Friday, July 8, 2016

ENOUGH!

This has been the WORST WEEK EVER.

In one week, there have been two police shootings caught on tape, which was outrageous enough. Then today I woke up to the news that there had been a sniper-like attack on a dozen police officers with five of them killed.

As we mourn publicly the senseless loss of lives, the sadness I feel is compounded by the resignation that this will only polarize us into camps of black lives versus blue lives versus all lives versus gun control versus gun rights versus whatever else is out there to make the world worse than it already is.

ENOUGH!

I am a mother now, and something strange happens when a little life enters the world with half of your DNA. You see everything with new eyes. You ask different questions of yourself. You look upon this little person with his/her emerging personality and wonder about the future. Your reactions to events is much more emotional. You realize your shortcomings and pray that in twenty years or so, the therapist will be kind.

So when I wake up every day this week to one tragedy after another with my baby girl sleeping so peacefully next to me, I am at a loss. Some of you have to explain this to your babies; luckily I do not, but one day I will and it hurts. Because she will ask me why and what will make it stop, and I will have insufficient answers.

Yet we do have the ultimate answer inside of us if we are willing to ignore the anger, the hate, and the fear. We can choose LOVE. We can decide that not just for the children we have been given, but for all of the children we will choose LOVE. Choosing love allows us to feel compassion for the families of everyone who lost someone this week. Choosing love allows us to participate in peaceful protest with police protection with the expectation that our legitimate grievances can be met with policy that serves all of our best interests. Choosing love is not choosing to value one life over another. Choosing love is to disagree about the means, but to agree that the end is certainly not more senseless death.

Live and LOVE.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sick of Lemonade

When life keeps giving you lemons...I mean, how about an occasional lime so that I can make margaritas or mojitos?

I recently had another BIG Busy Black Woman meltdown over a slight that I could have overlooked, but chose otherwise. The details are unimportant, but let's just say that the Hub will might think twice before forgetting to text me the full details of one of his half-baked, last minute plans involving the Babe.

Yet, the real reason for my meltdown was not the Hub's sin of omission, but the postlude to time spent with my mother. We had such a good start to the day that I was lulled into a false sense of satisfaction, then shit went awry. Add to that the fact that I was hangry and probably operating on maybe four hours of sleep...so yeah, I unleashed a category 5 Busy Black Woman Hurricane.

So just know that there are days when I am not hearing the life and lemons speech because I have had enough lemonade. I am too through with trying to make the best of a fucked up situation. I am not feeling any motivational memes or biblical truths about adversity making me stronger or hardships setting me up for something greater. Screw that.

Sometimes when I catch myself wondering whether this is all really happening, and then reality bites to prove that yes, this shit is real, I fantasize about the Glamorous Life. You know, that blissful, unapologetic existence of perpetual self-involvement. The freedom from guilt or anxiety for choosing to do for myself instead of everyone else.

I get it though...I invented this persona, gave it a name, and have proven time and again that I really do have superpowers. It is the ability to handle everything even though there are plenty of other able-bodied and of-sound-mind folks in the vicinity.

Besides, you would not be reading this if I were a Busy Black Man (unicorn).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gone Too Soon

Last night I was scrolling through my FB timeline when I saw an update on Pat Summitt, the former women's basketball coach for the University of Tennessee. Until a few years ago, I had no idea who she was...and unfortunately the reason why I know about her now is because of what she shared with my mother: a diagnosis of early-onset dementia related to Alzheimer's disease.

They were diagnosed the same year, in 2011. Pat Summitt passed away last night at the age of 64. What I saw earlier on FB was an update that she might be dying and I was hopeful that it was an exaggeration. Yet, as we have learned all too frequently, these imminent death watch updates tend to be fairly accurate, so I was not surprised by the news this morning.

However, I am surprised at how quickly her condition deteriorated. And my emotions are all over the place.

I feel for her family. Her son was born the year I entered college, which means he is only 26. The last five years of his life (the beginning of his adult life) were spent watching this horrible bitch of a disease strip away at his mother's memory and her dignity. At some point, she became so incapacitated as to need placement in a care facility. And then, literally, in the blink of an eye, his mother is gone.

And that is where I end up all in my feelings about what is now happening to my mother and what the future holds for my daughter...

While there is so much I want to express, to do so makes this all about me. And Alzheimer's gives no fucks about me, just like it gave no second thoughts to destroying Pat Summitt, totally upending her son's life, and erasing all of who she was until 2011.

Alzheimer's does not give a fuck about any of us.

I regret that I did not pay attention to women's basketball, let alone know anything about Pat Summitt, who was clearly a living legend. I know that as effusive the praises were for Muhammad Ali, who succumbed fairly recently to Parkinson's disease (another undiscriminating neurological bitch of a disease), there will be no such accolades for Pat Summitt. Other than tennis, women's sports still have a long way to go, even if you are badass enough to have won more games than everybody else. So I resolve to read her book, connect to her foundation, and do whatever else I can never to forget Pat.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Busy Black Baby

I am writing this at the end of a very intense week of over-scheduling myself and the Babe, with moderate success. If you are reading this on Monday when it posts (or thereafter) it is entirely possible that I will not have learned my lesson and will either be at a library story time or a funeral. In either event, the entire month of May has been one grand experiment at trying to be that perfect, always-have-a-plan Mommy.

Let me rewind to the beginning of the month when I was having one of my self-pitiful panic attacks about being a bad mother. This was how I comforted myself after the Babe's birthday fiasco and how I chose to address some of the conflicting emotions I was experiencing at the approach of Mother's Day (still writing that piece) and well, whenever I convince myself that I am under-doing it...

I began plotting and researching ways to enhance the Babe's social development. I investigated home schooling; purchased tickets to child-centered performances; populated my calendar with free cultural events for us to attend; finished her passport application; am taking an eight-week class on baby language development; am also learning some American Sign Language to teach her so that we can communicate; and plotted every library story time within a 15 minute drive from our home. And I still have another full week left in this month!

Mind you, no one has suggested that I am over-doing it, yet.

And no one will because I have learned that motherhood is a competitive contact sport (like roller derby without the skates and the skimpy outfits, but in heels/sneakers and classy sweater sets/yoga pants). The goal may be to raise a decent, honest kid, but there are so many, many ways that simple plan can be derailed. No one expects half of this effort from fathers, but we all recognize that the success of one's child(ren) is wholly dependent on how intensely the mother pursues every possible opportunity to gain an advantage. Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise.

For example, the husband and I took the Babe for her 9-month checkup and let's just say, we left that appointment feeling like illiterate teenage parents. The doctor suggested that there might be some language delays and it immediately tripped the Hub's inner defensiveness switch, which led us to investigate a variety of services and programs for which we were ultimately deemed ineligible. And that might have been the end of that line of inquiry, except by chance we took advantage of another opportunity that convinced me that we have been seriously slacking!

Of course which is not true, but clearly my job as a stay-at-home-parent is not merely to keep the Babe from killing herself. It is to expose her to any and everything she is missing by not being in day care, which in addition to communicable germs, is pretty much everything. So she goes to play group once a week to see and play with other children. And upon that foundation I began formulating a master plan which is what led to the creation of a massive color-coded wall calendar in my kitchen filled with daily Babe-centric activities and events.

The fact that I am exhausted is irrelevant. The fact that she might be overwhelmed is too bad since she cannot protest, yet. The fact that this is only the beginning and that things will become much more complicated and involved as she gets older is well, LIFE.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mother's Day 2.0

The first year of motherhood is behind me and now that the second has begun, it is once again time for me to decide how I feel about Mother's Day, the Hallmarkiest of holidays.

My decision is to make peace with it. No grand expectations, no drowning in a sea of overwrought emotions. Dress up, go to church and treat it like any given Sunday.

I started on this piece several days before the big day and had all kinds of internal battles: should I focus on my history with my own mother and how she made the day feel like a grand test of how much I loved her, or should I write about my ambivalence in seeking to celebrate myself? Should I mourn the slow loss of my mother or the actual loss of others who had been like mothers to me?

Or should I just let the day pass, the feelings recede and just come back to it later?

I chose to revisit this piece to address some of those emotions. Yes, Mother's Day was bittersweet for years when my mother was well and made me feel like I was the only child who really did not appreciate her. Perhaps that was all in my head, except it was not when I think back to the last Mother's Day before we I really began to recognize that something was wrong. She refused to speak to me because of an argument over something trivial and stupid, and then she repeated that same behavior several times that year...and it took another year for anyone else to believe that this was unusual.

Then there is the irony that as I should be excited to celebrate my first year of motherhood, she continues her slow decline. Milestones that I might want her to acknowledge with me, she cannot even notice. In the years since her diagnosis, but more intensely this year, I have missed her.

But she is still with me, so that is what I chose to celebrate. Every year I could lament what has been lost forever, or every year I can chose to remember for her. So that morning, we made it to church on time and that evening at dinner, she ate all of her meal. Best Mother's Day yet.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy Belated Anniversary...

This is not really intended as a new post, but it is for the sake of posting something that has been on my mind for a while as I contemplate how to move forward with this blog. It was five years ago this past week that I bought the domain name for my blog. And as you already know, these past five years have been a little rough for me...so as I have been trying to re-engage, I am on a mission of sorts.

I need lots of stuff in order to make the Busy Black Woman concept more than just a blog I post to whenever I find time and energy (which is essentially when the Babe is asleep and I am not totally exhausted). But I want a cooler website, a better tee shirt design, a way to actually take and process orders for those snazzy new tees, and possibly the expansion into other media platforms (like a podcast, perhaps).

I want a lot. I need help. I have no idea where to start.

So, I am just putting it out there. And admittedly, I am no good at asking for help. But if I were creating a vision board (ha, as if), I would put improving my blog and all of its possible future incarnations at the center. Along with making my bed, getting my child to eat off a plate instead of the floor, and finding a way to teleport.

But none of that in any particular order.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

When the Parenting Advice You Read on the Internet is Bull$

Again, another post on parenting:

So I was just reading an article someone posted in a parenting group that claims giving kids timeouts is bad--in fact, any form of punishment is bad.


A few weeks ago before we took the Babe on her first plane ride, I bought her one of those bookbag harnesses so that she would not wander too far away from us, just in case. A few days later I read a few articles on why these "baby leashes" are a bad idea. And then there was this segment on the Today Show.

Articles tout the merits of breastfeeding, then lament the pitfalls of doing it on demand. Other articles deride mothers who send their children to day care before six months of age even though most working mothers barely have enough paid leave to stay away from work for more than three weeks. I once read an article that argued whether maternity leave was necessary since mothers have access to breast pumps (covered by insurance, just like those two days spent in the hospital after popping the kid out).

I am sure that I could find an article that encourages parents to leave their children in the backyard to be raised by wild deer, supported by the quotes of so-called experts who would claim that deer have a better track record of raising offspring than human beings. Yep, tell that to the dead fawn carcass you drove by last week...

ALL OF THIS IS BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT. BULL to the S to the H to the I to the capitol letter T to the third power!!!

I have been a parent for a little over one year. My sweet, darling little cherub of a child destroys books, bullies younger children, and has trained her father to let her do whatever she wants. She bites when she get frustrated, laughs when I sign different commands at her, and is generally a certifiable nut case. So all forms of punishment are bad? Cool beans. Inbox me your address and I will gladly send her over for a play date.

Mind you, I am not complaining about my kid. I love her to the moon and back and would not trade her for anything, not even a mild-mannered version covered in chocolate and whipped cream.

But umm, yeah you can kiss my bumper with any advice to reason with a pint-sized master manipulator-manipulatrix. No one is going to raise a perfect child. Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents raised us just fine without the benefit of all these expert opinions circulating on the internet and most of us are fine. Sure, we have issues that require a little therapy or maybe a lot of Jesus to manage, but so did everyone who came before us.

Bad parenting advice will result in your child being featured as the lead story on the evening news, worse in a chalk outline, or much worse dancing on a pole. Not one of these folks offering opinions on what is best has the slightest clue what you endure on a daily basis from that sweet little maniac in the other room. Remember, these same folks coined the phrased affluenza.

And that is my rant for the day. My break is almost over; the kid will be back soon...