Thursday, March 19, 2015

Home Stretch

Because I have not been in the habit of writing, it has taken me a while to rebuild my courage when it comes to choosing a topic. I have reverted to a few of my old habits--half-writing a piece and then abandoning it when the inspiration dies or the distractions of real life become too overwhelming. Another one is just being too busy with other nonsense to focus on the things that matter to me. But because I am facing a real life deadline, I am forging ahead.

This kid is due in a few short weeks. I have had a so many varying emotions, but have kept so many things to myself it seems almost counter-productive to write about them now. But my hope is that if I write first about the anxiety and the fear, then the humor will much easier.

Tonight we attended our third childbirth class and once again I am wondering what exactly was I thinking back in July when I started this journey (another time, another piece). It seems like in the midst of folks telling me that I ought to be happy and joyous, they were assuming that I would ignore the reality of the main event which despite all the talk to the contrary, looks quite the opposite.

So revelation number one: childbirth is going to be painful. No point dwelling on it, I just need to face it and live to tell the story, right?

Knowing that I only have a few weeks left, you would think that I would have cleared my schedule of Busy Black Woman activities to make space for the baby. Yeah...And for whatever reason, I have convinced myself that I will only need a brief hiatus of a few weeks before I can resume life as normal. Yeah...

Revelation number two: I am so not ready. I am not sure that I want to be ready. I am not sure that I want to slow down or change. Why can't the baby just adjust? Yeah...

I have very few friends with children. Like I can count the number on my hand and have fingers left. And I am surrounded by men who can't relate, including my doctor. My in-laws all live in New York and their kids are all grown. And you know that my mother cannot help at all, my aunts are doing their own thing, I am too private to reach out to others so here I am feeling like I am the only pregnant woman I know (which at the moment, I am).

Revelation number three: I am absolutely clueless. Lord help this kid.

Maybe these are not the most irrational fears and anxieties. But they are real. I worry because I have had an almost uneventful pregnancy, yet I am waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I want to enjoy the moment, but sometimes my mood swings make that impossible. I want to have a clean house, a fully decorated nursery and a spa weekend, but who am I kidding? I want to go into the Target knowing what size nursing bra I need without feeling the urge to cry because the selection sucks and not because I had no idea how a nursing bra was any different than a regular bra. I know that as soon as I join one of those Mommy networking groups, I will be back to my Busy Black Woman ways, so why fight city hall?

I want some sushi. I want to see my feet. I want to wear yoga pants everywhere. I want to sleep on my back without having my arms fall asleep. I want to know why I have to go to the doctor every week and wait thirty minutes for a five minute exam.

I want to meet my baby.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Beginning Again

It has been so long that I've written (finished) anything, let alone a blog post, that this will probably be just okay, but one of the good things about my absence these past two years is realizing that just being okay is sometimes the best way to BE. So here goes...

The Busy Black Woman returneth!

But where to begin? Where have I been, and quite honestly, after such a long absence, does anybody care? Well, since I do not have all of the answers (never said that I was the Omnipotent Black Woman), I want to break down my absence by sharing it in three major phases: the good, the bad and the ugly. Let's start with the ugly:

If you recall, my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's related dementia in 2011, shortly after I launched this blog. It threw me for a loop, turned me inside out and has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. She is still with us, but the progression of her disease has been rapid, painful and so exquisitely draining that the simplest explanation is that I hit a wall and just stopped writing. Kinda.

Actually, I have several unpublished drafts of pieces where the main topic was my frustration in becoming a full-time caregiver to my Mom. Those were not necessarily meant for posting here (for you also might recall that I have a personal blog called the Cafe where I tended to post those types of pieces), but after half-writing for weeks and feeling that I was only becoming more deeply depressed, I stopped writing altogether, with the intention of taking "some time off to spend more with my family". And well, yeah that really is what happened.

I call it the ugly because it meant that I sacrificed something that I truly loved and two years later, it feels like I've been in mourning. Not just lamenting my mother's decline, but also grieving the loss of a major part of my life. If it seems like I'm being overly dramatic, well I am because shutting down to focus on her has not exactly been a fair trade.

I will not spend too much time here on the ugly, because then there is the bad:

I was very proud of the Busy Black Woman persona that I had created, but it became unsustainable as the realities of my mother's illness became more obvious to everyone else but me. In my mind, I could do it all and continue to care for her since I did not have too many other distractions like a full-time job or children. However, other people began to notice well before I admitted the truth to myself-- that it was all too much and the results were many hard feelings on my part. In one rather hurtful situation that I alluded to here on this blog, questions were raised about my ability to do a particular job. And while the inquiry might have been valid, it was the manner by which it was brought to my attention that totally hurt and pissed me off (and yes, I am still hurt, but no need to reopen old wounds).

Bottom line, I could not claim the mantle of Busy Black Woman if I was not the Busy Black Woman I wanted to be. It might be the most obvious symptom of Type A personality disorder, but no one wants to be labeled a fraud--especially if the person affixing that label is the woman staring back from the mirror.

But then there is the good, which is the rather impulsive reason why I made a sudden return: I'm pregnant.

The Busy Black Woman will become a Busy Black Mother in about a month.

So in the midst of personal turmoil and chaos, the husband and I took a chance at investigating parenthood. Again. The long story of how we got there will have to wait for now, because that too had been a major source of disappointment and despair for me. Ironically, I was not all that enthusiastic about motherhood when I was a career woman, but when I fell off that hamster wheel, I figured it was the most natural alternative. But nothing happened and suddenly I was 38 years old with a Baby Niece close by. Then I was 40 with better health coverage.

And although I still have plenty of anxieties and concerns about becoming a parent in the midst of chaos and personal turmoil, I realized that I could be 45 with many of the same issues. And if I never pursued every available option, I might be a Bitter Black Woman at 45 wondering why I was still putting my life on hold while no one else did. So I took a leap of faith.

This pregnancy has been nothing like I expected and since I am saving some topics for future writing, I will only say that if by taking a leap of faith in getting pregnant, then that same faith has inspired me to try my hand at writing.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Many Happy Returns!

It has been a month or so since my last dispatch, and because today is a special day, I just thought that I would offer up a list of 39 things for which I am eternally grateful:
  1. To be alive, reasonably healthy and generally sane.
  2. That I have a crazy husband whom I would not trade for anything, not even the Powerball.
  3. When my mother has a good day, because one good day can make up for several bad days.
  4. Caring and attentive neighbors and friends.
  5. My parents' 40th Wedding Anniversary Celebration (and that it exceeded our expectations).
  6. My brother's engagement (finally).
  7. That my Baby Niece is really a lot like me, so watch out world!
  8. Dancing out of my comfort zone.
  9. Good friends who accept me for me.
  10. Found treasures that once belonged to my grandmother.
  11. New relationships and opportunities.
  12. The ability to start all over again, and resolve to do much better this time.
  13. Old friends and the blessing of reconnection through Facebook.
  14. Grace.
  15. The necessity of letting go of the hurts from the past.
  16. Blessings that are being bestowed on others.
  17. True sisterhood and the work that sustains it.
  18. Online shopping.
  19. Yoga (yes, it has been bringing me peace).
  20. That this old house is not yet falling apart, despite our negligence and DIY disasters.
  21. That we can bless others with the little bit we have and no longer need.
  22. This blog and the growth I am claiming for it in 2013 and beyond.
  23. That *free* makeover I underwent a few weeks ago.
  24. That scripted television has made a comeback.
  25. Humor.
  26. Wisdom, growth and maturity.
  27. A new church family at Shiloh, and extended church families at St. Theresa of Avila, Tabernacle and Canaan Christian Fellowship.
  28. Butterflies, ladybugs and dragonflies.
  29. The 90s.
  30. That I went to Europe this year unexpectedly.
  31. Sometimes obsessiveness is a good thing.
  32. That I am the proud Big Sister/Auntie/Titi to several wonderful young people.
  33. These gray hairs on my head that insist on asserting themselves no matter what.
  34. That God saw fit to surround me with great men.
  35. Health insurance.
  36. The 2012 election. In America, we can agree to disagree without bloodshed and chaos.
  37. Christmas as seen through the eyes of children.
  38. Inspiration and dreams.
  39. Animal print accessories.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fried Chicken Wednesday: The Election Edition

America, how could we do this???  How did we manage to re-elect Barack Obama without  conclusive election results from Florida, an obnoxious Twitter rant by a loud-mouth attention whore, a riot at a University that just celebrated 50 years of integration, or a massive drop in the stock market?

It is the Barack-mageddon!!!

Be honest, you are so going to miss the 2012 Election!  Because if this had been a meal, it was the crispiest, butteriest, juiciest, fried up-diest platter of slap-my-grandma-this-was-so-good Southern fried chicken wings ever!  And now as we stare at the pile of bones, loosen our belts, and snooze off the -itis, what in the heck are we going to do with ourselves for the next two years until the next Presidential challengers announce their intentions and fake like they really want to live in Iowa or New Hampshire?

What now America?  Especially since RuPaul's All-Stars can't last forever...

(Disclaimer: I acknowledge the inherent concerns about using fried chicken metaphors to describe the election results. So that joke about wings and mumbo sauce that I was about to include will be recast as a joke about shrimp fried rice and soy sauce.  On second thought, nevermind.)

Because now I need to be serious...the Busy Black Woman is really looking forward to the day when disappointment or discouragement about the accomplishments of this President are not cause for inappropriate chicken, watermelon, monkey, witch-doctor, or other racially insensitive references on social media. 

See, and I really mean this, I am optimistic that when the next black man gets elected (and yes, it will happen again--this was not a fluke), or when the first woman, Latino, or openly-gay Republican gets elected, we will be that much closer to becoming the America we purport to be.  If this is truly the land of opportunity, then we all need to believe it. 

So let's evolve. Let's exhale. Woosah. There will be another election in four years. And if Obama leaves behind a mess, the next President can spend the next four years cleaning it up. That is what we do as Americans. We start over.  We rebuild. We endure.  Surely, as people of faith in our own exceptionalism we cannot accept that the end of civilization as we know will be brought about in one election.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Men at Work

As the East Coast continues with the arduous task of clean-up after Hurricane Sandy, I had an interesting revelation.  The President, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg of New York, Governor Christie and Mayor Booker of New Jersey, and generally all of the other elected officials (most of them men), did rather well under the pressure of extreme crisis management.

Thus, in recognition of the fact that each man stared down one helluva storm and did not blink, I hereby bestow upon them the title of Honorary Busy Black Woman.  For one week.  And today is Thursday (so only until Saturday). 

Crisis management is literally two-thirds of what the average Busy Black Woman does. She has to negotiate how to make it across town to run several errands, chair a meeting or two, get dinner, handle the chores around the house, and make it all look easy.  Let's face it, men are not feted for their crisis management skills.  Men are celebrated for bravery, which does not require much planning or thinking.  Bravery requires the split second decision to kill or be killed.  And as a wise woman once said, any fool can be brave on a battlefield. 

By the way, I am not suggesting that men are fools. But I am suggesting that the extraordinary events of this week required characteristics that most of us are unable to summon in even the most ordinary circumstances. 

As you know, this Busy Black Woman tries very hard to remain non-partisan, but I am human and have very strong opinions about this never-ending presidential election.  The fact that my mind has been made up since 2007 notwithstanding, I have to say that the events of the past few days have given me a newfound respect for the job of being an elected official.  And so if I can add my own spin to the words of Margaret Mitchell, any fool can look presidential (or gubernatorial or mayoral or just official) on television...

For those of us who got spared by this storm, we need to count our blessings and pay it forward.  Say a prayer and then give to the American Red Cross, the United Way, Salvation Army, or whatever other reputable relief organization you choose.  Don't just feel bad about what happened; do something that might ease the suffering of others.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fried Chicken Wednesday: Halloween for Dummies

My favorite holiday is Halloween and because it falls on a Wednesday this year, I am inclined to compare that love to a platter of buttermilk-battered deep fried chicken!  I'm not sure how long I've felt this way, but maybe it is because I have lots of great Halloween memories: like the year that the future husband and I spent an entire afternoon in my parents' basement with a bunch of kids carving pumpkins.  (Of course, the same is true of every other major holiday with themes that encourage creativity with construction paper, scissors and glue sticks.  Which is probably why I have yet to find the excitement in Thanksgiving.)

However, as an admitted Craft Project Junkie, Halloween takes me there without pushing me totally overboard like Christmas.  Let's face it--there comes a moment when no amount of tinsel, glitter, glue guns, beads, baubles, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, felt, and artificial snow will make up for the fact that no one really cares that you made all those crappy ornaments and decorations yourself.  Yet, people are actually impressed when you make your own Halloween costume, even if all you did was dress in all black, accent with a few leopard print items already in your wardrobe, staple some cat ears made from construction paper onto a headband, and draw some whiskers on your face.  Voila, you were a cute kitten and you can wear that belt again! 

Of course, Halloween has its downside.  There are those weird people (like my grandmother) who give away toothbrushes, fruit and rolls of pennies instead of candy.  Or the people (like my Dad) who pass out candy that no one wants like candy corn, butterscotch or Almond Joy.  Sometimes there are overly protective parents who politely chastise you for not offering alternatives for kids with nut allergies, or mannerless children who neglect to say thank-you after demanding extra pieces of gluten-free candy.  Among those in the the too-old-for-trick-or-treating-set, there are teenaged girls and grown women dressed like slutty naughty maids, cocktail waitresses, nurses, police officers, animals, angels/devils, cheerleaders, or anything else that encourages fishnets paired with micro miniskirts.  This is especially problematic when the male compliment is a pimp costume...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just Another Busy Saturday

On Friday night a friend was IM'ing me and attempting to understand what had possessed me to book an entire Saturday from morning to night with activities.  I tried my best to explain that it was just another Busy Black day in the neighborhood, but she was not buying that and almost as if she was hexing me, she accurately predicted that I would get sick--and wouldn't ya know I'm sick RIGHT NOW as I am writing this piece?!

But let me set the record straight.  I am not sick from overdoing it.  I am sick because I spent 2 hours in a germ factory masquerading as a Halloween party for kids.  I am sick because in addition to being in an enclosed space full of coughing and oozing children, I was too close to farm hay and as a person who is allergic to everything, I apparently neglected to take my antihistamine yesterday morning.  And just maybe I am sick because instead of going straight home to bed after returning the Baby Niece to her father, I sat watching in amazement as she shot back and forth around the room like a firecracker, all the while ignoring the congestion taking hold of my chest. 

I assure you, I did not overdo it yesterday.  It was a typical Saturday for me.  I started the day at the Alzheimer Walk, attended a college fair, visited my parents, went to dance rehearsal, and then took the niece to the aforementioned Halloween party.  Sure, I missed church this morning because I woke up in the middle of the night terrified that I might have pneumonia and then overslept well past the time for me to have been respectably late for church.  But this is not an illness that will keep me down for too long.  My body will heal itself and I will be back to running around hither and yon just in time to prepare for Frankenstorm.

Because I've got too much to do to be sick.  I've got a two parties to plan, tulip bulbs to plant, recital pieces to rehearse, a conference to attend, tee shirts to sell, articles to write, an election to monitor, prospective students to recruit, a committee meeting to lead, and all of that is before I even think about Thanksgiving!   

So, no my dear friend, I appreciate your concern, but this is not running myself into the ground.  This is what Busy Black Women do.  Saturdays are supposed to be tiring, which is why I don't feel all that bad about missing church this morning despite the fact that I haven't missed in a month of Sundays...

OK, maybe a little guilty.  But as you aptly pointed out, I cannot be all things to all people nor can I be everywhere all the time.  God understands and will forgive me. 

But if it turns out that you were right and I do have pneumonia, it is all YOUR fault for hexing me!!!