These 3 Words…

mom_daughter_at oddsGood Morning! I. Love. You.

These three words are often exchanged on the phone between me and my dear father. As he rises each morning I am certain that he keeps me in prayer, as he has done for many years. This is a practice I also reciprocate! Hence, God tapped me on the shoulder one day and whispered that I should text him more often to share this same greeting; but, my mother also needs to hear I.Love.You more often because she is the person I have emotionally missed for many years because of our differences and our inability to communicate with each other.

Additionally, my close friend, turned fiance who has three sons and one daughter, once told me that a little girl’s first love is her dad. This statement is so accurate, as I am told to be my father’s female version. In contrast, the same cannot be said, or isn’t regularly voiced when speaking about the relationship a daughter has with her mother. Ahem. With that said, I do speak of my mother with similar endearment because she was, and still remains my first role model, although communicating this to her is so challenging – most of my time is spent defending myself from her unconscious belief of my taking advantage of her guarded heart.

So, until she believes otherwise, I will continue to write with hopes of meeting her there! If she only knew! One day, though … One day.

Oh, I gotcha back!

He’s my Baby Boy (in the voice of a mother)

Make note of how a few Black mothers may find satisfaction in parenting girls differently than that of boys.  It goes a little something like this …

Make her tough so that she becomes an independent woman to build a life of her own. If he falls or fails, he will always have a place to come back to – Momma’s house.  Teach her mannerisms, e.g. how to sit like a little lady; yet, he will learn about chivalry on his own because I am unaware of the practices because I was never a recipient.  Ensure that her self-esteem is high, otherwise she may become too vulnerable and dispensable. However, he will be okay – he’s a boy, and besides, he will always have a place to come back to if things don’t work out – Momma’s house. 

Tell her about the birds and the bees so that her pocketbook remains valuable. He will learn about manhood through the experiences of other male figures because his father isn’t in his life, but if all else fails, he will always have a place to stay – Momma’s house! I suppose you get my point! Black mothers must stop pacifying our men, implying that Momma’s house is a place to return to when the school of hard-knocks becomes unbearable. A boy should be groomed to become a man, yet returning to Momma’s house to live and subsequently build a life should be a last resort (if any).

Grooming Boys to become Men

Becoming an example to other males should be the primary focus of experienced and matured patriarchs. Conversely, matriarchs can be successful when there is a great support system that promotes and encourages paternal bonding. However, there are some mothers who may do the opposite when feelings of insecurity fuels their energy, thereby shifting the true intent. With that said, this is not to insinuate single mothers are incapable of parenting successful, responsible men insomuch to say their parenting practices should include tips from male friends and respected male mentors as it relates to their sons.

Conversely, I know, as you may also, a few examples of successful men who were brought up by single mothers, i.e. former presidents, movie directors and so many more who get little to no recognition – thus, much to their credit. However, today’s challenge is greater for mothers to groom boys to become men than it is for their fathers, particularly if the mom is parenting from her past hurt and unhealthy emotions, such as a bitter divorce or tumultuous separation that results in custodial privileges.

Mother parenting boys‘What an admirable responsibility to be given sole or joint custody,’ is a likely reaction a mother with a son may receive. However, the challenges of teaching a boy manhood principles is overwhelming if at it alone. Iyanla Vanzant, who is an “American inspirational speaker, lawyer, New Thought spiritual teacher, author, life coach and television personality among many titles,” alludes to the mother’s inability to effectively parent boys when the practice is delivered from a negative stance of constant reminders of avoidance, fear and refrain that may eventually pique an interest of curiosity instead of employing teachable moments of ‘why.’

Take, for instance, a situation where the mother is overly concerned about her son’s propensities that mimics his father, which in turn, leads to a recall of her former spouse’s conduct that negatively impacted her. Therefore, instead of an embrace of her son’s innate traits, the outcome leads to anguish and apprehension between the mother and her child that stems from place of unhealed hurt and a possible lack of closure among parents who are now divided.

The message! Be mindful that parents may divorce, but the same should not be expected in a parent-child relationship when their parents are no longer together. Further, also reserve the thought that a mother could possibly be replacing a void of her male spouse with that of her son because of her inability to trust males again.

Once Told. Believed. L-O-V-E

Once told you will never meet another, then I met him. Once told that you will never be another, and then I defied odds. Once told that you may have a challenge loving again with your whole heart because you guard it like someone has robbed you of your most private possessions, yet he still stayed. My point! Let no one, and I mean no one, put limitations on what you will or will not become, particularly as it relates to listening with your whole heart and trusting with complete vulnerability.

Is it a wonder why one guards their heart in fear of letting go because intuitively they sense and subconsciously know something does not feel correct (rhetorical). I am a part of a prayer network site where persons will post their most intimate of stories for all to not only see, but more importantly to pray about. Today I read a post from a women who was in a relationship for one year, yet recently found out that her male partner announced he was becoming a father with someone else and this announcer wanted to know what actions she should take about how she felt. Of course, I contributed my thoughts along with others.

Over and over again there are stories similar or somewhat different than the one described above. Conversely, each time an article is posted, a Facebook post is shared, a conversation occurs or an exchange of thoughts are delivered, the denominator called L-O-V-E is in the equation. This word is so powerful, yet overly used where it has and continues to lose its connotation. Instead of it meaning compassion, nurturing, maintaining, reciprocating, giving, receiving, exchanging, offering and the list continues, the acronym to mean Lusting Over Various Events (L-O-V-E) is put in its place.

Casting judgment you ask, no. Analyzing one’s actions, no. Wishing ill-intent on another, absolutely not. Perceiving myself as better, not I, who has and continues to write about my flaws and transgressions. However, I am speaking from a ‘been there done that’ perspective where finding L-O-V-E has become a regular-everyday practice such as getting up to report to a job or posting a resume in pursuit of the ideal career, rather than patiently working together toward a unified goal of becoming one, where both partners bring their whole self (100 percent respectively) to the relationship with a single purpose.

Writing from a ‘single woman’s’ perspective is not an easy task because I too desire that ideal male companion who instead will say and usher support of  the “possible” instead of the “impossible” when I am unsure of how to unwrap my whole heart for him to hold and be trusted with. He, wherever and whoever he is, will have the discernment to be patient, understanding that relationships are building blocks versus stepping stones. So, to you my prayer peer who requested advise I write, “if an open relationship existed, the outcome of you and he was to be expected. I am sorry! What should you do? Embrace your heart, cry when and if you feel the need to do so, pray and give it to God, nurture You (the whole you: good, bad and indifferent) and the hardest part – wish him well, praying he finds true love with her. Work on you so that when your [future partner] arrives you can give your whole, complete self to him. I know this is hard, yet I also know it’s possible with God at the front and center of your focus. And besides, you deserved better and this is evidence of your true worth.”

To you the reader, do not be negatively overcome with the label ‘single woman’ that I once classified as a stigma, particularly when you are at my age of 47 this year. Of course, the perspective is different when you are put in a situation that you once viewed. So let my admission be the lesson of what not to do! Hence, I am not new to the scenes of the ‘single’s life,’ yet I am exercising different principles, ridding myself of what did not work the two times prior. And I am observing my flaws, working on my voids, praying often, engaging in dialogues, welcoming advice, socializing with others, listening to my heart more and less with my head (A Libra trait to a fault) and praying to be prepared to give of myself completely to whom is equally prepared to go with me in God’s path. Hopeful thinking? Perhaps too soon, yet whose to say there is a time frame for quality companionship. *Photo credit: Inspired Whole-Self Therapy (Purple Sage Healing)

My reciprocated partner

Happy Valentine Day!

On a day like today, i.e. the romantic-commercial holiday of exchanging and expressing love gestures to signify the appreciation we have for our partners and loved ones, don’t forget to keep the flame burning in your relationship. Whether you’ve found it already, still looking for that desirable match or are choosing to love on self because you need more ‘me’ time, be mindful of the gesture instead of its monetary gain or the public notoriety of receiving. Last year I wrote an article, titled Flowers and Chocolate where the giver of my gift was acknowledged for the Gesture of giving. I was grateful because the sender lifted my spirits insomuch the deliverance of joy was received at a time in my life when there were more downs than ups. Hence, his gesture of buying and ordering the deliverance of flowers and chocolate dispelled all self negativity.

Hence, today is unlike that day and now is a different situation because I am no longer in a committed relationship. I have thereby graduated to a stage in my life where the gesture of receiving is less valued than the act of giving. I will continue to usher more importance to the reciprocated practices of my very own Valentine who quickly forgives me when I make parental mistakes, compliments me when I feel low, lifts me when I am exhausted, reads to me when I need to hear an inspiring story and values our conversations during the slow-dance lessons on days when I will grab her hand to share the significance of ‘loving on self’ and why so. This person is my ultimate gift, my protege, my forever love, my darling, my Sweetheart, my shoulder when I am tired, my napkin when I weep and my partner who will sit across from me to work on her assignments when I also have work to do. She is my daughter and today is my day to make sure she continues to understand the essence of love, the act of giving and the significance of ‘marry to date’ so that flames in her future relationships are fueled with passion and substance.

Mommy and daughter

Enjoy your V-Day!

 

 

The Apology that Mattered. A House is not a Home.

A House is not a Home.

A house is a structure that includes different participants with dissimilar objectives. Each entity has a different focus and goal that is notarized and projected. The members in the house will behave in an agreed upon manner insofar of guidelines but each person has a different direction or objective to accomplish that, when given an opportunity, may lead to enticed conduct, e.g. stealing from one another, inflicting harm upon another, cheating or moving on to the next available offer. Further, the house members will enter and exit as they please because whatever laws that produce civilized conduct will be breached and persons will ultimately succumb to individual propensities, such as biases and judgments. Later, the ambiance in a house will fluctuate and grow uncomfortable, sometimes so unsuitable that it greets excessive admittances, produces high attrition, and invites intolerable demeanor and ultimate distrust.

In contrast, the home is a feeling (ambiance) that provides, produces and breeds tranquility. The cohesion and union cannot suitably occur without accordance. Certain things must be in place for a home to mature because it requires clarity, time, patience, tolerance, management, calm, a certain temperament, active collaboration and proactive teaching. Metaphorically, each member is a fiber that adds to the value of a finished product. The difference can be witnessed with the role of a project manager (PM) who is assigned to lead a group of 5, which was our household size before my parents divorced. The PM will wear many hats because he is the appointed overseer who will allocate funds, deliver assigned tasks, disseminate materials and issue project deadlines to name a few. Thus, I equate the PM to the head of the home; the father who is further designated to answer questions and provide clarity with the goal of delivering a finished-quality product.

The Apology that Mattered

love-daughter-dad-quoteClarifying these two distinctions lends itself to a question about the modern marriages compared to what I will call contemporary unions today. Shortly after sharing my most intimate post yet, titled “Sharing my Personal Scar” I received a phone call from my dear father. I will preface this to say that my dad has become my best male friend. He was overly apologetic and emotionally moved to learn that I had not reached out to him at a time of need. The content of my recent blog lends itself to a lot of speculations about the quality of parenting I and my brothers received when we were young; hence, I point the blame at no one because I attribute my parent’s parenting styles to that of which was passed on to them, i.e. adopted practices that were observed and illustrated in what I describe as the house where the parental figure was absent.

Conversely, I wonder if my grandparent’s decision to withhold facts about what they knew of their predecessors deprived my parents of an opportunity to predict and monitor certain tendencies that were imparted? Today I know the spoiled- rotten-little girl, who was left to self-parent because her older siblings were creating lives of their own, did the best she could to take care of house while her mother worked odd hours as a private-duty nurse, is the mother who parented us to the best of her ability. I also know the young man who pursued her because he wanted to be the paternal example that was absent in his life was improperly coached on chivalry and dating etiquette. Hence, both teenagers made conscious decisions to marry and create a nuclear family.

 “The future of every generation lies in its progeny.  Prepared or, unready they are the unwitting guarantors of familial memory, living time capsules filled with stories that define and sculpt family identity, culture and history.  All of us are both mirrors and windows reflecting what has been and apertures allowing a brief and narrow look into the limitless potentialities of what can be.”

Dr. Joy DeGruy

Systemic Practices

Dr. DeGruy alludes to the practice of inheritance. Whether it is knowledge bestowed upon us, experiences lived in the footprints of those we follow or the psychological incapacity of discernment, we essentially become what we may want to disown. Having said that, I see the authoritative, stoic, guarded, independent and covert habitudes that were instilled in me from my maternal upbringing that contradicts my paternal traits of balance, candor, transparency and objectivity to name a few. However, I also know that a lot of my characteristics were acquired along the way through my exposure to others and their experiences.

“In families where the father’s interaction with the children is limited because of marital statuses, he still has an effect on the children—but to a lesser extent. The roles of the father figure are assumed by male relatives, partners of the mother who live in the home, and by extended family helping networks (McAdoo, 1996).”

Excerpt from the Michigan Family Review. Section, titled The Child Socialization Role

For instance, writing and sharing my Personal Nuggets are necessary not inasmuch for personal healing but for others who are also reserved about why the black family is prone to systemic practices that seem challenging to overcome. For instance, if we were to poll children of divorce parents in the black community and ask them questions about their experience each person may have a different outcome; however, the common theme and take away may convey a degree of self-blame in their parent’s decision to live separately. Thus, my childhood history resembles other children that are now caught in the crossfires of a ‘tug of war’ between parents who have become fierce opponents. Accordingly, has the home structure that many black fathers desire been unreported?  Is the black man stigmatized by the mainstream media as deadbeats and uncaring?

There is supportive research that highlights the positive image of black males, who are willingly and actively involved in their kids’ lives, as was our father. Yet, for reasons I will write about later, both parents were subjected to unhealthy conditions that compelled him to leave when I was 10. Subsequently, his efforts to constructively co-parent and the attempts to remain in contact grew challenging as years passed. What I didn’t understand then I absolutely understand and agree to today. So, although the intentions of creating a home instead of that ‘house’ environment may be short-lived, our relationships with the comprised members don’t have to be. It is possible to maintain contact with our loved ones, albeit a grandmother or the village that reared us. And it is further possible to open our hearts to misunderstandings and disagreements. Today I thank my dad for the apology that matters because I am now receptive to hearing and receiving without reservation because he was the ‘Head of our Home’ and has accepted fault.

Note: This is dedicated to my Father.