Ripple Effect of Kindness

Corrie ten Boom said “Every experience God gives us….is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.”

I took my babies to Walmart today for a budgeting exercise. In short, they wanted out of the house and to spend money. They have a monthly stipend for such excursions. It’s amazing how selective they are on choosing items, when it’s their money versus ours. When we got to the checkout, there was a Caucasian woman, her mom and two kids in front of us. When it was time for them to pay, it exceeded what was available on her card. She immediately removed a box of pop tarts to deduct from the bill. She then rummaged through her bags trying to figure out what else to put back. Her daughter, who looked the same age as mine looked but didn’t say anything. I tried to think back to what I’d seen on the conveyor belt. It was nothing crazy. I remembered seeing a family pack of hamburger and a loaf of bread.

I then interjected and told her to pay what she could and I would pay the rest. She asked me if I was sure. I re-assured her I was solid in my decision and then asked the cashier to give her babies their pop tarts back. And before someone says, that was a want and not a need. My children like pop tarts and so do a lot of other folks I know. She said “ma’am I only have $100 on my EBT card and the bill is $142.” I replied “that’s fine.” The mom and the grandma cried and hugged me and asked if they could ever repay me. I told them not with money, but I have no doubt her children would one day be in a position to do the same for someone else.

Her son who was slightly older than his sister asked the mom why she was crying. She didn’t respond. The grandma made sure to tell me how God would bless me. Little did she know how very Blessed I am already.

See, I didn’t help her to expedite her transaction. I didn’t help her for blog content. I helped her because I remember being in that very spot as a child and my mom having to make tough choices at the register. I remember being embarrassed and wanting to cry. I remember how hard I know my mom worked at two-part time jobs trying to provide for me and my brother on her own and thinking people would make a snap judgment about her at the register. They’d assume she didn’t work. They’d assume she was lazy. They’d assume a whole lot of stuff that just wasn’t true. So, I helped her because I wanted to grant this woman’s children a little relief. I helped her because it was an opportunity for me to sow a seed in her children.

Little did I know that one act of kindness would have such a ripple effect. See, my children were also watching. When we got to the car Morgan said “mom, you are a really nice person. That was an awesome thing to do.” In that moment I shared with them how I felt as a child in that same predicament and how important it is for us to help others when we can and to not take our Blessings for granted but use them to help uplift people. I gave my children a charge and reminded them that whom much is given, much is also required (Luke 12:48).

I’m mighty grateful for ALL of my experiences, both good and not so good and I’m grateful for moments that remind me of God’s goodness and His perfect timing.

“Every experience God gives us….is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.”

 

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A Mother’s Plea

Image.jpgWhen I was in the third grade, way back in the 80s, I won my first city-wide writing award. It was for a paper about Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. famous I Have a Dream Speech. I didn’t keep the paper, but I can imagine my rendition had something to do with how I wanted the world to give me an equal shot. Life experiences taught me very quickly that “equal” was a dream deferred for children of color in the United States.

I held out hope though that making good decisions and life choices, may bare equality for my future children. As my ninth mother’s day approaches my heart is heavy with the weight of reality that my children are NOT safe and still will not be treated equally. I’m also hit with the reality that this is an exclusive burden that mothers of color in this country share. But it’s one I hope all mothers can imagine to be absolutely heartbreaking!

You see, as I examine the world we live in, my reality is my children are NOT safe in school and I’m referring to disparities of expulsions particularly of African American boys. I’m sure the parents of the 12-year-old boy suspended in Ohio for staring at a female caucasian student understands. My children are NOT safe in their home and I’m referring to 7-year-old Aiyana Jones who was shot in her home and 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was gunned down in the park across the street from where he lived. My children are NOT safe in cars like 17-year-old Jordan Davis who was shot in a car because of loud music. My children are NOT safe to walk in their neighborhood, just think about Trayvon Martin. It’s NOT safe for my children to go shopping just think of Nordstrom Rack, where three black teens in Brentwood had police called on them while they shopped for prom. They are NOT even safe at college, just ask Yale graduate student Lolade Siyonbola who endured police questioning for sleeping in her dorm’s common area or my female assistant who had an officer pull his gun on her during a routine stop while in graduate school. They are NOT safe from civilians or law enforcement. They are NOT safe inside or outside. They simply are NOT safe.

I’ve never understood Dr. Martin Luther King’s plea that his “children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” more than I do on this very day. I wholeheartedly pray that our children will have unending Favor, Grace and Mercy and that they will be Blessings to others and be committed to carrying out their God given assignments without interruption from those that mean them harm. On this Mother’s Day, pray for your children and pray for mothers of color who carry this extremely heavy burden each and every day, including Mother’s Day.

 

Sincerely,

Chocolate Mother

 

 

Photos by Laura Saavedra

She’s Human, Let’s Just Roll With That

I’m a working mom. That means I juggle a lot, but I still pick up our babies each day after school, help with homework, talk about their friends, set up playdates etc.. Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is one of a kind and he’s very involved. However, last week I spent three nights away working and don’t tell them, but I missed my children. Yeah I know the same babies that I’ve prayed would give me a minute to myself. It’s funny how that works.

So while away, I found a play that I was sure they’d enjoy and I’d get to spend some much needed quality time. Grace for President was playing in Raleigh and although about an hour drive, we were up for it and they’d read the book so it was a perfect way to spend a Sunday evening. In the play, Grace Campbell realizes we haven’t had a female president. The lack of females in the White House, sparks her idea for a school election.

After a great performance we headed to the lobby for cast autographs and I ran into one of my work colleagues that lives in that area. She was there with her transgender daughter. Her daughter, which outwardly appeared male, identified as female. So she introduced her maybe 9-year old as her daughter Leah. I quickly shook Leah’s hand and told her I was happy to meet her. But then came time to introduce Leah to my two children.

Let me preface this by saying, we’ve never had this talk. We’ve never really had a reason to, plus my children are 8 and 6 and I really thought I had more time. This was my first experience meeting a transgender elementary age person and while I faced this new adventure intrepidly, I was nervous as hell to think what my children may say or how they may react. But I also thought it as a wonderful learning opportunity. So I introduced my daughter who’s 8 and wise beyond her years first. “Morgan, this is Leah.” Without hesitation or making a funny facial expression she reached for Leah’s hand and said “nice to meet you” with a warm smile. Next up was my 6-year-old son who missed his sister’s introduction because he was getting his last cast autograph. “Garrett, meet Leah,” I said. He drops his head and says “hi.” I asked if he could shake Leah’s hand, but it really wasn’t a question and he knew that. He slowly raises his right hand to meet Leah’s right hand.

I stand and make pleasantries for a few minutes about dinner plans, profession updates etc.. and I slip up once and refer to Leah as he but immediately catch myself and self correct and her mom is gracious enough to remind me gently “she.” We leave with parting hugs and go our separate ways.

When we’re beyond earshot I ask my children if we need to discuss meeting Leah and how they felt. My daughter says “well, to tell you the truth, I was a little confused. I mean she looked like a boy but she’s a girl. She’s a girl right?” “Yes she was born a boy but identifies as a girl,” I said.

“Well, does she have a penis or a vagina?” She asked. “I certainly wouldn’t know that,” I said “but I think the important thing is that we respect her wishes and refer to her as her girl.”

Insert uncomfortable pregnant pause.

“I figure it’s really none of my business,” Morgan said and to tell the truth the only thing we know for certain is that she’s human. So let’s just roll with that.”

I pat her on the back and say good that’s how I was hoping you’d look at it. I then turn to my son who’s two years younger and intensely listening. I asked him how he felt meeting someone like Leah and he said “I don’t know, I was really confused.”

“Well there’s no need to be confused,” I said. “She was introduced by her mom as a girl and so that’s what she is.” “I know that mom,” he said. “But …my eyes said she’s a boy.”

“I’m sure son, but remember that our brains tell our eyes what they see. So, like Morgan said, she’s human.” “Yup, the only thing I know for sure is she’s a person,” he said. “So let’s just roll with that.

These are not conversations my mom had to have with me, it was a different time. But there a few fundamentals I picked up as a kid that I was happy to pass on.

1) God makes each of us uniquely in His image.

2) Treat people like you want to be treated.

3) Love thy neighbors as ourselves.

I sincerely wish my colleague and her daughter the absolute best as I know first hand this world can be cruel. But I also know there’s a lot of love in it and those with it are responsible for teaching it to our children.

 

 

Operation Get Your Body Back

At just 5’4” I’ve always aired on the petite side. In college I was unable to donate blood because I didn’t weigh the mandatory 110 pounds. I was a solid size 4 for most of my adult life. And yes my wedding dress was a two piece; it was a beach wedding. As I reminisce about the old me, I am determined to not let it just be a wading memory of yesteryear.

While it’s true my daddy’s genetics helped some, the truth is I have always worked out. I was very athletic, an avid runner, and up for just about any sporting activity. My eating habits aren’t too shabby either. My mom says I eat “rabbit” food. I have an affinity for fruits and veggies, don’t fry anything but fish and have never been a big dessert kind of girl.

Having said that, the current me has two babies – both by C-Section, in my late 30s and not nearly enough money for a personal chef or enough free time to spend half the day in the gym.

I gained so much weight with my daughter I was almost unrecognizable. I had to have my wedding rings re-sized and my feet jumped up a size. I was one doughnut shy of 200 pounds by her birth and happy as a lark, until after delivery. Like a lot of us, I struggled with my self-esteem a bit after she was born and was happy to get to my pre-pregnancy weight before trying for our son.

I didn’t gain quite as much with him, but enough to tip the scale to an uncomfortable number for me. So for Christmas I asked for 20 sessions for a personal trainer and as soon as I was cleared by the doctor I got back in the gym. Clearly, my mind was in the right place but my body wasn’t. I struggled. My knees ached, my back ached, I had two babies and was purely exhausted. An annual check up revealed that I wasn’t experiencing just old age on top of baby weight gain, but the cartilage in my knees was weak and my body wasn’t ready to jump back in as quickly as I had hoped.

So I sat down for a few months and plotted by comeback. I began a vitamin regimen, including Glucosamine for the cartilage issue and started acupuncture treatments for all other aches and pains and overall alignment and tune up. Last month, I got back in the game. I joined a fitness boot camp in hopes of jump starting operation get your body back.

Four weeks later, 10 pounds lighter, two sizes smaller I am on my way. No, I have not arrived, which is why I am determined to run at least 3 miles, at least 3 days per week and doing insanity workouts in between with my husband. But it’s tough.

Scheduling workout time is a major ordeal in our house now. Initially mid-morning workouts were perfect. Princess was in school and the baby could come to the gym nursery or join me on a run in the running stroller. But now school is out, I am catching hell trying to figure out a new system. Anything after their bedtime is a crap shoot. Most nights, I am so exhausted I turn in, when they fall asleep and I can’t imagine setting an alarm clock to shorten my 4-5 hours of sleep for any reason. But something has to give, and like most things mommies do, I have to just make it happen.  And the nights when I fall short, I don’t beat myself up, but I make a vow to do better the next day.

The moral of the story is, we find time for things we prioritize like our children’s weekly dance lessons, or stocking ingredients for our husband’s favorite meal, gardening or clipping coupons and now it’s time to choose fitness.

Who’s with me? Operation Get Your Body Back is a mommy commitment to being better and doing more to be healthier, sexier, more energetic moms. It doesn’t matter how old your children are, how tight your schedule is or how small your commitment is. What matters is choosing us, prioritizing us and putting the work in, to get your desired results.

My beginning weight was 171

My current weight is 158

My short-term goal is 150 (pre-pregnancy weight)

My long-term goal is 135 (wedding weight)