What a Life to Take

“Hey Siri, Cue: real sad girl vibes, loads of liquor, and a whole bunch of tears!” My fawking auntie died y’all!!! My girl, my dawg, my mama when my mama was getting on my nerves- GONE!!! I swear to GOD my heart is about to walk out my chest. Forreal forreal.

When I tell y’all these have been the longest 9 fdays of my LIFE?!?! This song has been in my head on the worst kind of repeat and I honestly don’t even care enough to find a new tune to take over. I miss my girl! I’m tired of losing family, seriously. I honestly got some questions for my homie Big G (God, not Greg- but Greg too, shit!) I’ve been here before- in the thick of grief and sadness and unknowing- but THIS??? This right here feels like my soul is outta my body. I ain’t ever been this sad and broken up before; and that’s saying a LOT cause I forreal though I was gone die without my god daddy.

I can’t seem to find the right or appropriate words to euoligize my auntie AunTee (I HAVE TO EUOLOGIZE MY MUHFUKKIN AUNTIE YALL!!!!) but this seems wayyy more appropriate and non-chaotic than continously rambling on Twitter in short threads about her. Or have I just let other people’s ideas of “oversharing” cloud my mind? EITHER WAY, I have to give honor to my AunTee and the life she lived so here goes. Bare with me, it’s going to be messy and chaotic and kinda all over the place. My heart seriously wants out of my chest these days.

Mkay so where do I start? I guess I should just frame this like a conversation with her- say what I need to say, raw and uncut, in hopes that it’s recieved properly and gets a laugh outta somebody.

Tanisha, I miss you. I am utterly heartbroken and pissed off that you left me and I know that’s selfish cause you didn’t leave *just* me but dammit AunTee YOU LEFT ME! I don’t understand the plan behind this one and quite frankly, I don’t think there was one. I think sometimes God be f*cking up and this was one of those times but like how could he take you then be like “Oops! My bad! Wrong Tanisha!” ya know? So I think he just kinda had to rock with this mistake-really own it and sit with it and just give us the strength to deal with it. I still think it was bogus as hell! I miss you. It’s been 9 days and I got like 900 things to tell you already. First one being, where the hell my little chewy candies at?? You promised ME that big bag then I seen Auntie B with a small bag of em. Wassup with that AunTee, huh?? Hella whack LOL! I like saying “hella”, it’s always reminded me of you. I used to think you were sooo cool when you said it; how the word and the Bay Area accent rolled off your tongue like honey. Did you like honey? I never really knew but I feel like you did. Remember how we used to tell stories- all around the point, lose the plot, then circle back? Imma miss that. Imma miss you sighing and saying “Niecey Pooh, what’s the story?” then the way I’d laugh and refocus. We had sooooo many more memories to make. I have sooo many more stories to tell you. Remember when I told you about Bean, how you jumped into Mama-Auntie mode and was instantly on my side, no questions? Where else Imma find you at Auntie? In who else? I’m so jealous Baby Crystal got you back! I guess it’s only fair though, I did have her Mommy for 22 years. 22 long and good years that, right now, feel very short and futile. How did 22 years go so quickly and where can I get more of em? You changed me. You gave me some of the best of you even when I was giving very much monster teenager/young adult. I’m carrying this grief in my shoulders and the “one boob I have”. I was SO excited to share my motherhood journey with you- to make it ours cause I know what it meant to you. Thank you for walking me through it, for holding my & Mommy’s hand, for loving Bean like she was really your grandbaby. Tanisha, I feel like I can’t go on without you. I feel like Imma pass out at any given moment. Like my breath is being withheld from me. I can’t figure out how to do this; how to cherish the good when it’s reminding me so much of the bad. I need you to tell me how to do this. How do I keep going? I miss your smile and laugh already. I’m so glad we shared so many of those. I’ve cried for 9 days straight but Auntie if you coulda seen that ugly mess I bought for the service? Baybeeee 🤣🤣🤣! I can hear you now: “Foo, what is that??” I gotta wear it though. The dress made me feel connected to you, reminded me of you in a good way. Plus, it was on sale for like hellaaaaa cheap so like I had to get it! Also, can I borrow a pair of your heels for this weekend? I know you got some pink or orange ones somewhere in yo house! Imma ask the boys! You taught me how to put on lashes, braid with weave, do a 27 piece, encouraged me to get my lash certification, believed in me EVERY time I took up a new hobby or venture. You gave me you and I just hope I can do the same. I miss you so so much. My heart hurts but at least you’re safe. Tell my folks I said wassup, tell Uncle Rodney he could’ve waited at least 5 more years before needing his big sis but I get it ya know. I hope I do you some justice. I love you AunTee, my Jill of All Trades (& master of MANY!)

Surface Pressure & Other Encanto Life Lessons

I’m obsessed with Encanto; there, I said it. I’m obsessed with the movie Encanto and I want you to be too! If the soundtrack was on wax, I’d probably have run it down by now- that’s how bad it is over here LOL!! In my constant watching and analyzing, I’ve taken a couple of wonderful life lessons from the “Family Madrigal”, lessons I share with you below. Keep reading then tell me what lessons you took from the movie or if it’s next up on your watchlist!

Warning: This post contains movie spoilers. Don’t proceed if you hate spoilers!

Disney’s Encanto is now available on Disney+

Encanto’s opening scene shows Mirabel, the main character, and Abuela-one of the movie’s main antagonists- sharing a very intimate moment. As the movie proceeds, those shared moments get few and far between and you see the dynamic between the two change drastically. Mirabel is the only Madrigal that doesn’t possess a tangible gift and Abuela makes it obvious- and damming. Eventually, Mirabel’s gift is revealed and we see that her gift is the gift of chain breaking. By the end of Encanto, the message is made clear: You have the power to break curses. Birth order, magical gifts, and familial opinions be damned; YOU have the power to BREAK GENERATIONAL CURSES!

Mirabel’s older sister, Luisa, is the “strong one”. Her gift is strength; unsurprisingly she carries all of the family burdens. Luisa is the movie’s constant reminder to check on your strong friends, to give them a space to drop those burdens they’re expected to carry. As the movie progresses and we get to explore Luisa’s character I realized that strong doesn’t have to be my middle name, that it’s okay to lay my burdens at the feet of a trusted person, and that my worth is not tied to my acts of service. Lessons I needed and have since internalized. Thank you Luisa!

One of my favorite messages the movie emphasizes is: Perfectionism is the thief of joy. Isabela, Mirabel’s eldest sister, is described as “effortlessly perfect who’s never even had a bad hair day”. She is never allowed to misstep or make a mistake and her only gift to the town is her ability to create beautiful flowers. The girl is a friggin florist that has Abuela wrapped around her finger; the perfect depiction of the eldest daughter, actually. Once Mirabel frees her sister from the idea of perfectionism and the burden of the matriarch’s opinion, we really get to see Isabela blossom. You can never be truly happy if you’re focused on being “perfect”- I had to sit with that and then free myself as well.

Some gifts require a little soul searching. That’s it, that’s the message we got from Mirabel’s storyline. My mom often jokes that Mirabel’s gift is “empathy” and I semi-jokingly reply, “That ain’t no gift! Nobody wants to be empathetic!” But… it is a gift. Empathy is a gift and it is a necessary one; one that not everybody posesses. In the beginning of the movie one of the neighborhood kids jokes that Mirabel’s gift “might be denial” and..well… was it really a joke? How many of us run from the Mirabel Madgrial inside of us- the empathetic, trustworthy, “make magic without a gift” selves? I know I do, frequently. Or, I used to, I don’t think I want to anymore so I probably won’t. I think 2022 will be my year of sitting with myself and digging deep to find my “gift” even if it is revealed that my gift is empathy LOL.

Throughout the movie, Abuela is painted as the villian and this terrible, toxic matriarch but she’s really not. From an adult, and mom, lense she’s just an old lady with some baggage and some trauma; one who was never given the freedom or space to lay her worries down. Once Mirabel “snaps” on her we get to see a change in Abuela- a necessary change, that same freedom Luisa was given- and the lesson becomes: No one is ever really stuck in their ways. It’s a lesson that can be applied across many situations and relationships but especially to those family dynamics where you’re shaking things up. Positive Discipline and Conscious Parenting are such bold and “new” journeys that really push the status quo and force our own Abuelas to have to sit and reckon with some of their own shit; to admit that they did the best they could AND that they might’ve traumatized us in the process. I think that was one of the most important themes of the movie: push the boundaries, stand on what you say and believe, and be the change you want to see. When you walk in your true self it’s easier to convert and free others to be themselves, too. That’s a lesson I like to tell my workshop participants, and myself.

I hope you can take some of these lessons and apply them to your own life and personal growth, especially during these trying times. If you haven’t already, go give Encanto a watch and let the magic of the Madrigals transform you too. See you over on Instagram!

Chic, Cheap, & Comfortable: Winter Fashion Guide

If you’re anything like me- a new mom in a pandemic looking to dress for the weather- you’ve likely come to (quickly) realize that you have nothing! Ever since having C.C. last year, I’ve been trying to love my body again while also defining my new style as “The Hot Young Mom”. I decided that this winter would be my time to shine so I’ve been scouring the internet- Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter- and taking screenshots of all of the trends I might like. I’ve gathered my top picks, made style boards, and even got dressed to share them with you!
Fashion companies this year are pulling inspiration straight from the runways. “Bubble” coats, denim on denim, patterns, and complementary colors are all the rave right now; if you wanna be in, these are the styles to keep an eye on.
See how these trends come together in my Winter fashion guide below.

1: Patterns and Color

The Houndstooth pattern is totally in right now and I think it looks SUPER cute with a solid color top and shoe; to really pull the outfit together! Since houndstooth is typically black and white, you can get away with pairing it with a traditional holiday color- red or green- or play it safe with black, white, or a neutral color.

2: Patterned Outerwear

Like keeping it casual but also fun and flirty? Leggings and patterned outerwear are essential staples for those of us who like to pair comfort and style without hefty price tags and heavy clothing. When looking for a patterned jacket, coat, or blazer keep in mind what colors you already own or what colors you’d be able to wear year-round. Purples, greens, and oranges are perfect “all year” colors but really get to shine in the cold weather months!

3: Bubble/ Puffer Coats

A simple cream (or white) dress paired with a black bubble coat and a pair of combat boots create a streetwear look to die for! Streetwear looks are generally casual and comfortable everyday looks; pair with a statement earring and a functional bag and you’re ready to go.

For more style inspiration, tips and tricks, and style guides keep up with me on Instagram @THEHOTYOUNGMOM. Let me know if you wear any combination of these outfits or any replicas of them and how you like them!


I wanna give a huge shoutout to Haley at hanginwithhaley.com for letting me be a guest writer and getting this winter style guide out to her audience! Check her out once you’re done reading this.

Taste Safe Play: DIY Gingerbread Playdough

It’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrr!

I haven’t been excited for the holidays in God knows how long but it is truly something magical about having a toddler around the holidays. There’s 15 days left until Christmas and I am pushing through all my grief, anxiety, and overall “cold weather” blues and aiming to give my baby a great Christmas while giving y’all some great content! First up, we have some sensory play ’cause y’all know how I get down!

I believe that playing is the key to life and since we have all our senses, we might as well use them. Chaotic Cutie- formerly known as Bean- is really into making messes and playing with her hands (albeit she hates being dirty ???) so we made some “Gingerbread Dough”! You can jump to the recipe or watch us make it over on Youtube.

Smells soooo good!!

C.C. had SUCH a blast helping me make this, then playing with it and I had so much fun watching her flex her independence. My mom and grandma have almost always had her in the kitchen with them and it is truly one of our favorite bonding activities. She provides sooo many laughs and moments of calmness while chaotically mixing and stirring ingredients; every kitchen should have space for a kid. This was our first holiday themed activity and it was so worth the dough that got in her hair, alphabet rug, and all on our skin!

Shoutout Pinterest recipes

Gingerbread Dough

Serving Size:
As much as you want
Time:
10 mins
Difficulty:
Easy Peasy

Ingredients

  • Flour 1 cup
  • Salt 1/2 cup
  • Ginger (or Nutmeg, lol) 1/2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon 1/2 tbsp
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp
  • Water 1/2 cup

Directions

  1. Mix all of your dry ingredients in a plastic or metal bowl. I let C.C. use a whisk but a regular mixing spoon will do.
  2. Slowly add in your vegetable oil and water. Let your child help you stir and watch the dough clump together.
  3. Sprinkle a sheet of foil, parchment paper, or your counter with some flour and spread the dough around.
  4. Let your child help you knead the dough until it is a playable consistency.
  5. Play and enjoy the gingerbread smell!

If you make some “Gingerbread Dough”, tag me on Instagram @THEHOTYOUNGMOM & show me what you and your baby made! Enjoy!

Christmas with The CauGlaManShis

There are FIFTEEN days till Christmas and I am SOOOOOOOO excited!!! I have not been happy for the holidays in so so so long! Like, seriously.

I thought last year- C.C.’s 1st Christmas- was going to be this overwhelmingly joyous occasion anddd it wasn’t, lol. I quickly came to realize that being a mom on Christmas is wayyy different than being a child- go figure, right? Anyway, last year I was overwhelmed with all of the family we had to see so this year I’m getting a headstart on my anxiety and stress. Keep reading for my top 5 Holiday Hustle Anxiety Beaters and let me know if any of these come in handy when dealing with YOUR family this holiday season!

Screenshot & save this for an easy reminder!

First up, BOUNDARIES!!! I see this allll the time in my mom groups and inner circle- new or first time moms stressing about how to tell Granma, Uncle, Dad that Baby makes the rules and the rest of us get in where we fit in. Ok, not literally but basically. It is VERY stressful to be the only, or one of the only, people in your family that doesn’t pop, force public displays of affection, gratitude, or fake positivity; trust me, I know. However, stress does not mean succumb! If you set a rule for your family then you stand on that rule and enforce it. Full stop! My favorite way to assert my boundaries is by repeating it simply then saying “Which one of us got the stitches?!” with a light laugh. That simple phrase lets my family- and myself & child- know that I’m not going to repeat myself and that the boundary has been set. Find you a “stitches” phrase and practice it before you get into the Holiday Hustle.

Next up, GIFTS! Do NOT let social media, extravagntly showy family, or even “ungrateful” (we’ll talk about this later) kids bully you into going into debt over Christsmas gifts! If you’re a last minute mommy like so many others: pace yourself! Your child does not need every “cute” thing that you see or they pick up. (Talking to myself here!) Since having Bean and seeing how outwardly loved and spoiled she is, I decided to take a Montessori approach to gift giving. First and foremost, see what your kid actually plays with and what piques their interest. Do they have 1-3 of these toys or items that are working, can be fixed, or are still age appropriate? If so, don’t buy another. Secondly, make a list. The list should consist of: Something to WEAR, Something to READ, Something they NEED, Something they WANT, and Something to DO. Now, you can choose the numbers of each item but I’ll start doing 5 Wears (Clothes, pjs, shoes), 4 Needs, 3 Wants (can be 1 big ticket item + 2 small), 2 Reads, and 1 Do (zoo trip). I also rotate her toys out almost monthly so she’ll be opening some birthday presents for Christmas while some Christmas presents go outside until next month. Rotating toys keeps them fresh, in good shape, and prolongs your child’s excitement for the toy.

Let’s talk PLAYING, yea? If you know me, you know I’m a goofball. Literally all I do is laugh- there is a reason for that! I get past my fears and anxiety by cracking a joke or finding a laughable deflector. I tell everybody to “laugh through the horror” cause it really does help. When your family is dog piling your parenting style, child’s behavior, weight, etc just laugh and say something snarky in response. They’ll either catch the hint and back off right then or they won’t but at least you’ll have gotten your quip in and can feel a bit better about yourself. When your child’s behavior is driving you straight up the tree, get eye level with them and just start playing. Grab a toy, ask for a hug then grab them up into a bear hug, wrestle, play PattyCake, whatever you have to do to PLAY! Laughter and childlike play give your brain and emotions a moment to calm down and regulate. Try it!

Ok now on to the Santa in the room- behavior. First, it’s important to remember that there are NO BAD KIDS just bad behavior and that misbehavior is miscommunication. Your child is not taking all the ornaments off the tree to spite you; they’re probably bored and exploring cause and effect. Give them something to throw and practice placing and removing. Dollar Tree has great felt trees for this and you can see them in action on my Instagram. If you’re taking pictures with Santa and your child hits him or starts crying, jump in and consider your child’s emotions. Are they possibly (likely) uncomfortable, anxious, or outright scared? Think of how you would feel if you were forced to flick it up with a stranger while your caregiver stood by and laughed. Are you at grandma’s house and baby or toddler or child won’t stop touching stuff? Are they maybe exploring all of the new things Grandma has set out for Christmas? Probably. Does that make it okay for them to touch, and possibly break, these things though? No. Ask Grandma for a safe place out of the child’s reach to put the most important decorations. For the things that can’t be moved, try to create a barrier around them or watch for what sensory pleasure the item is giving. Is the pinecone a cool new texture that can be recreated or satiated by going outside? Are the wrapped presents making a cool crinkly sound that can be recreated by crumbling foil or scrap wrapping paper? I bet it can.

Moral of the story: get in front of the behaviors you don’t want to see, your and your child’s comfort is more important than an elder’s hurt feelings, play and laugh through every obstacle, and enjoy the holidays. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems when you get through it. I’ll be checking on you!

Unloved, Unworthy, Understood

Trigger Warning: I’m about to talk about sexual assault. It will likely not get graphic but if you can’t stomach talks about sexual assault or rape. do not proceed. Thank you, in advance, for reading and letting me get this off my chest.

(insert a multitude of emojis, gifs, & memes that display anxiety. This is some scurry shit to write!)

Ight so check it… I was raped in my own house 3 (maybe 4? I don’t harp on the date) years ago. Literally, on a couch that my family owned, in a place where I should have felt strong enough to say no; I was raped.

I have only said that out loud maybe three times since it happened. I have typed it online twice before now. I still can’t come to accept that it happened to me- by somebody I knew and trusted. That someone who I loved platonically and maybe would have had consensual sex with took my power from me. In my own home. And I didn’t tell anybody until almost a year or two later. And I laughed (nervously) when I said it; as if laughter was going to ease the pain that I had been carrying.

I laughed when I spoke my horror and let the laughing emojis carry my story to eyes and ears that would have, otherwise, never known. As if laughter was the cure all. I wish I could laugh through this again. I wish my laughter and nervous giggles could take me far beyond this place of trauma and unworthiness. I might need to laugh again.

I thought I was over this. I thought I had laughed the feelings of disgust, distrust, & betrayal to the depths of my soul. I think they’ve resurfaced and forgot to bring the laughter with them. Sigh. I don’t think I can laugh my way into trusting a new person with my love, my body, my loyalty. And quite frankly, I never did. Where I thought I was healed and “over it”, I found myself in the arms of my baby daddy. Someone I knew already- could catch his cues & knew his ticks- and trusted. Here I was calling myself running game when the game was running me. Ain’t that some shit?! To think you’re healed when really you’re going back to places of comfort… darkness, “Imma get what I need & leave” type spaces. That’s what they never tell you about sexual assault. The recovery is just as brutal as the initial attack. Healing is not linear and every time you think you’re on the up something snatches you back down & connects itself right back to that moment. You stop laughing & running game & being “okay” and realize you’re standing knee deep in that same shit. Ain’t it funny how loud and boisterous unworthiness can be? How he snatches your confidence and your power and dances away with it; arm & arm with low self esteem?

I was raped in my own home and I’m scared to trust again. That’s my first time typing that sentence out. I’ll yell it to the moon later today. My dignity was stripped from me and now I’m fighting to get it back. To understand me again and do it with a baby on my hip, while parenting with somebody who used to be my comfort. Ain’t it funny how loud and giggly and obnoxious life can be?

Hurt People, Hurt People

My grandma popped my baby. That’s it, that’s the story.

My grandmother popped my baby & I LOST! MY! SHIT! I couldn’t see past my triggers and I lost it! The helpless and scared kid in me jumped out and was front and center to defend my child; cause if I say “don’t hit my baby” that’s what I mean.

Here’s the thing though- while asserting boundaries and breaking curses you have to be considerate. Insane concept right? I have to be considerate of people who want to, or could potentially, harm my baby? You must be crazy! Except, it’s not that crazy of a concept. I have to remind myself that while this is the right journey for us, it is also a very new one.

My grandma popped my baby and I LOST! MY! SHIT!

I still can’t believe it almost a month later. I blacked out on my grandma over my child! (Sidenote: I’ll do it again, to anybody, bout my baby’s boundaries and body!) After the fact, I cried. I cried so hard 1: because “WTF I just spazzed on my grandma???” 2: because I was triggered and seeing red and 3: because “GOT DAMMIT how hard is it to not hit a baby?! MY baby at that??” I felt bad but I had to prove to my daughter that I will ALWAYS go up for her and that nobody and no thing can shake that or change that… right?

In defending my baby, my actions, and my inner child I made my grandmother cry; and that’s not a soft lady, ok! I was hurting so I reverted back to the very behaviors I’ve been trying to run from and unlearn- yelling, cussing, crying to guilt trip. How can I model “connection before correction” if my go-to in adult interactions is flying off the handle? I cried and realized I had the tools to make this right. If I want to stick to this positive discipline thing I can’t just reserve the tools for children- my child. So, I cried until I fell asleep and I woke up ready to apologize. I’m not used to apologizing, or apologies, after a lash out. I have something to prove, though. So I apologized. I did exactly what I would do to Bean, to my grandma; eye contact, nervous laughter (cause that’s my thing), and I apologized. I can’t break curses and shake up the violent lineage without offering grace to everyone around me and starting at the top of the line. So I apologized. I gave my grandma a hug and bellowed the biggest, most sincere “sorry” I had and I made sure my child saw it; because hurt people, hurt people but healed people heal nations.

I‘m trying to heal nations and generations. I’ve got a lot of work to do but it starts at home. Literally. This is your reminder that it’s never too late to start healing; you just have to be consistent. If you’re ready to make a shift in the atmosphere (Gospel geeks, where u at?), join me in my upcoming 6 week “Wash, Rinse, Repeat” Positive Discipline course. Sign up below for more information!

If Yo Girl Only Knew

I wish I knew that:

1: Every day will not be sunshine & rainbows. In fact, you might outright hate motherhood and that’s okay!

2: There is no smooth transition from woman to mom. And it sucks.

3: Self-care is no longer easy.

4: This is your journey and yours alone. YOU are the mother.

5: Spending time with JUST your baby is important. Seriously.

6: You are not bitter for being heartbroken, disappointed, or saddened by the way your child’s father treated you. You have every right to feel those feelings.

I wish I knew that. I’ve been sitting on this post for months. I like reminding myself of what was and what could’ve been. I keep having to remind myself of what was and what could be.

I coulda been a hairstylist, working all kinda hours in all kinda places, for whatever price I deemed reasonable. I can still be one. I coulda been a bottle girl, in college classes, all in the clubs having fun. I can still have fun and go to college. I coulda been an influencer- a “IG baddie”- linking up with anybody my daddy (& beauty!) could’ve connected me; taking trips, doing whatever I wanted. I can still leverage my beauty and my connections and “get to a bag” through Instagram. I just gotta do it with a baby on my hip.

I’ve been mourning “me” so much this past year but how dare I? Seriously. How dare I miss the young carefree girl who was just waking up and going? Why would I wanna be her ever again? (Hint: ’cause that carefree sh!t is FUN!!) I’ve really had to sit and grapple with the fact that I’m never going to be the me that I thought I was, and was going to be. That that’s okay and that this new me is someone I can love AND like, too. I wish somebody would’ve gave it to me straight- “you’re growing your own new life, too, not just that baby’s. Your birth is not just your baby’s; it’s yours too.” I don’t even know if I would’ve listened, but it would’ve been something nice to remember hearing. Your birth is not just your baby’s; it’s yours too. When you birth that baby, you’re birthing a new you. A you you may not like at first. A you you have to relearn and rediscover; somebody who might not like what you used to like and might like what you used to hate. You’re birthing and creating a new you. Own that shit! Walk in it. Dig your heels into this upgraded version of you and embrace her. Find what she likes and fall in love with yourself again. Own! That! Shit!

Why Not Play?

My mom is always telling me I need to “work on my poker face so Bean doesn’t think everything is funny.” Well, here’s the thing, everything IS funny- to me, at least. I literally get through my days by laughing and playing.

I need laughter. I need humor and good times and foolishness and fun in my day to day. I tried to work on my poker face but for what? Why can’t I laugh when my baby is doing something funny and silly? Who says it’s bad to laugh while also setting boundaries and being “firm”? Will Bean take everything for a joke or will she one day learn to assert herself and boundaries, even in fun moments?

Yes, she will, actually think everything is funny AND she will be disciplined! Go figure.

There is a parenting approach called “play-based parenting” and it generally follows the child’s lead; allowing them to create and solve problems for themselves while strengthening their emotional and social development. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking “not another one of those parenting styles! That’s that new-age parenting!!” But it’s not! Play-based parenting directly aligns with the Montessori lifestyle and Positive Discipline. NAEYC says “rough and tumble play—has been shown to promote early brain development.” There is a method to childcare centers’ “madness” and their love of play centers, after all. Playing helps children learn emotional regulation, social skills, social cues, problem-solving, and conflict resolution-among other things. Play-based parenting, or just playtime with a caregiver involved, teaches children that they are fun to be around and fun to engage with. It builds emotional intelligence and boundaries. Fifteen minutes of play is really all you need to create lasting memories and help build your child’s brain better than any book ever could!

So I said all that to say: Sorry mom, I’m actually not going to work on my poker face! I’m going to keep laughing my way through my frustration and turning on my most goofy face when I need to power through a tantrum; because my baby needs it and I need it. In Sunday’s post (and all weekend on Instagram *wink wink*) I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ways to play with Bean and how I “laugh through our loco”! See you there and remember to keep on laughing!

P.S. Check out the links below for some articles to support play-based learning!

https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/10-things-every-parent-play

https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/may2017/case-brain-science-guided-play

Hide Me Mommy

Warning: this will be kind of long. I’m not apologizing.

It is 5 am, I’ve had no sleep, and I’ve decided that sharing Bean with the public IS actually anxiety inducing and not something I’m 100% comfortable with. If you’re reading this and wondering if that means you need permission to share her going forward, yes. Yes you do; whether it be from me or her in the future.

I battled with myself and the idea of sharing her my entire pregnancy. How can I teach her consent while sharing nearly every part of her life with strangers? My mind took me in circles and constant loops until finally we settled into the idea that “we” would not share her whole name or her entire birth details, her whole face, or her arrival into this world until it had been a couple days. I was okay with that and everybody else was, too. And then… I was no longer okay with that and it was time to either A: tell people what the new rules were or B: suck it up & power through-because I had a vision in mind. I went with B. I sucked it up and powered through unprovoked online harassment and hacked zoom calls; because I had a vision. I thought my story was bigger than that and that’s not where it was to end, so I kept on.

I swallowed the anxiety that came with her grandmas having Facebook albums dedicated to her and aunties posting her every time they got a new picture of her. I let it be okay- so much so that I even started a blog where SHE was the main focus. I let it be okay! And it was, it really really was… until it wasn’t. I argued with myself and I watched for the way my baby acted around cameras and she seemed ok with them? She started to notice herself in a selfie and SMILE!! She was alright with being on the camera! I was alright too, I thought. I kept doing the mom blogger thing and I was doing it WELL and it was all good; until I realized I was sharing the same pictures everywhere and to everyone. There were no “exclusive” photos to her dad or grandparents or aunts and uncles, no difference between Instagram & Twitter & Facebook. That seemed like a solid plan in my head. How could she be embarrassed or humiliated if only the same pictures are showing across the board? Then I was reminded how evil people on Twitter, especially, are when a “rapper” compared a young black girl to a corpse. I was gutted and triggered; sent back to that time that random white man clowned me, playing a baby shower game, and said something alluding to me eating shit. I was playing a traditional baby shower game. That was enough though; enough for me to stop and rethink everything. How could I put my daughter in harm’s way like that? How could I give someone the opportunity to EVER “drag” her like that? I can’t… so, I didn’t.

I got real cautious about what I posted and said to people. I combed my socials to make sure my baby was “cute”- as if that other child wasn’t. As if “cute” stopped wretched people from being wretched. I started seeing posts about “privacy before consent” and “ask your friends before you post their baby”; things that validated my feelings. Then I wondered if it was divine timing or me just seeing what I wanted to see, what I needed to see, to validate me. Was I really becoming a private person or was I letting social media and strangers get to me? Am I really protecting her or am I projecting onto her? Surely she won’t turn 18, or 10 or 11, and suddenly become embarrassed by all the cute moments I’ve shared of her. Surely her first successful sign language session won’t be a source of embarrassment and anxiety… But what if it is? How will I rectify that and give myself the grace necessary to go forth and heal her?! I’m struggling with all the “what ifs” and since she and I come first, I’m making an executive decision to “hide her from the world”. To wipe her digital footprint clean from here on out. Here’s to giving me peace of mind and her, some privacy and protection. The world is scary enough as is, the internet doesn’t need to be too.

I sincerely regret coming to this decision and feeling these feelings but if you take nothing else from this, take this: be kind to strangers. Watch what you say. Children are off limits, always, and you should be honored to even have access to people’s families in this day and age. Go touch some grass and be merry.