I Don’t Need Therapy. I Need Help.

I don’t have my ‘ish together. I’m a hot-mess mom and I’m OK with that…sort of.

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“You should talk to someone, if you are having trouble coping.”
I had just had lunch with a friend, I was there to support her, through her own trauma, and had innocently mentioned how I needed a break. From everything. How little things that I could normally laugh off were enraging me. How I was feeling completely overwhelmed.
And then she said it…the words that smacked me in the face like a wet sock and turned the conversation on its head, reflecting a mirror right back at me.
“…having trouble coping.” Her words floored me, I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t say anything, and there, in the front seat of my car, sitting beside someone going through her own real struggles, I burst into tears.
Was I really having trouble coping? What does that even mean? How could I be having trouble coping. Yes, I’m a mom, yes I have a full time job, but I’ve only got two kids and I have a husband. It’s not like I have three or four kids or like I am a single mom. I at least have support.
I love my kids, I want to be present and active in their lives. I attend my son’s parent council, I take him to ball hockey, my daughter is doing gymnastics right now, both kids do piano and Kumon. I’m there. I drop them off, I pick them up, I go to work, I make my sons lunch, I remember when he needs to bring a shoebox to school for art, whether it’s pizza day, if he needs money for a bake-sale. I am not special. My life is not difficult. We are financially stable, we both have good jobs, and we have family support. How can I not be coping? Of course I am coping. Doesn’t everyone feel overwhelmed sometimes?
But as I drove away, I thought about our conversation, about my life. The dishes in the sink, the dishes in the dishwasher, the bundles of dirty laundry, the clean laundry pilled in the corner of each bedroom waiting to be sorted, my office desk, piled high with all sorts of papers, school papers, bills, random kids drawings, all things that need to be sorted through, filed, saved as keepsakes. I thought about the nights I wake up at 3 a.m., unable to get back to sleep unless my earphones are in my ear, the sounds of re-runs of Veep or Scandal, the only options able to quiet my mind. The knot in my chest each morning I wake up, knowing I have to go to work and face another day with a long to-do-list that I won’t get through.
And yes, my husband helps. He does what he can, he’s the one who will silently pick the clothes off the floor and hang them up, he’ll clean the bathrooms, vacuum the house, he’s does his part. But he also works long shifts, meaning often it’s just me, ferrying the kids, waking them up in the morning, while they cry because it is too early, picking them up and everything in between. He’s also not the one panicking about childcare for the next school year. He’s not calling daycare’s, and after-school programs. He’s not trying to organize summer camp and swimming lessons and trying to figure out how we can fit swim lessons into an already over-scheduled summer and wondering if the kids will grow up without that very necessary skill. All that mental ‘worry energy’ is left to me.
And I know I am lucky. I know there are moms who are on their own, who have it worse. I am lucky…I have help. There’s a daycare worker who picks my son up off the school bus, my daughter is in daycare all day, my parents help out when they can. And still, even with my village, I am sometimes immobilized with anxiety.
I can’t be the only mother feeling like this? I feel like I’ve been duped. I feel like someone should have told me this wouldn’t be easy. I grew up in the 80s/90s. I was raised to have a career. The challenges that came with being a mom never occurred to me.
In my social circle, there are many highly educated, accomplished women, choosing to leave the workforce. They are becoming stay at home moms and picking up businesses on the side. They are working as at home travel agents or selling make-up, or handbags, to pick up extra cash. And although I don’t think I could make that choice, I really get it.
I want to work, I like my job, but I also want to be present for my kids. I don’t want to be stretched so thin. If you don’t have access to flexible working, I completely understand why many women make the choice they do to drop out of the work force completely.
My parents both worked full-time. I went to daycare and later I was a latch-key kid. I wasn’t harmed by that experience, but I can’t help but want something a little different for my kids. I want to be able to be there to drop them off, or pick them up at the end of their school day. I want to hear about their little worries on the way home and the little wins they’ve experienced. I want that, but I also want my job. And still I want something just for me. I have interest outside of work and kids that I would like to pursue, that take time to purse.
Maybe I ‘want’ too much? Maybe that is my problem. Maybe my issue is that I’ve realized that I can’t have everything I want. My children can’t have all of me…all of my attention the way I would like them to, and neither can my work, or my husband…or me for that matter.
What I realized on that car ride home, is that I am not that mom that can work full time and complete a master’s degree in under two years, while being a mommy to three kids under 6- and that is ok. I am not that mom who can train for a 5k race, while running her own business and raising two teenagers. I champion these women, I support these women, I admire these women, but these women are not me. I am not together, I am a hot panicky mess.
I am the mom who doesn’t return emails. I am the mom you text and get a reply a week later if at all. I am the mom, who collapses in front of the TV exhausted at the end of the day. I am the mom, done with being a mom by 8 p.m. I am the mom with the messy house, and the self-doubt, and the half started ‘projects’ and the flaky schedule. I am the mom who occasionally cries in the front seat of her car, because sometimes it gets to be all too much. Am I having trouble coping? Maybe, but who isn’t? Should I speak to someone about it? Probably. But when? Where will I fit the time in for mental self-care when my days are packed to the brim already?
The bottom line is, this hot mess mom is trying. I am trying to be the best I can be for my family, for my job and for me. I’m taking it one day at a time. And that’s all I can do for now.

Woke Mommy’s Top 2016 moments….

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2016 sucked and not just because that is the general consensus, but because it truly did.

Personally it’s been a year of transition for me. We started 2016 in a new home, in a new town, that still doesn’t quite feel like home. The DH started 2016 in a new job that’s really enlightened us on the value of family time and balance.The little madam is growing up and is truly not a baby anymore. The boy child left kindergarten behind and started grade 1.

On the world stage, this was the year that the randomness and fear of terror attacks truly hit the western world with the attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Then there was  Syria and  the baby Alan Kurdi, whose tiny little body, washed up on a beach and shocked the world out of complacency.

There was the Dakota pipeline and the beauty of defiance.

There was Brexit and the racist vitriol of that campaign that culminated with the murder of British Member of Parliament Jo Cox.

And there was Trump, and death, and more Trump and more death.

But what really defined 2016 for me, what galvanized me to start this blog was the shooting after shooting of black and brown unarmed men in the United States and the denial of the existence of racism, the nonsense of colour blindness and the comments after comments that refused to accept that systemic racism exists and impacts decisions, both in the US and in Canada.

I realized, through many of those conversations, that I was part of the problem, because my experiences, or the challenges my kids faced because of their race, was not something I discussed openly, but instead was something I saved for my black Facebook groups, or to discuss with black family and friends. No wonder people think racism doesn’t exist!.  So in a way 2016 gave me a voice.    This blog has truly been a gift ( a much much more time consuming gift than I thought, but a gift non the less;))

So 2016 wasn’t all bad….here are a few more of my highlights:

1. Lemonade!  This album just defined 2016 for me.   Beyoncé was everything this year.  I was NEVER a fan. I thought she was shallow and fake and well, silent.  But I was wrong…and from the moment she blasted onto that Superbowl field in that  black panther outfit,with all those beautiful black women behind her, I was converted.  Then there was the visual album, which was just beautiful and unapologetically black and just magic.

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2. Angela Rye.…because she said what every black person in the western world was thinking and she said it loud and proud on national TV.

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3. Jesse Williams at the BET awards- Black women are always the first to jump to stand up to injustice and defend and fight for black men, but sometimes that isn’t reciprocated, and here was a black man who acknowledged that and told the world… and it was nice…and well, vindicating

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4. Solange…this was also the year of Solange. She’s so woke, she was woke before anyone else even opened their eyes and I can bet she’s the one who breathed life into Beyoncé…. her album, A seat at the Table was magic.  4 words…’Don’t Touch My Hair’

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5. Trudeau.  Trudeau. Trudeau.  He’s North America’s only hope now.  Enough said.

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6.  Colin Kaepernick: Because it’s one thing to recognize injustice, but to  fight and protest against it, by putting your own career at risk, is truly heroic.

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So 2016 wasn’t all bad, but I am still hoping that 2017 will be better.  Happy New Year Woke Peeps.  See you on the other side!

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Heil Trump, Heil Victory- The Entire World Should Be Scared

It’s done.  As absurd as it sounds, Trump is the president-elect. Right wing radicals joined forces with otherwise descent people, who closed their eyes, held their nose and put a tick beside the name of a man backed by the Ku Klux Klan, an organization responsible for the deaths and lynchings of tens of thousands of black american men, women and children.

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Trump isn’t the first leader head of state in North America, I believe Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper took the title on that one. But he at least had the descent to keep it quiet and to make vague statements backing away from his Northern Foundation past.  Trump’s hate connections are loud, proud and unapologetic.  Is this   better? Is it better to know exactly who your enemy is? Probably.

But it doesn’t make it any less scary.

From, bro- nazi groups holding a parade to honour Trump, to the shouting of Heil Trump, Heil Victory,  to Trump gathering all the media to chastise them for their coverage of him.  Or his insistence that anyone who utters a whiff of descent in his direction apologize for it.   Do you know what that sounds like? Do you get where I am going?

The threat to create a Muslim registry is real.   The deportation of millions of people is real.  The ‘solution’ to ensure ‘law and order’ in black communities is real.  Don’t look away, don’t bury your head in the sand and don’t think this doesn’t affect you.  This will affect the entire world in one way or another. This is it just an American issue, this is a world crisis.  What is the world going to do?

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTEDEducation%2Fvideos%2F1240972065915997%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>Ted Talk Video- How Hitler Rose to Power

TODAY IS THE DAY! GET IT RIGHT AMERICA!!!

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It’s D-DAY.  Today is the day that changes the course of history. Either America elects it’s first female President, or it elects the most divisive and questionable president ever.

I genuinely don’t understand the hate for Hillary Clinton.   She’s like any other politician as far as I am concerned, they all have skeletons, they all do back-room deals, they are all war mongers, they all have something to hide. She happens to be a woman. She happens to have been ambitious, she happen’s to have been a first lady with opinions and a mission.

Do I think that her campaign played a very very dirty game to ensure her nomination when it looked like Bernie Sanders could have stolen it from her. Yes. Do I like it? No.  It doesn’t sit right. It feels like they knew she could loose and they cheated to ensure she would win.

Has she said some questionable racist things in the past? Yes, but let’s be honest, what white American politician hasn’t and at least she’s apologized.

And then there is Trump. That’s all I will say. There is Trump.He’s not even worth another sentence.

Here’s hoping America does the right thing!  A toast to the first female president of the United States!

 

IT SUCKS TO BE BLACK AND LOOKING FOR WORK

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There’s a quiet support that black people have for one another in the workforce (usually). It’s an invisible fist bump, a look, a half smile, an acknowledgment that says, ‘you made it brother, you are here sister, I see you’.   For black women, that is double true.   In so many workplaces, emphasis is placed on this idea of the glass ceiling.  That the barriers to getting ahead at work are solely based on gender, and that if an organization does their due diligence, ensure’s their workforce is well balanced with men and women, that they somehow deserve a pat on the back for reaching tremendous goal.

The truth is that in 2016, the real issue with workplace diversity is not the glass ceiling, but the concrete ceiling.  It’s the fact that people of colour that rise above senior or management positions to executive level positions, even if they are well qualified for the role.  And that is when they have a job!  If you are black and out of work, chances are you will be looking for work longer than a white counterpart.  There’s a CBC article that talks about the particular stresses black women face when they are looking for work.

The pressure many black women feel of having to straighten their hair for an interview. I know this is always a stressful for me and I can honestly say that i have never been to an interview with my natural hair. Would I go to an interview today with natural hair? Yes, I would. Would I have done it two years ago. Most definitely not!

So, The City of Toronto has launched a campaign to target anti-black hiring practices. This is good news, in that it raises awareness about a very real issue and forces people to confront any bias’ they may harbor.  The question is, what happens when a black person does get the job?   We know well paid full time work, with vacation and benefits are hard to come by, but for minorities, these jobs are even harder, even rarer.  How do we ensure that a rash of minority hires aren’t contract hires, forced to work short term contracts to a. fill a quote set by an employer and b. ‘prove’ that they are worthy of a full time job (something many of their white colleagues wouldn’t have to do).  I think often people of colour are hired, but they are hired on terms, maternity covers or contracts, because companies simply are not willing to take a chance and invest in hiring them full-time, because they aren’t certain it will work out.  The trouble with this uncertainty is that it doesn’t extend to all employees.

So while it’s great to put two faces side by side and ask the question ‘who would you hire?’ maybe the question should be ‘who would you hire full-time, for an executive role?’  That would really make some employers uncomfortable.

 

WASH DAY MADE EASY?…YES PLEASE!

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I have to share the goodness that is the wash-day visor. Why didn’t anyone tell me about these before?  Essentially they are plastic visors that sit at the front of your wriggly child’s head and prevents water from falling into their face or eye.  I need one of these. NOW!

Washing the little madam’s hair is a real struggle. We attempted a salon style sink wash, with her lying on the kitchen counter. That resulted in my kitchen looking a bit like a wading pool. I moved on to shower her hair and having her tell me when to stop.  I ended up more wet than her. Now we’ve come to an amicable agreement where she will allow me to through a basin full of water over her hair, because she thinks it’s hilarious, but I can’t wash her hair as thoroughly as I’d like doing this. So this visor is looking pretty good.

YouTube black hair tutorials have really become my hobby.  One of the sad legacies of slavery and colonialism is that we (black people) have forgotten how to care for our hair. We’ve retained some of our wonderful traditional styles, like twists or cornrows, but we’ve forgotten how to really care for our hair.    In the last 10 years or so, there’s been a rediscovery of natural black hair and a push for black people to use natural products and re-learn how to take care of our hair.

My mother swears she would never have permed my hair so early, but I distinctly remember getting my first perm (as in permanent press/burn your scalp-hair straightener, not the 80s crazy curl) at 7 years old.  So, like a lot of young girls, I never really learned how to take care of my natural hair and the chemicals, meant it didn’t grow properly, was super brittle and unhealthy.  Looking back I can’t believe I spent so many years and so much money, literally frying my scalp so that my hair would conform to a socially acceptable standard of straightness. It’s just insane.  Even today, when we know better, I still see little kids running around with obviously permed hair. I want to cry when I see this and I want to shake their mother.

That said, my hair might be natural, but I’m still working my way up to taking the twist extensions out. As the little madam and the boy child get older, I want them both to see me loving and wearing my natural hair, the same way I am teaching them to love and wear their natural hair.

That means I have to embrace my hair, shed the negativity and the fear and wear it proud!

OFFENSIVE IS DISNEY’S MIDDLE NAME

5e15bb90f480e43757a35606f2c59fbaSo as #woke individuals, I am going to assume we all understand the problems with representation, sexism, racism etc. that Disney has. Yes they’ve made efforts and strides towards being more inclusive, but even those efforts are fraught with problems. It’s fantastic that there’s a black ‘princess’, and maybe I shouldn’t read too much into it when the little madam takes the wash cloth from the kitchen sink and says ‘Look mommy, I’m cleaning like Tiana.’ Nope, nothing to worry about there. Not at all Disney.

But none of the stereotypes and idiocy that occasionally comes out of the Disney machine can match this latest #DisneyFail. Absolutely nothing.

The movie Moana is due to come out soon (or has come out, I can’t keep up). Anyway, the Disney merchandising unit is in full swing and some brilliant marketer thought it would be a great idea to develop a brown skin Maui costume for kids.
Any quasi woke, reasonably astute person developing this product would think…ok, let’s create the costume using the traditional dress and maybe a few accessories (cultural appropriation? Yes, but nothing new for Disney).

But no, this is Disney and what’s point of doing something if it’s not going to cause major offence, so wait…light-bulb moment…let’s take it all the way and…wait for it… replicate Polynesian brown skin and literally let kids ‘wear another cultures skin’. (thanks @Karnythia for that on point quote)

Good job Disney. Nope, not offensive at all.  Thankfully, someone helped them see the light and they pulled it from the shelves prior to Halloween.  But, I can’t watch the trailer for the movie now without thinking of the costume and it’s taken all the joy out of seeing people of colour on the Disney screen again.