Shame On Me…

I recently read an Instagram post from a fellow mom blogger by the name of @mayavorderstrasse. She addressed “mommy shaming,” and it was SO good. In a nutshell, another mother shamed Maya for having enough time to pose for pictures with her twins, and said that she was a real mother because of not having the time of day with having eight children. One of my favorite parts of Maya’s response was “Don’t contribute to a judgmental & hateful culture that destroys women’s self-esteem and confidence. You don’t know their story.”

From the outside looking in, I saw an overwhelmed mom in desperate need of support who allowed her cry for help to turn into negativity toward another mother. I saw a mom who couldn’t understand how another mother had so much “free” time on her hands in order to stage an at-home photo shoot. A mother who couldn’t understand how someone could make motherhood look so easy when her world is filled with constant screaming, crying, feeding, toys, homework and more! She didn’t realize that in the mist of her negative feelings toward her personal experience with motherhood tore down another woman pushing through her own motherhood struggles. It appeared as if she was trying to uplift herself and commend herself on how great she is at managing a household of eight kids, but put down another mom in the process. That’s not the way to go about it, but I honestly can not blame that woman for feeling the way that she did. Now, she could have had self-control and kept her words/feelings to herself, BUT I too know how it feels to compare your journey to someone else’s. In my thoughts, I want to say that mom followed Maya on Instagram because she originally loved the content on her page, but she had a moment.

I decided to blog about this because I’ve noticed that mother’s not only struggle with shaming other mothers, but majority of the time we shame ourselves. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard mothers, young and old, say “I’m not doing enough,” “I wish I could do more for my baby,” “I feel like I’m never there for my baby because I’m always at work.” So when you go on social media and see women doing all the things you wish you could, or living the life you can only dream of, you find yourself in the dark hole I like to call the comparison trap. I’ve more recently found myself thinking the following: “Do you know how lucky you are to even be a mother?” “You better not cry, there are women crying and begging God to bless them with children.” “There are moms that wish they could have this much time with their children, but they’re either sick or dead, and you’re irritated? The nerve!” I’ll stop there before I get carried away, but you get the picture.

This week alone I found myself wondering if other mothers feel like they can truly express their irritation with their child(ren) and their desperate need of “me time,” without fearing they have hurt or offended someone who wishes they were in their shoes. It’s hurts me to say this, but I’ll be honest. I almost got mad at a non-existent situation. I told myself “It’s not fair if a woman who has experienced loss or can not conceive makes me feel bad for what I’m going through. It’s rude because I already sympathize with her as a woman and mother, so I shouldn’t feel more guilty about my life.” The crazy thing is that my thoughts were not directed to ANYONE! It was my imagination. But even in that moment, I started to shame a woman who did not exist. A woman who had her own struggles. I shamed the imaginary woman who was hurting deep down inside because I felt guilty about not seeing the stars, unicorns and rainbow when I was interacting with my children. In a matter of minutes I shamed myself and another woman because of my own insecurities. I judged that woman. I probably destroyed the self-esteem and confidence that she worked so hard at re-building after her struggle.

I apologized to her, and I hope that imaginary woman accepted my apology.  I never meant to make her feel bad about her hurtful situation. I said those things out of fear. I personally felt like I needed to like (I always love my children, but sometimes I don’t like them *Kanye Shrug*) my kids all the time because I feared that I would lose them and wish that I had never felt an ounce of frustration toward them.

I really am a work in progress. I like to call myself a masterpiece that will never be finished. There will always be a part of me that will need a little more work. I’m pretty sure there are women who have been reading my blog and are thinking “I would have NEVER known she thought about herself in that way.” That’s what we do. But like Maya said, you don’t know my story. That picture you see on social media is a reflection of a moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m intentional about being happy and looking at my life with a positive view and optimism, but you never know what truly goes on behind that lens. It’s just a matter of perception.

As women, as mothers, and as wives, we have to remember that we are not in competition with one another. We are a part of this exclusive society that allows us to give and receive nourishment from one another. Instead of looking at another woman’s happiness and getting upset because that’s not you, tell yourself that you’re going to be intentional about living a happier life. Remember that happiness is a choice. Rather than add negativity to another woman’s struggle because of your own insecurities, reach out and connect with that woman. You don’t know how beneficial you two could be to one another. I love each and every woman who reads this post, and I apologize in advance to anyone who I may have hurt or offended with my honesty. Please know that I am not a monster, I’m just human.

I love you Queens!

 

To Cover Up or Not to Cover up?

Let’s me just start by saying, breastfeeding is wonderful. Despite the many questions and negativity that surrounds it, I love it. “Does it hurt?” “That doesn’t feel sexual to you?” “I can’t have no baby sucking on my boob, it’s just weird.” I’ve heard it all and I’m still pro-boobie. Why? My top three reasons: (1) It’s the most healthiest thing to give your baby. (2) It’s free. (3) I don’t have to shake and warm a bottle every time my baby is hungry.

My goal was to nurse my 6-year-old until she was 6 months. That didn’t work out and I ended up supplementing with formula around 4 months. This time around, I intend on nursing for an entire year or more. I’m confident I’ll be able to accomplish that since I’m more educated and experienced this time around.

My only issue is breastfeeding in public. The goal of many moms around the world is to normalize breastfeeding. I am SO for it. I believe every women should be comfortable nursing her child without being “sexualized” or called disrespectful and disgusting for nursing in public. With that being said, every nursing mom has her preference.

I nurse in public all the time, but I prefer to be covered. I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with strangers being able to see my breast. I just prefer to have as much privacy as possible. My definition of being covered means my shirt is covering my breast or I have a blanket/nurse cover to cover my baby and I. On the other hand, my daughter gets very wild and shows the world my breast anyway and I suck that up lol. I’m blessed in the breast department so I’m pretty sure someone has gotten a show plenty of times, but it didn’t worry me.

I decided to quickly blog about this for a little relief. Not to down women who use formula or women who don’t cover up while breastfeeding, but for ME. This week alone I’ve had two nightmares where I was nursing in public and a man-made me feel very uncomfortable. I don’t know where it’s coming from so instead of being silent, I’ve decided to release it and move forward.

I’ve felt stuck in the middle for quite some time, but now I know what I’m comfortable with and stand firm in my decision. Some nursing women will look at you crazy for covering yourself up, and others along with people who don’t nurse will judge for not being covered. It all comes down to what is best for you and your baby. Nothing else matters! More recently I’ve been growing more comfortable with the process and relief of not having to hold a nursing cover in place from my wild child. My goal is to focus on letting that mommy milk and love flow.

Daddy Woes

Since I was a little girl, my parents did their best to protect me from the horrors of the world. That included the horrors of our family and household as well. Like I said, they did their best, but it wasn’t too long before I would find out that my father had an addiction to drugs. To be honest, I can’t even remember how I found out. I’ll probably remember when I finally commit to going to therapy and blog about it lol.

Nevertheless, my father was amazing! He was what every great father is to his daughter. The apple of her eye… the love of her life… her king. His name was Bobby. He was an amazing cook, artist, guitar player and more. He was absolutely amazing with his hands. He could handle all things electric, plumbing, building and more. He actually helped rebuild my elementary school’s playground. He was a high school drop out, but committed and received his diploma my sophomore year of high school. That man LOVED his girls ( my mother, sister and I) as well as the family that we took in. We spent so much time together that I didn’t notice anything “different” about my father. I remember when he wasn’t home, my mother would say “daddy had to go out-of-town to handle business for work.” It didn’t click until I was writing this sentence that there was no way my father could have been out of town for work when he was at home with me all time. When he wasn’t at home, he worked at my elementary school. Where was he going that no one else was going?

So that was some of the good! I gave you that first because in my opinion, it outweighed the bad. I’m confident that my mother and sister feel the same way. But my father’s drug addiction definitely changed my life in many ways. I won’t get too deep into it right now. I’ll blog about it more another day AND you can read it in my book when I stop backing out and write it lol.

Once I knew he was on drugs, I guess you can say I became “woke.” When he was around things felt so right, but it was when he would be gone for three days or a week that would kill me. I worried every day that my father wasn’t home that he was hurt or dead and i would never see him again. I became severely attached to my mother because I didn’t want her to be hurt, but I was still attached to my father because we did so much together. I mean I literally had to argue with this man to stop walking me to the bus stop before I entered high school. Now I understand more than ever why he didn’t want to stop. So when my father died, I lost a part of me. I was confused. I felt like I didn’t get enough of him because I had to share a lot of our time with the streets or rehab. I often wonder if he died thinking I was mad or disappointed in him. My attachment gained a new friend… Abandonment.

My husband was with me through a portion of the experience. I kept it a secret as long as I could. Things got so bad at home I broke up with him in the 9th grade. I had to choose between him or my grades, and my parents expected nothing but A’s and B’s. He kept asking, “was it something I did wrong?” My answer was so cliché. “It’s not you, it’s me!” He said “tell me what’s wrong, what’s going on?” I spilled the beans. “My father is a drug addict!” I yelled. He replied, “that’s it?!” He then chuckled. “I thought it was something bad, like somebody died. My father does drugs too!” We crack up about that conversation til this day. But after my husband found out, that’s when my attachment to him began to form. It got really intense when my father passed away. I never wanted to leave my husband’s side. That’s why him becoming a truck driver crushed me. He couldn’t understand why I would cry so much when he had to go. It was like PTSD or something. I would feel abandoned by him leaving and constantly afraid that something would happen to him. Just as I did with my father. My oldest daughter would cling to me because she knew I was sad. Just as I did with my mother. I remember when she was two, she told my mother “my mommy’s eyes are broken” because I had been crying so much.

I clung to how great my father was though. I expected my husband to be great just like him, but to take it up a notch. This wasn’t a problem for my husband because he’s naturally a great husband and father. It was our age that created an issue. We did everything SO young. We fell in love young (14), had our first child young (21), got married young (23) and have been building as a family in our youth. Since we moved into “adulthood” pretty fast, I expected my husband to jump into gear and get it all right. My expectations of my husband were so high, it was crazy. In my mind, there was no room for mistakes. I didn’t see my father make any besides his drug addiction. Since my husband didn’t have a drug addiction, there shouldn’t have been anything holding him back. He already placed pressure on himself and I made it worse by setting a bar too high for him to reach. He hadn’t had enough time to learn and grow.

When I discovered that I was placing my daddy issues on my husband, I couldn’t stop apologizing. I felt terrible. Not for what I went through, but for what I put him through.

It is vital that we take a look at our childhood and life experiences when approaching relationships. That includes friendships as well. An individual will never know why drinking and smoking bothers you if you don’t tell them addiction runs in your family, and you’re terrified the same will happen to you. That’s just an example. There are so many hidden secrets we have, and hurt/pain that we haven’t uncovered because we don’t like to visit those dark places. Our relationships, especially our marriages and relationships with our children will not be healthy if we don’t tackle our deep issues. This doesn’t mean hold onto your hurt and pain, it means deal with it so that you may move past it.

I’m still a work in progress…