, my prayer is that God annihilates the fear I have of opening up.  I pray that God constantly reminds me that we all need forgiveness and grace.  I am praying that God opens my eyes to see who is really in my inner circle already and I just haven’t acknowledged them.  My prayer is that God sends a stable inner circle comprised with people that are purposefully speaking to who I will be more than who I am right now, folks who are without question are pushing me, helping me reach my purpose. I think I am ready. 

Do you have an inner circle or have you been avoiding the notion, like me?

 

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