I love my daughter but…

When growing up, I always heard the terms “daddy’s girl” and “mama’s boy” when speaking on the relationships of mother’s, father’s and their children. For me, it was always so hard to choose. I loved both of my parents so much I didn’t understand how you could be more of one than the other. As I grew older, I learned that being a “mama’s girl” or “daddy’s boy” wasn’t an intentional thing, but more of a natural connection. No one is intentionally choosing to grow closer to their mother than their father, it naturally happens.

When I became a parent the first time, I soon learned what it meant to be on the other side of “mommy’s little girl” and “daddy’s girl.” In the early years, maybe up until three, our daughter Taniya loved her some mommy. My husband was the love of her life and favorite person to play with, but when it came to me… I was the apple of her eye. As she grew older, my husband soon turned into her favorite person. Quick side note, her grandparents are on a whole different level when it comes to people she loves. My husband and I know our place lol.  But when it comes to us as her parents, it’s “I’m daddy’s baby, mommy’s crazy.”

I thought it was cute and loved that she could see no wrong when it came to her father. My father was deceased when I gave birth to her so it was heartwarming to see her enjoy the love of my husband. Eventually, what I once thought was cute began to transform into irritation as the years flew by. I started to notice my daughter intentionally choosing my husband over me.

Since my baby had to spend a lot of time away from her dad due to work, I sympathized with her. For example, when he came home from the road I would put myself on the back burner in order for her to spend as much time with her dad as she could before it was time for him to leave again. Their bond would continue to grow while he was out on the road, but it was through their experiences with one another in person, that made them inseparable. It was beautiful to me! During this time, she and I had no issues. She and I were tight like a corset, and she was able to still have a strong relationship with her father.

Things began to change in October of 2017 when we gave birth to our second daughter. Although there was a six-year gap between the two, I knew the baby’s presence in the world would bring about mixed emotions and behavior from Taniya. She was an amazing help, loved Jayla dearly, but also had to share the attention. She was also growing and learning herself more since she was in her first year of grade school. I soon began to hate age six, while my husband loved it. Of course he did! She loved, respected him, played with him, and he didn’t spend all day with her. When it came to me? I received the back talk, terrible listening, shifts in attitude and more. I tried my hardest with gentle parenting and being super understanding to her having to learn the new dynamic in our household. I understood that for six years I belonged to her, but I grew to a point where I was fed up. I believe my daughter viewed me as inferior to my husband. Like he was the only person she needed to respect. It was upsetting because I thought that I would have this struggle when she was a teenager, not six!

Fast forward to June of 2018… After a year of being a local driver, my husband and I felt it was okay for him to head back over-the-road to drive long distance. Taniya is in her final months of being 6 years old at this point. He left on a Monday, we went to visit South Carolina with my in-laws that Friday. When I tell you my daughter LOST. HER. MIND!!! I mean literally lost it.

I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. I kept censoring myself and trying to be kind since my in-laws were around. I wanted her to be able to enjoy them. But I soon learned that she thought she could get away with her disrespectful tone because they were present. It was so noticeable that my in-laws ended up addressing it also. On the last day of our visit, I almost turned Cracker Barrel upside down. Every time I corrected my daughter she had a rebuttal, and I had to repeat myself 7 times before she would finally do what I told her to do. I saw RED! In order to keep my cool, I let her sit with her grandparents while I went to nurse Jayla. I began to calm down as I nursed, but I felt myself shut down from my own child. I didn’t want to talk to or be around her.

I genuinely loved my daughter, but I didn’t like her. I felt disrespected, unappreciated and unloved. I know that sounds crazy. I’m the parent, and children will be children. But I was already in a vulnerable state. My husband just left and I was on my own with TWO kids this time. I was still battling bouts of postpartum depression, and I was honestly used to Taniya and I clinging and working together when it was just us. I was completely caught off guard and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to punish her for responding to the departure of her father, but I couldn’t let her continue to act out the way she was. I tried not to bother my husband with the drama because he literally just left 5 days ago at this time, but I called him and let him know everything. I told him very calmly that I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy, but I had checked out. What was supposed to be a nice getaway was ruined. He was appalled. He immediately said, “Put her on the phone.”

My feelings were so hurt when I heard her responses to his questions. My daughter completely dismissed all that I did for her and sung all the praises to my husband. She would be willing to do the tasks, but would rather my husband told her to do them. I was flabbergasted! My efforts to make sure that Taniya respected and loved my husband when he came home turned into her thinking that she should only listen to him. I would never turn her against him, but how?! I did and do everything! I mean everything! When my husband isn’t home, I operate as a single mother for up to 2 months at a time. How dare she make me invisible?! To my surprise, my husband felt the same way. He was so disappointed in her actions.

It took me 4 days to gain back control of our situation. I was battling with having a pure dislike for my daughter. I felt like a bad mother for not liking my own child. But I chalked it up to this. Although I was the adult in the situation, my relationship with my daughter is an extremely important one. Whenever any person feels mistreated in a relationship, they feel hurt. I felt mistreated by my daughter. I had to let her know that although she is a “daddy’s girl,” it doesn’t mean she has to choose one parent over the other. I wanted her to remember that her mother and father were a team and she had to accept us as the duo we are.

I also learned that I had to change-up my day, and maximize the time that I would spend with Taniya. Even though I needed Jayla’s nap times in order for me to get other things done, I had to use some of those times just for Taniya and I. It’s an ongoing process, but she and I are getting it together. This phase really allowed me to see that there is a lot that I need to work on as a mother.

We don’t always get it right!

Movies with the kids? Nope!

Like everyone else, my husband and I anticipated watching Black Panther on the big screen. It had been a long time since we had gone out and enjoyed ourselves as a family, so we decided to take the girls along. In addition, we really wanted our oldest daughter to see women and men with her skin color uplifted, shown as Queens and Kings… people of color being shown as heroes!

Huge mistake! 5 minutes into the movie, our youngest, who was 4 months at the time, had a vocal awakening. Every scene where there was no loud music or action, my baby said “it’s my time to shine, ACTION!” I’ve never heard that little girl talk so much until that moment. I had to stand up in order to quite her down a little. That didn’t happen until I nursed her about four times and she finally fell asleep 10 minutes before the movie ended. Yes, I stood the entire movie.

While I took care of the baby, Jayla, James took care of our 6-year-old, Taniya. His journey began 15 minutes into the movie. That’s when the first request for the bathroom happened. I believe she had to go a total of five times. Mind you, she will only ask a total of one time during a kids movie.

Whenever I had the chance to sit down, maybe five minutes at a time, I spent my time saying “Taniya, there is nothing to be scared about!” “Taniya, you have to watch the movie to see what happens.” “Taniya, it’s just a movie. These people are all actors.” “You better not cry!” I won’t say which parts made her emotional in order to not spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but in the last action part of the movie, homegirl started rubbing my back and shoulder. I thought she was rubbing and loving on me because I spent the movie standing and keeping Jayla quiet, but it was really her calming herself from being afraid. I accepted it regardless because her gentle touch helped soothe both her and I.

From what we saw of the movie, James and I thoroughly enjoyed. We agreed that we would leave the girls home next time and see the movie again, ALONE. For now, we’ll only be seeing kids movies as a family.

I wasn’t embarrassed at all during the movie experience though. Jayla was actually a great baby. I just didn’t want to ruin the experience for other movie goers with her constant baby talk and occasional cry for the breast and sleep.

While I wasn’t angry with Taniya, I was slightly annoyed. I couldn’t understand her fear. I couldn’t understand how she couldn’t see the value in that movie. If you actually sit and have a conversation with my daughter, you’ll understand why it’s easy to have high expectations on her way of thinking. I tried to explain the movie a little and it’s importance for the black community. Her response was, “Mommy, I just don’t like seeing evil and death. There were people being killed or almost dying and that scares me.” In that moment I was reminded of who my daughter was and how my husband and I raise her.

We shield Taniya from a lot of things because we believe that a child should cling onto their purity (mind, body and soul) and innocence for as long as they can. We share the truth with her in pieces as she matures. Black Panther was the first movie with violence that Taniya had seen. I was being selfish when I expected her to be okay with something she never experienced. She has attended only one funeral since being born, and she was so young she doesn’t remember. At this age, my husband and I have decided that when someone dies we won’t tell her unless she asks about that individual. So at the end of the day, she doesn’t witness death unless it happens in a kids movie.

Many people may not agree with our parenting method(s), but it works for us. Some people call it sheltering the child and creating a false image of reality, but we call it letting a kid be a kid. Our daughter is highly intelligent. She doesn’t ask questions suitable for a child her age. She has always asked questions that should be asked by someone 4-6 years older than her. So we like to let Taniya think and act (be) like a child as much as possible.

Who knew that a trip to the movies would be a learning lesson for a mom and dad? Well, besides the fact that you shouldn’t bring the kids to tag along for a movie you actually want to hear and see.

It’s still Wakanda forever though!

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…