Mommy

Juneteenth & Justice: A Parenting Quandary

I wanted to share Juneteenth with my children, because we are working in the space of making sure they are confident and courageous in the brown skin they are in. I’ve never really celebrated Juneteenth, but I’ve acknowledged it. However, this year was different in my awareness. “152 years”, “#Juneteenth” and similar sentiments peppered my social media timelines. Maybe it was the newness of the Philando Castile verdict just three days before; maybe it was the recent political climate, or the surge in public coverage of the brutal silencing of our Black voices and systematic targeting to eliminate our future – whatever it was, somehow freedom didn’t feel so free this year. I was deep in my feelings about it all and chose not to share with my children. I chose not to share it because I want them to be able to shape their own opinions on knowledge and information that they receive. I want them to be open, think critically and solve problems without the influence of my overly sensitive, pinned up too long sadness, frustration and anger spewing out irrepressibly.  I want them to be wise and aware, but I also want them to be able to trek freely in many diverse settings.

 

My daughter is preparing for kindergarten and is enamored with all things school related right now. She’s regurgitating every ounce of knowledge (and her interpretations) to her younger brother. Today was no different, except the subject was “The Pledge of Allegiance”.  She shared the lines pausing for him to repeat her in baby babble. After “liberty and justice for all” she stopped and asked, “Mama what is justice?”.  I hesitated under the weight of everything happening in our country right now.  I struggled with fears of overcomplicating things pushed against the severe havoc of oversimplifying them. “It’s wrong things being made right; it’s fairness,” I finally answered hoping that she wouldn’t continue her line of questioning. Not because I didn’t want her to know, but because I didn’t want to overwhelm her with my pain. She proceeded to ask me if an example from a particular movie was justice happening and moved on to her next wave of energetic thought. Meanwhile, I was left to examine my response. Were the lump in my throat, knot in my belly and nauseating anxiety a result of the day before being Juneteenth and wallowing in my feelings about that? Was the internal turbulence I was feeling a result of the constant media reel spewing out daily injustice towards people of color? Was it my nerves because I was Driving While Black? Was it a sense of betrayal and guilt because I was in that very moment driving her to a whiter side of town for a camp experience? It was all of it. I’ve always said that parenting is hard, but today it is especially hard. It was hard because I just don’t know how to be with my feelings and process them for little people. It was hard because I am wounded and raw emotionally and don’t want to infect them. It was hard because my daughter is proudly reciting an untruth, and I’m not sure how to correct it. “Liberty and justice for all” is subjective; she and my son are not on the favorable side of the bias. As a parent, I want to be both a shield and guide. Truth is, right now, I just don’t know how.

A Place to Belong

(Originally Penned October 2016)

A day or so ago I expressed to a friend that I was feeling insecure about my friendships changing again with the 2nd pregnancy because not many in my circle have kids, let alone two.

Last night I went to a gathering because I wanted/needed to be social. And I didn't fit in 1) I was exhausted, and 2) I had the kidlet with me so needed to check periodically on her. Between my frequent bathroom breaks, inability to sip wine and absence of voice I felt thoroughly out of place in a setting in which I once would have thrived. 

Then today I went to see my two best girlfriends and didn't fit there either. They're both enjoying a carefree lifestyle without the responsibility of kids. Because I had mine with me I had to cut my end of the hangout short in exchange for bedtimeroutine. Our conversations were censored and often interrupted. It felt forced.

Just yesterday I read a brilliantly penned article by a mom of two on her conclusion that being just a mom right now is enough. And I loved her truth and identified with her transparency. But if I'm honest with myself I have to say that it's not enough. It doesn't match who I am and what I need right now. It doesn't feel good. If it's this hard before number 2 arrives, I'm terrified of the after effects.

I've found temporary solace in the musings and occasional interactions with other parents in the world of social media. But bc it's not tangible, it doesn't seem real. 

So today I'm admittedly a wanderer and that's okay for now. I will stumble upon belonging if I just keep walking.

Preparing a Financial Foundation for Our Children’s Future: 4 Key Take-aways from a Financial Smarty Pants

Years ago my husband told me that I wanted people to pay me for my professional services and knowledge, likewise, I should return the favor and pay people for their expertise. As I plan to leave a financial legacy for my children, I heeded his advice (shhh…don’t tell him) and sought out someone smarter than me on the subject. Enter, Latrisa Pugh, founder of the Educational Cash Flow Youth Program and the brains behind the blog Makes Cents. My approach was wide open – “Hey lady, how do I save a substantial amount of money for my kids’ future?” Apparently, I was a bit too broad in my request. However, she was patient and walked me through a more streamlined process. Here are a few nuggets that I picked up along the way (and obtained permission to share).

1.       Ask Questions First

·         What is the goal? Be specific.

·         How do you want to do that? There are many ways to approach it. What options have you heard of and explored?

·         Where does your family currently stand in regards to finances? You must ensure that you’re good in your current state before saving yourself poor for the children’s future. No sense in paying for your kids to go to college if you don’t have your own later life provisions in place.

·         Where/how are you currently spending your money? Bills are predictable so where’s the rest going.

2.       Make a Budget

·         Make a monthly budget.

·         Write down the bill due dates and pay periods BEFORE you get paid.

·         Set aside at least an hour and think of all possible expenses (bills and seemingly random).

·         Give every penny a place to go.

·         Put savings in the budget.

3.       Create an emergency fund.

·         This should be 3-6 months of expenses.

4.       Tackle Debt & Savings

·         Create a plan to pay down your debts.

·         Move your savings somewhere you can’t look at it daily and have to make a little effort to make a withdrawal.

I was so excited about creating a massive master plan for my kids. I anticipated some highly involved investment into some savings plan to get started. But the truth is, it was much simpler than that. It turns out that, creating a plan for your own financial stability is the best foundation you can create for your kids’ financial legacy. You are their first teacher on finances, and they learn most by observation. Do you have an attitude at certain times of the month that is not attached to your hormones? Are you reckless with your spending? Does stress accompany you on every store visit? Finances used to be a major stressor for me because I lacked knowledge. However, admitting my shortcomings and seeking advice from knowledgeable sources has empowered me to know better. When I know better, I do better. And when I do better, I am better.

To get started, pop-on over to Latrisa’s blog and subscribe. She’s currently in a series on Managing Debt. No this isn’t a paid plug, it’s literally me being generous and not keeping the knowledge and freedom to myself. I want you to live authentically in your finances too. Remember, authenticity in EVERY area of life is what it’s all about.

LOVE = T.I.M.E.

Our children interpret love in their own way. It’s spelled TIME. When we spend time with them, they are convinced of our love for them. As they learn love from us, they are able to more readily recognize and give love in their own contexts.  Here are a few ways to show love to your kids:

T-

·         Talk to them.

·         Take time out from your regular routine to spend uninterrupted with them.

·         Take a detour route home and enjoy the adventure.

I –

·         Inquire about things that are important to them.

·         Identify the things you love about them.

·         Implement a weekly or monthly activity.

M –

·         Make memories together.

·         Go on a Make-Believe Mission.

·         Master a new skill.

E –

·         Exercise together.

·         Explore a new place.

·         Experiment with food or an activity.

 

Are there any activities that your children particularly enjoy?

One Diaper Bag Must Have

Being a new parent you want to be prepared. You look up the lists and get recommendations from friends on what should be in your diaper bag for outings with your newborns and infants. You finally get up the courage to go more than 10 minutes away from the house for longer than a 20 minute outing and it happens… The dreaded exploding diaper with shit running up your baby’s back and down their tiny leg is happening. Thank heavens you brought 6 extra diapers, two additional outfits, the plastic changing pad and an entire container of wipes! Crisis averted, your baby is clean and the exploding diaper has been removed from the scene. The problem now? You didn’t have not one change of clothes in the bag for yourself. So now to face the drippings that made it onto your shirt or bottoms. You scrub feverishly but the smell still slightly lingers and now you have wet patches all over your clothes from the attempts to clean yourself up. Where are you going like that? 

I’m your partner and friend in parenting helping you overcome some of the challenges. So with that, I am telling you in advance, your diaper bag needs to contain at least a fresh shirt for yourself. It’s easier to cover a few splotches on your bottoms with a well-positioned bag or stroller. But that shirt action? Everyone sees it coming. And though most people will see the baby and make the connection, it still doesn’t save you the embarrassment. So as you carefully roll, stuff, stack and pack that bulging diaper bag, don’t forget to tuck away a plastic bag for the soiled items (that you choose not to throw away) and a clean shirt for yourself.