Self love as told by an ant, a hill and a house for sale

I am always looking for new books for the boy child and little madam. One of the great things about the internet is the access it gives us to books that are diverse, representative and reflective of different stories. So, I am always super excited when I hear of new books coming out. This one, Anthill For Sale by Johnny Ray Moore, is one for the holiday book list.

Anthill Mock (1)
In all honesty, I was skeptical when I first picked it up, but it’s a charming book with a great lesson about appreciating and valuing what you have, especially when others don’t. The book is illustrated beautifully, and the story is told in an upbeat and lyrical way, so kids will love it. Parents will love the nuisances of the book (in other words, you won’t fall asleep reading it).
The story surprised me, the pictures are so lively and the story itself is told in a way that is so animated. The sentimentality of the story surprised me too. Have you ever had to move? All those feelings of excitement and longing to stay where you are, worry about loosing the memories you made in your home, are all captured in this book.ladybug

But for me as a Black mom, I drew deeper meaning as well about seeing value in yourself especially when others don’t. Alvin the ant is shocked and upset that people won’t love his home and value the same things he values about his home in the same way. The story is about self love for me. It is about learning to value yourself and essentially protecting yourself, from other’s who may unwittingly bring you down. So deep right? Who knew an ant, a hill and a for sale sign could be so inspiring. That’s when you know you’ve found a good kids book I guess. When the message is subtle, but strong enough to leave kids with a beautiful lesson.
If you get a copy, let me know what you think. Drop a comment.

A chat with Black Moms Connection founder Tanya Hayles

IMG_1462 (1)
Tanya Hayles, Founder, Black Moms Connection

When the boy child was 5 years old, he called me ‘Blackie’ and proudly told me that his friend from school told him that ‘Blackie’ was another word for Black people.  To say I was shocked, upset, angry was an understatement.

That moment, that time the boy child called my a racial slur, was my awakening.   Aside from the racial slur, this was the period when the boy child decided he didn’t want to be black, that he wanted blond straight hair. It was the time he would cry anytime I came near his head with a comb.  It was also the summer I had to explain to a crying six year old that no, he couldn’t have the toy gun that someone had bought him for his birthday, because a little boy named Tamir Rice had just been killed, playing with a toy gun in a park.  And, it was the summer that I was kicked out of a mainstream moms group because I was looking for support and asked if any other Black moms wanted to connect. Despite all this…it was the summer I found my village…Black Moms Connection.

In the season 2 finale of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, I chat with the founder of the Black Moms Connection group, Tanya Hayles about all things Black Motherhood….and Black Panther…just because.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

Libsyn: http://wokemommy.libsyn.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokem

 

Living Your Best Life While Doing Life Afraid

Imagine this…You are living in Atlanta, Donald Trump has just won the election. You are shocked, you are in disbelief. You look over at your young son, his Black life matters more than anything in the world to you. Like so many Black mothers in the US, you worry for his future, you stress at the education systems private and public that are failing him, you worry about the preconceptions about his Black body that could cut his life short,  so the next day, you wake up and put in an application for a passport. In a year, you’ll be on a plane headed for mexico, scared, but sure that at least for now, you’re making the right decision.    Meet Aja Rutledge.  This is her story.

AJa
Aja Rutledge

In her own words, ‘Aja is a former corporate, working mom who ditched it all and left the hustle and bustle to explore the world with her son. They see the world as their teacher and their travels as their lessons. Through fear, Aja travels and pushes boundaries to live her dreams while teaching her son to live his through example. Aja is an advocate for travel as an education, solution and lifestyle. She documents her journey on her blog, Doing Life Afraid, helps single moms move abroad through her online course, The Single Mom’s Path to Freedom: How International Living Can Change the Game and fulfills others travel dreams through her travel agency, bTripping.

On this week’s podcast, I chat with Aja about her story, how she made the move to Mexico, her plans for the future and her story.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

Libsyn: http://wokemommy.libsyn.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokem

The Secret Lives of Black Mothers

When I scheduled this latest conversation for the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast. It was meant to be three people talking about the idea of achievement being equated to ‘acting white’ and the phrase ‘Oreo cookie’ that is hurled at Black kids who don’t fit the ‘stereotype.’   This episode does talk about that issue, but my conversation with fellow blogger, Trish Frempong of Confessions of a Hustling Mama, is also about so much more.  It captures all of the complications, uncertainty, joy and pain of parenting and living as a Black mother.

“My kids are not safe in their school”
“I would make myself small in social situations”
“A colleague called me a bounty bar, because they said I acted white”Just a few nuggets from this episode the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast. If you listen to only one episode – this is the one to listen to.Trish

Listen as we explore education and learning while Black, working while Black and just the experience of living and existing in a Black body and how that impacts the way we parent our kids.

This isn’t an episode to miss.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

Libsyn: http://wokemommy.libsyn.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokem

Part 2: Not leaning in but not leaning out podcast with Brianne DeRosa

This week, I’m concluding my conversation with Brainne DeRosa, authour of the Red, Round or Green blog, about a recent article she wrote for Motherwell Magazine, ‘On not leaning in, but not leaning out.’

We continue our chat about flexibility in the workforce, compare notes on Canada’s maternity leave vs. America’s. We chat about race and privilege and the realities that many women, including women of colour or single women are never afforded the choice to lean in or out. It’s an insightful discussion with Brianne. Be sure to check it out.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

Libsyn: http://wokemommy.libsyn.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokem

The Push for Work Life Balance

I-want-to-be-a-mother-for-more-than-just-one-hour-a-day-1024x576-1518045111I recently wrote an article about only having one hour a day to spend with my kids if I accept a full-time 9-5, no flexibility job. One hour. That is my reality, and for me, that is not acceptable.    Why is it that in a world (at least in Canada), where maternity leave has been extended to two years and where men are now being given the opportunity to take six weeks off after the birth of a child, flexible working once women go back to work and children get older, seems elusive.

In this episode of the podcast, I chat with Brainne DeRosa, authour of the Red, Round or Green blog, about a recent article she wrote for Motherwell Magazine, ‘On not leaning in, but not leaning out.’

This is a two part discussion.

Download  PART I of the podcast.

Woke Mommy ChatterSubscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

The Traumatic Three’s, Elsa and the Black Village gone wrong

14232387_181731728902909_1260190754392695826_n

Having a three year old sucks.  Anyone who tells you differently is either delusional or on a strong dose of Vicodin or likely both….because they have a three year old, or as that age is now commonly known- a ‘threenager.’

On episode three of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, I am talking to three fellow moms, Rahema, Felicia owner of  @Justuseventstoronto and Trish- creator of the @ConfessionsofaHuslingMama blog on Instagram.   We are unpacking the traumatic three’s and what it’s like parenting a threenager with the added layer of blackness.

Woke Mommy ChatterSubscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

Searching for my own Wakanda

Killmonger-WKabi-and-TChalla-Black-PantherThe Black Panther movie was epic!  It was magnificent and just completely and utterly excellent.  But, it also left me thinking about the complicated connection that all of us of African ancestry, living in the diaspora, have to the land from which our ancestors were taken.  My own family tree is a network of blank spots and unanswered questions. Simply, because we don’t know the answer to the question of who our people were. Our history of quite literally stolen from us.

My sister though, has spent over 10 years trying to piece together the pieces of our family history and on the latest episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, I talk to her about her journey, reveal her DNA test results and chat about a family ancestor that could be the key to our African roots.

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6279379/height/90/theme/custom/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/87A93A/“>Listen to the Podcast

 

Woke Mommy Chatter1400

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

The One Where We Talk About Black Love

Woke Mommy Chatter – The Podcast is back with 8 new episodes.  We are kicking off season 2 with an episode on Black Love.  I chat with Destinii and Brandon from the @BlaqLoveSoul Instagram blog about the beauty of Black love, some of the challenges and their own love story.

Brandon and Destinii
Brandon and Destinii, creators of the @BlaqLoveSoul Instagram blog.

Black love truly is beautiful, in some ways it is revolutionary.  It is defiance in the face of injustice and racism.   Black love is perseverance, in a society that has attempted for years to undermine black relationships, to strip black people of their ability to love each other, to uphold each other and to bond with each other.

Black love is comfort, home, it a sense of security and peace in knowing that you are enveloped in an embrace of those who share common experiences, who understand the struggle, who strive to achieve despite all odds.

Black love stands strong in the face of societal pressure from billboards, and commercials and marketing campaigns and television shows and memes, and Instagram posts that seek to perpetuate the myth that black love is dying. That it no longer exists, that its blackness is toxic.

Black love is community, it is protests, it is standing hand in hand, and it is support for each other, supporting neighbours, supporting family.  It is hope in the future. It is uplifting.

Black love is resistance, it is a fist in the air, it is the power of convictions, it is striving towards change, it is people who dedicate themselves to their community, it is unapologetic in its blackness.

Black love is pride.

Black love is hurt and pain.  It is complicated.  It is the grief of communities destroyed by lack of opportunities and injustice of biased societal structures that uphold white supremacy.  It is fear for black children, for our partners, for ourselves.

Black love is migration, it is building a future away from those you love, communities you love, in the hopes that the generations after will do better.  It is sacrifice. It is courage

Black love is beautiful.  It is Sunday afternoon hair days, and cook-outs and worship.  Is carnival and bacchanals and dance hall.   It is celebration.

Black love is empowering.  It is community. It is about thriving against all odds.  It is about defying the oppressor.   Black love will always be political.  Black love will always be divisive, black love will always exist.

Black love is everything.

Listen to the Black Love episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast.

Woke Mommy Chatter1400

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

 

Where’s the #metoo movement for racism?

I find it so interesting that the whole world has essentially jumped on the #metoo moment.  People who once scoffed at the idea of feminism, or referred to it as the ‘f-word’ are using the language.  High profile men are being outed as misogynistic, predatory or flat out rapist. They are resigning, being fired, forced to confront their misogyny and sexism.

Don’t get me wrong….this is great. Yeah for women.  Although that sentence really should read, ‘Yeah for White women.’   It’s ironic really that a movement started by a Black woman has been co-opted and now all but excludes the voices of Black women.

We know Black women experience the brunt of sexual violence and harassment.  It starts younger for us.  It’s also embedded in our cultures and community.   I grew up in a Black neighborhood and could barely walk two steps as a pre-teen and then a teen without being harassed, called ‘shorty’, ‘lil’ sis, cars slowing, asking if I wanted a ride, or creeping along beside me, young men, much older than me, hanging out the windows asking for my number. GettyImages_872386850 Black women know harassment.  But we also know racism and for many of us…myself included, when a conversation arises about sexual harassment and anti-Black racism.  It’s racism that wins out.  My identity as a woman is second to my identity as a Black women. I am Black first.

I don’t feel dis-empowered, disenfranchised or attacked for being a woman….I feel all of those things for being Black.

So where is the #metoo movement for racism?  This week, I had two separate Black friends on the phone with me, crying over the overt racism, and subtle miroagressions that they’ve been dealing with at work.  Both wanted validation that they weren’t imagining things, that what they were experiencing was in fact problematic and unfair behavior. One quit her job, preferring to be unemployed and save her sanity, than suffer the stress, exhaustion and fragile mental health that comes for Black people working in a White world (ever wonder why black people cling to religion so hard? It’s how we keep our sanity).

My other friend, seemed shell-shocked and in a complete state of disbelief that her hard work, her good ideas, her experience, could be discounted over a small mistake (the same mistake another colleague made).  She was consumed with confusion over the fact that her high profile file could be taken away from her, for something so small and given to someone with no experience.  Someone who had also made the same mistakes and more… For this friend, her belief in her equality and the idea that the people she worked with respected and valued her as a colleague and didn’t see her colour was so strong, that it was shocking to her to be faced with the stark reality that as the only Black women in the entire company, she simply had to ALWAYS be three times better. She was not allowed to make mistakes…ever…and the white mediocrity around her, would always be rewarded, always made allowances for, always supported…above her.

We need a #metoo movement for racism.  It’s glaring that people are so able to listen to the stories of women and believe them without question, but throw in a story about race in there and everyone has excuses.  It becomes the ‘race-card’, you have a ‘chip on your shoulder.

The same people who support #metoo, start to say things like, “my husband is Black, or my daughters best friend is Black, or they say that their Black kids are bi-racial, or they don’t see colour, everyone is the same.”  They say all of this…anything… so as not to to confront the fact that despite their perceived close proximity to Blackness, they can in fact still be racist. They can still participate in all the things that stress Black people, that require us to have our #metoo reckoning.

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/1/11/16875028/me-too-racism-reckoning

On Postpartum depression and Brooke Shields

Part of the reason I started my blog was to peel back the layers on what motherhood in the west looks like- which in the mainstream…is lily white. It’s part of the problem I have with shows like Parenthood or the Canadian mom show Workin’ Moms.  But even though I know this, sometimes I’m still genuinely shocked to see that my motherhood is barely ever reflected in mainstream media. Can I just say…black women are awesome mothers too, we struggle, we love our kids just as much, we do all the same crap every other mom does, we face the same issues…including…post depression,  which brings me to Brooke Shields’ Netflix documentary When The Bough Breaks. I stumbled across this during my Netflix binge over the holidays.  You know- during the cold snap when we literally couldn’t leave the house for fear of our eyelids freezing shut in seconds.  So we stayed indoors and I binged on Netflix.  It was glorious.  In that self indulgent haze, I stumbled across Brooke Shields’ postpartum documentary.   All I can say is she needs to seriously expand her view of motherhood.

If you just watch the first 40 minutes of this documentary, you would assume two things:

  1. only white women are mothers and
  2. only white women struggle with motherhood.

It took a full 40 minutes, in a documentary where the first thing they said is that postpartum depression sees no racial or class boundaries, before I saw a face that wasn’t white.  And that first face was in fact nearly white, a fair skinned woman of south Asian descent, the black face and her story appeared at minute 52.

It really distracted from the documentary which actually has a very compelling story, that needs to be told.  Shield’s is right about the fact that we need to talk more openly about postpartum depression. We need to get rid of the shame and stigma that’s associated with it.  The fact is, birthing a baby is traumatic.  The best thing my family physician ever said to me was acknowledging this fact.  She told me my body had just undergone ‘major trauma and would need at least two years the heal,’  and that’s just physically.  Often we are so focused on the physical, we forget to take care of our emotional self.

One of the things I learned watching this doc., is that postpartum can actually last YEARS after giving birth. One of the women had a seven-year old son and was still in therapy.  This makes so much sense to me.  I get it.

While I didn’t have postpartum depression, I definitely had the baby blues.  When the Captureboy child was born, I was so excited, there was this instant wave of love that was there well before he was even delivered, but when I got him home that first week, I was convinced he hated me. Every time he nursed in the first month or so, I would stare down at him, slightly freaked out by his intense glare.  I was convinced, he was giving me evil looks (which sounds completely irrational and it was – but it’s the truth).  I also had post traumatic stress with him. For quite a while after the delivery, I’d go into these slightly catatonic states where I’d get flash backs remembering the trauma of his birth.    And it wasn’t even a particularly horrible birth, it was just nothing like I could have imagined and more painful that I could have imagined, because apparently epidurals don’t work on me.

With the little madam, I was a much more confident mom, but I had complications from the delivery that required a home nurse to come in once a week for like 4 months, I had the boy child, I had a busy job leading up to the birth- so I really felt so disconnected from her when she was born.  I went through the motions, but she was a little stranger to me.  I felt like I  had to get to know her.  Today, as I watched her spend a good 10 minutes trying to literally climb into the fridge, yes climb INTO the fridge to get the butter to spread on her bread, because she was mad at me and didn’t want to talk to me. I marveled at the fact that I ever thought I’d have to get to know this determined, funny, exuberant little human.   Her heart beats in tune with mine.  But with hormones ranging, down in the weeds, you don’t see that.

My point here is that as mothers, we all have the same struggles, black women have an added layer of struggle that can complicate and feed into every aspect of our family lives, but at the core, our stories are similar and ensuring our voices are heard…not an hour into a documentary, but right from the beginning is essential.
Representation matters, not just for children of colour, but for their parentes too, particularly for mothers….black mothers, who need to shed the stigma of survival, and strength and toughness in order to face our own truth. Hearing someone else share thiers is the first step.

 

Why Santa is ruining my Christmas

The boy child is 7 years old now. We’ve always enabled the belief in Santa and the magic of Christmas. But this year is different. The boy child wobbled. He wasn’t sure about Santa. He had questions. But they weren’t straightforward black and white questions like, is Santa real? He was too scared to ask that, I could tell. Instead he’d say things like, ‘I don’t believe in magic, just Santa.’ Then he’d wait for my reaction. Then he’d move on to, ‘elves aren’t real right?How does Santa get all the toys?’ Faces with my wide eyed little boy’s wavering belief in a Christmas- I panicked and did what my mother never would have done. I lied. I reinforced the charade. I made up stories about busy elves and Santa watching us and reindeer. And he believed me. Every word.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just Santa. But now there are these bloody elves on the shelves…Both kids are convinced that our elf at home is fake, because it NEVER moves- as in mommy can’t be bothered. The boy child is even asking for a real elf from Santa this year.

It’s sweet really that he believes so whole heartedly. He even wrote a letter to Santa asking for a house for his Auntie. Because you know…big city real-estate and all that.

School is the biggest perpetrator of this Santa BS though. There elf moves daily and writes notes to the kids. And letters come home listing al the toys each child would like for Christmas. So even though we didn’t visit Santa at the mall this year, I still have no excuse. I must partake in the Santa scheme. In fact I’ll admit to downloading an app that will ‘call’ Santa when your kids are naughty.

Through all this though, I’ve decided that if the boy child still believes next year when he’s 8, we will be breaking the ‘there is no- Santa news to him’. 8 years is a good run to believe in Santa I think. Right? And I want some credit for trudging through the snow searching for sold out toys.

Next year, I think we are going to trade in Christmas for Kwanzaa.

%d bloggers like this: