Tag Archives: Life

And We’re Baaaaack….to School Again

Monday, the TDs started school. The fact that it’s Thursday and I’m just writing about their first day should be a good indicator of how it went…..busy….and exhausting!

I definitely was not ready. I felt like the summer went by too fast. I still wanted to do things with them. Fun things like trips and the beach and trips downtown. Emotionally, it was no big deal. They’ve both been in daycare since they were 3 months and we started “real” school last year.

I spent the week before failing at getting us on a schedule to prepare us for getting back in the swing of things. No changes to the uniform and I’d washed and hung uniform clothes months ago. We ordered school supplies through the school and they were shipped there. Book bags were bought. They just needed a few minor items – lunch box, water bottles, snacks. We were all good to go!

Then Monday happened. And I realized just how not good to go we really were. Several of TD1’s uniform items are missing. And they happen to be the items that have to be specially ordered from the uniform store and currently are on back order. Yay us! Maroon leggings and shorts (non-logo or branded) are the bane of my existence right now. Seriously, does anyone make or sell them??? We ran into this problem last year, which caused us to stock up whenever we found them in the girls’ sizes. Guess what’s mysteriously missing now….

Despite an early bedtime, the girls did not want to wake up. Grumbles of “Why do we have to go to school?” were repeated throughout breakfast and getting dressed.

timetoschool16Then they were dressed and we had about 10 min for pictures and to get them in their respective classrooms. And that’s when it hit me. During that quick 2 min photoshoot when TD1 was posing and telling me which shots I had to get. My daughters are big girls.

TD1 is a kindergartner this year. Gone is her cubby. Replaced by a hook to hang things now. Her classroom even looks big kiddish. TD2 is still in preschool, but she’s moved up. She’s in TD1’s old classroom. They have recess together, but they don’t eat lunch together anymore.

After I dropped them off, I spent my day trying to acquire the lost items that have fallen into the invisible black hole. Then it was time to pick them up. TD1 excitedly ran to me. “Mom, I’m sad that my friends are in a different class than me. I only get to see them at recess.” (By friends, she means a certain group of boys that T-Daddy is happy to have her separated from. I think someone may have had a talk with the office.) Then, we walked to TD2’s class where she was knocked out. TD1 ran straight to her and started rubbing her and trying to put a pillow under her to make her more comfortable.

I picked up TD2 and two of us walked, while one was carried, to the car – on our way to acquire more lost items. Man, I really aced this being prepared thing this year. Ten min later, I pull up to the uniform store with two sleeping kids. I woke TD1 up and bribed her with ice cream if she walked. She stayed up long enough for me to complete the purchase and get back in the car before it was lights out again.

Happy first day of school TDs!!! School must have worked them hard.

Don’t Touch. And Always Ask

Since the Stanford rape case a couple of months ago, I’ve given even more thought than usual to rape, how we handle it and what we tell our children about it. The way that case was handled was absolutely ridiculous. A young lady was violated and the nation read how sad it was that her attacker could no longer enjoy a good steak. I’m sorry, but she can no longer enjoy her body. That beats a good steak any day.

But, this case also reminded me of all the cases I’ve read about where innocent men had their lives ruined because some woman lied about the consensual sex that took place. I’m not saying this to take away from the Stanford victim’s pain and abuse. I’m saying that rarely do I read a rape case and walk away feeling like justice was served. It’s usually not – either an innocent man was framed or a victim was shamed. Both are losses. And it’s disturbing, especially as a mother of two young girls who I have to school on navigating this mess. I’m not just concerned about teaching them not to feel ashamed of their clothes and sexual choices (rape victim respectability politics), but I’m also concerned about teaching them accountability for their own actions and words. As important as it is for me to teach TD1 and TD2 to love and own who they are, it’s also important to me that I teach them to look out for the young men who they will encounter and befriend and not throw them under the bus because of shame or regret.

kidnoI need them to understand the world we live in and the laws that could very innocently ruin all of their lives. I want them to understand that yes women get raped and it’s horrible, but it’s not always men or even strangers that do that raping (and rape won’t always be violent). And yes, less talked about women rape men. And then some women, for whatever reasons, lie about men raping them. And then there are people who find themselves in situations that unfortunately result in criminal charges (here’s looking at you underage sexers and sexters.)

As much as I want my children to wait until marriage to have sex, I know that’s not a decision I can make for them. And if they choose to have consensual sex with someone who is a year or two older than them, I don’t want that someone to go to jail for being a willing participant in something they both wanted. Likewise, I don’t want to see myself or T-Daddy go to jail because the girls were caught with a boy in their room and, for fear of getting in trouble, they lied and said he broke in and was trying to rape them. And because we love our daughters, we reacted in the moment and did something that can’t be undone. All of these situations are real situations that I have read about over the years.

I want them to know that consent is not the same thing as desire. And as much as they may want to have sex, if they have not given the green light, that desire does not matter. They don’t have to “lie there and take it,” just because someone tells them “you know you really want this.” I need them to know that if they’re having a bad day and don’t want to be touched, it’s okay to say that. Their body is their body and no one has the right to force themselves on them, even under the guise of “this will make you feel better.” I want them to know that they can say “No” at any time. It doesn’t matter how far they’ve already gone. They always have the right to change their mind. Even if that someone is their boyfriend or husband. What they shouldn’t do is after they’ve had consensual sex, say “You know what? I really didn’t want to do that and even though I said yes, I didn’t want to, so I’m going to say he assaulted me.” No, that’s not assault. That’s a bad decision, sweetheart. And Mommy and Daddy have made a lot of those.

I want them to know that it’s important to explicitly state their intentions and permission. This is something that I teach them now. As much as I love hugs and kisses from them. We tell them they have to ask Mommy and Daddy for a hug and kiss. They can’t just take it. They have to respect personal space. And if Mommy and Daddy say “Not right now,” they have to respect that as well. AND they have every right to tell Mommy and Daddy, “I don’t want a hug/kiss right now.” We ask them for hugs and kisses. We don’t tell them to hug and kiss us. We don’t take them. And we try really hard to make sure that our family and friends obey these rules. Many of our old school family don’t quite understand it. But you can’t raise a boy or girl in an environment where those they “love” are constantly taking hugs and kisses from them and you tell them it’s okay because this is family, someone they know, someone they love and not expect them to become men and women who think it is okay to touch someone without their permission. To think that if their boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse kisses them when they’re not in the mood, that they have to accept it because of who this person is to them. Also, it’s sick, but let’s not pretend like aunts, uncles, cousins, mothers and fathers aren’t out here molesting kids. They are. And all children need to know that if someone creeps them out, they don’t have to let them place their wet lips on them.

Too often we teach our girls to not be easy and say yes the first time, while teaching our boys that if she says no, they just need to try harder till she says yes. WRONG! We should teach our daughters to say, “I like you, but you need to show me you’re worth my time and you aren’t playing games that I have no time for and am not interested in playing.” We need to teach our boys that if she says no, she means no. Don’t try to wear her down. Respect her enough to respect her decision. If she’s missing out on a great guy, that’s her loss. If we teach our kids to play these cat and mouse games about first dates and kisses, how can we be surprised when they spill over into the realm of sex? (And I won’t even get started on this whole teach our girls to be pure virgins till death while teaching our guys to go out and sow their wild oats BS – that’s a topic for another day.)

I want my children to know that rape and assault are never their fault. Yes, they can do certain things to “help lower their risk,” but it’s no more fool-proof than always wearing your seatbelt, driving the speed limit and never driving intoxicated or distracted. Someone who’s not doing those things can still hit you. You wouldn’t be blamed in that accident and you shouldn’t be blamed if someone violates you. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, how much you’re drinking, how much sex you’ve had or who you’ve had it with. If you didn’t consent to this person, they are wrong. Point. Blank. The End.

But the issue of consent brings up a very touchy subject. Intoxication. Alcohol. Drugs. The law says an intoxicated person can’t give permission to have sex with them. I don’t know very many people that haven’t had consensual sex under the influence. That does not in any way discount the testimonies of the unconscious victims. It just makes it a very sticky situation that I don’t have the answer to. But, I want my daughters to fully understand the ramifications of getting drunk and engaging in sexual activity. This is where I feel torn. On one hand, I wholeheartedly believe every rapist should be punished. On the other hand, I can’t in good conscience say that every intoxicated woman doesn’t know what she’s doing so she can’t consent to sex, but an intoxicated man should know better than to have sex with someone without permission. As a woman, I find offense to that because that’s saying that I’m helpless when I’ve been drinking simply because I’m a woman. It also implies that men should still be in control even when they’re intoxicated. And for male victims of rape, that can be a dangerous implication. Because if I’m a victim (male or female), I wouldn’t want the fact that I’ve been drinking to be used to imply that I wanted sex or that I’m promiscuous.

Sober people get raped. Drunk people get raped. Sober people rape. Drunk people rape. Sober people get together and have consensual sex. Drunk people get together and have consensual sex. Alcohol complicates things because it affects everyone differently. Some people can appear just fine and not remember anything the next day. I’ve dated guys and had friends where I’ve had to explain to them in detail what happened the night before because they didn’t remember it. They didn’t seem pass out drunk at the time either. I also know people that have seemed sloppy drunk and remembered every single detail of everything they did. When you’ve been drinking or the other person has, it can be hard to judge which type of person they are. If you’re young and you think you’re just going to have “awesome, drunk sex” with a consenting person, it can be difficult to think of the ramifications of those actions.

I know plenty of people that love having “drunk sex.” And their partners agree. The difference between them and these campus rapes are that they are in a committed relationship, said drunken sex is probably taking place in a private space with no witnesses, and there is consent. But let’s not pretend like significant others don’t get drunk and rape their partners. They do. Because what was consensual one time can very easily not be the next time. And because rape is having sex with someone without their consent, it’s applied to every instance of sex. So those early morning rollover, wake the other person up with sex sessions can very easily be defined as rape. Particularly if your partner isn’t receptive to it. The problem is that we tend to only look at rape as one way. We tend to only look at rapists and victims under one light. But it’s all very multifaceted and complicated.

I don’t have a solution to rape and the rape culture we live in. I’m sure some of my thoughts might even have been influenced by said culture. What I do have is a desire to talk openly and candidly about sex, consent, rape or any other topics they want and answer any questions they have. To teach my children to respect others and their personal space. Regardless of intoxication, gender, or relationship status. To let them know the other person can always say no, and they can too. Whenever, there’s a question about whether they have consent, just don’t touch. If they’re unsure about if this is what they really want, it’s okay to say “Don’t touch me.” And, if in the off chance they do cross a line, to own up to it, apologize and accept the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, we cross boundaries simply because we didn’t know it was a boundary. Sometimes, we cross boundaries to see if we can get away it. And to never, ever lie on someone else to save face. That’s a person’s life you’re ruining.

Whether you’re accusing someone of a rape they didn’t commit or you’re trying to shame your victim to make you seem less of a predator, it’s wrong. It has real emotional implications beyond the legal ones. And God forbid, if they’re ever the victims of rape, it’s not their fault. EVER! Mommy, Daddy and God still loves them just the same.

I want to teach them all this and more, but right now, we simply start with don’t touch. And always ask.

I’m Scared: An Open Letter to My T’s

I’m scared so I hug you
I’m scared so I kiss you
I’m scared so I cuddle you close and smell the essence of you
I let your sloppy wet kisses linger on my cheek
I come find you in the middle of the night just so I can be close to you
And when you come and use me as your body pillow
No matter how uncomfortable
I relish in the fact that you’re so close
I can’t get enough of you
Even when you’re irking my last nerve
Because I’m scared
I’m scared that I’ll blink and you won’t be there
I’m scared that you’ll blink and I’ll be gone
Because all it takes is a second
Here today, gone tomorrow
I used to tell myself my fear was an irrational one
That, as always, I was being over emotional me
But then I scroll through my newsfeed
And moms and dads are burying their children
Wives are burying their husbands
There’s no rest for the weary
I moved out the hood so none of us would catch that stray bullet
Or be murdered in cold blood in our own home
I try to cook us healthy meals in hopes we’ll never have to sit through dialysis or insulin injections or that “milk bag” that’s synonymous with my family history
I go to the doctor regularly in hopes that I’ll never get that “We caught it too late” diagnosis
I try to push the images of the regretted abortion in a black garbage bag nightmare out of my mind
Because even though it was just a dream, that loss felt too real
And even though we’re healthy, we’re always a doctor’s visit away from “There’s nothing we can do. These things just happen.”
And now, even the good neighborhoods ain’t good no more
So I’m scared
And now, it seems innocent people are dying at the hands of power tripping, trigger happy individuals
Saying they’re “scared”
Scared of how a person looks or their mannerisms or their tone of voice
And suddenly that stray bullet I’ve been dodging for 29 years is no longer coming from the thug in my hood
It’s coming from my “friendly” police officer
The one who I used to fear would give me a speeding ticket
I now fear will try to play God on Judgment Day
And it hurts my soul
And scares me
So when it’s 4:30 am and I have one of you on my left, one on my right and one sprawled all across me
I rub each of you a little softer
Kiss each of you a little gentler
And enjoy feeling your living, breathing presence
Because I know today isn’t promised today
And I’m scared

When Mental Illness and Friendship Collide

I don’t know about you but when I picture a person suffering from depression, I picture someone who has cut off all communication with the outside world and is now cuddled in a corner of their apartment with tear-stained cheeks. Their hair is disheveled and they probably reek of decomposing bodies. Even as someone who suffers from anxiety and desperately wants my friends and family to not judge, but have empathy and understanding. My views of mental illness is probably on par with the stereotypical images we are bombarded with – even though I have an elevated awareness of the need to ignore those images and offer compassion.

My first day of high school, I met a girl and we clicked instantly over our love of JT. It would be the cornerstone that years of friendship were built upon. As time went on, we remained really good friends and were accepted by each other’s families despite traveling in different social circles. When I first started dating T-Daddy, she was the first person I thought of because of something she said to me that first day we met. It would become an inside joke that never grew old no matter how old we grew. Ironically, our friendship also started to disintegrate around that time.

Friendship-mentalillnessThe exact timeline of events is fuzzy now, as I don’t remember what happened first. My friend told me she was shaving her head. Her mom called to tell me she was in a mental health ward for evaluation and asked me to go visit – I did and was told no one by that name had been admitted. My friend called me to tell me that I was a “horrible friend” that constantly talked down to her and always made her feel bad about herself and she could no longer have a person like me in her life. She reached out to me to tell me that she wasn’t herself when she said those things but was getting the help she needed and very much so wanted me to be a part of her life. She shared some pretty shocking and unbelievable things about her family life. She reached out to me after the birth of TD1 and said she couldn’t wait to meet her. I had to silently decide if I thought my once close friend was a threat to my child – I didn’t know. She called me on my birthday and sang me a very entertaining and heartwarming birthday song. We connected on social media, where more than a few of her posts were borderline disturbing.

Eventually, I determined that she had me on a yo-yo and for my own sanity, I needed to cut the cord. I couldn’t discern what was truth and what was a result of whatever she was dealing with. It wasn’t hard at first, she never made an effort to call and neither did I. Then one day she did. I didn’t know whether to accept it or decline. It went to voicemail before I decided. I listened to the voicemail and decided I wasn’t ready to let her back in my life. She never called again. And just like that, a decade-long friendship ended. Even as I write this, I’m fighting back tears. She was one of my closest friends and I’m saddened by the path our friendship eventually took.

When I was diagnosed with anxiety, she was one of the first people I thought of. I can’t remember what her exact diagnosis is (it wasn’t anxiety), but I wondered if she felt the way I felt at that moment. Would my friends now decide that, for their own sanity, they could no longer deal with me? Did I act too hastily or unempathetically in how I handled the situation? Should I reach out to her? Was it too late?

I didn’t reach out to her. I’m still struggling to understand what all my anxiety entails and the last thing I need to add to my life right now is more confusion. But I do think about her from time to time. Not all the time. Not even once a month. Just when something reminds me of her or the jokes we shared or the time I spent in her apartment. And when I do, I pray that she’s okay. That she’s getting the help she needs to deal with whatever she’s going through. And I wonder if I really did handle our friendship in the best way. Was there something I could have done differently? Not so much that we could still be friends, but so that she knew I really did love and care for her.

And it makes me wonder: in dealing with my own struggles with anxiety, what am I teaching my own daughters about interacting with those that have internal wars we don’t understand? I hope that I’m teaching them how to draw appropriate boundaries, but also to care about others. To lend a helping hand, but also know when someone needs more help than they can give. And to love them regardless, even if it’s from afar. It’s a delicate balance. And as someone that’s been on both sides, I know how sad it is to lose a friend that is going through something you don’t understand and how lonely it is to feel like no one truly understands so you have to go through it alone. I don’t want TD1 and TD2 to be on either side of that war.

But it’s a war that more people than we realize fight, so how do I prepare them?

*May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Let’s each do our part to spark a much needed conversation.

Getting Bigger

Until this year, my daughters have always taken a while to grow into their clothes. I mean like still wearing 24 months clothes on their 3rd birthday, kind of take a while. So imagine my surprise when at the start of this school year, TD1 was in between a 3T and 4T and now, sevenish months later, she’s outgrowing her 5T leggings. She won’t be 5 for another four months. Likewise, TD2 went from 18-24 months to straddling between a 3T and 4T. She just turned 3.


T-Daddy and I are completely unprepared for this growth spurt. TD2 is faring a little better because she gets to pull from the reserves of TD1’s old clothes, but even that is sparse. They are both in need of a full-fledged shopping spree.

If their physical growth wasn’t enough, they are both evolving into little women with their own personalities. Everyday, they say or do something that is new and amusing, and lets me know they’re a little older today than they were yesterday. We have detailed conversations about their day, wants and fears. I’m constantly being called to look as they show me the latest dance or athletic feat they mastered.

It’s enough to make your heart grow the size of five Grinch hearts. And it does. I love watching my daughters grow and get bigger. As they do, they teach me a lot about how to love and forgive unconditionally, to let my hair down and have fun. As a mom, you hear a lot about how you shouldn’t rush this time and it goes away in the blink of an eye. But, I’m looking forward to them getting bigger. Not in a “these toddler years are hell and I’m ready to be over them” kind of way. I truly cherish my late night snuggles and tickling hug fests with them. But I’m also curious to see how their individual personalities and interests will develop and change over time. With each new learned behavior or milestone they meet, I can’t help but feel a little proud.

TD1 and the Super Straight Hair

Super-straight-hairA few weeks ago, I came home and, as soon as I walked in the door, T-Daddy said, “She wants her hair like Elsa’s*. I have no idea who Elsa is or how her hair even is. I tried to talk to her, but she’s really upset.”

I looked at TD1 who was sulking against the kitchen cabinet.
Me: Hey sweetie. What’s wrong?
TD1: I want hair like Elsa.
Me: Okay, well how is Elsa’s hair?
TD1: It’s down. Not like mine.
Me: Okay, well we can take your hair down and you can wear it like that tomorrow. Would you like that?
TD1: And it’ll look just like Elsa’s?
Me: No, it won’t look just like hers.
TD1: Because her hair is longer?
Me: Yeah, her hair is longer, but it’s also a different type of hair. So it just won’t look exactly the same sweetie.
TD1: That’s okay. When I never cut my hair, it’ll get longer and longer like Rapunzel’s and then it’ll look just like Elsa’s.

I looked at T-Daddy and we both shrugged. We had won the battle….or so we thought.

The next morning I began taking her hair down as promised when I noticed it was wet.
Me: Did you get your hair wet?
TD1: Yeah, I ran water over it so it can get super straight like Elsa’s. The water helps it grow.
Me: The water does help it grow, but it doesn’t make our hair get super straight. It does the opposite. It makes it more curly. You can still wear your hair down, but it just won’t be long and straight.

Uh-oh! That was the wrong thing to say. What followed was an hour-long emotional breakdown about super straight hair. She looked absolutely adorable in her twist-out, but it didn’t matter. Her hair wasn’t super straight. I let her cry it out by herself while I retreated, defeated, to my room. I pulled out her class picture in search of this Elsa girl. Who was she? How come we’d never heard her name before? Did she say something to my child? Where was this need for super straight hair coming from? TD1 has always been infatuated with long hair à la Rapunzel and the real Elsa, but nothing about straight hair so far.

I could just hear all the backlash I was going to get when our friends and family heard about this. See, that’s what you get for putting her in school with them white folks. She needs to be around people that look like her. How is she supposed to know she’s beautiful if she’s only surrounded by images of blue eyes and blonde hair? Those kids probably over there telling them they’re ugly and making fun of them. Waahh waah waah Had I really failed my daughters already by putting them into a Greek school where they are the only black kids there? (To be fair, there are other non-Greek kids and quite a few Indian kids, but it is a predominately Greek school.) Had I allowed my desire to expose them to other cultures and different people cloud my judgement? What if Elsa did say something to TD1 to make her feel bad about her hair? I felt hopeless and like a failure.

Then reason kicked in. Is it possible that somebody said something racial/prejudice to TD1? Yeah. Is it possible that my little private detective that is hyper aware and picks up on everything has picked up on the fact that she doesn’t look like her classmates? Yup, totally. But, is it also possible that she simply wants a certain hairstyle that her friend has? That’s possible, too. I remember begging my mom for a perm when I was in grammar school. All my cousins had one. All my friends had one and I was still rocking balls and barrettes and getting up early on Easter to be burned by fire with a pressing comb. Yup, I was TD1 once – natural girl with the ponytails and braids begging my mom for super straight hair. Only difference is that the people with the super straight hair I wanted to emulate had a much darker skin than the ones she goes to school with. It’s possible that this had nothing to do with racial identity, but I was making it out to be like that in my head. Truth be told, regardless of race, we’re surrounded by women with “super straight hair.” And, I’m constantly changing styles and hair colors. It was only a matter of time before she wanted something different, too.

Regardless, I talked to her teacher to see if anything had been said in the classroom that could or should frame the way I handled the conversation with TD1. Turns out, Elsa is one of the older girls in the class and TD1 looks up to her. She takes a special interest in everything this girl does, including how she wears her hair and what activities she does during quiet time. Furthermore, the kids and the teachers all can’t get enough of the special braids (courtesy of her super awesome aunt), beads and “clips” (barrettes) TD1 rocks at school. So she gets lots of love and praise for her hair, but she was just tired of the braids and wanted to wear her hair down for a while.

Day 2 of the twist out went a LOT smoother. I don’t know if it was the compliments about her “cool hair” from the day before or if she just decided super straight wasn’t her thing, but when I offered to style her hair differently, she replied “No thanks. I like it down like this. Then Lil’ Nana will braid it again, but make sure she doesn’t hurt me this time or I’m not gonna like my braids.”

I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear about “super straight hair,” but I plan to keep reassuring her that her hair is beautiful just the way it is, while also allowing her to explore different styles (within reason). I may even let her get “super straight hair” for a special occasion, like say a 5th birthday. I’m also spending a lot of time talking to her about the versatility of her hair.

*To protect the identity of innocent five-year-olds, we’re going to call her Elsa because which 4- or 5-year-old girl doesn’t want to be like Elsa?

Why So Negative

I try to compliment T-Daddy a lot – both privately and publicly. I know that it’s a love language for both of us, and it’s so easy to nag or complain, but not always as easy to appreciate the good. And if I’m being honest, there’s a lot of good to appreciate. And most of it, I take for granted. T-Daddy does a lot of small things for me and the girls and it’s been that way since Day 1. One of my favorite memories to recall is how he single-handedly unpacked my apartment when I first moved to Decatur. We weren’t officially dating when he came to visit me. I got off work and every dish in my kitchen had been unpacked, washed and put into an appropriate cabinet. I never asked him to do that and he was so humble about it when I thanked him. That’s a quality that I want TD1 and TD2 to look for in the man they marry. And it’s usually acts like this that I don’t give him enough credit for until I’m reflecting on our relationship.

When I go to sing him praises, I feel this unnecessary need to offer a disclaimer. Something like “You do a lot of things that irk me, but…” “T-Daddy isn’t perfect, but…” “In the midst of all of the bad times and trials and tribulations…” Pretty much something that ensures that he and whoever I’m talking to (or FB) know that he’s not perfect. Somehow without this declaration of imperfection, the compliment seems less sincere or fake. Like I’m putting on airs. Pretending that our life is perfect.

But, why do I feel this way? Why do I feel the need to be so negative? To qualify his compliment by calling out his flaws. I recently caught myself doing this a few days ago when I went to post about us getting baptized. I was writing my Facebook post in my head, and one version went something like, “T-Daddy and I have had a lot of issues and he does things that make me question the validity of our relationship, but it’s moments like this that make me glad he’s on my team.” That’s a true statement. But just because it’s true, does it need to be said? Couldn’t I have just posted about how happy I was that we took this step together? I think anyone that has spent any amount of time around T-Daddy and I are privy to the ways in which we work each other’s nerves. I don’t always need to bring it up. In fact, it’s not for everyone to always know or see. Furthermore, how deflating it is to get a backhanded compliment that has to point out your failures and flaws. I know for me if T-Daddy said, “Babe you look good in that dress, but you can stand to do a few sit-ups,” I’d be crushed. I wouldn’t feel as good as I would if he simply said, “Babe, that dress looks good on you.”

I want my marriage to not only last, but to be one that lifts up God, teaches my daughters how to love others, and, quite frankly, one that is just healthy and fun and enjoyable. It’ll never be these things if I’m constantly tearing my husband down, even when I’m “lifting him up.” I need to be more cognizant of my words. They, after all, have the ability to breathe life or death into a situation. And, for my marriage, I choose life.

TnT Born Again

On April 24, 2016, T-Daddy and I got baptized again. We had both been baptized as children, but this time we were taking this step, making this decision as adults committed to becoming the man and woman God wants us to be.

We hadn’t planned to get baptized. In fact, we forgot that it was Baptism Weekend. Our church is in the middle of a series on emotions called “Emojis.” The series kicked off Easter weekend and we thought this weekend would be on anxiety, so we cut our weekend in Peoria short and rushed back so I could experience the sermon live. Imagine my disappointment when we got there and the weekend bulletin listed anxiety as the sermon for the following week. I was mad. So I went back and read my notes from the sermon on disappointment, which reminded me that disappointment can either lead to depression or opportunity. It was my choice. So I asked God to change my feelings so that I wouldn’t miss the opportunity that He had for me.

Pastor talked about baptism and what it was and wasn’t. In short, it’s an expression of faith, it’s an immersion and it’s important to Jesus. Then he went into a list of frequently asked questions and expressed reasons for not getting baptized. Among those he mentioned were: waiting for family, being baptized as an infant/child and just getting your hair done. Somewhere in between his sermon and the questions/reasons, I felt a pull in my spirit to get baptized. They even made mention several times that “Some of you are thinking about it, and are still hesitant. It’s okay. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t plan for this. If God’s telling you to do this, we want you to do it. Even though the group has walked out, your time hasn’t passed. You can still come up. Anytime, even at the end.” I knew I wanted to, but I was scared. Of what, I don’t know.

I motioned to T-Daddy and told him I wanted to get baptized.

T-Daddy: You should
I’m scared.
You don’t need to be. You want me to go with you?

baptismI nodded. He took my hand and led me out the sanctuary. We met individually with counselors and then we were given a shirt and shorts to change into. Every step of the way, there was someone that we have grown to know at the church cheering us on and telling us how happy and proud they were of us.

We stood in line and talked about how this was the right thing to do. T-Daddy even revealed to me that he too was feeling the pull and I gave him the extra push…that confirmation that this is what we should do. The entire time I fought back tears. He walked onto the stage and into the baptism tub. Pastor introduced him to the congregation and then asked him some questions and baptized him. He was given a towel and exited the stage. It was my turn. Repeat. We were met outside by more people hugging us and telling us congratulations and how happy they were for us.

We went and changed. More people came up to us. One lady I exchanged contact information with months ago managed to take pictures and send them to me. It was a very emotional experience, but mostly it just felt right.

In a month, we will stand before the same congregation on the same stage to dedicate our children to God. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but we were waiting until after we were married. It seems only fitting that we got baptized first, too.

On April 24, 2010, T-Daddy and I began what would come to be a very challenging relationship with lots of ups and downs, tribulations and blessings. It holds a special meaning for me that exactly six years later, we would choose to take another (more significant) step together. I feel like TnT was just born again. And, I can’t wait to see how God moves in our lives as we move closer to Him.

Our Amazingly Pleasant First ER Visit

So….it finally happened. TD2 finally got an injury that couldn’t be fixed with a band-aid and hug and kiss from Mommy.

A few Saturdays ago, she was playing around…as usual. Being a daredevil…as usual. Climbing stuff…as usual. And then she fell. And hit her face on the floor, causing her bottom teeth to go into her upper lip.


TD2-ER-VisitThere was lots of blood and a gash, which resulted in stitches. FIVE OF THEM! We called her pediatrician’s clinic to see if they’d see us, and after a painful and crying-filled over-the-phone consultation, they directed us to take her to the ER. So off we went. We’d opted to go to the ER connected to their pediatrician’s clinic to make it easier for their doctor to access the records later. (Their doctor is the type to stop in on a sick visit once she finds out they’re being seen by someone. Also, not knowing what to expect, I wanted to be prepared in case there was a follow-up visit prescribed).

I have never had such an awesome experience at the emergency room. From check-in to check-out, it was as smooth and painless as one can expect with two kids – one of which is in incredible pain and the other who is worried about her sister and needs to make sure the doctors are going to fix her.

When we checked in, everyone had to get a wrist bracelet with TD2’s info except TD1, but not wanting to be left out, she asked where hers was. Before I could respond, the receptionist had given her one. It was a generic one, but TD1 didn’t care. She was just happy to not be left out. We were immediately taken to our room where the nurses came right in, followed by the doctor. They took a look at TD2’s mouth, decided on a course of action and then went right to making her comfy via pain meds and cartoons.

After giving the meds a chance to kick in, they came back and strapped TD2 down and started the procedure. That was the most painful part. She was strapped in a blue, child-sized straight jacket while the peidiatric tech held her head straight and the ER doctor poked through her lip with a fishing hook and fishing thread. He did two first like he had previously told us, but then decided she would actually need 1-2 more. She ended up with five.

TD2 kept cutting her eyes at me, pleading for me to pick her up and all I could offer her were ineffective “Shhhhh” and “Mommy’s right here” while rubbing her leg through openings in the straight jacket thing. About 20 minutes later, and it was all over. Once they freed her, she jumped in my arms and held on for dear life.

The nurse returned with a stuffed animal and two popsicles – one for TD2 and one for TD1. We were discharged and home we went.

The rest of the day TD2 was clingy and laid around, but the next morning she woke up with a lip five times its normal size and the energy to match. It was as if she was hell bent on getting the right side of her mouth to match the left.

Maybe that ER visit was too pleasant.

That Darn Pirate Named Anxiety

  Picture this: You’re sailing your perfect ship when all of a sudden you hit a wave. You’re able to steady the ship, but then a storm hits. You come across land and decide to take shelter till it passes, which it eventually does. You head back out to your beloved ship, only to notice it sails a little less steady. You figure you’re probably just a little rusty until the next wave hits and it’s rockier than the last. Then another storm hits and you look for shelter until it passes. This cycle continues on and on until one day in the midst of a storm, you spot a pirate ship. You adjust your course to avoid it, but it seems to be tailing you. Just as a huge wave hits, the pirate ship closes on you and launches a cannon. The captain emerges and demands you hand over your ship to her. You refuse and she tells you that if you don’t she will continue to dismantle your ship, just as she has done with every previous storm until you surrender.

That’s been my life the past 28 years and that devious pirate is Anxiety. Only, she’s just recently revealed herself to me.

Earlier this year – after ongoing physical ailments and mental and emotional distress – I decided to go to therapy. After months of intensive standardized, mental and emotional testing, I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. Simply put, this means that I’m always anxious. Anyone that knows me can attest to this. I worry about everything; I’m anal about a lot of things; I like to be in control; and I don’t do well with stress.

People that don’t know me usually just assume I’m either incredibly shy or a stuck-up, controlling, conceited bitch. They either write me off or we eventually become friends. Enough of those that become friends at some point have shared their first impressions that I know I am often misunderstood. This creates even more anxiety for me and I usually just end up feeling socially awkward and uncomfortable around people that I don’t just “click” with. I then spend hours to days analyzing my interactions with them, wondering if they took something I said the wrong way or if I did everything I could to not offend them. This doesn’t mean I’m never intentionally mean or a bitch, just that I’m hyper aware that I’m likely to come off this way when I’m really not trying to. And that awareness causes me much anxiety.

I’ve been able to navigate these everyday waves with a few bumpy trips here and there, but lately I’ve run into some really nasty storms. And, it was during these storms that I came face to face with my own personal pirate. It took awhile before I realized that I should talk to someone because my first few encounters were rare: when my aunt died in my kitchen; when my godbrother killed himself; when I was laid off from my job; when I was several months pregnant with a child that I was originally told was nothing more than a pseudo sac and wasn’t viable. All events that would reasonably cause anyone anxiety.

But then something happened. I’d experience these moments of high stress and couldn’t deal with everyday life. I’d have moments where my head would be in the clouds, but overall, my ship was getting hit by cannon after cannon and I was sinking fast.

I hated my life. I was worried and stressed about EVERYTHING. My relationship was suffering. My children were suffering. I realized that I couldn’t do it all on my own. So I decided to see a therapist. And she recommended testing. I can honestly say that was one of the best decisions I made.

Through testing, we found that I’m super smart, super anxious and super aware of myself. All things that I already knew (and apparently so did T-Daddy, my Teet and a few other people that I’ve told). But as they went over what anxiety looks like, I began to recognize certain patterns within myself and as such, I’ve also started recognizing some of my triggers. I’ve also figured out a few things that help calm me down (like puzzles, go figure). This is crucial in coming up with a long-term management plan for my anxiety.

As I go to battle with my own personal pirate, I’ve had to decide what my own cannon will look like and what kind of ammo it will consist of. Since I’m just starting to rebuild my ship, I honestly have no idea. It will probably change several times over the course of my life. What I do know is that I will continue with my therapy. It has really helped me on an individual level, but also with so many of my relationships that have suffered because I didn’t know how to handle the anxiety they caused me.

I am also going to try medication. This is HUGE for me. Since my great-aunt passed from an accidental overdose, I have been anti-medicine. I don’t even take Tylenol. Also, there’s a shame (whether real or perceived) with letting people know that you are taking medicine for a mental ailment. Honestly, I’m still struggling with that. However, my anxiety has manifested physically in a number of ways that includes migraines, nausea, lack of sex drive, chest pain, fatigue, insomnia, general achiness and probably a host of other things that I’ve overlooked because they have become a norm for me. If this can provide me relief and let me enjoy my life again, I’m willing to try it. Besides, constantly turning my cannon on my co-captain and mini-sailors is the quickest way to sink my ship. I’d much rather enjoy sailing to calm seas with them.

Lastly, I am going to share my story and give back to the mental health community. Through my journey, especially in the past five years, I’ve learned that I care a lot about suicide and providing support to people that are down and out. Giving back is also therapeutic for me. It feels good to give back and I learn more about myself in the process. As I learn how to handle my anxiety and emotions, I’m better equipped to teach my children how to handle their emotions and become functioning adults.

Anxiety may be the pirate that is launching an attack against me, but I’M the captain of my ship!