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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

When your village gets in formation…

‘It takes a village to raise a child’

Today I spent the day with my extended village at the Alliance of Educators for Black Students​ Family Conference.

It was an amazing. There’s something really inspiring and uplifting about being surrounded by fellow black parents all trying to learn how to support and advocate for their kids…and black teachers trying to guide and do what they do best….’teach.’

There where parent workshops on how to navigate the hidden curriculum, family health and round table discussions on how to be involved and more importantly ENGAGED in your child’s education.

AEBS

Part of what I love about this conference is the priority and care they take in involving the children. This day is as much for them as it is for the parents. And for my little madam and for the boy child it’s one day where they are NOT different. It’s one day where they sit in a classroom with a teacher and students who look exactly like they do.

There really is comfort and power that comes from having a ‘village’. It’s not easy being a parent, particularly a black parent- when the odds are so stacked against your kids. You are ALWAYS questioning if you are doing the right thing, are you being too pushy, are you not being pushy enough. It’s wonderful to feel like you have people who understand and can carry you when you stumble, when you are unsure and when you need a little guidance.

#AEBSfamily2017

Don’t let John Kelly re-write History

I’m pretty sure it’s blatantly obvious that I’m no conservative. So typically, when I see the asinine, ignorant and tone deaf comments made by some conservative politicians, across the western world,I generally roll my eyes. Needless to say, I’ve been in a perpetual state of eye-rolling since Trump has been elected. But some things just defy eye-rolling and lead to a general mouth drop. John Kelly saying that a ‘lack of compromise’ led to the American Civil War is one those mouth dropping occasions.
I like to think i’m a bit of history buff, it was my minor in University, American History in particular. But you don’t need to be a history buff to know that the American Civil War was fought over slavery. Slavery…as in the ownership and enslavement of an entire race of people for hundreds of years. Slavery…as in the routine practice of separating families, working people to death, ripping babies from their mothers to be sold, whipping people bloody, raping women, essentially doing whatever you please to an entire race of people. Slavery. The civil war was fought over that. Over slavery. So where exactly in the narrow republican world was the compromise supposed to be?

Oh you can whip your slaves but don’t kill them? You can own these groups of people, but let’s free these ones? Where was the compromise? What exactly were the North and South supposed to compromise about? I’ve heard many people over the last year or so say that slavery could return to the US and honestly, I roll my eyes at that too. But the fact that the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States gets on national TV and justifies and defends the slave owning south and states that slavery was something to compromise over is scary as heck. You don’t need to ask him twice what he thinks of black people. Unbelievable.

Woke Mommy Chatter- The Podcast: Episode 2

The one where we talk about interracial dating and identity.

Don’t forget to subscribe and download the latest episode of the Woke Mommy Chatter Podcast. This week I continue my conversation with fellow Woke Moms Rochelle and Carla. We talk mixed race kids and identity, perception and micro-aggressions. Be sure to tune in, like and share.

You can subscribe from apple podcast using the link below or download anywhere yu you get your podcast.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/woke-mommy-chatter-the-podcast/id1293971353?mt=2