The old-school home-buying rules (well, not your granny’s old school, more like 7 years ago old school) told us:
It was mostly her eyes.
Doe-eyed, some would say. My granny would’ve said, “that baby done been here before.” They were wide with wonder. Framed with eyelashes that waved at me like fans in slow motion. It was like she could see me. Really see me. And I saw her.
She was juicy in a way that only babies can be. With cheeks that made you want to kiss them forever. Only a few months old when I held her the first time, I felt an ache in my heart. I wanted to take her home with us. Adopt her if it was possible. She was the god-daughter of my husband’s best friend and his wife. The mother was a struggling teenager facing a tough life.
I suppose I didn’t realize how tough.
We didn’t take her in. Although I firmly believe that God placed that baby girl in my heart, I listened to my circumstances instead. I’d just had my first miscarriage so “maybe I was just feeling emotional because of that.” Hubby and I were newly married so “could we really afford to take in someone’s child?” And given the issues, “maybe the mother didn’t want to leave her baby.”
I listened to every other voice but the one I knew was true. Read more…
The little girl had to be about two, not much more, and she had this little purse thingy that she was absolutely fascinated with—much more so than the high school football game her mother had dragged her to. I noticed her waving it in her mother’s face, an attempt to get her mama to play with her. The mother? She wasn’t having it.
“I don’t want to play with that,” she snapped, without even looking at her baby.
When the little girl gave another feeble attempt to get her mother’s attention, the lady was all sharp edges and thunder: “I said, I don’t want it,” she seethed through gritted teeth. “Sit it down, shit.”
Now Nick missed all this, but my heart just sank when baby girl wandered away from her mother and her two friends, and started trying to get my husband’s attention. He happily obliged her attempt to join her in playing with the purse. I chimed in with compliments on her shoes and telling her that I loved her afro puffs—something, anything, to make her smile. To deflect from the fact that her mother was acting the donkey toward her baby girl, who was looking for some motherly attention on a Friday night at 10 p.m., when she should have been home in her pajamas, in her crib, sleeping in Heavenly peace.
Peace wasn’t on her mother’s mind. Neither was kindness, particularly when it came to her daughter. Still, though I was disgusted by her behavior, it wasn’t at all surprising. I know Black moms love our babies and that we care for their every need just like any other mom—even and especially when we have to make a way out of no way. But my God, the cursing, the beating, the emotional abuse that I see some Black moms unleashing on their children in the street, at the mall, on public transportation, in school, out in public, hurts me to my core.
Now I’m not stranger to the mean mom. Y’all need to ask about my mom; she’s legend with “The Look” and, yes, the switch. With her, children were to be seen, not heard, and any misstep, no matter how slight, might incur the wrath. She was a great mom. But mean as all get out until I got older and had babies of my own. And she wasn’t alone: I grew up surrounded by Black mothers—women I loved and who loved me back—who were just plain mean. For no good reason. Read more…
On this much, I am very clear: when I had my first baby more than 14 years ago, I was blessed to be working at a time when the economy was strong, a good job with benefits could be had, and a decent maternity leave was still possible. Between a year’s worth of vacay and sick days, the federally-mandated 12-week maternity leave and a few more months unpaid maternity leave I coaxed out of HR, I managed to scrape up a full nine months worth of leave with my Mari—time off with my baby that I could afford because the hubs and I had some money saved. I recognized that what I pulled off was huge, even in those prosperous times, particularly for a Black mom. But it’s clear that had I needed maternity leave today, I’d probably be in the same boat with 40 percent of new moms, taking one to four weeks of maternity leave or worse, none at all.
From Today Moms:
About two-thirds of U.S. women are employed during pregnancy and about 70 percent of them report taking some time off, according to most recent figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The average maternity leave in the U.S. is about 10 weeks, but about half of new moms took at least five weeks, with about a quarter taking nine weeks or more, figures showed.
But a closer look shows that 16 percent of new moms took only one to four weeks away from work after the birth of a child — and 33 percent took no formal time off at all, returning to job duty almost immediately. Read more…
By Deveter Brown
Today I wish my beloved husband a very happy 16th wedding anniversary. Over the past 16 years I’ve learned some rather useful lessons. Of course I won’t share them all but here are 16 for every year of wedded bliss.
BTW I borrowed 14 of these from my blog post in 2010 when I was a list driven blogger. They are still true so I figured I’d just add 2 more lessons. Hope you enjoy.
- Never say never – I said I never wanted children and then I was bit by the baby bug and here we stand the proud parents of three
- Over communicate – Saying you told him/her about the party two weeks ago means nothing. Put it on the family calendar, create an event on Google and FaceBook, send a text, tweet or put a post it note on the fridge listing how many days are left until the event. Read more…
By Denene Millner
With tears in her 7 year-old eyes, she states, “But mom, I told you I wanted a birthday cake with cherry frosting!!!” Before her mother could even reply, the door bell rings. “DING-DONG” The 7 year-old girl opens the door and the UPS man hands over a box to her. She fakes a smile to him, closes the door, slams the box down on the counter and goes back to the argument with her mom. She continues to express her passion about the specifics of the cake (that she told her mom weeks prior to) that she wants for her birthday. As she pleads her case, her mom opens the box and unpacks it. As the tears continue to flow from her disappointed eyes, the mom continues to unload flour from the box… As well as eggs… As well as cherry extract… As well as a rubber spatula and a few other things. Her mom listens attentively, while laying all of the contents on the counter. The little girl, gets even more annoyed at the fact that her mom isn’t paying much attention to her “Cake-Cry,” but instead is opening a butter wrapper that she also pulled out of the box. At this point, the mom is trying to hold in her laugh as she goes to turn on the oven yet is still listening to her daughter share her pain, and dissatisfaction of not being able to have a cherry cake for her birthday. At this point the little girl storms out of the kitchen to her room, slams the door, and throws herself under her covers to finish crying. The major issue here is, She didn’t recognize THE PACKAGE… Read more…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
If you follow me on Twitter, then you probably saw my tweets announcing my Valentine’s Day Blog Series: Two Tales of Woe and One That Rocked.
On this Valentine’s Day, the final installment, also with a twist. See, this one actually ties into the end of last week’s tale. Remember that abbreviated version of “I Got Dumped 4 Days After V-Day”? Well, this sprang from that. You’ll see.
By NICK CHILES
Should you allow your teenager to have sex in your house? This was a question posed by Clutch and like many, if not most, parents, my initial answer was a loud and resounding, “Aw, hell nah!” It’s about respect, about honoring the rules and the sanctity of the home, and, especially if you have younger, impressionable siblings lurking in the house, it’s about setting the right example.
But having actually brought a male child through those rough teen years, I know that the actual answer, like most things, is a bit more complicated. As anybody out there who has ever been in the presence of a teen knows all too well, teenagers are some sneaky little so-and-sos. You try to the best of your ability to set boundaries, to lay down rules, to monitor their behavior, but the average teenager envisions your rules as the obstacles set down by the enemy. That means the rules actually establish exactly the things the teenager wants to do as much as possible. If my parent says this behavior is bad, then that’s precisely what I want to do with my evening. If my parent says this behavior is okay, then it must not be bad enough. Read more…
By TOKEYA C. GRAHAM
I have been a mother for almost half of my life. I had my first child when I was still a child myself. At 19 years old, two years out of high school and four years into what I thought was true love, I became a mama for the first time. As I pushed my 12 weeks-premature, 2 lb., 8 oz. baby into the world, I knew I would forever be changed. And I was right; unknowingly, I stepped naturally into the role that was tailor-made for me. Read more…
By RACHEL GARLINGHOUSE
If you’re thinking about private adoption, be clear: it’s pricey. Domestic adoptions generally cost between $15,000 and $30,000 per adoption, and international adoptions cost even more. Add in legal counsel, paying birth parent expenses, and travel costs, and adopting a child can really take its financial toll.
Adopting a child is expensive because adoption is an industry; there are staff members to pay, court costs, expensive price tags for background checks, travel expenses and much more. Still, you can make adoption affordable. Consider the following to cut costs and raise capital for one of the most rewarding, enriching choices any one person can me—becoming a parent through adoption: Read more…
By ROD PEREZ
Dad, I’ve grown up to be a good man. I want you to see that. I want you to see that the boy you left behind is fine. The boy you’ve made “ice cream promises” to is fine.
I was hip to your game, you know—how you would show up just enough times to squelch your guilt. I’ve known for a long time now, Dad. You claimed to have missed me, but all I know is that you missed my birthdays. The creative mind of innocence made excuses for why you never came when you said you would. I actually believed them, too. The hearts of children. Belief is pure. But soon enough, it finds out the truth. Read more…
Please understand, the southern caste system that kept Gamma Bettye and Papa Jimy from getting the educations all children deserve made them value education like no other; they came from a generation of African Americans born and reared in the South—where black babies were relegated, by law, to substandard schools and books and jobs and neighborhoods and services. And so the first chance they could, they high-tailed themselves up North, first for jobs, second to find each other, and third to give their children the opportunities they were denied when they were little. But for your grandparents, there was no time for PTA meetings and school bake sales, no know-how when it came to writing essays or figuring out tough algebra problems, no advocacy with teachers. Maybe they felt like they couldn’t handle it. Perhaps it was what parents like them did in their time—trust that teachers are professionals capable of doing their jobs without parents getting in the middle of it all. Read more…
I ain’t one of them.
Though my labor with my first daughter, Mari, was rather reasonable considering she was my first birth—two hours and twenty-one minutes of labor, including 20 minutes of pushing, and she was getting her nose cleared and her booty smacked—I remembered every… little… teeny… weeny… second… of… searing… throbbing… push… pull… stretch… and tug… that came with getting that child out of me. And that was with an epidural. I did not want a repeat of any of that business, no ma’am. So with Lila, I asked quick, fast and in a hurry for drugs. Lots of them. Read more…
by Patrice Cunningham Washington
If so, you’re not alone. And that was the great part about reading Natalie P. McNeal’s The Frugalista Files: How One Woman got Out of Debt without Giving Up the Fabulous Life. Knowing you’re not alone in getting a possibly long-neglected financial house in order is one of the most important steps in beginning your journey to financial freedom.
As a sister in the “fab while frugal” struggle, I adored Natalie’s transparency. She shares more than just her passage from being a pauper to becoming the poster child for personal finance success, but includes candid insight on her professional transformation, personal obligations to family and friends and the real life challenges that take place in a single woman’s life, all while juggling being a staggering five figures in debt. The way Natalie utilizes metaphors to explain her money woes are both hilarious and relatable. “My student loan is like an old boyfriend who just won’t go away. We had a good run, but it’s time for the relationship to end.” Read more…
When I deliberated over what our daughter would look like, I secretly hoped she would have my eye shape and my husband’s eye color. He has very wide, stunning blue eyes. They were the first thing I noticed when I saw him, and still one of my favorite physical qualities of his. Read more…
Recently, a friend hooked me up on a blind date. She had described the man and he too, gave me a concurrent account: dark skinned, 6”4’, low Caesar haircut, and athletically built. My friend also mentioned that he was close to our age. When I met the fellow, I immediately thought forty years old. I would need a telescope to see forty since it’s so far off.
We had a pleasant enough dinner, wherein I discovered he was forty-seven years old. He would be better off dating my mother, I thought, but decided to enjoy the time together anyway until he uttered some deal breaking words. He was recently divorced from his wife of eighteen years, with whom he had four children. Two of his “children” are close to 25, and the youngest is a senior is high school. You know what that means? They talk back. I can’t deal with a man that has grown kids whom I’m more likely to be partying that rocking the step-mommy title.
So folks, this post is inspired by that date, an unexpected bonus. Oh yes, Mr. 47 and I are not going out again. It was an unspoken farewell message in our good night hug.
Without further adieu, part 1 of my deal breaker list (in no particular order):
by Patrice Cunningham Washington
By BASSEY IKPI
I love birthdays; mine especially. Every year for the last decade, I’ve thrown a party called a Basstravaganza! Yes, I am a Leo. Why do you ask? I feel like birthdays are the only holiday that everyone can celebrate regardless of religion or country or culture. You were born! Yay! (Unless you’re Jehovah’s Witness. Then *whispers* you were born. yay.) I’m always looking forward to my birthday and start talking about it at least a month in advance. Read more…
By TARA PRINGLE JEFFERSON
Sleepy and still aching from my C-section, I took a quick walk to the mailbox to get some fresh air and actually remember what it was like to feel the sun on my face. Only a week since my daughter was born and I was already going stir-crazy in the house all day.
I pulled out an envelope I got from the hospital. Thinking nothing of it, I tore it open and found a bill for $27,000. That emergency C-section and seven-day hospital stay for both mother and baby was hella expensive, it turned out. Read more…
By Anslem Samuel
I just recently turned seventeen and I’m always so ridiculously horny! It’s not even funny. I can even get off by listening to Robin Thicke’s “Sex Therapy.” I’m almost always thinking about sex and masturbate quite frequently. At school I imagine being taken advantage of by my male teachers and I mentally bang almost every good-looking person I see.