It Takes a Village

Let me tell you a thing about motherhood. While it comes about as a tango by two (in any iteration), it is an experience that can make you feel very much alone. Motherhood can be a very lonely thing. Why do you think so many moms form clubs, have meetings and create online communities commiserating with each other over the common crazy and wine? There is an ‘if you know, you know’ sentiment where shared experiences help to make the entire journey easier once you know that others are going through the same.

Moms hold in their hearts the worry that comes with pregnancy, the pangs and the pain, the trauma of childbirth and breastfeeding, the pervasive thoughts about their non-biological children, the self-doubt, the mom-guilt, the societal expectations and the obsession over doing it right by these children all from year 0 to year 18 and beyond.

Now in light of this. all mothers are not perfect. Some may not get it right and others don’t deserve the title beyond the biological process. So where can they get support for the sake of the babies? Enter the village.

In our nine-day news cycle in Trinidad and Tobago, one particular tragic circumstance is front and centre. read about it here and come back.

I purposefully activated the turbo in my scrolling finger mainly because Trinis can get very stupid in a social media comments section and sometimes my brain doesn’t cope well with that. In reading the story however I stood with those who wondered why the neighbour would have seen the child in the road and not raise an immediate alarm…in the road….. I stand on that opinion despite her viral video explanation re not being able to catch the child as well as the blame being placed squarely on the mother who should have kept an eye on the child.

A village provides extra cover for a mother who has failings, check all the societal traditions over the course of history to see how this plays out as fact. I have run out of fingers and toes trying to count the amount of times I have done absolute mess as a mother. My own mom (who is my village leader) reminded me of this recently:

Ting tuh cry for……

A strong sense of community is a critical element in the mental, emotional and psychological state of those on parenting journey. Some have no one to rely on to ask for help or to teach them how to do this parenting thing properly at a time or in a manner that would benefit of the child. This is why some are run ragged to the point where no ‘self-care Sunday’ would suffice. Community is a tradition that seems to be missing very much in Trinidad society (except of course in a negative way).

If you are close to a mother in any sense, don’t shy away from being a part of her village even in the age of “drink water and mind yuh business”. There is a way to do it without being ‘fass and outta place’*

Are you a mother? Can you identify who is in your village or do you feel alone and helpless? If you’re not a mother, are you an active part of a village?

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!

Blessings

TMIDM

*nosy and unbearable

The Thing About Teenagers…

Is this thing on?

Back from an absence and to be honest I was stalling quite a bit to write and to post because I’m feeling very compelled to give my blog a whole refresh again especially in time for my bloggerversary in April. However, like a prisoner with a lucky break, time just seems to escape me.

Anywhooo…

I’ve been steadily trying to adjust properly into my new role as Trini mom of two teens (and by steadily, I mean from about October of 2021). Everything is in full swing now though and while sometimes I run like clockwork, there are many days when I feel like…Jesus just take the wheel, the car, the tune-up, the monthly installments AND the insurance because EYE not able with this!!!

Tew….much…

I feel like NO-ONE adequately informed me about mothering teenagers and I have questions. The sad part is that in my decade (plus) career as an Educator (including a lengthy spell as a Dean of Discipline), you would think that I would have learnt a thing or two about dealing with them. I did, but here’s the thing though, I can’t send mine home to their parents or suspend them from school for seven days to get them out my sight. They actually live in my house so alas, there is no separation of church and state. This is outright corruption and it stink.

Knowledge is power though and I am definitely learning every damn day. If you thought the lack of sleep/milk factory newborn stage is rough or the draining/demanding toddler stage is exhausting, guess what? It just morphs into a new set of challenges at the adolescent stage where you (more often than not) question your sanity, walk on eggshells, get irritated quickly, manage your expectations and worry….and oh you will worry…. a lot….more than you need to, but as much as you want to. Once you have children “it” never ends.

Here are a couple things I’ve learnt on this journey so far:

  • Teens want space. All of a sudden, I live a house with a corridor flanked by closed doors (NOT locked in my damn house). I knock for proof of life but most times I don’t need to as I usually hear giggling or bantering as they are ‘online’ with their friends. They don’t know how lucky they have it nah.
  • Said space will be acceptable to their standards which means it will be messy as hell if you don’t reign it in. I usually tell my gremlinz to at least neaten it up, nobody is saying to put down a Christmas cleaning, but try not to have stuff strewn all over when there are clear receptacles available.
  • Said space will also be the prison for your missing cutlery and crockery. When I see the stacks of dishes emerge from their dungeons in the evening, I shake my head and wonder how personally invested I would have to be in order to NOT make this a “thing” as de young people like to say. (Answer: Not that invested, and it depends on what the stack looks like.)
  • There is a slight obsession with hair. The elder gremlin asked me to grow his out while he would need curl activator and a hair sponge. (Naturally I enabled this as casual observation from the after-school population shows that teen boys find and express themselves through hairstyles). The younger gremlin all of a sudden wants to “see” what her hair would look like straight, it’s too thick for her to handle and apparently, I don’t do a well-enough job to make her look fly. Then she changes her mind because she gets fed up easily. She wouldn’t drive me mad.
  • Bad moods are de rigueur. Sometimes they scowl, fret and argue for no reason. One minute they will make their own breakfast, next minute they’re mad because I didn’t make anything for them. No amount of “this-is-the-day-that-the-Lord-hath-made-we-will-rejoice-and-be-glad-in-it” will help. My house gets very angsty and most times I just leave them alone yes because I doh want no bad vibes and they wouldn’t drive me mad.
  • You compete with headphones and earphones for their attention so they don’t “hear” you. Thankfully I have 5-year-old #gremlin3 who dutifully serves as town crier when necessary so I am safe. He handles the sentence “MUMMY CALLIN YUH!!!” with such ease.
  • Teens are masterful in identifying the random moments when they feel like talking. It is at this point you laser your focus to make sure that it appears as though you are doing nothing or doing some nonchalant activity. At this very random time they just appear, start with one word and then the rest follows like word vomit. For this sharing of thoughts I am always grateful but of course expect them to disappear shortly after they have unloaded on you.
  • Teens still need physical touch. They might roll their eyes, hit you the “oh gosh man!” or the “don’t be weird”, but they melt like butter once they get hugs etc. and then for a brief moment you see the inner child flicker in their eyes.

I’ve learnt so much more, but these are my main lessons. I still feel like as much as they brilliantly package the “what to expect” for pregnancy, babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, all the feverish teachings die out at the later stages of a child’s life so it’s more of a ‘do what works for you but don’t raise no more shitty kids, the world has enough’ scenario. Therefore sometimes I am left with going back to my own teens trying to remember what I liked and didn’t like to influence my present parenting strategy. But then again….these children different….

Am I alone in thinking that way? If you have teenagers, do you feel the same? If you have littles, are you even thinking about coping with the teen years? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to follow me on:

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Bless!

TMIDM

Hey there Mom!

Well today is the day once again and if you are a mom or mom-adjacent, depending on your life situation you are either going to be reveling in the day, wishing it would never end or praying fervently for midnight to reach. I have been a mother for 15+ years and truthfully I have felt both depending on the year and the circumstance (2015 was rough). It so happens that in these 15+ years I have learnt (and am continuing to learn) things about my own mothering process that help me to understand my journey and accept the joys and challenges along the way. So here are five self-care type mantras that I keep in mind as a mother (it’s only five things and it won’t be long, I know you have to settle down to brunch, homemade cards that smell like glue, the forever recitation of ‘M is for the million things’….or that Boys II Men song on repeat):

  1. REMEMBER ON YOUR WORST DAY, YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST – I cannot emphasis enough how much this thought process has saved me and it is probably my number one motherhood affirmation that gets me through the challenging times. I believe in maintaining ah balance and I know some people don’t ascribe to it because it means that you are pushing yourself to achieve perfection in all areas in your life but for me it really means that I need to keep my eye on the ball even when it’s not in play. There are back to back days when I am killing it and there are back to back days of total failure. So when work overwhelms, house in disorder, physical self needs attention, gremlinz driving me up a blasted wall, I recognize things are off-kilter and acknowledge that I need to to put one ball down by my feet to keep the rest in the air. That is me, doing my best and keeping it balanced. I survived and tomorrow is another day. Now on the point of gremlinz and walls…
  2. REMEMBER YOUR CHILDREN, WHILE JOYFUL, SUCK THE VERY LIFE OUT OF YOU – This is the only reason that being a mother is a tiresome thing. The only reason. You gave them life, they need more. Whether it is physically where you feel like a cow on demand for the babies or mentally/emotionally where they drain your very soul, children are parasitic in nature and they know it. (I say that with love plus a nurse told me that in pre-natal clinic in 2008). The good news? They give you what they consider to be adequate time to restore. When you ask? That moment when you gaze at your baby’s smiling eyes making you forget the screaming and the nipple-tugging. That moment when your toddler is asleep and looks like an absolute angel who left a trail of destruction in his/her wake. That moment your teen gives you a random hug that brings tears to your eyes. Get it? Now as long as you have this in mind, you operate to suit.
  3. REMEMBER TO FIND YOUR TRIBE
Squad up!
(Image from Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels)

Motherhood is not a journey to trod alone. I know that there are some out there who have no choice but you really need someone. It may not be a village which is ideal but it may just be one tanty in the village. You need someone, this can’t be done on the lonesome. Your mind will play the most hurtful tricks on you and madness will set in. It’s like being alone in a desert or on a deserted island seeing mirages. You need at least a camel or volleyball to talk to. You may not have someone around you physically but you need someone (or two or village) to reach out to when you need it. Find your tribe.

4. REMEMBER TO BE SELFISH WHEN YOU NEED OXYGEN

Airplane Turbulence Horror Stories From Travelers on Reddit
You breathe first

Repeat after me: Self-care is not a luxury.

Self-care is a necessity. You can’t pour from an empty cup and all that. Motherhood by its very nature is a sacrifice of your womb, your vagina, your figure, your mind, your free time, your job, your tv, your snacks, your life! (See number 2 above). While sacrifice is necessary, again, operate to suit. There is a reason capitalism has snatched up ‘self-care’ and ‘me-time’, there is a need for it (and in the extreme sense they make you feel that you need it more than you actually do so you buy more bath bombs but I digress). Identify what brings you back to yourself and prioritize it. It does not have to be long baths, manicures, scented candles or wine (to be clear I’m lying on that last one, it MUST be wine, but again, I digress). Just know what it is that positively feeds your mind and soul and make it as important as feeding those blasted parasites.

5. I know I said four but REMEMBER TO CREATE THE LIFE THAT EXCITES YOU – This gem is not mine but it guides me daily. (Check out more gems from Reese Dennis, thanks mama!). This incorporates all of the above and then some. We aren’t all the same moms and we are not on the same journey. Some of us make this shit look realllll good (especially on social media) and some of us are floundering which is completely ok until it isn’t. I think it is CRITICAL that we don’t lose ourselves in this whole process and the very best of you is needed to show up for the rest of those who need you.

So I hope wasn’t too long as that it helps. to those of you who feel YAY! or MEHH today, I pray you have a restful and peaceful one. Your are the Divine in human form, so don’t forget that. Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Blessings

TMIDM