Sex Tape Trumps Baby

Eva

I pride myself on not watching a whole lot of television and definitely not reality television. To me, it’s always an indication that I have too much time on my hands or I am totally avoiding something I know I need to be doing. With that said, I also pride myself on knowing a little bit about everything, at least enough to engage in conversation at a water cooler.

This week the world is a buzz about the MiMi Faust Sex tape. For those who are unaware, MiMi is a regular on reality show Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. No she’s not a recorded hip hop artist and no she is not an aspiring Hip Hop MC. The father of her toddler daughter is Stevie J, a producer in the industry.

Yes, I know my regular readers, are like is she really talking about a sex tape? Yes and I will tell you why. Eva Jordan, her daughter is around the same age as my 5-year-old daughter and I am horrified that this Chocolate Mother didn’t think about her baby and her legacy or thought so little of it to degrade herself with a sex tape. And to add insult to injury, it’s with a different man, Nikko Smith, who she is not married to.

I am far from a Holy roller and I believe that what two adult people within the confines of their bedroom preferably marriage do, is truly their business. But MiMi was not the victim of a sexual escapade that was mistakenly videotaped and leaked by an ex-lover. This was orchestrated and released by her camp. As I watched the clip, I just kept saying “what about her baby.”

I am legitimately concerned for the welfare of her child and apparently so is Steve J. who is now seeking custody of their daughter. Now, I’m no Stevie J. fan, in fact, I thought his character on the show was despicable. But as a momma I’m having a hard time with this. My daughter idolizes me. She loves her daddy, but she watches and emulates everything I do. She watches me put on make-up, she walks in my shoes, she watches how I interact with people and especially my husband. She asks a ton of questions and she depends on me to teach her how to be. As mothers we have a responsibility beyond our own personal needs and goals. As mothers we don’t get to dwell on the “what about me” or “when do I get to be happy” syndromes. It’s so not about us. And in the words of Eminem “We only get one shot.” I’m really going to need for us to do better.

Oh, and did I mention Ms. Faust is starting a children’s clothing line? Really? What is it going to consist of baby leather strap ups, fishnets and whips and chains? Now for a 40+ single mother, I must admit she looks good, but I couldn’t help but wonder the pain that this 30 seconds, minutes or even days will cause Eva in the long run.

 

Where’s the Sandman?

Sleep

On any given morning around 4 a.m. my eyes open and I know that my long lost friend sleep has abandoned me yet again. I used to lie dormant, praying to go back to sleep, tossing and turning trying to figure out how I was going to function the next day. Some time last year, I embraced these early morning wakeups as a time of peace and stillness. I don’t set my alarm clock but when I wake, I get up. I trek downstairs in the dark, make myself a big cup of hot tea and find something to work on for the next three hours. Since I now get up, I’ve put the anxiety of not sleeping to bed. It just doesn’t bother me. So I fall asleep just fine, just haven’t mastered staying sleep.

My husband is my polar opposite in the sleep department. He has trouble falling asleep. He’s a night owl and usually doesn’t shut his eyes until about 2 a.m. Unbeknown to us and unintentionally, we usually, silently pass each other in the night.

It’s one thing for the of us to walk around sleep deprived, but a few months ago sleep also left my baby girl’s bed. She has never been great at soothing herself to sleep and recently has struggled to stay sleep for more than four hours at a time. So we did what any loving parents would do. We panicked. I made a diary of everything she ate, in hopes of finding the culprit. We continued our nightly routine and incorporated toddler Tai Chi after bath before prayer. We scented her room with lavender oil. We dimmed the lights. We tried melatonin. We even tried letting her sleep with the dog although his snores quickly proved to be too much. I was really starting to stress over it. I was reading everything I could on how to help a toddler sleep. I made an appointment with her pediatrician. We even had a parent teacher conference with her teacher to report her sleep issues and check up on her school “attitude.”

But one early morning last week something happened. I got out of bed about 3:58 a.m and by 4:36 a.m. I had already cleaned the kitchen and was about to start writing and I heard a soft voice say “mommy” I replied with a quiet yes and she made her way down the steps in the dark. When she came in the kitchen I am sure she expected me say what I also say “go back to bed, your body needs to rest, lay there quietly and think happy thoughts until you fall back to sleep.”

Instead, I asked her what was wrong. “Mommy I can’t sleep. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t sleep” she said. So I gave her a hug and I told her I understand and that sometimes that happens to me too and I offered her some tea. She smiled and accepted.

As we sat on the couch cuddled up with a warm cup of chamomile, we didn’t talk much, the lights were out and we watched the sunrise through the blinds. I empathized with her struggle and thought about my own. And that’s when she said it. “Momma, this is the best time of my life. I will remember this forever. Just you and me watching the sun come up with a cup of tea.”

I couldn’t help but smile and hug her even tighter. And while my quest to help her get the rest I know she so desperately needs won’t stop I recognize that at 5 years old she cherishes moments with me, even the sleepy ones and for now….that’s enough.

 

 

 

A Wise Woman

A friend of mine home schools her children and she has a slogan she reminds her daughter of daily, “Knowledge, Understanding and then Wisdom.” I admire the strength of this statement. See gaining knowledge about something is just the beginning. The reality is we spend the majority of our time in the understanding stage and rarely do we reach wisdom.

When it comes to communication, I have the knowledge and I’m at the tale end of understanding, but I have not yet mastered it. I am truly a work in progress. I’ve gotten better, but I have not arrived. See understanding is when we know we should do certain things, or say something a certain way. It’s being fully aware that interrupting someone while they are speaking is rude, inappropriate and unproductive, but we give ourselves excuses like “I ain’t got time to coddle his feelings, or I shouldn’t have to sugar coat what I need to say. However, a wise woman knows that time in itself is relative. We determine what we have time for and the idea that we don’t have time for something we should value means we haven’t learned to value it.

Some of us communicate more than others. Regardless of how little or much a person speaks there are just a few reasons we communicate at all. When you dialog with someone, anyone you are trying to give them information manage a relationship or make a request. Most of the time we want something, we are making a request. There is however a formula to making a request and using the formula will determine if your significant other thinks you are just nagging or a change is on the horizon.

So when you are making a request, here’s the formula:

1)   Validate the person and the relationship. Restore their sense of self-worth.

2)   Clearly and concisely state what you want the other person to do

3)   Explain how their current action makes YOU feel and include your expectation. You can only use “I statements” no “you make me mad when, “you should know” or “you always.”

4)   When possible offer a possible solution

5)   Assume the person will comply and thank them

Oh and by the way, my disclaimer is that this only works if you are in a relationship with someone that values you and the relationship. I have a quiz I can give you later if you need help with this determination.

Now that we have the knowledge, let’s see if I can help with the understanding. Let’s say for example your issue is that your spouse leaves his dirty dishes where he ate and it drives you crazy. You can replace dishes with whatever applies, socks, shoes, etc…You have complained about it before, but have you made a formal request ? And yelling at him NOT to do it, is not a request, that’s nagging. So using the formula above would go something like this:

1)   “Babe, thank you so much going to the store to get the onion for the meatloaf. I am grateful to have a helpmate.” Wait for his ‘you’re welcome.’

2)   “There is something else, I’d like you to do to help me, though. Can you please put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher when you finish?

3)   I feel over-whelmed and unappreciated when I have to clean up after dinner.

4)   If you don’t feel like putting them in the dishwasher, can you at least put them in the sink so I can get to them later? Again wait for his response..

5)   Now here’s the hard part…..assume that he heard you and if he said he would….believe him. None of that yeah right mentality or I bet he don’t attitude and when he forgets as he probably will don’t assume it’s him ignoring your request. Just remember that old habits are hard to break and we all need to be reminded when we are changing a behavior.

I want you to know I here the sister girl attitude through the internet: “Ain’t nobody got time for that, he knows the dishes don’t clean themselves. How come I have to craft all that to get him to do what he should already know?”

I’ll tell you why, because that’s the difference between understanding and wisdom. A wise woman knows that all of the above will more likely than not get you want you desire and that alone is worth a try. A wise woman knows that all of the above to get the dishes from the table to the sink is worth a little bit of her piece of mind.

So before you write this off and tell me it won’t work….try it, you might like it. The journey to wisdom is paved with uncertainty, but perfected through trial and error. Much Love.

 woman

 

 

 

 

 

It’s all in a Name

A little over a year ago we bought the children goldfish for their rooms. Morgan chose two, because she was the oldest. She named them Belle and Bo and decorated her fish tank with a rainbow and hot pink stones. As suspected, they didn’t live long because she insisted on feeding them herself. I suspect a little too much feeding contributed to their demise. We had a short Cosby like funeral by the porcelain throne and kept it moving. Garrett chose the smallest of the three fish and wasn’t phased at all by having just one. In fact, I think he preferred it. He chose a Hulk figurine for his tank and to no surprise he named his fish “Hulk”. Now, I must say I have questioned our decision to buy these fish many a days, because it really became just an extra chore for me. Garrett is too young to do anything but admire him and say “that’s my fish” so the feeding and cleaning of the tank was added to my already lengthy mommy list. Some days I remembered him, and some days I didn’t. But Hulk is resilient and never had any issues. That is until last Friday.

It’s rare for me to be the last one out of bed in this house, but I was wiped out and clearly my husband knew it. So I woke to the sound of the children dressing themselves and preparing to wash their faces in their bathroom. Before my feet could touch the floor my husband whispers “R.I.P. F.I.S.H” okay so I must admit it took me a minute to comprehend the spelling game. But around here, that’s how the parents communicate. It’s like our pig Latin. So, I nonchalantly asked what happened. He whispers that Hulk jumped out of his tank and he found him lifeless on the floor of our son’s room when he went to wake him for the day. To protect Garrett from any trauma he did what any parent would do. He took the wet overnight diaper he had removed from our son and scooped up Hulk and put him in the toilet before the children could see. I can’t help but chuckle at his quick thinking and keep to myself that I may have added a little too much water to the tank the night before.

After letting me in on the parent secret for the day, he tries to beat the children in the bathroom to flush Hulk before they can see him. Only thing is HULK is moving ever so gently at the bottom of the toilet bowl. My husband isn’t sure about what he just witnessed and decides I need to come confirm. By this time, the cat is definitely out of the bag or in the case the fish and the children know that the fish is in the toilet. By the time I make it to the bathroom HULK is definitely alive and actually looks quite comfortable. “He’s alive, he’s alive,” Morgan jumps and yells. At this point both adults know we have to try to save this fish or we would clearly miss out on the parent of the year awards and forever be the parents that killed HULK.

I run downstairs to get the net and we find Morgan’s empty tank and fill it halfway with water. When I return both children and daddy are surrounding the toilet watching in amazement as HULK gains more and more strength and settles in to the bottom of the toilet. Both children are cheering and I’m laughing because this is hilarious and all the noise is not helping HULK feel safe enough to move out of the crevice at the bottom of the toilet bowl. In fact, he backs up and we can barely see him.

I then usher the children out of the bathroom and my husband asked us to bring the fish food. Morgan delivers the fish food and waits in the hallway. Daddy sprinkles the fish food in the toilet and within seconds this fish that was once lifeless has been scooped up and put back into his tank that now has a little less water in it than the night before.

The children erupt with cheers for daddy. They are jumping up and down and clapping and yelling that HULK is alive, he’s alive. “You’re the best daddy in the world,” Morgan says. As the best daddy award was being delivered, Hulk was now getting reacquainted with his home. My husband looks at me and says “there is no way he will be alive when they get back from school” and I nod is agreement. We were both wrong. HULK is alive and well, in fact he acts as though the whole incident is behind him and I can’t help but think that he has in fact lived up to his name.

HULK

No ifs ands or BUTS about it

Let me start out by saying this page of Chocolate Mother is different than the Mommy Moments Page. The Mommy Moments category is warm and fuzzy.  It’s me tackling  or fumbling through the most difficult assignment I’ve been given. There’s no passing of advice or judgement there. I just share. This category is not designed to be warm and fuzzy. It’s going to be raw, it’s going to push you to think. It’s going to challenge you and how you do things and conduct yourself.  It’s going to be full of advice, judgement and prayerfully redemption. So if that’s not your thing you can stop reading now.

Oh, you’re still reading? Good. Technically,  I guess I should list my professional accolades that lend me the right to speak on particular topics. Let’s just say that I have studied and taught Communications for a very long time and God has a way of using you when and where he wants you, if you are open to receive him.

If you’ve known me longer than six years then you have undoubtedly witnessed a change in how I communicate. This change did not come easy, nor without much prayer, studying and practice. I was a firecracker. Say it wrong, I’d curse you out. Say it at the wrong time and I still might curse you out. My motto was to fight back.  Frankly it’s all I knew.  It’s all most Black women know.

However, everything is not a fight. Stop making it hard for people to love you. I said, stop making it hard for people to love you. That kind of leads me to today’s topic. African American women have been coined “angry” we are perceived as being “angry” in the workplace, “angry” with our men and “angry” with our friends. I think this misconception is directly related to how we communicate. We have been reared to speak our minds, tell it like it is, but rarely do we learn the difference between aggression and assertion.

I can tell you first hand that when we learn assertion, we are powerful.

Most disagreements happen because we need practice owning our feelings and being less aggressive. We will have lots more on owning our feelings, because it’s tough for adults to learn.  However today I suggest you do one thing, stop using the word BUT. When you use the word BUT, you totally negate everything you said prior to its use. I’m sorry I cursed you out, BUT you made me mad. So you took away any and all responsibility for losing control and said it was their fault. In other words, I’m sorry I stepped on your foot, BUT your foot was in my way. I challenge you to stop using the word BUT. Seems simple, BUT it will force you to recognize an opportunity to take responsibility for hurting and misunderstanding those closest to us when we communicate. If it’s so easy, then do it. Commit to one day of not using the word. If you use it more than twice in a day, you have some work to do.

If you find yourself in confrontations a lot, I guarantee you use this word way more than you aware. The next time you and your spouse or even your girlfriend have a disagreement, stop, listen and leave the BUTS out of it and I guarantee it will end better than the disagreements before. BUT is accusatory, BUT excuses your behavior, BUT tells the other person their issue or feeling is invalid

So how do you get your point across if you can’t use BUT? I’m glad you asked. You simply make your statement and craft how to say what the real issue is. For example, I’m sorry I cursed you out. I know that offends you. I was wrong for that. I was frustrated and I was angry when you did….or when you said…

Yup, that’s it. Instead of using BUT as an excuse to NOT say what your true emotion was, take it out of the equation. And if it seems simple, then do it….I dare you and once you do, leave a message below about your experience.

 

BUT

 

Potty Time

Garrett

If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense or something like that. Well, if that is true I don’t make sense a lot. I never started this blog with the intention of endorsing products or giving advice. Rarely will you hear me provide a “must have” list. And although I won’t get a dime I have got to share with you our family’s newest secret weapon. It’s called the potty watch and I tell you, it’s one of those inventions that you sit back and say….”why didn’t I think of that.”

The potty watch is a miniature timekeeper for toddler wrists, shaped like a potty that counts down pee time and alarms the child with cute little tunes when it’s time to go. If you are toilet training, it’s the best $9.99 you will ever spend. When you think about it, it’s an investment that will save you hundreds of dollars in pull-ups.

Don’t buy it on Amazon; theirs was defective. My husband got ours at Babies R’ Us. Now, he’s a gadget guy and I must say I didn’t have the same enthusiasm he had in his new purchase, until I an entire week went by without any accidents. My son is 32 months…okay, he’s 2 and a half and he has had quite a few successful potty training moments, but I wouldn’t have said he’s potty trained. That is, until the potty watch. In fact, I had just about given up on the idea and thought I’d try again when he turns three. After all, he’s a boy right? No rush. Well, I’ll tell you the rush. A box of pull-ups closes in on $50, you heard me right, $50 bucks. That’s a lot of money to piss away.

Secondly, I was growing increasingly irritated by him chasing me down in the house with a wet diaper in hand that he wanted changed. What nerve. A few minutes late and dollars short, I’d say. Lastly, did I mention a box of pull-ups is close to $50 bucks? It was definitely time to push this milestone along a little bit.

So why does it work? First, he thinks he’s grown up cause he has a “special” watch just for him. Then, it serves as a reminder to go and we make him go each time. Ours is set on every 60 minutes, the maximum setting and it’s amazing that his little bladder has yet to fail its mission. I mean a busy toddler has way too much to think about to remember to go to the bathroom. Plus, it reminds me to tell him to go handle his business.

Now, no product is perfect and you can’t have but so many expectations for $9.99. So don’t expect the toddler watch to keep time, it doesn’t. It’s just a stopwatch. It lets him know how many minutes or seconds until his next potty visit. And don’t expect it to shut off at nap time or bedtime, cause it doesn’t. That means we strategically place it downstairs so it doesn’t wake us up during the night, because the toddler tunes just don’t stop. Yes, that’s a little irritating and I can’t say that I have figured out how to wean the use of the potty watch. I’m just not there yet. I mean will he be in 1st grade with a must have watch that sings London Bridges every hour? I hope not. But for now, we are a full week in with just one accident and dry pull-ups when he wakes up and I’d consider that $9.99 well spent.photo 2

Gymnastics wins too

gymnasticsII

After almost three years in ballet, I was just getting in the groove of being a dancer mom and now she wants to throw me a curve ball. Okay so not exactly softball yet, but my soon to be 5 year old begged and begged to try gymnastics. The more she begged the more I suggested she make a choice, mommy’s schedule and state of mind just can’t handle too many extracurricular activities. “But mommy how can I choose when I’ve never taken gymnastics?”

So she won that round, can’t really argue with that type of logic and I decided to try a mini course with Parks and Recreation to test the waters. My first mistake was thinking classes were once per week, I thought it was just Mondays, but I stopped reading too soon because classes were actually Mondays AND Wednesdays and ballet on Tuesdays. Yikes….

But I kept telling myself, it was only for a few weeks and we would make a decision at the end of the cycle. So we trudged along. Perhaps I missed the clues at the end of the first class when another mom politely asked if she had taken private lessons, “she’s good,” she said, to which I simply replied “thank you.”

In true Morgan fashion, she showed up and showed out in every class. She loved it, she learned quick and practiced at home. To my chagrin, she even showed her 2-year-old brother how to do a front roll. Is that even the right term?

After two and half months it was finally time for the last class. I can’t say I was sad to see it leave the weekly schedule, but I was surprised at how much she enjoyed it, and frankly how much she learned in such a short period of time. She was excited because the last class meant mommy got to stay and watch. Yay…(total sarcasm), no quick stop to the post office or the grocery store for me.

But my nonchalant attitude quickly subsided as soon as she stepped on the balance beam. She was focused, poised, and happy and I was proud. She followed instructions and paid attention. Before long, I was pulling out my iPhone taking pictures and short videos to show daddy at dinner. When she finished her instructors gave her a hug and then asked the all so important question “is Morgan going to join us for the next cycle?” “There’s another class” Morgan asked? “Oh, can I mommy, please, please, please?”

And then I said it….”we’ll see.” To her, that meant yes and she skipped all the way back to the car as if she knew something that I don’t. I mean, what’s a poor momma to do? Three days a week with extracurricular activities is a bit much and I am sure her brother will join the calendar intrusion by summer’s end. All I can say is…. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” See ya’ll at gymnastics in the Spring.

gymnastics