Happy International Women’s Day

Yep, it’s March 8th. Today is International Women’s Day. It’s also Women’s History Month in case you didn’t know. Did you know that according to the United Nations (UN) “International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.” Isn’t that exciting?

Today is the day where we get to celebrate the successes of women around the world for their achievements on all levels. Women are doing it everywhere. The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

In the last year, we’ve seen so many changes in the US and globally. Women are changing the face of politics in the U.S. and speaking out against abuse in every location. Realistically, Hollywood will never be the seen. We continue to move forward knowing that we are paving the path for the future young women after us.

No matter where you live, you can make a difference. You have a voice. You are not alone. Advocate for yourself and those around you. One person can make a difference. You are that person.

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Note: I do not own the rights to this photo. I did a Google search. 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

 

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Oldest Child Problems

A couple of weeks ago I read this great article over at Bougie Black Girl (BBG) about how parents use their older children to watch their younger siblings, much to the expense of the older child. I’m not speaking about an occasional babysitting job, but a child having to cook and clean and take care of her siblings like she birthed the babies. This article hit home for me.

See, because I was one of the girls that she was talking about. It happens a lot in the African American community. We tend to make our older girls the caregivers for their younger siblings. They didn’t give birth to your children.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that my mother was a bad mom. She wasn’t. Do I agree with everything she did? Nope. Do I believe she tried her best with the information and skills that she had at that time. Yep. But, there was damage.

You see when my daddy walked out of our lives, I was the oldest. I was 9 years old and my sister was 6. My brother was just 9 months old.  I had to become an “adult” and parent my siblings because my mother was in the military and worked swing shift. That means she was on for 18 hours and then off and back at work. She was exhausted.

I would have to pick my sister up from her classroom (we went to the same school) and walk her to pick up my brother from the babysitter to then go home. My mother left instructions for how to heat up dinner (she was exhausted but thankfully she still managed to cook). I would help my sister with her homework and we would eat dinner. I would bathe them both and put them to bed.

I would then sit down and do my homework, take a bath and head to bed. It was exhausting. I was a child. I had no choice. My mom didn’t have a choice. This was our lot in life.

When my mom got out of the military and we moved to Maryland, she had to work three jobs to take care of us. My dad didn’t pay child support and she made $10.00 too much to qualify for food stamps so working that many jobs put food on the table and clothes on our backs.  I received reduced lunches. I wasn’t embarrassed. I needed to eat.

I became their “de facto mother”. I doled out punishments and enforced chores. I had to make sure everything was done so that I wouldn’t be held liable.

I didn’t want to be a mother when I was still a child. I didn’t know how not to be. This kind of forced motherhood made me never want to have children. This made me feel as though my needs didn’t matter. The needs of my siblings came before my own needs.

The thing about not having your needs met is that you feel like you don’t matter. I couldn’t create boundaries because no one would respect them. I had no choice. I had no voice. I had to take care of my siblings.

I had a lot of pain during that time because I was a child raising children. I felt like my siblings didn’t respect me. Even now I sometimes feel the pain of past issues that manifest itself as disrespect. I’m sure that they don’t think of it in those terms, but they don’t know the sacrifices that I made too. Not just the ones made by our mother.

I didn’t get to participate in any after school activities until they were old enough to be left alone or my mom could watch them. There was no money for extras and no time. There was a schedule that had to be maintained.

I remember telling my mother a few years ago that I am tired of the disrespect of this family. I told her that I did everything to raise children that I didn’t bear. That I got raped and had to go home to take care of her children because that was my responsibility. I asked her who was ever going to take care of me?

It seemed as if no one was going to take care of me. I was on my own. That is why I am fiercely independent and choose not to show weakness. I hate being vulnerable. I hate not being able to do something. I’ve always taken care of me.

Even when it hurt to do so. Being in a healthy relationship allows me to appreciate the things that I didn’t even realize that I had. Things that I took for granted. Being a mother of an only child allows me the opportunity to give him experiences that I never had. I want Munch to enjoy being a child. No pressure. Not too much responsibility.

Does this mean that I don’t give him any responsibility? Nope. I do. I dole it out in stages. Cleaning your room, getting good grades and being civic minded have rewards attached to them. He’s a child. He’s learning.

I’m still learning and you know what? I’m pretty happy that BBG spoke about this topic. It’s pretty taboo in the black community, but the point of it all is that you as a parent have a responsibility to make sure that your children are children. Not the surrogate parent to their siblings.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Graduation Advice

My niece graduated high school in June. At the tender age of 17, I still think of her as that cute little baby who loved the camera. The little one who would pose anytime you pointed a camera at her.  She is my first and only daughter. Even though I didn’t birth her, you can’t tell me she’s not mine. I’m fiercely protective of her and her spirit.

We gave her a trunk party to send her off to college last Saturday. She’s attending Frostburg State here in Maryland. We’re so super proud of the first grand child. She’s beautiful, smart and will be a cheerleader at Frostburg.

But, she has had to overcome some obstacles already.

My niece suffers from anxiety. Last year, she went through a terrible episode where we thought she was having a nervous breakdown. She seemed to be unraveling before my eyes. This beautiful little girl who I hugged and kissed and affectionately named her “Little Tikeetha” was like a fragile china doll.  I couldn’t reach her.

We banded together as a family and were strengthened in our desire to make sure that she knows that we love and support her. That we are and will always be her family. My mother, her grandmother, and her grew closer. She became grandma’s baby at that point. Her mental health was of the utmost importance. We constantly reassured her that we love her and are with her.

She is healing. She is on medication. She is better. She has the support of our family . My niece seemed to miss more school than we ever thought possible. But, she graduated. On time. With her class. She’s good. Great in fact.

You would have never known the internal struggle or challenges she suffered. She’s strong. Like her mom. Like my mom. Like my grandma. It’s in her genes.

Which is why I’m so proud that she is going away to college. Against Grandma’s advice. LOL. My mother wanted her to go to school closer, but she is going about 2 hours away and still in the state. Not too far. We’re her family so you know we will just pop up for weekend visits, love and support. That’s what we do. Support each other.

As she begins this next chapter in her life I wanted to tell her 3 things to encourage her. To motivate her and to take with her on the next part of her journey…

  1. You are more valuable than you know. You matter sweet princess. Your voice. Your spirit. Your life. All of it matters. You are an invaluable piece of the puzzle in our family. You are the best parts of us. Your weird laugh. Your gentle touch. Your sweet demeanor all remind us that we have good in us. Look at you. You are the favorite grandchild, favorite niece and the favorite cousin. There’s nothing wrong with that. My cousin, Brennan aka Boo-Bop, was that too. Never forget your value. We believe in you, but more importantly we need you to believe in yourself.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with saying no. There’s no greater strength than saying no. No to things that you don’t want to do. No to things that are suspect to you. When you go away to school remember that there is strength in saying no. You can do it. You are your own best advocate. Remember that if you don’t want to go to a party, say no. If you don’t want to drink, say no. If you don’t want to do anything, you can say no. It’s your right to say no.
  3. You are stronger than you know. I know sometimes life will seem rough and you won’t be able to make sense of the things around you. Breathe princess. Know that this trial is only temporary. You can and you will survive. Why? Because you are stronger than you know. You have the strength to make the best choices for your life. Don’t let petty arguments or situations bring you out of who you are. Speak up for yourself. If you are having issues with a friend, let them know. If you don’t understand why you received a grade on an assignment, ask the professor. There’s strength in trying to make sense of the chaos.

This journey you’re on is one that you must take alone. I know it may seem scary at times, but you must remember that we are always in your corner. You need money, call me. You need a voice to talk to. Call me. Any time. I will always be there. I will be there on your first day, homecoming weekend, parents weekend and any other time. I’m so proud Princess and I will always be your auntie.

 

Pretty Girls Rock

Hey Loves!

Sometimes we just need to pat our own backs. Beautiful friends in beautiful spaces.  I’m thankful for it all. Let’s do the pretty girl rock and post pictures showing girl power. Tag me if you want me to reblog your post. 

Don’t I have some beautiful friends? I love my girls. Sisterhood is what is all about. Trust me that I have many more beautiful friends, but we haven’t connected recently or took photos. I’m working on it.

 

Respect My Boundaries

I received a lot of feedback on my post yesterday Dear Sis – F*ck Them and I wanted to explain some things to those who may feel that my words were too harsh. Women (myself included) were brought up to be nice and such and that will sometimes hurt us more than anything. It means that we allow people into our space that will disrespect us to the point of no return.

Why? Because we were taught to always be polite. As I’ve aged I realized that is the biggest bunch of S*it! I don’t have to be polite to the point that I am a walking mat for those in my life. That’s not what life is about. We need to teach our young women that it is okay not to be polite.

I’m not saying that you teach her to be mean. She just doesn’t need to lay down and play nice with everyone. Teach her that boundaries are okay and explain how she should handle it when her boundaries are crossed. I never understood that.

My girlfriend said to me that her daughter doesn’t like to speak to people. I knew this. Her daughter often ignored me. I was cool with it. I can ignore with the best of them. I didn’t have any ill will towards this little girl, but I respected her decision to not engage and truth be told, sometimes I didn’t want to engage.

But, how many of us teach our children (especially little girls) that they should always smile, always speak and always be polite? Why? The world isn’t always polite to us and we don’t owe anyone anything. Sometimes I don’t want to speak. Sometimes I don’t want to smile and sometimes I just want to go about my merry way without feeling the need to “play nice”.

Now, there is nothing wrong with having manners. I’m not saying that you don’t teach your children how to respect people and not curse folks out, but you don’t have to teach them to hug or speak to folks when they don’t want to.  Why are we teaching our little girls to smile at everyone and everything?

Not everyone deserves my smile, time or attention.

I want people in my life and in my space who I have a symbiotic relationship with. People who bring me joy and whom genuinely care about my well being. I don’t want to put up with anymore BS from people that want drama and want me to engage in childish games. I’m to old for that. I don’t owe you any niceties. I don’t have to be nice when you call or text if you call or text every couple of months for random stuff. I don’t have to spare your feelings when I talk about what a jerk you were to me and how you weren’t man enough for me.

I don’t care. You don’t like it? Kick rocks! No skin off my back. You see, I’ve learned that the only person that I have to be good to is me. By being good to me and clearly defining and sticking to my boundaries I don’t allow BS to penetrate my circle anymore. I don’t owe you anything. You think I do? Well F*ck you and the high horse you rode in. Life’s too short!

I’m done putting up with BS people and BS situations. I’m all about the positive and engaging in meaningful relationships. Not every interaction will bring that but I am old enough and wise enough to stay the hell away from those that don’t.

 

Single Parents and the Bathroom Conundrum

So, Gary over at Skipah’s Realm responded to my post entitled My 2 Cents: Transgender Restroom Issue and said that it would never work because it makes sense and we know in this country we’re not lead to have common sense. But, he raised an interesting point and said I should write about the issue parents have when taking their children to the restroom and they are a different gender.

Gary has a daughter and I have a son. They’re about the same age. I told you my issues when it comes to taking my son to the restroom, but don’t men have the same issues? I’m pretty sure they do.

My girlfriend and I were talking on Monday evening about how her husband lets women take his daughter to the bathroom and she finds that disturbing because women molest children too. However, he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. He would prefer not to take her to the men’s room.

I totally understood. Men don’t think their may be perverted women lurking in bathrooms trying touch on their little girls because they aren’t as skeptical of everyone like women are. But, pedophilia knows no specific type. Men and women molest children.  But, what options do you have if there is no family restroom available and you need to take your child to the bathroom?

Option #1: Ask a Stranger

HELL NO!

I would never ask another man to take my son to the restroom. Why? Because I don’t know you. I don’t trust people I don’t know with my kid. Plain and simple. Yep, it may seem extreme to some, but trust me you can never take back that feeling of failing your child if they should ever be sexually assaulted. Nor the memory of the abuse.

Let me tell you this, when my son takes swim classes the pool doesn’t have family showers. So, Munch will come with me to the family bathroom and dry off and I make him shower at home. There is no way in hell that I will let him shower by himself and the pool doesn’t want parents to allow their children age 5 or over to use the gender as the parent. That means that you could ask a stranger to watch your child shower or just say nope and we’ll do it when we get home.

Option #2:  Just Take Your Child With You

Umm, this works for me. Women don’t freak out when I want to take my tall 8 year old son in the bathroom with me. But, if you’re a man who has a daughter do you really feel comfortable with your daughter going into the men’s room with you? I mean the odor in the first place is enough to kill you. Oh, she could also see some swinging penises as you rush her to a stall. Neither options appeal to men I’m sure. So, what do you do if there is no family restroom? Suck it up and send her to the women’s room while you try to not look like a pedophile waiting on your princess to exit.

Option #3:  Advocate for More Family Restrooms/Showers

This is probably the only option that we have as parents that feels even remotely comfortable and reasonable. A man can take his daughter to the restroom without having to worry about what she is exposed to at an early age. I can take my son to the bathroom without him having to complain and say that I’m a boy I should use the men’s room.

I know that a lot of places can’t afford more family restrooms, but dang it we need it. I hate stalking the men’s room and dad’s have a right to take their toilet training daughter to the restroom without worrying about her exposure. We all want to pee in peace.

Steps-Preschool

 

Disclaimer: I don’t own the rights to this photo. I did a Google search.

#StopCallingMeBeautiful: A Campaign

Had to reblog this post from The Cheyenne Hour. I say this all the time.  Early on with dating Mr. C I told him that I would rather he say that my mind is beautiful or my spirit. My looks are only a small piece that make up the entire T. I’m a handful and if you only focus on the outside you won’t know how wonderfully made that I am.

The Cheyenne Hour

Hello Everyone! I’m back again with another post.  I now want to talk about another topic that really grinds my gears.  As a woman, I understand what it feels like to live in a world created to perpetuate beauty standards in which women are forced to take on the responsibility of upholding.  This being said, we also run into other situations that add fuel to the fire.  An example of this would be when men constantly call us beautiful.  Now, you may ask, “Cheyenne, what’s wrong with being called beautiful?” And I would simply reply, “Not a damn thing… well, in small doses.”  Being called beautiful isn’t really a problem every once in a while, but when men make this a constant and only comment, we’re left to wonder if it is really  a compliment.

From online dating to the club to everywhere in between I’ve have been complimented on…

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Raising Our Girls

I’m a product of a broken home. A single parent home. My mother raised me. She did it alone. My dad wasn’t there. Not mentally. Not physically. Not spiritually. Not financially. So, my mom worked three jobs to provide a roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food in the house.

She worked. She worked hard. While working those three jobs she went to school. She was still working to earn her bachelor’s degree while I was in school. She earned it when I was in college. She now has her doctorate in education. She’s pretty determined huh?

My mom taught me that life is about survival. There is no shame in starting over. You will do what you need to do  to provide for your children. You have no choice. You have no option. You’re a girl who will become a woman and you have to be strong.

Even when you don’t want to.

Being raised in a single parent home as a young girl I saw that determination and knew that nothing less would be expected of me. But, that singular focus to raise a strong black woman did something to me when it comes to my relationships with men. It blurred them. It gave me a false understanding of roles in relationships.

What do you mean T?

I didn’t see a man as needing to be a provider because a man wasn’t providing for me in any way. I was going to be able to provide for me and any children I had because that is what women are supposed to do. Step up at all costs.

I did. I went to school. I studied hard. I got married. I resisted having children until I could financially afford to care of them on my own. I struggled to maintain an outside appearance of a united front. A picture perfect couple. We weren’t.

I was emasculating him in some ways. Not letting him know that he was needed. Making him feel as though he was just a piece on my board game because I could buy the game, play by myself and replace any broken pieces. Dang.

That was kinda harsh. I owned it. I had so many standards for men that you had to have all the things on my list or you would be dismissed. But, what I wanted truly was not on that list. I needed emotional support. I needed a man who valued my need to communicate and support me emotionally.

I needed to know that someone had my back. But, I never told anyone. Not any boyfriend I ever had. Not my ex-husband. I was afraid of being vulnerable. Superwomen were indestructible. We could never show vulnerability.

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