All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

Teen Spirit: 15 Things To Instill In Your Teenage Daughter And Son

April 21st, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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 Sometimes it seems like your high school prom was only a few years ago, when in reality, it was probably over a decade ago. Now you have your own children to worry about and although they may be years away from cummerbunds and corsages, the 12th grade is just around the corner. Maybe there are some tools that you haven’t had a chance to teach them just yet, but the sooner they learn certain rules to life, the better. If you haven’t really given much thought to what you want your teenagers to know as they become young adults, take a look here at our list of 15 rules for your teenage daughter and son.



Respect Your Body

To respect your body is not only to remain covered up in Instagram photos. It also means learning how to take care of yourself. Teach your kids the right things to eat. Remind them that they only get one body in life and it’s important to take care of it — whether that’s through exercise or extra curricular activities.

Pop Mom: Is There Life After The Kids Move Out?

April 20th, 2016 - By Erickka Sy Savane
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Pamela and her family

Pamela and her family

Today was one of those mornings. First, I got up 30 minutes late from pulling a long night working on the computer and, as usual, the rest of my morning was spent catching up, making sure that my girls made their bed, brushed their teeth, etc.

There’s nothing I hate more than showing up in the tardy line at school, with all the other kids and their parents who couldn’t get them there on time. So I’m grumbling to my six-year-old and her little sister on the way there about how they need to move faster. Once I finally drop them, and can breathe for a moment, I realize that maybe I was too hard. After all, I’m the one responsible for getting them up in the mornings to begin with, and I could do better. Even six years and two kids in, this parenting thing is still an adjustment. There’s the constant reminder that my time is not my own. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and my whole day is centered around their universe. But still, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes I think about the day when they both grow up and move out and I get sad. Am I supposed to just let go and resume life like nothing ever happened? It’s depressing.

As usual, when things start to feel heavy, I look for a distraction, and nothing soothes a sore mind better than Facebook. I’m scrolling through posts when I see a picture of my friend PaMela, cheesing it up with all four of her grown kids. They look so happy and adjusted that I have to call her. Maybe life after kids ain’t so bad.

It’s perfect timing because she’s in the car, driving. At 62-years-old, she’s more active that most women I know.

She says, “Finding myself with an empty nest was a real turning point in my life. When my oldest one left, she left the country. She graduated high school on Friday and boarded a plane on Monday and I thought I would die!”

Oh no, just as I thought. Misery.

“I had mixed emotions. You want them to spread their wings and go off on their own because you don’t want to hold them under your roof and not let them experience life, but she was still my baby. I wanted to know that she was eating everyday.”

Read the full article here.

Teaching My Daughter The Difference Between Desire And Value

April 20th, 2016 - By Chad Milner
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Chad Milner and daughter Cydney

Chad Milner and daughter Cydney

For a little over two years, Madamenoire’s parenting editor Kweli Wright has been a wonderful source of inspiration.  A few months into becoming a published and paid author, she pushed me to become a professional.  When I would write from an objective point of view, she would send an email back telling me that the best way to establish a voice is to take a side and be divisive because it will pay off in the long run.  With no formal journalism experience, she would send me online classes that I could take for free.  Out of the clear blue sky, she once sent me a text message asking me if I had any editorial experience just to pick my brain; knowing that it would plant the seed for me to think bigger.  If there was an editorial position she thought would be a good fit for me, she would send it my way, telling me “Get over your fear of improper grammar usage,” and that I’m ready.  She had virtually given me carte blanche to pitch and write about whatever I wanted to, trusting my abilities all before meeting in person.

This morning, Kweli struck again when she posted a link on from on Facebook entitled 10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know When Things Get Real.  As the father to a little girl, I felt compelled to read it.  The whole list are all things that I would love for my daughter Cydney to know as well.  But as a father, number two stood out to me the most.

Know the Difference Between Desire and Value

I am a single parent to a five year old whose mother passed away while she was an infant.  Cydney looks at me and sees a superhero who even when he scolds her can do no wrong.  Even if her mother were alive, I’m daddy: her first love.  Even if her mother were alive and we were together, as her dad, this is a lesson that is most applicable coming primarily from me.  My daughter has seen me date (she always wants to come along and will give her approval or disapproval in their face), look, and act in a manner that she sees Disney princes do on television.  It is part of the foundation that instills value into her.

As a verb, desire is defined as to “strongly wish for or to want,” with synonyms being covet, yearn, want, aspire to, and so on.  The verbal tense of value means “1) Estimate the monetary worth (of something. 2) Consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of,” with alternative verbs being assess, appraise, appreciate, esteem, and respect.

To be desired is a wonderful thing.  We all want to be wanted and coveted to some extent.  There is nothing wrong with aspiring and position one’s self to be yearned and lusted after a little; as well as giving into our desires as well.  It drives us all.  I want my daughter to indulge a little.  If life’s best teacher is experience, I want her to give into a little to it…because this makes for a life worth living.  Life is hard; but learning along the way is most of the fun.  To desire something is the root of finding value in something and someone.

Value comes in three phases: appraisal, assessment, and investment.  Based on one’s desires, we see something we like, decide decide if it is something worth acquiring, and then endow it into something worth more than it was when we originally wanted it.  Be it professional, social/interpersonal, and in love, I want my daughter to sought to be valued.

At five-years-old, she is raw material that I, loved ones, and her teachers are investing into her becoming the best person that she can be.  Before entering kindergarten, Cydney Milner plays soccer year-round and has her own podcast, because I want to invest into her interests and things she has already displayed exemplary talent.  It costs time and money to do these things; but even if she winds up doing something else with her life, at a young age she is beginning to learn her worth.

There will be boys and men.  As much as I would like to take credit for my child’s good looks, she is as gorgeous as her mother was.  Being pretty will only lead to her being desired.  If she puts too value into her looks, she will find it difficult for someone to look beyond that.  We all desire nice things; but very rarely do pretty things appreciate with time.  My baby girl could be a beautiful Bentley…

Read the full article here.

Chad Milner is a New York-based writer who founded the blog Single Dadventures, where he pens his (mis)adventures with his daughter, Cydney.  He regularly contributes to Madamenoire, as well as various websites, giving insight on parenting, dating, relationships and music from the perspective of a young, single Black father.  Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Travel Trials: My Husband Received A “Happy Ending” From A Masseuse; Should I Be Mad?

April 20th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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(As relayed by Lauren R.D. Fox based on a culmination of experiences)

Last week my husband went to visit his friends in San Francisco. Although we have a three-month-old newborn, I thought he deserved to take the trip since he has been helpful around the house and with our child.

When he returned home from his week-long trip, we sat and chatted about what he and his friends did. As he shifted through the normal and somewhat boring details of his trip, my husband unexpectedly shared that he went to get a full-body massage. For those who are not in the “know,” that type of massage usually ends with “happy endings,” (i.e. female masseuses give men hand jobs).

Although some women would angrily respond to their partners after hearing such news, I wasn’t. In fact, I was fascinated and asked my husband what the experience was like. As he gave me insight on what it was like to receive those special massages, we traded laughs and eventually fell asleep until our son woke us up.

The next day, my husband stayed home with the baby and I went to have brunch with an old friend. While we waited for our food, my friend and I traded motherhood stories until the topic of sex came up. She asked if my husband and I were having sex as often as we would like and I told her the truth: no. But I quickly brushed it off by laughing that my husband takes care of himself or receives “happy endings” while on vacation.

With a horrified look on her face, my friend said that she can’t believe I allow my husband to cheat on me by receiving full body massages from random women. I told her I didn’t give him permission, it was a one-time ordeal and I didn’t count it as cheating. But now I’m questioning my reaction. Did my husband cheat? And did I allow it?

Raising A Teenage Girl In A Ratchet World

April 18th, 2016 - By MommyNoire Editor
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kid tween teen makeup


Whenever I thought about being a mother, the teenage years were never what I pictured. On the rare occasion I day dreamed about kids it was always as the cute baby or young child. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that those same baby would become a teenager. Now it’s the 21st century and I am the mother of a teenage girl. As if the term teenager isn’t frightening enough along with raging hormones and junior high/middle school relationships I now have to contend with a myriad of distractions and influences that my parents, and theirs before them, never had to consider. Screen time, cell phone usage, eating habits, grades, and cyber bullies, BOYS, and… the rise of the ratchet girl.

Coming up in the 90’s “hoodrats & hoochie mama’s” were all we heard about in the prevalent gangster rap & that was slowly taking over the airwaves and we thought it was all so cool thanks to movies like Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, Above The Rim and several others of the same variety. But at the end of the day, we went home and turned on The Cosby Show and A Different World so while the images were there, they weren’t as pervasive as they are now, nor was the message. But then the birth of the million dollar video came about as did the ‘video chick’ caricature and the further exploitation of black women and their sexuality was laid bare for the entire world to admire, admonish, debate over and imitate.

But the rise of the ratchet girl has been stratospheric in the last year and to be honest, I’m sick of it.

It’s not just the images shown in the media, it’s also the clothing sold in stores and how it’s styled on mannequins over sexualizing girls from an early age, and in magazine articles aimed at ‘how to get your crush to notice you’ and ‘are you kissable?’ (Seriously who’s approving this for tweens?) . It’s also shows like Love & Hip-Hop whatever, Teen Mom and the list goes on.

Portraying these women and their lifestyle as some type of  aspiration and allowing them to gain celebrity notoriety  because of their bad behavior on television and in the media sends a message to young women that the more you act out the more you’re rewarded by society.

And this mama don’t play that. I’m not raising a teenager to be the baddest b*tch. I’m intent on raising a young woman who will grow into a queen that’s going set the world on fire. It also sets the standard that they need to be overly dramatic to be considered interesting or to get their point across which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

So how do I maintain an active presence in her mind without being overbearing? And how do I keep my daughter from becoming enthralled by the ratchet girl lifestyle she sees all around her?

While we’re still new to the teenage game we’ve got a few rules that we govern our house by to keep her on the right path and keep the ratchet from taking over. Here are a few:

  • Teach her she is more than her body but she is also not limited by it. This includes her hair and what she wears. When your mom writes about fashion for a living you get a little leeway in the clothing and hair department, but I still have rules and have no problem enforcing them. This also includes keeping the lines of communication about sexuality and those awkward topics open for discussion and consideration.
  • Monitor her social media access as well as phone and apps. It may sound like spying but I’d rather not be caught unawares if anything happens. Just because she has access to social media does not mean she gets to be “out there.” It is private, monitored and limited so we feel pretty good about this one.
  • Parent like its 1999ish. Seriously. A lot of new age mothers are excited for their daughters to become their ‘best friends’ and I’m like no ma’am. I have my own friend’s thank you and until you are of age I am your parent, not your homegirl. We kick it old school when it comes to parenting and have no problem being the ‘uncool’ parents of the group.
  • Investigate her friends. Junior high/high school is not like elementary school where you often see the same parents at school functions and daily drop-off and pick-up. Kids make new friends everyday, so yeah, I check out their online presence to see if the image they project to me is the same they are portraying to the outside world and if not how far they are straying.
  • Educate her about her ancestry and where she comes from not only within your family but as woman of color. Teach her about the world in which she currently resides and the one that preceded her existence so she is able to learn from both experiences and chart her course accordingly. Family reading is something we can all benefit from and there are a number of anthologies by African-American authors that paint a beautiful picture of the past and there is a lot to be learned from others experiences and stories that you can’t get from a TV movie.

We realize that as you go through life you try on different personas to see what fits and a lot of times as a teen, those personas don’t jibe with your parent’s vision of you. I get it, I was a teenager too, and we encourage self-expression and creative thought, but we also aren’t in the business of encouraging society’s values over our own.

Bringing Home Baby: 10 Steps To Successful Nesting

April 12th, 2016 - By Clarissa Joan
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Just a two years ago, my husband and I were new parents bringing home our little baby girl, and then 15 months later, we begin again with our second daughter. I did a lot of planning and preparing for my babies over the past few years, so I like to think of myself as a nesting expert.

The term “nesting” is commonly used by expected parents to describe the process by which a family sets the atmosphere at home for their new bundle of joy. No matter how much we prepare, one can never fully anticipate the impact another human being will have on our life, especially a child.  But as my great aunt says, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” These are my planning tips for the day you’re bringing home baby also known as nesting.



Take Time Off

I think it’s the hardest thing to do, but the first and very important thing to do when approaching the delivery of your child is to solely focus on our needs as a pregnant woman, the needs of our expanding family and the needs of the baby. Yes, we need to work, but it is important to take time off to prioritize the real reason we work which is the stabilization of our own lives and those we share it with.





Accept the fact that you will need help. You will need to prepare in advance who, what, where, and how in terms of your support team during labor, delivery and post-partum.

 Questions to ask yourself and discuss with your partner/family: How am I getting to and from the hospital? Who will be in the delivery room? Who is my designated care person should something happen to me? Who will be available to assist me in the home those first couple of weeks I will be recovering from labor and solely focused on bonding with my child?

Delivering a child is joyful and simultaneously spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing. We must prioritize our own wellbeing by setting up the proper resources and assistance.




The Birth Plan

This is your birthing experience. Talk to your medical providers, know all your options, and you decide what’s best for you and your baby. Our bodies are more powerful than we are sometimes led to believe by well-meaning professionals. Women were made to deliver children. Be informed and take control of your experience. You only get one chance to deliver this child into the world. Let it be on terms that serve you and your baby above all others.




Make Room

By now, I’m sure you have been sent hundreds of coupons, lists and samples for your induction into the multi-billion dollar infant care consumer product industry. Truth is, half of the things we buy or are gifted will never or barely be used. I recommend decluttering your home and our own energy first and then assessing what you need in terms of products and services. Minimally, our children need food, a dry diaper and a blanket. Everything else determines itself through the process of living. The most important preparation, to me, is the space we make in our hearts.


Agree - plus shower shoes and toothpaste. "Packing The Essentials: Checklists for a Mom-to-Be's Hospital Bag"


Pack Your Bag

Yes, you will be staying overnight in the hospital. Have you ever stayed the night out before? Yes, so you know what to pack. It’s not that complicated: Toiletries, comfortable PJ’s, a snack, some form of entertainment during early labor, your favorite feminine care products (pads, no tampons new moms), slippers, granny panties, and an outfit to come home in. The End. Don’t stress this.

Pack The Diaper Bag

Now, I am a little over the top about packing a diaper bag because I prefer my own brands of care items for our children vs. what the hospital provides. I pack: diapers, wipes, onesies, two sleepers, wash cloths, soap, hats, a picture outfit, an outfit to come home in, two swaddlers, and a blanket. Whew. I highly recommend that you take the hospital’s nasal aspirator. They are the best. The ones currently sold in stores do not get the job done.        


The Car Seat

Explore life with an infant carseat before you actually have to use it. Many first-time parent meltdowns come from the frustration of dealing with the proper usage of this contraption. No matter what brand you get, you will not know how to use it the first or second time. Practice practice practice, or be prepared to breakdown when you’re trying to leave the hospital and are delayed because you can’t figure it out. Get help from someone at the store with installation ahead of time.


Identify and Talk With Your Pediatrician

Newborn babies are very different beings than the rest of us. They make all kinds of unfamiliar faces, sounds, movements, all of which will scare you into a panic attack if you are not forewarned. The hospital will wait until the hour of your discharge to give you a long, scary list of what could possibly go wrong with your baby and how you should respond. You will not absorb any of this. Get comfortable with your chosen pediatrician before hand and let them give you their 101 course in caring for a newborn.


Meal Prep

There will be no time to cook, and quite frankly you will be too exhausted to attempt such a task. Now is the time to prep your freezer with Ziplock bags full of fresh, portioned, and seasoned delights that can be easily tossed into the oven or the microwave. You may not have the time or energy to cook, but you will be starved. Prepare now.




Take deep breathes, maybe even a quick baby-moon. These are your last days pregnant and life will never be the same again. It is time to smell the roses and remember this precious time when you and your child were one.


Congratulations Mom, Dad, Family!


What Bratty Behavior? It’s Never Too Early to Teach Your Child Manners

April 8th, 2016 - By Tanvier Peart
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It’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish if you only make the decision to try. As new parents, my husband and I are doing our best to navigate the realm of raising a child. On one hand we want to give our son the world, but on the other, we don’t want our baby to turn into a spoiled brat. Unfortunately we have seen too many cases of relaxed parenting that has led to unnecessary tantrums and behavior that would make your mama head straight to church to pray.

One of my good friends has a daughter (now six) who is very smart for her age, but also has a mouth on her. While sassing is typically expected, certain things she says and does are quite atrocious to say the least. Whether she’s calling her cat a “bastard” for not wanting to play with her or choosing to ignore her parents when they tell her it’s time to go to bed (she ended up watching an episode of “Game of Thrones” with us), I knew what I didn’t want for my child.

I also have a family member with a son who loves to throw himself around stores when he doesn’t get his way. During one mall outing he knocked off every shoe on a wall display that left the entire store in silence and shock.

Granted some kids are feistier than others, you can only do but so much. That however does not stop my husband and I from trying to lead our child down the right path. Thus far, we’ve either been really blessed or seem to be doing the right thing.

Don’t get me wrong, my 14 month old isn’t an angel all the time. I sure did learn quickly about one-year-old tantrums as my beautiful baby quickly turned on me. Rather than brush it off as baby behavior, my husband and I wanted to let him know sooner than later it was not okay. I can only imagine what it’s like for him to want something and not know how to communicate to get it. Heck I would be frustrated. This is one of the reasons why we started teaching him baby sign language when he was seven months old that seems to help when it comes to the basics (e.g. milk, food, water). He also tries to use his words like “agua” (we’re raising him to be bilingual) when he needs water to drink. At least for now our system works, but should he start acting up, we sternly deal with him in an age-appropriate manner.

Given my guy and I both work from home, I was nervous our son would develop “only child tendencies” that include the inability to share. I do my best to take him to weekly play events at our local library where he can socialize with others. I don’t know where he picked up the concept of sharing, but he does so–even better than some kids three times his age! There have been occasions where he goes to play with another child and they hog every toy around them. Rather than fight or cry for it, my son simply smiles and offers one of his toys to them.

Sure children will try to do what they’d like, but at the end of the day, there needs to be action to back up our words. Simply telling them not to do something simply won’t do as most know whether or not your threat will come with a consequence.

When do you think is the “right age” to start teaching your child manners?

Why People Without Children Shouldn’t Give Parenting Advice

April 6th, 2016 - By Chad Milner
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I am a pretty laid back person and I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to criticism.  Hell, even moments where I am “in my feelings” only last a few minutes; it takes a lot to get me angry. With all of that said, there is one thing that annoys me almost more than anything else on the planet: people without children giving me parenting advice.

Yes, more than the sound of nails on a chalkboard, sitting in heavy traffic because people are rubbernecking at a car accident, and more than when people say “fustrate” and “conversate.”

There’s just something about people without children giving me parenting advice that drive me up the wall.  When someone who hasn’t procreated responds to “You should (insert counsel here),” it takes almost every fiber of my being to respond with a phrase that rhymes with “What the truck cup.”

I am aware that, for the most part, people mean well and aren’t passing judgment.  However, I feel as if this is one of the very few arenas in which everyone feels as if they are experts and they have no experience.  There is no manual on how to raise a child, everyone comes from a parent, and were raised by someone.  How one was raised and how one actually raises their children are very different.

For starters, there is something in a person that changes when they become a parent. 

One could love and have played a major role in being a parent figure in a child’s life; but it’s just different.  You see the world differently.  Self becomes secondary not because one decides to; it’s instinct.  There are many things my parents said or did that I didn’t understand-even as an adult-but once I had my daughter made sense.  If-or when-I have a second child, I would do things very differently because no matter how many books one reads, siblings they have, or what have you, is an on-the-job kind of thing.

Many times non-parents respond to things by saying “My friend who has kids,” or some variance of that statement.  Nope, try again.

What your friends or whatever would do is very different from what you would do.  Their collective experiences, applicable knowledge, and paradigm is different.  Everything a non-parent says is speculative.  I can think of so many things I have said before my daughter that I would never do that I do now.  “Why are you paying so much money for tuition for a four year old that you can barely afford?”  Because she’s in a very good school and I feel it’s a worthy investment in my kid.  “But my friend doesn’t.”  Maybe this is something that means a little bit more to me than them.  Maybe because I grew up in a family full of teachers so that shaped the way I see schools.  Maybe said upbringing has determined how I looked at the teachers in that school and I think they can being the best out of my child who has a unique temperament.

I think that in my circumstance because I am a single father I get it a lot. 

I think part of the stigma about how fathers do things a little differently than mothers do comes into play.  I do many things in a manner that’s a little unconventional because the circumstances in which I became a single parent are unusual and I swear on everything I love I think my daughter has been here before.  Yes, I don’t try to be a mother to my daughter because I can’t.  However, I am still nurturing to her.  Most people see mothers as just being nurturers and fathers as kind of bumbling fools who protect and just do a lot of the fun stuff.  It is almost astounding how many of my women friends don’t believe that I am quite a disciplinarian with my daughter.

I think I am a damn good father; I can’t think of too many people who would say otherwise.  But I don’t think that I’m perfect, either.  I am pretty sure I mess up from time to time and there are things that I do as a parent that will cause some kind of complex within my daughter.  Every parent does this.

Nonetheless, more than likely I–or most parents–know they have that one or two thing that is a breaking point. Mine is music.  I was raised by a musician and that will always be my first love and passion.  I have learned how to ignore Disney and Nick Jr. shows that play over and over again.  But I can’t STAND stuff like Kidz Bop.  I think it’s corny and most of that stuff just makes my insides cringe.  For the most part, I have found some semblance of balance in this.  I am very careful of what Cydney listens to and what she repeats (In fact, nine out of 10 times, she knows what she should and shouldn’t repeat on her own).

I don’t listen to anything referring to drugs or sexual around her.  But I love hip hop and I love that my kid does too.  With all of that said, since I am with my child with not much relief, there are but so many times I can hear her music over and over in the car that I am driving us somewhere before I lose it.  So guess what?  I’m gonna turn on the radio and Cydney is gonna listen to the latest Fetty Wap song three or four times for the sake of my sanity.  If she asks me what does something mean I will answer it and if it is particularly funny I will laugh to myself or out loud if I deem appropriate to do so.

If I post something on social media or tell a story to my non-parent friends and they say: “You shouldn’t do that,” I want them all to know I am thinking: “Shut up.  You’ve never had a kid you can’t drop off.”

I would be a lot more receptive to the opinions of people without children if they started off their statements with: “I think.”  I’m a stickler for language, so changing one’s vocabulary does change the context.  “I think” insinuates that your opinion is speculative and “You should” is authoritative.  It makes a world of a difference.

…I just needed to vent.

“What Temperature Do I Cook This On?” Questions We Still Ask Our Moms

April 5th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Once upon a time, not too long ago, we thought we knew it all. Our parents were always around telling us what to do, and we all thought we could do it all by ourselves — until we moved out on our own. When we’re no longer under the same roof as our mothers, we realize that maybe we’re not quite as grown as we thought.

We may feel grown, but when it comes to mom, we’re never too old to get a little advice. Whether you’re 25 or 55, there are still some questions that only your mom has the right answer to. And thank goodness for Skype, cell phones, text messages, instant messenger and just showing up from time to time. Because we still have a million things we need to learn, and we need some advice, to touch base, and to know how long to cook this chicken because sometimes, our mothers do know best.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Medical Questions

What should I take for this? Is this normal? If I eat this expired chicken will I die? She’s not still kissing boo-boos, but she’s still doctor mom.

Dear Moms: No Matter What, Run Your Race

April 1st, 2016 - By Danielle Elaine
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Melody Ehsani

In 2012 I was a celebrity in my own head. I was 24, lived on my own, had a job and my little Toyota Yaris, and the world was my oyster. I did what I pleased, as I pleased and whenever I felt like doing so. It was the greatest. To no surprise when I found out I was pregnant my life came to an abrupt halt. For weeks I debated about what I was going to do with the news the doctor had given me. At the expense of everything I knew, I chose to embark on the long journey of motherhood. In a weeks’ time, my entire life wilted to the ground as cinder from a burning building. In the blink of an eye I had lost my job, my apartment, and then my car. I had literally been stripped down to nothing, on the verge of bringing a new life into the world.

One can only imagine the emotional whirlwind I had gone through, from moving back into my parents’ home, pregnant with no job, no friends to vent to, and a circus of drama from my daughter’s father. I had fallen into a depressive sea of “what if’s?” clinging to my faith like a buoy my thoughts bobbed up and down between doubtfulness and the surface of hope. The number one thing on my mind was finances. I knew choosing to keep my daughter essentially meant I would be a single mother. As a prideful and overly independent woman it is hard for me to ask for any kind of help, let alone rely on anyone else to provide life’s necessities for my daughter and I.

Daily, I thought about what kind of mother I would be. I thought about the life I wanted to build for my daughter, what it would take to do so, and the kind of example I wanted to be for her. I thought of the kind of human I wanted to build up and gift the world with.

I thought of my past and moments I had felt my own mother should have been more of a support, and how I would pour more time, love and encouragement into my child.

Until then, I had never believed my dreams could come to fruition.

How could I convince my daughter she had the power to be and do anything she could conceive if I did not believe that myself? How could I push her through self doubt and moments of fear if I had never done the same for myself? I began living with the intent to build a legacy that would be the foundation of all of life’s most important lessons. I jumped head first into pursuing my dreams, beginning tasks I had always wanted to do, but never had the courage to start. I found myself independently publishing my first book of poetry, interning for a magazine and building my own website. I was on a roll! I was doing what I loved, had an internship for my dream job, and my drive had never been more fervid.

After some time, it seemed I was losing control of the whirlwind I had been juggling. I became frustrated with the pulling and pushing between my drive and my reality. During a conversation, a fellow writer reminded me to “take baby steps to build toward what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re not obligated to go from 0-60, or if you’re Drake 0-100.” She made me realize that I had been racing against myself and a timed clock. I realized I didn’t have to reach the peak of all my aspirations in a week, and there was no expiration date on my dreams.

While I’ve gotten to frolic through NYFW, published a book, chatted and mingled with A-D listed celebrities, at the end of the day I am still a 26-year-old single mother and my life is still a work in progress. A midst my experiences and accomplishments, my reality is a hospital secretary desperately building her dreams in the spare minutes and hours of fully scheduled days.

After work, evening classes, premiere events, and podcast tapings, I collect my daughter and any spare energy I can muster and retire to the local shelter that has been my home for the last seven months.

Obviously, these circumstances are not ideal by any means, but such is life. My race is mine to run. I cannot compete nor compare my journey to that of anyone else for everyone’s experiences, and lessons to be learned are unique. While juggling what you have to do, and what you want to do be patient with life, and forgiving with yourself. Run your race your own way, at your own pace. Your finish line is anchored. Stay hungry, stay great and strive for epic.