Tales From 2 AM Feedings: What Motherhood Taught Me About Love

I have fallen in love with The Book of Negroes—also published as Someone Knows My Name—an award winning historical fiction novel by Lawrence Hill portraying the journey of a free African girl turned into a woman and a slave. This masterpiece relays the impact of slavery in a very raw, emotional, complex, and real way. What’s awesome is that the message of the book also resonates with my current perspectives on love and motherhood.

What has The Book of Negroes got to do with parenting?

A lot.

You see, one of the hardest things about parenting is learning your child’s love language: the more children in your care, the more languages to learn.

Book of Negroes pg183

The protagonist in this book, Aminata, shares her experience as a mother to her newborn son.

His sounds and movements were just like a new kind of language, and I wanted to learn it all so that I could give him everything he needed.

I too have been learning my baby boy’s language.

  • I “wear” my baby when I can, so that he’s interacting more with his surroundings while I familiarize myself with his sounds and mannerisms.
  • I’ve been learning his triggers so that I can minimize his discomfort and avoid excessive crying.
  • I try to nurse him before he cries; my ears are attuned to the sounds of him grunting or rooting to suck his chubby fingers.

Family is precious. Love them good and love them big. Love them every day.

The tragedy of this story is that at just 10 months of age, Aminata’s “master” stole her son and sold him into slavery. The painful loss was compounded by physiological reminders such as being “full like an unmilked cow.”

As a mother and Black African woman, my heart weeps for Black women before me whose children were viciously stolen and sold as slaves.

The Book of Negroes teaches us that family is sacred: “love them good and love them big. Love them every day.” I thank God for my children. I love them harder every day.

The Day I Tried to Teach My Daughter About Numbers

Numbers are all around us. They are integral for making lists, and you know how much everyone loves lists, at least I do:

  1. Lists keep me sane
  2. Make me feel in control
  3. Help me remember stuff
  4. Protect my overworked brain

Being the dedicated parent, I’ve been trying to teach my daughter about numbers so that one day she too can organize her life through thoughtful lists—yes, I know, I’m a super geek.

Princess Z is not yet 4, so sequencing numbers is still tricky for her. The eager beaver I am tried to teach her using this wonderful French math book from the local library (mon imagier du calcul).

As you can imagine, this endeavor was not without its challenges, mainly because of my limited patience, overzealousness, and poor timing. The environment just wasn’t conducive for learning.

  • It had been a long day.
  • I was tired.
  • Princess Z was tired and hungry.
  • The baby was fussing.

What really saddened me was the forlorn expression on my daughter’s face as she struggled to “play” the numbers game. But Princess Z is her mother’s daughter. Determined not to be defeated, she insisted on trying until she could effortlessly navigate the math book.

Moral of the story:

  1. Children need nurturing and encouragement to succeed.
  2. I need more patience.
  3. Teaching is strategic.
  4. Educators are a blessing.

This post was written in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Satisfaction of a List.”

Do you spring clean your blogroll?

Are you in the habit of spring cleaning your blog roll or your following on social media?

I just spent the past hour pruning my blogroll, essentially unfollowing blogs that are either dead or haven’t been active for more than a year.

Blogroll

For someone who hates clutter, it feels good to clean up shop; there’s something unsettling about a long blog list with inactive links.

Building a better blogroll

So what inspired this cleanup? A post titled Build a Better Blogroll by Michelle W.

As per advice in this article, I accessed the “Blogs I Follow” widget on my site to display some fav bloggers. But alas, my blogroll was populated by a bunch of dead avatars, necessitating some weeding and a much more selective approach. I was able to whittle it down by 30 blogs!

Iron sharpens iron: Expanding my Reader feed

Now that I’ve pruned my blogroll, I find myself in need of new bloggers to follow.

Reader

Let’s be honest, the blogosphere is intimidating. The amount of talent out there is vast and replete with incredible voices often articulating things better than I could ever imagine. But if I’m to improve my writing and expand my blogular niche, I’ve got to put myself out there. After all, “iron sharpens iron.”

So here I am, looking to connect with like-minded folks as I build a blogroll that’s on fleek! I enjoy fun, interactive voices that blog about:

  • Parenting/motherhood/family
  • Inspirational life experiences
  • Faith/Christianity
  • Social justice
  • Photography
  • Science

I hope this doesn’t sound like an online dating jig (no shade). Wish me luck as I go to meet new people.

Hi Stranger, Want to Talk Religion or Politics?

politics and religion

Yay or nay?
It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.

Talking to folks about:

  • Religion
  • Politics, or
  • Football (soccer for the Americans)

will often get you into trouble, especially in this social media era where pretty much everything you say is immortalized and taken out of context. Twitter always has an opinion and a hater will find you and troll you.

But still, sometimes we need to talk about what’s uncomfortable for the sake of raising awareness against an injustice. Heck, people should be free to challenge their leaders when ignorance, corruption, and greed impinge on a person’s basic right to live. When compassion for our neighbors and fellow citizens is called into question, then we must speak up, even with people we don’t really know.

Has the world gone crazy?

Lately my heart has been breaking. The news is rampant with heinous crimes against humanity. I’ve written about some of these issues (terrorism in Kenya and xenophobia in South Africa), but you only need to read the news to witness the indescribable things that human beings are doing to each other (#BlackLivesMatter).

Sometimes I wonder if the world has gone crazy. I mean wouldn’t this headline break your heart:

So yes, there’s a time and place to discuss politics and religion. But right now I feel powerless and all I can do is encourage healthy dialogue.

We must reach out to everyone we know and talk to them—just as violence can go viral, so can love (Chikwe Ihekweazu)

What about you guys? Is it ever a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Polite Company.”

And Who is My Neighbor?

suburbia

A lot happens behind closed doors. Living in the suburbs with its many row houses, it’s easy to get lost in the monotony and predictability of life. I often wonder how my neighbors are doing. Are they happy? Are they safe? Do they need anything?…because what you see on the outside doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s going on inside.

The isolation is more apparent in the Winter when all anybody wants to do is avoid the cold. With Spring comes hope for building relationships as folks are more eager to smile and engage in conversation.

These thoughts were circling through my mind as I recently went to pick up dear daughter from daycare. On my way there, I spotted a red car parked on the side of the road with an elderly gentleman seated inside. At first glance he seemed to be asleep, so I continued on my way. Twenty minutes later, on my return from daycare, I noticed that the car was still parked in the same location.

I contemplated stopping to check on the gentleman as dear daughter screamed  for a visit to the purple slide (she’s obsessed with parks). My decision was easy: I’d rather be nosey and meddling than wonder if the man was in distress and I didn’t help.

Life today is very lonely. We all need a community. We all need to look after each other. —Yolanda Foster

So  I performed a U-turn and went to inquire on the gentleman. Turned out he was just fine. My conscious was clear and I could happily take my impatient toddler to the park.

This incident put into perspective the memorable quote from the Bible (Genesis 4:9): Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes I am. This rings especially true given the ongoing crimes against humanity: #WeAreAllHuman, #NoToXenophobia, #WeAreAfrica, #BlackLivesMatter, #147notjustanumber, #BringBackOurGirls, to name a few.

Remember the famous story of the Good Samaritan and the ensuing discussion on ‘who is my neighbor?‘ We can’t turn a blind eye to injustice or situations that warrant our compassion. We need to take care of each other even when it feels awkward, inconvenient, or unpopular.

Tell me, who is your neighbor? Is humanity slipping away?

Xenophobia: An expression of a Terrible Failure of Memory by South Africans

StopXenophobia NoToXenophobiaIt’s heartbreaking and appalling to witness the xenophobia happening in South Africa. I recall from my childhood the struggle that many South Africans experienced as they were ostracized from their homes because of apartheid.

What’s tragic is that the ongoing xenophobic attacks against immigrants are “an expression of a terrible failure of memory by South Africans” who endured racial intolerance under apartheid, said to two South African foundations.

Below is a short account by Horace Chilando that sheds some great perspective on the xenophobic violence in South Africa.

#NoToXenophobia #WeAreAfrica


Heartless and Shameless South Africans…….Listen Carefully
By Horace Chilando

South Africa..Oh South Africa. When you were in bondage, the whole of free Africa fought with you. When you were mourning, we mourned with you.

When you needed a place to run to, we opened our homes, our townships and our food stores. We sent our children, our brothers and sisters to the front lines to fight for your freedom even though we were already free.

We were convinced that we were not completely free if you were still in bondage. Our people lost their lives fighting your war. We did not complain.

None of your brothers and sisters whom we sheltered from the wrath of your oppressors faced even an insult from us. We loved them, clothed them, and fed them.

We gave them a place they could call home for even for a while. Alas you got liberated and you conveniently chose to forget your past.

You chose to forget the fact that you owe your freedom to the rest of Africa and the world who fought with you, from the Cool channels of Mozambique in the east to the Atlas mountains in the north west.

From Harare to Cairo. From Lagos to Axum in Ethiopia your war was fought. Now you have decided to pay these your brothers and sisters with xenophobic attacks, killing them mercilessly without thinking twice! Oh South Africa. How ungrateful you are!

How can you burn your fellow human being with tires like common criminals when the only crime they have committed is that of being foreigners in your country just like you were foreigners in theirs?  Oh South Africa.

One day you shall pay for your heartless acts against a people who have done nothing but love you. The leadership of that great country have failed mother Africa.

They have allowed this situation to escalate to this level. They have not told their people how they benefited from the help of the people they are killing mercilessly now.

God help Africa