Conceiving after miscarriage

Baby #4

How I wanted to be happy, how I wanted to be excited. But somehow the only feeling I felt was sadness and guilt. Could it be that I was ungrateful, or that this new baby wasn't good enough? 

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After months of telling myself I was going to let go of the feeling of wanting another baby, it remained a constant on my mind. After losing Angel K (Baby #3), I erased all my ovulation apps, told my husband we were done trying and told myself it was time to heal from the inside out. But after months of trying to convince myself that I was enough, I still couldn't fill the void of losing a child. Angel K was all I could think about. Was it a boy or girl? What would he/or she look like? And even the bad thoughts. Am I getting too old? Is it my eggs have depleted? Was I not healthy enough to conceive? The thoughts consumed me, and maybe it was just Angel K telling me to try again, and that if I wanted true completion of healing it would be conquering my fears and moving past the pain.

So I tried to do just that. I repurchased my ovulation app, told my husband I was ready. But this time I wanted it to be different. I didn't want it to feel robotic or on purpose. I wanted for me and my husband to fall in love all over again, and in that act make another baby. I did just that. Missed my period, and instead of feeling happy, I felt far removed. Does anyone ever talk about the postpartum anxiety and depression that comes after losing a child? I felt the sadness all over me. Went to the bathroom non stop fearing I was bleeding, or convincing myself after having no symptoms for weeks that it just wasn't true. I didn't share the news with anyone except my husband, who I ask not share his excitement with me. I was in big denial, and I realized that the trauma was overwhelming me.  

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So I set my first appointment, hoping it would ease my anxiety. Switched doctors to a black female who I was hoping would fuel more encouragement and support. Ask my husband to skip out on coming, because if the doctor said there was no heart beat, I didn't want to invoke the pain in him. I went in and laid across the table, bottom naked, butt up, ready for the instrument to bring on the bad news. The last time I was in this room, my baby died inside of me. Doctor confirmed the pregnancy, said all the parts were there, and that the chance of miscarriage at this point was less than 5%. Although she wanted me to feel at ease, I still couldn't believe it.

I continue to push past the pain. Told myself that God saw fit for me to have this baby. I also started to feed myself positive thoughts to overshadow my doubt. I wanted to move, I couldn't stand the thought of me not regaining my happy place. Not forgetting Angel K, but to use her death as a way to inspire my love for my new blessing. I believe that the universe will stretch you out as far as possible to only put you back together again, this is what I call spiritual balance. I had stretched myself out so much that I told myself I couldn't recover. And in those most weakest moments, God blessed me with redemption.

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So here I stand. Blessed with Baby #4, grateful for moments that remind me of my perseverance and strength. Crying tears of joy for Angel K, who taught me so much about myself, and overjoyed that I will be adding to my beautiful family. Angel K has taught me that we are never prepared for life, we have to take it's highs and lows, and when experiencing the lows reach for something higher. There is recovery after lost, there is healing after death. Doesn't mean we forget what the heart holds, but that we remember what the heart is capable of feeling.

I can't wait to meet you new baby, and I'll see you again Angel K!

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If you or anyone you know suffers from trauma, postpartum anxiety, and/or depression you are not alone. Always remember that you are validated, you are allowed to feel and that help is out there. 

Be brave enough to love yourself even when it hurts.
— Alex Elle

32.

32 Reasons To Love Myself Today.

  1. I'm worth it
  2.  I'm enough
  3. I am mindful
  4. I worked for this
  5.  I know how to protect my peace
  6. I do the best I can with my role as a mother and wife
  7.  I am 150% unique. There will never (ever) be anyone like me. 
  8. My heart is as big as an ocean. My capacity for loving others (and myself) is endless
  9.  I'm resilient as hell! There’s nothing in life I can’t overcome. No problem I can’t find a solution for.
  10.  I feel. That’s right, I have an emotional vocabulary and I'm not afraid to use it (for good)!
  11. I have dreams, endless, beautiful dreams. And I haven’t stopped believing in them (even if it sometimes feels like I have).
  12. I'm not perfect. PHEW! Pressure’s off. I'm not perfect and that’s A-OK. ‘Cause perfect isn’t the goal anyway.
  13.  I smile. I mean, take a look in the mirror. That smile of mines is contagious!
  14.  I'm grateful. I know that I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for all the glory and pain of the past. I acknowledge that and how it’s shaped you into the amazing person I am today.
  15.  I give kindness to others. From the times I volunteer, spend time educating those around me, give some change to a soul in need or help the older woman cross the street – my kindness is bountiful and changes lives.
  16. I'm open to growing. I'm not afraid to work through the hard stuff. I want to be the best version of me possible!
  17. I have a keen appreciation for beauty. I see the beauty in the world. The clear blue sky, colorful flowers, unique faces on the street – with my own eyes, and in my own way, I see the beauty around me and it makes me more beautiful to be around!
  18. I'm full of insanely good ideas. Like really good. And lots of em!
  19. My perspective on the world. It's not like anyone's else. It makes me, ME!
  20.  I'm strong. I've weathered the storms. I've come out alive. I'm one powerhouse of a human being!
  21. My choices. I make them every single day, lots of them. And they have got me to where I am today.
  22. My presence. Just me being here is a gift. Me here in this moment, writing these words, savoring my life, that is a gift to myself.
  23.  I show up. Yep, I do. I show up for my life, for my friends, my family, my job, my kids and husband,  and yourself. You show up.
  24. My naiveté. I might know a lot, but there still much I have left to learn. And that’s beautiful!
  25. My authenticity.  It might’ve taken a long time to get here, but here I am, shining in all my magnificent glory.
  26.  My ability to bring out the best in others. I've got a gift and I'm not afraid to use it.
  27.  My beautiful body shape that is utterly and uniquely mine. Curves, bumps, humps and all – hot damn!
  28. My faith which gets me through the rough patches. My belief that in the end, it’ll be ok
  29.  My fears. What could be a more compelling reason to love myself than the very thing that makes me feel human. My fears aren’t unique, but they’re uniquely mine.
  30.  My vulnerability. From the moment that I stood on stage alone with a microphone, to the time I cried in front of your boss, to the tenderness I express with loved ones – I am vulnerable. And vulnerability is strength.
  31. My ability to sink really low. It might not feel like that's worth celebrating, but my lowest of low's are what enable me to reach the highest of high.
  32. My story, which is what makes me uniquely me. I have a story, and every time I tell it, I give others permission to tell theirs. 

Happy 32nd Birthday to me! Each year I hope to add another reason to love myself. Because who else will love you like you love you.  

 

Traveling solo with kids while building "connections"

The Road Less Traveled

Coney Island

You would never catch me traveling alone with 2 kids, let alone on a road trip that is almost 9 hours each way!!!!

But when my husband so kindly graduated from law school he forgot to mention he had one last hurdle of passing the bar exam! Which calls for a study schedule of a minimum of 8 hours of extreme focus a day. This was also my first summer off since having children, as I have recently transitioned into the school system. So I went into summer understanding that I would have to put on my big girl panties and make it a solo parenting summer!

So what was my plan...as much unstructured time as possible. Moving at our own pace, spending time in places that our hearts desired for no specific reason, and most importantly feeling peaceful and content.

Fast forward....

An old high school friend of mine has a beautiful video series called "The Hard Part Show". Where he spends a maximum of 15 minutes every Monday morning with an visual yet inspirational spin on some note worthy topics. The topic that stuck with me was "Contact is easy, connecting is the hard part".  In this series he explains that our electronics have somehow assisted with an increase of disconnection in real relationships. He furthers states that a text is better than a "like", a call is better than a text, and a visit/experience with someone is most valuable because it is in those times where we are truly "connecting" with one another. See below for better detail....

It had hit me suddenly that this unplanned time needed to be spent reconnecting with those around me. So how was I to do this with 2 children alone? Instead of thinking of them as a burden to establishing connections and relationships with the people I feel I have neglected physically, I decided to include them. Because after all they are an extension of me, and essentially these people are apart of their village. So with this unstructured time and my need to feel more connected, a road trip to the East coast to visit a couple of my favorite girls was on the menu!

So how did I do it, right?

Top 7 tips:

1. Preparation is key: I spent a huge amount of time thinking about how I was going to keep the kids busy while I needed to have my eyes on the road. I received a few suggestions from some of my mommy friends who suggested a back seat car organizer to fill up with busy work. I found some really inexpensive one's at Target, matched it with a cart load of items from the dollar section and viola! It was like Christmas! I packed Karter's (3) organizer with materials such as play-doh (use an aluminum tray to play), coloring books, stickers, her favorite movies and books and she loved it. Kennedy (10) had crossword puzzles, ear phones for music, a canvas with paint markers, slime she already prepared, and good reads. Not going to lie, having Kennedy who can be a little bit more hands on with helping was key. She was able to set things up, and keep her sister entertained with tons of silly faces and car performances.

2. Songs and car games: We all know that toys only last so long. Mama had to begin to get creative. I begin to think of the times my own parents would take me on long car rides and how we didn't have devices to keep us busy. So I took it back to eye spy, identifying cars, and asking every semi truck to beep the horn. Both my girls face would light up when a truck driver would do something silly, or when they could guess what I was thinking with infinite options.

3. Portable potty seat: I hate public restrooms, and so do both the girls. To ease both our anxiety about restroom breaks which we only took 2 each way. I brought a simple portable potty seat that I kept in a bag (easy to carry), restroom breaks suddenly became a breeze!

4. Snacks: I refused to pay for fast food and junk during the ride. I packed up plenty of healthy snacks and drinks to keep the girls munching. I packed a few treats (candy) as a reward throughout the way to encourage them to push through to the end!

5. Be flexible and patience: It's going to get rough, hard, and there will be moments the kids will try to break you. But roll with it, the great thing about our rode trip is that we weren't working on anyone's schedule but our own. We were in no rush, although I wanted to get there. But I also understood I had children who are impulsive, and developmentally hard to entertain for those long hours. So if we needed to pull aside to stretch, do a few jumping jacks, we did it. Made for a easier car ride for all of us.

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Pit Stop

6. Work around nap schedules: I left super early (4am) because I knew the girls would be exhausted and sleep for a few more hours. So a 8 hour trip with 3 hours being rest, the girls were only awake for about 5 hours! This also goes for wherever you visit. I respected Karter by allowing her to nap when she needed. I didn't force her to be present. I packed a light weight stroller and if baby girl needed a break she knew she could do so. The same goes for Kennedy. If she was tired, I didn't force her to push through. It doesn't make for a good experience when the kids are aggy from being exhausted. So I allowed them to rest and enjoy the scenery and quiet time. Vacation doesn't have to equate to movement. There is beauty in staying still and just enjoying the surroundings.

7. Have friends who love you enough to love your children: I pick my friends like I pick my fruit, very carefully. The friends I find myself still having relationships with are the one's that have evolved with me personally. My best friend Kristin has no children and is super career focused, but she also knew how important providing my girls with a unforgettable experience as well as being nurturing. So she did precisely that. She was caring, fun,  made healthy boundaries, and was super accommodating for both of them. She provided them with love and loved their mommy, and it was beautiful to witness. By the end of the NYC trip they were asking to live with Aunty Kristin. My other best friend, Fatima, has children who are the same exact age as my girls. Although her girls were still in school, she made her girls schedule flexible because she understood the importance of them connecting. We allowed for the girls to bond organically and sat back as they reminded us of how much fun we had growing up together!

For me this trip was about feeling confident in my womanhood. Understanding that having my husband next to me is sufficient but I am also enough, and enough for my children alone. In that definition of womanhood comes a responsibility of friendship. To show the people around me that I love them more than a Facebook like and more than a group text. I want to connect with all the layers of me because my life is not one dimensional. I love that my girls know that they are loved beyond their immediate family members and so is their mama. I also love that they can observe me having healthy relationships with other women and can actually witness what that looks like. Everything I do sets a tone on how I see them operating as healthy adults. So yes they see their mom taking videos and showing love on IG. But they also see me traveling, having conversations, laughing, crying, and discovering with those same people because I am strong enough to do so, and because I am not only their mother but a daughter, sister, wife, friend, therapist, etc. This trip was nothing short of amazing. I would drive around the world just to catch those organic smiles and wide eyes of pure happiness and discovery. I would also drive around the world to tell the people I care about that I actually care. Vacation 1 for summer is in the books, who knows where we are headed to next..... 

BK subways, Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial, and Time Square!

Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk!

Prospect Park: Brooklyn Library and Brooklyn Museum

New Jersey: Jersey Shore

Year of the Unicorn

Karter Turns 3!!

April 10th we meet again. This day 3 years ago I was anxiously awaiting your arrival. Prepared like no other because this wasn't my first rodeo, but nothing could have prepared me for you. Karter you are uniquely made and it is no coincidence that this has been the year of the unicorn, everything about you is magical. And although we have had our challenges, we always seem to end with rainbows. To see you grow is to watch God's imagination itself. Thank you for making me laugh with your silly faces, making me scared when you dare to be brave, and making me feel complete merely by your existence.

God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us - in the dreariest and most dreaded moments - can see a possibility of hope.
— Maya Angelou

I was pretty adamant that this year I wasn't going to spend a fortune celebrating Karter's birthday. I wanted it to be carefree and simple. I initially wanted to plan a small tea party at my home, but my now 3 year old who is very particular asked for a "unicorn" party.  So I chose a pretty awesome venue (totally free) at a local church in a nearby community. We ordered a few decorations from Amazon, a cake from Kroger, brought a few pizzas and celebrated in true unicorn style.

Is it me or does anyone just get excited to have an opportunity to hang out with friends and family?! This is always a highlight to anything I plan. I just love spending time with the people who mean most to us. These people are apart of my village. They carry Karter when I can't seem to carry myself. I want my children to know that the love they receive is far beyond what their parents can provide.

True Story: Karter hates being the center of attention. Weeks before her birthday, we would ask Karter about gift ideas, invites, and theme. She would act so unbothered and would literally walk away. Of course I thought this is my diva of a child. But as the day came near, she would almost be in tears when annoucing it was almost her birthday. So can you guess what happen when we sung the actual Happy Birthday song at the party, she had a full blown meltdown. Some would call it being 3, I like to call it being humble. A shopkins gift cleared all that up. Those tears were totally fake, lol

2013-2016 was baby making season!  Karter has so many kids growing up along side her. It's so cute watching her interact with her peers. I would sit back and just watch how she helped them climb, or shared her stickers. She would come to me throughout the party and ask "Where is Paris, Harper, Tara, Tony" etc. She's got a strong clique. Each displaying their little personalities,  sharing smiles and laughter. There is nothing more precious than childhood. 

All in all our hearts are so full. This little girl is growing, she is healthy, loved, and her tribe is conscious. We like to take the time out to thank everyone who took time to come out to celebrate near and far. To those who live long distance and still sent love. Those who purchased gifts, wrote encouraging words in cards, sent social media love, or just had us in your thoughts. It all means something to us. This is what keeps me going. Thank you.

Watch out! Preschool here she comes! Until next year!

Grief Recovery For Mamas

Grief

Moving forward past my miscarriage has not been easy. Grief swiftly can turn into depression, and being a mental health professional I knew I had to search for recovery with true intent. For me that meant that I nourished my soul like fuel to the body in order to repair and recenter. This concept was challenging because I also wanted to spend time being sad because lost is a true emotion. I believe that there are times we ask women to be strong, push harder, and get back up again too quickly. We expect to be okay right after we have been hurt because we have been raised to believe that we can get through anything. And yes "getting though it all" is absolutely true, but it forces us to numb out feelings so we can quickly recover. So I sat in silence and cried my heart out. I slept, I refused to eat, and often times I forced my anger on my husband. I blamed myself, and wanted to stay hidden. But when did I know I had to let go....

In understanding grief, research has broke it down into 7 stages. Please note that we all go through the grief process in our own time, and slide in and out of the stages in our own way. But the feelings of pain and guilt can keep you under, so it is important to turn those hurtful feelings into hope to live out your life in the way it is intended to be.

7 Stages:

  1. SHOCK & DENIAL- You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. 

  2. PAIN & GUILT- It's important to experience your pain fully. Do this healthy, don't turn to liquor or drugs or bad habits. 

  3. ANGER & BARGAINING- This is where it felt good to displace my feelings on my husband. Thankfully he knew and still supported me through it. Remember that others may not be so sympathetic. You don't want to make permanent damage from temporary feelings.

  4. DEPRESSION, REFLECTION, LONELINESS- During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

  5. THE UPWARD TURN- This is when the storm is beginning to clear, feelings begin to shift to more calmness.

  6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH- You made it! Take what you have experienced and work through it.

  7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE- This is when you learn to except the testimony that God has placed in you. You have a new fond hope and perspective on life that makes your life more meaningful. 

Redemption is given to those who believe. So know that it is absolutely okay to be down, but balance it out with the belief that you will see the light again. There are a few things I did purposely to get myself through the grief process. I share this with you in hopes that it can get you out of your darkness as well.

Recovery tips:

  1. Quiet the noise- I immediately logged off of all my social media platforms. I called it a cleanse for no specific period of time. Just to be honest I felt some type of way when I would see women celebrating a birth, or being pregnant. I had to accept that I wasn't ready to celebrate anyone else and needed to walk away from that. I also wanted to take time out for me without putting effort into viewing others. It was my time to make me a priority. 

  2. Write- As soon as I miscarried I picked up my computer and begin to write. Part of this is a way to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, but also it helps process emotions in a different way in the brain by putting words to them.

  3. Keep up on healthy habits- I had drifted away from working out. A week after I miscarried I went to my local YMCA and grabbed a membership. Working out is known to release feel good endorphin's, and lower stress. 

  4. Accept condolences- This was tough. I am not a woman who looks for those around me to help, I try to work through life with my little circle. After sharing my story, I immediately received a vast amount of support and encouragement. Women sharing similar experiences who have got through the storm. Friends bringing flowers, affirmations and blessing being received. It just felt good to be loved. Be okay with being vulnerable and needy. That's what your tribe is there for.

  5. Be present- this was part of my cleanse. Once I begin to pay close attention to my own children and life around me, I begin to see the beauty of it all. I was able to appreciate some of the little moments that I've missed before.

  6. Be spiritual- Believe in the notion that "all things happen for a reason" "God does not give us more than we can bare" "The Lord is my strength and my shield" "By the Grace of God, I am what I am" "Be strong, be brave, be fearless. You are never alone".

I would like to conclude by thanking each and every person who believed more than I did that I would be okay. For those who listened to me, allowed me to cry, and picked me up when I had nothing left. Thank you for loving me past my pain. 

 

For any Mama who is still suffering from grieving and/or can't get past it please call a local mental health professional, local churches, or other parenting resources.

A Mother's Nightmare

Although the holidays were filled with lots of love and laughter. My Thanksgiving night ended in me giving more thanks then I could ever imagine. To me this was my worst nightmare as a parent, and a reminder of my constant strength and vulnerability.

Thanksgiving evening my youngest daughter Karter, 2, was attacked by a dog. Not the average she runs and is chased, or nearly bitten. She was mulled and attacked. Here I am helping my oldest daughter fold laundry, Karter who is behind me playing like her usual self, suddenly screams. My reaction time was immediate, I looked over my shoulder and witnessed my brother's pit bull mix tightening his jaws around her scalp.

In those quick seconds, I didn't scream, I didn't shout. My body went into full attack mode, and all I could think of was "I have to save by baby". Thank God my mother was by my side, she begin to tighten the collar around the dogs neck, as I kicked and pulled my daughter away from his mouth. Here I am a mother, whose mother was protecting me, and still to my rescue. Look at God! My husband rushed as he heard my oldest daughter screaming for help, but because it happen so fast she was already loose. His reaction was to kill the dog, my reaction was just to hold Karter who was screaming with blood dripping from her body as well as my older daughter who was also traumatized from what she had just witnessed. 

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed

I don't know if there was a thought or light bulb that cut on. But my demeanor was calm and collective because my need was driven to soothe her wailing body. I kept reminding her that she was safe, and that I was sorry. I felt a huge sense of guilt, thoughts going in my head such as I could have watched over her more, or why did I allow her to be by a dog. Once everyone was calm we rushed to the hospital. Karter stayed in my arms. She had suffered through multiple abrasions to her skin, bruising, received stitches in her scalp, and was clearly traumatized and in pain. I was close to losing my shit (excuse me). But I felt so hopeless and so powerless in those moments of witnessing her pain.

But when I say God has a plan....Dr. said she would be okay, and that these things happen to children. My husband praised me for my strength and power of composure and security. He even asked me "how did you remain so determined". I didn't know how to answer. It was this innate ability that came out of me,  the same ability that helped me push her out of my belly. 

"No one knows what you have been through or what your pretty little eyes have seen, but I can reassure you--whatever you have conquered, it shines through your mind"

Life is precious. There are days I take motherhood for granted. Days that in my head I ask myself what was I thinking, or I just need a break from this commitment. This motherhood ship is not easy sailing. When I thought I was on top of my game, God reminded me there is always room for growth. My baby girl was attacked not because I don't love her but because as parents we don't always get it 100% right. 

Every mistake, every wrong turn, every experience is a lesson. A lesson for me to be kinder, stay stronger, try harder, and keep hoping. I had blood all over my shirt because Karter stayed in my arms through the entire experience. It was like she knew that in my arms she would be safe. I pray that feeling never goes away.....

I will always be here to save you baby girls.

Thank you to my online and offline village who have kept me encouraged through this entire process by sending text, calling, visiting, and most importantly praying for Karter and my family. I absolutely love each and every person who held us in your heart.  

I Need You More

5k Warrior Run

I couldn't have felt more alive than the way I felt today.

Me and my eldest daughter ran our first 5k today. I honestly didn't think I could do it. After having 2 children, lack of consistent self care, I have to be honest and say that I don't always feel the best health wise. But I just couldn't allow for Kennedy to do it on her own. My husband busy studying for law school midterms, I was left to face the challenge. So we did it, together....

She challenges me to reach further, to achieve greater, to soar higher.

It is so amazing to witness your child accomplish task big and small. It is moments in her triumph that God places confirmation of my hard work and dedication as a mother. I watched her socialize with friends as she pace nervously all while trying to keep her cool. I kept saying "Kennedy you can do it, if mommy can, you can". She would smile nonchalantly. We both knew that the challenge may be greater than we both anticipated. We both leaned on each other for hope, strength, and for support.

Ready, Set, Inspire...

As she stood at the start line, I pulled my youngest daughter, Karter, closer to give Kennedy that last burst of inspiration. I then peeked down at Karter gazing so seriously at her sister. I am very intentional when it comes to making sure I create a bond between them. It has not been as hard as I thought being 7 years apart. Karter is in awe with Kennedy. She cheered her own, screamed and yelled as she watched the crowd go crazy. I truly believe she is inspired by her sister more than she is me. She knows me as her mother, but her sister forces her to dream higher, achieve greater, and inspires her to discover more. 

Now it was my turn. After watching my baby girl crawl through the mud, successfully beating all the hurdles that came her way during the course, I had to. I had no other choice. So I begin, and who was to my left the entire way, Kennedy. She shouted in moments of me wanting to give up " mom you can do it, I'm so proud of you, keep going". So I would take a second wind and fight my way through. I felt like I could do anything as she kept screaming to make sure I knew she was there. I absolutely finished because of her. There are times we believe our children need us to thrive, and yes that may be true. But as I continue to learn more during my motherhood journey, it is defiantly the other way around. My girls keep me going...they force me to follow through, they hold me accountable for the things I probably would never do. 

And so no baby girls.....

It is me who needs you to stay alive....

In summary

We did it! Not because we wanted to, but because we had each other. I love you Kennedy Wells. Everyday I am more proud of you, more amazed by you, and so happy you are mine. You are a reflection of all I have done right in this world. Thank you for choosing me. Now let's go knock the next goal out the park...together as always

Reasons I quit my job, but didn't quit Corporate America

Let's start here....

God makes no mistakes. I remember stories from family members and my mother in particular who would share how much of a caregiver I was growing up. My mother told detailed stories of me never wanting to play with baby dolls, but wanting to watch and carry the "real babies" via my little cousins or babies around me. I've always been a rescuer. Wanting to help those in need, not truly understanding how to help, but had a gift for gab, so I begin to just talk to people for comfort, or listen to provide a ear. 

It was natural for me to become a social worker. In highschool I remember my dream of wanting to be a dancer and brain surgeon. Both having nothing in common, and both not fulfilling any direct need that I had. Of course I started that journey and realized early on in my college career that I wanted to be a do-er. I wanted to help heal, I wanted to use my craft of talking and listening just like "God" did to make the world right again. Boy did I have some things to learn.

I grew up in a area that some would consider the "ghetto".  Surrounded by community violence, liquor stores, and failing school districts. But the way my mother raised me I never felt the madness of the world. She kept me safe, and provided my brothers and I with stability. I am forever grateful for her shield that protected me, but more importantly her very innocent way of modeling for me a self made queen. She knew I would do great things, and encouraged me to reach my highest potential despite the circumstances around me.

And that's exactly what I did or planned to do! I excelled in school, earned myself a scholarship to The Ohio State University, where I journeyed into a social service degree or what college calls it, Sociology. I birthed my oldest daughter Kennedy my last year in school, and it was at her birth my passion for wanting to be the best mother I could me drove me to wanting to learn more about parenting and ways to continue to help children. Fast forward...after working with underprivileged children, teenagers addicted to drugs and alcohol for 7 years. I had suddenly felt stuck. Was I reaching my full potential, was I doing all that I knew I was capable of? I continued to hear my mother, who would always ask, is there anything more you can do?

It sure didn't feel like it, so I decided to take advantage of my employers tuition reimbursement program and enrolled in a Social Work Masters program at the same university I received my undergraduate degree. Social work continued to feel right, yes I knew I would be underpaid, and yes I knew I would be looked down upon in the professional world. But it fueled a fire in me, and the rewards of seeing people healed through my assistance continue to guide my heart. My heart was also driven to wanting more children of my own. So what did I do? My last year in the same fashion as my first daughter, I birthed and graduated with my second daughter Karter. 

Blessed enough to have an opportunity in school to intern in one of the most prestigious hospitals in the nation. And what was more fascinating was the discovery of prevention work. I found practices to prevent cycles of generational trauma, early childhood mental health. It was captivating seeing the connections of mental wellness being made from prenatal to adulthood. It was also knowledge that was beneficial for all children, which provided me with parenting skills I could use on my own children. God continued to shine light on my passion and I was offered a job at that same hospital right after having my daughter as an early childhood mental health professional. But oh how I wasn't prepared for this....

My amazing team and friends. My work village. Each barring their special gifts, each touching my life in different ways. The absolute hardest part about leaving. Thank you!

These weren't the same babies I was holding when I was a child. These stories I have never heard before. These stories were filled with horror, trauma, generations of abuse, lack of resources, systems that continued to keep those same children and families underprivileged. Stories that kept me up at night, and mistrustful of the world. Stories that made me over protective as a mother, and emotional unavailable to my spouse. Stories that had me question my own existence and if that same God who was holding me together was real. Well shit got real, and I was experiencing burn out. Finding ways that I could quit. Not because I didn't want to help but because I couldn't help enough. I wasn't strong enough, I wasn't powerful enough, my voice was not loud enough. I just wanted to give up.

Funny how co-workers turned friends hold you up, when you can't hold yourself.

I told myself I wanted to stay home. That the best thing for me to do was find a way to quit and be with my very own babies at all times. Because that was when I felt good, it was the only piece of me I was able to control. And let me tell you, God is an amazing healer, because he was not done with me in the manner that I wanted to shove away. I commend women who stay at home, and I believe it is a beautiful thing to be present in raising your children. I also believe different things drive women differently. Don't get me wrong there is nothing more that I want in life but to be emotional, and physically present for my children. And yes I want a gang of them. But I knew my impact had to be greater. And that my gift of healing with words and lending my ears and hands couldn't be fulfilled by being home. 

So I begin writing, I begin branding, and I begin to preach a message of mental health and wellness. I begin outreaching, connecting, and re-focusing. It was like I was recharging the battery that for a long time was draining out on all the layers of who I was. I begin to plan to do entrepreneur work, and again although this is great for some, it's not for everyone. It doesn't make you weak, and there are some who may devalue those who work in corporate because of there own perceptions. But for me the systems that were failing the people I was trying to help, I knew I needed to be apart of (political move) to begin to make true change. But I stayed patient. I continued to work hard at my job, I also continued to work harder at advocating and educating any and every person I could come in contact with. I stayed diligent. And see this is the power of my village. My husband was my encourager, my daughters were my inspiration, and my family and friends were my strength.

And let me tell you. WON'T HE DO IT!!!! After 6 months of starting my blog, I was met with an opportunity to serve as one of the best school districts mental health specialist. Serving families and children pk-12. I'm not one to brag, but I will absolutely gloat in my glory. Sacrifice, hard work, patience, family and faithfulness to my mission served me well. I am so excited to begin a new journey to be part of a system to make monumental change. I wasn't able to see the light, especially in my darkest days but GOD was. I always say I am doing God's work. I am an true front line solider to the core of me. But now I am in the position to be the lieutenant and I am forever grateful. Each milestone is leading me to a destination. As long as I am moving in a forward direction, I know I am doing something right. The impact I plan to make will be able to carry those stories I heard that gave me nightmares, to places that will give those same children and families their dreams back....

And just to put the icing on the cake. Both my daughters will come to the district with me, receiving the same breaks, and all our summers will be off together. So guess what I will be at home! Win, freaking win!!! I am so happy. Never doubt your ability, and follow your heart despite what those around you try to prescribe. Stay humble and hungry.....and to think he still ain't done (praise hands)

Look to your right...it is the path back home. If you choose, you can take it. It is safe, easy, and comfortable. You do not have to work out or fight or do anything else you do not want to....

Or you can keep moving forward. I will not lie to you. I cannot predict what may become of you. It will require a lot of training, hard work, study, and danger. But in the very end, you will know strength. I swear it. You might just become someone who will make a difference in the world.
— Unknown

 

 

Self Reflection

31

Dear Self,
I do not thank you enough for evolving into such a strong
person, mother, daughter and friend. I love you and I don’t
tell you enough. Most days I overlook how far you’ve come.
Keep sowing seeds of peace and continue to be the resilient
woman that I know you are.
Love you always and forever,
Self
— Alexandra Elle

When life just feels good.

31 years...31 years of development. 31 years of self discovery and still so much left to be uncovered. Here I am a few nights before my birthday, dreaming of who I once was, and pondering about what's to come. One thing is for certain, I am not what I once was, and I am yet to be what I am becoming. God has been working on me. I can feel his presence so candidly now. I remember my younger days, praying without a true purpose. Now today my prayers are more purposeful than ever. I am finally free. Free of unwanted feelings, free from chaos, freedom to pick and choose my battles, wisely enough to dictate my destiny. I am here, in this moment, with both doubt and fear but most importantly with understanding. Understanding that the unforeseen doesn't mean failure, but that 31 years has drove me to this exact point. And if this is any indication of where I am headed, I know I'm traveling down a road of hurdles that I am confident I will jump, and prepared to re-route. I am here......

Wow....look how far I've traveled. I've added a few passengers along the way. An amazing man who is co-pilot to this thing we call love. A man that I always knew was part of my script, but didn't know the words until his physical presence was brought to me. He took my hand and was determined to show me God's love in man form. He fueled my soul so much that it seeped over giving me 2 beautiful daughters. Proof again that I was capable of all that life has to give. See it wasn't until I had my first daughter that I realized that whatever I put my mind to, if spoken, it could be manifested. Because everyday, since the first day I became a mother, all the words out of my mouth sounded different. Nothing has been more freeing than raising my girls. Now my journey is filled with justification and pride.

To my younger self- Keep swimming. Life will feel confusing, and sometimes you may feel like you are going in circles. Just remember each time you travel back to the place you feel like you just left, you came back with new insight. That same insight will push you through that same loop again because God's intention isn't to change who you are, but to add to who you are growing into.

To my future self- Your impact has proven to be powerful. Your mission continues to remain close to your heart. Your mind, body and spirit continue to be aligned with your life's gift. And your purpose continues to be driven by your passion. The seeds you have planted now have roots of their own. Now sit back and be fulfilled. Allow the fruits of your labor be the fuel that will continue the journey you will have your children talking about when you are gone.

With that...

Happy Birthday to me! 31 years....  

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
— Howard Thurman

Raising Girls

Raising girls and being a female has been like watching my own reflection. Therefore I am very aware of the experiences I expose them too. Not only because they are my children, but because I once remember being just like them. Raising girls comes with its own challenges. I don't like to pick apart children based on gender, but realistically there are just biological components that make both species very different. I know in my family there are sayings that boys are more easy when raising, but harder to carry prenatal. And that girls are very challenging as they age, but seem to excel more academically. Blah, blah, blah. Although I believe those stories have derived from personal experiences, it is hard to pin point. All I can do is speak about my personal experience raising my children and why I don't place labels.

The gender roles that society likes to prescribe to certain sexes are the natural way we begin to shape and raise our children. We tell boys not to play with dolls, and tell girls not to play too rough. It's natural to adapt to those same gender roles because it makes us feel safe, but what does that teach our children? Are they only allowed to be or feel a certain way, and if not they should feel isolated? I have decided to go against the grain when raising my girls with the understanding that they are capable of doing whatever they choose to do, not because they are females but because they can actually do it.

Kennedy is my flower child. A girl of many wanders. I remember when she began to walk, how she gravitated towards art. Her security was not in a blanket, it was holding a book. She would always need to use her hands, if it was trying to write letters and words, coloring on our walls, or just having a crayon, that girl had things that she needed to come across expressively. So what did I do? I placed her in art classes. I believe as a parent we should allow our children to gravitate towards the things they are interested in. Not saying that we shouldn't give them choices. But there are particular "talents and gifts", as a parent you begin to notice early on and we should take those as signs. She blossomed so well in art it transpired into her excelling in literature because she was so expressive. Now she is a gymnast, a genius in math, and enjoys everything crafty. I never try to corner her into activities, instead I make them available for her to explore. Now that she is older, I allow her to choose all while I still challenge her to expand her interest. I never want my girls to be boxed in, or written out...if you know what I mean.

 

She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. “Time” for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.
— Roman Payne

Now Karter is my fire cracker. Her spirit is not so calm. Half of that is attributed to her being 2, the other half is her will power she has displayed since birth. I say this because even when birthing her she came super-fast. I went into the hospital and the Doctor told me she was coming now. She pushed herself in this world, and continues to keep pushing. She is a ball of energy, jumps off couches, and brave enough to take a leap off the diving board while daddy holds his hands out. Every experience is new to her and she holds no fear. This week she started swim classes, and not only did she show up, she showed out! I blame her drive on her sister being 7 years older. Since being born she has always seen herself in light of her sister. If Kennedy jumps high, she wants to jump higher. As I was holding her in the water, she looked up at her sister and said "see mom, I do it too". Reminded me that although we attend a million gymnastic meets, she also can do well in class. It was amazing to witness her sense of accomplishment.

Don't allow the world to box your children in. Let them be free and allow them to be little. Provide your children with the opportunities to explore. Don't believe stereotypes that keep our children hidden . Yes they will have differences, yes they may be opposites. But that's the joy of our seeds multiplying. My children are not just me reflected. They are pieces of me with a whole lot of them. And although I believe my girls drive me crazy because they are girls, I begin to dispel those myths and allow them to just be them. But always aware I'm raising queens (prayer hands).

 

Motherhood...more than a title (Dedicated to Kennedy)

Because I am a mother of a 9 year old....

This year my oldest daughter, Kennedy, will be 9. I always take time on my daughter's birthday to reflect on my title as "mother". Of course this is a celebration on her maturing and transitioning to a new time in life. But I can't help but recognize how much I have grown along side her due to her birth directly. Before having Kennedy at age 22 life felt selfish. Selfish in a sense that every decision I made was because of my own personal interest. Not that it was bad, because at 22, life should be self directed in order to find self-discovery. I remember my days before having Kennedy, still young in my mind, but not able to comprehend how I would take care of a baby and still needing to be taken care of myself. She then appeared from my wound and suddenly I felt a shift in my heart that made the questions I had before her birth, all seem so easily explained. This little girl needs me, I am her rescuer. Suddenly the things I cared about most, if the formula couldn't include her, then they had to be let go. As soon as I stepped in the role of being Kennedy's mother, I didn't change my sense of self, I found a way for it to include her.

My daughter introduced me to myself.
— Unknown

Now here we are 9 years later. Kennedy is my best friend. She challenges me in ways that make me feel uncomfortable, she introduced me to me. It's crazy because I have never felt like I knew myself more than I know who I am today. Kennedy is the part of me that was left undiscovered. She has made me realize my strength, my fears, all while feeling a sense of accomplishment. Her spirit is so free, and her movements are so fluent. She has reservations about things that scare her, such as joining a new team, or challenging herself to take on a new task. She then will come to me for reassurance and guidance. Motherhood has had its toll on me, being responsible for making the smartest decisions that will impact how she transitions into adulthood. I don't always feel wise enough to parent her, or strong enough to hold her. But somehow I still do. This internal sense of pride that develops when we carry a seed of life in the belly. She is my very own reflection.

I don't always have it all together. I don't always say the right things. But she still loves me. She still looks at me the way I looked at my mother. She trusts that I will keep her safe and shield her from harm. I don't know if I will. I don't even know what it might look like. But the same fear I had at 22 is not the same fear I live with at 30. I know that my title of motherhood will call for things I have yet to bare. Kennedy you have gave me all the answers for the past 9 years of my life. You are my wisdom, you are my guide. I can never promise you the unforeseen, but I promise that we will find the answers together, like we always do. And for that you will never have to walk alone....

An Ode to Motherhood

There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.
— Jill Churchill

As I sit back and reflect what motherhood means to me, I not only pay homage to my own mother, but all the women who are part of my village. For me, motherhood about re-birth. A chance to start over and reappear in a new form of life. I think about how strong my grandmother was, moving from Birmingham Al, with 9 children, including my mother, with hopes and dreams folded in her back pocket. She taught my own mother about concepts of motherhood. Then my birth occurred, forcing my mother to then pass on what she learned to me. Now here I am, transforming those teachings to my very own children. Just hoping I get it somewhat right, and make them proud. 

My mother shares stories of how much of a caretaker I was as a young child. She states I had/have a very nurturing soul. I was always taking care of my younger cousins, and other children who came around. She often explains that I always wanted to be a mommy, carrying a baby doll and purse where ever I went. Now here I am with 2 little girls whose whole life is dependent on my well-being, and I can't help but feel a little loaded. Motherhood is so complex, right? And during this Hallmark holiday I sit back and ask myself, what does motherhood mean to me... 

My motherhood is my redemption. I have a long way to go before figuring this motherhood thing out, with the understanding that I may never figure it out. But what is essential is that I give my girls a foundation to build upon to be wiser. Wiser than my mother, my grandmother, and mothers who came before her. I want them to use my failures as a chance to rise again, a new chance to get it right. My thoughts are that motherhood is a direct link to the future, giving us power to transform the world by building our children to be better than our imperfections. It's imperative I model for my daughters my fears and hopes to use as a source for growth and learning. And in return they are equipped to be great women and mothers themselves.

So here's to all the mothers who put parenting first. You know the moms who took small rations so you had seconds. The mothers who love whole-hardheartedly but understand that you still need limits. The mothers who maintain their own identities outside of being a mother. The mom who worries for you. The mom who runs off of no time, but makes time for you. The mom who will ask for kisses no matter how old you get. The mothers who live to see the smile on their child's face. The mothers who never stop trying to get it right. And most importantly the mothers who have the ability to understand that their life will continue long after they are present, so you are purposely walking in your purpose.

Overall, thank you to all the moms who are contributing to making the world a better place by raising strong children, with dreams and hopes in your back pocket.

Happy Mother's Day!

 

Karter Turns TWO!

Karter Alexandria Wells

Advice to my daughters....

Never allow the world to box you in. Be free in your mind, body, and spirit. Love those who may be deemed unlovable, and cherish all moments good and bad.

Karter, on this 2nd birthday, you have no concept of time. This exact day you will forget, as you will many moments in time. But one day you will come to me and say "Mom, how was I when I was younger?". I will share these moments with you...for your heart will remember the love surrounded by your village. And I will say "child it was perfect".

Thank you Firefly Play Cafe for your wonderful venue and service. More specifically, Andrea, who made everything look so easy.

Enjoy the birthday gallery....it was as much fun as it looks!

 

 

 

Father First-Written By: Maurice Wells

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
— Frederick Douglass

 

Father’s are a critical part of the family model. Countless studies have shown that children who grow up without a father face higher rates of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, incarceration, and various physical and mental health issues. Some say that almost every social ill faced by America’s children is related to fatherless-ness. Despite knowing this information, many fathers find it difficult to spend time with their families and create the opportunity to bond with their children.  

I grew up blessed to have a great step-father, who took care of me and my brother as if we were his. My biological father died when I was young. I'm grateful to have a dad who is devoted, and has always made me feel as I was his son. He showed me how to be a man in the ways that matter most. My father is a perfect example of why I parent the way I do. He is a black man, who worked everyday, and did what it took to take care of his family.

 As a father, husband, and law student, it’s difficult to find the proper work-life balance. Sometimes, it seems there are not enough hours in the day. I’ll admit it, there are days when I don’t see my kids.  Leaving before they wake up, and getting home after they have gone to bed. However, those days are few and far between. I make a conscious effort to be involved in my children’s life. Whether it’s waiting until the kids are put to bed before I start studying, or typing a paper at my daughter’s 5-hour gymnastics competition. In short, I always find a way to make sure I am present, therefore forming memories with my children.

As a young black professional, with a family, it’s tough for me to take a break because I feel like somebody else is out-working me. Or I think to myself, others who don’t have family obligations have more time to dedicate to their professional life so I need to work even harder. But understanding that my children will continue to meet milestones that I may miss, I soon realize that building memories with my children is much more valuable than that. My children won’t remember that I got a big promotion, or that after not being present for a week, I got an A on my final. They will remember the physical moments that we shared together, and for me, that’s worth the sacrifice.   

As my children get older, and it’s not so cool to hang around Dad anymore, I want them to reminisce about the memories we formed. They will be able to look back and remember their father teaching them how to ride a bike, carrying them home after they fell and scraped their knee, cheering them on at gymnastics competitions, or helping them with their homework. All moments count, big and small. I hope the memories that we have shared, and the memories that we have yet to create, will be enough to show them that I always put my family first. Before I can become anything greater in this world, I first have to master the art of fatherhood.

 

            

Balance In All Things

Daddy writing a paper but keeping his girls close.

Daddy writing a paper but keeping his girls close.

With a full time career, journeying to entrepreneurship, being a mother of 2, and having a husband who is a full time law student, I often wonder how I haven’t gone mad. I believe this is a true testament to women's character in general. We wear so many hats, carry all our bags, and still wear our crowns gracefully. A title of a queen might not encompass all that we endure, because this here is no magic carpet ride. Maintaining some sort of household balance is key to keeping me sane. Household balance can hold true to single parents as well as those who are in committed relationships. My motto is “keeping balance in all things”.  Balance within ourselves, our families, our jobs, and whatever role you play. Balance is making sure you purposely plan to be present in all areas of your life. Have you ever been so overwhelmed at work you forget to work out, and then you felt awful? Or what about the moment you feel so terrible because you are dead tired and haven’t spent quality time with the kids? We all get those days. Days where we feel neglectful as a friend, parent, spouse, and most importantly to ourselves.   I am here to tell you that if you commit to being more balanced, than those days will be easier. This doesn’t mean that we never have crummy days, this means that you have decided to take control to create a better mental state to handle challenging days with a more balanced perspective.

3 ways you can start:

1. Self-care- Do things for yourself. Don’t feel bad for putting “you” first. If you aren’t the best you for yourself, there is no way you can be present for those around you. Self-care is about spending time to self-reflect, self-examine, and center yourself. This can be as simple as reading a chapter every night in that book you didn’t finish, exercising, taking yourself to see that movie you’ve been waiting to see, etc. If you truly don’t have the time to do any of that, spend time in meditation for the last 15mins before going to bed. This time is for you to be with yourself without guilt.

Create safe spaces for yourself. Wrap yourself in goodness and warmth and love. Stay surrounded by people who are genuine—think twice if you can’t trust them with your heart. You are allowed to protect your peace. Be mindful and aware of all energy that you allow into your life.
— Alex Elle

 

2. Plan out your days- I admit I suffer from self diagnosed OCD; I live by planners, planning, and hoping to stay on schedule. Planning your days could be making a day dedicated to family, cleaning, studying, dating, etc. Within my own family I have started traditions to make sure I am purposeful with having balance. My Friday is dedicated to my family, always. We usually eat out, or order in, and spend quality time with one another. Sunday is our cleanup day. Everyone in the family is required to clean up a space, and put our home back in order for the next week. I plan a date night each month with my husband to allow for us to reconnect on a more intimate level. I also schedule time before picking up my children to call at least one friend to check up on them. Planning your day is about creating a time for you to be present in all areas of your life so you aren’t overwhelmed all at once. As adults we often forget some of the little things. Just like children, once we can create routines to our lives, they suddenly become habits. No more feeling guilty about what you forgot, only relief that you got it done. My advice is to use some sort of calendar, planner, and reminder system in your phone. Literally book yourself for things. Don’t overbook, look at those moments of free time, and place some of the items you have neglected. Post them up, to remind yourself to get it done. The hardest part is just doing it. Be committed to being balanced for mental freedom.

3. Use your support- You are better with the people around you. You can get further with your goals when you have healthy adults who understand your mission. It takes a village. In no way I own my accomplishments alone. Build your team, by finding those who want the best for you. The first step of support is always family. My mother is my life line, without her some of the areas I need to be present for they would be neglected. I know several people I have encountered who state they have no support. I always advise them to find support.  This is another area you have to be creative and intentional. Join groups on Facebook, a reading club, connect with parents in your child’s classroom. The person you talk to at work, go out for happy hour. If you go to church, join bible study, or programming. You have to find people, and create relationships. The point is to get to know people to help you, help YOU. We are humans, it’s necessary for us to me intermingled. That’s how we thrive, and become more powerful. I like to use my village to give me breaks, help me when I am sick, or to tag in when I have completely checked out.

My husband and I have a tight system and team. We have been together for 10 years, and we can literally tell when one of us is out of balance. I am so blessed to have a team mate who is just as committed to the productivity of our family as I am. Here he is, 2nd year of law school, he still cooks 4 times a week, places kisses nightly on the girls, spends every Friday with us, and creates free time purposely to make sure he is present. He is the real MVP! And as his wife I make sure he has moments for himself, to perfect his craft and re-center his drive.

I have to say household balance is the engine to my family. I have realized when I neglect one thing; it often has a domino effect on other areas of my life, and in return makes me feel awful. Provide balance and a system to your family that works for you. Allow this balance to provide you mental freedom. In a world where we are often over-consumed in things that don’t provide us with full satisfaction, create your own by creating balance. 

An Open Letter To My Husband

My husband, my reflection.

My husband, my reflection.

Dear Husband,

Thought it would be fitting for me to write a letter to you after celebrating your birth for the past 10 years of my life.  Can you believe it's been 10 years! Life comes at us fast, and before I allow you to go any further with all that life has given to you. I need you to know a few things...

In a world where people question your potential, it's necessary I acknowledge you. I am not into preaching the gospel, but my faith is very strong. Your creation into the universe is a direct reflection of his mercy. Here we are...flawed, incomplete, and damaged in some ways. And God has allowed us to redeem one another.  Balancing each other out, tackling challenges, and focusing on creating solutions. Love can get hard, we don't always make it easy, but the devotion we share has seen us through.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate then when I fall asleep your eyes close.
— Pablo Neruda

Not fulfilling your NFL dream got you stuck? 2nd year of law school driving you crazy? What about raising 2 girls that you somehow manage to continue to place first? No? It has to be trying to please an unappeasable wife, who has 10 things to say after you, and cries after everything (It's the Cancer trait) LOL. You wear your cape so well. Always putting things back in perspective, seeing all sides that somehow I miss. Seeking and fulfilling your purpose so graciously.

A warrior, but poised like a King. You never allow me to feel the pressure of the world. The things I doubt, you conquer for me. The ways in which I suffer, you are always there to heal. I often times remind you, I don't know where I would be without you. Although I know I would place my crown so firmly on my head, it just wouldn't be the same. Life with you is just easy. Easy like our Sunday mornings before our girls come in are room. That same morning where you're holding me close, I'm picking out your curls, and we just dream together. Planning out our future, telling ourselves, as long as we have one another we can accomplish it all. Devising our plan to get our piece of the pie. Inspiring one another by feeding off our independent accomplishments.

That is the same morning that I sit back and then see you engage with our children. And I think to myself. In a world that can be so cold, at this exact moment I have everything I need. My heart is so full. Full of admiration and contentment. Knowing that my girls know love because their daddy shows love to their mommy consistently. You are a direct manifestation of how they will allow the world to see them. You are courageously dedicated and true.

Well today I celebrate you. For everything you are and everything you will become. For everything you will fail to be, and loving you through it all. My vow today and forever is to continue to celebrate you even when I don't want to. For even your scars I will cherish. Because when I didn't believe I deserved to be loved, God gave me you.

Thank you Maurice Alexander Wells. I loved you 10 years ago, and you have allowed me to fall in love with you each year after. For your birthdate is a blessing to us both.

My family and my marriage will be the masterpiece I leave behind.
— Jada Pinkett-Smith

No Perfect Parent Allowed.

Who wants the perfect parent anyway...cliche...cliche...cliche....

No greater challenge then the art of parenthood. Who has the secret formula? I need it all! But seriously shit gets tough. Even with all the skills I have obtained through my career, I still find myself lost, frustrated, and often times overwhelmed. Today was one of those days. God has a funny way of reminding me that it is not my education that allows me to raise my children, it is those organic moments that gives me the ability to master the craft.

There are times I find myself wanting to be isolated or run away from the responsibility of it all. The humanness of those thoughts keep me grounded. Raising "people" is one of the most demanding, sacrificial roles you will ever play. The great thing is that you have a million times to try to get it right. 

Testimony:

My oldest daughter Kennedy, 8, is at a milestone in life where she wants to mark her independence. I believe this has everything to do with her starting puberty. She can be emotional, needy, and mouthy all in the same breathe. Her good days outweigh her bad, but her bad can feel overwhelming. Today was not the day. I had a long day in the community, driving from one end of the town to the other, working with families that everyone else has failed to help. When arriving home I noticed that on a math test she put in minimum effort. I know this because I know my child and she is a math genius. When questioning her I could already tell the evening was not going to go well. She felt attacked, and maybe that was warranted, but it set the tone for the rest of the day. Later in the evening I noticed she was not taking care of her skin as need be, she has really bad eczema, and a very strict skin routine. I immediately questioned her. All her guards went up, and as she began to cry, she states "you don't care about me". That statement triggered me. I was so upset that she would say such a false statement when I just spent my entire day, my entire life, dedicated to making sure she knew how much I cared. I got argumentative and punished her. At that point her father stepped in because he is often the level headed one, and tagged me out for a break.

I was so angry, how dare she say I don't care, I work my ass off, right? I resented her in that moment. Shout out to all my single mothers/fathers who can't tag a partner to step in, you are amazing. When my husband checked in, I begin to check out. During my check out I started to self reflect. Self reflection is key when parenting because it brings you to a conscious level of parenting. I had the ability to recognize my part in it all. Was she a easy target for my bad day? How could I have approached her to get my point across in a more sensitive manner? Does she really believe I don't care, or is she a 8 year old whose reactions can be irrational? All these questions placed me back to when I was her age, and would fight back, only to realize it was at those moments I just wanted more love.

After she sat with her father, and I had some special playtime with Karter, I knew we both needed each other. She got ready for bed, I went into her room and asked if she would sit on my lap. I first begin by apologizing. This can be hard for parents, because we always feel like we are right. But to model forgiveness for our children is so empowering it's necessary. I begin to tell her the errors in my ways as well as hers. I wanted her to know that we were both flawed, equally. I never want my daughter to feel she has to be perfect or that her mommy is perfect, but I want her to know that she has to try her best. No one can argue with best. I also wanted for her to understand the difference between caring, and challenging her to be/do better. It is my job as her mother to want the best for her physically, mentally, and emotionally. Challenging her is not fighting with her, it's simply knowing as her mother her potential. We ended with a long tight hug, lots of affirmations, and encouraging one another. I will always be her mother, she will always have the role of my daughter, perfect never, growing always.

It is okay if they fall, binge on TV, have a piece of candy or three, eat fries at McDonalds, so on and so forth. It's about creating a balance. Life is surrounded by mistakes, it's the pedestal of growth. We have to allow our children to see us at those vulnerable moments, because perfection is not the goal, getting back up is. 

The act of parenting isn’t about creating the perfect child or being the perfect parent. It’s the effort that goes towards figuring it out that makes you great.
— Mommy Wells
Not looking for perfection, my heart is mounted on top of love.   -Mommy Wells

Not looking for perfection, my heart is mounted on top of love.   -Mommy Wells

Mother/Daughter 2016 Vision Board- DIY

Sundays are for "future" telling.

#SundayFunday

This morning we woke up extra early to take Kennedy to support her gymnastics team at competition. I did not allow for her to participate in the first competition because 1,  she just joined a new team and 2, I didn't feel as if she was ready. During practices I noticed her not giving her all, I decided to allow for her to experience competition culture to gain some motivation to excel. As she sat at the competition, I could see her eyes water with excitement. What was most joyous is I heard her cheering for her teammates loud and proud. It was at that moment I felt like she was experiencing true "inspiration".

So we got in the car and begin discussing what it means to be "inspired". I decided to expand on the conversation and planned a mother/daughter vision board afternoon. I discussed with her what it means to plan for your future, and how to visualize her goals. I wanted for her to know that the things you truly believe in, happen, and therefore we accomplish them. It's hard to teach children to believe in something they can't see. Kids need instant gratification. But in that present moment when she was pulling out things that "inspired her", I gleamed with so much happiness. She chose some amazing things to be only 8 years old, and also chose items that made me proud she was only 8. Such as a picture of nail polish, just innocent and true. I would advise any parent that has a child who would be able to begin visualizing their dreams, to do this craft together. It's so important for parents to guide and support conversations of the future. We are the leaders of our nation. Train up a child...you know the rest.