Posts Tagged ‘positivity’

02
Dec

Not Always the Best Policy

belly upFrom the day we arrive on the planet

And blinking, step into the sun

There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

In the circle, the circle of life

Every time I watch the scene from the animated film The Lion King when Mufasa proudly holds his young cub Simba high in the air, I well up with tears. Something about the message being shared between a father and his son, coupled with the rhythmic beating of the drums, gets me in my get up every time.

I started thinking about this yesterday when chatting with a good friend about how to break the news to her 4-year old daughter that her beloved fish had died. My friend was debating on the honest approach – tell her the truth and take her to the pet store to buy another fish. A green one.

I, too, have always opted for the truth with my kids – with the occasional indulgence into fantasy (Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus) – so, I understood exactly where she was coming from. However, I learned a long time ago that the truth may not always be the best thing with young kids. At least that’s the lesson I learned years ago when trying to explain the circle of life to my then 5-year old son when his pet fish Oscar died.

Let me take you back to that tragic day.

Returning home from school one day, my son walked past me to greet his aqua buddy – only to find an empty fishbowl. You see, earlier that morn after taking my son to school, I returned home to find his pet fish Oscar – belly up. Sleeping with the fishes. For a moment, I panicked. I didn’t know how I would break the news to my son that his fish was dead.

Did he even really understand what “dead” meant?

He was after all only 5-years old, and it wasn’t like we’d ever sat down with him to explain birth or death. To be honest, the closest we’d probably ever gotten to talking about any of this was when trying to explain why mommy always started crying when Mufasa was pushed from the cliff and died. (Seriously, doesn’t that scene make your eyeballs tingle?) Anyway, suffice it to say that I was a bit nervous about how my son would react.

Well, at some point during the day, I began to irrationally rationalize that my son probably wouldn’t even be upset because most days he barely even paid attention to the fish and if he did get upset, then I could always refer back to a movie we’d seen at least a million times – The Lion King to explain a simple truth. Life begins and ends. Simple, right?

Wrong.

The kid had a straight up meltdown!

Once he’d scanned the fishbowl from every angle and realized there was no fish, he turned to me and said, “Mommy, where’s Oscar?”

I gently replied, “Oscar died, baby. He went to see Jesus.”

Wrong answer.

The boy dropped to his knees and sobbed “Osssssssssssssscaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar!”

O-M-G!

In an effort to console him, I immediately began babbling about how all pets go to heaven (at least dogs do) and how everything lives and dies. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The more I talked, the more he cried, and somewhere along the way I started verbally moonwalking. I began rambling on about how Jesus can perform miracles and miraculously Oscar was alive and at the pet hospital (a.k.a. the pet store). We just had to go pick him up.

He stopped crying. So, off we went to the pet store to retrieve “Oscar 2.0”

The moral of this story is: honesty will only get you but so far with a 5-year old.

I can’t wait to hear how my girlfriend says it went with her daughter.

28
Oct

My Invisible Child

invisible childI’m convinced that I’ve given birth to another child who is constantly creating havoc in my house! I’ve never seen this rascal but, according to my other kids, he is clearly the one to blame for all the trouble brewing in the house.

Who made this mess?!

Notme.

Who’s making all that daggone noise?!

Notme.

Ok, which one of y’all left all the lights on downstairs?

Notme.

On one hand, I guess I should be grateful for my child Notme. He didn’t take me through a thousand hours of labor. He doesn’t always have his hand out asking for a new pair of sneakers or video game. He’s not eating me out of house and home. He’s not constantly debating with me about what his friends’ parents let them do.

Yeah, I guess I shouldn’t complain…but seriously, Notme, you need to sit down somewhere and stop tearing up my damn house!

16
Oct

Flying the Coop

Baby-Bird-Learning-to-Fly1Why is it that folks look at me cross-eyed when I say that after graduating high school, I plan to push my children out of the nest?  From the time they entered kindergarten, I’ve lectured my children about the next 16 years of education. Although I myself received my education through the College of Life, by way of the military with a brief detour through college, I’ve always dreamed that my children would make smarter choices. So, college has always been an expectation.

However, I’m a realist, so I know that there’s a chance that my kids will upset even my best laid plans. So should they choose to forego an immediate trek to college post-graduation, the only other option would be the military where he or she could learn a trade, travel the world, earn a living, and still attend college (on the government’s dime) should they later change their mind. No matter what, either of these options would come well packaged with tons of hugs, a starter care package, and a new set of luggage. This was, after all, the same parting gift that my mom gave to me upon graduation. At the time, however, I was naïve enough to believe that my mother was simply encouraging my spirit of adventure; now, I can look back and see her not so subtle hint on what my next steps should be.

At no point, however, have I ever entertained what’s behind Door No. 3 – an extended stay at home, whether it was just to “take a break from school” or work at the local McDonald’s. This is so not an option.

Let me say that I really do love my children. However, for the past 17 years I have lovingly sacrificed my body, my energy, and at times my sanity to raise my children. Is it wrong of me to view graduation as the finish line at the end of a double marathon; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; the light at the end of the tunnel?

Graduation is not just for the child. It is an acknowledgment that parents have successfully paid their dues and can finally reap what they’ve sown. So, pardon me if I choose to push my little birdies out the nest should they not feel compelled to fly the coop on their own. Fly, baby, fly!

10
Dec

Sexy Amnesia

love questionI was watching a talk show earlier today and an interesting question on relationships came up. Would you prefer a relationship that was emotionally blah with amazing sex, or emotionally amazing with blah sex?

For me, this was a complicated question with no easy answer.

I mean, seriously, I can’t think of anything more stimulating than someone who listens and is actually interested in what I’m saying. Someone who recognizes that I, too, am out here making the bacon so willingly shares in all of the household responsibilities. Someone who understands that I may not come to bed looking like an airbrushed beauty but recognizes that this woman knows how to handle her business.  Someone who treats me like a true friend not just the girlfriend or wife.  Someone who knows how to carry himself like a man but isn’t afraid of the fact that I am a strong woman.

To me, that is emotionally erotic, and I would take that any day over many things. But since this is just my dream, a good dose of mind-blowing, freak nasty, push-your-wig-back-kinda-sex can be just what the doctor ordered to give me a good case of amnesia, have me sucking my thumb, and mumbling ““oooooooooh , I love me some him…what was the question again?”

04
Dec

Dear Santa:

mailbox

Dear Santa,

It’s been a long time since I wrote you a letter, but if you really exist I could use your help. I know you specialize in toys, so what I’m going to ask you for may really sound strange. It’s just that I’m a little desperate right now, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. However, before I tell you what I want under my Christmas tree, let me give you a little background so you’ll understand my request.

First, let me share that this is my favorite time of the year! I love all of the hustle and bustle, the good eats, and the time spent with family and friends. I just love it! The fun really starts at Thanksgiving but truly kicks into high gear the day after. No, not because of Black Friday sales….it has much more to do with the sounds of Christmas.

It’s the magic of Boys to Men harmonizing Let it Snow; little Michael, Jermaine, Tito and them sweetly singing Give Love on Christmas Day; and the soothing baritone of “Merry Christmas, from The Temptations” that officially sets it off for me.

Of course, we have to toss in the traditional Christmas songs and movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Even though I’ve watched these movies hundreds of times, they never get old and I never get tired of singing along with Frosty or the “misfit toys.” Seems like this time of year puts everyone in a good mood. Heck, even my husband is feeling the holiday cheer. Earlier today, I couldn’t hep but smile when I heard him humming the tune to The 12 Days of Christmas. I was singing and swaying along to his tune until I heard an unfamiliar – and unusually long – note that caused me to pause. It went a little something like this:

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaad.

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaad.

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaad.

[This went on painfully for “7 days,” until he got to the 5th day of Christmas and sang out…]

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaad, and licking of the baaaaaaaaaaalls.

I’m at a complete loss for words. My husband is a bonafide nutcase.

So, Santa, please, please, please… bring me a XL straight-jacket and a wooden club for Christmas. My husband needs a good dose of get right.

Thanking you in advance,

Valerie

01
Dec

Wrong Turn Down Memory Lane

wrong wayRecently I found myself strolling down memory lane with rose-colored lenses on. I was thinking back on the choices and decisions I’d made in the past and wondering what my life would have been like had I made different choices. It was in this mental space that I recreated what I thought my life would look like and began kicking myself over how young and stupid I was way back then. However, the funny thing about these strolls is that sooner or later you hit a pothole that slams you back into reality and brings clarity to why you got off of this ill-fated lane in the first place.

Our yesterdays make us who we are today. Every mistake, every hurt, every failure, and every success are threaded into the very fabric of our person. It’s okay to reflect back on these experiences – heck, do like I do – laugh about it or cry it out. Just don’t fool yourself into believing that the scenery along memory lane was other than what you remember; instead, promise yourself that these strolls are simply brief detours that don’t distract you from the road ahead…and keep it moving.

18
Jun

School Daze

school busRemember back in the day when the last day of school felt like a national holiday? As children, we couldn’t wait to walk through the school doors to laugh with our friends about all of the things we would (or wished we could) do over the summer.

Lazy mornings

Summer camp

Cannonballs into the local pool

Scratching out chalk outlines of hopscotch squares and baseball diamonds on the streets and sidewalks

Climbing trees

Catching lightning bugs in clear, glass jars

Hide and seek

Tag!…You’re it!

Simon says…

No bedtime curfew

Late night tv

Forbidden peeks at The Benny Hill Show

Dozing off as the national anthem played

Soothed by the static white noise as the broadcast went off

Those really were the good ol’ days.

This morning, as my 12-year old son headed out the door for his last day of school, he casually commented that he couldn’t take his backpack because the students had been told that they would be “patted down” if they bought in any kind of bag on the last day.

Something is so wrong with this. It’s such a shame that the innocence of our children’s childhood will be marred by thoughts of gun violence in schools. Just makes you wonder what they will remember years from now about their own last days.

12
Jun

Got an App for that?

App-for-that

I was crying the other day over how silly I felt for believing that if I treated someone with love and respect that I would receive the same in return. After listening intently to my woes, one of my closest girlfriends replied, “men are stupid. Do you think they have an App for that?” I cried laughing.

Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear and some straight talk from a true loved one to snap you out of a funk.

06
Jun

Bedtime Wars

Never go to bed angry.Couple sitting up in bed, both looking away   Original Filename: couple.jpg

When I was younger, I would hold on to these words of advice as if they were the answer to my happily ever after. Too often, I would push aside my wounded emotions and crawl under the covers with a smile on my face and tears in my heart. While I was nurturing peace in my relationship, I was waging war in my spirit. By pushing aside my feelings for the sake of peace and a “good night’s sleep,” I was allowing my own feelings to be devalued.

As I’ve seasoned in life, I’ve learned that I also have to be true to me. The key to a happy marriage doesn’t start and stop at the bedroom door, so why pretend as if the answer lies somewhere between the tangled sheets? Besides I have yet to learn how to sleep peacefully after the one I vowed to love, honor, and cherish just threw a verbal barb that cut me down to the white meat.

Instead I build a fortress of pillows down the middle of the bed, put on my flannel armor, and lull myself to sleep with episodes of Snapped and pray that I don’t do just that. So, if this means that I go to bed angry…so be it.

20
May

A Hair Affair

dancing in the rain

Recently on my favorite radio morning show, a guest speaker joined the crew to discuss the dangerous effects of hair relaxers on black women. As the speaker was discussing all of the dangers associated with sodium hydroxide and chemical processing of the hair – balding, scalp lesions and burns, dangers to reproductive systems, links to cancer – you could hear one of the male radio personalities in the background bemoaning about how the industry needs to come up with “something” to straighten out hair because he didn’t know if he could work with that (“that” being a black woman’s natural kinks and curls).

Here was an industry expert talking about the dangerous effects of chemical relaxers, and this brotha was essentially grieving about his dislike of natural hair. Oooh, how I wish I could have slapped a handful of lye-based relaxer on his scalp at that very second. Didn’t Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair spell it out enough? Relaxers are dangerous, plain and simple. Yet women around the world subject themselves to the dangers of chemical hair treatments all to attract the attention of men like this.

As I sat there shaking my head at his thoughtless response, I was reminded of how easily influenced we can be by others’ perceptions of us and realized that it is this influence that lies at the root of the issue.

My own journey with natural hair has been a long overdue lesson in true self-love.

Twelve years ago, I decided to do a little experiment. I wanted to discover the real me once all of the fluff and frills were stripped away. So, I cut off all of my hair. Then I cried. For the first time in my life, I had nothing to hide behind. Staring back from the mirror was me. Unmasked and liberated. Gone were the worries about “sweating out my hair.” I could now scratch my scalp, jump in the pool, walk in the rain, and have that pull-my-hair kind of fun. Free at last!

Yet, this feeling was short-lived. Instead of celebrating with me, I endured unwelcome comments from friends, family, and random strangers about how they “preferred my hair long” or didn’t understand why I did what I did. People openly talked about the texture of my hair as if I were an science project. Some even dared to touch my hair. Male reactions were even more noticeable. The same eyes that once admired my presence now darted past me, labeling me as insignificant. No more cat calls or “hey, beautiful” comments caressed my ears as I walked down the street.

I’ve always been generally comfortable in my own skin, but the blatant disdain from those around me dinged my self-esteem. I missed the security of my hair and often considered hiding out under wigs, weaves, and wraps. However, over time, I grew to appreciate my hair’s versatility and fell in love with every kinky, curly, frizzy, tame-me-not strand on my head. I love who I see staring back at me and refuse to alter who I am to be loved, accepted, wanted or appreciated.

Now, I dance in the rain.