My #FBF

Hey everyone!

Happy Friday! Apparently many people missed my post last month on My Brown Baby so I’m linking it again as my #FBF post!

Click the link below:

Forgiving My Father: How My Son’s Unconditional Love Convinced Me to Embrace My Dad

 

Until next time loves!

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Happy Father’s Day!

Today is father’s day and I want to wish all the men out there who are father’s or play a fatherly role to a child, Happy Father’s Day! We salute and honor you for all that you do. I know it seems that no one recognizes you and all your contributions, but trust me they do. More importantly, the children recognize your importance.

Here’s a poem I wrote in honor of my son’s relationship with his dad. I wanted to share what I think that my 7-year-old thinks about his dad. The first person that held him. The first person that kissed him. The first person that changed his diaper. His dad.

I AM HIS

Strong

Powerful

Reliable

First love

Survivor

Friend

Guardian

Protector

My dad

Always knows what to do

Protects me from the dark

Holds my hand always

Tells me he loves me everyday

Even when I can’t be near him I

Call to remind him of my voice

He smiles and laughs and says

“You know I will never forget” and I nod

But, there is something about my daddy

That makes me want to always check-in and

Share

The small things that happened

Talk about my day

For this man whose eyes and smile are a reflection of my own

Loves without thought

Gives without concern

And knows

That he is raising a king

His king

Enjoy your day loves!

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My Father’s Day Gift: Forgiveness

If you’ve been reading my blog you already know that I never had a relationship with my dad until recently. My parents separated when I was 9 years old and it was hard for me to figure out a way to cope with a man who chose to forget about me instead of love me.

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Me in the 3rd grade.

It was many years and many failed relationships that I realized that I needed my dad. I needed him because he was the missing link in my life. I was broken and playing at being whole, but deep down inside my daddy was what I wanted and needed. I had to forgive.

Forgiveness is a process for me. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. I am stubborn. I get that from my mama. But, I needed to truly forgive the man who abandoned me.

I can honestly say after three years of trying to forgive, I have. It happened when I went home last month for Mother’s Day to Tennessee. I went to visit my dad.

My son wanted to meet his grandfather. I had been nervously wondering about this meeting because munch is my everything. I didn’t want to allow my dad the opportunity to meet the little boy who was God’s greatest gift to me only to abandon him like he did me. I was afraid. I let that fear lead me. When my son asked, “Mommy, can I please call Mr. Frank grandpa?” I replied, “No, munch. Not yet. Let’s meet him first.” He responded by asking “Why? Isn’t he my grandfather?”

You see that? My fear was allowing me to control what my son wanted to have…a relationship with his grandfather. I let the conversation drop and went to visit my dad the Monday after Mother’s Day. I sat there nervously wondering how my son would react. My dad was creepy looking. I love him, but he hadn’t aged well and he actually looked like a burnt out Dick Gregory. But, I held fast to the belief that this was what munch wanted.

We got out of the car and I held his hand tightly. I walked him over to introduce him to my dad and he let go of my hand and ran to him and wrapped his arms around his neck and said, “Grandpa! It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Brennan!” Just like that. My son’s acceptance of the man he didn’t know but already loved allowed me to truly forgive my father.

Love. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

I love him for the person he was, but more importantly for who he wasn’t. Because I think my life turned out the way it was supposed too.

I accept the fact that my dad is an alcoholic and his monkey will never leave his back. He’s not hitting women anymore, but he still hits the bottle. Alcoholism is a disease and I accept who he is.

I forgive the man who abandoned me when I was a child. Who walked out of my life and never looked back. The man who created other children with other women and abandoned them as well. I forgive the man who stands before me because I see him not as superman but simply a man. My dad. Broken and all. I love this man because he is me and I am him.

So, this Father’s Day is actually pretty awesome because I’m openly loving the man who had publicly abandoned me. Telling the world that I forgive this man and love him. I’ve sent him a Father’s Day card for the first time in my life.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!

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My dad and munch sitting outside his house. – 5/2015

 

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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Alcoholism and the Social Drinker

My dad was is an alcoholic. Whether he knows it or not is a question for him. I knew it at the age of 8. Countless nights of violence or not coming home or hospitalizations for his abuse left me confused and thinking what was wrong? His love of alcohol was killing him. Slowly. Softly. Right in front of my eyes.

Alcoholism was one of the things that destroyed my childhood. Fragmented pieces of missing activities, tea time and chasing the ghosts away were replaced with loneliness and make believe because daddy was supposed to be there. His drinking was one of the reasons that I say he was broken. Not the only one, but one of the reasons. He was a warning in my household.

My mother would say, “Remember, your daddy was an alcoholic” anytime we would reach for a glass of wine or champagne or talk about our latest parties where we got drunk. Loudly. Resounding words filtered our ears and alcohol hazed brains. Reminding us that we didn’t want to be like daddy. Daddy was a drunk and drunks are mean.

So, I became a social drinker. I drink an occasional glass of wine (maybe twice a month) and once in a while if I go out to dinner. I don’t want to be the angry drunk. The mean drunk. The one who blacked out and forgot school programs or to play with my kid. Alcoholics are different from social drinkers.

Alcoholism runs in my family. I’ve heard it countless times. I’ve seen it. I learned from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) that “Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism. Therefore, genes alone do not determine whether someone will become an alcoholic. Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions account for the remainder of the risk.*

Multiple genes play a role in a person’s risk for developing alcoholism. There are genes that increase a person’s risk, as well as those that may decrease that risk, directly or indirectly. For instance, some people of Asian descent carry a gene variant that alters their rate of alcohol metabolism, causing them to have symptoms like flushing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat when they drink. Many people who experience these effects avoid alcohol, which helps protect them from developing alcoholism.**”

But, not all of it is genes. Half of it. But, that’s 50% right? Too much of a risk. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with my future. I don’t like to gamble. I don’t like to lose. Genetics. Propensity to become an alcoholic. Phrases that conjure fears of craving a bottle instead of my son’s laughter. These things keep me straight. Scared straight.

“Whether a person decides to use alcohol or drugs is a choice, influenced by their environment–peers, family, and availability.  But, once a person uses alcohol or drugs, the risk of developing alcoholism or drug dependence is largely influenced by genetics.  Alcoholism and drug dependence are not moral issues, are not a matter of choice or a lack of willpower.  Plain and simple, some people’s bodies respond to the effects of alcohol and drugs differently.”

-The National Coalition on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

My dad is an alcoholic. It was inherited through genetics. His body isn’t strong enough to fight the “monkey”. So no, I’m not an alcoholic. I am a social drinker. I will decline alcohol, not because of my religion, but because of my desire to not have that “monkey” on my back. Genetics. Sometimes they suck.

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Parental Privilege: Spanking or Not

I’ve read many posts on whether or not you should spank children. Not just in light of the Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings player), whose case unfolded last week, but in general. My opinion is simple….YOUR CHOICE. I can’t tell a parent how to raise their child or how discipline should be handled in their home. The reason is that I am not in your shoes and I know for a fact that you have to find what works for you and your child. Now, before you start thinking I’m an advocate for child abuse. Let me be clear….I’m not. I don’t condone violence of any kind and especially towards children.

There is a difference and in my opinion, a big difference between child abuse and spanking. Child abuse is defined as:  mistreatment of a child by a parent or guardian, including neglect, beating, and sexual molestation. Spanking is defined as: to strike (a person, usually a child) with the open hand, a slipper,etc., especially on the buttocks, as in punishment. Now that we are all clear on the definitions, I want to reiterate that I don’t condone child abuse or violence in any form. As a parent myself, I think it is imperative that we find forms of discipline that work to mold healthy and productive citizens. However, I hate the argument that because I believe in spanking that I am destroying my child and he will grow up to beat on others. That statement in itself is flawed because I don’t beat my son. I spank him if it is a spankable offense. 

What is a spankable offense? An egregious offense where he knows better or running in traffic. Not much would ever be considered spankable because he’s only six. However, I implore the 3 warning rule in my parenting. This is where I give munch 3 chances to correct the behavior on his own before consequences are handed down. This is not a spankable offense. This means it is timeout in his room with no television, an hour of French work, no Ipad, etc.

As a child growing up, my mom employed the same techniques. Altering the punishment to fit the crime and not spanking out of anger. Did I get whopped with a switch (absolutely! I’m from the south)? Do I do it? No. Do I believe her spanking me has damaged me? No. There were other things that were more harmful than her spanking. But, I never believed that she enjoyed spanking me or my siblings or assumed that her spanking was detrimental to my psychological or emotional health.

I grew up in an era of spank first and talk later. I can’t judge Adrian Peterson on the crime he’s accused of, but I can tell you that it breaks my heart to see the photos of a four year old boy who was whopped with a switch and it left marks. I’m heartbroken. Too much force was used on this child. No four year old child should ever have to endure the feel of a switch. It’s obvious that Adrian is strong, so I question whether or not he could have used his hands instead of a switch. But, he didn’t. So, he has to know that his choice was poor.

Adrian has a right to discipline his son. Society may so no. We want people that spank their children to go to jail. Some punishment should happen, but I ask you about this child (also from Minnesota) that was 9 year’s old that was suspended from school and boarded a flight to Las Vegas, Nevada last year. Apparently, the parents have asked for help with their child and never got it. He had prior trouble because he had stolen a car. A 9 year old stealing a car? Wow!

The parents were told that he was a minor and hadn’t done enough bad things to qualify for the help that they were requesting. The father sobbed as he recounted how he asked the officer to watch him spank his son. The officer said if he saw him hit his son he would be arrested. He sobbed saying that it was a double jeopardy damned if I do damned if I don’t situation. The father said,  “If I whoop my son, I will get locked up. If I keep on letting my son do what he’s doing, I get in trouble.”

I felt the father’s pain and I ask you, what do you do when you know you can’t spank your child and no one is helping you? There are rules to everything in society. How are we taught these rules? What are the consequences of those rules? Even adults make mistakes and don’t learn the rules, but spanking a child to help enforce the rules that you are teaching is acceptable. But, child abuse is not. We may not agree on how to raise our children, but I think we can all agree that we don’t want chaos in our society because no one can follow the rules.

Child Abuse Photos from Peterson case
Child Abuse Photos from Peterson case

The Power of Daddy

There is nothing more important than the bond between father and child. I don’t underestimate my role in my son’s life, but there is nothing like the power of daddy. I can see how Lee’s relationship with Brennan is shaping him into the man that he will become. A few posts ago, I talked about the importance of me being there with my hectic schedule. I now want to point out the power of daddy.

In today’s changing society, many women are single parents. I recently read that more than 70% of black children are born to single black women. I was astonished at this number because I do believe that a lot of black women want to be wives as well as mothers. Being a product of a single parent household, I will say that it was the hardest thing growing up feeling like I was missing something because I had no dad at home. I didn’t want the same thing. I actually ran from marriage. I didn’t know if I was marriage material or if there was anyone who could deal with me and all my “baggage”. However, God had other plans and sent Lee my way. Lee and I were married almost 6 years before we had Brennan. I was terrified of being a mother. I felt that every time something went wrong in a child’s life, society blamed the mother. I feared that I would be a failure as a parent and I didn’t want to mess any child’s life up, especially my own. It was Lee’s love for me and faith in us that we decided to be parents. I never knew that God would bless us with Brennan. Brennan is a rambunctious, questioning, argumentative and hopefully future successful prosecutor who believes that at the age of two, he knows what is best. It is crazy to watch my son’s argument form in his mouth and be expressed in his lips. He is really a funny little boy. He is his father’s son.

Last Sunday, Brennan and I were lying down getting ready to go to bed. Brennan screams “Mommy, I want a lollipop.” I politely say “No.” He says, “Mommy, I want a lollipop.” I reply, “No.” He screams, “Mommy, I want a lollipop.” I said “No, you’re not getting one, so please stop asking.” I called Lee into the bedroom and said, “Brennan, tell your daddy what you said.” He froze. I told my husband, “Brennan wants a lollipop.” Lee said, “Brennan, do you want a lollipop?” Brennan replied, “No, Daddy, I don’t want a lollipop!” I was stunned. Did he just call me a liar without ever saying those words? How could this be? I then realized, it was the power of daddy.

Dad’s have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. The way Lee plays with Brennan also has an impact on Brennan’s emotional and social development. According to the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Children’s Bureau : “Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior.”

This forming and attached bond could explain why Brennan felt that he really didn’t need the lollipop when confronted with his wants by his dad. Dads have power. I will never underestimate the role my husband plays in our son’s life. He is shaping the gift we were blessed with by being an involved and hands-on dad. I don’t think we give men, especially dads the props they deserve, so I want to say thank you to all the wonderful fathers who are involved in shaping their children’s lives. You make me proud. You are loved and appreciated for all you do in making us better mothers because of who you are.