All Articles Tagged "Parenting"
Before motherhood, the latest rap song would play repeatedly in my head and I jumped at the chance to try out the newest fashion trends. But as of late, an upbeat tempo with lyrics that explain primary colors is seared into my brain, and I’m just happy to have clean, ironed clothes to wear at a moment’s notice. To say that my responsibilities as a parent have left me pretty busy would be an understatement. Consequently, taking care of myself can sometimes feel like the least of my priorities.
A British survey reported that it takes about 18 months after birth for a new mother to “feel like a woman again.” The 3,000 female participants mentioned in the survey said that they struggled with a loss of independence, body issues after having a hard time with weight loss, and overall, just letting themselves go.
This may be true for many mothers. However, with a little effort, it’s easier than you think to feel like yourself again — and in a much shorter time frame than 18 months.
Write Down Your Goals
Just because you have a little one at home doesn’t mean that your lofty career aspirations have to disappear.
I get it. If you’re like me, you created a vision board two years ago, hung it up on your wall and never updated it. Well, it’s never too late to finally do so. You might have the best intentions of getting back into the groove and chasing your dreams, but actually seeing the words will help you implement the changes needed to make it happen.
According to a study done by Dominican University of California psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, people who wrote down their goals accomplished more than those who did not.
Go a step further and actually make a to-do list each day. In order to not feel overwhelmed, I write down my list nightly so that I have it ready for the morning to encourage me. The key is to make your list realistic and only add items, maybe three to four, of which you know you can and will get done.
Make Time for Yourself
Dr. Christina Hibbert said that alone time is essential for emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health. “By ‘alone time’ what I really mean is time away from your role as a mother—Time to be you, to unwind, relax, rest, revive,” she said.
Although some of her alone time suggestions include taking a nap, reading, hiking or doing a project, I believe that even simply going into the bathroom and locking the door to have a moment to yourself can go a long way. Of course, based on a conversation that I recently had with a few friends who have children at the toddler stage and older, this still might be impossible due to so many distractions.
To obtain my daily dose of alone time, I try to get it in where I can fit it in. I often stay up an extra 20 to 30 minutes, after everyone is asleep, and watch Netflix. Yes, I’m tired, but it’s totally worth it. I even volunteer to run to the store for a small item while blasting non-kid-friendly music loudly in the car on the way.
Make Appearance a Priority
Author and speaker Sheila Wray Gregoire said that it’s important to fight the frump and make the effort necessary to keep yourself up. You shouldn’t feel the need to go all out for your husband, but rather, do it for yourself. “Deciding to look put together is also saying, ‘I take myself seriously. I respect myself,'” she said.
It took seven months for me to get back to my beauty routine after giving birth. It wasn’t a complex regimen, but I was struggling with things as simple as washing my face daily, with a scrub and moisturizer, and taking showers regularly.
Instead of settling with the excuse of “I have no time,” take the time to ensure that you look your best. Go back to the days when you wore your favorite pair of heels, black dress, and adorned yourself in vintage jewelry that complemented your chicest outfit. Do what it takes to feel like yourself again.
There’s no doubt that your child is your highest priority, but in order to take care of your most precious gem, you have to take care of yourself first.
After settling into motherhood, what routines and priorities fell by the wayside? What effort did you make to regain some semblance of self again?
It was a regular Sunday afternoon and after a long week and weekend filled with football practices and scrimmages topped with long nights of homework and late dinners, it felt nice to chill out on the couch and just be. As the mid-afternoon rolled around, I launched a random search through the fridge and pantry to find something to cook for the night and, of course, it would be way too close to a miracle to have everything I need, right? No problem. I decided to make a quick trip to Publix and was sure that I could be in and out the store and back home in 20 minutes, 30 tops.
I called for my son to put some shoes on to make this run to the grocer with me and if looks could kill, I surely would’ve died a thousand deaths–right there on the floor in the middle of an NBA 2K13 replay.
“Ma, seriously? For what, Sunday dinner stuff? I really don’t feel like going anywhere today. Do we have cereal? Peanut butter and jelly? Can’t I just stay here?” I could hear the thought radiating in his head space: “how dare she interrupt my Sunday video game veg session?”
Slightly put-off by his emphatic display of resistance, I took pause and considered leaving his lil’ attitudinal behind at the house just so I wouldn’t have to deal but was quickly overcome by the slightest possibility of some God awful occurrence taking place that I could never forgive myself for.
“Nope. So sorry, kiddo. We won’t be gone long and you can get back to your game just as quickly as you press that little pause button.” I watched him muster his little patience while trying to oblige my not-so-optional request with decency.
The car ride was silent and I could tell that he was even more perplexed by the fact the he would likely wait in the car while I made my quick isle adventure. What’s the real difference here? He’s going to sit alone in a running car just so I can have some peace of mind. How is that for contradiction? Is my 10-year-old any safer sitting alone behind the dash of a car with the key in the ignition in a traffic heavy parking lot than he is within the confines of his own home? Whoa! My kid delivered to me a “wow” moment that deserved some consideration. He’s a mature, responsible young man and I do trust that he will behave responsibly in my absence, so what’s the real problem?
Then I thought…why not leave your child home alone?
I reflected on my own childhood and was overwhelmed with distinct recollections of walking home from my bus stop at the age of eight or nine, having my own key to let myself into the front door and I was home alone for the greater part of the afternoon until my parents got home from work. The same routine took place a few afternoons out of the week for years! And, more often than not, I would use the toaster oven or stove to prepare some of my favorite after school snacks! I was reminded of the fear factor of my mother or father’s wrath that kept me from burning the house down or disobeying a set of rules that were never concretely communicated to me. So I used this time to have the conversation.
“My love, I am willing to consider allowing you to stay home alone the next time I need to run a quick errand but there are rules to this. You know that in case of emergency you are to call 911 but there should be no need to do so if you uphold your end of the bargain. You do not answer that door should someone ring the doorbell–don’t even approach the threshold or give the illusion that you’re there by yourself. If I call, you answer. You are not to use the oven or stove. You will not invite any of friends over while I’m gone and the slightest violation of any of these rules will result in the stiff punishment. Your video games, electronics and gadgets will be confiscated until further notice and you will not be left home alone again until you get your own place. This is a huge responsibility and I trust that you will not take it lightly when you’re left home alone from the first time and forward. Do you understand me?”
“Yes ma’am, I do. I appreciate your trust in me, Ma. I promise I won’t let you down.”
A couple days later, here I am again having to make an impromptu trip to the drugstore and figured it a perfect day to give this whole “home alone” stuff a dry run. I was eager to see how he would fare in this milestone moment.
“Hey hon, I’ve gotta go to CVS real quick, you wanna stay here for about 30 minutes?” I was 100 percent confident he would be thrilled to test the waters and I was blindsided.
“Nah, I’ll come with,” he tells me.
What? Really? Okay. So, the long and short of it is this, there is no guidebook to this parenting business and just as soon as you think you’ve found your groove and you’re smooth sailing, you’re in the throes of a high tide. One thing about being a parent is, you’re always letting go but you have to trust that the sprouting being gripping your hand will always let you know when it’s time.
As the saying goes, “You only get one mother.” But when you fall in love with a man with children, you fall in love with his children, too. And at some point, when things get serious, there has to be room to evolve from being more than just dad’s “friend.”
Every woman who has ever shared her time and love with kids who aren’t her own has had to play substitute mom at one time or another. And while there’s no joy like the kind children bring, sometimes stepping in as a stepparent, when you haven’t officially been made one (by marriage) can be a struggle.
When you encounter these tough situations, how do you navigate your way through? Have you ever dated a guy whose children weren’t so fond of you?
As a writer, I work from home. Between September and June, my days consist of getting a head start on the day before waking up the children, dropping my nephew and daughter off to their respective schools, getting back home, and banging out post after post between 9:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. when it is time to relieve Courtney and Cydney’s teachers. But come summertime, this regimen of productivity comes to a screeching halt.
When school is out, everyone in my household is on vacation until after Labor Day (My mother just retired from teaching, so summers off is the norm for her, as well). Everyone is except me.
I’m still waking up after disrespecting several alarms between 4:45 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., and I begin my days with my regular routine. By 9:30 a.m.–when my work day typically starts–there are two children looking at me to be entertained. I know they’re on vacation, but I still have work to do. They tell me they understand and go back to playing. Meanwhile, I’m continually distracted because I’m listening for silence, which is when I know they are doing something they probably shouldn’t.
About 30 minutes later, my nephew comes back to backyard deck–also known as my spring and summer office–asking me if I want to look at his baseball card collection. He has already asked me thrice, so I oblige. He just got a new pack of cards, but he must start at the very beginning of this thick book and recite each and every name. Shortly after, my daughter looks at me and wants to use my phone to play games on it. I say to her, “Daddy needs his phone for work.” She doesn’t care and asks again. For 15 minutes, she sits in the patio chair next to me and plays. Every 30 seconds, she is asking me to look at or buy something on my phone. This is every day.
It’s hard to explain the concept of “I’m not a student or teacher, so I work all summer” and “Even though I’m home, I’m not really home.” Kids don’t care. They want to play and treat my work hours as if they are those magical ours between 5:30 p.m. until it’s time to go to bed, because that’s when they are used to having a substantial amount of my attention.
One could ask: “Why are they not in camp?” Because camp costs money. Well, that’s the easy answer to a silly question. The truth is that I am a firm believer in that the kids should enjoy a portion of their summer uninhibited. They have the rest of their lives to only have two weeks a year off. They have worked hard all year and deserve at least a month of going to bed and waking up late—they’ve earned that. I remember being a kid and finding school to be oppressive. It is a short-term sacrifice for me that will be a long-term investment on them.
Plus, they will be starting camp at the beginning of August.
Russell and Ciara are what I like to call a small doses couple. I am extremely happy that they found each other. They seem to love each other and I think Russell will finally be something like the man Ciara has deserved for a long time now. And while I have enjoyed watching them dance and sing together, was totally here for their post-proposal video, and waited with baited breath for images from their wedding, I realized I’d had enough when the two took to SnapChat to talk about their honeymoon night, specifically the ending their very publicized vow of abstinence.
In case you missed it, the two sat at dinner and walked down the street talking about their recent sexcapades.
Russell: About last night… wink.
Ciara: So, baby you know what we’re doing tonight.
Russell: From what we did last night, I’m going to do it multiple times.
Then Ciara looks at him and then back at the camera knowingly and says, “Shole wasn’t lying.”
You can watch the whole Snap story below.
It’s a bit much. So while I understand Lala defending her girl on national television, we all know that Russell and Ciara put a whole lot of their relationship out into the world for public consumption. And that’s cool. No judgment. I’ve just decided that I’m going to step away from the table.
That’s what I told myself.
But last night, a video of Russell, Ciara and her son Baby Future hit the internet. And I found myself sucked back into the vortex. It was a video of Russell getting his hair cut. In the midst of all this, Baby Future asks his mother for a kiss and then asked for one from “Papa Russ.” I’m not gon’ lie, I thought I was taking a break, but that video melted my heart. I watched it at least three times on my own before sharing it with my sister, my eyes growing wider and more doe-like with each view.
A video posted by RussellandCiaraWilson (@thewilsonsfanpage) on
And while I thought the moment was too precious, there were several folks who had a problem with it. People argued that it was inappropriate for the baby to be called Russell “papa” when he has a father of his own. Charlemagne asked his male Twitter followers whether they kissed their fathers in the mouth. As you might imagine there were tons of comments about the interaction of a man and his son kissing in the mouth as being “gay.” The internets had a lot to say about this.
I’ve shared my thoughts before about folk questioning Ciara’s parenting decisions before. So, as you might imagine I’m not here for this same discussion, almost a year later. And what I notice is it’s the men who have their panties in a twist about the relationship between Russell and Baby Future. No, Russell is not his father. But now, he is his stepfather. And from what we’ve seen, he’s played an active role in Baby Future’s life for a while now. And I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that Russell sees Ciara’s son more than his real father does. And we all know and understand that relationship building takes time. And for a child who’s two years old, Russell being around for a year is almost a lifetime. Is it really so absurd to think that the two would have built a bond in that time?
And to the point about him kissing him in the mouth, everyone has their own way of showing affection, but I for one was saddened by the Black men who said they could only offer their father a handshake as a sign of love. I want to believe that some of these men just don’t remember how they interacted with their father as babies and toddlers but I also can’t wait for the day when men, particularly Black men, stop trying to appear so “hard” all the time. Maybe I’ll regret typing this later; but perhaps if Future placed less of a priority on projecting such a hardened image, his child wouldn’t be calling another man Papa.
While people may have had a problem with it, that video was very telling. Unlike Russell and Ciara’s post-consummation Snap, Baby Future is not concerned about the cameras. He doesn’t yet understand that his image will be shared all over the world. He’s not here to promote his relationship with his new stepfather or piss on his biological one. He’s just a baby asking, like so many babies we know, for a kiss from the people he loves, his mother and Papa Russ.
My three-year-old twins are not potty-trained. I’m not proud of it but to be honest potty-training twin boys is hard and the truth is I try and then give up and don’t follow through and then I repeat that cycle. And yes, I feel judged a little by other mothers facial expressions when they find out they aren’t potty-trained.
Most moms are probably trying to do the best they can to raise their kids given their circumstances. Motherhood is not easy and the last thing any mom needs (but usually experiences often) is to feel judged by others.
Feeling judged by others or mom shaming won’t affect you as much if you try some mom confidence boosters.
Take Care Of You
The best way to feel less judged is to boost your confidence with some self-care and self-love. Have a date night with yourself or a long bath with a sugar scrub and a candle lit and your favorite music. It’s a great way to relax and remind yourself that you are awesome and doing the best you can and that’s ok. Getting more rest (take a nap when they nap or a mommy nap on the weekend) and being more conscious of what’s going in and on your body helps you feel better too.
Remember Perfection Is Not Attainable
One definition for perfection is described as “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to human beings. The word should really never be used when describing people. We all have experiences that help shape us into who we are trying to be. We need the bad ones and we need the good ones and they are all relevant. So when you feel like you’ve messed up as a mommy in a situation or you have some mommy guilt about something remind yourself of this. Cut yourself some slack and start being more gentle and loving with yourself.
Have Fun With Your Kids
Whenever parenting is starting to feel more like a chore, it means you need to have more fun and enjoy your kids and family more. Having fun and doing things that you and the kids enjoy takes your mind off worrying about what others think of you. It’s a great way to get in the habit of being more present. For example if you love being adventurous but never get the opportunity then take your kids to a kid and parent rock climbing place.
A recent national parent survey by ZERO TO THREE and the Bezos Family Foundation sampled information from 2200 parents of children from birth to five-years-old. They wanted to gain a clear and in-depth understanding about the challenges they face, the help they seek and how satisfied they are with the support and information they receive.
Here’s some of what they found:
-Moms are more likely to feel judged than dads are, with one important exception: Dads feel more judged by their co-parents than moms do.
-Ninety percent of moms and 85 percent of dads feel judged. Forty six percent of moms and 45 percent of dads say they feel judged all the time or nearly all the time.
-Parents report that they feel most judged by strangers in the community, with 48 percent of moms and 24 percent of dads feeling this way. Thirty-three percent of moms, versus 19 percent of dads, feel judged by other parents.
-The only time dads say they feel more judged for their parenting than moms do is when judgment comes from their child’s other parent (22 percent of dads versus 17 percent of moms).
Do you feel judged for how you parent your children or do the opinions of others not matter one bit?
Not too long ago, the wisdom was that it was better for a mother to listen to her biological clock sooner rather than later. But times have changed. With different advancements happening and many women having healthy children as they get older, shutting those beliefs down, the number of women having children in their late 30s and 40s is higher than ever. More and more women are taking advantage of having more time.
As things change, we’re all finding out more about motherhood than we knew before. And we’ve discovered that there are actually many benefits to being an older mother. From health benefits for mom, to an education jump-start for the kids, here are a few reasons why putting motherhood off until a little later is becoming more of an attractive option for women.
The love I have for my husband is deeper and more exciting than the love I have for my kids. He is my lover, my confidant, and my biggest fan. I am the same for him. It is so clear to me as a wife, mother, and psychologist that if I do not have a strong, healthy, and connected marriage, my mothering abilities are not on track.
Many of the couples with younger children that I see in my private practice find themselves exhausted, angry, and disconnected in their marriage. This is often because the woman focuses on the kids while the husband throws himself into his work.
This may seem like a good idea for a time, but as this goes on, the relationship will begin to suffer greatly. When we get married and before we have kids, as couples, we have the time, energy, and money to devote to our relationship.
We go out to dinner and a movie without a second thought. We can have sex any time without worrying if a baby will wake up or a toddler will come crashing through the door. Once kids enter the picture, we forget what being loved and honored by our partner (without spit up on us) feels like.
The mistake many moms make is they believe that if they are a good mother, their husband will be fine and he will understand.
In reality, the husband may feel pushed out of the parenting role and begrudgingly give up trying to have a relationship with his wife. As a result, they each become resentful of what the other “isn’t” doing in regards to both the kids and the marriage.
In this scenario, the man will continue to retreat and do less and less for the kids, while the woman becomes angrier at this turn of events. She then gives less and less energy to her spouse, which makes him disconnect further and further.
The descent into divorce has begun.
One of the mistakes reality parents Jon and Kate Gosselin made was putting their kids first. Every time I heard them say that phrase, it was like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. If they had just devoted some time to their relationship, I believe they wouldn’t have found themselves divorcing and creating such trauma and drama for the entire family.
Good mothers and fathers must start by being a good wives and husbands.
If your emotional needs are not being met by your husband, you will try to fulfill these needs through your kids or elsewhere, which isn’t healthy or positive for the marriage or for your kids. Your husband will also reach outside the marriage to get his emotional and physical needs met. Remember, your esteem as a partner is not the same as your esteem as a parent, but they do directly impact each other.
Do not think your marriage can survive until the children are 18 and off to college unless you start dedicating real time and real energy to your relationship.
I always tell my couples that you are not just setting an example as a mother and father, but even more importantly, your children are watching you to see what being a good wife and husband means.
Listen, I’m at the point of my writing career where I am emotionally exhausted by the laborious work of humanizing poor Black folks, particularly Black woman, in the face of so many who flat-out refuse to show a smidgen of empathy for us.
But I’m going to do it anyway.
This time, I’m going to show love and support to 30-year-old Schaquana Spears, a Baton Rouge mother of six and wife of an incarcerated man, who was recently arrested and charged with child cruelty after beating her three sons who she caught breaking into a neighbor’s home.
As reported by ABC affiliate KATC.com:
“A Baton Rouge mother was arrested after deputies say she admitted to whipping her sons as punishment for breaking into a house. Schaquana Evita Spears was booked on child cruelty charges. Her 13-year-old reportedly told East Baton Rouge detectives that Spears struck him with an RCA cord multiple times. He had cuts on both arms and marks across his body. The other two boys ages 12 and 10 also had injuries according to arrest documents. Spears was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on two counts of cruelty to juveniles. Her bail was set at $2,500, according to jail records.”
ABC affiliate WBRZ picks up the story with an interview with Spears, which you can watch here. In it, Spears tearfully talks about how much she loves her children. She also added:
…because I didn’t want them to commit another crime; did to them what my mother did to me, I’m a bad person?
Spears is out of jail right now thanks in part to Winter Applewhite, another Baton Rouge area mother, who posted the $2,500 bond after hearing about her story in the news (You can watch the interview with her here.) Still, Spears has to go back to court to face charges that might result in jail time.
And according to KATC, District Attorney Hillar Moore has released a statement about the case, stating:
“Parents have the right and obligation to discipline and teach their children. We often time see children who have no parental authority or discipline which eventually results in delinquency and criminal acts. We need more parents who discipline their children. Surely you would expect a parent to discipline a child who is burglarizing other people’s homes as this could be a deadly encounter for the child. The degree of physical discipline will be reviewed. The law does not allow excessive pain or cruelty but does allow physical parental discipline. I only have the short synopsis which does indicate that the discipline resulted in marks on the child’s body and possibly an open wound. I will review all of the reports; meet with the DCFS office and review any history of this mother and her children to get a better picture of the entire family dynamics before making a decision. In the meantime my office is working with the juvenile court to ensure the speedy release of the mother under conditions satisfactory to the court.”
FYI: None of the articles I read have provided clues as to who actually called the police. But if I had to speculate – and going off of tradition – it was likely one of the kids themselves. It was an old trick of the trade that many of us youngsters who were in danger of the belt, would implore to keep ourselves from getting an ass-whupping. Back in my day, which is not that long ago I might add, the cops would have advised the complainant in the case to take that ass-whupping and do better in life. But we are in different times…
And thank God for that!
Seriously. Ass-whuppings are overrated and counterproductive. Not to mention, very few of us have managed to survive them without feelings of resentment, anger and other trauma.
I know folks don’t like to hear this but we have to find another way of disciplining the children. How we’ve always done it ain’t working. And this is not just me saying this, but research. Tons of it. This includes this bit of research from the University of Texas, which analyzed five decades of studies and concluded that “The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties.”
While no expert, I think breaking and entering is definitely a sign of anti-social behavior.
As such, talking it out, empathizing or finding other non-aggressive ways to discipline the boys, probably would have been more effective in not just keeping them from breaking into another person’s home, but breaking into anyone’s homes in the first place.
With that said, I believe the Baton Rouge police department could have used less heavier hands in this situation too.
And that is the rub here. We as a society can’t tell folks to not beat their kids, when the system is right around the corner ready to beat us, then throw us in jail or even kill any of us when we don’t act right.
I mean, I guess she could have called the cops on her own children and let them discipline them the legal way. But who wants to bury a child? Shit, if it was my kid, they can keep the next door neighbor’s stereo if it had to come down to choosing between their life and the so-called justice system.
And that’s just real.
Listen, I’m not trying to get too preachy here. As I said earlier, I’m not really here for spankings. And while I sincerely hope that Spears is not only freed from this nonsense but reunited with her kids, I also hope she gets the parenting help and support that she desperately needs.
But more often than not, poor and Black folks in particular are tossed into jail when alternatives could be found and would be found if they were more affluent people. And too often, poor and Black women have their children taken away from them, also when alternatives could be found if they had more affluent. As such, the very people who want help or need help will never go after the help that they need or want, out of fear of jail or having their children taken away.
Worse, when we seek to arrest and criminalize parents first, instead of looking for ways to actually assist them, we not only further complicate the lives of people who are already in difficult positions (try getting a job that the courts are going to require her to get, to prove her upstandingness, with a child cruelty conviction), but we also kind of defeat the moral and ethical grounds for enforcing the law to begin with.
Based on what I read, it’s hard to believe arresting this particular woman, and breaking up this family unit, was in the best interest of the family, or the children. To me, that sounds a bit impatient and even slightly vindictive.
And you know, that’s totally something an abusive parent might do…
Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and bonafide troublemaker from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit NineteenSeventy-Seven.com.