A place where Black Mothers can celebrate excellence and motherhood.

8:06 AM

A Balancing Act

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What's new MochaMoms?

The last 6 months of 2018 were really rough for me. I decided the last week of December I was going to make the best of the first 6 months of 2019. It also happens to be the last six months of 26 for me. I wanted to walk into my birthday feeling proud and happy. I wanted to look back at the past 6 months and see all the things that I have accomplished. 

In the most humble way I have really been working my ass off (literally) since January. In the past three months I lost 25 pounds; I changed my eating, workout 4-5 days a week and strive for at least 7 hours of sleep. It has also been a great stress reliever and my favorite self-care outside of journaling these days. 

I had my first op-ed published! See here! This was an experience to say the least, lol. Overall I am glad that I took a leap of faith and began to put my name out there.

I completed my first semester as a Doctoral Student at Thee GREAT Morgan State! Let me tell you, this has been a humbling experience and I am glad that I made the decision to attend an HBCU for my Doctorate (we'll talk more about this, later).

I got to visit my second favorite state (New York) and went through my favorite Borough (Brooklyn!). It was nice to visit and I have to say I was saddened and angered by the gentrification, but that's for another time. While there I got to visit a few Black-owned spots, one of them Papa Rozier Farms was so awesome! We almost brought the entire store, lol. We got to watch Castor oil made fresh, learn about the products (all ingredients are from Haiti) and hear about the school they built and fund on their family's land.

When I made my New Years focus list I claimed opportunities that would stretch me and help me grow. Working out consistently, eating right and being intentional about positive self-talk in lieu of self deprecative behavior has become essential on my journey to self-preservation.

Overall, life for me is going well; even with the challenges that arise. I made a commitment to be present and just enjoy things: the readings and laundry can wait.

I'm excited to bring you all new content and continuous space for Black Motherhood.

Love and Light MochaMoms,

I'll be in touch.

9:00 AM

Rites of Passage by Audreyia Thibodeaux

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Rites of Passage

I had to break your heart this morning.
Awakening the sleeping memories stored in your genes.
You may feel I picked your pockets,
But I hope I did the right thing.

As I watched the tears drop with your shoulders,
I fear I made a mistake.
You, a youthful Being with only 8 years of life experience,
It is my duty to educate you.

To activate all the knowledge within your DNA.
The pain is there,
The truth is there.
The chains and broken bonds.
The answers to questions about your beautiful brown skin.
Skin chlorophylled with melanin.
Skin not yet blacked with bruising.
Skin charged before birth.

So, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause pay penitence
For the cost of your innocence.
You would pay later for ignorance.
I would resent myself,
If I didn’t let you know the Devil doesn’t exist.
Dear Progeny,
The demons coiled inside your spirals
Stand ready to insist you created this prison.
I may never see your eyes gleam again,
For the bubble I’ve burst washes over you.
Let it cleanse you, but
Never let it make you, hate you.
Never diminish, never dull.

Although these words may not fit your britches.
Tell your cells these truths:
We have been here since the beginning,
We are still here,
And we will always be here.
We are karmic.
We don’t die,
We evolve, upgrade, and multiply.

Audreyia, a poet since the age of 12 has one son, Progeny. She received her Master's degree from PVAMU and is currently a career mentor. You can see more of Audreyia's work on her blog site PerneyThePoet and follow them on Twitter.

9:22 AM

Except Me, The Exception

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" You have all the signs and symptoms of major depression." That's what my therapist said to me at the end of November. Everything was so dark for me. Inside this black hole, I could feel the sunshine on me but I didn't see it  -- I saw no tunnel end actually. I winced in pain at the thought of getting up to brush my teeth, shower, or comb my hair. 'I'm just really enjoying how beautiful my skin looks.' I would tell people instead of sharing that it took me two hours to get myself out of bed and floss so there was no way I could put on makeup like before. I would stare out for long periods of time and laugh at the thought of an unexpected death.  And then sometimes life was an 'out' of body experience. There was no in-between.  I was in no space to acknowledge how low I had fallen. Everything looked so good (to me) on the outside but on the inside, I was crumbling. I had just enough energy to take care of my girls.  While I received many opportunities last year, I struggled. Every new opportunity I proclaimed with excitement and internalized with fear. I moved out and didn't mentally prepare for how that would impact me after living in the same house with my parents for almost 26 years. I lost a mother figure, and several family friends that watched me from infancy to adulthood and I grappled with their transition to the afterlife. Because moving out and losing them meant that my parents are getting older and I am not sure if I can handle that.

 The job that I believed to be a  'hangout for healing' turned into a war zone set in a dystopia. I woke up in tears daily, sometimes not getting up until the time I knew I should be walking in the office. My stomach in knots at the thought of having to be employed there second after second, minute after minute. If my fear wasn't directed at losing my job until I found better it was directed at the thought of losing my place... That I couldn't bear to decorate because I could lose it any month now and will my parents let me come home? Or my favorite inner-thought, "Girl you know damn well we ain't smart enough for no Doctorate! You only did that 'cause you insecure."

I had it so together on the outside but was living in pieces internally.  My mother, God bless her soul didn't want to hear it. 'You know, I used to get like that too but it's just the holidays. It's just the holidays.' I don't know what infuriated me more, my unexplainable depression or my mother -- drawing a parallel between mine and her behavior while simultaneously erasing me. I gained 35 pounds in six months bringing me to a total weight of 295 pounds. Nothing made sense anymore. Daily victories I hardly acknowledged. It was the big things that in all actuality were not big things but my anxiety and depression made me stare at everything with funhouse mirror glasses.

I shared with my job but to be honest, I received the exact reaction I envisioned. I made a note on the reaction to my depression versus my colleagues', the only white woman in the office. It was clear to me then that I was going to have to fall on everything I know and use it to get me out of the darkness. Otherwise, it will kill me and declare I enjoyed it. Nathaniel Branden defines self-responsibility as the willingness "to take responsibility for my actions and the attainment of my goals...for my life and well-being." I was willing to take responsibility and hold myself accountable to be better but first I had to acknowledge the fact that oppressive systems that impact Black girls and Black women, also impact me.

Right before the winter break, we had a training on Misogynoir from Maryland Network Against Abuse. Misogynoir, a term coined by the brilliant Moya Bailey as, "Misogyny towards Black women  where race and gender both play roles in bias." A good example? A Black mother that smokes cannabis is an irresponsible drug addict while a white mother is simply embracing a 'radical form of self-care'. If you're a white mother that smokes weed, you get a segment on 'Goodmorning America', if you're a Black mother you get a visit from CPS. See also: labeling little Black girls as 'fast' when older people prey on them sexually. The information and reflections from myself and the other Black women in my office lovingly called me in to understand the ways in which historical acts of violence rooted in Anti-Black woman reinvents itself impacting women in each generation of Black families. Through acts of sexual violence, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse, Black women were reduced down to nothing more than their capabilities and regarded as an object, belonging from man to man.

"You gotta choose yourself every day. Why would you wait until Friday to take care of yourself? Take care of yourself right now." 

One day I woke up and felt a strong urge to meditate. So I did and then I decided to turn over and pray, and I did. By the end of the week, I had drawn close again to my journal, even reading a page or two from the work of Dr. Iyanla Vanzant or my favorite Black Feminist and cultural critic Bell Hooks. I was making the choice to come out of my black hole or 'The Valley' as Dr. Vanzant says. I would complete one task and begin to add three more things to my mental checklist, exhausting myself before I physically got there. I would remind myself, "One thing at a time." And then finish my current task, each time feeling more accomplished than the last. I learned recently that survivors of sexual assault and abuse have a hard time with boundary setting. I noticed when it comes to people I love and want around -- I didn't have any. So I later learned from a dear auntie-sister-friend of mine, that setting my boundaries is a way to communicate with the people who love me, how to love me. My job was in response, to reciprocate by honoring their boundaries and continue my inner work for my well-being.

To do that, I had to point out the misogynoir is in my life. I had to put his ass on display and draw as much attention to him as I could because the bottom line is -- he doesn't belong here. I had to point out the fact that I, internalized and projected capitalism in many ways. I had to be honest that such influenced my poor outlook on accumulating things and how it fed into my greed versus my virtues.
It started at work. I said very little and when I did, I made sure my comment stuck to who it needed to stick to. Clear and direct yet without a name. I would respond with a question instead of disagreeing and most importantly, I sat back and waited for things I said several months prior start to become reality. And it did.

Every form of misogynoir I experienced, I wrote off as 'feedback' or a character flaw that others were pointing out. I didn't have it in me to make the case that the comments were grounded in colorism,  misogyny, racism, and ableism. It was hard to point out the misogynoir when it had taken a liking to other Black women around me that would usually grab it by the neck, call it a piece of shit and then do away with it. So naturally, every critique that I gave read as an attack on their 'character' and not the very system designed to make us believe we are at war with one another. The biggest culprit got to sit back -- unbothered, mediocrity still intact. Meanwhile, I didn't have enough confidence to open up a jar of pickles. So, I stopped writing, which meant I stopped blogging and then everything fell apart.

Right before the new year and my vacation (that was much needed), I wrote down five things that bring me joy and those are the five things that I will focus on this year. Continuing to grow Millennial Mocha Moms as a brand and a place for Black and Brown mamas. The second is to not only thrive in my doctoral program at the GREAT Morgan State University but excel. The other three are a secret *winks*. So here I am, in the new year learning my boundaries and making a conscious effort to choose myself. To do things that take care of me. I am intentionally less available for work and other projects that could cut into the time I set aside for myself. The things that threatened my existence have limited to no access to me and have to prove their necessity in my life.

 Everything is a choice. Being dedicated to service does not mean you forget to service yourself. Some days it's hard to say no and other days it flows off my tongue with ease.  Before the end of the year, I made a commitment to strengthen the value of detachment and find its place in my life. My work is tied up in my identity yes, but that does not mean I have to carry my work home. I am enjoying my apartment now, especially since your girl has her own racial justice and conflict management consulting firm. In a few weeks, I begin my first semester and I am excited about the opportunities that will come from my new endeavor.

Im happy to come out of my low point in my valley, to claim the things I am owed, stare the systems that oppress me down and hold them up high in shame.  I realize now there is power in acknowledging the impact and declaring victory over whatever comes my way because God made me more than the standard, I am the exception. I'll be here all 2019.

What are you stepping into for 2019?