Friday, February 5, 2016

Join the Club

I was having a rough day: the Babe was busy and all over the place; the house seemed to look worse than usual; I had not eaten anything since breakfast; nor had I showered or changed clothes. I was feeling lonely and isolated and desperately needed an outlet, so I began searching the internet for playgroups or spaces where I could take the Babe, but also where I might meet and mingle with other women who could relate to my plight.

And I found something promising! But after a few clicks, I learned that there was an undisclosed cost for access, which might not have been a problem except that it seems ridiculous to pay for a class that meets early in the morning across town. So I kept on searching until I found a 'local' playgroup and was excited when someone emailed to acknowledge my interest, and got even more excited when I saw a follow up email this morning...

"Thank you for your interest, but we only serve this side of town. Try somewhere else, loser." (OK not an exact quote, but close enough. At least someone took the time to reject me.)

I might be overreacting, but this happens to me all the damn time. I look for services or activities for myself, my mother and now my daughter, and I encounter the same obstacles. Either I am not poor enough, or I live in the wrong neighborhood.

I told the hub, whose response was merely a shrug and an off-handed comment about not wanting to expose the Babe to such snobbishness, but as usual he missed the point. He has no idea how frustrating it is to feel so alone. All of my friends work. Only a few have children. My mother has dementia. The Babe is almost a year old and her most consistent playmate is me. And on most days, the only person I talk to is her.

Am I mad that the playgroup is restricted or am I jealous of those women on the other side of town? YES and yes. While I am always willing to take the Babe anywhere to leave the house, something tells me that I did NOT need the anxiety of membership amongst the Housewives on the Other Side of Town. There have to be resources and activities in my own neighborhood. Or I will just have to start my own group.

So stay tuned!

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Great Undone List

I love Christmas. I hate Christmas. Thank goodness it is over!

This year, I was excited because this would be the Babe's First Christmas. And I was until I realized that there would be several major things left undone such as the tree that never went up, the cards that were not sent, the newsletter still unwritten, the Santa Claus picture that we never got to take, and the house still a general disaster...

I could keep on going, but I had a revelation while driving to NYC of all the stuff I did just that day (Christmas Eve): wrapped presents, finished some last minute shopping, cooked two pounds of collard greens, mixed a batch of coquito, packed all of the Babe's stuff for the trip, showered and dressed for the family dinner, packed the car, and drove for 4 1/2 hours to NYC (including a 45 minute food stop and another 10 minute pit stop to change the Babe's poopie diaper).

I did not, however, put on any makeup. Nor was the Babe wearing the complete cute Christmas Eve outfit because of the unseasonably warm weather. And we really did not come bearing that many gifts. And I forgot to defrost the duck in the refrigerator for our return. So even when I manage to accomplish so much, I find a way to be disappointed when things are not absolutely perfect.

Thus, one of my resolutions is to give myself a damn break. I will eventually write and mail those thank you notes and I will order the baby announcements before her first birthday. And instead of a family Christmas picture taken in front of our perfectly coiffed tree in an immaculate house with matching cutesy pajamas with our names monogrammed on them...we will make do with whatever picture I have on hand so that the cards can get in the mail before Valentine's Day.

Along with being too self-critical, I need to work on my hyper-sensitivity to veiled criticisms and side digs. Why I give a figgy pudding is beyond me, especially since no one offers to help me prepare for the holiday and only this year did anything begin to matter to a certain person (as if the kid will remember). From now on, I will not lament any forgotten or abandoned Christmas traditions since I can create new ones, such as over-buying gift bags and tape on clearance at the Target.

There is a meme making the rounds on Facebook that urges folks to clap for themselves, and I have decided that not only will I applaud but I might take out a newspaper ad or rent a plane to fly a banner announcing when I've done an outstanding job...or I might just write about it here. The point is that I need give myself credit for being a boss, even when I fall short because when I hit, I am HOT. I am that chick--the Closer, Olivia Pope, Wonder Woman, Claire Huxtable, Queen B, Big Mama or whatever you call the woman who gets it done when it is on the line.

New day, new year, new me. Thank goodness the holidays are over.

Friday, December 11, 2015

My Life Now

A few weeks ago at a dinner party I was asked if I planned to start a Mommy blog. Of course I said no, and then as if on cue, the Hub chimed in about the smell of baby poop. So I re-stated with emphasis that NO, I would not do any mommy-blogging. And I mean it! But before you start to think that I have reneged on that sworn blood oath taken on a stack of bibles, this is not a mommy blog post per se...

But a few weeks before that dinner party, I had a moment while sitting in traffic. I was heading across town to get my niece from after-care (which would totally be a mommy-blog topic) and I got very resigned to the idea that the story of my life for the next few years might involve sitting in traffic to retrieve a kid or sitting in traffic with a kid trying to reach a rehearsal/practice/game/event/appointment/parent-teacher conference/store before it closes. I got drafted to get my niece because I had her booster seat which was beginning to look like it belonged in my back seat next to the rear-facing car seat now occupied by the (finally) napping Babe.

Ugh. I was really late, my brother was getting anxious about late fees, and there was no parking in the school lot which was inaccessible because of police activity. So I had to park in a handicap space three blocks away, unhook the Babe, and trudge uphill to the school to retrieve the niece before Child Protective Services were called. Problem solved!

Yes, this is my life now.

In the car, I felt a little melancholy because I was listening to NPR and while I cannot remember the topic, I am sure that it was about something that would have been very important to me last year. Not to suggest that world events, the upcoming election and domestic terrorism are not important issues to me anymore, but at times it is far more important to make sure that I have snacks in my over-sized purse to keep the Babe happy (and apparently, it is a matter of life or death to arrive at after-care by six).

Years ago I aspired to be like the women in church who seemed to be in control of everything. Those women were often in charge of church activities, always on time, dressed impeccably, and could quiet a row of rowdy kids with a simple look. Later I wanted to be the high-powered career version with an important sounding title, a corner-office with a view, and a staff to do my bidding. Despite whatever challenges they faced in the real world, they looked like they had it all together. So at times, it feels a bit lame to be glad that we got out of the house for a few hours.

In the car that day, I was feeling unimportant and marginalized, but then at some point it struck me that I had just entered a new phase of Busy Black Womanhood. I may never be on time and I do not have a staff of minions, but hell, I have an eight-month old, I can wear all of my pre-pregnancy clothes, and sometimes I make it to dance class, so there! 

It is a big deal for me to post anything, so I will stay in my lane and leave the Mommy-blogging to everyone else. So I hereby declare that I have no parenting hacks, recipes, discount codes, or advice to share. I do have a few funny stories (like the time I hid the Babe under the table at a college fair), but I will try not to inundate you.

Stay Busy my friends...gotta go (running late :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Even Busy Black Women Get the Blues (Then and Now and Again)

By now it's no secret that black women can get the blues--even a Busy Black Woman who just happened to have had a baby 15 weeks ago...

Side note 1 - I wrote that sentence this summer when I first started writing this piece, but please keep reading:

Depression is not a new topic for me or this blog, and while I would prefer to write something a lot more light-hearted, it has been on my heart for more than three weeks to address my postpartum struggles. When I first began this piece over the summer, it was meant to be a commemoration of this past year since I began this unexpected journey towards motherhood in July 2014. My intended testimonial coincided perfectly with the baby's three month birthday and latest growth spurt; however, instead of celebrating I found myself overwhelmed by irrational sadness.

Side note 2 - We are now at the six month mark, another growth spurt is underway, and...

I have suffered with varying degrees of depression for most of my life, so I knew this was a possibility and was prepared to deal weeks earlier. I felt some of the typical new mother stress and reported that to the doctor at my postpartum visit. Then something shifted, like being hit by an enormous Pacific Ocean wave and I have been struggling to catch my breath ever since.

From my zigzagging emotional state; to enduring the various ailments that have manifested (and recurred) since giving birth; to this feisty little person who refuses to nap longer than 45 minutes at a time; to the omnipotent parenting expertise of Tigger (otherwise known as the ultra-exuberant over-protective first-time father); to my mother and the quicksand of dementia that engulfs her and my father; to every other aspect of my old Busy Black Life...I am really fucking depressed.

Side note 3 - I was really f***ing depressed, and then I was not, and now I am coping. This next paragraph reflects my current reality:

I decided to finish writing this piece about my postpartum depression even though I thought I had conquered it when I stopped taking the Zoloft one of my many doctors prescribed six weeks ago. This week, it started to creep back in again...but it has been manageable and the remaining pills are still in the drawer just in case (although I never could tell if they were working to be totally honest).

Side note 4 - All of this stuff is new:

I also wanted to finish this piece because I have needed to vent. Seriously.


For me postpartum depression has been a combination of all of the stressors I listed earlier multiplied by isolation, disconnectedness and a never-ending list of things that should must be done before this kid starts to walk. When I went to a doctor to address the matter, I was given a prescription and told to expect follow-up that never occurred (thankfully, I was not waiting by the phone or sitting on a ledge).

So how did I overcome? Well, first by admitting that I have yet to do so. Second, by accepting the fact that my life and relationships have changed dramatically and third, by deciding to go with the flow. Thus, when I have a week like this, when only a few things gets crossed off my list (none of the big ticket items, mind you), then I just breathe...

After I allow myself to lose it. Sometimes that could be crying; other times it could be shopping for more crap to add to my cluttered life. Or eating a lot of gelato. Then I pack the kid in the car and try not to hate myself for being imperfect.

A friend just asked me to give advice to another new mother which is ironic as I struggle to finish this piece (and as I am setting aside clothes and stuff for that very same new mother)...because who thinks of themselves as an expert on postpartum depression? My best advice is to seek out support.

Not advice, support. Plenty of people offer advice disguised as opinions and judgments on parenting. Which was definitely a contributing factor to my earlier feelings of inadequacy--folks making suggestions or off-handed comments such as, "that baby should be wearing more clothes" (even though it was 85 degrees and the kid was sweating), I fretted that I might have exposed her to the risk of developing June.

Finally, I also realized that there are times to let things this piece. I am a perfectionist, and I could keep writing and revising and it would NEVER be published. So here is my imperfect conclusion:


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5, 4, 3, 2...

I am still writing; I just have not posted anything to this blog.

The title refers to the attempts I've made at each milestone of the baby's life to write. Although I initially said that this would not be a baby/mommy/parenting blog, there were/are moments when I need to share. Like now, I need to share that my kid is teething and that I have three weeks left of Zoloft.

Too much? Read on...

Thanks to motherhood, I am a mess. A steaming hot pile of sweaty gym socks left in the middle of the living room floor mess. And it really sucks to feel like my only purpose in life is to pump enough milk to keep my husband from giving the kid formula.

Back to my blogging, which I have attempted several times in the last four and a half months. And how this stream of conscious rant is the best I can do.

For instance, a piece that started out as a "yay, I made it to three months without doing anything really stupid" turned into a piece about post-partum depression. And then it got too depressing to finish. Another piece on Caitlyn Jenner (not at all about me) is still waiting for me to pull together. And if I had any other bright ideas I guess I might have half-written those by now as well.

So I am blaming my false starts on my new computer and the old one. I am composing this piece on the new computer that just received a Windows 10 upgrade last week, which so far is meh (because the mouse does not work and other random glitches). I wrote an article for someone yesterday on the old computer which has all of my files, Office and a screen that is less than a day away from detaching itself. Hence, I can either work on the computer that is literally falling apart or the one that randomly does unexplained stuff like resizing the fonts on websites.

I also blame my various post-partum ailments which have ranged from ankle swelling to shedding skin/hair like a reptile. I have also become very emotional, unusually hormonal, and totally stupid. On the plus side, I have lost the baby weight.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Opinions are A$$.....

Yeah, I almost said it...and you can keep your opinions on the matter to yourself!

Ever since I bcame a parent, I have received a lot of advice. On everything. And most a lot of it has been useless.

Yeah, I absolutely said that. Useless.

Sure, the advice was offered with the best intentions, especially from all the non-parents with friends who have children that live in different states, so it was much appreciated. The advice offered from seasoned parents with grown children and grandchildren was also received in gratitude, especially when said advice was followed by a snarkastic "thank goodness those days are behind me!"

As if there was not enough unsolicited opinionating on parenting, there are SO many more opinions on just about every other topic under the sun. I know this because I read the online comments section of articles and all of your rantings on Twitter and Facebook. So in my unsolicited opinion, social media has made us a nation of assholes.

(This coming from a woman who also writes a blog. Pot meet kettle. Nevertheless, I would like to think that unless someone is a close friend or relative, I keep my opinions to myself. Most of the time. But this is not about me...)

Of course, there is a lot going on in the world so naturally if there is a constructive outlet available for folks to opine on current events, that should be allowable. So I am not annoyed by the fact that people are offering up their two cents worth on everything; I am dismayed that people feel compelled to do so all the damn time.

Social media used to be an escape from real-life events. Remember when status updates were all about telling people what you just did five minutes ago? And for over-sharing pictures of your lunch or children? Whatever happened to all of those little games involving virtual gardens and farms? When did everything become so serious? Suddenly everyone is releasing their inner Bill O'Reilly.

The latest thing is to opine on people's decision not to opine. Really? Can we all just take a break and exhale for just a minute?

Not all white people are bad--not even those who have purposefully decided to avoid racial landmines by commenting on current events. Not all black people take the moral high ground. Mexicans and other Latinos are coming to America for the same reasons that your Italian, Irish, Greek, German, Jewish, etc. ancestors came. Now that gay people have the right to call their civil unions marriage, you can if you wish, continue to secretly hate their "sin" more than you hate poverty, terrorism and Donald Trump. You are forgiven if you voted for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election; however, no such absolution if you vote for Ted Cruz. And no, Bristol Palin, we do not care that you could not abstain and got yourself knocked up...again.

And for the record, you are welcome to offer your parenting opinions as long as I am free to ignore it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

And Baby Makes...

Eleven weeks ago and a few hours after I posted that last piece, I went into labor! And now the Busy Black Baby is here, and SHE is doing great!!!

So much I want to write, but now that I am officially a mother (weird to see that written in a sentence describing myself), I have to write on the run. Today I am entertaining my 5 year old niece, hanging solo with the baby for the second week after surviving the husband's two months of paternity leave, and slowly but surely trying to ease myself back into some version of my Busy Black Life.


Part of that readjustment is my return to this blog! That means new pieces, regular postings to the FB page, a possible return to Twitter, a redesigned tee shirt, a few events, and just getting back into the swing of things. I know it is a lot to promise and Lord knows I have a checkered track record when it comes to this blog...

But, I am excited and committed! Of course motherhood has brought a whole new meaning to the concept of being Busy, and while I could write almost exclusively about this new aspect of my life, I promise not to since baby poop and breastfeeding are only slightly entertaining topics.

Gotta run...until next time!