All Articles Tagged "motherhood"
Last night, I was conversing with a friend about the stressfully entertaining things that our children do. She jokingly mentioned how she still gets a case of “mom guilt” from time-to-time and I had to use Google to find out what that was. Apparently, mom guilt is very common; but it’s a paradigm that I can’t relate to at all. I did a little research and then asked a couple of my friends who are fathers if they share some of these sentiments.
Mom Guilt is the constant and crushing self-blame for not being perfect. Busy mothers think to themselves: “I should be home with my kid instead of working too much.” When having a well-deserved night out with friends or date night, the thought is: “I feel bad for leaving my child at home. I wonder how they’re doing? Maybe I should call and see how they’re doing?” If your child’s feelings are hurt from being reprimanded when they don’t listen, “Damn, I feel terrible for hurting their feelings.” I know I’m being a guy by oversimplifying a complex emotion…but with good reason.
No man wants a woman without any flaws because the quirks are some of the qualities that we as men find attractive. After dating for a while, those little imperfections begin to seep out–because people can only be a representative of themselves for so long–those are the moments when men think to themselves “she’s human.”
For every personality trait that we aren’t fond of, there is a positive aspect of it that makes for part of our charm. For as obnoxious as mom guilt can be, it’s the yang to the nurturing yin. Sometimes–ok, often– moms care too much. That’s part of what makes them who they are. For as much as it seems that fathers don’t care, that trait is part of the process that helps them screen out what really matters to protect and see the big picture.
Seven out of 10 things that cause the mom guilt aren’t that big of a deal, and now that I know what it’s called (moms know this too) that is what perpetuates the cycle of worry.
We knew and had a long-lasting love affair with ourselves decades before we had children. When we become parents, something changes in us and taking care of self becomes secondary. However, one can’t be the best parent they can be without some self-maintenance. I’m not trying to spend the rest of my life with my children. I want them to grow up, have their own lives, get married, have their own families, and let me be the obnoxious grandfather who says whatever he wants because I can. We still have our own lives to live. Being a parent shouldn’t be our identity, only a part of it. Don’t feel bad for indulging and putting yourself first every once in awhile … kids put themselves first all of the time without one ounce of guilt or shame.
Life is too serious to be so serious. Based on our experiences and ideals, we raise our children based on what we know. We are all going to fall short. Even if we are the most perfect parents of all time, we’re going to mess our kids up. Truth be told, it’s part of the fun. The best that we can do is raise them to make informed and smart decisions. When they screw up, we’ll be there for them. But eventually, the choices that they make are not reflections of us.
If anything, the mom guilt can be teachable moments. Sometimes we all have to indulge and come first. If you don’t want to join the PTA…so what? If your child doesn’t go to sleep while you’re out on a date and wants to stay up…oh well. They will still have to wake up early for school the next day and it’s their fault. Concerned whether or not your kid is getting on the babysitter’s nerves? You’re paying them for your child to temporarily be their headache while you enjoy yourself. Their feelings get hurt because you yelled at them? They should have listened.
Acknowledging and accepting being perfectly imperfect is one of the most valuable lessons they can acquire. And it’s one lesson we must constantly relearn because ultimately, it’s the key to happiness.
Like every parent I live under the guise of complete and total adoration for my daughter, which often veils my vision and judgment when it comes to some of her behaviors. With her second birthday just around the corner, many of the things she should probably be reprimanded for are often dismissed because she’s cute. Although I know better, there are times I just cannot bring myself to discipline her, and as much as I hate to admit it, she just might be the b word. No, not that one, but BAD.
My precious little toddler is really more like a 30-year-old midget. She has full command of sarcasm, and actively uses it. She has been rolling her eyes since she was about five months, and most recently has added huffing, puffing and sighing, and “reaaallyyyyy, mom” to her repertoire.
She is a handful.
Her feisty personality coupled with inherited mellow dramatics, makes for comical and frustrating days. As easy as it would be to attribute her behavior to terrible twos, I know better than that.
Lately, I have been working an inhuman number of hours, so our time together has been limited to car rides between pickups and drop offs, and the occasional bedtime story. It seems that rather than growing pains, my daughter’s most recent affinity for adverse behavior may be her desperate attempt at hailing my attention. She grows increasingly demanding by the day, and out of frustration and fatigue, I often take the easy way out and succumb to her will to skip temper tantrums, and her over the top crying.
As the fog of an overbooked schedule begins to clear as I close out the semester, I am beginning to see the monster I have created for who she is. I am fearful for what’s to come knowing I must be more strict, stern and consistent in order to correct the behaviors my recent lackadaisical parenting has reinforced, and wonder if the damage is irreversible. They always say you get back what you gave your mother, and the universe is cashing in on that for sure.
Here are a few things I plan to implement to give my daughter more quality time and consistency.
- Activities: plan together time, not necessarily an itinerary of “here and there” but rather intimate one on one time, reading together, unwinding together, cuddling in bed and just chatting before starting the day. Small things like this will make children feel like the center of your world in these moments.
- Put at home work on hold: waiting to the children are asleep to get at home work done will allow you the serenity you need to focus, as well as saving children from feeling overlooked and ignored. If for some reason work can’t wait, have your children sit down with their own “work,” so they feel included, and not bothersome.
- Stick to your guns: as hard as it may be, don’t give in! (Preaching to the choir, no?) No matter how intense, and how long a temper tantrum may be, whether at home or in public ride it out. Consistency is always key, children pay attention and following through on your word with punishments and rewards is more important than we often believe. I have learned in my short time of motherhood that children do what they see not what you say. As they absorb information from their surroundings they quickly master the art of manipulation, from fake crying to lip poking, don’t let your kids catch you slipping!
As you may remember, singer Melanie Fiona gave birth to a son, she named Cameron Lincoln, this past March. Throughout her pregnancy, she kept a vlog detailing her experiences. So naturally, after her son was born, people wanted her to share her birth story. And in the video below, she finally does just that. But it wasn’t without much thought and contemplation. Turns out, her actual birthing journey did not go according to plan. In fact, it was the complete opposite of everything she wanted for herself.
While she would have been happy to deliver at home, Melanie’s boyfriend, fellow singer Jared Cotter, insisted on a hospital. Still, she had no intention on using drugs or having surgery to deliver. But it took both of those things to deliver her child safely. And in her most recent vlog, “It’s Time To Tell The Truth,” Melanie talks about the feelings she experienced during her labor and once she brought her child home.
Check out a few excerpts from the video and then watch the whole thing below.
On her boyfriend convincing her that, against her wishes, she would have to have a c- section. He told her:
“‘I have to leave the hospital with both of you.’ Until that moment, I didn’t realize how severe my situation was.”
“In retrospect I realized that I was already a mother, that I would have risked my life for Cameron’s.”
Once she got home.
“Post baby that was a whole other set of emotions that I was not prepared for.”
Melanie realized that she was not going to be able to “jump back into the life that I thought that [she] was going to be able to jump back into.”
“Life just kind of said, hold on.”
Hormones and feelings
“I wouldn’t say that I was as far as depressed. But I was really trying to understand what happened.”
“There was almost a moment of numbness where I felt like someone gave him to me and was like, ‘Here’s this baby. Take care of it.’ I was disconnected from the whole process.”
“I had to deal with feelings of disappointment and feeling like a failure. That sounds so crazy because how could I even look at this beautiful child and feel like I failed. But I felt my body failed me.”
“It’s still taking me time to process who I am now and who I’m becoming. And I just think that’s something that we don’t talk about now.”
“I’m looking at myself now with completely new eyes, trying to understand who I am. What is this new body? Who is this new woman? who is this new mother?”
“Everyday I just try to be honest with myself and forgive myself and be patient. And I look at my beautiful son and I don’t regret any of it. I don’t regret a thing. I would do it all over again.”
“If it’s one thing that I can say that I learned clearly throughout my whole pregnancy is the feeling and the word, the true meaning of having to surrender.”
“Women need to know that you have to talk about it. You have to be willing to share.”
“I am thrilled about being a mother. Cameron is the most amazing, amazing child.”
Weight Loss and Comparison to other women
“I put on 74 pounds. That’s like carrying around another person. I didn’t know how small I was. I didn’t know what type of body I had before. I never put so much value on it until my body changed and then post baby body, I’m looking at myself like ‘I’ve never seen my body like this.’”
“I’ve learned that if I allow myself to compare my story, my journey, my child, my growth and evolution as a woman to any other woman out there, to compare it, I will be losing the joy that I should be feeling in my process.”
Preach the word Melanie!
You can watch her full vlog in the video below.
The dream of being married and having children is certainly not an uncommon one. And that was certainly the case for Alisha Sims. But she wanted it to be right. And in her mid-thirties, she felt that she had finally gotten her chance. A man, who we’ll call Peter, came back into her life. The two had been friends in the late 90’s and had lost touch. But when he came back around, they both realized that maybe they could be more than friends. And as their relationships blossomed, the two made plans to get married and raise a family together.
But the order got switched up a bit. Alisha learned that she was pregnant. Still, they had their plan. They were going to get married and raise their daughter together. But plans don’t often play out as we expect. Peter increasingly found himself more and more disconnected from both his girlfriend and his child and Alisha was suffering from post postpartum depression.
Alisha tried to talk to Peter about her feelings but he had already checked out.
“It was one of those things where it was in one ear and out the other. It’s one thing not to know but not trying to know is a whole lot different. I have no problem with a person not knowing but if you’re not trying to know or show interest, then what am I supposed to do?”
The relationship was crumbling. And it all came to a head when their daughter, Mia, an infant at the time, was suffering from one of her usual night terrors.
“This one particular night, she had a bad one. And instead of [Peter] trying to help me wake her up and console her, this—I’m finna get belligerent right now— this n*gga decides he wants to yell at my baby and tell her to shut up. No, no, no! You done f*cked up. You done f*cked up. We were living together at the time. I didn’t want to go back to my mom’s house. But I’d rather put up with my momma’s stuff than having him talking to my baby like he’s crazy.”
That was it. The end of the relationship and the end of Peter playing a role in his daughter’s life. Sadly his absence, didn’t do much to help Alisha in dealing with her depression. Things only got worse from there.
“I started having thoughts about harming her. And I was kind of like, ‘Ok, maybe I’m just tired.’ But I remember specifically, very vividly, she was like 3 or 4 months old. Me, my mom, my aunt, my cousin and her children were at the mall. We were on the second level and I had this vision of me just holding her over the edge and dropping her. I was like, ‘Oh, hell no. No, no, no.’ Even though I know deep down in my heart that I wasn’t going to do anything, I’m not going to do anything to harm her. But the fact that I thought about it, told me something was wrong.”
Before that incident, with all that she was going through with her relationship with Peter, Alisha wasn’t exactly ready to accept that she might also be dealing with postpartum depression. She was still in denial about being a single parent, at 35-years old. She told herself, “I’m not supposed to be a baby’s mama. That wasn’t the plan, that wasn’t the conversation. What was happening to me was not supposed to happen.”
But eventually she came to the conclusion that she’s not a baby momma, she’s a mother. And as a mother she needed help.
She told her own mother what she was experiencing.
“It took a while for me to tell her. Because at the time me and my mom weren’t vibing like we are now. But I told her and she said she went through it with me.”
But that was the end of the conversation.
“She didn’t tell me anything. My mother is a woman of few words.”
Around the same time Alisha’s daughter was born and around the same time, she was having these disturbing thoughts, there were stories in the news about other women harming their children. In Indiana, there was a woman who tried to stop her three-year-old from crying and throwing a tantrum. She gave her son olive oil and vinegar until he stopped breathing. And instead of calling the police, she put him in a tote bag and placed his body in her closet. She kept him there for an entire year. Another woman drove off a bridge with all three of her children in the car. Alisha heard both of those stories and they scared her.
“And what shocked me was that they were Black women. We don’t harm the babies. That’s something I know Black people don’t do. And I was like ‘Yeah, that further lets me know, let me get my ass to the doctor.’ QuickLY. Quick, fast and in a hurry. I’m not finna do that. I don’t care how bad things are or what’s going on, there’s nothing that could make me do any harm to my baby. But the fact that I thought about it, that was enough for me.”
She went to the doctor. Alisha was prescribed Lexapro which she took everyday for two years until she started weaning herself off of it.
“I felt like I couldn’t function without it. I didn’t want to become a zombie. I didn’t want to become dependent on it. And when I was taking the medicine and the thoughts were less but they would still be there. Now, I’m to the point that—she’ll be six now— and I’m not having those thoughts. Or it may cross my mind but as quick as it comes, it goes away.
The only side effect I would have was, I was a little irritable. Things I wouldn’t normally trip about, I would trip over. I started taking them everyday and it was like, ‘Ok, I’m feeling better but I didn’t want to use those as a crutch.’ I wanted to get past this without the medicine. So I slowly weaned myself off of it. Last time I took some, Mia was three.
So if I feel it coming on or she’s getting on my nerves or whatever the case may be, I just have to separate myself or turn some music on. Music is therapy anyway. Or she’ll do something, she knows she’s not supposed to do and I’m feeling myself getting more upset than I should be, then I have to just walk away.”
There were also times when Alisha isolated herself from others, as a means of coping.
“It may sound bad but when I started having those thoughts, I would have to shut down. I would have to close myself off. I didn’t answer my phone. I pretended I didn’t have a phone. I would give Mia something to occupy her time, give her a bottle and put her to sleep so I could have a moment to myself to regroup. A lot of prayer helped as well.”
But Alisha wasn’t just dealing with the adjustment of raising a child, on her own. She was dealing with the Peter’s broken promises, specifically his lack of involvement with Mia. Not only did he not see his daughter, he would take pictures Alisha posted of her on Facebook and upload them onto his own profile, to make it seem like he was actually present.
“I was dealing with an idiot that just punked out. So yeah, all of that played a part in it. I was angry. I borderline hated him. I couldn’t bring myself to it because that’s not in my character to hate anybody but it came pretty close. It almost got to the point where I talked bad about him in front of her. But I’m like ‘No, I cannot do that. I’m not going to taint her image of him with my own feelings.’”
Alisha realizes now that her disappointment and disgust for Peter and her postpartum depression were two separate issues. But at the time, the two seemed blended together. And just as she worked to treat her depression, she knew she had to do the same with Peter.
“It took me a long time to forgive him. But I know if I don’t forgive him. It’s not making my situation any better.”
And with her depression, part of the healing came once she fully grasped what she was experiencing.
“The fact that I understood what was happening to me, what I was going through [changed my mindset.] It’s something that can be controlled. It’s just something that I’m going through for a minute because I’m tired and I’m always sleepy and working and going to school at the same time. It was a lot on me.”
Now, things are better. The thoughts slowly went away. What were once vivid visions became fleeting thoughts she could acknowledge and dismiss as fast as they presented themselves. And Alisha employed the strategy of finding something to distract herself from those thoughts.
Before she gave birth, Alisha didn’t take postpartum depression seriously.
“I didn’t believe the stories people were telling me about postpartum. I thought they were exaggerating, like ‘That don’t happen. Whatever!”… Made a believer outta me.”
Now, she has this advice for women who think they may be dealing with a similar issue.
“Go to the doctor as soon as possible because it could be worse than what you think it is. It’s nothing to play with. If you’re having thoughts or not feeling right, get to the doctor quick. If you don’t, the situation may end up being worse.”
My family tends to get together for holidays and birthdays, and I’m always the odd one out with no children. So when everyone else is run down from the struggles of parenthood and just wants to relax (read: drink), I always find their children thrown into my company. I’m the one called upon to help keep them entertained, and therefore, quiet.
I’m 26. I’m not old, right? There’s no rush for me to go off and get married and start a family, right? I didn’t think so either. Now, can someone please pass the message on to my relatives? I mean, sure, when wedding season rolls around, I too wish that I were getting married. I want the big wedding with all its pomp and circumstance as well, but I’m just not there yet. But I will say, the starting a family part I do find myself thinking about more and more these days. On Mother’s Day, I found myself scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, ogling over all the mother-daughter, mother-son photos I could find. It caused a stirring in my ovaries that I’m just not ready to handle. Has anyone else been there?
It’s like you want kids, you’re curious to see what you’ll produce, but at the same time, you don’t want any parts of parental responsibility any time soon. You take joy in knowing that after a few minutes of holding a baby or playing with some of your relative’s kids, you can always give them back to their parents and go home stress-free. However, somewhere deep down inside there’s a longing. There’s a desire to have a daughter who looks like me or a son who looks like his father. If you’ve ever seen one of those memes where the baby has a poop explosion that goes beyond the diaper and basically gets everywhere and your first instinct is to burn the room because you can’t stomach that disaster, chances are, you aren’t ready for motherhood either. But still, the ticking clock is sometimes too loud to ignore. I want the child that comes home with a macaroni necklace for Mother’s Day. I want the child I can style and profile with in our matching outfits. I want to do fun things and take day trips with a child. Or, at least, I think I do. But when I also think about the maintenance, the dependency, and around-the-clock care and attention needed, I just get so overwhelmed and feel like I’m in need of a power nap.
With that being said, there are plenty of things to consider before deciding on children, no matter how many flips your uterus does at the sight of a cute, chocolate, chunky baby. I think about all the plants I have killed in an attempt to develop a green thumb. I think about how much I like to sleep in on a Sunday morning or stay out late on a Friday or Saturday night. And I think about what I would do if the kids thrown into my care during family gathering were my own and I wasn’t able to give them back. I think about all sorts of things and realize that I need to go sit down somewhere because those warm and fuzzy feelings are often fleeting. But still, you can’t ignore the delight little ones bring–when they’re on their best behavior, of course.
Does anyone else hear their biological clock ticking louder and louder? Does it leave you wondering whether or not you’re really ready to be a parent? Does it set your womb on fire?
By Neffi Walker
There is no visual more horrifying for me than catching my child in the middle of a sexual act in our home.
Let me explain:
My son has a beautiful girlfriend who I adore. They have been dating for a while, and I understand how it is to be a 21-year-old with raging hormones. But the rule in this house is NO SEX AT ALL…and that includes me (unless I’m married). There is another rule: no drugs under this roof. This is the second time I caught my son and his girlfriend in the act. I lost my mind and threatened to throw everyone out for not obeying the rules. I was so upset at the blatant disrespect of his actions that I needed to leave my house and cool off, so I wouldn’t end up doing bodily harm to someone!
Sexual behavior can be animalistic and reckless or done with feelings of love, longevity and respect. I realized that I didn’t have a conversation with my son about which way he views sex and felt a conversation was in order. I am not the “cool mom.” I am not going to put condoms in a jar and allow girls to come “hang out” with him in his room. I am more of the if-you-have-time-to-hang-out-then-you-have-time-for-work-and-school mom. I am not comfortable knowing that my son is having sex in his room. Nope…can’t do it.
I called him into my room the next day to find out why he made this poor decision once again. This is how the conversation went:
“First off, I wanted to apologize for the way I behaved yesterday towards you and your girlfriend. I said many things I meant, but I shouldn’t have said them out loud. As a parent I have to show restraint even in difficult times, because I would want you to think before you speak. Ok?” I said. He looked shocked and slowly shook his head
“Is this a joke? You are apologizing to me because I broke the rules?” he said.
“No I am apologizing for the way I behaved regardless of the situation. I can’t allow you to take me to a place where I am out of control. Speaking of control, are you in love with your girlfriend?”
“I don’t know, I guess so, maybe,” he responded.
“Let me explain something to you about the responsibility of having sex. I understand that you want to get it on and be very physical due to your hormones raging out of control. But most women see sex differently than men. Your girlfriend loves you; she was still googly-eyed yesterday while I was cussing you both out. She traveled over here to see you and displayed every action indicating she is very interested in you. If you are having sex with her without your heart in it, then do her a favor and stop immediately.”
“What do you mean my heart, Mom? What are you talking about?” he said.
“Women take men “IN” we hold you FIRM and try not to let you go. Do you understand that statement? Women are sensitive creatures who, for the most part, have a direct connection between the vagina and their heart. It is your responsibility as a man to spend your time with those you want to really spend your time with. I don’t want you being a man just slinging your thing at every hole that comes your way. It is irresponsible and it hurts women. It hurts us to know that we have let you “IN” yet, you never wanted to be there for more than that moment. Sex should couple emotion and love; it should be done with thought. I hope you are thinking about her heart, or anyone else’s for that matter, before you give them your penis.”
His attitude during the conversation went from laughing nervously to being pensive. Then he said, “I love her, but I didn’t tell her yet.”
“Ok, well, if you love her, treat her with kindness and use thought. Please don’t be a man whore. I will be disappointed if I spent all this time acting like Mother Teresa around you to find out you are an ultimate whore.”
“Mom, OKAY. I understand; I got you. I am not all over the place; it’s not my way, Not everyone can get this.” He said as he walked away
It was the first conversation I had with him about feelings and what to do with them and how to manage them with sex. He is 21. After I spoke to him, I felt like this should have been something I spoke about all along as I do with my daughter. Raising thoughtful young men who are sexually responsible creates men who have a slimmer chance of treating women like a pieces of meat. In a perfect world, he would take that information and be the best boyfriend/husband the world has ever seen, full of compassion and romantic gestures, sweetly in love with his partner. That is what I wish for him.
What do you think about your children having sex in your house? What message are you sending to them while allowing them freedom to express and grow? I would love to know!
By Bless Roxwell
I used to be a rock star.
Just kidding..sort of. But the better part of my life has been spent doing music. When I say “doing music”, I mean writing, recording and performing original compositions. Running a website dedicated to supporting urban arts, from events to fashion. Founding and expanding a brand with the sole purpose of supporting women in Hip Hop. Music, and all that accompanies it, was my life, from the art to the business.
Life is different now.
And this piece isn’t about the loss of that life because I’m still involved with music, less as an artist, more behind the scenes and the business. This piece is about life changes and just how quickly those changes manifest, in a blink. That’s how change usually happens, just that fast. One day I wasn’t pregnant, the next day I was. Things happen in our lives that alter them forever, whether it’s a new baby or the loss of someone dearly loved or a new job or a marriage..life, changes.
I felt prompted to write this because I’m always surprised at how much we resist these life changes. We will fight, internally with ourselves or externally with others, tooth and nail, to stay where we are in our lives, to keep everything exactly as it is, all the while knowing on an intuitive level how impossible that is.
A boatload of cliches come into my head: “roll with the punches”, “make lemonade out of lemons”, and so on. But none of those take into account one very important thing about life changes, the human factor. Humans just don’t work that way.
In spite of being dynamic creatures by nature in this physical world, constantly in flux from cell division to changing our physical location when we move around, we don’t like change. We don’t like loss or not knowing what will happen next. We embrace change when we believe we are in control of it such as a new job or choosing a life partner. But even that kind of change brings us apprehension or “cold feet”. We, as humans, don’t like things to change.
Yet, in the greatest of ironies, change is one of the few things in life we can depend on to happen to us. Things WILL change, life WILL change and there is nothing, absolutely nothing we can do about it. Which leads us to the inevitable answer when asked how we can deal with life changes. And the answer is..(drum roll)….acceptance.
Learning to accept change in our lives immediately makes everything exponentially better. When we accept we are allowing ourselves to grow from the change experience, we begin to flourish and flow with the changes in our lives.
In so doing we open ourselves to gratitude, by accepting each moment of joy as fleeting. We also open ourselves to healing through the understanding that each moment of pain is also fleeting. Being open then leads to new perspectives on a given situation, reframing the fear of the change so we can see it for what it is, the next step on our individual growth journeys.
Finding out I was pregnant could have filled me with fear, fear of the future and my own perceived shortcomings, creating a stress environment both inside and out, neither of which would have been good for my daughter. Instead, I chose to accept that it was my time, her time, Divine time, and with that I was able to better see our future mentally, emotionally, financially.
Acceptance allows us to see old problems with the new eyes necessary to enact new solutions, which leads to more change.
All of this is much more easier said than done, of course. And please know that I’m not speaking about tolerance, we should never tolerate circumstances that are unjust, dangerous or hurtful. But to be proactive in initiating change, to create changes we want to see in our lives, we must first see things for how they are. We must ACCEPT life as it is at the moment, in the present, to create changes we want in the future.
I still have my moments but then I stop, take three deep breaths to bring me back to the moment, and to a peaceful state of acceptance. Breathing in acceptance has been invaluable to me in this new phase of my life.
I accept and relish these new life changes with love…being a mommy has changed everything for me, and change is good.
Bless Roxwell is the founder of J.A.G. Music and Media and “She’s So Fresh”, a media platform dedicated to supporting women in media and urban arts. She is the owner and founder of TheRevolutionofFresh.com, a website with a focus on supporting all things fresh from music and events to healthy living. She is also a Certified Reiki practitioner, healer and owner of LifeBEam Reiki and LifeBEam Energy Infused Products. Based in BedStuy, Brooklyn, she is also the proud soon to be mommy of a baby girl, Imani Grace.
Most of the images and discussions surrounding mothers and motherhood are positive ones. We talk about the sacrifices mothers make, the love they give to their children and the bond mothers and daughters share with one another. But in many relationships, that is not the full story. Some relationships are tinged with strife or have been completely destroyed by dysfunction.
In order to tell these very real stories, MadameNoire, is launching a new month-long series called Mommy Issues. These stories are from real Black women, sharing their real experiences.
This second installment in the series comes from Shonda*, a 30-year-old budding entrepreneur and wife. Raised mostly by a single mother (with the help of her parents), Shonda stays with more than one job– a reality likely born less out of necessity and more out of fear one day she’ll have to rely on someone else the way her mother has relied on her.
Shonda was just a teenager with no idea what a credit score was when her mom began putting things in her name: utility bills, phone bills, credit cards, you name it. In college, it was calls from creditors about accounts she had no knowledge of that tipped her off to what her mom had been doing for years, forcing her to borrow money from friends and use what little income she had from a campus job to pay off debts she didn’t truly owe.
Now, as a financially stable adult, Shonda still struggles with telling her mom no, wrestling between being angry at the predicaments she’s been put in and ignoring the lack of financial responsibility her mother’s exhibited at her expense for the sake of having a good mother-daughter relationship. Even our interview was cut short as the memory of the past took Shonda to an uncomfortable, angry place she didn’t fully want to revisit, remarking “today is another day, a better day.”
Here is her somewhat abbreviated story.
What would you say is you and your mother’s biggest issue?
My biggest issue would be — hmm it’s not necessarily an “us” issue but more so her taking responsibility for her actions, being accountable, knowing how to apologize when she’s wrong. I guess that is an “us” issue.
When did your mom start relying on you financially?
The first time she put a utility bill in my name. I found out when I was about 20, but I think the actual bill was from when I was about 15. Eighth grade year she “borrowed” the money my grandad had been saving for my first graduation. It was about $800 in coins — I never saw it.
Did you say anything at the time?
I was, what, 13 at that time so what was I going to say? When I turned about 21-ish I had to learn to say no. Sh-t was hard as hell. I feel like some parents put their children in this “I took care of you, now you take care of me” bubble and that’s not fair. Now we’re at the point where if I have extra I’ll give it [to her] but she better not ask. Money was always the biggest issue [with us] and it still is, and then she finds a way to make you feel like you don’t do sh-t once you start saying “no, I don’t have it.”
Would you agree that you’ve cleaned up a lot of your mom’s financial messes?
I totally agree. Then I get put in this position where I’m like, “this is my mom I should help her,” but now that I’m older I’, like f-ck that. When are you going to help yourself?
Did you always feel something wasn’t right about your mom taking and borrowing money from you?
No, I saw it as “helping my mom.” But then it left me in the position to borrow from others — robbing Peter to pay Paul type of stuff.
I never got an apology for my credit score [which was ruined] before I stepped foot on a college campus. It’s just one of those things you kind of brush under the rug.
What happens when you bring this issue up with her?
I haven’t… It’s weird, we’ve definitely argued, but it was never about what happened in the past; it was about what the f-ck are you going to do to change it? I told you that past was always brushed under the rug so I took full responsibility for being an enabler because I felt like that’s what I was suppose to do. But when you owe me lump sums of money and you’re out here traveling and sh-t there’s a problem. My grandparents are still enablers and it pisses me off. Like when are you going to grow up? Be accountable for the sh-t that you do.
How much money would you estimate you’ve given your mom or paid toward these bills?
I have no clue, I’ve never paid on the (credit card) bills that were over the limit; she eventually did or my grandma.
How would you describe your relationship with your mom overall?
I think now we’re in a much better place but there’s always room for improvement. She’s more open about stuff going on in her life that has absolutely nothing to do with me and I appreciate that. She was always so secretive. I have to learn how not to let her relationship with my grandparents interfere with ours. That’s their baby and they’re always going to look out for her. I have my opinion on it, but it’s really none of my business.
By Michelle Matthews-Alexander
So I admit it, I have working mom issues. On the one hand, I am fortunate enough to have an amazing career that has allowed me to not only develop professionally, but also personally. However, I still have issues! I’m not talking about the kind of issues that could potentially land me on the comfy couch of a therapist; I’m talking about those annoying working mom issues. You know, the issues that have you questioning whether your decision to leave your child at home to work nine to ten hours out of the day is the right thing to do. The issues that have you constantly checking in with your child’s sitter to make sure that things are running smoothly, while simultaneously slipping into yet another Monday morning client meeting.
You see my issues started way before I even birthed my son. Before he was even here I was struggling internally trying to figure out how was I going to remain dedicated to my career while trying to navigate this new world which would soon consist of actually being someone’s mother. Did I even still want a career? Did having a child now mean that I could forget about career progression? How would I figure out my travel schedule with a little one at home? After grappling with this issue for more than 14 months, that’s 14 months after giving birth (my son is now 19 months), I have finally come to the point in my life’s journey as a mother where I realize that I can in fact be a “Career-Loving Mother.”
What is a career-loving mother you might ask? Let me explain.
I’ve come to realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with still wanting to have a successful career after having a child and that you can even continue to love your career. It really is all about the balance. It’s about balancing family time with career time and knowing when to drive, slow down and stop.
There is no denying that I am in love with my son. I literally look forward to coming home to his smiling face after a long day at the office and simply melt on the inside after getting off of a long flight and seeing him and my husband after being away for a couple of days. Is it difficult? Absolutely. But, what I’ve learned is that it is possible to love your career and still adore and embrace your role as a mother. It simply does not have to be one or the other; hate one aspect of your life, love the other.
In fact, it’s my personal belief that we owe it to ourselves and to our little ones to have a passion outside of our roles as mothers. Although I spend countless hours checking in on him, Face Timing him and calling him at our scheduled 12:00 talk time, I still wouldn’t trade the experience that I have being able to have the best of both worlds for anything. We have such a bond with each other that I think has only strengthened with the time that we do spend apart.
Like I said earlier, it’s not easy. Trust me, I have days where I am feeling completely exhausted and wonder if my decisions are really the rights ones. I can admit that I even sometimes get a little envious of those moms that can spend every day with their children, if they so choose to. But, what I’ve learned is that this is my journey, and quite frankly, it’s one that millions of women, no matter the socioeconomic status, must grapple with. So, I do what I only know how to do best, and that’s embrace it and cherish it as just one special part of my life’s journey.
How do you define what it means to be a career-loving mother?
Michelle Matthews-Alexander is the founder and publisher of blackglamourmom.com a mommy and lifestyle destination for young, fashionably chic, career and entrepreneurial-minded moms who refuse to trade their luxury crossovers for minivans and their Christian Louboutin heels for Crocs, just because they’ve entered the wonderful world of mommy-hood.
What do you do when your mom is criticizing your choices? Or when she is judging you? Or telling you how to live your life? You dig into the past. You have a few facts about HER hidden up your sleeve that she didn’t know you knew! Yeah. You know about that time she dated her boss after college. Good old grandma tipped you off on that one. And what happens when you bring these things up? Your mom gives you that, “Oh s*%t” look. She showed her hand. The tables have turned. Do you want to be in that position when you’re a mom? Nuh-uh. So just keep in mind some things you’re tempted to do today, that you’ll regret when you have a daughter.