America

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Imperfect me!

Published April 7, 2016 by hrhdana

I never thought I’d be a Mom.

I desperately wanted to be one.

I knew when I was a kid that I wanted to be a wife and a Mom.

Real talk.

But when you make it to 30 plus and it hasn’t happened for you, you start to believe that it won’t.

Then it did.

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I think I floated for 3 years. I marveled in every milestone and accomplishment. I woke up and went to sleep with prayers of thanksgiving dancing off of my lips. I researched parenting like it was a master’s class. I subscribed to every blog, purchased at least 40 books and lived on parenting websites. I knew what kind of Mom I was going to be. I was going to be patient and fun and creative and loving. I was going to be kind and calm and supportive. I was going to be perfect.

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That is always my goal. To be perfect. No matter how many times I tell my therapist that I know I cannot be perfect. No matter how many times I said that I know perfection is impossible, unattainable and just a way that I self-sabotage, I still believed I could do THIS thing, this Mommy thing as close to perfect as possible. I mean I had never done anything THIS important before. I had never had a blessing THIS big before. Surely I could do THIS thing perfectly. Surely I could.

I tried. Mommying consumed me. I don’t know how my friends put up with me. I had nothing to contribute to conversations unless it was about my Little Bit. I lost me. And I lost me so well that it took me at least two years to even notice that I was lost. The most depressing part was that even in throwing my all in to my parenting I wasn’t perfect. I still lost my temper with my little blessing. I still struggled with playing on the floor with her. I still couldn’t make Pinterest creations translate in to real life. I still burned dinner sometimes. I never did make it to Michael’s or get my Christmas cards out this year. I still couldn’t get her to eat avocado and she didn’t care that it was a “perfect” food. Sighs

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And it stopped being fun for me. I love my kid with everything in me. She is amazing. She is smart and kind and funny and gorgeous and patient and stubborn and she makes me proud every single day. But I? I was falling short in so many ways. She was watching hours of TV when I know that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids 2 and older have no more than one to two hours daily. She was drinking juice. And not only juice, but the kind I brought from a store and not the juice I told myself that I was going to make for her with organic produce in my juicer at home. She was off of vegetables almost completely. She was eating candy for Christ’s sake! What kinda perfect Mom lets her kid have candy?!?!?! I was failing. And it wasn’t fun for me anymore because instead of seeing a happy, well-adjusted kid all I was seeing was MY failure at the most important blessing God had ever given me.

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I failed. Again.

Parenting will reveal every single patched over wound that you possess. Your children will strip you bare of all the makeup you wear for the world AND for yourself. My kid is like a magnification mirror that shows me all of the places inside of me that are decidedly UN-perfect. And it is hard. Because if I want to be the best Mom that I can be it starts with being the best Dana I can be. That means owning my crap. That means removing the foundation I slather on my face and addressing the problem that caused the dark spots under my eyes. It means getting the actual sleep I need so I don’t look like a raccoon. It means accepting my imperfections and doing what I can to address the problems that I am hiding under makeup.

 

And it’s hard.

Did I say that already?

So, here I am. I am standing here naked faced admitting what everyone else knows. I am not a perfect Mom. I’m not a perfect anything. And if I keep trying to be what I cannot be it will squeeze all of the joy out of my life. This is a lesson I have been trying to learn for decades now. I tell my therapist at least once a month that I’ve accepted my imperfections. But I haven’t. I still want desperately to be the perfect Mom. But I can’t and it isn’t any deficit in me. It is an unattainable goal. It is not possible.

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I am the best Mom that I can be to my Little Bit. She loves me for who I am to her. She tells me almost every single day that I am, “the best Mommy she ever had.” Lol I realize there isn’t much competition in that arena but I’ll take it. I love her perfectly. No one can take that from me or from her.

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Dearest Mother Samaria

Published November 23, 2015 by hrhdana

Sister Samaria

I wish I could hug you

my arms

wrapped around your body

heart to heart.

Mother to mother.

There are no words.

Nothing that can ease the burden you now live with

Nothing can fill the emptiness in your household.

I’m so sorry.

Lord knows I am so sorry.

But those words are insufficient.

Living in a country

that can justify

the unjustifiable.

A court system that says no wrong was done

And yet you live without your son.

12 years old

And gone.

My heart weeps.

I wish I could hold you.

Mourn beside you.

Form a fence around you.

Burn shit down for you.

He was a boy

playing with a toy.

He didn’t have a chance

to comply.

And the fact that the entire nation

doesn’t rage

doesn’t grieve

doesn’t open their arms

doesn’t stand in solidarity with you

is a secondary crime.

The fact that your boy was denied

comfort in his last moments of life

another crime.

I wish I could hold you.

The whole damn system is guilty!

And Tamir

is gone

There is NOTHING justified about it.

NOT

ONE

THING.

Mother to Mother

I wish I could hold you.

I’m thinking of you

lending you all of the love and light in my heart.

This Thursday when I sit down with my family

I’ll be thinking of you and of yours.

I’ll be setting an extra place at the table

to remind us all.

We all we got.

It’s not enough

and everything

all at once.

Down the rabbit hole

Published August 17, 2015 by hrhdana

Next month my Lil Bit is going to be four years old. I LOVE birthdays. I dislike children’s parties very much. LOL They are usually loud and crazy and expensive. Ever since I had a kid I’ve been looking at ways to celebrate that will make her happy and won’t make me insane. It’s a fine line folks.

For her 1st birthday we went to Puerto Rico. It was awesome and perfect. We spent the day on the beach. We chilled out. There was zero stress and everyone had a ball. We had a cake when we came back from P.R. with just family. I wanted to make traveling for her birthday our birthday tradition but when 2 rolled around money was scarce. I got roped in to the dreaded house party. It was loud and messy and by the end of the day she and I wanted to have huge tantrums. LOL I resolved not to do that again for as long as possible.

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Last year we went apple picking. I think I stumbled on to the perfect party for us. It was low maintenance. The kiddos had a blast. People could arrive whenever they wanted to. The setting was beautiful. I actually got to have conversations with the adults in attendance. Everyone left happy and tired. So this year we are going to do it again.

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Then the kid threw a wrench in my plans.

“Mommy, can I have a My little pony party for my birthday?”

“I thought you wanted to go apple picking again this year.”

“I do but I want my little pony too”

Okay, I thought. I can do this. I’ll still do the apple orchard but I’ll buy SOME my little pony decorations and call it a day.

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If you know me you already know that this plan has dissolved in to madness. LOL I can see how parents go insane with the party planning. I have fallen down the rabbit hole. She wants My Little Pony. There must be My Little Pony. Right? I’ve already ordered a dress for her in keeping with the theme. I’ve started buying MLP stuff for goodie bags. I’ve enlisted a cake maker to make a MLP cake. I’ve been on Oriental Trading and Party city websites looking for MLP tablecloths and cups and plates and napkins. I’ve looked in to a face painter who can make MLP facepaintings. I even looked in to MLP characters to come to the party in the damn apple orchard! I need HELP! I have fallen down the kid party rabbit hole and I can not find the exit!

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Where oh where has my chill gone? Where oh where can it be? LOL

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I’d do anything to make my kid happy. I really would but I am stopping myself. She will be FOUR! I don’t even remember my 4th birthday party. I have no illusions that I can or should make it grand enough for HER to remember. I am putting myself on party planning time out.

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We will go apple picking. She will wear her dress. There will be goodie bags. There will be cake. Everyone will go home with apples and Mommy WILL retain her sanity.

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Anyone know how to block party planning websites? Because even as I prepare to hit post I’m wondering about some cupcakes I saw on Pinterest and I’ve almost convinced myself that I can make them. Mommy down! Mommy down!

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Send help!!!!!!

Warrior Women

Published August 10, 2015 by hrhdana

“I just don’t believe that when people are being unjustly oppressed that they should let someone else set rules for them by which they can come out from under that oppression.”
Malcolm X

On Saturday Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford interrupted Bernie Sanders at a rally in Seattle. As he prepared to take the mic the women jumped on the stage and demanded the right to speak. Sanders ceded the stage to the women. Marissa went on to give a passionate speech about the Black Lives Matter movement. She said she wanted to talk about how racist Seattle is but some in the crowd had already done that for her with their jeers and screams of, “arrest them.” Really? Arrest them?!!  With EVERYTHING going on right now people actually called for the arrest of these two women for grabbing the mic at a rally. Arrest them? How positively clueless.

I watched the internet explode. A day that was supposed to be filled with remembrances and lessons learned from the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson was completely derailed by a bevy of clueless allies who didn’t get it and a gaggle of scared Black people who wanted these women to be more polite. There were copious tears for Bernie. “He’s been so good to us.” “He is the only candidate who cares about us and our issues.” “Why attack an ally?” And my personal favorite, “Bernie must have been so frightened. It was like an assault.”

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Here’s my take on things..
Bernie is the one constantly mentioning how he has fought for civil rights all of his life. I mean seriously, it should be part of his name if we counted the frequency with which he and his supporters use this as his claim to fame. The REASON Black people should vote for Bernie is that he cares about “our” issues. If this is true then he wouldn’t be so caught off guard by the passion in the two interruptions he has experienced. Sanders responded that he was, “especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no candidate who will fight harder than me.” (Quoted from here)

How can you fight when you won’t listen? How can you fight if you don’t understand the passion and yes the ANGER that we are feeling in this exact moment in time? An ally amplifies the voices of the people they are supporting. An ally uses their privilege to make sure that the voices of the people they are standing with are heard loud and clear. An ally is supposed to be a bridge to others who do NOT understand. Those people were there to hear Bernie. He could have done a number of things to earn his status as an ally. He did none. He ceded the stage. He didn’t share it.

Sanders wants us to see him as a civil rights warrior but war isn’t polite. We are fighting for our lives. If you want to appeal to us as a voting block by using your record as a civil rights crusader then you should not be this tone deaf. You should not be this divorced from the emotion propelling this fight to every stage in America. You should not run. You should not wag your finger. You should not expect us to be composed when we are being murdered in the streets. You should understand that there are a gamut of responses to injustice and not all of them are polite.

To those of you wondering why these women choose Sanders and not some other candidate I can’t answer with certainty. No one has interviewed these women. Shit, just finding their names was a struggle. I’d imagine it was because HE was in Seattle. It’s probably because he CLAIMS to be down with us. I’d posit it’s because they thought he would listen and care. I’d think it’s because he is being touted as an ally. But their reasons don’t even matter to me. Sanders is not my savior. He is a man running for the office of president in a country currently experiencing an internal conflict of epic proportions. He is the candidate everyone keeps telling us Black people is our best choice. He is the candidate who keeps highlighting his work on civil rights like a line on his resume.

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Listen folks, I know Black anger is scary to a bunch of people. Shit, even some Black people are uncomfortable with it. I listen to our young people. A huge segement of them are FED up. They are angry. They are TIRED of asking politely for people to stop murdering us with impunity. They are tired of wondering who is going to be the next hashtag and they are ready to tear shit up. I worry for them. What I will not do is silence them. What I will not do is judge them. What I will not do is tell them to be safe. NONE of us are safe right now and we all know it. Respectability politics is bullshit.

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Yesterday I saw so many white people claim they would no longer support Black Lives Matter because they were disgusted by the behavior of TWO Black women. Listen, if that was all it took to take you out of the fight for Black lives then you were never in it. You were NEVER with us. Yesterday I saw some Black people use words like “embarrassed” to express their feelings about these two women’s refusal to be silenced. If you are Black and you were embarrassed by two women willing to put their necks on the line to get a message to power I honestly have no clue what to even do with you. Do you honestly believe that Sanders is going to be our savior? Do you honestly believe that we should be GRATEFUL to those in power who pay lip service to believing that our LIVES actually fucking matter? Do you believe that so called allies using our fucking civil rights struggle as a resume entry don’t have to DO anything else? Man listen, all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk!

Oh and for those of you lamenting that, this is NOT the way to get change or to get a candidate to listen to your concerns…

This was Bernie Sanders’ website BEFORE Marissa and Mara stormed the stage.

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And this is what it looked like after they spoke truth to power.

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Here’s to warrior women. May we love them. May we support them. May we raise them. May we BE them!

Any war has to be fought on multiple fronts. These women chose theirs. Where and how are YOU fighting?

I’m not okay! I shouldn’t be. Neither should you.

Published July 29, 2015 by hrhdana

Today I posted a plea on my Facebook page. I would quote it here but I had to log off for my own sanity. I begged people not to share the video that was released of Samuel Dubose’s murder with me. I implored them to please put trigger warnings and place spaces so that those of us trying desperately to practice self care would not be forced to watch it. We knew for over 24 hours that it was coming. When people started emailing me that the press conference was starting I literally felt my heart racing, my palms sweating and the tears forming in my eyes. I can not handle this today.

See, I am a writer and a reader. When I read someone’s words my mind makes pictures. I already knew all of the details of Samuel’s murder from the written reports. I already knew. I already saw it. But imagination and reality are opposites. I did not want to SEE this man murdered. I have no space in my spirit for another murder. I have no room in my spirit. I have to maintain my sanity.

I wrote the post. People shared it. People expressed their similar feelings. Then, it happened. I was scrolling down my timeline and before I realized what I was seeing there it was. Murder. In front of my eyes. Straight through my gut. My heart shattered. I fumbled with my mouse trying desperately to scroll past it. My mouse seemed to be made of some slippery substance. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t see through my tears. A visceral reaction.

I logged out, heart racing, tears flowing. I ran to the bathroom and sobbed. A coworker knocked on the door. “Are you okay Dana?”

“NO! I’m not okay. I shouldn’t be. Neither should you”

How can this be life? How can this be okay? Why aren’t we ALL raging in the streets?

He was the father of 10. He had 4 grandchildren. He was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. He was loved.

He was murdered.

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No. I’m not okay. And you shouldn’t be either.

Rambling thoughts, Self care, Black motherhood

Published July 27, 2015 by hrhdana

I’m grieving. I’m tired.  I’m sad.  I’m angry.

All of these emotions are NORMAL to Blackness these days. *heavy sigh*

I’m also raising a beautiful, fearless, carefree, happy little Black girl.

Being her Mommy forces me to live in the moment with her.  It forces me to teach her the best of Blackness. It makes me fill her with as much self pride as  her little  body can contain. It forces me to command space for her to be free and innocent and safe.

It feels dishonest in many ways. Part of me feels like I should be preparing her for reality. Part of me hopes desperately that things will change enough that I can magically bypass that obligation. *heavy sigh* All of me knows that they won’t. I know that one day something will happen and I will have to explain to her that we live in a world where some people will hate her for the color of her skin. I know that one day I will have to teach her about the systemic ways racism is  upheld in this country. I know that one day I will  have to explain that her body, the body I have spent her whole life teaching her she has dominion over, is not respected by some people in positions of authority.

And it hurts. But childhood is so short. Innocence is so fleeting. And I want so badly to build her strong and confident before I share the crap that brings grown ups to tears.  This weekend we went to Central Park. I watched her play and be so happy. I sat with a good friend and we shared our heavy load of Black womanhood. We talked and vented and raged and laughed and hugged. We helped each other to connect. We tapped in to the well that replenishes. We shared our emotions and frequently replied to each other, “that’s normal. I feel that too.” It was important. It was healing. It was refueling. We sat on a picnic blanket and built each other up. We affirmed that neither of us was alone in our hurt or our rage. It was important.

The backdrop of this conversation was my daughter playing. She’d interrupt us, at will, and we would smile and laugh and remember why we fight and what really matters. At one point I sent her to throw away her garbage. The garbage can was a few feet away and completely within eyesight and hearing range. I tried to hide my panic at letting her wander away “by herself” and when I looked over at my sisterfriend she was on her feet, her body was tense. She was watching too. She was just as nervous about letting my little bit move out of arm’s reach. We made eye contact and the lump in my throat precluded conversation. We were silent until she returned. Little bit was so proud of her little adventure. “Did you see me Mama?” I nodded and hugged her tight.

This fear has a taste. It tastes like metal. It is sour. It rises from your stomach and sits in your throat. No amount of swallowing or drinking sweet juices will make it go away. It is ever present. I fight it. I pray about it. I release it to God. And yet…I still taste metal. I’m so scared for her.

I am an American. This is my home. This is where I was born. I am an American. But the outright assault on my community from some law enforcement officers doesn’t resonate in the same way that a movie theater shooting or a marathon bombing resonates with many of my fellow citizens. And it hurts. Is there a way to raise her so that she won’t hurt? Please point me to it. Please give me step by step directions. Please.

I’m struggling. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and practice self care. I’m trying to unplug but I cannot escape the news that another Black woman was unjustly arrested and found dead in her jail cell this weekend. I don’t know how to BE anymore. I’m at a crossroads and I have to figure it all out quickly.

I have a little girl to lead. I want her to be free. I want her to be whole. I want her to be love.

I want her to live.

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If I am ever taken in to police custody…

Published July 22, 2015 by hrhdana

If I am ever taken in to police custody know that…

I will not kill myself.

I will not resist.

I will not reach for a weapon.

I will not fight.

I will comply.

I will fight in court

with all of the resources at my disposal.

I will have only one thought

during the course of the entire interaction

“Make it home to Nia”

And yes,

I WILL be

that docile Negro

that they want me to be.

I will yas suh and yas maam them to death.

My child is my life.

She is the future.

She is everything.

And I will choke on the shame of being a good slave

just so I can make it home to her.

Never let THEM write my narrative.

I am a MOTHER.

Nothing else matters.

Pride can take a flying leap.

I want to survive.

I will make myself small

and quiet.

I will choke on my rage.

I will comply.

And even having made this declaration

publicly

I know these actions can’t save me.

They can hashtag me

with impunity

some desk duty

paid vacation

for my blood on their hands.

There are no safe quarters for me

OR

my progeny.

If I am ever taken in to police custody

RAGE for me.

Don’t believe

the, “official story.”

My only thought

I promise you

was making it home

to my baby.

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