No More Empty Pats On The Back

So, I keep coming across these articles and blogs written by other moms calling their peers great and, badass. I don’t really hear any of that from the world. Yeah I’m complaining. That’s it, isn’t it? Mothers as a “species” complain too much. “Just shut up and do your job”. “Why did you have the kids and the house if you can’t take care of it?” After all we are “moming” for all of you. These little charming things will be someone’s boss, someone’s friend, someone’s employee and so on. The only people really seem to have our backs is others like us. There’s no true understanding of what it’s like to be in the trenches. What it feels like is that we keep patting ourselves on the back and moving on. The people, the world that we are actually doing this job for couldn’t care less that we are doing it. I know I sound bitter. But I am not. Well, I am a little. I love my children. I like being around them. However, whenever I read something from another mom saying, “hey mama you’re doing a great job.” It usually doesn’t make me feel better, it pisses me off. Because most likely I’m reading it when I have finished all the housework, gotten them into bed. No More Patting On The Back

Made their lunches and maybe I’m even getting a lecture from my husband about how they don’t eat healthy enough or something. At that time it just seems like others moms are the only one’s who see it. Oh yeah I did come across an article about those guys. Two men come around and appreciate the women in their lives and the ENTIRE internet breaks in their praise. And that is what we seem to be doing all day for each other.
Doesn’t seem balanced, does it?

It’s not.

It’s not a man vs. woman thing. It’s a mom vs. the world thing. This is the loneliest job in the world. I know we have established that. I don’t think we are making any progress by telling each other how great we are. I think we need to start telling other people how great we are. I think we need to stop feeling guilty for being moms. We need stop feeling like there’s anything wrong with wanting a break or wanting to stop being moms for a few minutes during the day and just be women.

Demand that.

Along with everything else we do the only thing we get lost in is being moms. Lets not let the world forget; because we are doing it for them too. Like I said, these children that they keep saying are just ours will one day become their problem. So, they better start paying us some respect so we can raise them to be the human being this world needs and deserves.
 

 

Mother’s Day Special 

Mothers Day comes and passes and I wait for someone to say something to me. They always do. They say Mother’s Day should be a special occasion for me now because it was hard for me to get these two. What battles and scars I carry as a mother is a story for another day they tell me. I smile and change the subject. What else is there to say? No.

There’s much to mourn on this day. I am happy. I love these two with a love that no one else can imagine. I wonder what I did with my life before they came along. However, the loss, the pain. No. Don’t tell me to celebrate. You have forgotten becaus you have that luxury. You celebrate because you hold the capacity to forget. I am the mother to all of them. I don’t have it in me to forget, celebrate or forsake those that have gone. 
So, yes I will hold dearly my children every day. I will take care of them. I will do whatever it takes to protect them, and it goes without saying that I love them with everything I have. But I cannot celebrate days like these. You will find me smiling, laughing and enjoying my life to the fullest. You will, however find me quietly bypassing certain days, moments, when I’m told to “rejoice” and “celebrate” because somethings cannot be when they are incomplete. I’m missing something. 

I fully believe he’s in a good place. A better place now then he was in when he was here. However, he’s not with me. It’s hard for a mother to feel complete. Content and complete are two different things. I’m satisfied with the decision that was made for me and him. I will be complete the day my family is reunited so I will leave the celebrations for that day. 

The Day The World Stopped Being Black & White

In our house we have always seen color. But my kid saw too much of it that day. Adam used to always talk about the color of people’s skin as a matter of fact. Children notice these things. They say stuff like, “his face is square.” You have round eyes mom, but Dawud has long eyes.” That day he didn’t just see it; he made the kind of judgment I didn’t expect from him. We were in the car, going somewhere. He looked out the window and saw two teenage boys playing. One looked like him. Brown, not too dark I suppose. The other was black. They were playing in the park. He pointed at the brown kid and said I like him, but I don’t like the other one. Before he could complete his sentence our car had zapped passed the boys. My heart had already jumped in my throat and my mouth was dry. My next words had to come out carefully. I was silent. Thinking, assessing… Unsure of what had just happened. How? Why? Just then my younger son asked his brother. “Why Adam? Why don’t you like him?
Adam: because he’s black.
“Because he’s black”.
The words were echoing in my head. Pounding. Just pounding away. Have you looked in the mirror lately? My precious little brown child.

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Why is my kid saying this? He’s a sweet little boy. We don’t talk like that in our house. We have never given him the idea to judge people on how they look. Have we?
Me: You don’t know if he’s a nice person. Maybe he’s really nice and if you were in that park maybe he would play with you. If he could hear you say those words it would hurt his feelings.
Would you like it if someone told you that they don’t like you because of the way you look?
Adam: “Like if I’m brown? If people like you and Dawud better because you are white?”
Where? Where was this coming from? We are all from the same place. Dawud and I are lighter skinned compared to Adam and his dad and he notices it because he’s observant. But we’ve never made him feel that he’s less loved or liked because of it.
Me: Yes, just like that. If someone saw you and said, this boy is too brown or that his hair is too black. I don’t like him. Wouldn’t you want to say to him; “why does that matter? Everyone looks different. I didn’t make myself this way. I know some really cool games. If you gave it a chance and came to play with me we could have done some really fun stuff.” And most of all it would have made you sad that he thought that way about you when you didn’t even do or say anything bad to that person.
He changed the topic. We have talked about how people look. Why people look different and race plenty since then. I have bought books.
I don’t want to raise colorblind children. However, I don’t want to raise little racists either.
I chose my words carefully that day. Don’t know if they were the right ones.

This opened up a whole new chapter for me. How do I make children so young part of a discussion they don’t yet understand?

This little boy has started looking around him that he is not as well liked as his brother who is whiter than he is. Or that his friends who are whiter than him are better treated solely because they are whiter and have lighter colored hair. He has noticed that he is better liked compared to the African kids in his class. We can better word these articles and make these “politically correct” but this is the world we are living in. We don’t like to talk about it but this is what we are sending forward. I can avoid writing about it because it’s hard to write about because it’s my little boy and to me those are both my little boys. I can say I am raising them right and we are self-aware. I can end the discussion at because we are a brown family we know what it’s like and just leave it at that and not talk about the uncomfortable truth that it trickles down. Not talk about the reality that all of this has taught my son to look at the world from painted, tinted glasses. He is learning that maybe, just MAYBE the darker you are the less likeable you should be. It is a hard truth for a 4-year-old boy going on 5 who is dark-skinned himself. Imagine what kind of deep, dark self-hating, self dis-liking road this would have sent my son on. Just the other day he was laying on his father shoulder half asleep and I was sending him off to bed. I kissed him and said you are a very beautiful boy. Do you know that? He says, “yes I do”, I said, “people tell you that? That you are beautiful, inside and out”. He says, “yes they do.” The one thing I know for sure about this kid is that he says what’s in his heart. He never says anything to keep face. If he’s thinking it he will say it. If he feels it he will tell you. If he doesn’t want to say it he will keep quiet but he will not say something he does not mean.

He knows his parents love him and his family members care about him regardless of what he looks like. And that we all think he is beautiful. I am glad he believes it. However, he also knows, KNOWS that the world thinks he’s less liked than his brother who is lighter skinned. I can’t change that for him. His brother who is a wonderful, loving little boy as well can’t change that for his brother. They just have to grow up in different worlds. In two worlds where they both know they have been in each other’s shadow through no fault of their own. In worlds where they are going to have to fight each other and one is going to have to get left behind every now and again through no fault of his own.

I just hope their relationship can remain strong through this and they can weather the storms of this kind of discrimination that’s not even true discrimination but it’s as real as it can get at age 4 and 5.

 

 

 

B Is For Bossy

I’m the person that makes everything work. Yes. That’s me.

I’m also the person who, it seems is always, telling my family when they’ve done something wrong. I go soft and things fall apart. It’s a terrible job. Makes one the “no fun” member of the family for the most part BUT someone’s got to do it.

Everyone everywhere is telling moms to take it easy and enjoy themselves and, their families. In all honesty that is some solid advice. I would give that advice to friends and family myself if I didn’t live the life I live and, handle the things I handle everyday.

It’s not just about not doing the dishes or letting the house sit dirty, which is not something I can ever do if I’m telling you the truth. It’s not even about not enjoying our kids in that moment when they are doing something fun or not joining in, in playtime. People assume that all the tiredness and weariness comes just from working, cleaning and running after the kids. No, the tiredness comes from knowing that if we didn’t do all those things that we do, If we didn’t get tough on the family to keep up with everything they need to keep up with in order for us to keep running things smoothly, everything will break down into little shambles. No one will see the shambles but us, which means we are the ones who will end up cleaning up that mess.

At the end of the day people will tell us, “see? The world is still turning. You were freaking out for no reason”. However you alone will know that world has gotten this much harder to turn and you are the one who is turning it. No one else will see it but you.

So, when you’re screaming at your family to turn off the iPad or TV and get ready for bed and they keep saying, “five more minutes mom, just 10 more minutes.” You look to your husband for support and he gives you a look that says, “What’s the big deal he only asked for 10 minutes.”

You can either just give up or you can say, “no get up now”. Most days that is what I do. I give them an ultimatum, including my husband. They all have to scramble and start getting ready. I know what they are thinking. The evil lady who doesn’t know how to have fun can’t give us 5 minutes or 10 extra minutes. She needs to learn to chillax. Here’s what I am thinking that no one else can think of because it’s for my mind, my eyes and my physical body to handle only:

Ten minute means they will start moving in at least 15 minutes because I know my family. The kids will not get up to go brush their teeth without their father. He has to finish up his work and get ready for bed too so that another 15 minutes. So, we are already about 30 minutes past bedtime. We haven’t even gotten to the changing into PJs, read a story phase yet. “I need water.” “Now I need to go to the toilet again” dance that we all do every night. I’ll have to commend my husband for this one; he handles all of that way better than I do because I am in only one mode; which is, GO.THE.HELL.TO.SLEEP. I am not much fun at bedtime.

Late bedtime means sleepy, tired mornings. No one wants to get out of bed for school. I gaze at my husband while he wakes up, sometimes even earlier than us, but gets ready in peace and heads off to work. I barely ever get to say good-bye because, that’s right, I’m wrangling tired, sleepy children who are refusing to get out of bed. On the days they are tired the shirt is always wrong. The shoes don’t fit right or someone just wants to crash on the floor right before we are ready to head out refusing to get up.

All the while I am thinking about the lessons I haven’t prepared for my students. The test I have not gone through for the students that will be waiting for me in less than an hour. Or some other crap I need to do which I didn’t get done.

You would think this would be the end of it, right? Nope. They get home even more tired and cranky. They want to hurt everyone and destroy everything. They are sleepy but don’t want to nap. They are tired but they don’t want to sit in one place. To handle this chaotic day I have to make even more rules because everyone is hell-bent on shattering every single one of the ones I already have. Finally the day ends and someone asks for 10 extra minutes before bedtime.

Being tough brings much guilt with it. Even after ruining the entire house their little faces can be convincing enough to put you in a cycle of self guilt and terrible self judgment. Everyone around who is not running the house and just gossiping is not much help. However, me being a softy is short-lived. I have to put on my bossy pants (as Tina Fay would put it) and start firing around. Only then do things start to work properly.

It is always way more fun when the routine is in place. We can all duties then we can all relax and enjoy ourselves. With that said, I am not saying I don’t know how to have fun and relax every now and again but the bottom line is that when men make rules and enforce them they are called assertive when we do the same thing with our families we are called bitchy, mean or too wound up.

Problem is women can’t stop being the evil being that we are without the world crumbling around us because guess what? The world needs us to be exactly this way. We can’t change. We have to remain who we are. And the world doesn’t seem to want to change anytime soon.

I’m going to make the change within myself. I’m eliminating the guilt. I’m a bitch. I’m the person who makes sure people do their jobs right because if they don’t shit falls apart. Those people who give me guilt over it, are the ones who give me guilt over shit falling apart as well. So I do what I have to do to keep the world spinning. I do what I have to do to keep my kids alive. Let’s be honest, most days it means being bossy and assertive. The world is just going to have to have to get over it.

The Makings of Make-Up

why do women dress up? We wear makeup for men? For ourselves or families? This debate has been going on for as long as women and makeup have been around. The simple answer would be that every human being likes to beatify themselves. Why does this need for women has to turn into degrading and shaming women. We don’t say that to men when they wear too much cologne or whatever else they may choose. I’m not knocking it or over simplifying the problem I’m actually here to present another perspective. What if the need to dress up comes from a need to connect? Everyone wants to be remembered and loved. I hope you remember my necklace story. My son just yesterday asked me again where my necklace was at bedtime. My skin is still healing. That’s what made me think of all those times my makeup, jewelry, clothes made us connect. 

I had been asking my husband to exchange our wedding ring for a bigger one. Now it’s the smallest I have. He always looks at me disapprovingly when I say that. “What? It will still come from you? With love?” I respond, every time. I was getting dressed for a party one day and I had all my jewelry spread out on the dresser including the tiny wedding ring hiding in the mass of colorful gems and beautiful decorated beads. My boys were helping me pick out what to wear. The older one says, “this is the best one,” in his hand was our wedding ring. That is the ring I wear most. It’s not about the jewelry. It’s about the connection. There’s a certain lip color my boys love on me. Whenever I wear it they always compliment me. I couldn’t put it together. Just recently adam said “this is the color of your kiss”. “My kisses don’t have a color” I thought. 

A while back his school gave us a cut out of his hands to send a kiss in to keep in class, in case the children missed their mommies. I was wearing that color that day. 

This is why. 

There are many different languages in the world. Many different ways for people to remain close and tell one another, “I see you”. This day and age has found another way to say this and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It may not be for some, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an expression. We need to let them have what works for them. 

 

Enough!

You should write a book. You should write a blog. What's your secret? What diet plan are you on? Talk us through what you eat every day.

Are you taking some kind of diet pill? What motivated you to make the change? But there has to be some kind of plan. What's your exercise regiment? Come on, you have got to know how many calories you eat/burn per day? Did you eliminate carbs? How many hours per day do you work out?

Enough2

What diet plan? WHAT DIET PLAN DAMN IT?

Enough1

It was not a big elaborate thing this weight loss. I didn't count my calories or plan out my days or weeks. I just started moving a little more and eating a little more greens and the other stuff thats good for us, bit by bit.  Kept it light and easy. In small doses so it didn't over whelm me because it was for real this time and I didn't want to quit or freak myself out myself out this time. So I started slow and steady as they say for the lack of a better term. And I'm not nearly done. I still have a long way to go so this is not a before and after thing. This is a work in progress.

Maybe the only two questions I can answer, are: 1. What motivated you to make the change? And 2. What kind of exercise do you do?

I guess technically what kind of diet "plan" would be a legitimate question as well: stop-eating crap. Literally that's it. I'm not saying that I took out everything fun from my life because I couldn't live like that. I did all those fad diets, and they just weren't for me. The weight kept coming back because I kept going back to eating normal stuff. So my best bet was to lose while eating normal stuff that I like. Just eat it in moderation. Just eliminate the food that was not healthy and eat more of what is healthy. Something I could make a habit of and keep up.

And I do workout regularly. It is hard at first but gradually it gets easier and easier. Well when I say "easy" I mean it is eventually doable. None of this is easy. You need to find what motivates you. One day something inside you will tell you that enough it enough and its time for change. That day you will be ready for all of the change and hard work. Slowly but surely you will see it. You will see your face getting thinner. You will feel bones where once there was flesh. You will have to buy new wardrobe because clothes will not fit right (this is my favorite part). I am not a health nut. I don’t check calories on my food. I don’t automatically go for veggies and fruits. I love candy. Now that I have kids I can actually justify having candy and chocolate on my nightstand even though most of the kinds I eat they don’t like. Still I'm losing weight because I’ve found something that motivates me.

I was over weight for over 20 years. It wasn’t just a few pounds over and not just for about a few years. It was for over two decades and about 100 pounds. I have illnesses that make moving around difficult let alone working out. Eating healthy just wasn’t enough. And here I am today, moving forward with no plans on stopping.

Two days a go I walked up a pretty steep hill without pulling a muscle or needing to go back or stop. I have not wanted to get on the bus or take a taxi once our entire vacation. My husband keeps asking me if I want to stop or take a cab again and again. I get annoyed that he’s asking so much. Now Im realizing its because he’s not used to me being able to walk to so much and not get tired.

People always came at me with different diet plans and different workout plans. I could never keep up with any of those things. My needs were different. I have chronic pain. I have so many other issues that people didn’t understand. I used to get upset at first and used to try to explain my situation. Then I realized that most people are not concerned with my health they just don’t want something fat and ugly to look at so I just decided to ignore them and worry about me because that after all is the most important things of them all. I wanted to wait and see what suits me. The person who is concerned about my health, the person that wants me to be healthy is not going to talk AT me about losing weight and being healthy but is going to work with me on my time and my convenience. Between being ill, going to school, working and having children working out, and eating right becomes kind of difficult all the while having surgeries and on bed rest days and weeks at a time. Just stay with yourself. Don’t think you will stay that way.

Just remember that you will decide everything and everything will happen on its own time. It may not be now, or a year from now. But it will happen. And then it will not happen like a miracle. It will not happen and change your life over night. It will be an up hill battle. Slowly, you will take one step and then another and then another. You might even want to give up a few times. However, when you go shopping for a new wardrobe the first time or you grab yourself in a certain place and there isn’t any flesh then you will realize you are on the right track and the road ahead will seem closer and worth it.

Now close your eyes and think about what it will be that will make you say…Enough!

The Possibilities are all Possible

Every time I showed the faces of my 4-year-old and, 5-year-old to anyone and asked, “can they go up to Acropolis?” They paused for a second. Then very hesitantly they would say, “Well people have done it.” I don’t know. You can try”. However, this is one of those places where you don’t know when you get to go again. Once you are here you want to do everything. I also want my kids to experience as many things as they can. I want them to know the world not just from our eyes but from the eyes of others as well. I want them to see it and know it as others have known it. If they have a chance to learn that from this age then why not? So we took a chance and believed in our kids, and more importantly believed in our selves as parents.

The Possibilities are all Possible

On the way there and back I didn’t see a single child their age. It could have been a coincident. It is a place for adults after all. Not just for adults but for adults who really care about, history, culture, and philosophy. Kids care about none of that generally. I was scared to make this adventure with them. In the end I was pleasantly surprised. They loved climbing up. They did not complain once. Loved all the birds and bugs they found on the way. Pretended all the marbles was water and made a game out of everything. Every time they saw any marble or slippery surface that we would ask them to be careful walking on or running over they would scream, “BE CAREFUL OF THE WATER, YOU WOULD’NT WANT TO SLIP”. People would look around to see where the water is. A few times,  quiet embarrassed, we had to explain to people, that there is no water and the kids are just pretending. They went up and came down just the same, running and playing. It was great.

Goes to show you my kids surprised me. I don’t have a big huge lesson for anyone here. Just a small reminder for myself why I haven’t stopped traveling even after having kids. Its hard and frustrating sometimes but its worth it because in a few years I will have awesome traveling buddies who will understand the world so much better than me and might even teach me a thing or two about how wonderful it is if you just let your mind run free.