Lessons for a New Mother

Lessons for a New Mother

I had a Mother’s Day Weekend, complete with getting dolled up and going out on the town with my friends Friday night. Saturday, I didn’t go to the movies like I intended to, but I did get to go to a luncheon for my chapter’s mentoring program and was so pleased with how it turned out and got to take some leftovers home so I didn’t have to cook. 🙂 And I always get giddy when petit fours are involved. Lol! Yesterday was a great, relaxing day, and I truly needed it. As busy as a beaver as I can get, it’s nice to just lie around all day (and only get up for a massage and facial and to eat!). While I was lying around, I thought a lot about my first year of motherhood, which will be complete in just a month. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life. I appreciate my mom 1,000 times more than I ever have because now I understand first hand the magnanimity of her love for her children. And I’ve finally shed the majority of the shame I’ve felt for being a single mother. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve gained.

  1. As long as I am taking good care of Frederick, I will be taken care of. Help has come from unlikely places since I’ve become Frederick’s mom. I have not suffered. When various situations come up, I’ve had help from family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. I ended up having to go to the ER a couple of weeks ago, and a stranger saw me pulled over on the side of the road and called my neighbor for me. THEN she actually rode with my neighbor back to the house and brought her back so that she could drive my car. And my neighbor stayed with me until late because she cared. They say God takes care of babies and fools, but I’d like to add to that devoted mothers. My mom used to tell me often while I was preggo and uber depressed and worried that as long as I took “good care of that baby, God will take care of you.” And she was so right. Help may not come the way I expect it, but it will come.
  2. I can’t compare myself with others. Every once in awhile, I feel the urge to compare what someone is doing for me compared to what they’re doing for someone else. Or compare someone else’s parenting style with mine. Or compare Frederick’s milestones with someone else’s. And the list goes on and on. It seems there’s always an opportunity to find a reason to feel slighted or inferior or less fortunate or even superior and more blessed, but it’s unnecessary and inaccurate. What people do for us is voluntary so there’s no bar that I can use to be grateful–whatever they’ve done is more than what I had. Whatever someone else chooses in their parenting styles works for them and their households and I choose what works for mine. And Frederick is just a super baby, so no need to compare his little exceptional self to anyone else. 🙂
  3. Opinions are like assholes–everyone has one, and I don’t have to listen to them all. This has been a toughie. I never knew how much I actually cared about what others think until my pregnancy and after I had Frederick. Now this is different from your average experienced mother sharing some tips. I welcome those and file the ones that don’t apply away till later when they might. People love to tell me what they think about the various things I do for Frederick–from breastfeeding to how many layers of clothes he had on in the transitional months to my choice of making my own baby food for the first few months and now, only organic products when I don’t make it myself to whatever else is the topic. What I’ve realized is–with the exception of just a couple of people, not only do I not have to hold on to their opinion, I don’t have to defend my choices either. When we go home at night, no one is making sure we are secure. When Frederick cries, besides his daycare provider, I’m the one who makes it better. I am the parent, period. So I listen to what they’re saying and if I don’t agree, then so what? I don’t have to let them offend me or try to convince them to co-sign me. For what? After I finally realized that “grown woman status” covers this area of my life as well, things got a little easier. It actually reminds me of a time in the 6th grade that some kid tried to make fun of me for not wearing a certain kind of jeans or tennis shoes. I didn’t find it necessary to tell him that at the time the only tennis shoe that would fit me was Keds because they were available in narrow sizes and that I walked out of all the others I tried on because I wore a 4A back then. And I didn’t need to tell him that my mom didn’t see the point in purchasing jeans that cost more than $15 back then. What I did say, though, was that until he started buying my clothes and shoes, it really didn’t matter what he thought about them. If I was smart enough to get that in the 6th grade, why did it take me a minute to grasp the concept as a 31 year old grown woman with a child? I dunno, but I’ve come to my senses. 🙂
  4. I’m in control of my own happiness. I can choose where to focus my focus.  Sure, I could easily spend my time thinking about what the ideal situation looks like and how that’s not my reality. I did that for nearly 9 months. I beat myself up for spending my life trying to be stellar then becoming an unwed mother at 30. I punished myself for taking a chance on love despite a not-so-great track record. I battered myself for allowing myself, who has always been seen by others and by my own self as strong and above the fray, to be emotionally abused. And then with help from my mother, my pastor, and my therapist, my maternal instincts kicked in and made me snap out of it. I couldn’t be good for Frederick as long as I was waist-deep (maybe neck-deep!) in self-denigration. The world can beat you down, but I don’t think anyone can kick you while you’re down like you yourself can. When I stopped beating myself up and started choosing to focus on my blessings instead of my challenges, the sun came out again. When I started allowing myself to see the silver linings to the blackest clouds in my sky, I started becoming way more productive and hopeful and ready to accept more positivity in my life. When I stopped constantly wishing people understood my plight, my plight became a lighter load. And heck, when I started realizing that certain people are just too selfish to care about anyone but themselves, I stopped wasting my energy on them. I realized that I don’t have to answer every text message, email, or phone call. If you send me something negative, I don’t have to answer–it’s my choice to ignore it and keep it moving. For as many people have something negative to say, there are at least two who have something encouraging to say. And that’s who I choose to listen to now. It doesn’t matter who didn’t wish me a happy Mother’s Day–I was beyond ecstatic over the cards, Edible Arrangement, breakfast (and my coffee was sweet!), gifts, and super sweet text messages that I did receive. I’ve learned to fill as much space as possible focusing on the goodness in my life.

Life is a journey, and I still have a long way to go before I’m where I want to be spiritually and emotionally, but I thank God and all the heavens that I’m not where I was a year ago. Being a mother is the toughest job I’ve ever had, but it is by far the most rewarding. I never knew I could love someone as much as I love my son. I’ve always considered myself a loyal, protective, giving person, but nothing I’ve ever done for anyone compares to what I have done and will continue to do for my little one. And as much as I give to him, I receive back. I say at least once a week that Frederick has made me Wonder Woman. I get amazed every time I learn something new about my post-baby self–physical, emotional, etc. About a month ago, I went rock climbing for the first time and was able to climb 5 courses–I used to not be able to pick up my little TV/VCR combo without feeling super strained. Now I’m Spiderman Jr. And it wasn’t a fluke–last week, I went to hot yoga for the first time since I learned I was preggo.  Halfway through the second class, the instructor told us “we are about to practice handstands” and I looked at him like he had lost his mickeyfickey mind. Then he explained that it’s a process with steps and once you find which step makes you strain, you stop and that’s what you work on. So, okay cool–nowadays I’m willing to try. I got about halfway through the steps before I had to stop. Meaning I was able to prop my feet on the wall and extend my legs. I was very very surprised and proud of myself. The fact that I can put so much of my body weight onto my arms is fascinating to me. (But I guess that’s what happens when you constantly tote around a healthy, solid baby!) It also surprises me how easily I can let go of the small stuff now. I used to be a stickler for making things be how I think they should be, and now, it really has to be major to get a rise out of me. I like that about myself. Having Frederick has taught me the importance of reserving my energy for what is really important to me instead of wasting it on non-factors. Don’t get me wrong–I can still get crunk from time to time, but I’m definitely not fighting every little battle there ever was anymore.

So that’s that. I hope every mother had a wonderful, relaxing, loving Mother’s Day yesterday! We deserve it!

My Booski and He Mommy

Blast from the Past

Blast from the Past

Two nights ago I got a message on Google+ from a familiar but distant name:

Ranada. . .would your middle name happen to be Dejoi?

I replied “Yes my middle name is Dejoi. Is this <enter his name> from Vicksburg that went to summer camp with me in middle school???”

And he replied, “Yes. It’s me. WOW…”

Wow is right! It’s been 17 years since our last correspondence. He was the cutest boy in the academic camp we attended at Hinds Community College Utica Campus, and it turned out that we both had mutual crushes on each other. We spent most of the camp shyly flirting, and finally, after a maybe a week of “going together” lol, he gave me a smooch (at that time, I still thought french kissing was mucho yucky, and it would be another couple of years before I tried that out, lol!) by the swings (but not after dark) as a sweet gesture because of my love for the Subway song. After camp, we wrote letters for a brief time.

A couple of years ago, I found an envelope of stuff from him that I had saved. I did a FB search and didn’t find anything. Of course I wondered where he was, how he was doing, and if he even remembered me, but after the fruitless FB search I gave up. So imagine my surprise when I saw his name in my email inbox!

He is doing well now–he has a wife and a baby girl due any moment. But guess how small the world is–he lives in Atlanta too and moved here the year after I did since we both moved for graduate school. It warms my heart to know that I had good taste in junior high, lol. He seems to be doing well for himself as an adult, and he is still handsome! I just thought I’d share that blast from the past. It’s awesome to see how people are doing now. I keep up with a few of my summer camp friends (I went to an academic camp every year from 6th grade (really, before!! I just remember my first overnight camp was at Pineywoods Country Life School the summer after 6th grade and I was technically too young but I was in the right grade!) to 10th grade (I spent the summer after my 11th grade year taking a senior English literature class that was the exact same as an AP English class I had already taken just so I could have my diploma since I was skipping my senior year to attend Tougaloo)). I’m so happy my mom thought it was necessary to make sure that I spent my summers with other smart black kids on college campuses so that I’d know I wasn’t an exception to any rule about black folks (I came home from a trip with the gifted program asking were the other two black students and I different since we were all there were in the entire program). Now I am blessed to know and be surrounded by so many sharp, amazing people.

Here’s an ode to my junior high school summer camp boo.

Aside

Tying Up Loose Ends?

God does things in the most mysterious yet breathtaking ways. This post won’t be as long as it could be because I’m just not up to it physically or emotionally, but I had to log on and say that. Yesterday the phone rang, and my mom who was in the back of the house and I, who was in the front room, both let it ring. Well, thank goodness for an answering machine because I heard: “Yes, hello? This is David <last name here>, and I’m looking for Rickey Robinson, Mary Ann, or Ranada…” I didn’t hear the rest becaues as soon as I heard his last name, I was scrambling out of the blanket on the floor trying to get to the next room so I could pick the phone up before he hung up while yelling “MAMAAAAA, MAMA, it’s David!!!”

Remember when I’ve blogged about my aunt Vernita here and there? Well, David is her son and my cousin who used to come to town to visit growing up. I loved me some David. He was only a few months younger than I was (am), and I always looked forward to him coming to MS. When Vernita passed away, we never heard from or really, about, him again. We didn’t know where his dad moved him to, and we had no idea how to find him. Over the last couple of years (prolly longer than that), I’ve searched for him online, through good ole Facebook, even had a police friend run a search and nothing. Turns out he’s been looking for our contact info too, and persistence pays off because he was just trying another random number last night and of course it worked this time. I can’t begin to express how happy I am to know where he is and how he’s doing and how to keep in contact with him.

Today my granddaddy, P.H. Austin, passed away. He’s had Alzheimer’s and a couple of strokes. He’s been deteriorating lately, and my mom told me last week that she felt he was holding on for some reason. But of course, we didn’t really know why because he hasn’t been able to talk or communicate at all lately. Well, it seems as though maybe he was waiting for all his grandchildren to be accounted for. This morning my mom and I headed to the post office to send David some pics of his mom and to run a couple of other errands, and then we got the call. So just keep me and my family in your prayers. I’ll be on again sooner or later.

Almost Christmas

Almost Christmas

Good news: I finally found my battery charger, so I’ll have my Buenos Aires pics uploaded today. (And no, the charger wasn’t anywhere weird–I’m just a bad searcher.)

Last night, I went to my __th Red Tie Soiree. Had a good time overall as usual, but I started thinking about just how removed I’ve become from my former “socialite” status. No regrets, but it was still interesting to walk in a place and not know half the people there. Much different from two years ago. Heck, maybe even last year. In any case, I looked and felt like hot stuff, and the girls looked fab as well. Some of us went out of tradition, and some went because one of our friends (it’s not public yet so I won’t say who) is moving to another state, probably before we’ll have a chance to see her again after the holidays. So exciting. I love new opportunities and chapter beginnings, especially for people who are open to them and primed and ready. I think she’ll thrive in her new setting. Congrats, you, if you read my blog!

Another thing that happened last night was a guy I dated (and I mean dated–as in we went out on dates, not we were in a relationship) a while back was there and acting really weird. Like exhibiting borderline “bitchassness”–it was quite bizarre, but interestingly not unexpected. LOL It was one of those things where he would see one of my friends, be really extra with them, hug them, and then turn around and walk the other way before the chance to acknowledge my presence appeared. At first, I was just going to hug him to show him there are no hard feelings (that end was a bizarro, strange, weird, unexplained deal but it is what it is, yanno #movingon), but he made it so obvious that he didn’t want to even speak that I didn’t make him suffer through the experience of actually having a brief, friendly convo with me. I will say that that whole thing made me grateful that it never went beyond going out every now and then. Sometimes when things don’t work out and you don’t really know why, you just have to remember that God knows what He’s doing. Last night drove that point home.

Which is a great thing because sometimes you need those reminders that God makes no mistakes. I’m going through an (totally unrelated and different) experience now that I don’t really understand or comprehend well, but I’m trying to keep my focus a song that I used to sing in the choir when I growing up: He knows just how much we can bear. It gets rough, but I know (and sometimes I have to settle for hoping I know) that in the end, things work together for the good.

So enough of that. I’ve been having some food issues lately which is not cool because y’all know I love to eat and it’s the friggin holidays!! So I’ve found a couple of recipes that I plan to try if I have the energy. So I’ll share them if I try them and if they turn out yummy. I will say that all those reports you read about the importance of breakfast and water. HEED THAT. Make it a habit, if it’s not already, asap so that you never have to learn the hard way how important they are!

Well, I got thangs to do before I can head home to spend quality time with my family. So I’ll be back with the BA pics later on, and I may post a couple more times. But until then, I hope all you have productive, positive weeks!!

Last Post on Buenos Aires (For Now)

Last Post on Buenos Aires (For Now)

So I went through the awesome and the great. Earlier this week, I posted on my work blog the ugly. Check it out here. That part was rather crazy. If you want to know more about Argentina and black folk, google Domingo Sarmiento. It’s just so weird to see other people who have noticeable hues have such color issues. Not surprised, but wasn’t really all that prepared. I just wish American black people had a place they could really go and not stand out like a sore thumb. But AT LEAST, we didn’t have to go through what I went through in friggin Strasbourg, France. Now in the words of Kanye–THAT ish was cra’y! So as my mom reminds me often these days, the Buenos Aires trip could have been better in terms of the way some (not all) people treat black folk, but it DEFINITELY could have been worse. So that definitely didn’t overshadow the awesomes and greats.

I feel like I’ve left out a lot about the trip, but I can’t quite come up with what else I have left to say. Maybe it’ll come to me in my dreams (I really do dream about what to write sometimes, lol). And in case you’re wondering, no, I still haven’t found my battery charger (and to be honest, I keep forgetting to look) so the pics are still forthcoming. I’ll get them out before the end of the year, LOL.

In terms of travel, another country conquered and another continent visited! I have three more continents to go (Africa, Asia, and Australia), and of course there are still countries in Europe, S. America, and our very own N. America that I’d like to eventually get to. I think I’ve gotten a good number under my belt by 30 though, right? 🙂 I love to explore and experience new places and observe cultures in person. It’s just so much to glean from stepping outside of your norm and seeing how other people live life and handle issues. And of course seeing how all people are similar on the other side of that coin. I love traveling. ❤

I’ll be back later. I hope everyone is ready for the weekend, baby!!

Adventures and All the beef you can imagine

Adventures and All the beef you can imagine

I’m back! So last time I talked about the awesome. Here’s some of the great.

1. Remember the adventures due to rain I told you about? Well… After a full day of exploration, the gang decided to take the route home that would take us through a historical celebration. That’s actually when we took the best pics of the Pink Palace and the oldest church in Buenos Aires and the like.

Almost as soon as we got off the subway, the music stopped and people started packing up their instruments and stage way early (according to a random, they had just started). Did we take that as a sign? No… LOL. We took more pics, we talked to a guy who was walking one of the sweetest dogs ever, we basically snubbed our noses at the sprinkles. Then the sprinkles turned into slightly larger than tiny drops, so we started walking to the condo. Halfway there, the drops turned into a full out rain storm. We had no umbrellas, no ponchos, or anything. It is funny now. It was slightly funny then, but we were cold and wet. And my feet weren’t covered so I felt icky icky. We took streets where we saw awnings so that we could dash from awning to awning, walking with our backs almost to the wall like we were spying, lol. We took a break in a bakery and got a couple treats. Then back to the mad dash. When we saw there wouldn’t be an awning for awhile, we would take a break under the last one, then ask each other were we ready to run. By the time we got to the condo, we were drenched. And of course, Nervous Nelly (me) got to the door and started shaking so it took me longer than usual to unlock it. We all immediately took showers. Then we watched a DVD. (Well, the DVD watched me and everyone else watched it.) It was a wet adventure that really made for a memory.

2. The next morning, we headed to the zoo. That was one of the activities I was most looking forward to. We hopped on the train, got to the stop, walked over to the entrance, and crickets. All gates locked. No one in sight. Then a family walks up and they were looking like we were. Utterly confused and pretty disappointed. So what’s going on? Our resident Spanish interpreter Kendra read the sign about the hours (maybe we were just early??), and nope, sure enough, it should be open that day of the week at that time. So she kept reading and learned that the zoo has a right to close the day of based on weather condition. That damn rain storm last night!!! It was bright and sunny that day, but they had decided not to take the chance, I guess. Sigh… It was ok because we used that time to venture out to another part of town we hadn’t yet been to (with a superb mall where we got some super shopping done) and maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. And I still got to go to the zoo later that week on Thanksgiving. 🙂

3. The outdoor markets are just great. I loved being outside and seeing people peddle their (very lovely) wares. We got to go to two different markets on Sunday, both with their own personalities and both with plenty of characters. People like to bargain. And people like to pretend they’re bargaining, lol. Paula went back and forth with a guy flirting with Kendra about a pair of earrings and how much he’d take from her since she was out of pesos. I think she ended up getting her way with the rest of the pesos she had and like 5 American dollars. That scene could have been in a sitcom.

the hippie hustler

4. Leaving the markets, Paula spotted an ice cream stand. So we headed there, and I sat at a nearby table while everyone looked at the sign trying to figure out what the many flavors could be. Then I spied that this was not your average ice cream stand. There was also a restaurant inside and there was a couple eating at the next table, and I SPY chicken fingers!!!!!!!!!!!!! By Sunday, I was so tired of beef (gasp!) I didn’t know what to do. I am a beef eater, and I like an occasional steak. BUT GEEZ LOUISE. I had to have those chicken fingers. I don’t think anyone had even planned on eating for another couple of hours, but they were sports. Since we were there and since I was ordering anyway, we went ahead and ate. My ma and I ended up splitting a three course meal for 60 pesos (the chicken fingers by themselves would have been 30 so why not??). Sirobe got her normal cheese dish. Paula got that too. And Kendra got chicken fingers by themselves (hers looked different from mine–still not completely sure why). But they were a #win. I don’t really even remember the rest of the meal. I savored those chicken fingers.

5. Paula and American Airlines had a bad relationship throughout this trip so she had to leave early. 😦 BUT we couldn’t let her leave without seeing some tango! So we headed over to the La Boca area (which has a very rich history!) and had lunch. There’s a strip of restaurants there where they have tango in front of each to lure people to come in and eat. I think we picked the best one. We got tango, we got flamenco, we got this guy who had these balls on strings and kept backing up until I thought he was going to hit me with them, then he turned around and grinned. Jokester! That was a good lunch too. I think we all enjoyed our choices. (I didn’t have to eat beef there either, LOL!)

La Boca
Flamenco!

Ok, I have to run. I’ll be back to sprinkle in some pics. And I haven’t forgotten about the pics for the last post–I haven’t yet found my battery charger so I can’t upload my pics yet!!