From the Mouths of Babes

My son is a good child.

Simple in his wishes.

He is six.

He can’t figure out when is Christmas.

We tell him.

He forgets.

He asks daily.

He sings Christmas carols.

He doesn’t get the lyrics quite right.

We laugh.

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

We are lucky.

No, we are blessed that God chose us.

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A Song for Brennan

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

 

“A Song for Brennan”

Almost seven years ago, I birthed a king

Difficult conception, difficult delivery, but I had faith

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

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

Silently

 

But I prayed

I prayed for peace

I prayed for my seed growing in my womb

I prayed for you my son

 

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

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

Why?

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

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

With the dang wind blowing?

What kind of foolishness was that?

Mess I said

Besides I knew I would never let you fall

 

My job was to protect you

Like wings of an eagle, I would always be there

You were the angel in my womb

God’s favor over my life defined

My chance at redemption

 

I changed

I became a fanatic

Reading everything I could get my hands on

I wanted to nurture you physically, mentally and spiritually

I vowed to protect you

Always

No greater love

 

It’s been an incredible journey my sweet boy

You’ve taught me how to love beyond measure

You challenge me

You inspire me

You love me

You question me

 

But I’ve lied dear sweet boy

Not because I wanted too, but because I had too

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

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

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

When you questioned the sadness in my eyes the next morning

 

“Is it me Mommy?” You asked

“Are you mad at me?” You questioned

“No baby” I responded

 

Truth is love

That I’m crying for all those mothers that lose

Lose their sons

For walking home from the store

For playing in the park

For walking to school

For

For

 

Being black

Because being black in this damn world

Is killing me

It angers me

That our children are dying

That you will never know

That in the midst of my tears for injustice

That I scream the names

For Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner

Michael Brown, John Crawford,

Jonathan Ferrell, Tamir Rice and the countless others

Who have lost their life

Because my dear sweet baby boy

I want you to know that

Black lives matter

You matter

Off Limits

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

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

Elizabeth-Lauten

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Underage women were admitted in.

2. Dressed like Sasha and Malia

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

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

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

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

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

Have a Baby By Me

The quest for motherhood is sometimes an arduous task. You know my story. It was difficult and we did IVF to get our little boy. Two rounds of painful injections and procedures produced a happy and healthy little baby. But, what happens when you want a baby and there is no man around?

I’m not going to sit here and proclaim that all women want children or that they want a man (if you’re a same sex couple), but I will say that the prospects of having a child without a man is still difficult for a heterosexual woman. The odds of finding good men that are dateable, relateable and ready for marriage when you are may have you feeling like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

As a woman who is almost 40 and entering the dating field again after more than 14 years, I can see the choices of eligible men are limited. Now, before you get all huffy, let me quantify the eligible men comment. I define eligible men to be the following: gainfully employed, somewhat attractive (no you don’t have to be Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba or Brad Pitt), divorced, widowed or single (no if you have a girlfriend you are not single), likes children (I have one) and wants a relationship (not 20 years from now – maybe 6-12 months from now).

Even if you get through one of those categories, it is still up in the air whether we can get to the point that you are dateable, relateable or ready for a relationship. What about chemistry? Isn’t that important? Whew! Women have it hard. So, what do you do when you want a baby and there is no man around? Find a donor.

Simple right? When I was in my early 20’s I realized that I would probably never get married. Why? Because marriage wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to get married nor did I dream about a big wedding. I didn’t trust the institution of marriage and thought it more like slavery than a relationship from God. I was happy being single. Single and successful. So, I started to think about my fertility. Mainly because I wondered if I didn’t have a child would I in fact be missing out on something special?

I asked a friend of mine who was 3 years older than me to be my “baby’s daddy, sperm donor or contributor to parenthood”. I told him that if I didn’t find anyone and he wasn’t attached by the time I was 27 we should have a baby together. I mean we liked each other. We had love for one another and we were both college educated upwardly mobile black folks. The agreement was made and I was virtually going to have a baby by him.

It was a sober deal. Made with explicit terms and a friendly agreement. It was easier to find someone to parent with that you actually liked than to accidentally get someone you couldn’t stand pregnant. He was an only child and I only wanted one so that worked out pretty well. He could have someone that would continue his dynasty well after he had left the earth.

Well, that didn’t sit right with some of my family. Why? Because I was actually planning on being a single parent without accidentally getting knocked up? What was wrong with putting the choice in my own hands and not playing the “oops I am pregnant card”? I mean we both wanted a baby and we both wanted to make sure that our child was being born in and raised in a healthy environment. Our choice. Not society’s standards but ours.

It didn’t happen though. I got married at 27 and had a baby at 33 so obviously God had other plans. But, what about my sisters who don’t have those options? Should they be forced to forego motherhood in hopes that they will someday land a man worthy and responsible enough to be a father? Should you ask a male friend to be a donor with no connection to the baby? Should you enter into a gentleman’s (and woman’s agreement) to parent without titles other than mom or dad? In my opinion, it’s your choice. Motherhood, your womb and your fertility is not up to society to decide what’s right. Only you can do that.

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.

single-mothers

Simply Loving and Accepting

I read this great article entitled “If I have Gay Children” on the Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago and it made me smile. Not a simple “Aw, that’s cute smile”, but a genuine “Dang, another parent gets what I’ve always said” smile. The article is great because the Rabbi is saying that if I have gay children, I will simply love and accept them.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Just love and accept our children? I never really knew gay children growing up in a small town. Not saying that they didn’t exist, but it wasn’t something people came up and told me. But, it was in college that I really realized the depth of discrimination against gays. Especially from the very thing I loved the most…My church.

I grew up Southern Baptist which is different from regular Baptist. Southern Baptist is all fire and brimstone and everyone is going to hell type of preaching. Yep, that kind of scary Baptist preaching that had me quaking in my boots. There were tent revivals and a constant reminder to save ourselves for marriage and keep impure thoughts out of your mind or you’re going to burn in hell.

Well, when I moved to Maryland I was introduced to being a regular Baptist. Not fire and brimstone preaching but of God’s grace, mercy and never ending love. The agape love that will leave you wanting for nothing. That is where I learned that there is nothing in the world that I could do that would sever the relationship between me and God.

I realized that I didn’t like fire and brimstone preaching and preferred God’s encompassing love preaching. It was where I was ashamed that the religion that introduced me to a wonderful God who loved when I let my light shine bright also would disown me were gay. I was heartbroken.

I swore that I would never worship at a place that would treat anyone in such a manner. I would be vocal in my disdain for preaching that taught and fueled hate instead of God’s love. I would make sure that if I ever had children that I would love the beautiful gift that God gave me and never make them feel as though their homosexuality is a curse. Because it is not.

So, I will thank the author for expressing what I feel should my son be gay. Because there is nothing and I mean NOTHING that will stop me from loving him. I am his mother and that will never change. I will hold his hand until he tells me to let go. I will comfort, console, stand up and defend him because if he’s gay, ya’ll will know because I will blog about it. No embarrassment. Just unfailing love for this beautiful boy.

Here’s my list…

1) If my son is gay, oh well. I will proudly rock the rainbow and stand by him because he is still the same child I carried in my womb and told God that I would give to Him should he let him be born. Now, what color should I wear to the gay pride parade because momma is coming.

2) If my son is gay, he will still go to church. I have one of the best darn churches in the world. I love my church family and I can’t imagine my son growing up somewhere different. But, if he should ever leave our church, it won’t be because he’s disowned or made fun of. It’s because he feels that God has anchored his spirit in another wonderful house of worship.

3) If my son is gay, I will still be his number one fan. I pray for my son every day multiple times throughout the day. I am his biggest fan. I rally for any and all things munch. Constant, vocal and loud, this will never change. Get used to it.

5) If my son is gay, it still means that he still must be of service. Service is the fundamental thing that we’re called to do. It is in everything I teach him. We are by God’s grace able to afford this or that. Others may not, but you need to remember that Matthew 20:28 (NLT) says that “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” So, what will you give?

I loved his list and I hope you like my modified list. I am truly blessed and overwhelmingly grateful for my son and I can’t imagine raising a young man in a hate filled nation or environment. I know he would never choose to be gay and if he’s gay, he’s gay now, but so what? He’s still mine and I’m still the happiest and luckiest mother in the world.

Depression and Loss

Depression is no laughing matter. Hearing of the suicide of one of my favorite comedians, Robin Williams reminded me of how I suffered with depression when I had my son. It was private and painful. Very few people knew. I was embarrassed.

Most people who are suffering from some form of depression don’t tell. It’s a big secret unless something like suicide occurs. Suicide takes over 30,000 Americans each year and over half of those occur in adult men between the ages of 25-65. The strongest rate factor for suicide is depression. Depression is serious folks. It is a mood disorder. Save.org states that “Basically, here’s how it works: the nerves in our brain don’t touch each other, but rather pass messages from one to the next through chemicals called neurotransmitters. We need just the right amount of this chemical between the nerves to pass the exact same message to the next nerve. If there isn’t enough of that chemical, the message doesn’t get passed along correctly and in this case, depression or a depressive illness can result. When it comes to depressive disorders the chemicals most frequently out of balance are serotonin and norepinephrine.”

Worldwide, it is estimated that some 121 million people suffer from some form of depression. It’s serious, not only because of Robin Williams, but for all the men and women who are suffering. Did you know that African-Americans are more likely than any other race to suffer depression? How about the fact that women have higher depression rates than men? I was shocked when I read those statistics.

Why? Because it was a reminder that no one is immune to depression. When I delivered my son, six years ago, I had no idea what post partum was or why I would be experiencing it. Why me? I had done everything in my power to keep my baby inside my womb until they had to take him early. I did everything the doctor’s said, but it was a couple of days later when the reality of his birth hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt sad, tearful, despairing, discouraged, overwhelmed, and alone. I didn’t know why. I wanted my munch, but I felt helpless. I had a lot of anxiety on whether or not he would love me or if I could do it. I was embarrassed.

It was my doctor who noticed what I was going through and explained it to me in the simplest form: When we removed the placenta, your hormones plummeted. Your body is trying to re-adjust. I couldn’t stop crying. He gave me a prescription for Zoloft to help with the transition. That depressed me even more. I sat in the hospital afraid of being released. My munch didn’t like latching on to me as I breastfed and it was overwhelming. Why didn’t he want my milk? What was wrong with me? Nothing, I just didn’t know the level of this depression.

It took me a few months to get back to my “normal self” or whatever that was. I was embarrassed for many years after that. Embarrassed because I had never known any black woman to have suffered from postpartum depression. You know the “strong black woman” mantra that young black women are taught limited my ability to understand that I needed help. But, I never took for granted the fact that I had a great doctor who was proactive in helping me. He helped stabilize my moods.

My story isn’t the same as Robin’s but depression links us all. I will mourn the loss of an incredible actor that manifested brilliance in every scene. I will watch the replays of Robin’s films and I will laugh. I will cry. I will remember. Remember a man who said in one of my favorite movies, “Good Will Hunting”:

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”

RIP - Robin Williams
RIP – Robin Williams

MLK Weekend

Today is my first day back at work after observing MLK’s birthday yesterday. It was a low key day. I mostly slept and then went grocery shopping. We don’t sale shop during his birthday out of respect for one of the greatest men that ever lived. We remembered and talked politics. Mostly the economy, the baby and the upcoming move. I realize now that I am pregnant, anything pops into my head and I want to discuss it. I can’t seem to retain information for long periods of time either.

Rewind…
My name is Tikeetha and I have been married for about 5 1/2 years to Lydell “aka” Lee Thomas. Thus, after much force I took his last name. Actually, it wasn’t bad, Lee stated that he wanted his last name on my name somewhere. He didn’t care if I hyphenated or changed my last name entirely. He wanted everyone to know that I was a married woman. It was crazy because he acted like you couldn’t see the big ring on my finger. So, after 5 1/2 years of marriage, Lee and I find ourselves being able to reproduce. We are still astonished that God has granted us this ability. We just found out that we are expecting a boy this May. I knew I was having a son, however, Lee was in denial. He insisted that we were having a girl, because genetically, every female in my family up through my grandmother had given birth to a girl. That was a lie, but I let him believe it. Even when my grandma did her famous “hand test” to determine I was having a boy, he was still in denial. He harassed her and wanted statistical information to the fact that she had predicated sexes of babies in our family for years. He wanted her to admit that she has been wrong and to indicate that her test doesn’t have a 100% accuracy rate. I couldn’t believe it. So, when I happily found out that we were having a boy, I called Granny to let her know. She was tickled pink. She said, “I knew it was a boy, I just didn’t want to hurt Lee’s feelings”.

Fast Forward to 3 days ago…
Lee and I had dinner with some friends. I love this time because I enjoy telling his friends the harassing and embarrassing things he tells me so that they can laugh at him. So, over dinner I begin to tell them how my husband comes to me a few days earlier to indicate that the thinks he has Lou Gehrig’s aka “ALS” disease. After laughing in hysteria for almost 10 minutes, I asked him what makes you think you have Lou Gehrig’s disease? He said, “I was researching on the web and I think I have the symptoms”. Now, here is an excerpt from an article off of webmd that indicates what ALS is:

 

“Over a period of months or years, ALS causes increasing muscle weakness, inability to control movement, and problems with speaking, swallowing, and breathing. The first sign of ALS is usually slight weakness in one leg, one hand, the face, or the tongue. Other problems may include increasing clumsiness and difficulty performing tasks that require precise movements of the fingers and hands. Frequent muscle twitching may occur. The weakness slowly spreads to the arms and legs over a period of months or years. As the nerves continue to waste away and decrease in number, the muscle cells that would normally be stimulated by those nerves also start to waste away, and the muscles weaken.
It is important to remember that having muscle weakness, fatigue, stiffness, and twitching doesn’t necessarily mean that you have ALS.”

 

I asked Lee, how long have you been feeling this way, “about a week”. I said “Ok, you are now over 30, overweight and have no desire to workout, so could it just be that you are experiencing a fatigue with your weight?” He said “maybe”. So over dinner, I bring up the Lou Gehrig’s disease and everyone is laughing at him like he has two heads. Once the laughter dies down, the question again is asked why do you think you have Lou Gehrig’s disease. He answers, “When you are having a child, you start to think about your immortality and the pains in your body. You won’t think it’s funny if it comes back that I have it.” My husband is impossible. Please pray for me as I continue to document my path from “A Thomas Point of View”.