Category Archives: personal

The perfection of imperfection.

A little more than a month ago, I was at a party for a group of moms from a playgroup. I forget the context exactly, but I was talking about my daughter’s stubbornness about cleaning.

“Her room is constantly a mess. The only way that I can get her to clean is to put on Disney radio,” I told the few moms gathered around me. “I absolutely love her, but she is a slob.” The shock that hit their faces surprised me.

“How old is she, four? She can’t be a slob!” One of the moms was particularly offended by what I was saying. Surely, I must be exaggerating. Surely, my daughter is a complete princess that has magical fairies to clean up after her. [Insert sarcasm].

It is often that I come into contact with women who may cross the line into overly praising of their children. The new mom who constantly posts picture of her newborn who she absolutely adores and could do no wrong. The woman who told me at the store about how her three year old is her best friend. The mom who conveniently finds a way to talk about her child’s many accomplishments every single time we have a conversation. The young mom who counts her frustrations as blessings. When did we come to the age where we are expected to be the end-all for our children, where our entire lives and beings are dedicated to them?

Now, please don’t mistake what I am trying to get across. I see nothing wrong with being proud of your children, of being absolutely in love with them. I completely adore mine, but that doesn’t mean that I will pretend that all is perfect in the world of parenting. And I cannot understand the women that do. The women who paint this picture of the absolute perfection– I have to wonder if it is all a facade. Why is it no longer okay to complain about our children? Why is it no longer okay to be realistic about the fact that, sometimes, parenting sucks?

Despite my sentiments, I often struggle with my abilities as a parent. I stress endlessly about the steps I take and how those steps will affect my children in the long run. I went without sleep for days when I worried that homeschooling my son for a year prior to first grade had a negative effect on him. I worry that my preoccupation with my own schooling is hurting the fact that my five year old daughter is not already at the first grade level, because that is the expectation these days. I pay the extra money for the organic juices because kids shouldn’t have too much chemicals and sugar. I try to limit video games and tablet time because too much will ruin them. In all of this stressing, I forget that this all comes from the newest societal pressures to be the most outstanding and perfect parent.

I think that we forget that our parents weren’t perfect. That they only tried their best. My mom was far from it. She yelled when she had to, and sometimes when she didn’t have to. She spanked us when it was necessary. She worked too much, because that is exactly what had to be done. I watched too much TV as a kid. I spent a lot of time outside, unsupervised. I ate things that I shouldn’t, and my meals weren’t always perfectly balanced. But you know what? I am okay. I have turned out to be a semi-functioning adult with minimal issues.

And I am far from being the perfect parent. I cuss a lot. I let them watch entirely too much television. I do not try to be their best friend. I yell often. The phrase ‘in a minute’ can mean anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours for me. I don’t play with them as much as I probably should. I let life get in the way far too often.

But I know that I must be doing some things right. How do I know this? I watched this morning as my seven year old waited the few extra minutes so that he could open the door to the school building and hold it for the group of kids running to class to be on time. His kind gesture, that small gesture, told me absolutely everything that I needed to know.

And it was a glorious moment as a parent.

the burdens we carry

It isn’t often that I feel helpless or useless. It isn’t often that I feel like a burden, either.

(My post today is ironic when compared to the last, but I guess that just goes to show how the tides can change for someone who is bipolar.)

It is amazing how someone can seem so calm and unworried on the surface, but be a ball of stress within. It can be even more amazing when someone shows you that anxiety and cracks the facade that they keep at all other times.

My husband is a remarkably strong man. He works without complaint to be the sole provider of our family, but I never realized until yesterday how much that eats at him. He has an amazing amount of ambition, but that ambition may be more of a burden than a gift.

And this is where I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is so much that he wants for our lives, but there is nothing that I can really do to help at this point. Yesterday we talked about everything, and he said that he had a lot of goals to meet before we reach 30. The first and largest stressor right now is finding a new job closer to his parents. He misses his family, and if we move closer to the East Coast, we will be able to be a bigger help to his parents. There is so much more that he wants, too. He wants to buy a house, he wants to be at the top of his career, he wants to be settled and secure with everything we need and want. That leaves five years, and he is worried that he won’t meet his goals.

“How can I help?” I asked, “What can I do to take some of this from your shoulders?” I asked if I should find a way to go back to work, but he said that it was all on him.

I have to ask myself if I am part of the problem. Did I give the impression that I need all those things? Did I put those burdens on him? That makes me sick to my stomach with guilt. I never imagined myself as a materialistic person, but a materialistic person is the exact kind that would add those types of hardships on their loved one.

Maybe there is something to this. But who can blame us for wanting to own our home? Who can blame us for wanting to stop making someone else rich by paying their mortgage plus some? Who can blame us for wanting the same regular goals of most people?

I don’t know how I can help my husband. I am a student, I have a 4 year old still at home, and daycare just isn’t worth the cost. Working on an opposite schedule than him seems like it would only drive a wedge between us. Honestly, I won’t be worth a damn until I can finish with my business degree and start a lucrative business, and that is a big MAYBE. Even then, I will have a boatload of student debt to pay off.

I wish that I could skip 4 years in the future, when my debt is paid and my cafe is open. I want to take those burdens from him. I want to become successful so that he doesn’t feel like it all rides on him. Is this so wrong?

This is where the different sides of me collide in an all out war. Part of me is shallow and wants all of those nice things for us, and the other part of me is absolutely disgusted. I want to be that progressive person that wastes little, wants little, and finds happiness with what they have. I want my children to be appreciative of all they have and realize that they are richer than they know. So, where is the happy medium?

I know that accumulating things will not bring us happiness, but I do think that it might bring us comfort. Without the stress of daily life, without having to worry about bills getting paid and food bought, we may be able to enjoy the little things more.

I am still at a loss for how I can help now. Maybe the answer lies in budgeting like crazy or becoming a coupon fanatic. Maybe having a little more in savings will ease his troubles.

I have to do something, because I feel like I am the root of the problem. Though I rarely spend money on myself, there are always things that I want for the family. I have become materialistic, and it adds to the burdens he carries. I don’t want to be that person, I don’t want to be that wife.

(Luis Quiles)

Adulthood feels like an obsession with money. Need it for everything in American life. Don’t have enough of it. Need to get more of it.

How do I help carry his burdens without becoming a slave to money?

the struggle.

Sometimes, there are days when the universe tilts in your favor. Days when everything is affirmed for you. Days when it is proven that you are doing something right.

Today was one of those days.

Today came at a perfect time, too, considering an argument that arose earlier this week on Facebook.

A few days ago, my oldest sister wrote a post on her Facebook page asking how to handle someone who argued that White people should be stolen from and attacked because their ancestors enslaved Blacks.

After pounding my head a few times at the ignorance and audacity of some people, I felt the need to speak my mind. There was a lot that was said, but I basically maintained that a “thug” mentality would only perpetuate stereotypes, which would then make it worse for her children who are mixed. I also mentioned that every race has been enslaved at some point throughout history, that it is an evil and vile part of our history, but that using it as an excuse to justify criminal acts negates the work of civil rights leaders completely.

There was much more to the conversation, and eventually someone decided to personally attack my right to argue the point (multiple someones, actually).

One person in particular took a look at my profile picture and reviewed my comments before he decided that we were on different planets.

I was the person holding him back.

I was the person who watched while he and his people struggled.

I was the person to waste my money while people like him need help.

I was the one who only knew good things in life.

In this man’s mind, I was automatically the enemy.

That’s fine. Taking a look at my picture, I can see why he’d think that. I was smiling with curled and braided hair. My Facebook had some inspirational posts on it. My words were educated and proper. Who could blame him for believing a stereotype? But he was friends with my sister and didn’t realize that we are related.

He said that he would steal from any race and hated the world. My response was that his attitude wouldn’t get him anywhere. Apparently, this was secret code for “I hate Black men” (I do not, by the way). I argued that hard work brings you good things in life, and that a crappy attitude will only bring on bad karma.

This response did not appease him.

Now, there are a lot of things that I will just allow be said. There are a lot of things that I just brush away. However, I will not ever let someone give credit for everything I have in my life to anyone other than my husband and I. We have pulled ourselves up by our teeth from poverty. We have sacrificed time and again, made the hard choices, and went without. And this is something that we have both done our entire lives because our families were poor, too.

So when my sister responded to him and properly notified him of our hard upbringing and our incredibly strong single mother, he took back his words. He said that we were like him. He shared a picture of a forearm tattoo that read “struggle”. He even tried to ‘friend’ me on Facebook. I never answered it, but not because I begrudge him. I really just don’t like having strangers on my feed.

The entire situation really humbled me, though. It made me realize how far we have come.

We started out at 17 years old, with a baby on the way, living with family, and working minimum wage jobs. We lived on welfare. We sacrificed continuously. We were stolen from. We hit rock bottom. We climbed back up. Most importantly, we did not settle for ‘barely making it’.

Everything we have, really, is because of Will’s killer ambition. The man has a vision for how he wants his life to be, and he does not sway.

And today, well today we were pre-approved to get a new vehicle. We were offered a new credit card. We were given options.

Driving home, we discussed how much extra money we had to finish Christmas shopping. We were both a little giddy over the fact that there is extra money at all.

These things probably seem so simple. They are mundane and normal, which is something that I do not usually subscribe to.

They are also signs that we are doing something right. They are signs that working our asses off is paying off.

And that, well that is a beautiful thing.

the things that own us.

‘Tis the season for gluttony and overabundance.

I am as guilty as the next person during the holiday season for overspending and buying crap that we don’t need. Unfortunately, this tendency has passed onto my kids. Leading up to the holiday season, I have not once heard what presents they would like to get other people. Not once have I been asked for money to get something for a family member or friend. Not once, until I informed them that they would get into the giving season.

How did I manage to raise ungrateful children? I mean, they have their basic manners and everything, but when did I forget to instill a sense of thoughtfulness for other people?

I have never been anywhere near a perfect parent, but I feel really disappointed in myself for this.

I just found that there is a campaign to create Giving Tuesday, a day of charitable actions to follow Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Why has this not been advertised in a more aggressive manner?

I live in a country that is known for its gluttony. We buy new cell phones each year. Our inability to make do with the old is clear after one visit to a local thrift shop. The amount of waste that we produce is unreal. So, how do we find a sense of humbleness and modesty in a world of abundance? How do we live a full life while still embracing a little reserve?

More importantly, how do we correct a generation of children that are only concerned with what the world is giving to them?

While I want my children to have nice things, to not know the struggle of living poor, I refuse to raise kids that do not understand the concept behind the giving season. I will not contribute to a generation of selfish humans.

How do I find the balance?

I challenge anyone who reads this to nurture a giving spirit in someone of a younger generation. This world is cold enough without a new line that only thinks about what they want without considering others. We cannot fix the problems in this world without people who have an innate and natural sense of helping others. Whether you simply “RAK” it, or you donate to a reputable charity, do something.

Personally, I a going to make #GivingTuesday into a new family event. We will donate old clothes and toys, and maybe even get a few things for Toys For Tots. I will also consider minimizing the amount of toys that the kids get this year, and opt for them to earn money to buy/create gifts for others.