Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Sisterhood is Changing....

Motherhood is not a silo experience.  

Not in my world, not in the way my children have experienced life.  I'm understanding more and more, my sisterhood and my life, are changing.

A few months ago I wrote a post about the juggling that happens in motherhood.  I thought it would be a light release of all the things related to ordering your inner and outer world.  I used the language that was freely used in my circle to define the special crazy that is being a mother.  I didn't expect what came next, a reminder that change is the only constant. 

I have 3 children at three different schools, they ride three different buses, for three different start times.  No pity necessary, but it is the lens that colors how I view life.  The sisterhood has always been another way to view life - sometimes being reminded how much to be thankful for or how much laughter is necessary when I've managed to lose my way.  I'm thankful for my sisterfriends and the sisterhood that supports me in this journey.  The sisterhood is just changing.

My mother was famous for saying, "Life isn't fair, the sooner you learn it the better you'll be."  She also said, "Everyone isn't going to like you, you better figure out how to be your own best friend."  I didn't realize then how hard she had to parent a bit of a sensitive child that was attracted to justice, equity and a belief that life should be full of roses.  The reality is even in my earliest of days, she was teaching me lessons for the future.

In my Christian walk I am reminded, we were never promised life without pain or hardship.  Motherhood is a very special club and I have evolved to understand, your circle can change just as your life changes.  Change can be necessary and difficult all at the same time.  I just believe firmly, the journey is made better with true friends. 

If you read my posts, you'll know that I have often talked about my wife reality, from Domestic Sexy to things I just don't understand, like the Fear of Laundry completion.  None of those things defines life overall, but I think the reality of being a mother and being a wife are elements of the same story, my story.  I couldn't be the mother that I am without having my husband, the one that accepts my flaws and knows my heart.   I am also a better mother because of the truest of sisterfriends that continue to build my experiences in this journey.

I was blessed with an unexpected post about my philanthropy during this August celebration of Black Philanthropy month #BPM2013.  The questions made me reflect on my work and my dreams, in addition to my understanding of motherhood and this sisterhood.  I have been blessed with Aunties, Godparents, Grandma's, Granny's, Women of the Church, Neighbors, Parents of the Kids friends, 2nd Family Members, etc., to round out that support network that allows so much more than I every realized.  You can read my Ms. Eva post to learn more. 

No matter how complex life gets, there should always be... 

1) Someone who knows your heart, and loves you anyway.  

2) A sisterhood that holds you up, at your best and at your worst.  

3) A group that shares your values and aspirations.

4) Someone to travel with and a family to play date with. 

5) Someone who can run faster, jump higher, cook better, excel quicker than you.  Aspiration and competition work hand in hand, when you encourage and acknowledge each other. 

I don't know how mothers make it work.  I'm not certain how you handle your mama schedule, mama lessons, mama date nights and mama friends.  I do know, if you are one of those life altering anchors or very special ride or die friends, I hope someone has told you thank you.  Life changes, your sisterhood may change, but the need for "your circle" should not change.  Today I'm wondering, how do you handle the changes?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

ASHANTl, Never Should Have and other guilty pleasures...

Don't judge me.  I have complex musical tastes and I despise being put into a box.  I try hard not to be  predictable or cliche, and there are certain secular recording artists that cause me to have a love hate relationship with music overall.  I avoided the Beyonce/Bow Down debate like the plague, I just didn't want to have the same conversation everyone was having in the world of musical analysis.   I tend to root for the underdog, the artist that I don't quite understand why she isn't on center stage, the one who sings the B side of the album (yep, that's my reference) cut that I love, although it was never designed to be the hit single.  Today, for some odd reason, I'm just feeling team Ashanti

I have been freed temporarily from my fear of stereotypes by remembering a friends facebook post about her love of gossip magazines when she travels.  I smiled at the remark, this independent, fierce professional had openly acknowledged the past time that made her travels manageable.  That simple post reminded me of why we should own what we like and what we enjoy.  Too many times I have opted for the research report, periodical or non-fiction selection on the plane, thinking in the back of my mind, this fits who I am and who I aspire to be.  Well truth be told, the woman I aspire to be wants to like what she likes, and frankly not care what any person thinks about those choices.

I can be judgemental about everything from reality television to parenting, but age has brought wisdom.  I don't share everything that comes to mind and I've become much more tolerant of choices that differ from my own.  My blog is a platform for reflection, and often times there is a voice that I haven't heard anywhere else.  I like being different.  Different doesn't always pay, however.  I think Ashanti is one of the artist that has had a bit of schizophrenia about brand and persona - from princess to vixen all in the same season.  For some reason, I just like Ashanti.  I think there's more than meets the eye and her newest "Never Should Have" has a married mother of 3 ready to download.  It is not where I am now, but I so understand where those lyrics come from.  And likely because of media, technology and way to much wondering about whether Nelly was ever "the one" - I'm cheering that she'll have a new season of more success than her heart can possibly hold.

The cover of her single can easily be a reminder of why I have a love hate relationship with the music industry.  Does she have to have a bra on the cover for someone to purchase it - no.  Does she look stunning, reflective, worth more than the reviews of her career, blessed with good genes and then some - I would say, yes.  I think she has always gotten the raw end of the deal from music sales, to attention - but I have fiercely disagreed with the marketing of this beauty as the princess of a thug label.  Her images have often been on my list of things I'm NOT downloading for my daughter when the images show anything but a woman in charge of her own destiny.  I want an artist to grow.  With that being said, I've played the latest song a few times and I think that pop, R & B, and music in general - should have space for reinvention.  I'd like to hear what this Brave Heart has in store.

When I think of Nicole Richie, I now think mom, jewelry designer, style of her own, a class act.  A few years ago I was fast forwarding past commercials of her tv show, ranting about tv being a waste of time focused on wasted talent.  I hope that Ashanti has the same experience.  I hope her association with Nelly, her previous label and her mis-steps in her career are replaced with her Army Wives casting, her new music and new single, and her timeless beauty.  I tend to think there's more there.  While she may be singing NEVER SHOULD HAVE, I am believing that it is likely good that she did.  She may be better, stronger and more resilient because of it - and maybe, just maybe, she'll be singing into the destiny that I believe is out there for her.

Michelle Williams, Elle Varner, Ashanti, Heather Headley, Goapele, India Arie, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Amerie, Amel Larrieux.... my underrated ladies that make my day - a reminder that being different is not only okay, it has a beautiful sisterhood.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Three Ohio Victims - the Steubenville Lesson

There are three victims in the Steubenville rape case, not just 1.  We examine the lives of misguided youth through a lens that says the boys in this case were wrong.  The victim has been a topic on blogs, twitter and social media - but a quick scan of articles referenced the inappropriate efforts of attorneys to reference her drinking, her choices, her feedback that she did not remember how she ended up in the situation that led to national attention.  I am a mother of three children.  I have a daughter and two sons.  There are three victims in the Steubenville rape case, not just 1.

I am a Buckeye by birth and by heart.  I understand the culture in Northwest Ohio, and I pay attention when Toledo jokes, Defiance voter scandals and Holy Toledo references make mainstream media.  I have long since stopped defending all of the things I love about Ohio - UT College of Business and Innovation, the Toledo Museum of Art, the zoo - as if there is only 1 zoo in the world, Denison, SUA - to name a few.  I explain Tony Packo's, MASH, Jamie Farr, MudHens and a host of other Ohio cultural phenomenons with ease.  I wasn't such a football fan growing up, but I was a Friday Night Lights addict and I have come to cherish sports in unhealthy ways.  In this case, I think Ohio and the "football culture in Steubenville" are far from the issues at hand.

In an earlier post, I shared my feelings about promise unfulfilled and my angst about the verdict in the Kwame Kilpatrick case.  I thought about the decades before his rise to notariety, the infamous details of his life and failures placed on a national stage.  We read about prison terms, the label of being a juvenille sex offender, and the loss of promise and potential with a casual ease that is as disturbing as the crimes that were committed.  I do indeed believe crimes were in abundance for the Steubenville case - committed both by the teens and the adults surrounding them. 

My coverage of the case would have read something like this: 
1. Minors with access to drugs and alcohol make really stupid choices. 
2. Unsupervised teens without a moral compass or value base, or good judgement, make poor choices. 
3. Amidst a bad situation, technology used as a tool to create further harm for Ohio teen. 
4. Violation of basic decency leads to life lessons for youth and parents. 

Instead, I have read that the 16 and 17 year old boys are men who knew better.  The female has been identified as a victim, a girl, youth and young lady - with careful attention to scold the awful ways that she was described by her peers and upset parents. 

No, sport hero, athlete or young man should be exempt from the consequences of their actions based on their potential.  Nor should a 16 or 17 year old young man, teenager, youth - lose the potential of their future, their promise or their contribution to society - based on decisions made at this age.  I am grieved by the situation on so many levels.  I am grieved because of our societal reaction and the outrage of the community, where it has been convenient to take sides but unpopular to recount all of the facts that exist in the case.  I wasn't there.  As much as I love Ohio, I think this situation is one that is played out in beloved communities everywhere.  I think we are quick to judge and quick to place labels, but slow to offer solutions for the culture that we have created.  There are three victims in this case I believe.  Two boys who have been forever changed by their bad choices, and 1 young girl who will live with the impact of her choices for a lifetime. 

As a mother of boys and a girl, I grieve the entire situation.  They collectively deserve a better foundation and a stronger start to life.  Add the quick nature of technology, social media and 24 hour news coverage - and you have an even bigger problem.  I'm ready for the discussions that recognize we need a solution to the violence perpetrated against children and teens, and the thoughtful exchange about the challenge of raising moral youth in an immoral society.  The buck stops here, but I pray to God I never have to read about the failures of my children in blog columns that pick sides without at least an attempt, to propose true solutions.  

What do you think?