What black folk don’t do…???

Black folk….apparently there’s a laundry list of things we as a people do not do. I have been brought up to speed and made aware. We don’t swim, we don’t read, we don’t write, unless it’s rap lyrics. We don’t exercise, nor run, and we don’t do yoga. We don’t eat hummus, tofu, falafel, or other weirdly pronounced items nor anything not sold at the local piggly wiggly. We don’t eat healthy and if it is healthy, we batter it up, deep fry it in lard, grease it down and bathe it in trans fat, then smother it in fat derived gravy to fix it. We don’t believe in alternative or holistic medicine. Herbs are for seasoning food, not healing the body. That’s what the good doctor and black jesus are for. We don’t hug trees, become one with nature, or charge crystals. That’s the devils’s work. Our dogs stay out in the yard because pets in the house is a no. We don’t hold hands with our best friend or dance close up on members of the same sex. That’s gay….and we don’t do gay. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿพ We spank our kids, better known as “whoopins”. If we don’t “whoop” them, the police will. We don’t play in the rain or wear birkenstocks. We don’t hike, canoe, nor camp. And as a black woman I shouldn’t still be reading comic books or playing video games. I was told black women aren’t crunchy…we don’t make batches of homemade granola or elderberry syrup. We don’t cloth diaper. “Just buy that baby some huggies and stop being extra,” they said. We don’t homeschool. “Send them younguns to school,” they said. “You’re gonna make that boy soft. Give him a bottle and some formula,” they said. Of course because we don’t breastfeed either.

How stifling all that sounds. How can anyone achieve true greatness with so many stipulations? As if detachment from our history isn’t enough, now we’re also expected to be something other than who we choose to be in this present time. We have countless boundaries placed on us with strict guidelines we must adhere to in order to maintain our “real” black status. And who is placing these expectations? These impositions on our creativity? None other than our very own. ๐Ÿค”

Someone made a comment once about how my family “is all over the place”. This was proven correct and I have no shame. I’ve been called “crunchy”, a “black hippie”, and accused of “white girling while black”. I’ve just come to embrace it. I’m not a fan of limitations nor labels. So yes, my girls wear chevron print with polka dots, hair sometimes uncombed. Yes we jump and splash in puddles, stand in grass barefoot, climb trees on government property, turn cartwheels on the lawns of federal buildings, and play in fountains that are clearly roped off to keep us from doing so. And yes we did get booted by a US Park policeman for riding scooters through the national sculpture garden. He was a hater. Our garage and basement have so much clutter, we could put Fred Sanford’s junkyard to shame. We do not have ourselves together. We listen to “Hybrid Theory” on the way to school, Nas on the way home, and Kuumba kids in between. Yes we co-sleep, co-eat, bed share, baby wear, breastfeed in public, and smell one another’s armpits and necks. We charge crystals, burn sage, talk to our ancestors, and dig our toes into the soil under a full moon. Our home is not censored nor politically correct and dinner discussion can range from who could kick Thanos’ ass to why someone would want to open the first art gallery on Mars. We talk about Marvel characters as if they are real and will stand in the cold sifting through boxes at a Third Eye Comics sidewalk sale just to find a new obsession. Yes we take in stray dogs and play with rodents and sometimes have to chase our birds through the house. A friend of mine told me last month “yall are the weirdest black folk I know.” Are we though??? It is not intentional. We’re just us, and for some reason, it gets my black card revoked so often I’ve traded it in for an upgraded version called the Freedom Card aka IDGAF card.

Photo courtesy of Julian Howard

Advertisements

#chronicles of a petty wife

We as women/mothers do it all. We hold down jobs, businesses, take care of families, homes, fix cars, change light bulbs, cut lawns, patch up drywall, all while cooking dinner, changing diapers, doing laundry, helping with homework, breaking up fights, drying tears (and sometimes snot), read bedtime stories, with little to no sleep. We are everyone’s everything and when they make us feel needed, we beam with both pride and annoyance. We relish in the fact that we are the glue that holds our families together, the foundation that keeps everyone grounded, the anchor. We are built more than Ford tough, meant to last. We push beyond the exhaustion and borderline delirium to a coffee induced final wind JUST to make sure our people are taken care of…and it’s ALL good.

Well. It’s all good until it AINT! OMG! My family, and by family I’m specifically calling out the MaN Baby (aka Hubby) and his offspring. These individuals who’s needs I place over my own 110% of the time. These humanoid embodiments of the worst migraine imagineable. It ain’t all good. This week has been a bit much, more than usual, on my last nerve, already gone through a few bottles of wine-headed-to-the-liquor-store-as-we-speak-just-throw-the-whole-family-away level migraine. Remember that white lady that was missing a few years ago? The husband was on the news begging and pleading for any info from anybody anywhere. “Pleeeeaaase bring my wife back to us safely!” he said through tear filled eyes. Turns out this heffa was joy riding cross country with her side piece turned main piece. I….understand! I feel you Becky. This tribe of mine got me two sneezes away from throwing up both middle fingers and my middle toes and getting missing my damn self.

This week I had to deal with at least two meltdowns per person, new tantrums from the baby (who happens to be teething, but no excuse), and a few slammed doors from the middle girls. These bammas are testing my gangsta and I’m trying desperately not to put the goon hand down on ’em. They’re children. Ok. But the Man….he was all the way live! Brushed off my advice, counsel, and just demonstrated a complete lack of appreciation. Which is one of the seven thousand deadly sins of marriage. He picked a few fights and had the most epic tantrum, then retreated to Starbucks so he could throw his pity party where his favorite barista consoled him, serving a special blend Cafe Americano with caramel syrup. He put any badazz terrible two veteran to shame.

The other night I looked around at my kitchen, its whispers to be cleaned were barely audible over my husband’s snoring in the family room. His plate looked like it had been licked clean then left on the table. Who the hell does he think I am? June effing Cleaver? I cooked. Someone else should clean. Resentment is constantly brewing and I’m on the verge of either becoming that frivolous white girl who snatched her freedom and got her groove on with some thirsty, yet adventurous John Doe…or that bitter woman who lets herself go because the will to live has been knocked out of her by ungrateful bratty kids and husband. Leaning against the island, gulping the last bit of wine from the bottle, I glared at him, wishing I were Cyclops from the X-Men. I could singe the hell out him. He’s got some nerve, over there sleeping, snoring even, completely unaware that I just emerged from the fight of my life trying to get his lil hellions to bed. I could turn down the heat so he would be less cozy and freeze, but that would be counterproductive. He’d get sick and so would his kids and I’d have to take care of them more than I already do. Motherhood is not a job. A job has set hours, you get a lunch break, you get off at some point, and most importantly, you get paid. Motherhood is more like that unpaid internship where you trade your dignity for experience, but worse. Because you can’t quit.

Sooo as I thought of all I do, without pay, resentment set in and I began to let the pettiness flow. It didn’t help that the wine was gone. I grabbed my phone and prepared a PayPal invoice. It included cleaning services, therapy, meal prep, personal shopping, stylist, first aid, tutoring services, pet care, cloth diaper and general laundry service, chef, nanny, shuttle services (aka mommy uber), dietician, dermatology, hair styling services, and several others. I even added an extra charge for organic produce that I purchase to keep the children healthy and the homemade baby food I smash by hand because the Prince likes lumps. I added the total cost for those services for the week based on the going rate in our area, included my pain and suffering fees, then sent it to my husband. Satisfied I went to bed, leaving his plate on the table.

When being petty goes wrong….the next morning, I ended up getting the plate up anyway AND do you know it took him DAYS to open that invoice??? And it was only after I complained about him never opening emails from me. I can’t win. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Moral of the story….some weeks list flat out suck and some don’t suck as much. Those are the ones we live for. For the others, I prescribe wine.

I am such a mom…

Yesterday evening my family and I visited with my parents and we had a discussion about predatory men who prey on young girls. After recalling an experience I had during college involving rappers on a tour bus when I came face to face with my own #metoo moment. I ended up dreaming about it.

I was at Aldi, my second (maybe third favorite grocery store). First clue that it was a dream was that I was alone, not one child tagging along with me. I noticed that several employees and fellow shoppers were rushing towards the front of the store excitedly. They weren’t handing out free groceries so I didn’t see the need to join in the stampede. I finished at the checkout and went to the counter space to began bagging my groceries. I looked out the window while bagging and noticed a large tour bus in parking lot, which was where everyone was congregated. Apparently, some big rap star, of whom I was not really a fan, decided that an aldi parking lot was an excellent place to promote his music. I loaded my stuff into my trunk and figured “what the heck. Might as well.” I went over to see the tour bus, which was decked out in luxury. I was invited on and while I was enviously inspecting the granite countertop in the kitchen area, the bus started moving. They’d been giving people rides around the block so I was not alarmed….until they got on the beltway. I then asked where we were going only to be ignored and met with suspiciously shady, golden grilled grins. I became livid. I demanded that they take me back immediately. How dumb and desperate of them to kidnap a mom, in her yoga workout gear, and Uggs, from an Aldi parking lot of all places. They sped as they drove and, I in a moment of panic, yelled “You idiots! Take me back right now! You don’t understand! I HAVE FROZENS IN THE TRUNK!!!” Then I woke up.

I had to laugh at myself. That #metoo moment never stood a chance in a dream against my mommy brain. In my world, causing me to waste frozens in the trunk, is cause for a beatdown. ๐Ÿ˜

Stage 1

FB_IMG_1531134701809

Black men are absolute rock stars! I see them going to work to provide for their families, taking special care of their mamas, checking up on “pops”, involved in their communities working with the youth and keeping a protective eye out for the single mom down the block, or cutting grass for elderly neighbors. They are heroes to say the least. However….they can be the absolute worst when it comes to their own health. Black men are 70% more likely to suffer from heart disease than white men. According to the image above, their 5 main stressors are finances, racism, career, relationships, and health. They give so much of themselves yet are the least likely to visit the doctor or tend to their own health care needs. It’s like pulling teeth to get the men in my life to go to the doctor or follow orders when they do. They will eat a box of fried chicken smothered in syrup with a large fry, and wash it all down with a large pepsi then argue that it was cool because they haven’t eaten like that since yesterday. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿพ Black folk sometimes use food as an escape, I know. As the most scrutinized group in our population I guess it makes sense. This scrutiny is the source of great stress. And as we know, stress kills, slowly. In addition to fearing for their lives all while paying bills and being hated, who has time to meal prep, count calories, and eat wholesome???

This morning I awoke to my husband standing over me, tapping my shoulder. I glared at him through squinted eyes that had intended to remain shut at least until the 6 month old decided otherwise. I’d already been up with said 6 month old hours earlier, meeting his hygiene and feeding demands, so this disturbance was quite unwelcome. My husband resembled one of our children, these people who lack the discernment to understand that my sleep is equally if not more important than their minor ailments and hypochondriac assertions. If it weren’t for the more than usual look of bewilderment on his face, I would’ve faked a deep sleep. He says, “I’m seeing double in my left eye.” Normally my first response would be to laugh, or roll my eyes but I’m trying to do better. I ask him what’s going on. He can’t really articulate it, but in a nutshell he feels “off” and of course his eye. I tell him to go rinse and apply a warm rag over it. I have to tell him to do this twice. He does and still feels weird. After pacing a while, getting a drink of water, then debating on whether to go to work, he finally leaves but calls me a few minutes later. I suggest that he goes to walgreens or rite aid and get his pressure checked since he refuses to go to urgent care. He does and we find out that it IS elevated, to Stage 1 early hypertension range. He ends up working from home, with me serving him dandelion tea, salad, and cup after cup of water, murmuring quiet “I told you so’s” with each desk side visit. Those murmurs were eventually replaced by pecks on the cheek and quiet looks of concern.

It occurred to me while I was chopping fruit for his salad that my husband wasn’t guaranteed. “In sickness and in health”…”til death do us part”….we commit to those words in the spirit of happiness and under the guise that the way we are in that moment is how it will always be. Until today, my husband’s mortality never seriously crossed my mind. Even a few years ago when a good mommy friend of mine suddenly lost her husband, I felt grateful that mine was still alive, but never imagined that he wouldn’t be. He’s been there for over 16 years.

I’ve taken for granted his presence and forgotten how unpredictable life and death can be. Actually we know death is notorious for it’s lack of predicatability but life leading up to that point, we never know. While some meet their end quickly, others’ demise is preceded by unexpected, extended illness and suffering. We never know not only when someone will leave us, but we don’t know the how either. One day someone is healthy, the same day exactly one year later, they are living with a terminal diagnosis. I have a friend who we nearly lost due to a random and rare brain infection. We literally were hanging out and a week later, she was in the hospital. Life (and death) truly does come at you fast.

At bedtime, I watched him snore loudly, a bit less annoyed by the disturbance than usual. Earlier in the evening, I allowed him to take my place for a massage I was scheduled for, something he’d never even experienced. It did him good. But the road moving forward, with hypertension, diabetes, and cancer looming on both sides of his gene pool, is sure to require some changes. I haven’t done the greatest job taking care of him. While I was running miles, hitting the gym, getting my Namaste on, and eating a plant based protein and vitamin rich diet, my husband has gained weight, remained sedentary, and developed the most god-awful eating habits. I have a membership to receive monthly massages and facials while he has NO self care regimen. Even though I gave up my appointment with Alicia for him to experience her magic healing hands, I still feel guilty. So much more I could do. Now I have taken charge of my man’s health. As if it were my own…because it kinda is. AND because we need him healthy and whole. Too much living to do. ๐Ÿ’—

“Ya’ll are all over the place.”

As parents, we are no strangers to chaos. We live it, we create it, we exit in it, we battle it, and sometimes we just embrace it and even thrive in it. We are able to recognize the chaos that exists in another household and we understand that struggle. I remember that judgey pre-parenthood look I used to give moms that wore spit up stained t-shirts, yoga pants, and their actual baby strapped to them in an overpriced carrier from Babies ‘R’ Us. I laughed while they struggled to fold their Lands End strollers or get the double wide through the doors at Macy’s. I thought, “damn, that’s what happens when you keep having babies. Better them than me.” My how the carousel turns.

So yesterday, I was getting two of my littles to camp. As a writer, my process involves tons of sticky notes and carrying my special pen and a notebook around. When I went to get out of my truck, tons of stuff fell out with me. I was kneeling to recollect my things including a few sticky notes that had blown under my truck. As I was straining to reach without laying my face on the disgusting asphalt, a mommy acquaintance that I only kinda know but kinda super don’t like walked over. She’s the type that comes over and immediately starts rambling about her life, despite what you are going through at that moment.

“What are you doing?” she asked. I told her that all my stuff jumped out the car the same time I did and I was trying to reach a super important sticky note. She giggles and says “Ya’ll are always all over the place.” I roll my eyes but before I can respond, the truck next to us makes a loud noise and wakes my 5 month old. He starts fussing so I toss my things into my bag and walk around to get him. She, like a dumbass, steps slightly over to that side as well, still talking as I get my baby out of his seat. “Oh you’ve got the baby with you?” Where the hell else would he be? I look down and notice the sticky note had blown to that side and so relieved, I got it. “Glad I got this. This one had the most notes!” I announced to myself really.

She shakes her head, and again says “ya’ll just be all over the place, all the time.” I frown at her. “Ya’ll who?” She gives me a look as if I’m slow. “Your family. Like, ya’ll always be all over the place. Every time I see ya’ll, you’re doing the most.ย  Late to school, chasing animals…” Now I was irritated. I shifted my baby to the other hip, as I felt the urge to release a few four letter words. “What does that even mean? All over the place?” She tried to explain that she has project management experience and how she applies that to her household, how she understands that juggling “a bunch of kids” can be stressful, oh and how she ordered a whole new organizing kit from Amazon, and again how she gets paid to project manage. I didn’t even let her finish. “Not that I want your help AT ALL, but if you were that concerned with helping, maybe instead of standing here breffin me to death about only god knows what, you could’ve maybe done the sisterly thing and offered to help get my things while I got my baby. That’s what I would have done, with my all over the place ass. And not that I give a damn what anyone thinks,ย  my family is very much together. As together as we’re gonna be. My husband is awesome, my kids are great, and we tend to us. Which is what the fudge you need to be doing.” With that I waltzed off, fake giggling, fro blowing in the wind.

I thought about it later as I sat in my family room, kids running around, baby drooling and tossing toys, mess lingering in what should be clear spaces. She may have been right. We are actually all over the place, much like a drunk flock of seagulls indeed. I wasn’t sure if it bothered me more that she tried to come for my family or if was because they made her look right. My seven year old has meltdowns that would put ANY two year old tantrum professional to shame, over the simplest of things, my 9 year old spends a great deal of time pretending to be an animal and even licks things/people, the 14 year old watches naruto as if it’s a religion and her reality. The baby crawls by dragging his face across the floor then rolls to where he needs to go once he realizes the carpet doesn’t feel great. The husband is a hoarder and falls asleep EVERY night, on the couch in his work clothes. I’d say we are far from together and it slightly pisses me off that they made her point. Like Kevin Hart says “we just didn’t look good as a unit”.

As two of my girls decided to stack like the We Bare Bears from cartoon network and scoot across the floor, laughing hysterically, I rethought my position on what being “all over the place” vs having it together really meant. Being all over the place for my family is being us. We do not have it together and we don’t spend much time stressing over that. Sure it presents an issue sometimes when we get up late and get stuck in traffic and show up late. Sure it’s an issue when my girls are rocking an afro puff for the 4th day in a row with a groovy headband slapped on top while other kids (and they’re mamas) are fresh out of the salon, weaved and slayed. It may even be a problem when we’re up til 1am Sunday night to complete a science project that we just started on even though it was assigned three weeks ago but we forgot about it. But honestly, I think we are some of the happiest free-spirited folk I know. We are not bound by expectations or opinions of those outside of our household and at the end of the day, when we all come together, we are happy. Regardless of the haphazard-lacking-of-grace-helter-skelterย  fashion in which we stumble through our days, we land on both feet, at home together.

 

Photo byย Markus Spiskeย onย Unsplash

Motherhood is kickin my azz…

I’m sitting here in my bathroom. The morning rays from our beloved sun shining in on me, charging my melanin, giving me life. I’ve been sitting here several minutes. Why are you hanging out in the bathroom recharging? Well thanks for asking. I am on the run. There is a little person and another VERY little person downstairs and apparently they don’t feel well. Neither of them have instruction manuals nor are they articulate enough to communicate what their true issues are. So I’m hiding. The Prince who is just shy of two months old had the nerve to have a fever last night that magically disappeared this morning, but not before causing me to go into a full panic. Pretty sure my eyelids stayed open all night, watching him as if I were equipped with temperature monitoring vision. Then there’s the 7 year old who’s tummy is hurting AGAIN. And while I’m sure its only constipation because she’s picky and weird and refuses to eat fruit, I made the mistake of googling pediatric stomach ache. So now I have to keep a look out for appencitis or just plain old bloating.

My bathroom, while it usually offers peace and solace, is actually adding fuel to my already five alarm fireball of stress. There’s a pile of my husband’s dirty laundry in front of my soaking tub. It’s annoying. His counter is littered with everything from beard hair to contact solution, toothpaste, and whatever else. It’s annoying. This is after he managed to get sleep last night….every night for that matter while I toil over how much I may have failed as a mother with two sick children in my bed. It’s quite annoying. I feel like shit, look like shit and so does my house. I wish I could teleport into an old school Calgon commercial and be taken away.

What’s in a Name???

Growing up, I found my name annoying. I was often either the only black kid, or one of the very few, in my class. I lived in a predominantly white neighborhood attended predominantly white schools from K-12th grade. My name was mispronounced, made fun of, and was the subject of unsolicited revisions. It’s spelled exactly as it sounds yet I’ve been addressed with all sorts of variations, completely disregarding the simplicity of it. The older I got, despite the seemingly oddness of my name and the ridicule it came with, I came to love it. I loved the way it sounded both when I said it in introduction as well as how others said it (correctly of course).

My three girls have simple names. Names that, unlike mine, can be found on keychains and coffee mugs. They don’t have to settle for just the initial nor order it customized. However, I now have a son on the way. Initially I wanted a cute name that I could shorten as a nickname. I was crushing hard on the name Chadwick, Chad for short. You know, like the actor. My husband kinda liked it too but he liked Carmelo better. I did not. We left it alone, figuring it would just come to us. And it did. Right out of an old Marvel comic book. We were satisfied but kept the name to our household. Finally over thanksgiving then at a holiday party, we revealed the name to family and friends. We were met with mixed feelings ranging from absolutely loving it to complete disgust. Folks pulled me to the side and asked was I really gonna let my husband name my baby that. Um, yeah. Smdh

I brushed all that off because honestly, I don’t care. I haven’t had any offers to carry this child for not even one second of this pregnancy, none to push him out for me, nor any to pay his college tuition in full, sooo….๐Ÿ˜ž Anyway, it’s one thing when family and friends have something to say. It’s something else when someone outside your inner circle wants to weigh in. I asked no one’s opinion, not even family soooo again….๐Ÿ˜ž. After maybe a third person, and one who didnt even matter made a negative comment, I was annoyed. Her response was, “well just so you know, he’s gonna be discriminated against on his resume.” My response, “fuck a resume. He’s gonna own his own shit. How bout dat?” No apologies. She had it coming. The nerve of her to speak negatively, and ignorantly I might add, against my son’s future. I don’t recall ever caring enough about what someone named their child to the point of inserting myself into that decision by lending unsolicited advice nor cousel.

It is my belief that men should be allowed to name their sons. Perhaps if it were our second or third boy, but being that this is our ONLY boy and our LAST child, it is only right and fair. Especially considering he had little to do with the names of our girls. In addition, it’s a freakin dope azz name!!! While the origin is sketchy and fictional, and it has no meaning, that is what we have come to like most about it. The unattached attachment. Something make believe but inspiring nonetheless. It is defined by the exceptional qualities of a timeless fictional character. Qualities that we hope and desire for our son. Brilliant, bold, innovative, a leader, unique, proud, respected, and just plain badazz! We hope that he is his own person, unapologetic and a nonconformist with knowledge of self and an unshakable pride in who he is. With Respect for his ancestors and deep compassion for his people. We desire this for all of our children. Not sure how the name will look on a resume….but it looks damn good on the Wired magazine cover.. ๐Ÿ˜