Freedom: An absolutely fictional story that has nothing to do with my life. Month 7 of 365 days…

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I just had my 3rd baby and this has been the most peaceful post-partum period I’ve ever experienced.

Let me explain…

Apparently I have some type of predisposition for getting wrapped up in abusive relationships.

Yes.  I said abusive relationships.

I am in the middle, or beginning, of a divorce from my husband of 5 years–a relationship that, from the outside looking in, so many people expressed their admiration of us: We look great together.  Our children are amazing.  We are in medical school together (yes, we because our entire family put itself aside to support the “head of the household’s” dreams).  We are on our way to a promising and beautiful future.  I thought.

So when my 8 months pregnant ears hear across the phone: “I’m sending the kids to Michigan (we were currently living in California)…I’m also quitting school and moving to Michigan…the kids are already on a plane to Michigan…” I lose it a little.

It is already troubling enough that I’m on the other end of the phone because I have been unofficially kicked out, or forced out of our house because I refused to accept yet another “apology” for yet another bought of supposed stress-induced hostility directed, yet again, at me.  There is only so much:

“you ain’t shit”, “you ain’t as valuable as you think you are”, “you need to do more around the house”, “clean more”, “cook more”, “bring in money”, “you’re being selfish working and leaving me with the kids so quit your job”, “you didn’t ask if you could buy those $10 pillows”…

There are only so many times your quality as a mother can be called into question whenever you have the audacity to want to take a nap, or pursue life goals, or attempt to keep your sanity by walking away from another crying baby because for 2 years straight, you’ve 24/7/365 been on round the clock, non-stop duty.

Only so many times you can be pushed, screamed at, discredited, belittled, degraded, called names, be ignored…

before “I’m sorry” just becomes irritating and flat out insulting.

…and this man on the other end of this phone…speaking to me like he’s addressing some hoe off the street…not his wife…not pregnant with his 3rd child…not the mother of these children he’s taken it upon himself to ship off…

What the fuck just happened?  How the fuck did I end up here?  Has this all been a dream?  Who the fuck did I marry and where the fuck have I been while I’ve apparently been oblivious to who I’ve been sleeping with?

Why is he so angry at me?  And why does it seem like he’s putting effort into making sure I suffer?  I mean, it’s one thing to leave me.  It’s one thing to leave me while I’m pregnant.  But to sneak and ship my kids away without even slightly considering me…to keep my keys from me so I can’t enter OUR residence at will…to tell me the shit ain’t mine cause I don’t pay the bills, to call the police and file a report against me…to take my engagement ring (months ago) and let me believe I had lost it…to then get on the road himself and, as promised, move to Michigan…without my ass…and still without giving me a key…so I’m just homeless and car-less in California for no good reason…to leave me jobless because I stayed home with his kids while he pursued what I thought was his dream…to watch me, for months, spend the only money I had (a tax return from babysitting to make some extra money) on toys, childcare (that he promised to pay for), clothing for the kids and investments in my start-up business…and then just leave…WHILE I’m pregnant.

 

What…the fuck…just happened? Because of the time sensitivity and intensity of the situation, I didn’t really have much time to answer that question.  I obviously had more pressing shit to do.

A million tears, a few significant blessings, and a couple of flights and stacks of paperwork later and my kids, my mom, and I get back to California.

And the question arises again…”what the fuck just happened?”

I realize…

I’ve been in bondage.  In this hazy, foggy bondage dressed up as marital and maternal “submission”.  One that led me to believe I had to shrink who I am to be a perfect wife and mother…because once I became both, surely that was all I ever needed to be, right? That’s where all my focus and energy should go, right?

I remember feeling guilty for wanting to work; like any time I spent outside of home took away from his time to study.  I remember feeling responsible for figuring out every way I could make life easier…for him. I remember pushing my pregnant body to find work to bring in extra income or to take multiple babies on outings (or out the damn state) to give him study time or just breaks.  Or pushing my post-partum body to clean…stress about the cleaning I couldn’t do, or sleeping on the couch in the front room with a newborn while he slept in the bed so we wouldn’t disturb him with night feedings or diaper changes.

I remember feeling worthless, and disgusting, and inadequate, and weak because I couldn’t perform quick enough, or bounce back quick enough, or lose weight quick enough, or console myself and accept my isolation and my demotion to this apparent chosen confinement with enough grace and dignity.

So many ill emotions, situations, and thoughts that I’ve submitted myself to.

That’s what the fuck happened.

I not only let myself go…but I gave myself away…to my marriage, to my husband, to my kids, to my ideals…I just gave myself away and before I knew it, I had completely disappeared.

 

But I’m back, Honey.

And I’m free.

And now that I realize where I’ve been, this period of post partum, so far, has been drastically different and nowhere near as daunting.

I am free.

Free to relax, to move slowly, and to take my time and actually heal.

Free to explore myself and finish discovering who, in addition to being an amazing mother, I want to be.

I’m surrounded by love and support and peace.

So much peace.

*exhale*

And, so far…let me tell you, that really has made all the difference.

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Look to Your Children…Another Day of 365

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Of all the advice I’ve been given regarding parenting:
-Let your baby cry.
-Don’t hold them all the time.
-Discipline them.
-Take them to church.
-They will try and control you if you let them.
-Take time for yourself.
-Don’t have any.
-Parenting is the hardest job.
-Kids take your life.
…etc.

NO ONE–not ONE. SINGLE. PERSON. has advised:
-Love your children.
-Hold them and kiss them when they cry.
-Speak gently to them and take care to handle their feelings warmly.
-Play with them and thank God for blessing you with the opportunity.
-Teach them everything you know.
-Allow them to teach you and push you to learn new things.
-Respect and value them.
-Listen to them.
-Do not provoke them to wrath.
-Deal with your residual issues from your own childhood so you don’t pass them on.

While the advice I have been given is in some ways valuable, it is incomplete, and is, furthermore, secondary.
Maybe this speaks more to the culture around the parenting/children and adult relations of my roots, but all my life the topic and idea of children and child-rearing has been saturated with nothing but negative feelings and complaints:

You announce you’re pregnant and people (mostly elders) feel sorry for you, get nervous, worry, and verbally wonder if “you’re ready”.
…and then you have children, you’re on your own because raising them and even assisting and guiding you in raising them is nerve-wracking to those same elders, and you’ve only been forewarned to dread and fear and lament the day and…big surprise–you’re not “ready”.

…and then you find yourself inside of the same repeat cycle of complaining, lamenting and neglecting your children because you’re overwhelmed by the task that no one around you can encourage, teach or guide you through.

…and then you have a mental, physical, and spiritual break-down.
…and everyone is surprised.
…or excited.
…or worse–thrilled because you are confirmation that they were right–and that no matter how beautiful your family appeared…no matter how hard it seemed you were trying …no matter how happy and healthy your children seem…you can’t do it either.

Well, I’ve since realized a few things:
1) It is only damn near impossible if you’re doing it alone because, and I don’t care who tries to pretend otherwise, it wasn’t meant to be done alone. Those same elders who refuse to, or can’t help for whatever number of reasons they come up with, had mamas, sisters, aunties, friends–somebody they depended on to help them care for (and in some cases) raise their children. So, you know, miss me with your judgments.

2) Even with help, the task is yours and only becomes more difficult if you try to avoid it. So…you know…you have to just grow the [bleep] up and do it.

3) (and this is most important) You know what REALLY makes it easy? Loving it…and loving your children (and your spouse if you have one).

Yes.

Finding joy in the blessing of being chosen and able to reproduce parts of yourself and extend your name and your legacy makes it easi[er]. Sending time with your children, getting to know them, accepting and cultivating who they are and who they can grow to be, makes it rewarding. Belly-laughing at the darndest things they say and do, and seeing parts of them that are undeniably you (even when you wish you could deny them) makes parenting fun.

So yeah…

if you’re isolated and alone and getting negativity or silence around your parenting journey–it’s hard and not always fun. But if there is anyone in your life who is responsible to you: parent, grandparent, guardian–then they owe it to you to help you and you owe it to yourself to make them if you have to. Trust me, somebody helped them with you. Remember all those nights at grandma’s house? All those summer visits with aunt so and so? Straight up LIVING WITH someone else? Yeah, you remember.

If you’re sitting your child in a corner watching the clock and waiting, hoping, praying that time will just speed by and make them not need you–it’s going to be miserable.

Time will not speed by,

they will always need you,

and you are always obligated to help them because they are always yours.

This is your life now.

The end.

You only risk them hating you because you haven’t loved them as you should (and the day will come where they will express this to you in word and/or deed), you risk not knowing your own children because you haven’t raised them, and you risk having some generally effed up kids…who become effed up people…who become effed up citizens contributing to an effed up world.

…and then you know, you’ll be even more miserable and depressed because now you’ve riddled yourself with all these regrets and if you can’t deal with them because they’ve piled onto all the other regrets you haven’t dealt with in your life, not only will you have been a horrible parent (because just pushing them out and keeping them breathing does not automatically make you a good one), but you’ll probably be a horrible grandparent too (more regret, etc, etc.).

So, yeah…

To avoid this slippery slope of sadness, anger, regret, and depression, just love your kids…or seriously… don’t have any…but if you do, know that you’ve been chosen, and that the most important part of the responsibility of the forward progression of humanity is up to you.

That ain’t nothin’ to play with.

Insecure: Day…I lost count…of 365…

​I made a god of men…

In general when the topic of being a wife to a husband emerges, the words “submit” “head” and “king” usually float around in there somewhere. The words are different and the cocktail of uses vary but they all give the same message: He [your husband] is God. He is more important than you. Live for his approval. Do what he says.
In the course of one of our conversations my own husband advised me to seriously evaluate my relationship with my father and how it affects my relationship with him. At first i was hesitant abd quite frankly, a little offended. “Excuse me? I don’t have ‘daddy issues'”.

After I calmed down and got over myself I thought about it and I cried. I allowed myself to be honest and I allowed myself to be hurt and mad at him –all things I had never done.

“You abandoned me.”

“Why didn’t my existence make you want to stay?”

“Why couldn’t you just love my mother?”

“What good reasons did you have?”

And even “how dare you be dead and not answer me???”

I’m pretty much left with a gap with a question mark in it when it comes to what a father and husband does.
After a couple more days and a more sober, less emotional evaluation of myself, I’ve further come to realize that all this time I’ve been filling that “gap” with men I’ve been in relationships with. Doing everything with them in mind. Seeking their approval even over my own fulfillment.
My husband has been no exception: His dreams, his goals, his thoughts, his feelings, his opinions–just going overboard in my quest to be a “good wife”. But I didn’t know what that meant because I had never actually known one. 

And then the kids came…and I even began to love and handle them through him. If he wasn’t happy with me I found it hard to be happy with them. If he wasn’t there or helping the way I thought he should, taking care of them was a chore, or an extremely anxious situation that threw me into panic attacks.
I have been a mess.
I have been searching…but I now realize I’ve been at a loss because  I missed a step. The security I now realize I should have gotten from my father in word and deed to me, and in the example I should have gotten from the way he should have loved my mother was lost. So I have been searching in every man I ever loved or thought I loved. I have made them my father and validated my worth through what they’ve thought of me. 
And no matter how beautiful or talented or “worthy” I preach myself up to be, that initial insecurity makes confidence extremely fragile.
So I don’t know that I have all the answers now, but I have an understanding, I feel. Fathers love on your daughters in whatever way you’d feel her man should love on her…and love her mama, deeply. She needs to see that and to know what it’s like so she can understand herself and know how to demand, recognize, accept and appreciate love…and give her mama some hope to give her. And us little girls out here searching… Give us something to hold on to.

Isolation:Day 6 of 365…

I was that person who’d be quick to talk bad about someone for posting all of their “business” on social media.

“Why would anybody do that?” I’d ask.

But I understnow more than ever: because you feel you have no one else to talk to.

Because when you do talk about your feelings their invalidated.

Because people talk at, to, or over you and you don’t get to express yourself.

Because you’re afraid of “I told you so”.

Because it makes you feel better.

Because it works.

Since I’ve put my “business” on social media, I’ve gotten the most sincere listening ears and encouraging words and I’ve learned that I’m not crazy and not alone in my thoughts and feelings.

I’ve gotten release and some relief even.

So thank you friends and family who’ve reached out to me and prayed for me PR whatever else. I sincerely appreciate knowing I’m not alone.

Value: Day 5 of 365…

“Put that baby down, now fo’ you spoil ha good’n rotten

A spoiled baby’s no good when mama’s pickin’ cotton.

Don’t hold dat baby I say, you’ll spoil ha good’n rotten

Titty baby, go away yo mama’s got ta pick cotton.”

–Me

 

I love my kids…and I’m not ready to leave them with other people while I work. I love teaching them and holding them and kissing them and seeing them grow.  But apparently taking care of them and making them thrive is not enough.

Apparently It’s not a real contribution to my household and it’s not a high enough aspiration for me personally.

I just want a break sometimes… Like with every other job and I don’t want to be made to feel guilty when I take it.

I guess I enjoy the work I already do, I just wish it was valued.

…But I guess picking cotten is more important sooo…let me get my sac…

I’m Am Not Superwoman: Day 4 of 365…

I am not superwoman and I have no desire to be. I don’t know what it is that makes the world think that men are completely incapable of doing what women are automatically expected to do.

For some time I’ve noted that I could be busting my tail juggling children and housework and holding onto my sanity by a thread and the minute my husband pitches in everyone is jumping down my throat as if something is wrong with that.

I guess mothers have to be superhuman. We can’t get tired or stressed or frustrated or ever take a break. God forbid we demand our spouses share in parenthood cause everybody knows men are incapable. Weak. Breadwinners. Or whatever other bullshit they and all the old ladies around you use to guilt you, the woman, into taking full responsibility for all aspects of your family—especially if you’re a stay at home mom cause everybody knows you ain’t doin shit anyway, right? Just got your feet kicked up sipping mimosas and getting manis and pedis.

Or worse, you’re just sitting around wasting your life on your children. Everybody wants to know what you’re “gonna do with your life”, but nobody is volunteering to babysit. It’s so disrespectful and insensitive the things people do and say.

Well whatever. Good for mama or grandma or whoever sat at home alone twiddling their thumbs while daddy and grandaddy had the time of their lives making babies and leaving them to drive their wives insane.

I’m not superwoman and I have no desire to be. My children have two parents and I’ll be damnded if I’ll be the only one sweating over them and their well being. However that makes you feel, I really don’t care. I got feelings of my own to worry about these days.35mpcah

Co-parent Hood?: Day 3 of 365…

Parenting has its challenges. Especially when you have multiple children under the age of 3 and you’re sleep deprived and you’re just a little sad because you aren’t in the best place with the person you made them with and you don’t know what’s going to happen next or how you’ll transition from staying home with them to working full time.

I have so many question and so few answers. Giving up control is difficult for me, but I can’t deny that doors are opening and a path is unfolding …

Growing just hurts I guess. At least that’s what a very wise person told me once. I’ll just trust it— or try.

I don’t really have a choice at this point anyway.