Monday, December 17, 2007

I Think: This Is What It's About?

This Is What It's About?
By: Mia L. Black

I woke up on Sunday morning to the soft cooing of our 19 month-old daughter down the hall in her crib. My eyes flickered and I turned to roll over to my snoring husband, only to hear, "ouch" from our six year-old daughter, who had snuck into the bed in the wee hours of the morning. I apologize for elbowing her and relay that I did not see her, only to be interrupted by a loud, "Mooomeeeee" from down the hall. Apparently our voices had traveled and now she wanted to be included in all the fun. It was going on nine o'clock as I swung my feet out of bed. I had actually gotten to "sleep in."

I stepped into the hallway and caught a glimpse of my daughter facing me with arms in the air, ready for me to scoop her up. My major dilemma at this point came down to, do I go pick her up, change her, and let her begin her day, or do I make a quick pit stop at the bathroom and listen to her scream and cry as I disappear from sight? I opt for the latter. No sooner do I get into the bathroom...the wailing begins. The door is wide open, I try to soothe her as I finish my business and wash my hands. Meanwhile, my husband still lay at rest and my six year-old is standing in the doorway giving me the second to second update of her sister's tantrum. Mind you I have only been up for four minutes.

I get the kids situated, fed and begin dinner. Because I am going to make a beef stew and crock pot it all day, I want to turn it on for at least six hours. What should take about twenty minutes from beginning to end, takes me close to forty-five. I have opted to only get involved in my daughters' arguments if they become physical. Unfortunately for dinner that happened three times....all the while, my husband lay at peace in the bedroom. I finally finished dinner preparation and tried to figure out what I would eat for breakfast at about eleven o'clock. I made me and my husband breakfast, which of course made my daughters hungry again. As we were finishing our breakfast (going on noon) I had the idea to write this exact blog. My husband said he would take care of the dishes and put the baby down for her afternoon nap. With the girls sharing a bedroom, nap time means our oldest must remove everything she wants to play with before the baby goes down. This usually means all of her toys take over my living room.

I get to my couch, coffee in hand and pull my laptop out. I check my emails and try to formulate in my head what I am going to write. I kick out my first sentence and my daughter leans on me to view what I am writing. I know this doesn't sound right, but after about four times of telling her to stop leaning on me and go play, I wanted to just push her. Yes, I said it, a grown ass woman felt like pushing a six year-old. I was not able to get through three more sentences with any type of flow, because every time she moved I would punch the wrong key. I spent more time correcting than I did typing. Meanwhile, my husband had gone back to bed. As I complete my first paragraph, she now tells me she wants lunch. I am so annoyed at this point, that I tell her to go tell her father.

Finally peace.I reread what I have typed and erase it all. Not at all where I wanted to go with the story. Two minutes into my peace, I can hear my daughter running towards the living room. "Mommy, Daddy said come quick into the kitchen. He's not even playin'. It's really an emergency." She retreats. I close my computer down defeated. I make the decision not to jump right to my husband's rescue, but instead lean my head back and take a quick doze. Upon his messenger's second request, I drag myself into the kitchen. My husband is wiping spillage around the crock pot with my good hand towel. This is the emergency? I think to myself. How could this be an emergency? I'm only glad I came into the kitchen when I did, after he tells me what he was going to do to our dinner. He was going to dump out all the "juice." I'm thinking "juice?" You mean you were going to dump out the stew? I repot the stew and save dinner.

My daughter goes and eats her lunch and I begin my blog again. Again my husband returns to bed. At this point I begin to think, is this what it's all about? Is this life when you have no plans? If not for the horrible weather, we probably would have gone shopping or to go visit someone, but I had no plans. I wasn't pulling the family out into the storm. So now all four of us are stuck in the house, all trying to do our own thing, but I seem to be the only one jumping to everyone's rescue. Because no sooner am I a paragraph into my blog, when our youngest wakes up. I try to outwait my husband, but he is not trying to budge from his rest. All the while our six year-old is running to each one of us, to announce that her sister is awake. I finally get up annoyed and stomp to our daughter's room. I peak up the hallway to see my husband act as if he is going to get out of bed. I kiss my daughter, take her out of her crib, and bring her and a new diaper to my bedroom. I drop them off and turn to leave the room. I stumble over my six year-old because since I left the living room, she has been inches from me.

She follows me to the bathroom and I gently push her back from the door, and proceed to shut and lock the door behind me. I don't have to go to the bathroom, but it is the only door that has a lock. I sit on the toilet and hear my daughter cry outside. A minute goes by and the crying is joined by, "Moooooomeeeeeeeee". I'm not sure how much time passed until they realize I wasn't coming out. But I finally won when I heard the sweet sound of victory, "Daaaaadeeeeeee." I smile and listen to him tell them to go find me. They tattle and relay I am locked in the bathroom. My victory is short lived because then I have all three of them on the other side of the door trying to get in. Again I question myself, is this what it's about? Is this what my life has come to? Locking myself away from my family? In the bathroom at that?I summon up the courage and unlock the door. I look into hurt confused faces and try to step around them and make my way back to the living room. Before I take a second step, my husband wants to know what is wrong, my six year-old tells me she is going to poop and will need help wiping herself, all the while in the background, "Mommy, Mommy, Mooommmeeee."

I somehow feel like a bad mom, because I have done nothing with my family. I decide to make Christmas cookies. My husband finds a new location to do nothing, the living room with the football game. I pull out bowls, ingredients, and the mixer. I take the youngest into the living room and ask my husband if he can watch her while we make cookies. He doesn't budge and says yes. I don't even make it back to the kitchen before I hear a little pitter patter following me back into the kitchen. I go back and stand in the doorway and glare at my husband. He is completely dumbfounded and asks me "What?" He looks back at the TV and calls for our youngest. I manage to make the cookie dough and then have to deal with a meltdown with my daughter, because she doesn't understand why you have to refrigerate the dough after you make it.

By this time I want to fall on my face and I am checking the clock at three in the afternoon. Five more hours, just five more hours until bedtime. Again, is this what it's all about? Six hours in with these people and I'm already wishing it was their bedtime? But I won't allow them to break me, I press on and walk into the living room. My husband is getting on his shoveling gear and the kids are within inches of him. I've come to notice with these little people, there is no such thing as personal space. They have to be right on top of you. I decide to let them get a little energy out...I simply lie on the floor. I don't make it all the way down until they are on top of me. Laughing, giggling and having a ball at my expense, all because I am laying on the floor and they are able to sit, jump and play on top of me. My husband goes outside to shovel and I play as their jungle gym for the next twenty minutes.

I look at their happy faces and am able to answer my question with the question. Yes, this is what it's about. It's about being the occasional jungle gym, the referee, the cook, the refugee, the caretaker, the problem solver...all and all, it's summed up in two words, mother/wife. So it may be two days later that I am now getting the peace to write and post this blog, but these past two days with my family have been worth it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I Think: Friendship

Forever Changed
By: Mia L. Hazlett

You never know when the first day of the rest of your life begins with a person. In fact, it’s not until sixteen years later that you look back on that first day and thank God for His life changing blessing. It was the day you waited for your entire teenage life…turning eighteen and going off to college. It’s that day when you found yourself wandering aimlessly on a new college campus, like a kindergartner on their first day of school. You smiled back at anyone that showed you some sign of attention, just so you didn’t have to endure the entire experience by yourself. But as they passed you by, you gave up the chance to introduce yourself and embark on a new friendship. You got to the point that you wanted to start crying, because you actually missed your parents and home. You realized that you were out of your safety zone and you wanted to put your security blanket back on.

As you scanned your list of events for the day, a familiar face smiled at you from across the field. Not familiar in the sense you thought you recognized them, but familiar in the sense that you now knew you were not the only black girl again. You returned her smile and welcomed her company as she came to sit down next to you. She introduced herself and gave you a small piece of paper. It had something about “Afro-Am”, but you didn’t want to waste your time reading it and pass up the opportunity of having your first conversation of the day. Two hours in and you hadn’t talked to a single person. You’ve ignored her piece of paper, but she goes on to explain her organization and tell you the meeting time and place. At the end of her sales pitch she bid you a farewell and walked away.

With that brief five minute encounter, God introduced you to your best friend. Because from there, you would end up attending her meeting and becoming part of her organization. You would abuse her open-door policy and begin to share your darkest secrets. You would embrace her with your arms and all your heart and soul as you depart, knowing she is going home to tell her parents she’s pregnant at 21. You would run full sprint up a flight of stairs with her back pack, all in the name of a pregnancy prank. You would impatiently pace the waiting room anxious for the announcement of her firstborn. You would lend her your shoulder as she announces her divorce to you. You would cry with her when she tells you she is going back home to California with the baby. You would celebrate with her when she returns from California baby in tow. She would stand by you as your bridesmaid in your first wedding. She would laugh with you as you both realize she has the peanut butter, you have the jelly, but neither of you have any bread. She lends her shoulder as you announce your divorce. You both celebrate each other as you become adults…she moves away to Texas and you move to Virginia. She supports your pregnancy long distance. You fly to Texas for her second wedding. She understands your paycheck to paycheck struggle with your newborn. She comes to visit you when you move back home to your parents’ house. She gives you a hearty congratulation when you remarry. You are overjoyed at the announcement of her second pregnancy and blessed at the birth of you Godchild. You both offer stability through the stormy years of your marriages. She announces to you that you may be pregnant again and advices you to get a test. You support her decision to end her second marriage and open your home as she looks for homes in your area. You both agree that Texas would be better for her and the kids. You bid her farewell and good luck as she leaves you again. You pray for her as she builds her first home and thank God for her success as she stamps her mark on Corporate America. She pushes and edits your writing as you struggle through the first year with your publishing company.

You look back to the first day with that person and sixteen years later realize who God brought into your life….your guardian angel, your advocate, your biggest fan, your biggest critic, your shoulder, your patience, your conscience, your children’s second mother, your marriage mediator, your doctor, your pastor…all and all your friend and sister. And by this one person being in your life, you have been forever changed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

At Peace

By: Mia L. Black

As we move towards the holiday season and work on stretching the household paycheck and budget, I’ve approached this season with a much needed peace. Peace of mind with my marriage, family, friends, finances, job, and self. Usually at this point of the year I am frantic with trying to figure out how I am going to pay this bill and buy that gift, but I shed that anxiety by approaching the new year without drama.

Now drama for me equals stress. And I refuse to have anymore drama in my life. This does not mean that I won’t have trying moments that test at breaking my spirit, it just means that I am going to tackle them as soon as they poke their ugly faces out and resolve them with sanity instead of emotion. I’ve begun by paying all my bills first. I know that sounds logical, but it means that December’s bills get paid before Christmas shopping begins, not something I have done in past years. I have mastered the catch-up game, but no more playing catch-up. I have also made the decision to leave the plastic at home. No maxing out the credit card this year…again logical, but a change for me. With just these minor changes, I have alleviated a huge 3-month headache. Because when I would forgo a bill or two in December for an overpriced gift, it would take me until February or March with that stupid catch-up game. I know that underneath the Christmas tree will look a bit bare, but after watching my children fight over a diaper box the other day, I’m not going to make myself crazy.

I’ve also started to work on feeding my spirit and doing things I have always wanted to do and take part of. I’ve always wanted to start a club of women that is inclusive of people that I know and don’t know. A club of women who are married, single, and that come from different financial and educational backgrounds. This club is designed as a safe haven for women to come and vent about whatever is going on in their lives, or to share their successes or goals with other women that may have traveled in their shoes or are walking right beside them right now. It is a chance to network and make connections with people that you may have never met before had you not attended. I sent out an e-mail a week ago to set up the first dinner. Almost everyone has responded and I can now check that goal off going into the new year.

Part of feeding my spirit is working on my publishing company. I am awaiting an estimate for illustration for my first children’s book. Once I receive this estimate back, I will work on the funding to make my dream a reality. I will hope from those profits, I will be able to launch my first novel. So the wheels for this have been set in motion. But the reward of accomplishment has already set in. I’m so happy for me.

I can also say that I have a happy home. A home that I look forward to going home to and a life with a family that brings me joy. So many times I have harped on the negative, but I just refuse to have time for the negative anymore. My husband and I have resolved our issues or differences head-on lately, which has lead to unrest with almost immediate peace. Just this subtle change in our disagreement style has allowed for civil confrontation, rather than two days of a silent treatment and outside gossip (I’m talking about him, not me).

All I can reiterate is that I have taken all my walls down and focused on peace and happiness for my life. It may leave me vulnerable, but I am okay with that. Because whoever tries to make me stray from my path of peace, will have to answer to my Maker, because I know He has my back.