Why I’m Proud to Be a Mom in the Middle of #BlackGirlMagic

I swore I was having a boy when I became pregnant in spring of 2014. I carried low, had no morning sickness and my baby bump left my beauty still intact. Even the Chinese birth chart took my age and the month I became pregnant and confirmed I was #TeamBoy. In hindsight I realize those old wives tales have very little say when it comes to DNA. But when the ultrasound tech left me and my fiancé in front of a screen of fuzzy white and gray patches that April, we questioned if the anatomy was THAT obvious that they shouldn’t have to tell us if we’d be getting a “Camden” or a “Cairo”. A few seconds later the doctor soon reassured us that we’d have a lifetime of training bras, Barbies and braids to look forward to. Ok, so maybe I wouldn’t have bow ties or a starting forward in a team of testosterone-pumped boys who adored their mother to prepare for, but I wasn’t disappointed. And as I see my fearless baby girl attempting to climb anything she can get steady footing on from her high chair to my face at the occasional crack of dawn, I realize how blessed I am, because I get to raise her in the era of #BlackGirlMagic.

#BlackGirlMagic

Remember in “Keep Ya Head Up” when Tupac rhymed, “Had me feeling like black was the thing to be…”? He was talking about #BlackGirlMagic. I can’t wait for my Camden’s black girl pride to piss off anyone that thinks she should settle for less because of the melanin in her skin or her unruly red afro. I can’t wait to reveal to her that Black privilege is the blood coursing through her veins rich in “run shit”. At one-years-old, she is just learning what her body parts are called, and can barely say more than 5 words. But already, bedtime is not about Cinderella getting saved or Rapunzel getting rescued from a tower. My daughter’s superheroes are Mara Brock Akil, Ava Duvernay and Issa Rae. I can’t wait to show her that time Beyonce shut down the Superbowl with a tribute to black heroes of the past  as a reminder to everyone that no matter how much they try to dim our shine, we are still here, overcoming and ish like it’s any given Sunday. Women like them are the storytellers that are weaving the narrative web of what it means to be a black girl today. Because that’s what black girl magic is: turning the impossible into definitely doing the damn thing and doing it well.

ym

When I was an middle school experimenting with my own sense of style and building my self-esteem, I anxiously awaited when my sister’s copies of Seventeen or YM would land in our mailbox once a month. Once in a while she’d even treat me to a copy of Sophisticate’s Black Hair that usually resulted in me taking gel, spritz and a roller set to my head in hopes to emulate Reagan Gomez-Preston’s latest style. I hoped that Lark Voorhees or Karyn Parsons would grace a page or two and my best friend and I would attempt the beauty routines meant for olive-skinned girls because they were the girls who were the closest matches to our caramel and chocolate chip skin tones. Usually we ended up looking more “Drowned and Overdone” than Wet & Wild, but it was because at that time it was easy to feel like no one understood our particular beauty. There was no Instagram or Twitter where we could get a little daily validation of “Black girl, you are beautiful.” The closest we got to that is an Aaliyah video premiere or a monthly subscription to a magazine where the token black girls were all identical and almost always looked more like Lisa Bonet than Lupita Nyong’o.

Today I can literally turn on the TV and see bonafide Cover Girls in Zendaya or Janelle Monae: two very different but distinctly beautiful women of color. Let’s not forget the Amandla Stenbergs, Keke Palmers and Yara Shahidis that my daughter can look at and honestly say, “Mommy they look like me.” And not only are they beautiful, but they’re bringing far more to the table than lip gloss and #OOTD’s. They have a voice, they have opinions, they are changing the conversation. And that my dear, is #BlackGirlMagic at its best. I’ve dedicated most of my career to educating and empowering young women, and now I have one walking around with my DNA that is my living say in what the world becomes.

I remember years ago praying for a world where the diversity of black women would not only be respected, but celebrated and desired. I think there’s room for Amber Rose AND Ava Duvernay and it’s important for my daughter to see that she can be anything from a banker to a ballerina.  It makes me excited for the changing world that she is growing up in where she will no longer be expected to be the authority on gum-popping, twerking, and what type of Virgin Remy is best. For the first time it truly feels like she can be anything. Because pulling hope from the haters and making the limitations disappear is what magical black girls do. No disrespect to all the ladies with mama’s boys, but I couldn’t feel more privileged to be raising a little black girl during this time. You can keep the sugar and spice. I’ll take the sass, class and a little kick-ass: That’s what #BlackGirlMagic is made of.

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Murphy’s Law For Babies: Because Despite Your Best Effort, You Won’t Be Prepared

APTOPIX Fashion Kanye West

Even with being a parenting educator, I was able to make it to age 30 with little to no interaction with those cute poop suppliers we call babies. I mean sure the big concepts of parenting are great: “Lead by example.” “Put the phone down and listen to your kids.” “Balance discipline with love.”  But none of that really prepared me for the everyday struggle that is parenting a newborn. And that’s the thing about parenting: No matter how often you babysit your best friend’s kids or how many Pandora charms you’ve been given for best god mother of the year, the truth is parenting is one of those things you have to learn on the job. It’s also something you won’t completely comprehend until you have your own clumsy, drooling creature with nothing in the world to defend themselves with but you and two bottom teeth.

With that said, there are a few things that I’ve been noticing that when it comes to babies WILL go wrong if they CAN go wrong, also known as Murphy’s laws. This becomes especially apparent when your baby becomes mobile. Since my daughter managed to master crawling, she’s made first six months of her life seem like we were on a Royal Caribbean cruise. I mean sure there was some crying and crankiness, but nothing that couldn’t easily be solved with a pacifier, a fresh diaper or food. Now that she’s 8 months and her father and I are using the parental power of the word, “No!”, she’s discovering that just because she can reach it, doesn’t mean she can have it and that has turned into frustrating battle of control. Oh and let’s not forget she’s mobile but has separation anxiety which means I can’t pee or blink without her in my lap, crying or attempting a freefall off the edge of the bed.

Here are a few things that are going to happen inevitably when you have baby.  You won’t be prepared, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try:

Take A Load Off: 13 Things New Moms Need To Stop Feeling Guilty About

mommy guilt

Pack your bags if you’re pregnant. Parenthood can seem like one long guilt trip where your flight keeps getting delayed and it starts from the moment you realize that no one literally has to go through you to get to your child. Elizabeth Stone wasn’t kidding when she wrote, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”

From the delivery room to the dorm, you’ll find yourself questioning everything you do: “Oh God I had a turkey sandwich, will my baby come out with one eye? Should I get that Hep B vaccine? Bottlefeeding or breastfeeding? Does my child need to be better socialized? Can they have a Facebook page?” And you’ll begin to believe every decision will make the difference between your child becoming Steve Jobs or Stevie J.

I’m here to tell you to cut yourself a break. Parenting is less like an Algebra quiz and more like an open-ended question on a Sociology final. There’s no one correct answer and most of the time if you at least get within the ballpark of “right” your kid will be OK. And the good news is that if you even give half a damn about the list of questions above then there’s a good chance you’re doing a decent job at this parenting thing.

Last summer while in my second trimester, I found myself fearing everything from lunchmeat to my asthma inhaler because I didn’t want to harm my baby. And while you should definitely heed your doctor’s directions, there’s one important thing you should remember in regard to pregnancy: A happy, healthy mama= a happy, healthy baby. You shouldn’t be throwing back shots of Patron, but stop driving yourself crazy researching local pasteurization facilities and order the damn bleu cheese dressing. Here are 10 things you can be a little easier on yourself on since you ARE bringing life into the world (or already have) and that’s kind of a big deal:

5 Things Women Need To Stop Blaming On Their Pregnancies

pregnancy excuses

You may have heard me mention in the past, one of my guilty pleasures being the show Little Women: LA. It’s a Lifetime reality show that focuses on your typical potpourri of girl problems shared among a group of women whom can all claim a certain type of dwarfism. What they lack in height, they make up for with plenty of gossip and shenanigans. Lately it seems that the show would be more appropriately titled The Amazing Race since it seems like all the chicks are racing to see who can get married and have a baby first.

Although three of the ladies in the group are feverishly competing to see who can get a healthy helping of HCG in their blood stream the fastest, ultimately the winner is Terra: the least likely competitor who has an on and off again romance with boyfriend, Joe.

The antics of these women piss me off on a weekly basis and although I’m aware that most of it is scripted to keep me tuned in to the achon drama, I can’t believe that grown women, even if they are little in stature, conduct themselves this way. The whole show is all who got engaged first and which friend did they tell last and who copied whose wedding invitation patterns that all result in the clichéd confrontation over lunch and drinks these shows are known for. It’s all dumb shit, for dwarves and those of average height alike.

So it was no surprise to me that when Terra learned she had won the Clearblue Easy 5K, she’d take every moment to remind the audience and her “friends” just how beautiful, exhausting and life-consuming being three minutes pregnant can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying pregnancy isn’t life-changing and without its fair share of challenges.  Every pregnancy is different and I was blessed to have one that was healthy and uneventful in a good way.  But let’s be honest, some of you broads are milking the whole “living for two” time in your lives for all it’s worth and being super dramatic for no reason.  Here are 5 things I suspect that women unfairly blame their pregnancies for:

Godparents: Is It An Offer You Should Refuse?

choosing a god parent

Maybe I’m late in the game and too fresh to this parenting thing, but apparently choosing your child’s god parents is a big deal and not at all for the reasons I thought it might be. As you may know, I am not particularly religious and wasn’t raised to be so. My sister and I attended a Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade and when the time came when we were given a choice to commit to the religion I literally sat on the bench, while my sister walked down the aisle to take a bite of the holy wafer. Being 7 years apart I vaguely remember her participating in the sacraments of confirmation and Holy Communion, and it all started with the first sacrament of all: Baptism. And no baptism is complete without a carefully selected pair of godparents. My sister went into her baptism with an aunt and came out of it with a godmother. But what exactly do godparents do?

Well according to Disney they deliver elegant ball gowns and turn pumpkins into glamorous coaches. And as I’m learning, according to some people’s belief systems, real life godparents should do the same by turning their paychecks into regular trips to Chucky Cheese and name brand clothing for kids that they can’t even claim on taxes. Even without being religious, I was raised with the common mindset that godparents were a carefully selected pair of people who would care for your children in the event that for whatever reason, you were unable to. So if that’s the case why do I find in the world of ratchet child-rearing, women are choosing whom ever has the biggest bank account over whom has the biggest heart? For example, when I talk to some friends, they have no shame in throwing around statements like, “You know my friend Cocoa is gonna be my baby’s god mom because she keep a nice job.” What? Wait a minute. Does it matter not that Cocoa is battling a binge drinking problem and can’t read above a third grade level? When did we start choosing godparents according to who we’ll keep our children in Polo and Air J’s and not who can keep them in school?

What bothers me even more are all the women who are so eager to serve thinking the position is solely about footing the bill for bouncy houses and senior prom party buses. I almost want to ask, “You do know in the event that home girl dies, you’re going to be someone’s mom, right?” It’s not so much about the expected behavior of god moms that bothers me as much as it is the lost meaning and the label that’s put on what some moms might as well refer to as a glorified personal shoppers. Even in the least religious respect, “godparents” traditionally have been relied on to play a significant role in shaping a child’s character, and it seems more and more parents are just handing the title out to their besties instead of taking careful consideration into who is best fit to play such a prominent role in their child’s life.