Easy Sundays! Also…Trying Out a Parenting Tip

Heya, 

Today was much easier than I thought it would be. I woke up quite late but only because my guy, Naomi, and I stayed up until 3 am last night (this morning?) playing around, watching videos, and eating fajitas. Then I stayed up until 7am reading a book because…I couldn’t stop reading. It was just so good.

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Even as a kid whose adoptive parents were pastors that spent all day in church, I loved Sundays. It’s a great start to the week. A day to relax and do yoga. Not have a care in the world. Obviously, that hardly ever happens, but at least it feels like that’s what it should be. 

After we hung around in bed watching TikToks (and add a little hanky panky), my guy went to work. Naomi and I started our new routine. I sat her down and we talked about what we wanted to do for the day. I listed everything out for her, pausing for her baby gibberish input. She loves to feel heard. Then I cooked, we ate, and I did a little work while Naomi sat in her high chair munching on cucumbers. I wrote down what we ate in my food journal and wished for some gummy sugary things. Oh yeah, and completed a few easy homework assignments.

I knew that I planned to work out as my new habit and so I did! I propped up my Ipad to distract my mind with HGTV’s Design Network Star while I lifted my singular 15lbs weight, stretched through yoga poses, and finished with an ab workout. I then spent a hefty amount of time giggling with Naomi on the floor. 

She’s down for her nap now. Isn’t it odd how you miss those baby giggles after they’ve gone to sleep but boy, oh, boy are you tired and glad for a break? Yeah, I know how that feels. So I figured I’d sit down and get some work down as well as write this blog post.

***

I’m trying out this new parenting “tip” I found on TikTok (who says you don’t learn on social media). 

I definitely want to try a gentler style of parenting because I know I can get irritated quite quickly and am also quick to freak out. That’s not the type of high-strung parent I want to be. So usually, when I look over and see Naomi trying to scale her stroller, I jump up and say “no climbing! No climbing!” It’s mostly out of fear. See, Naomi is my rainbow baby and I know that I have this intense fear that something will happen to her. A part of me still can’t believe she’s mine and that she’s healthy. So, anytime I see her in danger I’m all over her. 

Anyway, back to the TikTok tip. Try to be more positive or uplifting when trying to get the baby to listen or stop doing something. 

For example, say Naomi is hitting someone or slapping something. Instead of saying “hey, stop hitting” (insert angry mama face here — because those baby hits DO hurt), try saying “keep your hands to yourself, please”. Another example might be: Naomi is climbing on the stroller and I run over saying “No! No climbing”. Instead, maybe I can try “feet on the floor! Feet on the floor” Not only will this help me keep my cool, but it will teach her more words and give her something else to do. (also see “don’t touch that!” and exchange it for “that’s hot, play with this instead”). Now I know this is probably just one tip in the many parenting tips you might hear, but this is one I’m excited to implement.

One way I used it today: Naomi was pulling her diapers out of the storage box we keep them in. Normally, I would say ‘Naomi, stop pulling those diapers out! — *goes over to baby* — now help mommy clean up the diapers, please.’ You might not see anything wrong with this, and maybe ‘wrong’ is too strong of a word, but today I said “Naomi, those diapers go in the box. They are not toys. Now help mommy clean up the diapers, please”. 

I always say please (and thank you) to my daughter, not just to teach her manners but because it’s my thing? I guess. So, I feel that I have this more positive approach in my repertoire already, I just need to hone it. Learn how to use my words as my FIRST instinct and not immediately scream or yell at her out of frustration or fear. This mom thing is a learning curve for her but also for ME. I’m trying my best and know I must learn from others as well. 

Words Naomi might learn from those examples: Feet, Play, Floor, Hands, Hot, Toys, Please, Diapers, Mommy, Help

Thank you,
Jade

The Contradictions of a First Time Mom.

Heya,



I don’t want to spank my daughter. I don’t want to yell at her or scream at her or make her afraid of me. I don’t want to get frustrated or angry or overwhelmed. I want to be an alien. Somehow removed and somehow present. I want to pull her into my arms and say “I know you’re angry that mommy won’t let you climb in the chair and fall and break your neck but it’s all going to be okay.”

I want to temper my gasket when it’s about to blow and scream beneath my breath to let out steam. I want to be gentle and firm and soft and unmoving. I want to be caring and unbothered by tears. I want to stop her in her tracks with the raising of an eyebrow and the listener of giggles with selective hearing. 

I want to tell her about things like racism and homophobia and inclusion and exclusion and something surrounding personal boundaries. I want to protect her from everything that might hurt her feelings or bruise her ego or make her afraid to walk out the door. I want to show her what it means to be a woman but also how to stop gender roles in their tracks. 

I want her to use my strength as a guide but also learn how to lean on others in her time of need. I want her to be mindful and honest and emotionally intelligent but distant enough to protect her heart. I want her to believe in god but not the god or a god just god in general. Someone who will love her when she’s afraid that she’s unloved. 

I want to teach her about art and literature and culture and music. I want to show her how to follow the rules but also how to break them by not using commas. I want to introduce her to the joy of reading but also let her choose her own passion. I want her to go to college but only if she wants to. I want her to be an artist or a musician or an accountant or a writer (please let her be a writer) or an architect or travel agent.

I want her to be happy. And sad and afraid and excited and passionate and angered by society but also redeemed by it too. I want her to be whoever she wants to be but I’ve gotta do my part. So first of all I need to become the best mother I can be.

CNF: These Little Moments

Naomi won’t remember these late nights. Her crying. Me holding her close. Us intertwined in an exchange of energy. Her face resting on my chest, breathing in my exhales. 

She won’t remember the times I’ve cried, wondering if I am a good mother. Asking myself if I’ve made a mistake. If maybe it was selfish of me to bring her here. After so many tries. If I did this because I wanted to be a mom so bad I didn’t stop to think about how my past might seep through my pores and taint the light of her beautiful soul.

Naomi won’t remember the dance parties in the middle of the living room. Dad and I wiggling around like boneless chickens. Her doing that weird hua-hua-hua noise, bouncing up and down in a deep squat that will one day give her power quads. The music blaring from speakers she stares at with wonder and admiration. 

He and I talk about this on occasion. How these beautiful moments will one day fade into the back of our memory boxes, only thought of as “Do you remember that one time when…wait, how did it go?”

The way her small feet patter across the floor when she’s chasing after you. Trying to move faster than you so you don’t leave her behind. Two fingers stuck in her mouth, grinding on flesh and bone and creating calluses. 

She’ll never remember the days when I’m staying up late studying or sitting at my desk, as I am now, writing at 3:30 am. The partition I created from an old fashion board blocking her from the light from my computer, and the overhead bulbs. Noise-canceling headphones on my head, one pushed off an ear just in case she cries. My phone across the room playing Nature Sounds for Meditation and Sleeping. Artificial Rain. Soothing thunder. The knocking of Native American drums. 

Sometimes I wonder if it matters. If any of this matters. I wonder if in 5 years, 10 years, more years, I’ll care whether she remembers this time. Or if I want to pick and choose what she remembers.

Is it the best memories I want her to have? A mix of the best and the worst? Only the ones in which I’ve sacrificed? Those times when my guy gets home from working a double – exhausted – because he’s supporting his woman’s dreams while taking care of his family?

I also wonder if maybe it happens this way because these years are not about her remembering. These years are for us. My guy and I cuddling in bed, giggling, our knees touching, hands tickling. Whispering loudly, hoping to steal a few moments before the baby wakes up or goes to sleep or finishes her bottle. 

It would be interesting to find these moments are less about Naomi – seeing her parents as they were before they became the people who “always tell her what to do” – and more about me discovering the strength to stay up late to write my books, or study, or take exams because I want my days to be filled with baby giggles and walks. Or daddy, working doubles and coming home to hold her in his arms. Her dropping everything she’s doing to sprint across the room and throw something at him. This is her ‘hi, I’m so excited to see you, daddy. Here’s my favorite toy of the day’. 

I wonder if these small moments that remind us to hold on through the money troubles, or stay strong through a pandemic, or unite ahead frustrations are just for us. 

Now that this realization unfolds as I write this I feel a cathartic release. That I shouldn’t be so afraid or worried about what she’ll remember. That I’ll enjoy this just for us. And what will come; may. 

CNF: I Miss My Mommy

I have struggled this year and I feel the only way to get this out of me is to….get the words out. This piece has eaten away at me and the only way to make it stop was to write it. So here it is.

I miss my mother. 

The way she wrapped her arms around me and her plush body covered mine, suffocating me. But it was all okay because there was warmth there, in the folds of older black woman body. The way I would cry and she would say, “Come here, tell me what’s wrong?” even though she knows what’s wrong because she already told me that boy wasn’t right or that girl wasn’t my friend or that jesus loves me even though I’m selfish and stubborn and angry and mean and I don’t like to listen.

I miss my mom.

The way she would stretch out on the couch, with socked feet tucked into the crack between the cushions. Her knees stacked, legs innocently and sanctimoniously closed. A small table before her dangerously balancing laptop, coffee mug, keys, lipstick, the black stick that looks like lipstick but it really covers grey hairs, rattail comb for scratching beneath wigs (or hairpieces?), piles of junk mail never thrown out, a few dollars to give temptation to wandering foster hands, and the computer mouse.

The way she would fall asleep, mouth slightly opened. How I would whisper just loud enough to be heard but quiet enough not to waken: “Can I go to the library please?” and when the grunt sounds like yes, dart out of the house so fast with my bag for appropriate books on top – that also hides lustful romances and murderous mysteries in the bottom. The way she would come darting after me, some hours later, because I’ve forgotten myself between the pages of adventure. Her Navigator squealing around the corner and slam stopping in front of the building. Because “never ask me questions when I’m sleeping”.

How she would wait for me to exit and unlock the doors when I notice it’s her. My head falling forward, my shoulders dropping. And I push the bag down, down, down, between the seats, beneath my feet, hoping the devil’s literature won’t be found. The way she told me to open it up, and the tears filled my eyes, and I reached down into embarrassment hoping the first, second, and third book I pulled out was the innocent Christian series. There it is, with her watchful eye. One, Christy, Two, Christy, Three…Robin Jones Gunn, the tale of Christy. 

I miss my mommy. 

The way she didn’t call me after I nearly died in childbirth. How she didn’t send words of wisdom, or half-listened-to prayers, or didn’t offer to come down to be with me as I spiraled into the depression of someone going home to place they were once deliriously happy. Doors reminding you of hellos and goodbyes. Beds reminding you of the roll-up you no longer have to do because you’re belly is empty. The wine you can now drink collecting dust on counter. 

How those hours in the hospital – doctors pulling at the placenta stuck to my uterus while trying to stop the blood from gushing, gushing, gushing – nurses whispering “you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re doing amazing” while I tried to be still despite the pain – my guy’s face above me worrying – waiting on a call from my mommy. Waiting to discover how we got here.

How that one time, when the angry black lady ran the stop sign and hit me with her truck, she came to the hospital to see me. How she brought daddy and they held my hands, the only parts of me they were allowed to touch. Telling jokes despite the fact my neck hurt, and my back hurt, and my foot hurt, and my eyes hurt when opened and hurt when closed. My daddy driving me to and fro doctor’s appointments and the chiropractor to fix my back. Mommy holding my hair as I puked or wiping my drool because the Vicodin had my brains unspooling into my soup or cleaning my kitchen because I could barely walk. 

The way she said “you expect too much out of me as a mother” when I had just lost my baby. Lost my third baby. The one the doctors swore would make it – the repeating ultrasounds, the blood tests, the sweet thump thump thump of a beating heart, the tiny nose nuzzling against my womb. How maybe after the first loss no one cares anymore and you’re expected to suffer in the silence you should’ve kept in the first place. The way I asked for space, knowing I couldn’t deal with the loss of another tiny soul that was half me and the anger at my mother for listening. And after many years of her ignoring my cries for love, comfort, and a closer bond, she finally listened. Those months were lonely. Long and lonely and motherless. 

I miss my mum. 

The way she said “I knew you’d grow up to be an amazing writer” years and years and years after she told me “Writers don’t make any money, you need to do something that will get you paid”. To which I replied with an acceptance to a Master’s in Architecture program that ate my soul. That ate my time. That ate my creativity. That ate my confidence. That ate my joy.

The one that ended when that boy I swore was my friend held me down. And slapped. And kissed me. And pulled at my lip with his teeth like a lover’s kiss. And how I thought of her when I froze, there beneath his weight. His eyes on mine, clear as day. Smiling, caressing the fear in me, pulling at it until I slapped at his shoulder, and then at his back, then punched at his head. How I knew if I told her, she’d blame me. “Don’t let these boys in, you don’t want to be a slut” I knew she’d say, because jesus doesn’t love sluts. It’s only god who loves everyone. And he’s not listening.

How I walked the dorms a ghost of myself, his eyes on mine in the elevator as we rode in silence. The way he smirked at me, turning until I could see his whole face – not the one he always wore but the one he had only shown me. Classes become beds, textbooks like expensive paperweights on the window ledge, grades dropping, dipping, spiraling until the scholarships were gone and the money dried up.

How she said “If you don’t want to be a part of this family you don’t have to be” when I finally worked up the courage to call, much later. And how it still took years to tell her what happened, to which she replied “well, why did you have boys in your room?”

I miss her, my mother. 

The way I showed her my first nonfiction publication hoping she would say she was proud, although I tried not to care. When I sent the links to my blog, and the photos of my work in print, and the happy texts that really asked if she still loved me. If anyone back home still loved me. The way auto-sent generic replies stuck to my stomach in a sickening thick that had me heaving, no I’m not pregnant, just grieving.

The way I shared my emotions, in the spirit of confident adulthood, and they mattered not. How I cried and I cried, and I piled my limbs into bed tight to my chest, shoulders shaking like they do in the movies, snot clogged nostrils, my guy at feet, rubbing my back, at the loss of my mother. The way her headstone lives in Missouri, walking and talking and judging and living happily, rent free in my head. 

How I thought once I became a mother to a sweet, happy, healthily living baby, it would bring us closer. The way Naomi wraps her arms around me, asking me with those eyes – to heal. My eyes filling with tears because while I worked so hard to be a good adoptive daughter, an honest, trustworthy, dependable daughter, no one had taught me how to be a mother.

How she might call and say the things that need to be said without conditions for her love. That she’s sorry. Truly, irrevocably sorry. How she sees what I’ve grown up to be. That she would see the nurturer in me, the mistakes I seek to correct, the fear I want to quell, the fostered abandonment I hold in my heart, and know that things could be different now. But knowing she won’t.

I miss my mother. 

But it hurts. Despite everything, I fall on this pain knowing it holds me captive. Knowing that letting go and releasing are two different things. Because I not only miss the mother she could’ve been but also, the one she was to me. 

I Am You and You Are We

An Ode to Baby Naomi Kai

 

 

When I touch my lips to your soft cheek I think of how I’m kissing myself.

Those cheeks are mine, girl

They puff out so big in smile or pout

and that nose

That nose is mine too, with tiny nostrils round and perfectly tucked in brown skin

and those eyes, the way they slant, they are mine too.

Although that color comes from daddy

the way it’s brighter in the sun when you turn your face up to mine.

 

When I look down at you I want to kiss those eyelids with their whisper thin skin,

how they reflect me, and tear

and light up when you see me

and that forehead, I can’t lie, It’s all daddy.

It’s wide and big and will one day be called a fivehead and yet, I kiss it too

But when I press my lips to your crown I know that hair is all mine.

The silky smooth brown, the rust red, the blonde at your temples and at the tips of your lashes 

and the blonde at the nape of your neck that’s barely there – slowly turning to night.

And your ears, your ears are mine, the way they hug against your skull to burrow closer to your thoughts.

 

When I touch my lips to your shoulder to smell your sweet breast milk scent

I think of how you’re like my elbow

So close to me and yet so far away

So vital to me, the hinge that pulls love closer, holds love tight

Because you are me, when I kiss you.

You came from me and yeah, your daddy too

And I wonder if it means he pecks against my cheek when he’s kissing you.

 

When I grab your thighs to pinch them for giggles you’re all me

They are thick like mine and taper into strong little legs that are mine too

with defined baby calves.

And those feet, I kiss your toes one at a time because each one is as adorable as the next, 

But, sweet thing, they are your daddy’s feet and I’m just so sorry.

Square and thin, with long nails that curl slightly under, and straight across from big to pinky

How’d you get those toes, girl? All daddy-like and strong.

When I push a finger into your bloated belly you giggle and slap my hands away.

Then grab to pull me closer because you aren’t sure what you want

and that’s all me too

Because of you I have a little belly, too. One daddy used to rub when you were in there

Kicking and punching and asking to come out to play.

So our bellies are the same but, curse the nurses from the day you were born, that belly button is all daddy

It looks like a button, one we shined smooth because we thought a quarter would help with the shape.

And when you walk around poking it in, sticking it out, chattering to yourself,

we laugh to think of all the coins we could’ve saved.

 

When I say ‘kisses’? You lean forward and open your mouth wide

And we dodge, side to side, hoping to not receive slobber for our time

And you catch us every moment with a swipe of the tongue.

Because you are all me and you love love

You want to get closer to me, crawl into me, get beneath my skin,

to hold your arms around my throat and lie your head on my shoulder. 

Which you have of mine too, the stocky build of my body, the lack of feminine curve,

And you press tear streaked cheeks to mine, then you smile and wipe that momma’s nose against my neck.

And I pat your booty, your poor flat booty

Girl, I’m sad to say that’s mine too.

But it’s okay because I love everything about my body.

Which means, my dear girl, that

I also love everything about you.