March 28, 2016

The (Unnecessarily Stupid) Gender Game


When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I didn't want to know the gender. I was adamant. So was my husband. We wanted to be surprised. For us, it was simple: I didn't want to pigeonhole my kid into a gender specific way of being from birth. Baby R would be a baby. Period. Knowing the sex isn't what concerned us most.  Because my pregnancy was so difficult, all I cared about was if the kid was going to be healthy. 

But we had no idea how folks were so obsessed with finding out. They didn't understand why we didn't care.  They wanted to know what names we picked out even though we told them we had names for both boys and girls (aka unisex names). Why wasn't the room going to be pink or blue? Why did I not want pink at all?(for the record, I hate pink!) They didn't wanna buy us gifts (even though we had a comprehensive registry that was gender neutral and full of good basic items) unless they knew the gender. It was frustrating. 

Look, a baby is a baby. Onsies all function the same regardless of color. As do pampers. As do books. I just didn't want to be inundated with one color clothing (again.. I hate pink). or gender specific toys. What if he wanted to be a ballerina? What if she liked construction blocks? Who gives a fuck! 


But then.. After my chromosomal testing, the nurse blurts out "So you're having a girl! Wait.. Did you want to know??"  I was fuming inside! NO! I didn't want to know!😡🙄but we kept the information to ourselves. We let people guess. We let them think they were right either way. But we wouldn't tell. Even our family didn't know (but they were ok and wanted to be surprised).  Most folks respected that and others thought it was some sort of mortal sin. I didn't wanna hear the jokes or the comments about gender. The whole "dad get your shotgun or he's going to be a lady killer." It's tiring. And lame. And sets up a gender dichotomy that is harmful. It sets up expectations of sexual behavior. As as a black person, I am tired of us being wrapped up in our sexuality. 

So needless to say, when SHE was born early I was heartbroken that people knew her gender. Folks were like "well since we know the gender I can get you something PINK! Or "girly". I still didn't want that.  They asked if they HAD to stick to the registry (which again, was full of basic needs!) Folks told my husband crass jokes that involved gender stereotypes. One relative even commented on her "keeping her legs closed" when she saw her "fresh out the womb" photo. Uhm.. She was hours old! Minutes even! How on earth is that appropriate???


What I dreamed most happened though. The day of her shower came, and what did we get?: all pink everything. Bows and dresses and such. I wanted to hurl. While I appreciated gifts, we really wanted folks to stick to the gender neutral items we listed and the basics.  But people wanted to do what they wanted to do, going so far as to say that it "wasn't fair to THEM" to have to stick to neutral things. It wasn't about them! It was about our kid. And when they found out it was a girl, folks quickly were like "now you have to try for a boy" as if having this miracle of a girl just wasn't enough. 

I know it seems silly. But I want to raise an empowered human being, regardless of gender. She'll have trucks and dolls. She'll play football and princess warrior. My husband is already talking about taking her to her first WWE match. She can do all of those things. And if I had a boy, it would have been the same way. 

Focusing on gender sends the wrong message, that what's between your legs is more valuable than what's in your brain.  That boys are more "important" than girls and that girls are such a hassle. I look forced to the type of person my daughter grows up to be. It's not about her gender. It's about her heart.

She's wonderful. Period.  

March 14, 2016

The Conjure Woman: A Lesson in Black Girl Magic

My friend from grad school asked a simple question:

"Seriously... How the hell did our mamas do it all?" 

I sat and pondered the question. I thought about it. As I typed, I thought of my own mother. 

I wrote back:

Sis.. I don't know. My mama has been gone from this earth 7 months. Even in her last days she sat in her wheelchair and cooked, baked cakes and such. When I was younger, she worked 3 jobs despite having lupus. The short answer: black women are superhuman and extraordinary. And here I am.. Working, a newlywed, trying to get a Phd and feel like I'm going to fall apart. I don't feel like I'm made from the same stuff
My mama was. But somehow we get through it... We have to. We are deep down made from the same stuff. Just have to channel it... Conjure it.

Even after I wrote that response, I had to sit with it for a while. Conjure it?  Can I conjure it? Do I even believe what I wrote?

Months after my response... I am still waiting fro an answer. Here I am.. one year and a day after the death  of my mother...a new mom to a NICU preemie, working full time...trying not to use up all my leave because America's maternity leave sucks. trying to get back on track with  my PhD because well.. spring semester was a total wash after my comps.. because I had the baby so early...... and still trying to balance being who I am with being a (fairly) newlywed.

Am I meant to be a conjure woman?  Is Black Girl Magic just endowed within me? How can I tap into it?

I do not think that being a black woman means to be superwoman all the time. But it is about having balance and being unapologetic. It is about not only doing it all.. and doing it well.. but doing it however you want.. when you want.. on your own time schedule.. and with your own about of "give a damn" about it. You conjure up the authority to deem what's important to you.

Yes, black women are made of earth and steel and gold and clouds and sound and fury.... and somehow we make magic our of nothing. We are doing the world's work with none of the recognition... with a heavy boot of double-oppression on our necks. Whether we be single mothers or single professionals.. or married professionals or married work-at-home-mothers (because Stay at HOME isnt the thing really... you are indeed working)... we are making it happen.

I guess I say all of this to say.. I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to figure out out.

But I am sure I will pull out my willpower and fortitude from my deep, ancestral place..


.. and just work it the F*** out!

March 11, 2016

Sex and the Sippy Cup

 *vacuums this blog*

Hello you all! Howdy! How are ya?

I think when we last left off on this journey,way back in October 2015, I was talking about how happy I was but yet I wasn't willing to share EVERYTHING that could be attributed to this happiness. I know.. from a blogger's aspect this is probably death to a blog. But hell, as long as I own this domain name... it's going to be going. And evolving. (Even if I am not sharing everything)

Speaking of evolving... I can at least share this. This blog started as a way to express the trials and tribulations as a divorcee' trying to navigate single life in the Deep South's largest metropolis. Since then, I've dated..been hurt... loved again....gotten engaged... gotten married... bought a home... started a Phd program..passed my comprehensive exams... and now


I had a baby <3

(pictured: HubbyDude and GoGo having K-care time )

Yes, I had a child. It was the one thing I had doubts that I would ever do in my life. Not because I couldn't have children (although my chances at one time appeared slim to none) but because I didn't think I'd have a partner I'd want to share that with. I had resolved that by the age of 40.. if I was unmarried, I'd just adopt, strap the baby to my back, and travel the world. Move to London, and a bunch of other stuff... but all of that changed. And I am ok with that.

I had a difficult pregnancy. I was told by this wretched fetal maternal med doctor with no bedside manners (the doctor they send all high risk mothers to) that my child would probably be stillborn. But.. the devil is a liar and sometimes has MD at the end of their names. I believed in God and we had a team of people praying for us. At 36 years old, this was absolutely maddening. I went through so many emotions. I was too old. This was bad timing. I am defective (because of the news I got about  my daughter not growing properly in my womb). I had talked to several of my friends who had preemies and who were also around my same age... supporting me 


But God....

My daughter (who for the purpose of this blog we will call GoGo) was born almost 10 weeks early. Doctors told me I wasn't going to make it to term.. so I expected to delivery early. But not THAT ear.

Little one was. 1 lb. 12 oz. and could fit in the palm of my husband's hand. Frightening. I had been put on bed rest twice during this pregnancy. The first time was New Year's Eve.... The second time was on my husband's 35th birthday. Needless to say, all the plans we had got cancelled, including his 90s themed birthday party (Bummer). I was in hospital about 4 days when a rush of nurses and my OB entered my room at 12 midnight, yelling "MRS R! WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WE have to deliver the baby!" Her heart rate had dropped and I was preparing for an emergency c-section. I had to wake my sleeping husband (who was home trying to prepare for work the next day) who rushed to the hospital in 15 minutes. At first, he was confused, thinking the baby would come later in the day. When I called back and said "NO DEAR! the baby is coming in the next HOUR" he got the picture. As he was on the way, I sent a text and said "Today is the day you meet your daughter" (Note: We found out the sex a while ago.. but I'll save that for another blog) By the time they rolled me out to the delivery room, my husband was standing there.. with a big old grin on his face....and I was nervous. I was shaking as they prepped me for the spinal... and as I became numb...my husband was holding my hand... and less than an hour later.. the neonatologist was bringing over my baby... who was pink and wrinkled like a piglet...and after asking what we were going to name her...whisked away to the NICU. I do not remember much after that...except waking up and seeing my Father strolling down the hallway as I was in recovery and eager to see and hear about his grand baby. He was thrilled....

And I was scared but relieved she was alive. My baby was hooked up to wires and was so tiny. When I finally got to see her the next day, I was a pool of tears next to her isolette, looking at her breathing very hard. But the neonatologist and the NICU team were fabulous, reassuring me that because she was breathing on her own, that was a VERY good sign... One day I cried.. and a chaplain came up to me. She didn't say a word.. simply took my hand and began to pray. I told her "I am not crying because I am sad. I am crying because I have joy. She is proof that God is able". The chaplain squeezed my hand, said a few words and walked away.

But as the weeks have progressed... so too has my GoGo. She filled out, becoming even more beautiful. She began to breath on her own and gained weight. She learned to feed from a bottle and is slowly learning to breastfeed. She's still in the NICU but we are counting down the weeks until she is home. Her shower (held after I delivered) has happened... we've decorated her nursery and gotten all the necessary supplies. Other than a manual on parenting (lol), we are prepared as much as we can be.

And trust me, the fact that I lost my mother last year only to become a mother this year... was not lost on me. My mother, prior to her death, had declared that I would have a baby next year. She was off by just a little bit.... but I am sure she had everything to do with this child. I am in tune with the fact that I had a daughter and not a son. I feel like it's just a continuation of my relationship with my own mother.... and yes, my daughter even looks like her too. It's scary! But beautiful...

Beyond anything I am grateful. I also think this journey into marriage and now motherhood has inspired a new focus of this blog. I hope you all will be along for the ride.



I am sure it'll be an adventure...

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