Category Archives: Family

5 Things I Have Learned About Mother and Daughter Relationships

Halloween was two days ago. I never really dress for the occasion anymore. If pressed, I just go as a gypsy. A little extra makeup, scarf and a long skirt and I have nailed it. No extra money spent, so forethought.  As an adult, I understand that free candy is just an invitation to bloating and additional crunches.

#aintnobodygottimeforthat

I liked several Facebook photos of little children dressed as their favorite super hero. Apparently, I am old as I did not recognize half of them. I had to google 'yellow and blue costume' to know that my friend's son was The Wolverine. And, who the heck is Elsa? When I was kid, everyone was either Superman or a Ninja Turtle. The 80s rocked, lol.

Back then, I thought my mom was super human. A super woman of sorts who worked two jobs, fed us, and kept a roof over our heads. She did her best to rescue us from mistakes that she knew would take our lives down a hard path. She spoke to God and actually knew what we children were going to do before we could do it. Seemed pretty super human to me.

As I became a young woman, the mother-daughter dynamic became more difficult to manage. I have learned that the complexity of this relationship is standard. The power-dynamic changes as you get older. A mother no longer needs to or can make all of decisions. I had to move out and grow on my own. As a child becomes a woman, a mother's role must adapt as well. A daughter no longer needs to be rescued but respected. 

1. You cannot be best friends because you are not equal. 

Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, "Only equals make friends. Any other relationship is out of order." I and my mother did not go to school together. We never partied together. We did not raise our children together. Our life experiences are different. We can learn from each other but equal we can never be. She will always be ahead of the game. 

2. Acknowledge mistakes but forgive. 

Through life's ups and downs, I began to see the humanity of my own mother. She made mistakes and was sometimes wrong. That is okay. She is still a great mom and did her best with what she knew. We are still finding our balance. It is easier with me allowing my mom to be human and she seeing me as an adult.

3. Establish boundaries.

"Space – the final frontier." The opening sentence of Star Trek : Enterprise tv series. Exploring the boundaries of relationships is a work always in progress – learning what to discuss and to what extent. My mother remarried and some discussions (sex) still creep me out and are a no-fly zone. Maybe you are more mature than I am. I am okay with that. 

4. Communicate

I talk to my mom almost every single day although there are more than 1,000 miles between us. Sometimes the conversation is less than 5 minutes but I make the effort to connect just to see how her day is going. Other times, the conversation is longer and more in depth. The blessing is that she is still around and able to talk to me so I never get to busy for her. 

5. Laugh

Proverbs 17:22 states, "A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones." (NKJV).

We make each other laugh. Our relationship is the better for it. It is the one super power we share. 

How is your relationship with your mother? How can you make it better? Please share. 

Dealing with the Death of a Friend

“Friend, there will never be a friend
As dear to me as You
There will be another closer than a brother
Friend, always worth the wait
Faithful as the day You say we are friend” Israel Houghton

 I am writing this missing a dear friend of mine. She was actually my very best friend in high school. We were one of the few African Americans in the International Baccalaureate program at my high school. She was a sanctified church girl like me. She was very smart and funny. We got along great.

We made different decisions for college and are paths diverged. We kept in touch for a few years but like most high school buddies we lost contact.

A few years ago, we found each other again thanks to social media. She was finishing her Master’s in publishing and I was finishing my first novel. We sent each other our projects and exchanged insight.

I am speaking of my friend in past tense because she passed away. Actually, she committed suicide a few years back.

I thought I had dealt with this until recently. A family member was distraught because she was afraid her friend had committed suicide. Her friend posted a cryptic message on a social media website. I was able to talk to her, calmly instruct her to call the police and give them as much detail as possible. The next day when I called to check on the situation, I was informed the police got to her in time and she was taken for treatment.

It would have been easy to ignore the little girl’s cry for help as an attention-seeking move but something in me could not let it rest. I am glad I was there for my family member and I was glad that my family member was there for her friend. I am glad that the police responded with urgency and care. I am glad she does not have to feel what I felt.

Death is hard. It is unfathomable that someone can be present, full of promise and dreams and with one desperate action be gone forever.

My friend did not cry for help. She left a note, according to her sister who contacted me months after it happened. I remember our last conversation. I asked to pray with her and we prayed. She was so distant. She did not even sound like her true self.

I write all of this to say that the pain, discouragement, and mental health issues that people deal with are real and not trivial. If you are placed in the path of someone suffering, please do not discount their pain. Reach out. Make the effort. Do not let Satan win. Fight for the life God has given them. Fight for the friend God has given you.

If you know of someone in crisis, here are some numbers to give them:

 

Need help? Text “CTL” to 741741.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255

Dear Black People, Stop. . .

. . . bringing your underage children to R-Rated movies. 

I went to see The Best Man Holiday and was disappointed to see women bring their 9/10 year olds to a movie intended for adults.

Before I rant, I must preface the rant with how much I LOVE this movie. Beautiful, successful brown folk are images that I need to see. Great character development, emotionally stimulating, smart, funny - a little heavy on the drama – but nonetheless great film. On par with, if not better than, the first installment – The Best Man.

Back to rant. There are several sexual scenes in the movie including a storyline around fellatio. If you bring your child to that, you are exercising poor parenting skills. Point. Blank. Period. Why is it not okay? Children should not be exposed to such things. They are sexualized too early. What do you think is going through your child's mind during those scenes? Do you care? I just believe it is a selfish, immature move.

I remember as a child (7 or so) being taken to see The Color Purple by my father. He was trying to do the daddy thing seeing that he and my mom were divorced and take us to a movie. That movie was not a good choice. I remember the scenes of Celie in bed with Mister (a forced enounter) and being confused and slightly afraid. He took all of us siblings. We have a wide age range. I am assuming he did not expect all of that to be in the film. I mean, I was not traumatized but I would have preferred to see a Disney movie at that age. My mom, for example, took us to the Look Who's Talking and Home Alone movies.

Side Note: What about these dancing pageant girls wearing weaves, makeup and twerking? Has society come to this?

I understand everyone has their own view of what is morally correct. Some of us ascribe to a religious belief system which outlines what is morally right and wrong. Some may embrace ethics. Is morality relative or is there an absolute truth? Complicated questions but I think we can make this particular issue really simple. Kids should be allowed to be just that – kids.

I was watching the Rev. Al Sharpton's interview with Oprah last night. In it, he raises some good points about standards being lowered within the black community. We allow our children to be exposed to too much. He spoke of the breakdown of the African American family, the breakdown of a sense of community. He discussed how the neighbors, church and community standards and expectations kept him in check. Now, it seems, we have deliberately eschewed community in exchange for individualism and materialism.

But, what about the children?

I firmly believe that every child deserves to have a pure, safe childhood. They should be able to explore the world and learn without the undue exposure to adult issues such as sex, violence and vulgarity. You get all of those in The Best Man Holiday. As an adult, I can process these themes as part of the human experience. I can understand the layers and motivations of the characters. Can a child? Should a child?

I wonder what the at-home discussion was like after the movie. There probably was no discussion. Just children processing things that they should not be exposed to at that age.

I am done.

*steps off soapbox*

Has Marriage Become A Dirty Word?

Sooooooo, I am over at Brown Sista and there is a post entitled, "Why Are Women So Pressed to be Married?"

Talk about loaded words, ma. You have got marriage and pressed and why all in one sentence?? lol

I will summarize it for you, if you do not have time to read it. The author is at a social function when women start discussing men and their desire for marriage. The author seems rather annoyed at these women and points out how she is so not one of them -how she is so independent, fulfilled and happy. These women were by default – not.

What the what?

One upon a time, marriage was the rule not the exception. Is it now the figurative pariah? Does wanting to be married and have a lifetime partner someone make you weak, lonely, or that dreaded word – desperate? *insert audible gasp* Are you one of those backward, mentally oppressed women who has not realized her freedom to be single?

I am having a conversation with a guy about the same topic. He is also expressing reservations about marriage. He asks, is that why you are always discussing relationships? Do you want to be married or something?

YESSSSSSS!!!!!!  DUHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

What is so wrong with that? I have set many hard to reach goals in life – education, moving to a new city, my book, and my weight loss. I have many restarts and setbacks. I have decided to make marriage an actual goal. I am not ashamed to admit that.I am very independent, happy, fulfilled and all that good stuff. I will admit this; each and every single time I take out the garbage, I am like – This sucks! I need a husband!

REAL TALK!

You can draw any conclusion you like. It is your brain not mine. My mind tells me that I must conceive a thing first before it is birthed into reality.

I am.

I do.

I wrote a really thoughtful response on the post. I do behave myself on other people's blogs, BUT, what I really wanted to say was girl, boo. You ain't fooling nobody. You know you want to be married, too. Maybe not now but eventually. lol

Who wants to be 60 talking 'bout, me an my boyfriend about to go the movies? Chile, the devil is a liar!

Pilar Sanders, Porsha Stewart and Pretty Princesses Everywhere

I am Four Weddings watching David Tutera fanatic. I love corny 80s love songs. *hums Lionel Richie's Hello* lol. Although, single, I love, love. I want to see couple, especially fabulous ones, succeed.

 It always bums me out when people who seemed so happy divorce. Pilar and Deion Sanders; Porsha and Kordell Stewart.

It amazes me the capacity of men, who deem themselves good, Christian men, to hurt. These type of men demand obeisance and any spark of personality, or dreams outside of HIM and he will spare nothing to leave you high and dry.

I don't know Pilar or Porsha (or their husbands), but I loved the idea of them. I liked the idea of the sista being treated like a pampered princess for once. Then royalty discovered reality. . .shows that is. It became evident that these type of men are threatened by the humanity of their princesses. When they cease to behave like objects, they are dismissed.

Zora

But enough of celebrities. Truth is I don't know them and everything I just wrote is pure speculation derived from an edited television show.  What about a girl like you, a friend or even me?

 I know women, who marry grown kids. They essentially have to be the most responsible person in their relationship. If they are luck, their child-man holds down a steady job and only plays with his friends on weekends.

Harsh? Maybe.

In Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the grandmother 'Nanny' has been a slave and her heart's desire was to see her grandchild up on a pedestal, free from the hard labors of life. She arranges a marriage to a land-owning older man for Janie, her granddaughter. Nanny laments, "De (colored) woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see."

The black woman is *insert stereotypical adjective here*. Most would say strong. She can do what no other woman can. But can she? Can she be . . .carefree.

I understand that princesses are the stuff of fairy tale fantasies. Life is about working hard for and being grateful for all that you have. Michelle Obama is the epitome of this – smart, successful, wife and strong. Mrs. Obama is a hero of mine but so are my pretty princesses.

In all  honesty, and on my blog I MUST be honest, I would love a man to take charge of the heavy lifting and let me be dainty. I could finally grown my nails out lol.Until that magical moment, I stay on my grind.

Am I alone?

 

 

 

Why Is Life So Easy. . .

after the fact!?

Oh, I missed the turn. Should have turned left. The venue is right after the turn.

Such is my life.

You have to go though life's test and trials to gain the wisdom you need to make wise and sage decisions all. . .after the fact!

Why could not my future self have figured out all of these things concerning life, family, men and money in the future,wrote it on a tablet, built a time machine and sat it by my bed when I was 18? Would that have been so difficult?

At 18 – 20ish you really know everything and nothing all at the same time. Trying to explain to an adult the mentality behind your decisions at that age is a bit trippy. Why? Because I know all of the endings to those dumb decisions.

Dumb is a bit harsh, no? I would say uninformed or unwise decisions. I was a pretty precocious child, smart teenage, and astute young adult. When it came to life and love, however, I was Cher clueless. *insert 90s reference*

Been conversing with someone who knew me way back when. He remarked how much I had grown and developed. He stated how insightful my words are. I wanted to say, "of course they are, I am actually using words!" lol Back then, when things got to emotional, I would head for the hills. Or push someone away.

The key is not drowning in a sea of what-ifs and apparent overly-used metaphors. I can only move forward.

The tools I have gathered along this road – faith, education, friends, coping skills and words – all assist me in creating my best life right now.The biggest skill I have acquired is the art of confrontation. Learning to manage emotions, change and people in the face of confrontation is the key to long lasting successful relationships and business.

To those who join me in my life at this moment, the experience is going to be exponentially greater than with the me at 18. I only run on trails now.

Why Would Anyone Want To Marry You?

The idea of marriage and finding the man of destiny that God has chosen for us, is a revisited conversation topic for me and my single friends. In fact, yesterday, I had quite an interesting conversation, in which a friend said that marriage is not your ministry when I have heard the message preach that marriage is exactly that – a ministry. Given the current environment of conflicting ideas and expectations, I was unexpectedly challenged in my idea of what a marriage mate is by an article someone posted on Facebook from Relevant Magazine, "You Never Marry the Right Person."

Yes, sometimes Facebook actually yields something thought provoking.

The gist of the article is that we expect too much from another person. We want someone to be perfect and fulfill our emotional/sensual needs while never expecting much from us in return. That person should just be perfect while accepting our crusty flawed selves. Yes, I mean crusty.

Another idea posed in the article is that it is impossible to find the perfect mate because marriage fundamentally changes who were are. When you enter into a marriage, you are learning to love a new person and therin lies the rub. 

I was talking to a guy and he was detailing what he expects/likes in a woman. What he wants is not unrealistic but did have a tinge of I want you to be more wholesome than I have to be. Having just watched an old Eddie Murphy stand up, I shied away from the knee-jerk reaction to snap my fingers and roll my neck all the while yelling, "and what about you?!" lol

The author of the article actually articulates in an analogous to the Bible sort of way how we need to love like Christ loves us. We are epically flawed yet eternally loved in Christ, right? Why cannot we love another flawed individual without the expectation of perfection on their part and not ours?

Interesting idea, no?

 

 

HIV: Pregnancy Is Not the Worst Thing That Can Happen to You

I was watching this PBS documentary about HIV rates among African Americans and was taken aback by the reasoning of women and young men regarding sexual activity. A lot of African Americans:

a. Don't talk about sex and HIV transmission and

b. Have an antiquated view of sex/HIV.

Seriously, pregnancy is not the worst thing that can happen to you.

I am going to shift this discussion in a slightly different direction. I believe that that there is a direct correlation between the breakdown of married two-parent households and the alarming HIV rates among heterosexual women. Hear me out.

According to USA today, 80% of babies born to black women (first time) are born out of wedlock.  Babies are born when two people (not married) have unprotected sex. HIV is transmitted primarily through unprotected sex. Is anyone, besides me, seeing a correlation?

In this PBS documentary, this young, beautiful educated black woman was saying that she had met her 'prince charming' and fell head over heels. This older guy one day stated that he did not have a condom. She rationalized that she was in love and the worst thing that could happen was that she would get pregnant. She then stated that was okay because she wanted to have his baby. No marriage, no courtship, no pre-marital blood test, just 'have his baby'. He gave her HIV.

I used to work in social services. So many young girls and their young friends would have baby after baby with guys who cannot take care of them or the children and who will not marry them. Yet, they are offering their very bodies to these guys for a bit of companionship.

How can we teach our young women and ourselves that we are worth the wait?

When I feel weak in my flesh, God will send me a reminder that celibacy is his perfect way. If you find your 'prince charming' he should be gentleman enough to wait for you and man enough to get tested with you.

I'm just saying.

 

“You Would Make A Wonderful Mother”

At a Starbucks with a few ladies and the conversation gathered around the subject of children. I mentioned to the ladies that I had always wanted to adopt a child even as a really young girl. Two of the more mature ladies say, "Oh you would make a wonderful mother." I have NO idea why but I almost choked up a little.

Craziness!

It is especially crazy seeing that the other woman present had previously said to me, "You just don't like children."  lol

Truth is – I love children. I would love to have a houseful as long as I am in a happy marriage and financially set. 

What I absolutely do not love is the idea of pushing a baby out of my va-jay-jay! lol Whose idea was that? I guess that is the best method of delivery and women have been doing it for millenia but um. . .

I actually dreamed once several years back that I was at a dining room table introducing someone to my four children. They all had black shiny, curly hair. 

Most of my dreams have been coming true so time will tell. But the timing is God's. I will submit to that. 

Until then I will enjoy my freedom. 

Braxton Family Values – Poor Toni

I love reality TV. These are my confessions. *Cue Usher* My show du jour is Braxton Family Values.

I love how it displays the complexities of the sisterly dynamic in families. I have several sisters, and believe you me, I understand. Sometimes family does not see the evolution of you as an individual, as a woman and as an adult. To them, I am little sister. That, my friend, can complicate things.

I totally get Toni Braxton's point in this clip.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1
 

Background: Tamar (Toni's little sister) is married to Vince (Toni's manager). Vince also manages other groups including Lady Gaga. Well, we all know Lady Gaga is doing well but Toni's career has suffered missteps. Toni is tired of mixing family and business. Toni decides to disclose her feelings during a dinner and fireworks follow.

What do you guys think about family and business mixing?