Love

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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.

woman-sad

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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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.

Phone dump March 2015 680
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!!!!!!

Sisterlove

Published September 12, 2014 by hrhdana

In the arms of my sisters

I find

love and comfort

healing and understanding

honesty and freedom.

In the arms of my sisters

the literal and metaphorical

arms and sisters

I heal.

Brothers

I love you for many reasons

but my sisters

whew!

My sisters

they understand.

We fight on two fronts

gender and race

and in the face

of the hurts unique to this intersection

I need my sister’s attention

and affection.

Hold me sisters

lean in to my arms reaching out to you

together we always make it through.

A sister will always see

won’t ask

just walk over and take the baby from me

talking about, “go get you something to eat.”

My sisters see.

They relieve me.

No asking.

They know I would refuse

wearing my strong woman suit.

So they step in,

stand in,

lean in

to the gap.

They fill in where I lack.

They have my back.

In the arms of my sisters

I heal

I rest up

to fight another day.

We laugh

We smile

We refuel.

We live.

We love.

We lean in.

In the arms of my sisters

I find

love and comfort

healing and understanding

honesty and freedom.

In the arms of my sisters

the literal and metaphorical

arms and sisters

I heal.

Our love is real.

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Artwork “Sisterhood”  by Glenn Daniels

There but for the Grace of God….

Published September 9, 2014 by hrhdana

For the last 48 hours I have felt like an open wound. TV, internet, radio, conversations on the bus….everywhere I turn I have heard people talking about Janay and Ray Rice. I don’t know them. I don’t purport to know their situation. I only know mine.

I grew up in a two parent home. My parents are married to this day. They are excellent parents. They love me. They gave me every opportunity and encouragement that good parents give to their children. My Daddy has brought me a valentine for every year that I have been on this Earth. We had Daddy/daughter times on the regular where he showed me how a man should treat a lady. I have never seen him raise his hand to my Mom or visa versa. My family is love. My extended family is chock full of loving marriages and long term relationships as well as strong women who left situations that did not work for them and taught me why.

I still found myself in abusive relationships. Yes. Me. I have spent my entire life wanting someone to love me. Not just any someone, a man someone. I wanted to be a part of a we all of my life. I made some really horrific decisions in the pursuit of this goal. In the face of a romantic partner I lost all of the strength and the intelligence and backbone that my parents taught me. See, I thought men didn’t like strong. I thought men wanted their woman to be a reflection of them. I twisted myself in to pretzel formations trying to be what I thought “they” wanted. And when I missed the mark punishment seemed almost appropriate to me. I mean, it was better than being left right? Now I had a chance to try again. Now I would remember not to do “that” thing again, right?

I worked my way up the abusive partner scale. I started with men who verbally abused and controlled. I graduated to men who beat me bloody. Along the way I lost any connection to the me I was born and raised to be. Along the way I had no clue who I was when I wasn’t part of a “we”. I was kryptonite to healthy, well adjusted and emotionally available men. They smelled my desperation a mile away. My collection of exes could keep a therapist in business for years.

The crazy part is I was an amazing friend. lol I had a life full of people who loved me and could not for the life of them understand why I dated the losers that I did. They begged me to leave. They threw up their hands in complete exasperation when I defended the men who hurt me mind, body and soul. They saw the train coming at me miles before I did. They lamented that someone so smart could be so stupid. So often when I found myself lying under the tracks of the train they told me was coming I hid. I was ashamed. I didn’t want them to be right. I blamed myself. If only I had listened to them. If only I didn’t wear that. If only, If only, If only….

I never saw myself as the victim. I always shouldered the blame. If only I could be better, smarter, prettier, sexier, more interesting…then he wouldn’t hit me.

damn it I’m crying.

I hear so many people blaming Janay. I hear so many people saying that the fact that she married him absolves Ray Rice of spitting on her, beating her like a man, dragging her unconscious body. They ask, “what did SHE do?” My soul weeps.

Domestic violence is a multilateral thing. Abuse can break you down to the point where you don’t even  have an identity without your abuser. Enough blows to the head and body can leave you feeling culpable for your own abuse. But here is the thing…it is NEVER your fault. Do you know how I truly learned that lesson? I learned it from a REAL man. Not the facsimiles I had been dating all of my life. I learned it when I did something that made him so angry and so hurt that he wanted badly to hurt me back. And I expected him to. I steeled myself, closed my eyes and waited for the blows to come. When I opened my eyes he was gone.

He left.

He left to cool off. He left before he did something that he never would have forgiven  himself for. He left because even though the thing I had done was pretty damn awful he would never have made it right by doing something equally awful. And as I sat there in HIS empty house I realized that nothing I had ever done before had made it okay for any of those other men to hurt me. Nothing. It was a complex moment. I was so sorry for what I had done. I was pretty angry at myself for hurting this man but at the same time I had this overwhelming ah-ha moment that changed my life and set me free.

I don’t know how different my life would have been without that moment. See, I believe on some level I was doing things to MAKE this man, this GOOD man hit me. On some level I was waiting for him to PROVE that he loved me by hurting me. Do you see how sick I was? Me. A person raised in a healthy and loving family. I was sick. My very mind was sick.

People who have never been in this place may never understand. They scream, “why didn’t she leave?” “Why did she marry him?” “If someone hit me I would……” They don’t understand. Their lack of understanding doesn’t stop their pontificating. Their lack of understanding doesn’t wound any less for those of us who DO understand.

There but for the Grace of God go I. There but for the Grace. I don’t know Janay but I understand a little of how her “love” works. I understand her Instagram post. I pray for her safety tonight. I pray that the same media that she condemns will keep the animal that she lives with from hurting her. I pray that they both get help so that their daughter doesn’t grow up in this sickness.

 

My kid has to be the BEST kid in the history of kids!!!!

Published December 30, 2013 by hrhdana

My kid has to be the BEST kid in the history of kids!!!!

No seriously, I mean it.

I know I’m supposed to be all modest and pretend that she isn’t the awesomest kid ever so that all the people whose kids aren’t as awesome as she is don’t feel bad but you know what? Not today. LOL Honestly, not any day. My kid rocks! I want her to know that I know that. I want her to feel my pride in her. When I think about the fact that 27 months ago she was inside of me, 37 months ago she didn’t even exist in this realm, and then I look at her now….it’s AMAZING! She.is.amazing!

This weekend there were constant examples of her greatness instead of power struggles over her jerkiness toddlerhood.  FIrst, I hurt myself. A drawer fell on my leg, breaking the skin and leaving me a pretty significant black and blue. Nia was playing in the closet right behind me. She heard me curse yell our in pain. She was immediately tuned in. Immediately concerned about me. As I bent over rubbing my leg and trying not to curse, she asked, “Are you okay mama?” The empathy, the concern, the love in her eyes rendered me speechless. I assured her that I was okay but I was still hurting. I went to the bathroom to wash off my leg and she was right behind me. She was rubbing me when she could and letting me know that, “You’ll be okay Mama.” I put a warm rag on my leg and it felt good. I went to sit down on my bed. A few minutes later there she was, with her Dora washcloth. “Can I help Mama? Let me make it better.” Her character shone through. Someone she loves was in pain and she wanted to help. *swoon*

Later we played the memory game. I wasn’t sure if she was ready. The age range on the box was 3 and up. I didn’t know if she was ready. We started with 8 cards. I explained the rules and we familiarized ourselves with the four images we would be searching for. She went first. She found the first two matches right away. Her face lit up. “I did it Mama!!!” “Yes you did baby. Now  you go again.” Do you know this child ran a Boston on me. LOL She won all four matches in one turn. That will teach me to underestimate her. By our second go round she was saying, “I’m good at matching because I’m a good rememberer.” “Yes you are baby.”

The next day was Sunday. She asked me to read her favorite book (this week) The Gruffalo. I read it three times and then I was done. She took off with her book under her arm to, “ask Daddy.” A few minutes later I hear her voice telling the story. Her Dad called me to, “come see our daughter.” I stand in the doorway of my bedroom watching her “read”.  She remembered read me the whole book. She did voices and inflections. She read with all of the emphasis that only book lovers understand. Her eyes were lit up and she was fully engaged. I was amazed. This little itty bitty person was fully engaged in a book.

Later we headed to Queens to get together with my Dad’s family for our post Christmas celebration. There were four other kids there (two boys, and two girls) with the youngest being about 5 and the oldest being about 11. She was the baby. Her cousin Rachel took her off to play. As I ear hustled and peeked in on her from time to time I watched her hold court. The youngest child there but she didn’t hesitate to share her opinion or muscle a toy out of an uncooperative friend’s hand. She was fire. She was sweetness. As they jostled for the mic for the karaoke machine, I started to intervene, only to see my child come away with the mic and belt out her rendition of jingle bells while the big kids laughed with her.

My kid has to be the BEST kid in the history of kids!!!!

I’m enjoying every moment! I burst with pride and love and absolute joy in her presence. The thought of her brings a smile to my face and warmth to my spirit. I’m so glad that I waited for her. I’m so grateful for her. I’m so proud to be her Mommy.

I’m not sticking any labels on her. I’m not making my expectations a mountain that she has to climb but I do have to pause to acknowledge her awesomeness. My constant companion, Doubt had to depart this weekend. Clearly, we are getting something right. 😉

Feel free to share some reasons why YOUR kid is awesome. Remember to let them know that you see their awesomeness. Celebrate their awesome!  Celebrate the things that you are getting right in your home. This parenting thing is hard. The choices we have to make seem endless. The mistakes we all make seem all encompassing. If you remember to live in the moment your kids will remind you…they get their awesome from you.

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Lessons from my two year old

Published December 13, 2013 by hrhdana

Lately parenting is stretching me.

People have been cautioning me about the, “terrible twos,” since Nia started walking at ten months. “Oh just wait until she turns two. Those twos are terrible.” I listened. I know toddlers. I worked with toddlers for YEARS. I know how to manage a room of two year olds without threats or violence. I didn’t think the twos were so terrible. I refused to language that for my daughter. It wouldn’t be easy but we would make it through. I was even excited as I watched more and more of her stubbornness independence emerge.

“I doan WANT to Mama.”

“No!”

“I doan like that.”

Lord have mercy, my child is willful. She knows what she wants. She knows what she likes. She operates under her own timeline and Lord knows she doesn’t inform me. LOL I tell her ahead of time what my behavioral expectations are. I give her warnings when a transition is coming. She says, “Yes Mama,” in the sweetest little two year old voice. Then she FREAKS out when it’s time to DO what I am asking her to. LOL

Parenting is humbling.

This week we had quite a few behaviorally challenging days in a row. I’d arrive at my parents’ house after work, tired and ready to hug my baby and one look from my Mom would tell me that today was a tough day. “How was your day Nia?” “I didn’t listen Mama. I made bad choices. I said No to Mema. I ran away from Mema. I hit Destiny.” I’d take a deep breath and ask about each choice. “Why did you…” do blah blah blah. Sometimes she had an answer, sometimes she didn’t. I’d talk to her. Her Dad would talk to her. We would revoke privileges, take away toys, no TV.  We were trying it all. She’d cry and apologize. “I’m so sorry Mama. I’m so sorry.” She wailed. She seemed so contrite. Then she would walk in to our house and do ten things that she KNEW she was not supposed to do.

Mornings were brutal. She’d refuse to put her coat on. She’d refuse to leave the house. She’d cry like I beat her when I tried to put her hat on. Most mornings I was flustered as I carried a crying child to the train station. At the end of the day it was rinse and repeat. It felt like everything was a power struggle.

As I racked my brain trying to uncover the reasons why my sweet baby was turning in to the Tasmanian devil I felt myself getting angry. “Why won’t she just listen?” I went to parenting blogs, websites, Facebook groups, relatives, friends…anyone who might have some advice. What was wrong with HER????

Finally I had a conversation with another Mom and in the process of empathizing and sharing some stories about her kids and their toddler years she said, “I wish I hadn’t come down so hard on them sometimes. When I think back, most of the time I overreacted because of something in me and not really whatever thing they were refusing to do.”

DAMN!

I had to really think about that. She’s two. She’s learning that she CAN assert her will. She’s learning that she is not an extension of me but her very own person. She’s testing her boundaries. She’s testing me and all of the other adults in her life. What does our no mean? She’s testing cause and effect. She’s learning. She’s not trying to make me choke discipline her. If I come to pick her up tired and frustrated by MY day I’m already losing. If I engage in power struggles I am already losing.

I am the adult. I am smarter, stronger, wiser and more patient than she is. I’m designed to be that way. She is the child. She is learning, emotional, sensory and lives in the moment. She’s designed to be that way, I am determined not to kill her will. I’m determined not to put out her fire. She’s going to need her fire. This life is long and knowing your own mind and heart is a priceless gift that I am determined to give my child. I didn’t birth a robot. I birthed a human child. Her behavior…good AND bad is her way of learning. How I react to her misbehavior is TEACHING her.

I changed tactics. In the morning when I was rushing to get us out of the house and she said she didn’t want to put her coat on I sat down in a chair and held her. I murmured that I loved her and whispered that in a few minutes we would be putting her coat on and going bye bye. I couldn’t rush her. She needed to connect. She needed time. And yes…it took time to stop and hold her but it also took time to fight her in to compliance. But more importantly I felt better about the lessons I was teaching her.

When life hands you a roadblock you don’t lose it. You take a deep breath and you hug it.

Lately parenting is stretching me.

They Wouldn’t Understand

Published November 14, 2013 by hrhdana

 

She sits in silence

wondering how her life became this mess.

Her constant companion is loneliness

there’s no one she can share this with.

They wouldn’t understand.

He’s her man.

 

She sits in silence

wondering if she does deserve this.

Happiness seems like so much bullshit.

I mean who lives it?

 

She sits…

They wouldn’t understand.

 

She sits in silence

cleaning wounds her lover inflicted

trying to remember a time before

the pain.

Wishing she could change

him

her

it doesn’t even matter.

Just

change

things.

 

She sits…

They wouldn’t understand.

 

They all say,

“leave him”

They say,

“You deserve better”

 

She sits…

They wouldn’t understand.

 

She sees their disapproval

internalizes it

Something IS wrong with her

she just doesn’t know what it is.

Something has to give

they have kids.

The kids don’t deserve this

she knows this

 

She sits…

They wouldn’t understand.

 

If just one of them would

take her hand

Hold her close,

TELL her where to go.

She’s been his puppet so long

she can’t even think on her own.

They keep telling her to go

how?

where?

with what money?

 

She sits…

bites her swollen lip…

They wouldn’t understand.

And so she stays

trapped in a nightmare

lost in misunderstanding.