Princess M meets Lady O

Truth be told, I am totally aware that I am still kind of new in the parenting game. I mean, when you think about it, I haven’t been at it long enough to even be eligible for full retirement benefits. Most jobs require five years, and my princess is just 3-years-old. All that said, one thing I have learned for certain is the length my husband and I am willing to go to provide opportunities for our children. We are so blessed and I would be remiss not to acknowledge the high favor we receive, daily. Thank you Lord.

This week the First Lady of the United States came to Greenville. When her visit was announced there was no doubt that my husband and I would try our best to be in attendance. In fact, I can honestly say I have never stood in line for any type of ticket or merchandise before; no, iPhone lines, no rap concerts, nothing. I have always been the type to think if it is meant to be, it will be. But two hours in hot weather to see First Lady Michelle Obama seemed effortless. The question became what to do with the children during her speech. We wanted to see her and to be sure it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for them, but long lines, long wait and tight quarters doesn’t fair well for two toddlers. The feasibility caused lots of questions, but we decided to wing it and man am I glad we did.

“Morgan, we are going to hear the President’s wife, the First Lady speak, would you like to come?” “Sure, is she kind of like a Princess,” she asked. “Yes, I guess so, but she is the First Lady of the United States, meaning she is married to President Obama and she is Sasha and Malaya’s mommy,” I say. “Oh, I know them, they are in my book. Will they be there?” she asks. “I doubt it,” I reply, they have school the next day.” “Oh, okay, well can I have a play date and see their room?” she asks. “I don’t think so baby girl, that’s not quite how it works, but maybe one day you will get to see their rooms.”

For the most part that was our last conversation about it and I was starting to think she was unimpressed and unaware of the magnitude of being able to see the First Lady in person. That is until I dropped her off at school that morning. “Guess what?” she asked her preschool teacher. “I’m going to see the First Lady, President Obama’s wife.” “You are? You are so very lucky,” her teacher responded as she escorted her to her cubby. I walked out thinking, that’s the reaction I was waiting on.

When we arrive at the stadium she asks her dad if she can stand with him on the floor and for the next few hours I am close enough to see her, but too far for her to see me gleaming with pride; she is surrounded by people she knows and has a front row seat to see and hear Sasha and Malaya’s mommy. Our First Lady appears and is just as beautiful as she is talented and sincere in her delivery of a message that resounded the importance of the upcoming election and our responsibility to vote, volunteer and spread the word. As our F.L.O.T.U.S. makes her way to the exit, she stops to shake hands and I immediately notice how close our friends, their children and my husband and Morgan are to her face.

I see her hugging our friend’s daughter and I get chills on my arms at what that moment will mean to them. I am so happy for them.

It’s not until I am reunited with my husband and my princess that I learn that she too shook Michelle Obama’s hand. “Both hands, mommy, two hands,” she said. It’s at that moment that I am full of enthusiasm for all the times as monumental as this that I look forward to. The number of friends and neighbors that surround our family and support our children is humbling and I am hopeful that she remembers this day. I am grateful for choosing a mate that will go to any lengths to provide for his children and I am grateful to have a First Lady that I can relate to, be proud of and admire.

I am in total awe of the entire experience and pray it had and will continue to have a positive impact and influence on the lives of all the children I know The First Lady touched that day and everyday.

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It’s Your Birthday!

For the last nine years I have had the pleasure of watching my husband grow one year older and wiser on September 15th. In the past we have celebrated with parties, trips, private chefs, extravagant gifts and experiences. We’ve been referred to as jetsetters and soire throwers and enjoyed every minute of it. But our life has changed. Two toddlers have not cramped our style, but has modified our flow.

This year my husband decided that he wanted to spend his birthday with his family. He wasn’t sure in what capacity but was adamant it would have to involve the children. In reviewing Morgan’s summer vacation list of things to do, there were just two things we didn’t get to; bowling and an amusement park.

Well, we live around the corner from a bowling alley, so it just doesn’t seem to be out of our reach. Plus you can bowl anytime of year and we still have some work to do on her sportsmanship. She gets really upset when she feels she isn’t doing well at something.

All that said, amusement park won. He decides on Bush Gardens and that works for me. As I am packing the baby bag and making a list of all the things we shouldn’t forget; like the double stroller, he is in charge of finding discount tickets and researching the park.

It’s not until we are all packed up in the car that I learn there is a Sesame Street portion of the park specially designed for children. I mean, I know they had kiddie rides, but Sesame Street characters too? Baby G loves Elmo. Instantly both adults are amped in anticipation of their excitement.

It’s about a 2.5 hour ride from our house and Morgan is delighted to catch up on her beauty rest, but Baby G is not convinced a nap is in his cards and doesn’t dose off until we are 27 miles from the park. Since we have two babies, we splurge for the premier parking and still have to walk what seems like forever to the park entrance.

The Sesame Street section is in the front of the park, plus we are not sure how long Baby G will hold up since he only had a catnap, so we make that our first stop. After posing for pictures with Bert and Big Bird we head to our first ride. It’s a boat ride and Morgan is now tall enough to ride by herself, but Baby G needs an escort and after a quick game of rock, paper, scissors, I squeeze my mommy bootie into this little boat and pray it doesn’t tip over with baby and all.

For the next hour or so we monitor line skipping and squeeze our adult size bodies into child size seats on rides. I let go of all my food conscious mommy stuffiness and let them eat cotton candy, popcorn, funnel cakes and pretzels. After their fill, we head to the Griffon. It’s some crazy high roller coaster that looks really dangerous. This ride is for daddy and we are happy to indulge his rollercoaster fetish. “Happy Birthday,” Morgan says for the 100th time when he walks through the exit. So no, my husband didn’t celebrate his birthday this year with a party or private Nascar experience like before, but he did get to celebrate it his way.

 

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Not the Same Color

I usually avoid malls at all costs. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I don’t like to shop. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like looking for clothes on the rack, and I don’t like spending money. As much as I dislike them, every once in awhile, it’s inevitable and with two toddlers it has to be a planned event. After packing snacks, diaper bags and the stroller and a bag full of patience, we load up the truck and make the two-mile trek to the local mall.

Back to school sales filled the parking lots like someone was giving away money. Obviously the use of school uniforms has not cut down on the traffic or the amount of money parents are spending in preparation for the new school year. We quickly give up on the notion of finding a space near the door and my husband decides to drop kids and me off, park and join us.

While waiting for him to park, we run into several people we know and entertain ourselves with small talk about the weather, the children and general life updates. When he joins the discussion, and us our daughter becomes inpatient and starts to pull my arm towards the door. Just then, a young Caucasian woman exits Belk followed by an African American male around the same age. It’s obvious they are together, but no public displays of affection or anything. As they walk to their car, minding their own business, my daughter says, “Hey, they are not the same color.” She obviously sees the dismay on my face and quickly adds, “but it’s okay, it doesn’t matter, right?”

“No Morgan, it doesn’t matter, God made us all, so a person’s skin color is irrelevant,” I explain. Now, I’m not sure if this couple heard my daughter, but I do know her comment bothered me for several reasons. First, I have several interracial couples in my family and lots of mulatto cousins. Second, in an effort to protect her self-esteem we have intentionally instilled positive ethnic undertones. Third, she is surrounded by people of all ethnic backgrounds in a variety of settings and some of her friends are beautiful products of interracial couples.

As an adult, I have had the privilege of avoiding certain uncomfortable conversations such as race, religion and politics, and now find myself confronted with these conversations on almost a daily basis with a curious toddler. So obviously she is stuck in a diverse world and trying hard to put all the pieces together and I have the ever so important role of helping her figure it all out. But this puzzle has quirky pieces and one wrong turn or term can lead to ethnocentrism or self-loathing; neither is my intent. But the middle ground to all things is generally rooted with acceptance. I am certain I have in no way implied, said or felt concern with interracial relationships, but something she has been exposed to has either been misinterpreted or given the impression that interracial couples is unacceptable. I can only pray that I am able to dig up the seed that has been planted before it takes root and I must reexamine any internal bias or prejudice I may subconsciously harbor. Parenthood is an awesome responsibility and opportunity for self-examination.

 

Don’t Tell Jesus

Every once in awhile, I indulge my daughter’s shopping hobby with a special trip to the dollar store. Conveniently, she usually waits until we get there to announce she has forgotten her money and asks to “borrow” some like she has a job. She doesn’t make a list, she just likes to peruse the isles and find a few things that she would like to try. Baby G rides up front, so she usually hangs on to the back, facing me and rolling down isles backwards. On this particular trip, she settles on an oversized magnifying glass and some kind of paddle ball thing. Once she has added her items to the shopping cart and a few items she feels she “needs” like Elmo soap for her bathroom we head towards the checkout.

As we approach the front of the store, we notice the line and approach with caution. As soon as we get in line, she announces that she has to use the bathroom. “Really, Morgan, how come you didn’t go before we left the house? You know I don’t like public bathrooms. Is this an emergency or an adventure?” “Sorry mommy, but I really have to go,” she says. So without another word, we turn around and head to the back of the store. On the way, we pass several people, one of which is an older African American woman with a light complexion. She is well dressed and her hair and makeup are in perfect order. She exchanges pleasantries and I think our encounter is over. That is until my daughter feels the need to loudly state “I don’t like ‘his’ hair.”

The woman doesn’t say a word, but clearly she and several others were within ear shot to my adorably, rude little girl. So in defense, I say, “well first of all, she’s a woman and I like her hair, it’s pretty.” Okay, the woman’s hair fit her age, it looked like a beehive, but it was deliberate and she may have looked a little masculine, but was clearly a female. “No mommy, I don’t like it,” she repeats.

“Well Morgan, Jesus doesn’t want us to hurt people’s feelings and that was unnecessary for you to say. She didn’t ask you if you liked her hair, that was mean and I think you should apologize,” I say. By now I notice a sign that says the bathroom is out of order and magically she says she can wait until she gets home.

“You want me to tell her sorry, now?” she asks. I reply, “Yes, you hurt her feelings now, so you need to apologize now.” “But what if she doesn’t want me to say sorry,” she asks. “Well, that’s a chance you take when you say mean things to people,” I reply. She hesitates for a moment and hops off the back of the shopping cart, she runs up to the lady and says “I’m really sorry I hurt your feelings. I didn’t mean it. Do you forgive me?” The lady almost overwhelmed, says “You are so cute, and yes, I receive it and I accept your apology.”

She runs back to me and hops back on the shopping cart and asks if I was proud of her. I am sure my smile said it all, but I did tell her that I was very proud and reminded her that as Christians we must not intentionally hurt people’s feelings and if we do, we need to apologize, swiftly.

“Okay,” she said. “I won’t do that again, just don’t tell Jesus.”