Sincerely, A Black Mother…

I’ve been trying to write this blog post since I published my last post… Bear with me because I spent more time releasing my emotions rather than correcting my grammatical errors and sentence structures.

My last post (10 Ways to Make Reading Fun for Your Child) was posted on May 25, 2020. At that time, I had no idea that George Floyd had been murdered by four police officers that same day. We’d just learned about Ahmaud Arbery, and then soon after we’d learned about Breonna Taylor. Then came Rayshard Brooks…then came the news of Elijah McClain… all of the protests. Black men and women are being found hanging from trees and it’s being called suicide. For the record, history has proven that my people would never hang themselves from trees. So many of my Black brothers and sisters have been slain at the hands of white men and women. FOR GENERATIONS. My ancestors experienced this excruciating pain. My mother and uncles witnessed marches for freedom as young children. My father’s birth certificate identified him as “Colored.” I’m sure he witnessed a lot as well. There are too many to name who’ve had their lives snatched away from them by the very people who were sworn in to protect and serve our communities. Unfortunately, the pain doesn’t end there. My people are being neglected, mistreated, and killed in hospitals as well. Women are crying out and telling people about the pain they are experiencing only to be ignored and later die. Black men and women are being admitted into hospitals for treatments, but are treated poorly based on their insurance coverage or lack of insurance. Oh! And it doesn’t end there. Black women, men, and children can’t even sit in their homes or enjoy time with loved ones without being at risk of being murdered by people in their very own communities. The list goes on, but I’m exhausted.

I’m exhausted because I am not only a wife to a beautiful, strong, Black king who unfortunately has a target on his back, but I am also the mother of two beautiful Black princesses. I’ve seen so many women speak out about their fears of being mothers to Black boys, but it’s been heavy on my heart to share what it’s like to mother Black daughters. It is said that “Fear is not an attribute of the Lord,” but jeez! I’m telling you it’s very hard to not fear for my daughters these days.

Being the mother of Black daughters means praying that:

-Your daughter does not have to mourn or grieve the loss of her Black father due to violence or jail (wrongfully convicted because we know that has happened for generations).

-She doesn’t have to grow up without you due to medical professionals neglecting you before, during, or after your pregnancy with her or her sibling.

-She will never be mistreated or neglected by those very same medical professionals.

-Her virginity will never be stolen from her by a sick man or woman.

-She will not be subjected to sexual harassment or rape because she “shouldn’t have been alone,” or “should have dressed differently.”

-No one sexualizes your baby PERIOD.

-She won’t be kidnapped and put into human trafficking.

-She will live and have the ability to conceive and bear children.

-She will never be physically, verbally, mentally, or emotionally abused by an insecure, toxic man.

-She will never lose her voice because she doesn’t want to be perceived as angry, aggressive, or less than.

-She won’t be discriminated against because of the hue of her skin, or her natural curls.

-She will always find herself beautiful in a world that celebrates either being the size of a model or having a figure like a video vixen.

-She will love her hair regardless of the texture.

-She will be taken seriously, valued, and seen as an excellent contribution to any team, role, or business where a man normally finds his place easily.

-She will continue to love her name even though it’s not white enough for job application and interview sake.

-She won’t be a single mother because of violence brought upon her Black husband.

-She doesn’t have to deal with the pain of losing her Black child to the very same thing that your prayers kept her safe from.

-She will know her worth in a world that demeans and spits on Black women.

-She won’t encounter a racist child on the playground because of their hateful parents.

-She doesn’t hide her pain because she is supposed to be a strong Black woman.

-She celebrates her Blackness and womanhood ALWAYS.

-She doesn’t get murdered in her own home while sleeping, and the murderers still walk freely.

-She lives…

The list goes on and on…

Mothering Black children is one of the most beautiful and fulfilling things I’ve ever done, but it is also the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I’ve had so many tough conversations with my child and she is only 8. Why she can’t walk too far ahead of me, and never to walk behind me. I’ve coached her on how to watch my back when I’m strapping her and her sister into the car. How a man should never put his hands on her. How all police officers are not bad, and there are still some good ones out there. I’m constantly comforting her through her fears when her father leaves to go back to work in his truck to drive across a country that hates him. Trying to teach her that kind white people do exist when I’m teaching her History, although she’s witnessing the same murders and protests happening this very day. I’m constantly spewing love and affirmations into my girls to teach them to speak life into and over themselves now and forever.

Black mothers have to teach our children that they may hear terrible things or be mistreated simply because they are Black. Black mothers are steadily raising their children to hold their heads high and to always stand up for themselves. We still teach our children to love and respect others. I’m a God-fearing and loving woman, but let me tell you that is very hard to do. It’s so hard to keep a soft heart in such a cold world. Teaching your children to still love others requires you to steer clear of the hardness that is trying to make its way to your heart to make sure you raise a good human being. Whew!

I’m exhausted…

I’m praying over my daughters about things that I’m still praying about for myself, my sister, cousins, friends, and Black women across the world. I’m having conversations with my daughter about things that I’m still trying to digest and understand myself.

Sincerely, a Black mother.

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Am I Smart Enough to Homeschool My Child?

Earlier this year, my husband and I became more serious about moving to another state. The cost of living is way too expensive where we live, and my husband’s trucking career has grown to be a pain while living here. We couldn’t find a suitable parking space for his truck without having to pay a fee each night, get a parking citation, get towed, drive an hour and a half to and from a good truck stop, or settle for having his truck vandalized/broken into. I work from home, so the move wouldn’t hinder me. However; my fear of putting my child in a new school system grew.

I’m a planner. I am not the kind of person who moves away from my comfort zone, and then figure out where my child will attend school. I go crazy with my research and then like to visit the school(s) being considered. That process is super hard when you are considering multiple places to move to. It also becomes super expensive to travel and visit the school(s) in consideration. I began to feel like my apprehension about where our daughter would attend school was holding us back from being able to take the huge step of moving and getting a fresh start. That’s when the option of homeschooling came to mind.

Homeschooling wasn’t an option before because I knew nothing about it. The closest I came to being homeschooled was when I was out of school for a few months in elementary school with two broken wrists (fell off the monkey bars). I couldn’t remember meeting anyone who’d ever been homeschooled until I thought hard about it and remembered my husband was actually homeschooled for a short period of time. When I brought homeschooling up as an option, he immediately jumped on board. What was once an idea, became our reality.

I considered backing out a few times for different reasons. One being I didn’t understand how my daughter(s) would have social encounters with children their age. After more research, that thought was wiped out. Secondly, I didn’t know if I could handle being around my daughter 24/7. Read my post I love my daughter but… to see why. Lastly, and most recently, I wondered if I was smart enough to educate my daughter.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m confident that I am an intelligent woman. When I was in school, I maintained well above a 3.0 gpa, was on the honor roll nonstop, received countless awards, was a member of the National Honor Society, graduated from Penn State University with a major and minor (finished 7 months pregnant) and more. I excel when it comes to education overall, but when it comes to certain subjects, I struggle. I began to think about all of the subjects I’m great at, the ones that I can be great at, and those that I suck at. The biggest pain being math. Math never came easy to me, but once I understood it I was good to go. In school, I was able to get an A on an English exam that required me to write a one-page essay on a book I hadn’t read by simply looking at the way the question was formed. I graduated with a degree in print journalism and am the owner of my own editing and proofreading business (Queen Scribe Editing & Consulting). Math on the other hand— it intimidates me. My husband is the opposite of me and can calculate problems in his mind within seconds. Our oldest daughter shows signs of being advanced in both reading and math. Uggh. Numbers can be so intimidating.

The thought of my daughter surpassing my math skills frightened me. How would I teach her if she moved faster than I did? How would I teach her math courses that I’ve never learned? Statisitcs? Calculus? Would I have to enroll her back in school? Would my husband be able to teacher from the inside of his truck 1,000 miles away? I brought my insecurities to him and a solution I came up with. When we move on to math courses I know nothing about, I will purchase the math curriculum for it. This year I researched what the core curriculum was for reading and math, and created my own curriculum based on that information. I knew that there were workbooks and free online resources that I could use to help me. When math becomes a struggle, I’ll just purchase a curriculum.

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know my husband whipped me into shape QUICK! He empathized with me. He understood my concern. He disagreed with me though. He said, “Use that as your motivation to learn as she learns.” He continued, “You don’t know everything there is to know about science, but you’ll still be able to teach her, right?” He was right. I don’t know much about lizards, but it’s one of the animals we’ll be learning about. It’s a little overwhelming, but that’s where the excitement of homeschooling comes in. Not only do I get to teach my daughter, but we will have many opportunities to learn together. There will also be moments where she will be able to teach me something. That doesn’t mean I’m inadequate and unable to educate my daughter.

My husband reminded me that our child is the smart little girl she is today because of me. He said, “Yes, I help out a great deal when it comes to our children, but you do the bulk of the work.” He continued,

“You taught our daughter before she entered daycare and the school system. At the age of one our daughter knew her ABC’s, numbers through 10, sign language, shapes, colors, and spoke using small sentences. You did that, not me!”

I love him so much. He reminded me that I didn’t know American Sign Language when I taught our daughter. I taught myself, and would teach her afterwards. I was also reminded that with the right support system, homeschooling my children will be a success. Yes; there will be times when my daughter and I bump heads. Yes; there will be moments where I have to take a course or two and have late nights studying a subject before teaching my daughter. This is the road I have chosen, and I don’t see myself turning back. I am smart enough to homeschool my child.

I reached out to my friend who is a mathematics genius, educator and business owner. Cherre Jefferson holds a degree in Mathematics from Morgan State University. She is the owner of Self Is S.T.E.A.M. where she provides math tutoring (group and individual), math curriculum consulting and customized math lesson plans. She’s also a math teacher in the Baltimore public school system. When I reached out, she delivered. During our meeting, she actually gave me a mini tutoring session to help me with ways to teach the different math courses. I left feeling confident and with a game plan. Her rates are excellent, and her knowledge is outstanding. Please follow her Instagram page @self_is_s.t.e.a.m._ and visit her booking site at selfissteam.setmore.com/.

Gurley Academy officially begins September 10, 2018!! Pray for us.

Breaking Generational Curses Through Affirmations

For years I suffered from low self-esteem. It began when I started middle school and heightened in high school. During my first pregnancy it grew stronger, and after I gave birth, my low self-esteem issues had reached its peak. I remember crying every time my husband and I would discuss workout plans and weight-loss goals. I would start the conversation, but every time he agreed and continued the conversation with me, I thought that he viewed me the way that I viewed myself. I didn’t love myself and grew to a place where I hated mirrors, taking pictures and shopping. I knew my lack of self-esteem had gotten the best of me when I told my husband I no longer wanted to join our friends at a fight party because I didn’t want them to see me.

I remember watching MTV’s True Life a long time ago and it followed a girl who had body dysmorphic disorder. She looked completely normal, but when she looked in the mirror she saw someone totally different. That’s who I’d become. I would have one pimple on my chin, but saw a face full of pimples, dark spots and imperfections when I looked in the mirror. I would go through a series of outfits before finding one that didn’t make me look overweight. Once I finally met up with my friends, that one outfit I grew to like would turn into to a strong dislike because I didn’t feel it looked as good as my friends.

I’ll save the story of where my lack of self-esteem came from another day.

The way I saw myself began to take a toll on my marriage. Every complement my husband gave me, I rebutted with “you’re just saying that because you feel like you have to.” I would wear shirts to hide my postpartum belly during sex and cringed when I had to change in front of him. He noticed. He would try reassuring me that I was beautiful and that he loved me, but it didn’t make a difference. There wasn’t anything he could do. This was a “me thing” that I had to handle with God.

My breakthrough came after my first corporate fast with my ministry Queen Esther. It was a mixture of what I had been learning in my classes and the peace I gained from God during that fast that helped me. I cried from the relief, and prayed that no woman felt the way I once felt about myself. That meant I needed to start with my little girl. She witnessed my mess first hand, and I refused for it to be passed down to her and generations to come.

I started out validating her on a daily basis. Whenever she would become defeated in her abilities or seek compliments from others, I would reaffirm her. [Read my blog post Mommy I Can’t See, It’s Black to get some background on why it was important that I started her young with affirmations.] Once I noticed that she was great at memorization (between 2 and 3), I introduced affirmations. One of my downfalls was speaking negativity and failure over myself. I knew that the power of life and death was in our tongues so I began teaching my baby to speak over herself. To speak love and power over life. I knew she didn’t understand it just yet, but it was a start. Once she mastered writing legible English, that’s when I introduced writing the affirmations out. She was older so, once she wrote them out, we would talk about each one together.

Now at the age of 7, I simply tell my daughter to either write out 5 affirmations, or say them aloud. She knows that she must explain why she chose each affirmation. I stress to her the importance of not just saying the affirmations because mommy tells her to, but to believe in them. She is required to speak loud and clearly when telling me about herself. I do this because I want her to be confident when speaking the things she know to be true about herself. The feature picture for this post was our affirmation session from yesterday. I was proud for a number of reasons. First, she spelled each word correctly. Second, her handwriting wasn’t bad at all. Third, her reasons behind the affirmations.

  1. I am beautiful-“Because it’s my middle name and no one can make me feel ugly.”
  2. I am magic-“Because when I pray for people they feel better.”
  3. I am one of a kind-“Because just like snowflakes, I was made different from everyone else and I’m my own design.”
  4. I am cute-  “Because I’m adorable.”
  5. I am Taniya- “Because everyone else is taken, so it’s best being myself.”

My heart was so full. I’m still on a high. My baby get’s it. She’s understanding! I’m already changing the trajectory of the path my family was headed down. I’ve cried to my husband many times fearing that I would lead our daughters to destruction.  What I’m teaching my oldest daughter will surely rub off on my youngest. I am healing through raising my daughters, and proving myself to be an example. Yesterday, Taniya made me agree to give her a list of my own affirmations as well “so that I am reminded of how awesome I am.” You see that?… God is using my daughter to challenge me to continue to grow.

Lack of self-esteem was my own demon. I defeated it by not allowing it to trickle down to my children and generations to come. My job isn’t done yet though. There are other generational curses that stem from years of brokenness and lack of help in my family that I intend on breaking as well.

Jada Pinkett-Smith mentioned on her show Red Table Talk, that our children will need therapy regardless. I’m hoping that my children’s therapy sessions are simply ways for them to vent and sort through their thoughts. Not because I failed to show them that they are enough. Not because I failed to show them that they are important, and that their words and feelings mean something.

I hope that this helps someone 🙂