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

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I Like Control, But So What!

I mean doesn’t everyone like to take control of their life and plans and not just leave it to chance that they will be able to eat, live and have a career? I’ve been often told that I’m predictable. That I follow a set pattern when it comes to making plans and don’t tend to deviate from those said plans. Yep, and what’s the problem with that?

No, I’m not spontaneous. No, I don’t like surprises and no, I don’t tend to go somewhere on the whim. I am neurotic and my friends know and accept this about me (which they should because they are my friends) and they will let me know in advance of parties, play dates or drinks. I love that. If it’s not on my calendar, the likely hood of it happening are slim and none. Does it freak me out when I meet someone who doesn’t like to make plans? Absolutely.

But, I can’t change them. I want someone who will meet me halfway. Know that I like to plan and sometimes plan something or allow me to plan it. Yep, it sounds creepy and controlling, but it’s not. It’s just allowing me to feel comfortable about our plans. Heck, I just planned a getaway to NJ in January with my bestfriend to go to this restaurant that has over 30 different grilled cheese sandwiches. Yep, I’m a foodie who plans her food jaunts.

I probably should be in therapy about my need to feel in control, but I can save myself lots of money and time wasted because I know what the issue is…Lack of control happens when people don’t plan. Families break up. You go hungry. You can’t afford anything. You can’t afford doctor’s visits. You can’t afford extracurricular activities. You eat free and reduced lunch.

You grow up. You make great choices. You vowed to live each day better than the last. You control what you can around you. You control your life.

But, what happens when you lose control? What happens when things fall apart that you thought were supposed to work because you took the time, did the research, resolved and analyzed the outliers and it still fails?

You cry. You scream. You accept the inevitable.

You move forward. You grow. You make it through.

You create a new path. A new plan. You research, analyze and test your hypothesis knowing that it is all trial and error.

control

The Big Beautiful Uterus

Disclaimer:  If you have a weak stomach and don’t want to know the details of women’s medical issues, I advise you to stop reading now.

Okay, I warned you!

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So, yesterday I had a hysterosonogram and biopsy to find out what’s been going on with me. At almost 40, things seem like they are beginning to breakdown. In an earlier post I explained how my doctor had recommended this procedure without talking to me. All on email. Ah, the joys of modern technology! Well, I agreed and let me tell you what happened.

I arrived at their swanky Silver Spring location and sat waiting about 20 minutes before I was taken to the back. This annoyed the heck out of me because I was told to arrive 15 minutes prior to my appointment. Why arrive early to have to wait and not be seen earlier? Physician politics I tell you. I’m sitting in the waiting room with three pregnant women who are looking at me as though I’m knocked up and not married. Nope, that’s not me! I’m just the curvy nerd reading the latest issue of Time.

After some BAK’s (Bad A** Kids) began running around the office and my “If you don’t sit your bad tail down I’m gonna whoop your momma’s butt look didn’t work” I began to flip my magazine in utter frustration. Thankfully, the young lady calls me to the back. She asked “Did they tell you to arrive with an empty bladder?” “Umm, nope. I received no instructions whatsoever!” She smiled, “Can you please empty your bladder in this bathroom and go into exam room #3?” “Sure. I just had a big gulp and my bladder is pretty full.” She looked mortified. I responded “Just kidding. See you in a minute.”

When I arrived in the sonogram room (aka exam room #3) I was told to disrobe below the waist, sit on the table and put the sheet around my lower half. No problem. I’m a pro at this. The nurse comes back in and begins her examination of my uterus, cervix and ovaries (including the follicles). Yep I could see it all on the flat screen in the corner of the room. (A lot had changed since I had my last sonogram). While it was uncomfortable it no way prepared me for the hysterosonogram and biopsy that happened next.

The infamous (okay I’m the only one calling him infamous) doctor walks in and says, “Hi Tikeetha, we talked extensively about the procedure I’m about to do. Are you ready?” I was in utter shock, “Umm, by extensively you mean you emailed me and I responded and we emailed back and forth? Doctor we never spoke. Email is not a conversation.” He said, “Oh, I do most of my correspondence by email now because every time I call a patient back they are never available and I’m always leaving a message.” I smiled and said, “A message telling me why you are recommending an invasive procedure is better than email. I’m not that old where I don’t answer my phone. You had me hating you and crafty snarky responses for my blog about how you treated me.” He said, “Please don’t bad mouth me to the world, I will put a note in your file to call you for invasive procedures. I’m sorry that you felt as though I ignored you. I didn’t mean it.”

I was relieved and opened my legs on the table and said, “Okay, now that we’ve got the apology out of the way, I’m ready.” He smiled and began to explain the procedure. The cold speculum dang near caused me to have a heart attack and then he put the tube in and pushed the fluid into my cervix and uterus to get a clear picture. I felt a painful clip and intense cramping. I was sitting there thinking I should have taken 2000 mg of Tylenol or a dose of crack to help with the intense pain. (Point of clarification: I don’t use drugs. Jokes only).

As I lay on that table wishing for a speedy death because I was in hell he was doing the biopsy saying that he wasn’t getting enough fluid. “Her uterus is too big” is what he told the nurse. I sat there in shock wondering what is too big? He told me to look up at the monitor and said, “Tikeetha, everything looks great. Your uterus is clear and beautiful. I don’t see any cause of concern. Get dressed and meet me in my office and we will discuss next steps.” “Okay” I mumbled as he removed the dang speculum and I felt even more cramping. He left the room and the nurse said, “Okay, get dressed and here’s a pad for the fluid that will drip all day and some spotting that may occur. Open the door when you’re ready and I will walk you to the doctor’s office.” “Okay” was all I could say.

I got off the table feeling like I was sucker punched. I got up and holding on to the table proceeded to get dressed and headed to the doctor’s office. I sat down and he said, “Everything looks good. Your uterus is big and clear. I will have the results of the biopsy in a few days, but I’m optimistic that everything will be fine.” I looked at him and said, “Doctor, you keep saying that my uterus is big, is this normal or abnormal? A genetic default or are you saying because I’m a plus size cutie that it’s normal that I have a big uterus?”

He looked at me and said, “Umm, no. Ahh, no. Well, it’s a big beautiful uterus!” WTH? He said, “Let me show you on these photos. You had a history of fibroids that were inside of your uterus. When fibroids grow they distort the uterine cavity. They were removed and the walls never contract back to size. But, your uterus is big, beautiful and healthy. It’s clear and they’re no fibroids so we have many options available. I will let you know the results of the biopsy when I get them. Is email okay?” “Yes, if you are not telling me bad news. Email will be fine. Other than that pick up the phone please!” He smiled and said, “I will.” I responded, “Okay, well thank you for explaining everything to me. I will keep on the current medication as suggested and contact you in a couple of months.”

This is what it looked like when my fibroids were growing in my uterine wall.
This is what it looked like when my fibroids were growing in my uterine wall.

As he was walking me out of the office he said, “Tikeetha, please don’t let me see any bad reviews on Yelp.” I laughed, “Sure, doc! I will make sure to bad mouth you on my blog, Twitter and Facebook page.” He turned redder than an apple. “Just kidding” I responded.

So, as I walked out of the office slowly holding my abdomen, I thought it pretty cool that I have a big beautiful uterus. Interesting and problematic sometimes being a woman, but I’m pretty good with the results. Women always have it rough and if you don’t believe it, just ask a doctor to perform a hysterosonogram on you and you will know it’s the truth.

I’m not worried about the results of the biopsy. I have faith. Faith in God, my doctors and the fact that I’m meant to annoy a few more people before I’m called home to glory. I had so much faith that I decided to treat myself to my rum brownies and cherry vanilla ice cream last night. Trust me, it helped with the pain.
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Guess Who Got Published on MBB?

Happy Friday Folks!

If you haven’t heard, I was honored to get an article published on one of my favorite blogs…MyBrownBaby (yep, one word). MyBrownBaby is an incredible blog started by Denene Millner who states that “MyBrownBaby isn’t about pointing fingers at or putting down white moms. It’s about helping black moms. It’s also about providing a service for those who need the information but can’t find it or who just want someone to commiserate with them—help them sort through the beautiful struggle that comes with being black parents in America.” You love it right?

It’s a great blog with a wealth of information, articles, tips and stories from both men and women about children. I have been following along for the last couple of years. So, in light of #domesticviolenceawareness I decided to share my story in hopes of getting it published and bringing home what I’ve been sharing all month with you.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic Violence is a topic that is close to my heart. I’ve shared more with you than I’ve shared with my own family. (I guess you guys/gals are my family). This writing has been therapeutic for me and I’ve grown through it. Which is incredibly helpful. Well, I decided to submit an article for publication earlier this month and I got notified on Wednesday that it was accepted and went live. I am overjoyed and I hope you have a chance to check out my latest piece and to subscribe to this incredible blog!

Click here for my post –  Suffer the Little Children: The Effects of Domestic Violence on Kids

Be blessed loves!

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A Time Out is Necessary

So, I read this interesting article on Yahoo and was completely in awe of this young lady in China who stayed at a KFC for seven (yep 7) straight days after her boyfriend broke up with her. I was reading it and was like “I completely understand girlfriend” (raises glass in solidarity). Why did she do it? Because she needed to think.

Awesome isn’t it? The simplest answer is always the truest. She just sat there in that KFC wanting to think and eat. She said “I hadn’t planned on staying there long; I just wanted some chicken wings.” Dang, them KFC wings must be good in China! I loved this story because she reminded me that sometimes we all need just a break to figure things out in our lives. No real timetable to get over heartbreak or to just ponder our lives.

I felt that way this weekend. I really didn’t want to talk to people. Not because I don’t love my friends and appreciate the fact that I’m overwhelmingly blessed to have such great people in my life. It was just that I wanted a “time out” to focus on me and my thoughts. I didn’t return calls like I said (you know I hated that) and I just sat in bed watching TV and eating a bowl of Breyer’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream. It was perfect.

But, I felt remorseful because I didn’t know how to tell my friends that I needed a “time out”. I felt guilty. It wasn’t like I was depressed or upset about something. I was just in my head and wanted a “time out” for me. Yes, I had my son. Yes, I had to be his mother first, but outside of that, I just wanted me and my thoughts to be on one accord.

How many times do we go through life and just let it happen to us? How many times do we wish we could sit at home and veg out just because we want too? Nothing has to be wrong for us to want a break. People think if you want a “time out” that something is wrong and then they go about the great task of trying to decode and decipher if you’re having a breakdown. Sometimes I am. Not the “I need a padded cell kind” (not yet at least), but the kind where I need to regroup and regain focus because my thoughts are not aligned with my spirit.

Harmony. That’s what I strive for. Both my mind and spirit on one accord. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes I spend so much time out of balance that it feels like I can never get a break. A “time out” to sit back, think, reflect and get back to me. So, if I didn’t call you back this weekend like I said, please owe it to my mind and not my heart.

I needed a “time out” to reflect and refocus my spirit and mind. I will now return you to your regularly scheduled program of my opinionated, loving and charismatic personality. I will make you laugh, cry and throw your hands up in frustration by my wit, but you know what? You love it and so do I. Let the frivolity recommence.

power-of-now

Mondays are for Mary

A couple of weeks I gave you insight into how Beyonce’s songs helped me through a particular rough period, but now I want to give you a list of songs by Mary J Blige that will help you through your blue period where you’re hurting because a man or woman has hurt you. This is for my ladies…Mary’s Monday Music List is all about getting you to a place where you can reflect, respond and resolve to be in a better mood than yesterday and get past the hurt. Not for them, but for you. Trust, you will love this.

Let’s go…

My Life

Mary sings about letting go and letting God. You are not alone in your struggle. If you don’t believe in her, that’s cool, believe in HIM. Love it.

“Take your time
Baby don’t you rush a thing
Don’t you know, I know
We all are struggling
I know it is hard
But we will get by
And if you don’t believe in me
Just believe in “He”

 

I Can Love You

Haven’t we all been there and thought…I can love you better than she/he can? I know I have. But, sometimes we just need to understand it’s not about us but the person we’re trying to convince. If it’s meant to be…trust, you won’t need to convince someone.

 

Not Gon’ Cry 

But after you get to the point of realizing that the person is not going to love you the way you love them, you have to tell yourself that I’m not gon’ cry. Because that person is not worth the tears.

 

No More Drama

Okay, who hasn’t had drama in their lives? Whether you invite it in personally or it slipped in with someone you know. You have to get to the point of saying No More Drama. Drama doesn’t allow you to find and seek the good things in your life because you’re dealing with hurt. Hurt emotions. Hurt people. Breathe and release yourself. Mary sings…

Uh, it feel so good
When you let go
Of all the drama in your life
Now you’re free from all the pain
Free from all the game
Free from all the stress
So find your happiness

 

Just Move

Now, that you’re at the end girlfriend…Work it! No time for moping around. Get your happy back and keep it moving because you deserve it. Get it together and just love you.

 

So, if you’re going through a particularly rough time or break up know that it does get easier. Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is walk away and say no to foolishness. Surround yourself with friends who will love and listen and you can get through this. Trust.

Beywagon

Okay, so let me start off by saying that I truly love and respect Beyonce as an artist. She’s talented, beautiful and just an incredible representation of a woman with class. Now, I don’t think I’m part of the #beyhive or anything, but I am a fan. Not a diehard, I would spend my baby’s after care money to go see her in concert fan, but a fan who can watch and observe from the sidelines.

That being said…during my time of transition, I’ve gone through a metamorphisis and I realized that Beyonce has songs that really speak to where I’ve been, where I’m going and where I’m at. This is real here folks, I’m baring my soul so please don’t judge me.

Here are the four songs that speak to my life:

Crazy in Love

Believe it or not, I was crazy in love. I was his ride or die. I was the chick that always had his back until we had a child. I couldn’t seem to balance being his everything and being a mother. I went from being crazy in love to just being crazy in the end. But, in the beginning it was fire! Fire that burned out of control and caused an inferno.

 

I’m Scared of Lonely

Right after it ended and I was laying on the floor wanting to find peace in chaos it was this song that spoke to me. Beyonce sang “And I’m scared of being the only shadow along the wall and I’m scared hearing the only heartbeat I hear beating is my own and I’m scared being alone.” Yep, I was in it. Wallowing, self-pity, heartbreak and pain. Trying to breathe. Realizing that I am alone.

 

Love a Woman – (Okay Not All Bey, but fabulous nonetheless) Mary J Blige featuring Beyonce

But, after I got up off that floor realizing that it is going to be okay, I needed something to keep me motivated. It was this song that spoke life into me.  Mary sang “If you think you know how to love a woman, I feel there are some things you still need to know…”

Yep, I was there like “Sang it ladies”! (As she lifts her wine glass with tears in her eyes) Dang, I was going through it.

 

I Was Here

Now, isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting to the point of accepting your new reality? Realizing that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger? Understanding that pain is a part of life and that you must go through some things to gain clarity on who you are as a person. Beyonce sang, “I was here. I lived, I loved. I was here.” No, there was no happy ending for me, but I loved. Truly. Completely. I’m a better person for my experiences. I’m stronger than I knew I could be.

 

So, there you have it folks. Sometimes you will go through situations where you see no way out and they are seemingly hopeless, volatile and unmanageable, but I tell you from experience…breathe and know that it will get better. The hardest and darkest days are seemingly while you are going through your storm, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Get to the end of it because I promise it will get better.

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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Camp Chronicles: A Bullying Moment

Brennan is attending a new summer camp this year with more activities and less money than his daycare.  We decided on this camp because we liked the philosophy, price and of course the staff that run the camp.  Brennan is not alone because he has his god brother, Reilly, who attends the camp with him.  Reilly is a year older and this is his second year at the camp.  While I knew that change is always difficult and frustrating for Brennan, he has immersed himself into camp with a confident spirit.  For that I am happy.  
However, that happiness was short lived.  Last week he experienced his first bullying episode.  Brennan said, “Mommy, some kids at camp are saying I’m pregnant.” He lifted up his shirt and said, “But mommy I’m not pregnant. Look there is no baby in my belly”. I had to catch myself from “going off” out of anger. I was sitting here in agony over the fact that my baby boy was experiencing his first bullying episode and I wasn’t ready.  I know that violence begets violence and bullying should be handled through non-violent means, but wasn’t he too young to be going through this?  I could feel my son’s concern over their words in my spirit and I knew he was hurting.
So, I told him to scream at them in their face at the top of his lungs.  I told him to scream: “That is not nice and you have bad manners!” and let the teachers know when they say something like that to him.  I promised him that I would handle it.  The next day I talked to the camp’s Director with Brennan and he was understandably concerned and promised to address it directly with the children immediately.  I explained to him that I understand that children would get teased, but this is ridiculous and questioned whether I should I have to teach my six year old how to “joan” on the other kids? (Joaning is when you make fun of someone.  It’s an urban term similar to playing the dozens)
But, how do you teach a six year old how to play the dozens or to joan on someone to try and hurt their feelings and embarrass them?  Was I perpetuating the cycle of creating a bully while disguising it under teaching him how to fight back with words instead of his fists?  This was both puzzling and perplexing to me.  Brennan’s dad and I differed on how bullying would be handled, but I wasn’t ready to teach my son bad habits that could in effect change his life.  I have always had a plan on how Brennan would defend himself, but I never thought I would need to do it this soon.  My plan has always been to put him in martial arts and allow him to take boxing at the age of 9.  I want him to understand that violence is never the answer unless there are no more options, but am I wrong?  The Director replied, “No” and assured me that he would handle it. 
I started to seek advice of men who had boys to gauge their thoughts around bullying and one parent told me, “I have resounded myself to the fact that I will have to stay home a few days because I told my son to fight back if someone puts their hands on him.”  I teach him that “you punch the bully in his face and even if he beats you up, he won’t punch you in the face anymore.” He told me that, “You have to address aggression with aggression sometimes to avoid further conflict.   That is why wars work sometimes.”  He further went on to say that “I learned that you can be nice but you also have to have a mean streak because there are mean people in the world so you tell him to say that they are mean, but he can’t cry. He can’t whimper.” He was the one to tell me that Brennan may have to learn how to joan on people to keep them off of him. That piece of advice moved me into thinking maybe I need to teach my son how to adapt in the community in which he is a part of.  Survival of the fittest and such.

But, I can honestly say that I am lost.  I don’t know what to do.  I wake up every day kissing my son telling him that he needs to rise and shine and give God the glory.  I tickle him, kiss him and tell him I am proud of who he is just because he opened his eyes.  I struggle with this bullying epidemic that has affected our society.  It breaks my heart to hear stories of children who are committing suicide because they are being bullied and it broke my heart to hear the story of the child that killed his bully a couple of weeks ago because he was tired of being a victim.  I don’t want my son in either of those situations.  I just pray that we get serious with ways to combat and avert this bullying crisis and not just tell kids to toughen up or say that kids will be kids.