Me, MomSelf and I

Life's journey is full of twists and turns and sometimes we get lost. This is my journey to rediscover myself.


Leave a comment

Father Figures

1149629_10201364221443877_2121992537_oFather’s Day is the one day we pay homage to the men who raised us. For me, it is about acknowledging the father that is no longer here in the physical form, but is with me everyday and everywhere I go. My dad who was as lenient as they come, who would do anything for his girls that he could. And sometimes, he couldn’t. My dad was an alcoholic for most of my life. But that didn’t stop him from going to work faithfully everyday for 40+ years for the United States Post Office. It didn’t stop him from coming to my school concerts in which I always had a solo, even if it meant him being tipsy. It didn’t stop him from trying to make things right when he knew he messed up. And I love my dad, but he wasn’t the only male figure in my life growing up. Thanks to him, there were a host of characters, friends, family, that would all commiserate at our house after work. The post office crew, who would sit around the dining room table to complain about work and that micromanager supervisor they all detested. There was Mr. Grier, Jay Adair, Clayton, Cecil, Newt, and a few others. I would come home from school and put on the radio, WZAK for the latest R&B hits, but Clayton would always come change the station to jazz. (We would go back and forth, fighting over the radio like two kids! He’d tell my dad that he needed to discipline me and my dad would just brush it off.) Then there was the family that would come over on the weekends for a “taste” and stay way past the time they should, but they seemed to have too much fun to leave. My Uncle Jesse, Uncle Ali, Uncle Donald, Cousin Leon, Artis, ¬†Gene the Gasman (cause he worked for the gas company), Tony Clark, Uncle Wilbur, Uncle Bill. Those were all the men on my dad’s side. Sometimes my mother’s brother, Uncle Eddie would also hang. It wasn’t always the same group but every weekend, some of these men were there. Now as I’m grown I wonder how did my mom deal with people being at the house all the time? She didn’t say much about it, though sometimes as she moved through the house, I could feel a chill in the air. But I imagine some part of her had to think it better for my dad to be home and have company than to be out who knows where. She’s always been more quiet and reserved, whereas my dad, if you can’t already tell, was the center of the party. He was funny and lighthearted and honest and grounded. People felt comfortable around him because he made them feel that way. I think he made them feel needed and let them feel he needed them. I would listen to them tell stories about the old days (since most of my dad’s friends knew him since childhood.) They loved to rehash the off the wall tales of my dad crashing his car with him and the car being suspended in a tree on Martin Luther King Jr.¬†Boulevard and how the firemen got him down. Or the multiple times he fell into Lake Erie while fishing and his friends swearing he walked on the water to get back to the boat (he never learned how to swim, but somehow always managed to get out of that water!) They would crack themselves up as the drinks would flow as easy as the stories. And I listened.

One time my mother had gone out with her friends, a super rare occurrence. So my dad and my Uncle Donald were home watching my sister and I. Well, I got into my mom’s whole jar of noxema and was covered in it. When my dad discovered me, he scolded me in his gentle way. My Uncle Donald thought daddy was going to easy on me. He convinced my dad that he needed to spank me with a brush or run the danger of me being a spoiled little brat and my dad being a softy. Not wanting to look bad in front of his twin brother, he told my sister to grab the brush and sure enough, he spanked me in front of his brother. I’m sure I cried because my dad had never hit me before and I could not believe my uncle could influence him that way. Looking back, I’m positive my dad hated to do it just as much as I hated to have it done, because he never hit me again.

When I was about 17 my driver’s license got suspended because I had too many speeding tickets and I had to go to court. Instead of telling my parents, I called my Uncle Ali and asked him if he could take me, which he did. I’ll never know if he told my parents because they never said a word to me about it. I had the type of uncles who made me feel that they could keep my secrets. I was incredibly lucky to have some many strong, black male figures in my life. All I knew were strong black men who worked hard to support their families.

There were always men around the house. All of them someone else’s dad and all imperfect. But for one reason or another, they loved my dad and he loved them, therefore, I loved them. Mostly all of them are gone now, but each one has a special place in my heart. And when I reflect on Father’s Day, I think of each one of them.


2 Comments

Twelve Years of Marriage

There is something to being in the club of “the marrieds.”

I fell into the trap. You know the one where society tells young women that they must find a husband and be married by the age of 30, or risk forever being branded an old maid. I mean, once you’re out of college and enter the workforce, if you don’t already have a significant other, it seemingly becomes harder and harder to naturally meet someone. For me, my partner would either come from the bars and clubs, coworkers or mutual friends. Internet dating had not yet hit its stride and was still somewhat of a novelty.

I remember being in such a hurry to get married. We had lived together for 2 years and I felt like, why am I still auditioning? I should already have the part! (Because subconsciously I knew the clock was ticking until my 30th birthday.) And J’s attitude was, what’s the rush? I’m not going anywhere. I’m all in. Why do we need the pomp and circumstance? (That is not the only time I wish I had listened to him.) And it’s not that I would’ve made a different decision about marrying him. But I would’ve taken some time to find out what it meant to me to be a wife and what being a wife meant to him. We had the boyfriend/girlfriend thing down. But being married was more of a challenge. Years 1 & 2 were us trying to navigate the transition from 2 individuals becoming a united entity, and neither of us knew how to do that. So we hit some bumps. Then when we thought we had it figured out (although we didn’t,) we decided to start a family. I was reluctant, despite wanting to be a mother my whole life, only because I took it so seriously. I didn’t give being married much thought because I assumed once you found the person you were supposed to be with, everything would magically fall into place. All you need is love! J convinced me to start our family by saying both of our parents were getting older and he really wanted them to see and know their grandchildren. I couldn’t argue with that. So I threw myself into an intensive 13-month parent training. By the time Xander was born, I felt pretty prepared to be his mother. And its safe to say that the next 9 years of marriage that includes 2 more kids, 2 deceased grandfathers and a dog have been a blur. J’s father passed away 2 weeks before our first son was born and my dad passed 1 week before our second son arrived.

There are so many articles and books about how women can have “it all.” (Ironically, none about how the family can have it all, so much responsibility put on the woman-or that we assume.) Of course I’ve been too busy to read them anyway. I realized I did all my preparation on how to be a parent and barely any training on how to be a wife, let alone a wife raising children. Hence the reason I started this blog. I am on a quest to discover how these roles can best work together: wife, mother, individual.

In this day and age of 72-day marriages, 12 years is a long time. But its really all about perspective. If you’re miserable, then 12 years is forever. If you’re happy, 12 years is but a day. My parents were married 41 years, my husband’s parents 28. You don’t get to 20, 30, 40 years of marriage without some ups & downs. Some marriages are better than others, just as some kids are better behaved than others, some houses are nicer than others or some jobs pay more than others. And no one ever really knows what goes on in a marriage except the 2 people in it. The one thing I know about myself is I’m a long haul type of person. I want to be that couple holding hands and comparing¬† memories of our 40 years together.

Traditional 12th anniversary materials are silk and linen, representing luxury and comfort. While we definitely are not living in the lap of luxury, there is comfort in knowing someone else is in this life with me. Someone else has chosen me. It is a luxury to share responsibility of parenting. There is comfort in knowing someone has my back. It is a luxury now to be able to say to him “remember how we felt when so and so was born, or when we decided to…” Those shared memories and experiences, that commitment to be here day in, day out, this love that is real and complicated and fun and hard and luxurious and comfortable, this is what marriage means to me.

So, on this day, through:

12 years of Marriage
11 hairstyles
10 cars
9 years of parenting
8 weddings attended
7 funerals of family members
6 job transitions
5 family vacations
4 hospitalizations
3 amazing kids
2 places called Home
1 new dog
and countless “I’m sorrys” and “I love you’s,” I say thank you for asking me to be your wife 12 years ago, for giving me the best 3 gifts of my life, and being my partner in crime. Happy Anniversary Honey!wpid-20150613_211125.jpg