I Stand United with MOBB

A moment of truth…It was Trayvon Martin’s death that made me scared for my son’s life. I was sitting there watching the news and seeing his mother’s face filled with so much pain and anguish that something broke in me that day. How could someone gun down a child? It wasn’t the first time it happened, but this was a local member of the neighborhood watch.  It left me wondering how had this country changed. What could I do to protect my son?

In reality, it was nothing. I mean the country had elected the first black president in 2008 and we were worse off than I could ever imagine. Racism, hate and anger seemed to be spewing at him. But, I had a black son. I had a son that would grow up knowing that he was born in the year where America made a decision to elect a black man to the highest position in the country. Anything was possible. I believed my son could do anything and be anything at that point.

But, the country seemed to change. The color of his skin made the closet hate mongers realize that we as a people couldn’t be kept down. We could do or be anything. He endured. He endured people trash talking him, his wife and his children. However, something changed when Trayvon died. When he announced in that press conference that Trayvon could have been his son, I realized that he was acknowledging his blackness in a way that was never done. He was a father before he was a president. He was a man.

It was in that moment that I accepted that my son would always have a target on his back. I held him tighter. Many more deaths. Many more boys and men. Tamir Rice was only a few years older than Munch. I couldn’t understand. Philandro Castille and the country was in an uproar. It was a long hot summer. I was angry and wanted to do something. I am a mother to a black son. I had to save him. I proclaimed that I didn’t endure multiple attempts at pregnancy, bed rest and an emergency delivery to let him die on the streets like a dog. I had to stand for something. I had to do something.

View More: http://magnoliastreetphoto.pass.us/tikeetha_2016

But, what? Last year, CNN reported that black men are nearly 3 times as likely to die from police use of force than white men. I was scared. How could I keep my son safe? How could I help him to understand why I don’t let him play with toy guns. Why I advocated for clothing that showed him as an innocent non-threatening black boy.

It was at that time that someone added me to a group on FaceBook called Mothers of Black Boys United (MOBB). This group was amazing. I saw articles on advocacy. I saw support and concern from mothers all over the world. I saw women united for the sole purpose of making sure their black sons had an opportunity to grow up.

So, I joined. Not just the FaceBook group, but the organization. I wanted to make a change. Not just talk about it, but be about it. MOBB advocates to change how young black boys and men are perceived and treated by law enforcement and in society. I was now part of a mission to protect our black boys. It was bigger than me. It was a community of mothers committed to make a difference.

24203749_10214468397246421_1401614609_n

Yesterday was #givingTuesday all over. Many of you gave back with your charitable donations. It’s still time. Still time to give and help raise funds for a worthy cause. Can you please join me by donating to MOBB? Just click this link: Donate to MOBB

24257406_10214468396686407_1234962785_n

Your support is invaluable. As little as $1.00 can make a difference. Thank you for supporting.

24232211_10214466424917114_3215769938874092683_n

 

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/.

 

Advertisements

Day 1: My Munch

In my #23DaysofThankfulness Post, I wanted to share what I am thankful most for. My son. My Munch. Being his Mommy is by far the greatest blessing than I could have ever imagined. Each day I learn how much my heart can grow just by hearing his words “I love you Mommy” and “I miss you Mommy”.

The day it was confirmed that I was carrying this little boy and every day after I feel the presence and awesomeness of God’s love. I am thankful for him. I am thankful for his life. His love. His spirit.

I never imagined motherhood would make me mushy, but it has. He is the perfect child for me. Not a perfect child, but the perfect child for me. God blessed me with the perfect child for my temperament. Even when he was a baby and I loved to sleep, Munch started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks old.  Wasn’t that awesome?

I’m a homebody and some days I don’t want to do anything but lie in the bed and don’t get dressed. I want to watch television, eat and just enjoy being lazy. Munch has my temperament. He enjoys that too. He actually prefers to stay in his pajamas all day. Munch loves pizza just as much as I do. His favorite is pepperoni and bacon. He loves traveling and seeing new places. He loves parties and family. He’s pretty dang amazing.

Day One – I’m thankful for Munch.

 

 

 

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/.

 

 

The Truth About Co-Parenting

I’m in a lot of groups on co-parenting, taking co-parenting classes and reading everything under the sun to learn how to co-parent. Is it working? Umm, not yet. But, that is not to say that I’ve given up. I’m prayerful that God is working it out.

I understand that most co-parenting situations take 5 to 7 years to work out and that will put Munch between 13 to 15. Okay, whatever! It takes a village and I’m okay with that. However, one of the things that I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot lately is the concern that step moms have that the birth mom’s hate them.

Let me pause and offer my two cents on this belief. This is not true in all cases. If you broke up a home through infidelity, then the birth mother may hate you. But, you should know that. If you didn’t and you both just moved on with your lives and met and married new people then I’m sure that the birth mother doesn’t hate you.

Neither do the kids. They just need to get to know you. The thing is that you fall in love with the man not knowing the history of what he did to that woman or vice versa.  As much as everyone would like to place the foolishness on the birth mom’s shoulder I invite you to take a step back and look at it from another point of view.

As a birth mom to only one child, I only want the best for my child. I believe that his dad wants the best for him. If I don’t know you then how can I know what you want with our son? Does that make you a bad person? Nope, not at all. But, that doesn’t meant that I like you or hate you. I don’t know you.

Does that mean that I’m jealous of you? Not at all. Again, I don’t know you. I don’t trust people I don’t know. Do you trust people that you don’t know? Probably not. It means that we are starting at a point of figuring each other out. We are not sitting here creating voodoo dolls of you and wishing bad things on you. We have a life. We have a child or children. We may have careers.

Every relationship whether friend or intimate has boundaries. When you are getting to know someone intimately they are learning your boundaries and you are learning theirs. When do you learn the birth mother’s boundaries? Do you believe there are boundaries? Do you care?

If not, then think about the relationship that you are creating with those boundaries. When we don’t respect boundaries from the birth parents and do what they heck we want in the name of love, then you will be met with resistance and anger. Probably both. Issues from the marriage or relationship carry over into co-parenting when boundaries aren’t respected. Both men and women are guilty of this.  This doesn’t mean that the woman is bitter or jealous of you. You just crossed her boundary.

Let me give you an example, maybe the ex gave her a sexually transmitted disease (STD), was violent to her, stole from her, etc. Maybe the man didn’t want the child to begin with and now wants to be father of the year with you on his arms. Who knows? You only know his side of the story.  The one that your new partner told you. Maybe the issues are deeper than you want to admit. There are many reasons relationships fail.

And when they do fail, what remains is that there are two parents that have a child to care for. Two. Mom and dad. The parents who created the child, carried the child and the mother who birthed the child left to figure out how to raise this little human being without emotionally stunting him/her. Their children will be raised in two homes, with two different parenting styles and two people who love them immensely. Does that mean that you can’t be a partner in the child’s life with your new man or woman? Not at all.

It just means that you have to recognize that their are other participants in this co-parenting relationship. The parents. Both parents. They need to work together for their child. It may be a lot of residual issues, but your job is not get involved in the BS. To respect the boundaries and love and be a supporting partner to your significant other and a supporter of the child.

Children need the love and support of their parents. If more parents are added to the mix, that’s more love to go around. Their village will expand. Birth mothers don’t go around hating their exe’s new partner. If you’re feeling hated, ask yourself whether or not you did anything to overstep your boundaries. Talk it out.

This is not a birth mother vs. step mother reality. Women have to stop being pitted against each other. We are our sister keeper’s. We are all part of the village.

 

 

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/.

Motivational Monday Moment – 7.17.17

My Motivational Monday Moment is about finding your tribe. Find people that you can collaborate and grow with. People that will inspire you. People that have shared experiences and will motivate you.

find-your-tribe-desktop

Sometimes your tribe isn’t your best friends or your family and you know what? That’s okay. We all have different life experiences. Your best friend may be happily married and you are going through a painful divorce so your experiences may be different. It’s okay to collaborate with people that may have shared experiences.

637605cbd538bf3010002fd738440db3

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that my tribe is all over the place and in different spaces. I’ve learned so much from people that I’m always amazed at why I couldn’t find these people sooner. I wonder “Where have you been all my life? ” 

FYT

I’ve discovered so many things in this last year that collaboration has been both essential and rewarding. From groups on co-parenting, blogging, being a mommy, to female entrepreneurs and survivors of abuse. It’s a lot. Sometimes it is overwhelming. But, I am growing and learning. This allows me to contribute when I can and just observe when I can’t.

Finding your tribe is about finding people that resonate with you. You have a shared experience or feel the need to connect on common interests. This is essential for any one and everyone who believes in growth. For example, when I was younger, my tribe became consumed with married couples. I was a young married woman and my tribe was slowly shifting to couples that were married.

4ff6c62c8f2872a509c17e466467b2f2--tribe-quotes-break-free

There was both good and bad in that. The good was that it allowed me to have couple experiences and keep my marriage happy. Seriously, how many men want their women hanging out with single women at clubs or lounges? What about married women? Do you want your husband hanging out with his single guy friends at the bars? There was an opportunity to meet collectively as married women and know that our husbands were cool with that.

Your tribe shifts. It is supposed too. My tribe is continually evolving based on where I’m at in different points of my life. I like that. It doesn’t mean that I find no value in my friends or I’m cleaning out my closet of my closest relationships. Nope, it means that I’m joining and learning from people that have shared experiences. People that can offer both guidance and support for my life circumstances.

You can be a part of many tribes as your life evolves. It’s part of life. That’s okay. You are growing and there are many different facets to who you are and where you are at different points in your life. Don’t limit yourself. Be a part of as many or as few tribes as you want to be.

watch-for-the-people-1

So, my Motivational Monday Moment is a battle cry for you to go out and find your tribe and grow. Be strong in whatever endeavors you undertake knowing that you are a part of a collective that wants to see you succeed. Know that when you share you are sharing your experiences to help others. Each one must teach one.

 

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/.

Munch Moments – 7.14

Munch has been with me this week and it has been so wonderful. I miss the scent and sound of my son when he’s away from me. Lots of hugs and lots of kisses and discipline too because my man child has gotten a little grown. He is talking back.

I will tell him something and then he’ll respond with a comment on what I’ve said. I had to tell him politely “Munch, not everything requires a response.” He still didn’t get it. He did it again. I responded “Baby, when mommy tells you to do something, your only response needs to be yes ma’m. No other comment is needed.”

Whew! It’s hard work being a parent. We try to lead by example and correct negative behaviors, but that sassy mouth has me wanting to apologize to my mother about my behavior when I was a child. I get it now God!

This week we had a ball at the church picnic, swimming and eating with some friends, attending the circus and of course doctor’s appointments were in the mix. First, the picnic at my church is an annual thing and we always have a good time chatting with the members, eating the good food and the kids have a ball dancing. Munch didn’t leave the moon bounce. AT ALL. I had to go and get him because he didn’t eat and it was time to go.

Sunday was a relaxing day by the pool. My girlfriend has a pool in her development and Munch got to swim and eat pool side. He loves that part. We order pizza and we can eat and relax and get back in the pool. Never missing a beat. He wanted to go on the slides, but he needed to pass the swim test first. I asked him did he want to do it. He agreed and of course passed. My baby can swim.

He’s been climbing in the bed with me more often. About 3 or 4 am he will awake and ask to get in the bed with me. I agree. I don’t ever want my son to not feel welcome in my bed. You may be asking “What happens when you marry Mr. C?” Munch will still be welcome or I’ll climb in the bed with him to soothe away any fears he’s having. LOL. Mr. C knows.

Munch had a dentist and doctor’s appointment earlier this week. We were in and out of the dentist office in no time and off to the doctor’s for his annual check-up. He’s in great health and doing just fine. But, it was weird this year at his annual check-up. The pediatrician had to check his genitals and Munch was laying down crying hard. I asked held his hands and asked him “What’s wrong?” He was crying and said “Mommy, I feel so embarrassed.” My heart hurt. My son is now embarrassed by being naked. The doctor was done in less than one minute and I told him that he doesn’t have to be embarrassed. I explained to him that the doctor is only allowed to view his penis with mommy or daddy present. Your body is a gift from God so you should never be embarrassed. But, it hurt me that my baby was embarrassed.

Finally, my week ended with us going to the circus last night. This is the Universoul Circus. Munch loves it. They play hip-hop, have cool clowns and great acts. It is becoming our annual date night to the circus. I have to pay for tickets, face painting, food and a toy. However, the look on his face as he tells me “This is the best day ever” is so priceless.

That’s my Munch update. He is going back to his dad today and I will miss the little one. Tomorrow I’m attending an event in the morning that I’ll blog about next week and my girlfriend’s birthday dinner. Have an amazing Friday and know that you are loved and appreciated!

 

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/.

Co-Parenting: Dating with Kids

One of the hardest things to do is date when you’re a parent. Whether the other parent is active or not, I think we can all agree that it is hard dating when you’re a parent. Whether it is coordinating schedules, your child gets sick or you are exhausted, we all have things that get in the way.

When I started dating one of the things that I made a point to say to prospective men was that I was a mom first. That meant that you needed to be flexible with me when it comes to my son. I remember that I had met a guy and we had gone out a couple of times. He knew I was a mom. He was nice enough. Well, one Sunday he wanted to go out and I told him that I didn’t want too.

I explained that my ex-husband had sent me a text that Munch was not himself and not feeling well that day. My ex said that he would monitor Munch. I was asking for more information and he just responded “If he gets worse, I’ll take him to urgent care.” That statement stopped me. It meant that I wasn’t going to go out that night. The possibility that my son could be in urgent care was too much for me. My son had never been to an ER or Urgent Care without me.

This was the new me. A single mom and my son would always come first. Needless to say I sent a text back to the guy to say that my son was sick and I wanted to stick close to home in case he had to go to urgent care. The guy didn’t get it. He was disappointed and I never heard from him again.

Okay. His loss. Munch did end up going to Urgent Care and was later diagnosed as having shigella, but that didn’t matter. That man had broken a cardinal rule…being upset that I told you no over choosing to be a mom. I wasn’t hurt. I stood my ground. I was a mother first.

Dating is hard as hell whether you have a child or not. How are you expected to cater to your man and to your child too when you just meet someone? How are you expected to balance it all? The truth…carefully.

You have to meet someone who understands and values your commitment to your children first. I would never be upset if someone’s child was sick or they needed to be a parent first. Remember that I told you that I wanted someone to love me and my son as though we were flesh of their flesh. That was a requirement.

Mr. C is an incredible father who respects and loves the fact that I’m a mom first. He tells me all the time that I’m a great mother. Even when I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. He’s encouraging. I remember the first time I cried when I told him my fears about parenting. He soothed my spirit and calmed me down. He’s a parent.

We have two different parenting styles. He doesn’t believe in allowance (but secretly spoils his son) and I am going to start giving Munch an allowance. He believes that driving is a right of passage that a boy must undertake by his senior year in high school (I think it depends on their responsibility level). He’s strong and a provider and I’m a tough as nails educator who will dole out kisses and hugs and lots of encouragement and support.

Different. I think that’s why we work. He respects that I’m a mom first, a girlfriend second and knows that I will always trust his judgement. I am blessed to have met someone who gets that parenting is hard and it comes first. Someone that gets that I may have to reschedule plans or include Munch when things get in the way. He is flexible.

Find someone that encourages you to be a better parent. Who supports you in raising wonderful and good human beings. Who believes that there is nothing more valuable than creating and crafting the minds of the future leaders of America. Okay, well maybe that’s too much…but find someone that loves your kids as much as you.

 

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/.

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/.