It’s been too long since I’ve written on the blog. I have had a whilrwind of a year and different but similar challenges with my kids but I am recommitted to sharing my journey, support, knowledge, mistakes and resources with parents and anyone willing to join me here. I hope you leave feeling more encouraged and less alone than when you came.
Today I took my son to his doctor’s appointment at Children’s Hospital. It’s always an emotionally exhausting trip. The traffic is always a mess and he usually has back to back doctor visits which means we’re there for at least two hours. I try to make it worth the trip by also getting in some quality time. Being a suburban kid he loves the idea of spending time walking around West Philly and eating burgers off of the food trucks. Even though I had tons of work to do back at home and clients buzzing my phone we stopped at one of his favorite diners in town to ear. I watched as the rain started to drizzle , then pour then slow down to a drizzle and then back to a heavy shower. I wanted to do anything but walk out of there and get soaked but I saw him look out at the rain with anticipation. He smiled every so slightly and I was instantly reminded of the days I would laugh out loud watching the joy on his face as he jumped into the largest puddle he could find. I would keep an extra change of clothes and shoes in the car just for these times. We would search for the largest, mud-filled puddle in the playground or on the way home. He would look at me with this look of excitement and smile just as he approached the puddle as if to ask permission to take flight. It brought both of us both joy, a few strange looks from other parents, and an extra load of laundry in the house, but oh how we both laughed. He was a toddler then but those are moments he’ll never forget.
Today my son and I got caught in the pouring rain. We were two city blocks away from the car. I found myself trying to avoid the puddles as I watched him find the largest one to walk through. At one point we both met eyes and laughed getting our clothes soaked while running to the car. It took me back to those days I would stop the car just to let him jump in a big puddle. I saw the same joy in his eyes that I saw then as the scientist in him laughed at me trying to dodge raindrops all the way to the car. Laughter is sometimes the best medicine. I realized at that moment he was teaching me how to let go of what other people think and just jump in. Have fun. Get wet. Get soaked. Be cold. I’m learning to be more fun and less motherly these days. My children need that side of me. I need the joy moments too. Just wanted to share a piece of my sunshine today. Hope you are taking moments for joy today.
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“In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become a part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed. It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you can change that system. That is easier said than done.” — Ella Baker (Dec. 13, 1903 – Dec. 13, 1986).
Baker was a civil rights and human rights activist beginning in the 1930s whose career spanned more than five decades. She was instrumental in the launch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Read her profile on the Zinn Education Project website.
This portrait is available as a poster for $20 from Americans Who Tell the Truth.
We cannot afford to sit and wait for the current system to support our needs as it is, we need to take action that will lead to radical change. We do it not just for us but for our children and generations to come.
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African American Parenting
I’m not too surprised to see that some of the wealthier districts perform similar and sometimes less effective than those not so wealthy. It’s not only the money that’s required to make education equitable, but it sure would help those districts in need. If we don’t educate ALL of our children equitable, we as a nation will have more problems than a tax cut.
Please urge your elected officials to support equity and inclusion in our school districts; visit Common Cause to find out who they are and how to contact them. Show up to your school district meetings and speak up, attend a local workshop, rally or meeting and educate yourself about the inequities in education in your community. Commit to a minimum of an hour a week, volunteering with local grassroots organizations. Donate to an active organization or support a school in your state in need of classroom supplies through Donors Choose.
We can no longer sit and expect our tax dollars, our representatives and our local activist to do all of the work. Take a sick day, take a lunch break, take your kids with you but please take action! Comment below on what action you will take. We need everyone to make this world great!
NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE
With the onset of the new school year, and the return to packing lunches and planning meals for a household of busy family members I am always conscious of the food that I provide for my family. My goal is always to make sure my children get plenty of rest, a good nutritional breakfast before they head off to school, snacks if necessary and a good healthy lunch for those who prefer not to eat the lunch provided at their school.
I’ve always felt good about our health. Yes we could exercise more and eat less snacks during the day but I almost always buy organic vegetables and fruits, I rarely cook red meat (when I do its grass-fed beef )and only purchase organic poultry and wild caught fish. I don’t use sugar, only agave nectar or raw honey if I need a sweetener for tea, and almond milk is the only beverage other than water that you’ll find in my refrigerator. During holiday or other gatherings at my home, relatives and friends would joke about my organic version of soul food dishes and the lack of preservatives in the snacks I provided and I would laugh along and remind them that I would have the last laugh.
Or so I thought until I stumbled upon What the Health on Netflix. I had been thinking about removing meat from my diet because I noticed that I experienced more inflammation and less energy when I ate meat. Yet I was also aware that I had to consider my growing teenage son and pre-teen daughter and I knew that carbs and protein were essential to their diet especially during the school year. I was convinced that meat was the best source of protein and bread/pasta the best carbohydrate. Boy was I wrong! I was stunned by the information revealed in this documentary. My uncle and grandfather both maintained their own backyard farms and my ancestors worked on Georgian farms most of their lives. I knew that the earth provided everything we needed to sustain us as human beings but after experiencing these five revelations watching both movies I realized that I needed to make another lifestyle change:
- Watching Food Inc. after this documentary confirms a lot of information that these industries are trying to conceal. The information in What the Health, even seeing the three health transformations in the movie, can seem extreme without watching the documentary Food Inc. It’s a totally unrelated documentary but for me it removed any doubt.
- Major food companies selling quick, overly processed and preserved foods are also contributing to the major health organizations that we trust to work towards our healing. The American Diabetes Association, The American Cancer Society and other major health organizations that we rely on to provide the best health and dieting resources are all financially supported by companies that produce unhealthy foods.
- Diabetes is an insurmountable health crisis; the fact that it disproportionately affects African-Americans can be directly related to food choice and availability of affordable, fresh foods in the urban communities. I myself visited the same “Fresh” supermarket in both a suburban and urban neighborhood and found mold and partially rotted vegetables in the urban supermarket and the price of the same vegetable was more expensive.
- Vegetarian and Vegan eating is the ultimate goal, but can’t be achieved overnight. It’s not just a diet change, it’s a mindset. I eat fairly well, but it is a process and if you go into it with the idea of transitioning and not beating yourself up when you eat a processed food or a meat, you will have more success. Give yourself a timeline and work with a nutritionist or health consultant to create meal plans and shopping lists to help you transition. I was inspired by The Healthconscious Diva’s Facebook live and blog posts. Her customized meal plans and shopping lists are reasonable and in her videos shows you how to prepare some of the dishes.
- Don’t beat yourself up after watching the movie. The information hit me like a gut-punch and as a parent I felt a bit of guilt for the food choices I’ve made in the past; driving through the fast food lane to get to a baseball practice in time or the countless amount of hot dogs and ice cream eaten during their early growth years. The information is bold and un-apologetic and yes promotes the vegan lifestyle encouraging the masses to increase the amount of food consumed from the earth and generally make better food choices. Reducing the amount of sugar you use and/or making a decision to remove fast food from your diet is progress. Purchasing organic meats or meat and produce from local farmers is much better for your health than not.
It’s progress not perfection. Give yourself time to transition to a more healthy lifestyle and if you have not yet watched the movie I strongly suggest you watch it. Watch with an open mind and consider your own family’s health issues and then make the changes large or small to guarantee you will be around to watch your great-grandchildren dance!
I’d love to hear what you thought about one or both movies!
My son and daughter are five years apart. My favorite picture of the two of them was taken the day my daughter was born. My son had taken a big brother class at the hospital and understood that she would look up to him and follow him as the older sibling. The first time they met, she gazed up into his eyes and I’m so grateful my sister-in-law captured it on film. He loved being my helper, getting her diaper or toys when I asked and I tried to give him all of the quality time I could when she was napping or down for the night.
Even after the separation, as a solo parent I would still be conscious of the attention that she naturally received as the baby of the family. I made sure they were treated equally regarding chores and rules and would let him stay up to watch television or play a game with me after I tucked her in at night. What I refer to as our night-time snuggle hour (it was cute then, not so much now that he’s a teenager) is a tradition now and even though he won’t admit it, I know he looks forward to it at least once or twice a week. Now that my son is a teenager and my daughter a tween, both are going through emotional and physical changes which naturally distances them. As an introvert, he spends a lot of time in his room and she commands my time and all of the rest of the space in the house with her creative endeavors. I understand that they need the space to develop in their own way but I have to admit it’s been difficult as a parent watching powerless, as age difference, school and puberty send them to their separate corners of the world.
I must admit I had given up on our family rituals. Running a household, business and caring for two school aged children is more than a full-time job. I’m usually ready to go to bed before they do, and I felt that they had grown out of our summer vacations, back to school gifts, end of school dinner celebration, church service (twice a month if we can), midnight or early morning movies in our pajamas, Friday pizza and movie nights and other traditions until recently. For the first time in close to a year we watched a movie together last night sharing pizza and the same couch! I almost always order pizza and this past year I would be the only one sitting on the couch watching the movie or most likely it would be just my daughter and I. Last night was different. I ordered the pizza and made plans to go out to a local fundraiser when I expected the kids would be retired to their rooms; but as usual when I make plans, God laughs! After the pizza was demolished I turned on The Dark Knight and invited my son to sit and watch it with me. Years ago he was fascinated by all of the Marvel and DC Comics but gave it up when he got the message from peers that enjoying action figures was childish. I walked out of the room and was floored when I saw him actually reclining on the couch waiting for me. My daughter, not to be outdone fought for her spot on the couch too. I had to play referee once or twice but we watched the entire movie together as a family. I was waiting for them both the bail mid-movie but they didn’t. I silently apologized to my conscience for missing the fundraiser so I could be present, enjoying the snuggle and bonding time with my children instead. I went to bed hopeful and determined to slowly reinstate the not so typical family traditions that we have created over the years. At a time when so much in their lives is changing, the ability to rely on mom’s sometimes quirky traditions offers the nurturing and stability they so desperately need. I am aware that every night may not have a fairy tale ending and that traditions may continue to be tested, yet I remain encouraged. Pizza and move night was a reminder that consistency is important and not to give up until the miracle happens.
What are some of the non-traditional traditions that bring your family together? Feel free to share in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~African American Parenting