Daily Parenting

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.  

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).

 

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. 

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