Not a Toddler Movie

I look forward to the weekend. Not because I get to sleep in, my toddlers don’t allow that, but because usually me and my husband try to sneak away for a date. Well last Friday, we were determined to see Django, but sneaking away for three hours early enough that I won’t fall asleep in the theatre has proven to be a challenge. So, we opted for Haunted House.

We didn’t get a chance to drop the babies at my mom’s until after 7 p.m. made a quick trip to Olive Garden and made it to the 9 p.m. show. Now normally, I’m not up for ridiculous movies without a plot, but I made an exception. For those unfamiliar, Haunted House is a Wayans movie and a humorous twist on a horror flick. It’s rated R and it should be rated X with all the sex, foul language and bad homosexual innuendos.

So imagine my surprise to see at least a dozen children with their parents or adults under the age of 12. The worst offender was the woman in front of me with a little girl that was sure to be under 5. The mom was there with a male and a young teenage girl. When I tell you it took everything in me, not to ask her to let me babysit and take the baby in the lobby until she was ready to put her daughter’s needs before hers, I am not kidding.

In fact, I am sure I owe my husband an apology because every time something ridiculous like a ghost performing fellatio on Essence Atkins happened, I would go on a five-minute tangent on how inappropriate it was to have a toddler watching this. Now what really bothers me about this is, I pride myself on trying not to judge parents. I mean, babies don’t come with an instruction manual, tons of advice books, but no instruction manual.

But this was ridiculous. I kept trying to think of why watching this movie was so important to her. How come she couldn’t find a babysitter? How come the older child could babysit? How come theatres allow parents to make idiotic decisions? What type of bad dreams would this baby have? What type of conversations will she bring up with her friends in kindergarten next week as a result of what she’d seen? Lord have mercy, if she was in my daughter’s class what would she tell her about her weekend?

With all my questions and no answers, I am stuck judging. Yes, it’s true most days there is something I want to do and can’t because of my children’s needs. Sometimes, I’m sleepy and can’t take a nap because a nap isn’t in their cards and they require supervision. Sometimes, I have work to do and I have to stay up late to finish because I have to wait until their bedtime. Sometimes, I just want to use the bathroom in peace and can’t because they want to know my every move.

So, I know I am preaching to the choir on this, but if any of you know someone who for whatever reason HAS to see a rated R movie, can you please ask them what they plan to do with their children?

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She Fell Down, But She Got Up

With a social calendar as busy as my toddler daughter’s it is sometimes difficult to sit back and enjoy the moment. But a few weeks ago she celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with some of her Jack and Jill friends at a local skating rink. After a well-planned party full with a book reading, a civil right’s speaker, pizza and cake attendees had an opportunity to roller skate. Now at almost 4 years old, she has a pair of toddler skates and has practiced a few times on our bamboo floors, but we had never taken her to a skating rink. In fact, the few times she has tried to skate, she was fully strapped with elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet.

Without any of her safety equipment, I was leery, but I knew there was no way she was going to let her friends skate without giving it a go. So off to the skate rental booth we go. I’m unsure as to what size skates she wears and in an effort to get me out of line the attendee asks if I just want a pair of toddler skates. “Oh, you mean the one’s that just go over her shoes?” I ask. “Yes, that’s what I want.”

At first she wants to know how come hers doesn’t look like the older girl’s skates. But a quick explanation of them not having her size seems to suffice. I’m thrilled to learn from other mommies that I don’t need a pair to chaperone her in the middle of the rink; and off we go.

Well as soon as we get out there, this chick starts skating like a pro and I am amazed. She doesn’t want to hold my hand and she is excited at the secular big people’s music she gets to groove to while skating. She occasionally falls, but doesn’t hesitate to get back up, shake it off and keep skating. Not only is she unafraid, but she is fearless and having a ball.

For a moment, I think back to my younger roller skating days. I went just about every weekend and I loved it. Skating rinks were never fancy and apparently still aren’t, and although I had forgotten about how much fun they were, the parking lot tells me others are fully aware.

“You guys must go skating a lot,” one mother says as she admires Morgan’s ability. “No, this is her first time,” I reply. Truthfully, I am a little ashamed that I hadn’t tapped into her hidden roller skating talent before. I mean, how could I not know that she would skate well? I’ll tell you how, she’s still struggling with her steering ability and as smart as she is, she sometimes appears to be uncoordinated. She hasn’t asked to go skating despite a closet full of equipment and although she handles falls well, she’s obviously never been a fan.

But on this day, she is okay with falling, in fact she handles it like a champ and although I am proud of her skating I must admit I most proud of her tenacious spirit. Yes, Donnie McClurkin says it best “We fall down, but we get up” and on this day I am one proud momma of how quickly she shakes it off and takes a lickin and keeps on tickin. Keep getting up Morgan, no matter what….just keep getting up.

Roll Bounce

It’s our Birthday

When I was in high school I was adopted by a group of women in my hometown. For whatever reason they chose to support me in my every endeavor. They paid my entrance fee in certain competitions, from science fairs to leadership academies. They purchased my equipment and provided transportation and all they ever asked in return was for me to be the best me I could be and to remember that women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., were born and not made.

After college I returned to my hometown, worked as a newspaper reporter and in 2000 I leaped head first into a sisterhood I was born to be a member of. This week Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., celebrated our 105th founder’s day and I had an opportunity to not only fellowship with Sorors, but to reflect on a membership that has so much significance not just to me, but to my daughter.

At almost 4-years-old Morgan’s favorite colors are pink and green. She loves pearls and can throw her pinky up and skee wee with the best of them. I doubt she understands the word Sorority, but she clearly understands that her mommy is an AKA and will tell anyone who asks.

As proud as that makes me, there is so much more for her to learn, it’s more accurate to say more for me to teach. AKAs are so much more than pearls, mirrors and wearers of beautiful shades of pastel colors. We are women of standard, women of service, women of virtue, merit and grace. We cannot be made, we are born, and that I know for sure.

As I prepared to join my Sorors for a celebratory dinner on January 15th, my daughter watched my every step. She watched me choose my outfit, she watched me apply my makeup and she watched me choose just the right fragrance. “Mommy, why are you getting so fancy, where are you going” she asked. “I’m going to have dinner with some of my AKA sisters, because today is a special day for us,” I reply. “Why is today special,” she asks and I pause to think of just the right words to tell her.

“Today, AKAs all over the world take time to think about the women who started our organization. It’s our Founder’s Day,” I say. After a brief moment she looks up at me smiling, she hugs my leg and says “Oh, I get it. It’s your birthday.”

Thirteen years ago I joined my Sorority for me, but as I look into Morgan’s bright eyes full of promise, I now know my decision was so much bigger than me. What an opportunity, what an honor. I am grateful for this moment of clarity and I am excited about the many lessons yet to come.

Nothing like a birthday to remind you how far you’ve come, pause to celebrate the now and give you an opportunity to map out the years ahead. Happy Birthday Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., and thank you, thank you, thank you.

ME

Jump for Peace

The contraption isn’t very big at all. It’s about four feet wide, completely round and stands maybe 6 feet tall. It’s large enough to hold two toddlers, but small enough to be tucked in the corner of the family room. It looks like a fancy trampoline and has netting all around it and cushions over the bars for safety. I think the name on the package is “bouncer.” Whatever it is, I love it and I am mighty glad my husband added it to the lengthy Christmas list. Yes, I said lengthy. Like most parents I know, we over did it for Christmas and seems like we didn’t even notice until we had to wrap it all up and fit it under the tree.

Truth is, my son still has unopened packages from us in his closet because he grew weary of tearing off wrapping paper I paid extra for because it had Elmo on it. He just wanted to play. Yes; it’s official, we over did it. But it wasn’t just us that over did it, oh no, we had a lot of help from grandparents, aunties and uncles and play cousins and family members.

I’m three Christmases in as a mommy and each year, I vow not to do as much next year and I renege. Without little fear of failure I look my husband dead in the eye and say “next year, we are cutting back. Our kids don’t need this much stuff. They would have been just as happy with five gifts each.” He nods in agreement, well maybe it was a shrug, but we both re-commit to scaling down in 2013.

But of all the things they received, from tonka trucks, legos, itty bitty twin, clothing etc….the bouncer is mommy’s favorite. It’s my favorite because it’s like the new model playpen, except they get in there on their own. They climb in, zip themselves and jump to their little hearts desire. It’s a safe place and by design it’s quiet but their screaming and singing in it changes the game. They can push each other, step on each other, wrestle and oh did I mention, jump? It’s a win, win.

So what does this mean for me? It means I can actually sit down and eat my dinner like a normal person, without somebody needing another paper towel or a refresher on juice. It means I can wash the dishes without my son trying to climb in the dishwasher as I am loading or unloading. It means, that if I am lucky I may even get an early start on packing lunches for the next day or preparing bedtime snacks. It means I haven’t had to reprimand about jumping on beds since Christmas.

Now don’t get me wrong, educational toys are great. I love the books and leap frog games they received, but the best earthly gifts are the one’s that give mommy a breather.

 Trampoline fun

 

 

 

Restore, Reflect, Rejuvenate

It’s the Friday before the New Year and my daughter woke me up at exactly 3:31 a.m., she claims the reason for her intrusion is that I “forgot to get the cuddle buddy I wanted you to sleep with.” Yeah, yeah I know on the surface seems sweet right, but it’s a set up, it always is. See, she hands it to me and climbs up in the bed next to me at the same time. She almost immediately drifts off back to sleep and I am left tossing and turning and trying to figure out how to get back in my comfort zone. After about thirty minutes, I throw in the towel and decide to use my time wisely. I throw in a load of laundry, load the dishwasher, get a head start on packing lunches and make myself a nice hot cup of tea.

My mind wanders for a bit and rests with the realization that 2012 is wrapping up and I ask myself what mommy moments will I carry into 2013? With 361 days behind me, I figure I have about that many special times. But there are always a few that make you smile even in the midst of insomnia.

I smile at Morgan waving with both hands in the Christmas Parade and watching my 16-month old take his first steps. I am overjoyed at baby girl meeting the First Lady and going on her first casting call. I grin at envisioning my babies running to the garden to pick cherry tomatoes and eat them off the vine. I even laugh at my daughter jumping off the kiddy table with her brother in awe, because her job “is to show him cool stuff.” Even though, it was far from funny at the time.

Then there are those moments that make my eyes water, the fear for my infant son amidst the Trayvon Martin shooting. The fear I felt when doctors used a bag full of ice to reduce my son’s out of control heart rate. The helplessness I felt when not one, but two babies suffered a bout with pneumonia. The anger I felt when my baby girl was injured at an after school program, lost two fingernails and stayed bandaged for two weeks.

And then the joy comes back as I remember Morgan pleading to come to work with me, to see what “other kids I go see when I leave in the morning.” I smile at the thought of my 16 month-old learning the sign for “more” and not only saying mommy, but singing it.

And if I am really quiet I can hear my son’s baby chatter starting to form words and sentences ringing in my ear and my daughter singing “This girl is on fire” like she’s in the video with Alicia Keys. I can hear her say “You’re the best mommy ever” and I can hear my son’s intentional kisses all over my face.

Yes, 2012 was on fire. It was blazing, epic even. But with mommy moments like those, I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store. I am eternally grateful for my motherhood journey, even when my sweet slumber in interrupted, it’s an opportunity to restore order to our home, reflect on my blessings and rejuvenate.

Christmas babies web