Despite the 10-month and a few days too long pregnancy, the two-day labor, four-day hospital stay, and four digit hospital bill, I didn’t really feel like a mommy for the first few months of my daughter’s life. Uncertain as to what being a mommy actually felt like, I just knew without a doubt that I wasn’t feeling “it” even as I celebrated a beautiful Mother’s Day just a few short weeks after the birth of my beautiful baby girl.
Now fast forward two-and-a-half years later, and I’ll tell you that I physically, mentally, financially, and otherwise feel every bit like a mommy. I’ve got both tangible and intangible proof that I am indeed a mommy. Even when I’m not mothering, which in reality I don’t think I am ever not mothering; so let me rephrase, even when my little one is not physically in my presence, I still feel like a mommy. Thanks to my membership to motherhood I now understand, and usually more willingly accept, my mother’s – the best Momie ever! – unsolicited advice and protection although I’m on the verge of being dirty-thirty. A mother’s job is never done.
So, after just tucking my little one in for the third time after a couple of episodes of vomiting at an insane time of the morning I present to you How You Know You’re A Mommy…
- When you get up in the middle of the night to change and wash dirty linen bathed in your child’s bodily fluids. Gross, but we do it.
- When you muster up enough strength to lift a toddler mid-air so as that precious bottom doesn’t touch the seat of a public commode.
- When you pick boogies out of a nose that is more crusty than the lips of Dave Chappelle’s character Tyrone Biggums. Now that is some kind of crusty!
- When you’d risk being mistaken for a hobo or crazy person after having a night/early morning like I’ve just experienced, but still make sure that your child(ren) is clean, pristine, and ready for a close up.
- When you give them the last of your food because they claim to still be hungry although they’ve eaten an entire kids meal.
- When your heart melts after they hug you and affectionately dub you “Mommy” even though you just disciplined them 2 minutes earlier for misbehaving.
- When you don’t make any plans for your future before thinking of them first and how they’d be impacted by your decision(s).
- When you work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life just to provide stability and security that they can rely on.
- When you allow them to lay in bed with you even though you just want to sprawl out across the bed without concern of waking up to a tiny toe in your nostril.
- When you protect your child(ren) with a level of ferocity that even you didn’t know you possessed.
- When you can easily wake from your slumber at the faintest sound of their discomfort.
- When your child inspires greatness in you and leads you to strive to be a better woman, parent, and partner so that your child has a role model whose behavior he/she can emulate.
In a previous post I shared a list of new and old holiday traditions from my childhood that I planned to experience with my daughter. The day before Thanksgiving marked the commencement of our holiday tradition bonanza. Today we continued creating memories and making traditions. For the first time ever my daughter and I stood on the side-walk – one of us with a grueling backache in the aftermath of holding a 30-pound toddler – to partake in the local annual Christmas parade.
It was easy to tell that some bystanders have long included the annual Christmas parade as a family tradition. The veteran onlookers were decked with lawn chairs, mugs of some variety of hot cocoa, tea, or coffee, and blankets. Yours truly had the daily essentials: lip balm and gloss, peppermints, phone, camera (with a dead battery), and sunglasses. Little One had her mittens and fruit snack. She declined the offer to be pushed around in her stroller. It was a nice day for walking, so hey, what did I care that she wanted to be healthy and get her blood pumping with a few thousand blocks of walking? Good girl I thought.
Two hours, no stroller, no Daddy, no camera battery, and no back support. Did I mention my lingering backache?
Those two hours were filled with watching the Marching Force from my alma mater, Hampton University, march proudly down the street playing classic Christmas tunes that most, if not all, of us are familiar with. We saw a number of inflatable character floats one after the other, the Harlem Globetrotters, and even a troop of tiny cheerleaders, oddly not cheering, smiling, waving, or yelling, “happy holidays” to the crowd.
Came the float carrying 8 men dressed in uniform. I’m not referring to the big man in the red and white suit (what is that, velvet?) and his elves I’m talking about 8 men decked in freshly pressed military regalia. Blame it on the dull pain in my lower back, or the absence of my lovely husband who could have prevented the pain in my back, but I uncharacteristically was pretty excited to see the men in uniform, standing tall, dignified, and demanding respect. Exciting indeed. I smiled and waved, yelled, “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” I even saluted one very handsome officer! My, oh my. Don’t ask me why I did it.
My daughter enjoyed the parade. More than the parade she enjoyed being amongst the hundreds of onlookers who also included this year’s parade on their tradition to-do list. Mommy enjoyed the parade too. Especially…well, I won’t hurt hubby’s feelings, but you all know what my favorite part was, next to seeing the joy on my baby’s face of course.
Moving forward our holiday traditions list will include annual Christmas parade with fine men in uniform on float. No exceptions!
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My family isn’t one to really use the word “tradition” to reference our holiday celebrations, but on each holiday the expected ritual is that we all gather at my grandmother’s house for gift exchanges, my grandmother’s soul food, and my aunts baked from scratch cakes. We spend the evening playing a game of Scattergories where my Aunt Dorothy will inevitable cheat and have all of her answers ignored and thereby be declared the loser before the game ever begins, followed by the family sitting (some standing as we are a very large family) watching terrible homemade movies that always, always, always ends in laughter. The older I get the more I am reminded of how my childhood growing up in San Francisco was abundantly rich filled with “traditions” and unwavering relationships.
As my little one is growing up right before my eyes I ask myself this holiday season, what traditions will we create as a family? What will my little one say of her childhood; how will she complete the sentence, “We always did _____ for the holidays? The only way to foster traditions are to first create them. This year we’ll continue with the traditions that started when I was a graduate student dating my hubby, then boyfriend, along with the traditions that came about with the birth of our baby girl, and start new traditions that one day my daughter will say, “As a child we always…”
- Fixed Thanksgiving dinner so that we’d have leftovers cooked in our own kitchen.
- Wore festive pajamas for major holidays.
- Unwrapped 25 books – some handpicked by me at the library, some store-bought. Mommy would wrap each book and place it under the Christmas tree for me to unwrap each night beginning on December 1st leading up to Christmas day.
- Listened to Bob Marley, a CD Mommy and Daddy coined “our Christmas music,” while decorating the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving.
- Exchanged Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve.
- Scoured the “Black Friday” ads and got a head start shopping on the morning of Thanksgiving.
- Watched Christmas movie classics while sprawled out on the sofa under the handmade quilt “Created with Grandmother’s Love.”
- Drank hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and a peppermint stick.
- Mailed Christmas cards to my family and friends.
- Read the story of Jesus’ birth.
- Stayed up late on New Year’s Eve dancing, flipping the channels between New York’s Time Square ball drop and Nick Jr’s countdown, eating hors d’oeuvre’s and sipping sparkling apple cider from a plastic champagne flute…fancy!
- Using my acting chops in the church’s annual Christmas program.
- Ice skating, or more aptly, falling on the ice, with Mommy and Daddy.
- Had a never ending playlist of holiday music.
Follow me on Pinterest for holiday tradition ideas. What traditions will you uphold or create this year?
A Mother’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
I have a dream that one day my children will fall asleep at the exact moment that sleep begins its silent attack on my own body
I dream that they would stay asleep long after I awake from a much-needed nap
I have a dream that my husband and child will surprise me by having a father’s-daughter weekend leaving little ole me to figure out what to do with myself in a silent home all alone
I have a dream that America’s education system will rebound beyond my wildest dreams and become cost efficient and worth the post education tuition that Sallie Mae will inevitable one day stalk my child for the monthly payment
I have a dream that children will forever be the epitome of innocence for at least 18 years from birth
I still have a dream “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
I have a dream that potty training will soon become a thing of the past as the next generation of children will be so smart and self-sufficient that they won’t need a trainer to learn to use the potty
I have a dream that all stores and restaurants will one day have a drive thru line for mothers who have to take extra measures to carry a car seat, “shush” baby, and entertain an inquisitive toddler, each time they step out in public. Not to mention how darn heavy the car seat is and how each time we exit the car with the children we put ourselves at risk of tennis elbow or a panic attack
I have a dream that our daughters won’t suffer from low self-esteem or aspire to emulate the “perfection” and dysfunction seen on print, the small and big screens
I dream that our children won’t be bullied and won’t participate in the wretched act of bullying
I have a dream that our children won’t be labeled and stigmatized
I have a dream that our children be protected from harm
I have a dream that our children will not neglect and abandon us in our old age when we may be too feeble, demented and debilitated to care for ourselves
I have a dream that our children will eat every morsel of food prepared and set before them despite the color or texture
I have a dream that we are able to rear our children in the way they should go
I have a dream that one day, after we’ve raised our children to be respectful, loving, law-abiding, and law changing adults, we can be friends with our children
I dream we won’t stifle our children with the expectations that we may have of them but encourage them to create expectations and goals for themselves
I dream that they will dream bigger than us
I have a dream that my daughter will always affectionately call me “Mommy” and consider me her best friend and fiercest protector
I have a dream that my child will detach her little body from my leg long enough to allow me an opportunity to actually have a dream this long and detailed
I have a dream that our children will one day experience the unconditional love that we’ve had the pleasure of feeling since the day we learned of their presence in our body
I have a dream their dreams will become reality
Since launching Be-Quoted and joining Pinterest and opening a very inactive Twitter account (Note to self: Deactivate Twitter account by the end of the night), I have stumbled across some extremely talented, hilarious, and creative bloggers and Pinners (did I just make-up a name for Pinterest community members? Second Note: Trademark “Pinners”).
A particular “Pinner” introduced me to blogger, Hillijean by way of a Pin titled 20 Mommy-Daughter Dates. As the mommy to a very bright, very beautiful, rambunctious 2-year-old I was a) selecting which of Hillijean’s dates I’d replicate with my little one, and b) was so inspired by her post that I decided to create my own list of Mommy-Daughter Dates custom-made with my daughter in mind.
- An Indoor or Outdoor Picnic. For some reason we have not one, but two, picnic baskets. Now that the fall is here and the cold has begun to make itself at home in Virginia, an indoor picnic would be charming. Put on your aprons and whip up some finger foods, pack the food and beverages in your basket, lay out a blanket in the middle of the living room and sit across from one another enjoying the date.
- Outdoor Photo Shoot. Although I’m never usually the first to jump in front of the camera I take pics for the sake of creating memories my daughter will be able to hopefully cherish forever. Select a picturesque location, enlist the help of a photographer, and have a mommy-daughter photo shoot. Memories guaranteed.
- Scrapbooking. My daughter loves to see pictures of herself as a baby as well as photos that captured Mommy and Daddy as bride and groom. Together the two of you could select some of your favorite photos and either put them together in a scrapbook or photo album. No need to stock up on expensive scrapbooking essentials. My daughter and I took old wrapping paper and deflated balloons from my baby shower and her birthday parties to create colorful backgrounds for each scrapbook page. Sentimental and practical. Also, select retail chains like Michael’s and Joann Fabrics offer classes for scrap booking.
- Walk the Scenic Route. Hold your little girls hand and take notice of everything she sees on this semi-journey. She’ll point things out on your walk that you would have never noticed if you weren’t on a date with your special girl.
- Ice Cream Social. Share a banana split at your favorite ice cream parlor or create your own ice cream bar. Head to the grocery store to and allow her to select a few of her favorite candies and toppings, your favorite flavor of ice cream and a box of waffle cones to create your very own ice cream bar.
- Jewelry Making. My daughter knows that Mommy is very much into her costume jewelry. I’m all about statement necklaces and fabulous earrings. As such, she is very much into jewelry as well. Several stores that carry a children’s toy section have jewelry making kits for purchase. My mini-me would much rather go to an arts and crafts store or even a beauty supply store where hair beads are sold so that she could select the beads of her choice. Simple string, yarn, or wire could be used to design one-of-kind pieces made by Daughter & Me.
- Game Night. Decorate the house to complement the Mommy-Daughter Game Night. Set up a different game in each room of your home. Welcome her to game night with a boa, cupcake and beverage (non-alcoholic of course). We suggest “concentration” or the memory card game, Chutes and Ladders, Operation, Candy Land, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Bop It!, and Pretty Pretty Princess.
- Mani-Pedi. I agree with you Hellijean. “Go get your nails did!”
- Brunch Date. Any meal that involves bacon is A-Ok with my baby girl. Enjoy Sunday brunch in your Sunday’s best.
- Karaoke Night. Dress up like a couple of rock star’s or jazz singers, put your I-POD on full blast and rock out to some of her favorite tunes – in my daughter’s case, any Fresh Beat Band song – and your songs of choice. My baby girl absolutely loves to sing at the top of her lungs while dancing with her mommy.
- Movie Night. Depending on your daughter’s age, a day or night at the movie theatre can be a grand idea. I doubt that my busy body girl could actually endure an hour-and-some-change movie. I’d opt for a movie night at home with Walt (Disney, that is), popcorn that actually cost less than $6 (gasp!), drinks, and hotdogs. We’d cuddle on the couch in front of the T.V. and watch as many movies as we could physically tolerate.
- Miniature Golf or Tennis. Or both!
- Take a Tour. Most every city/town has its tourist attractions, yet how often are we tourist in our own city/town? About.com, TripAdvisor.com, and even your city/town government website will have a list of attractions and “things to do” to help jumpstart your tour.
- Have a Bake Off. Bake cupcakes together. Allow your daughter to decorate her cupcake(s) however she so chooses. You do the same. Have Daddy, or some other friend or relative, to taste them both and select the winner. Be prepared to lose. No matter how disgusting peanut butter, jelly beans, saltine crackers and whip cream taste on top of vanilla cupcakes.
- Appreciate the Performing Arts. I’m always searching for a reason to dress up and dress my baby girl up. Attending a live play, musical, or dance performance is a perfect reason to get gussied up and a perfect way to introduce your little lady to a more sophisticated form of art in comparison to her scribbling in a coloring book.
- Park it at the Park. If you’re being courageous take your daughter to an amusement park for an exhausting, but exhilarating, day trip. If you just can’t wrap your brain around the thought of waiting in long lines and potentially cleaning up puck after one ride and one funnel cake too many, head to your local park for some one-on-one Mommy-Daughter time.
- Visit the Botanical Gardens. My little one loves flowers and butterflies. This is a date that is long overdue. The butterfly exhibit ends this weekend so #17 will be our first official Mommy-Daughter date since the publishing of this post. Yay!
- Tea Party. Make handmade invitations to pass out to your daughter’s favorite stuffed friends. Set the table for the guest and share tea and cookies.
- Build-a-Bear. If your daughter has a Build-a-Bear head to the store to collect an outfit or accessory for her stuffed friend. If not, by the end of the date there will be a third wheel.
- Slumber Party. This date can be an accumulation of multiple previously mentioned dates (movie night, game note, karaoke) that ends with Mommy and daughter slumbering in the same bed or bedroom in sleeping bags.
Halloween was never marked on the calendar as a favorite holiday amongst my family. Instead of dressing up for Halloween as a goblin, monster, or some other ugly beast, I usually dressed up in some watered down costume that preserved the old lie adage that girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. I was once a snaggletooth Tina Turner and at another point a California raisin. Tell me I wasn’t cool.
Our Halloween tradition included us – by us I’m referring to the majority of my 14 first cousins – being hauled to a church “holiday celebration” or fighting at home over the bags of candy my aunt and grandmother would bring us.
As I type this, my initial thought of posting about how Halloween wasn’t much fun for me until I had my daughter to dress up and laugh at with, has been completely derailed by old fall memories. Later for my daughter quacking like a duck although she was clearly a pirate and was prompted to grunt, arrrghhh! Hence, the title of the post.
So often we type or text, “LOL,” but at this very moment I am literally laughing out loud thinking of the fall seasons when my cousins and I would sit around my grandmother’s kitchen table that was decorated with a vinyl never-quite-season-appropriate tablecloth playing a made up game of “clucking” (the sound the tongue makes when it’s thrusted onto the hard palette of the mouth) or, our favorite Halloween past time: Bingo, the Avery kids edition.
We would take our respective places around Moma’s kitchen table, sliding her “good” chairs from the dining room to the kitchen table to make room for all of my older cousins to sit. Us younger ones (yes, I am amongst the younger, cuter half of the cousins) would sometimes sit on the lap of one of the older cousins with a large-print Bingo sheet in hand and the aroma of pumpkin seeds and salt and my aunts birthday cake wafting from Moma’s oven. What established our game of Bingo as “the Avery kids edition” was that we gambled our Halloween candy!!! Winner takes all.
Here’s where I take a break from typing so that I may roar in laughter. (Out loud.) Feel free to join in at the thought of a bunch of kids ages 7 – 14 gambling at our grandmothers Valentines Day decorated tablecloth on Halloween.
We gambled Butterfingers, Snickers, Jolly Ranchers, Starburst, and when we got really desperate, pennies. What a group of rascals we were. We may not have created a fall tradition that included going door to door Trick-or-Treating, but when there’s a group of kids as hilarious and rambunctious as we were who needs Trick-or-Treating? Every day growing up with my cousins was a treat. Sometimes a trick, I admit, but even that turned out to be a treat.
I didn’t realize it before today, but fall is a reminder that I need to call my cousins. Muah Avery bunch!!!
Growing up as an only child to a young single mother I was, and still am, the apple of my mothers’ eye. I ALWAYS felt like a priority in my mothers life because she made her love and commitment to raising me so evident in how she treated me, how she spoke to me, and the strategic plays that she made in this game of life to make sure that I became the woman and mother that I am today.
My mother placed great emphasis on education. She had high expectations of me as a student as well as of the educators she entrusted me to.
As a 9 year-old fourth grader new to a private Catholic school where most of its students had been there since pre-school, I was the new girl on the block. Not yet known to the students or the teachers. To make matters worse I had a horrendous hair style that I won’t dare elaborate on and a grape flavored retainer that I accidentally broke at least once every few months.
I can’t recall the name of my fourth grade teacher but I remember her being a mousey strawberry blonde with very rosy cheeks. On one particular day the teacher and my mother had a conference regarding bad behavior I was being accused of by another student. I was not present for the parent-teacher conference, but remember my mother questioning me about the accusation (which from what I remember was on the subject of following students who were behaving badly).
I was always more interested in pleasing Mom than pleasing peers and usually avoided things that were sure to get me in trouble. I told Mom my side of the story. This time she initiated the conference…with the principal! I was actually present for this sit down and remember my mother calmly telling the principal that she understood his position on believing the teacher because she is, after all, his employee. With that being said, she continued by respectfully telling the principal that she believed what I told her was the truth. Her position as a mother is to correct me when I am wrong, and when I am not she is to support me because I am her daughter and the person who cares for me more than anyone else in this world.
I recount this “school story” not to encourage parents around the world to believe every tale their children narrates. Nor do I retell this story to encourage parents to negate what teachers and principals say about the children who they are with more often than the parents themselves. I retell this story because it was one of the best learning experiences that I had as a child.
My mother believed in me. She did not allow for others to inappropriately label me and it only increased my respect for her and my commitment to continuously make her proud. I finished out my fourth grade year free of bad behavior reports and plenty of gold stars.
Thanks to the SITS girls for issuing the challenge to share a “school story.” I know mine is a bit different, but it is one of the most memorable stories in my vault.
When I learned that I was pregnant I prayed for a boy. Shamefully I admit that I even mourned my “son” when my grandmother accidentally revealed the true sex of my little bundle of joy. Who knew that the reason I didn’t give birth to a son had nothing to do with chromosomes? I didn’t have a son because I’m not woman enough! And all this time I’ve been inappropriately placing blame on the slow swimming boys who just couldn’t keep up with the ladies. Huh. Go figure.
Does this sound like a bunch of foolishness to you too?
Well to the 70 year-young mother of 5 adult men it is a proven theory that “real” women birth men. When she let me in on the secret I didn’t know whether to be offended or laugh myself senseless. Decision made. I laughed my tail off! She probably reckoned that I was some silly little girl who didn’t know any better so she left me with this little nugget: “See, you can’t let that man outdo you.” Now I’m looking at this very beautiful, but elderly, woman and thinking to myself what kind of moves was – or is, you never know – this lady putting on her man?
Without venturing into TMI, I’d say my husband and I have a healthy marriage and if you’ve had the pleasure of being loved by a Leo then you know that this theory is a bunch of foolery. Or is it?
I shared Grandma Spicy’s theory with a couple of colleagues, a couple of whom had only given birth to boys and but of course they agreed with the theory. Each recalled the very day they conceived their sons claiming that the conceiving moment is a memory etched in their minds because of the show they each claimed to have put on for their husbands. Even a few of the women who had a child of each gender agreed with Grandma Spicy’s theory.
Is this an old wives tale that the women in my family failed to share in an effort to spare themselves the embarrassment of having to admit that they’re a bunch of rigid slouches in the bedroom? Or should I revisit my first thought in believing that this is a bunch of rubbish.
Of course I brought this to the attention of my husband, whose mother has given birth to two sons and two daughters. So presumably she was only a slouch half of the time. Surprisingly, he too agreed and quickly followed his assent up with the offer to allow me the opportunity to prove Grandma Spicy wrong! This guy…
Thanks to Grandma Spicy my life and my husbands life, at least for the next few months, has been changed in a major way. I now view mothers in a completely new light. When I see a mother pushing a set of twin boys, I think, Damn. What kind of tricks has she pulled out of the bag to not “let that man” outdo her? Hubby gets to benefit from the words of wise 70 year-young woman. I can’t let him outdo me. I’m hell bent on demystifying Grandma Spicy’s theory. Check mate.
I feel guilty about popping my child. Feeling guilty also sometimes makes me feel soft or as if I’m doing my child an injustice. At the first sign of disobedience: too long of a linger when I command for her to do as I say, out the corner of my eyes family members are shaking their heads or urging me to spank her.
For what exactly?
She’s fresh off of her second birth date and very impressionable. I don’t want her to grow up believing that when she’s angered, annoyed, or defied she is to lash out by yelling or hitting. That behavior is unacceptable and I’m not one of those parents who will taut, “do as I say and not as I do.” Foolishness. Seeing is far better than hearing. Do as you see me do until you’re old enough to truly decipher right from wrong. For now I will show and tell her what is right and what is wrong.
Of course I discipline her. But, I fashion discipline in the form of communication, stern looks, and, not proud to say, but yelling from time-to-time. She is not too young to understand what I am saying to her. I give my child the credit she deserves: she is “smarter than the average bear” and understands when I speak to her. If she were older I would probably be more comfortable with physical punishment, but to be honest, even then I’d prefer to talk and have her let her voice be heard.
Am I soft? No. Well maybe a little, but she’s my baby. No one child is like the other and I happen to know better than anyone, her father included, what works for my child. She is intelligent. She is spicy. She is her mother’s child – brilliant that is! As such, she does not respond well to physical punishment, but more so to vocal reinforcement and affirmations that she can and will listen; she is a good girl; she is a great helper and a loving and well-loved and liked, child.
I want to be a good role model and for me that doesn’t include a “pop” for every time that she does not move as quickly as I would like or poops in her pants for the second day in a row. Perhaps I would reconsider if she were a different child or if I were a different mother, but she’s not and nor am I.
What’s your parenting style?