Follow-up: Mother’s Day Memories

Hey Loves,

I had an awesome Mother’s Day this year. I just got back home from Tennessee late Tuesday evening and I’m still playing catch-up. However, I promised some photos of my trip with my family and wanted to share. My siblings, my nephew, my brother’s girlfriend and my son and I all flew into Memphis early Saturday morning to spend the weekend with my family.

It was 4 days of family fun. I am so blessed and happy that I got to see everyone and spend time with my grandma. I also got to see my dad. I’m saving that story for Father’s Day this year.

Check out the photos:

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Yep, I love being a mommy!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is an awesome day that brings light to the invaluable roles we mothers play. There is nothing in this world that brings me greater joy than being a mother. What did I do before munch? It doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t compare to being his mom. I’m over the top I know, but I’m just so happy and blessed that I am his mom.

This mother’s day is going to be awesome because right now I’m home in Tennessee spending it with my grandmother, mother and sister and all my aunts. We are all together and my munch gets to experience the Copeland clan in full force so to speak. I will post pictures later of our Mother’s Day weekend.

But, I wanted to tell you these 5 things that I love about being a mom in honor of Mother’s Day. I want to encourage each one of you to think about things that you love about being mother’s or about the mother you love and write them down. It keeps it in perspective when the road gets tough in life.

5 Things I Love About Being a Mom

  1. I get to take an enormous amount of photos of a kid that’s my own that people won’t think are creepy. Yes, I love to take photos, do Flipagram videos, Instagram and everything in between Flickr!
  2. I get to smell like syrup everyday because my son has to kiss me each morning after breakfast with syrup hands. Even though I hate it (secretly I don’t) I pretend that it makes me mad.
  3. I get to comfort him from nightmares. Yep, they wake me up and I usually can’t get back to sleep, but it is so worth it to be the one to make his nightmares disappear by just telling him it was a bad dream, smothering him with kisses and hugging him tightly.
  4. I get to overhear how much he loves me. Earlier this week he was talking to his dad on the phone and said to him that he had to talk to him about Mother’s Day and how he wanted to make it extra special for me. Did I tell you how wonderful my son is?
  5. I get to hear his constant love and adoration of me. He tells me everyday that he loves me and I’m the best mommy in the world. Yes, I know it will end one day soon, but for now I’m going to milk this affection for all it is worth.

So, that’s it folks! There are many more reasons that I love being a mom, but I have to get back to being a mom and get my son fed and dressed for church. We are going to church at St. Mark’s Baptist Church in Henning, Tennessee to hear a word from Pastor Jarrett. That is my home church. I can’t wait!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Lost Art of Thank You Cards

Last week I was reading “The Insanity of Goody Bags and Thank You Cards” on Scary Mommy and laughed. Why? Because deep down inside I understood where the author was coming from. She thought that we should by-pass goody bags and thank you cards instead of trying to figure out what we’re going to stuff in them and having your child slave over thank you cards.

While I understand her concern because it gets ridiculous with the gift bags/favors, I think thank you cards are a requirement. I understand not having your child personalize every single card, but what about sending thank you cards with a collage of pictures from the party with your son or daughter signing each card? Great keepsake and your child won’t get carpal tunnel?

I get that it overwhelms some parents because you get through a huge party and you’re exhausted. You don’t want to take the time out to say thank you because you personally thanked every guest for coming and you think that’s enough, but I think there is just a lost art with sending thank you cards. How will your children understand the importance if you don’t teach them early?

Will they know to send a thank you card to a teacher who has written them a glowing recommendation for college? How about sending a thank you card to an adult who has inspired them? What about sending a thank you card to a potential employer after an interview? Children are resilient and they should definitely learn to appreciate writing a formal thank you, but I think it is incumbent on us parents to find creative ways to inspire them when they’re young.

Now, the favor bag insanity… I can agree with that as I scroll for the perfect favor for my munch’s giraffe themed party next month. LOL.

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Attitude Check

‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. – Alice Walker

Lesson #1 – Attitude of Gratitude. I’ve spoken about this a couple of times and how I have an attitude of gratitude and I’m raising munch to have the same. Lately though, his attitude has been less gratuitous than I expect. He’s downright ornery and complaining about everything. Let me give you some examples:

  • Last Saturday my best friend and I had gone to Cracker Barrel (my favorite breakfast spot) for breakfast and I brought my munch along. This was his first trip for breakfast and he was fine eating out. Until…the waiter brought his orange juice and it had pulp in it. Munch hates pulp and the waiter said he would bring him something else. Munch requested lemonade. The waiter said that lemonade has pulp in it. Munch then requested milk. The waiter didn’t bring the milk for 15 minutes. Munch pouted and was upset about not having his milk. He said, “I’m really upset that I don’t have my milk mommy. Can’t we leave and just go to IHOP? I don’t like this place.” Finally his milk came and then his meal. I ordered one pancake and a side of bacon with three slices of bacon. Only two came on his plate. I notified the waiter and he said he would get us another piece. Munch was so upset and said he wasn’t going to eat until his other slice came out. I told him that was ridiculous. Eat now. He pouted and ate his food. The other slice of bacon never came. The waiter (whose service was less than desirable anyway) removed munch’s meal from the bill.
  • Later that afternoon on our way to my nephew’s first birthday party, my son decides he would like to give his cousin a special gift. (He apparently didn’t like that we donated to his college fund). So, I said, “What would you like your cousin to have?” “A book” he replied. I said “Okay, go get one” and he rushed back to his room to pick out a special book. He decided to give him the brand new book “The Lorax” that had just arrived from his book club. He signed the book and put his own card inside it and a bow on the book. He was so proud. Until…he told me that his cousin can only keep the book for two months and then he had to return it. What? He’s a one year old. He’s not going to read it and then return it. I explained how impolite it was to ask for a gift back that you’ve given to someone and that he has so much surely one book would be fine. He pouted the entire way to the party complaining about how that was his favorite book and he wanted to loan it.
  • Monday as we’re going to school and I’m quizzing him on his spelling words for his test he tells me, “I will probably fail.” I was asking him why he thinks he’s going to fail? His response, “Because I failed the practice test last night.” I told him to do his best. He said, “Okay”. He then decides to complain about how he is so upset that he can’t go outside and he is tired of playing in the gym during recess. I explained that the weather has been cold and snowy, but that the school would start letting them go outside later when there is more sun and less snow. I explained that spring is coming and that he will get to be outside soon. He said, “fine”. We pull up to the school and he complains as we get out the car that he almost fell into a puddle of melted snow because I didn’t park close enough to the curb. What?

I had it. I was done. Really? Is this  a stage? What is happening to my beautiful baby and when did he become such a complainer? I stopped him before we went into the school and I told him that we wake up each day thanking God for life. We have an attitude of gratitude because we are blessed. We practice saying thank you instead of complaining all the time. I told him to try and just be happy and be positive. Say please and thank you and know that your attitude determines your altitude. How high you fly depends on how much happy fuel (filled with love and gratitude) you want to put in your plane. The happiest children have lots of happy fuel in their plane and are in great spirits because they are flying high in the clouds enjoying life. They are grateful.  He looked at me and said “Okay, mommy.” I kissed him on the lips and said, “I love you munch. I’m proud of you and I’m happy that I’m your mommy.” He smiled and walked away.

Wow! I’m suffering from a case of the complainer blues. But, I’ve been known to do it too. I have to adjust my attitude and correct myself by getting a refill of happy fuel to keep in good spirits. We all do. But, I never knew how I could sound complaining until I heard my munch do it. It’s overwhelming to a listener. We have to do better.

I want to encourage us to be grateful for everything because if you can’t appreciate the small you won’t value the big things when they come. Gratitude is a choice. Be grateful. Be thankful and be happy.

Third Times a Charm

Last week munch took his swim test and unfortunately he failed again. Now, munch is in Youth Level 3 swim class at the local swim center and he can’t seem to get it together. This was his second attempt at swim and he missed more things on the swim card than last time.

When he climbed out the pool and ran over with his card, I already knew he had failed. How could I have known? Well, he couldn’t tread water for one minute. He was exhausted and had to stop twice. He couldn’t tread water and then do the breaststroke for 25 yards. It was like watching the first day of Level 1 swim class. He was struggling. He was out of breath.

But, I’m a good mommy. I kept putting my thumbs up and smiling every time he looked over at me. Why? Because he’s six and he needs my encouragement and support to not give up. He’s not crying (there was actually a little boy crying). He’s not acting like he’s going to drown (yep, this little girl refused to jump in because she was too afraid) and most importantly, he’s not giving up.

So, when I told him that he failed and would have to take it again, he started to cry. I said, “Munch, third time is a charm. We will get this. It’s not a race. You just have to develop your technique to move to the next level.” Lots of kisses to his face and I knew he would be fine.

Later though, I realized that it was probably my fault that he failed too. I fixed him a big breakfast 3 hours before class (hey, he said he was hungry) and when he took off his sweats and stood by the pool, I noticed that his belly was distended. More than normal. He looked like a starving child in a third world country. Ugh, no wonder he was exhausted. His belly was weighing him down.

Lesson learned.

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Not Munch’s actual stomach. This is a dramatization.

 

From the Mouths of Babes

My son is a good child.

Simple in his wishes.

He is six.

He can’t figure out when is Christmas.

We tell him.

He forgets.

He asks daily.

He sings Christmas carols.

He doesn’t get the lyrics quite right.

We laugh.

He told me that all he wants for Christmas is a stuffed bunny rabbit, a fire truck and a gold fish.

We are lucky.

No, we are blessed that God chose us.

A Song for Brennan

Because I am a mother. Because I am black. Because I feel pain. I wrote this piece.

 

“A Song for Brennan”

Almost seven years ago, I birthed a king

Difficult conception, difficult delivery, but I had faith

You see I knew death from diseases that you weren’t supposed to get

I knew what it was like to see someone you love lying in a casket as people wept

Silently

 

But I prayed

I prayed for peace

I prayed for my seed growing in my womb

I prayed for you my son

 

I imagined your face being a combination of me and your daddy’s

I imagined singing you to sleep every night with songs I created in my mind

Why?

Because Rock-a-Bye-Baby scared the hell out of me

No way were you going to be up in a tree in a cradle

With the dang wind blowing?

What kind of foolishness was that?

Mess I said

Besides I knew I would never let you fall

 

My job was to protect you

Like wings of an eagle, I would always be there

You were the angel in my womb

God’s favor over my life defined

My chance at redemption

 

I changed

I became a fanatic

Reading everything I could get my hands on

I wanted to nurture you physically, mentally and spiritually

I vowed to protect you

Always

No greater love

 

It’s been an incredible journey my sweet boy

You’ve taught me how to love beyond measure

You challenge me

You inspire me

You love me

You question me

 

But I’ve lied dear sweet boy

Not because I wanted too, but because I had too

I couldn’t tell you the truth when you asked me about the police

I smiled away my tears as allergies when you caught me crying

I laughed and kissed you and said “Mommy loves you so much”

When you questioned the sadness in my eyes the next morning

 

“Is it me Mommy?” You asked

“Are you mad at me?” You questioned

“No baby” I responded

 

Truth is love

That I’m crying for all those mothers that lose

Lose their sons

For walking home from the store

For playing in the park

For walking to school

For

For

 

Being black

Because being black in this damn world

Is killing me

It angers me

That our children are dying

That you will never know

That in the midst of my tears for injustice

That I scream the names

For Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner

Michael Brown, John Crawford,

Jonathan Ferrell, Tamir Rice and the countless others

Who have lost their life

Because my dear sweet baby boy

I want you to know that

Black lives matter

You matter

Off Limits

Let me get on my soapbox for a moment, please!

As many of you may have heard by now the issue with the fumbling GOP staffer who thought it cute to diss the President’s daughters on Facebook.  Elizabeth Lauten is was a staffer for Representative Steven Fincher (from my home state of Tennessee). She resigned after her inappropriate comments about Sasha Obama and Malia Obama were posted on her Facebook page.  Here’s a screen shot of what she said.

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Now, why would this grown woman concern herself with the attire of the President’s girls? She’s a political communications director and is supposedly super smart (she claimed to have gotten a perfect score on her ACT). Shouldn’t she have known better? Didn’t she learn anything from Justine Sacco? Aren’t there more pressing issues that she should be worrying about than how the First Daughter’s look at a Turkey Pardoning Ceremony? Aren’t Republicans trying to stop immigration reform, repeal the Affordable Care Act and charge the President with every crime imaginable because they don’t like the fact that he has reduced our budget deficit, created and supported Equal Pay for Women and reduced unemployment to the lowest since 2008. Not to mention a whole lot of other things, but why would that concern Ms. Lauten?

I mean I have a son and no I’m not the President, but some of the facial expressions he makes are pretty hilarious too. He would rather be watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates than attending a function for or with me. He’s a child. Not interested. It happens. Heck, you should see some of the facial expressions that I make as an adult. I haven’t truly perfected the art of showing disinterest (I’m working on it) and I’m almost 40. So, why would you expect children to know how to do it? Because they are the President’s children? Chile please!

Ms. Lauten then tried to offer an apology for her post, but guess what? Too little – too late. But, the funny thing was that it wasn’t an apology. She said:

“I wanted to take a moment and apologize for a post I made on Facebook earlier today judging Sasha and Malia Obama at the annual White House turkey pardoning ceremony:

When I first posted on Facebook I reacted to an article and I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were. Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I’d like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.”

Now, I have a degree in English Language and Literature and I know word semantics and word play and what she did was apologize for getting caught. Not to the children she offended. Someone who is that smart and a communications director should know what words to use to apologize.  She tried to CYA (cover your a**) in hopes of keeping her job and avoid being social pariah numero uno. Communication rule number one Ms. Lauten – you can’t make comments like that and expect to keep your job.

I would like to offer this piece of advice for everyone – Children are off-limits. Always. Whether they are in the public or on the streets, public shaming of children is not acceptable. The President said and displayed this noble character trait when he was running in his first election and Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, was discovered to be pregnant and unmarried. He said, “Children are off-limits.”

In a society where young women already have self-esteem issues about their bodies why would you choose social media as a platform to further draw attention or try to humiliate them? To say to them that they need to “try and show some class” is an opinion drawn from what? How disinterested they looked from hanging with their dad? Oh, it was how they were dressed? Let’s see you said that they should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar”. Umm, what bar have you been too lately where…

1. Underage women were admitted in.

2. Dressed like Sasha and Malia

Shouldn’t you have respect for the President and his children because hey he is the President? I thought what they had on was very age appropriate and not bar attire. But hey, I’m a mother and a bit conservative in my appearance and would wear what the girls wore (If I could fit it and it was appropriate for someone at my age to wear – but it is not).

I guess I’m just utterly disgusted in the fact that another woman would choose to pick on the girls when clearly more young women today seem to be pimping themselves for Facebook or Instagram likes as a confidence booster. Every young woman goes through a period where they are dissatisfied with their body image and I think Ms. Lauten was just being a bully. Heck, it’s now being reported that self-esteem of teenage girls has fallen significantly in the last few years. Why be part of the problem?

You all know that one of my greatest joys is being a parent and I don’t tolerate bullying of any kind. But, before I was a mother, I was an aunt and I know how social media can affect a young woman’s self-esteem. My 16-year-old niece told me last week, “Auntie my Twitter game is off the chain”. WTH? Yes, she actually said that. Getting over 2500 shares on a photo or 500 plus likes on a tweet is important to her. Why?  Because like many young women, it validates her social existence and is seen as a confidence booster.

I had to remind her that it is just social media and that I’m proud of her accomplishments and the mere fact that she is my beautiful niece more than those people who like her posts or share her photos. I constantly tell her that I am so proud of who she is and I want her to know that her body is just that. Hers. Love you first because we do and we don’t want you to change. I would hate if an internet troll became a bully and decided to affect her self-esteem by saying that she is dressed like she should be at the bar instead of supporting her parents. I would be livid and unleash an enormous amount of anger on that fool. Thankfully, she hasn’t had to experience that and prayerfully she never will.

That being said, I am proud that the White House has not chosen to address Ms. Lauten’s comments because the village has already spoken. People were outraged and felt that she had no right to make comments about the girls on social media. As part of the village, I just want to remind Ms. Lauten and every one of the social media rules of etiquette: Children are off-limits!

Woman to Woman

Let’s have a talk shall we? As I’ve stated in prior posts, I’m in a state of transition..that from married to single. It’s been a long time since I was single and my first time as a single parent trying to have a co-parenting relationship. I will always love my ex for it was he who gave me our son, but I have to say something… this crap gets hard sometimes!

Not that I’m looking to fix a flat tire or repair my marriage, but co-parenting when we can’t seem to act like adults is hard as hell. Yep, I said “we” purposely. I’m not going to sit here and let you believe that I’ve got this all figured out and I’m the best person when it comes to disengaging my personal animosities and trying to co-parent effectively. I don’t.

Most of the time it is trial and error. Many errors, some good things and a lot of okay things happen. I think letting go of old wounds from our marriage is what is contributing to the bad head space we can find ourselves in. Why? Because we’re both headstrong individuals who have to be right. We both want to have the last word. We both hope that we don’t screw up our son.

Our son lives with his dad 50% of the time and with me 50% of the time. His needs come first. Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we put his needs first. Yes, he is six and yes he is aware that his mommy and daddy will not live together anymore. But, more than that he realizes that the two people who gave him life love him more than we ever thought possible.

The reason why I am calling this post “Woman to Woman” is because I needed to get something off my chest. If you are a woman dating my ex and plan on being around there are some things you should know. A list of how to deal with me and my desire to raise an incredibly wonderful little boy in two separate homes. Here you go:

  1. Never, ever listen to us argue. You see if my ex should get reckless and try to prove to you that I’m crazy and hold a personal conversation on the phone with me while you are riding in his car, be woman enough to tell him that it’s not acceptable. What we argue about should never concern you in your preliminary role.
  2. Just because I don’t know you doesn’t mean that I don’t do my research. I’m a protective mama cub. I only have one child and he means more to me than anything in my life. That being said who you are (your first and last name) matter to me.
  3. I don’t want him back. Nope, I don’t. I love my ex because he and I were together so long. We made memories. Some good, some bad, but in the end the greatest thing we ever did was have our son. I’m not trying to do it again. No matter what you hear.
  4. Understand that no one will ever take my place. Not that I think you believe that, but my ex said that to me. He actually said, “No one can ever take your place as our son’s mother.” Dude, I know this. I still have the incision where he was taken from me five weeks early. There is never a replacement for the original. I’m his mommy.
  5. What happens in my home is my business and vice versa. Unless my son volunteers information, I will never, ever question him about what occurs at his father’s house. It’s none of my business unless it affects his well-being. That being said, very little will ever affect his well-being (because his dad adores him) so I don’t care what happens at daddy’s house as long as he is being loved, fed, clothed and nurtured in the best way possible.
  6. Being a part of his dad’s life long term will mean that you will have to meet me. Understand that I bear no ill will or animosity towards you. I am a mother. I am a woman and I believe in the unity of all women. I encourage us to be civil and make the transition for my child seamless and positive. But, understand that you will have to do your part…know and accept that I will always want to do what is in the best interest of my son. No one is more qualified to make important decisions than his dad and I. No one.

One of the greatest things his dad did after we split was rush over to my house because our son had a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop. It was almost 20 minutes of blood gushing and him screaming. His dad called and he screamed, “I want my daddy”. His dad was in a movie and left and said, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” You know what? He was. Not because of me, but because his son needed him. That was pretty awesome and it made me realize one thing…his dad will move mountains for him and for that I am eternally thankful.

I am new to this co-parenting thing and no I didn’t expect to have it figured out, but I’m trying. His dad and I make a lot of stupid mistakes (mainly because we’re pig-headed) but we are trying. We will someday get this right, but I want the temporary (or permanent) women to know that there is no reason to be less than a woman when attaching yourself to the foolishness that may be us. We love our son and we will get it right (hopefully sooner rather than later) someday.

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