Roots & Wings 

Mother’s Day weekend marked my 23rd year being a mother. It’s not always been easy but it was worth it. The early years I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I remember the first night with my oldest I thought there was a cat in the house. I kept hearing a weird noise in a high pitched voice. It was my newborn. I couldn’t put my middle son down at night or he would wail and turn red. I held him all night and no daycare could watch him because he was spoiled. Raising my youngest I needed so much help my grandmother and uncle watched her for the first 6 months. She would come home and look at me like lady who are you?

In their elementary school years, I started to get it right and kept them grounded in church and the values I was taught as a child by my mom. They learned to share, recited scripture, and I started discipline methods. The girls didn’t have to be told to often to shape up but that boy tested me…often. I stressed how important education was by telling them by own story of struggle. I showed them how important their sibling hood was and they promised to always have each other’s back.

In the last five years they have gone off to college, my oldest has graduated college and began working as a teacher; they are all in different chapters of their lives. They don’t need me to do the day to day parenting anymore. I don’t have to make sure I come to their aid with every tear. I can’t hold them throughout the night. Many times they go to each other with their questions and concerns and I don’t hear about the issue until months later. I am content in knowing that they have each other for advice and encouragement just as I taught them.

My youngest is staying in Columbus for the summer and working an internship instead of coming home. As much as I want her here to snuggle at night and make her favorite meals; she needs to start getting into her field and making moves. My son is headed to Morocco a place I don’t know much about but I’m learning. I could tell him that I don’t want him to leave the country right now and to please stay in Cincy this fall but then he couldn’t use his language skills and prepare for the next phase of his life.

My oldest daughter is in Houston and has one of the hardest jobs in the world. I was frightened when she started teaching. I was worried, but she has been teaching all of her life. She is my oldest child. She has been helping me with her siblings and she has always said she wanted to teach. So she has her own beautiful place and is thriving.

As Mothers we want to have our children right there with us forever. We often want to soften the blows of life. I think we are here for two reasons, to give them roots and wings. I have done that, now I am reaping the benefits of watching them soar.

My Girls; True Friends.

imageI spent Cinco De Mayo weekend with my daughters Brittany and Ana. My oldest daughter Brittany celebrated her 23rd birthday. The girls had not seen each other since the holidays. Whenever they are together it’s just fun watching them. We were just sitting around the house and Brit walked in like she came back from grabbing milk. “What’s up y’all?” Ana was so happy and ran up to her big sis. My heart was so warm and full of love. My girls have always been close even if it was shunning their middle brother that brought them together. I remember him driving them crazy and them telling him to get lost when they were young.

As they were growing up they had their normal ups and downs. They got on each other’s nerves just like normal siblings, but they never fought. They never cussed each other out or had any of the drama I saw from sisters on tv. As they grew up Brittany took care of Ana like a little mother. She was there for her emotionally, spiritually,and physically. Often when Ana couldn’t come to me with different issues I knew that Brit would provide sound advice.

Even though Ana is 3 years younger than Brit she also is a listening ear when she’s needed. Brittany was the more patient, kind and tolerable sister and can be taken advantage of. Ana is much more suspicious of people, stands her ground more and is introverted. The older they get, I notice they are interchangeable. Often Brit is outspoken and impatient with mess and Ana tells me how many friends she has made during different events.

During the weekend I could hear them talk for hours in their room until late in the night. Ana would bust out laughing and then Brit would laugh in her high pitched voice. I love the relationship they share, the sisterhood. I hope that one day my relationship with my sis will be just as strong.

My Sister’s Keeper 

I have always been a woman’s woman. Wait well not always, I’ve had my share of girl fights, drama and mess. What I mean is since I’ve matured I have always been dedicated to helping women. It could be working with teen mothers, helping them gain financial freedom, or talking to battered women and telling my story. In my day to day experience I encourage women from small compliments to bold statements of YOU CAN DO IT! YOU MATTER! With all of this love and commitment I have to and for the sistas. I lacked a relationship with my own sister.

Our childhoods were not the best but certainly not the worst. My sister and I share the same dad and different mothers. I am the second child and first girl. I had an older brother name David who passed in 2012. My sister, Janelle was the third child and came right after me. Then we have 3 brothers under us. The relationship with Dad and Janelle’s mother was not all that great. I remember being able to see her on the weekends when Dad would pick us all up but then at some point she stopped coming over.

When I asked about her, Dad would say her mother was trippin’.As a kid I had no idea what that meant. I just knew it wasn’t good. I remember thinking if she’s tripping are her legs broken? When she fell did Janelle fall too? Why can’t you just go and get Janelle since her mother tripped and fell. All through my teens I never saw or heard from my sister. I would see my buddies with their sisters. My friend Keisha and her sister Crystal were so close. DeAnna and Donielle were close even thought they got on each other last nerve. I wanted a sister living with me to get on my nerves. But in my home it was just me and mom. I loved Momma but I wanted a sister I could go to and talk with about “ sister stuff.”

Mom knew where Janelle’s mom worked because it was her doctors office, but mom was not the confronting type. She said, “Rhasha your dad and her mom need to handle that. My concern is you and taking care of you.” I never told her I felt taking care of me was me being raised along with my sister. Years went by. I graduated high school, had three children and was getting married at 21. I looked up and saw the most exquisite cheekbones, full lips, and slanted eyes. She smiled really wide when she saw me. I wished I could run over to her but I was walking down the aisle with my asshole first husband. The wedding ended, the reception was over, and just that quickly she was out of my life again.

Facebook was all the rage in 2009 but it took me a while to want to join. I didn’t want to see any friends from back in the day. I didn’t want to be asked all the bullshit questions. But reluctantly I joined the site and started adding friends. By now I was divorced, remarried, moved to Ohio and had just written a book with two of my closest friends. A friend request popped up; Janelle Halliburton. My heart skipped a beat and I dropped my laptop on the floor.

We quickly started sending message back and forth. We exchanged numbers and the next time I went to Indianapolis for the Holidays we met up at Starbucks for coffee. We texted often and kept up with each other. As time went on she became a first time mother, then a second time mother. I moved to Dallas and all of my children went off to college. We stayed in touch through social media and the phone.

Whenever I come home to visit she comes out even at the last minute. We meet up for dinner and live music. She came to see me with the new babies at the bowling alley during my father-in -laws memorial bowling tournament. This year I celebrated by 40 birthday and who was first to arrive to dinner, my sister. When I planned a birthday event here in Dallas she was there.

This past weekend she came down and we hung out. As I watched her with that same beautiful face; exquisite cheekbones, full lips that people pay for and naturally curly hair I kept thinking man I never had a chance to kiss those cheeks when she was sad. I never burnt her with a curling iron while flat ironing her hair, I never protected her in a fight. Even though she is taller than me and stronger. I was never my sister’s keeper in the real sense.

I have watched my daughters all have each others backs but I was robbed of that chance. But as we talked I realized we are not children anymore;or teens. We are grown women who have been through divorces. We are mothers who are parenting small and adult children. We have been through relationships ups and downs. There are things I can help her with regarding her children. She can provide me with information as I navigate the social work field where she holds a Masters Degree. As adults we can be there for each other and provide support.

Although we didn’t fully have each other then, now we are fully committed to sustaining our relationship no matter the distance. We are sisters. We have a bond, we are each other’s keeper.

Next up Sister Vegas trip 2018.

  

Fly

It’s often said that as parents we raise our children and after raising them we are to let them fly. They don’t tell you that’s easier said than done. For some it’s losing control over their children. For others it’s the need to keep their children close to them. For me it’s very simple-fear. The fear of my daughter being hurt by those who don’t love her. The horror of some evil person trying to extinguish the great light that is inside of her. I even worried about her choosing her first post college apartment. And Oh Lord how will she pay for a house full of furniture? And what about her fifth roomate? Here we go again…

This weekend God showed me that as much as I love my sweet Brittany, he loves her more. I was able to spend the weekend with her. Brittany is living out not only his plan for her life, but her plan. She has said she would be a teacher since I can remember. So last week she began her journey as a 2nd grade teacher in her new city Houston, TX. She decorated her classroom and had her lesson plans all together. She found a very nice luxury apartment in a sprawling neighborhood with trails and beautiful trees. She has a couch, a dining room table, dishes, and all of her needs. We were so happy to purchase her a bed and a lamp to complete her list. Brit has her stuff together and I quickly learned this is no longer my college student. 

She has a reliable vehicle that she looks so cute driving. Her backseat is full of items for her classroom and a couple of Brittany spills. I guess driving while eating breakfast is harder than she thought. Brit is not a kid to miss any meals. She lives close to work and church. She is excited about joining a small group within her church community. I was able to visit her church on Sunday and enjoyed myself. 

My baby even has her own group of friends. Some of them are friends from Ball State where she attended school. Some are teachers who mentored her when she was student teaching. They have been like a small family. They have helped her along her path, helped her with home furnishings and showed her the ropes about what areas of town to stay away from. 

My little premature baby girl who weighed 4 pounds 9 ounces and had to live in an incubator for weeks is now a 22 year old teacher. The kids call her Ms. Hoosier. This is my Britsy who had a rare cancer at age 6 and went through almost a year of chemo and radiation. She is now a working tax paying real job having adult. I respect her vision. I have always supported her goals. I have her back the same way my mom always has mine. So after the 4 hour drive from Houston to Dallas I rested and slept like a baby. God has her in his arms. I am gonna stand back for a second…until I find her a husband and have some grandbabies. But for now I am going to let this beautiful bird fly.  

  
   
  

Hidden Figures & Fences

*Summary no spoilers*

Believe it or not these are two different movies. Even though the Golden Globes red carpet interviewers didn’t seem to notice. There were some similarities, for instance both movies had stellar performances by black actors. Hidden Figures and Fences had great storylines and invoked emotion. They were both nominated for Golden Globe Awards. But they are two different films. I enjoyed them both for different reasons.

First you must know that I am sick of slave movies. Yes I said it. I am very aware of our ugly, gruesome history and how we arrived to this country. I know all about Harriet Tubman and the slaves she led to freedom. I have seen Django and didn’t enjoy it at all. I have no desire to see twelves years or thirteen years or still a slave. I know the narrative all to well.

What I didn’t know about was the story of the three black woman who worked for NASA. I don’t want this blog to be a spoiler I want it to entice you to go and see these movies. Hidden Figures tells the story of three math and science geniuses. Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) were the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history. Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer and the brilliant Taraji Henson (who I love seeing outside of her ‘ round the way girl role) were wonderful at bringing this story to life.

The movie filled me up with so much pride. I thought about all of the little black STEM girls. I thought of the assets those woman were to NASA. Not just the three men portrayed in the movie but all of the women in the “colored” computing department. When John Glen went to the moon he did so because of my sistas. My beautiful, intelligent wonderful sistas. The movie was phenomenal and I can’t wait to take 5 girls from the YWCA to see it this weekend.

Fences was also very good and the actors did a wonderful job of bringing August Wilson’s play to the screen. Denzel Washington who is not my favorite actor in the word was outstanding. The chemistry between Washington and Viola Davis was red hot. Fences is about a poor man named Troy Maxson (Washington) who worked as a garbage man. He takes care of his wife Rose (Davis), and his sons Lyons and Cory. The oldest son Lyons is a musician who thinks his dad’s line of work is beneath him. The youngest son Cory has dreams of playing football. His dad thinks he should learn a trade and be more sensible. The movie shows how the mistakes of the father led to the way he raised his son. He ruled with tough love but still love no doubt.

Viola Davis is quickly becoming my favorite actress period. Her body of work thus far is epic and this film is no different. Denzel also continues to show us why we need to put some “ Respeck” on his name.

Both films were excellent. One showed the brilliance that comes from a love for learning and the other the tumultuous relationship between the father and son as he transforms from boy to man. Both made you proud and left you wanting to know the stories behind the films. The settings were different. But what both of these films shared was my head being held high as I left the theatre. The warmth that came over me seeing all the black girl magic that Hidden Figures was laced with. The great passion and fire that exudes through both Washington and Davis in Fences. I advise you to go see both movies as soon as you can and tell me how they make you feel.


  
  

Introducing Ms. Hoosier

On Mother’s Day weekend my firstborn graduated from Ball State University’s teacher’s college. After all of the hard work and sacrifice that our family has made. The hours of studying Brit has done  and even the setbacks she dealt with at the university, my baby did it. She is the first in our family to finish school the traditional way. She never stopped, never gave up. She took the correct path.

I was so proud of her. As she walked across that stage all I could think of was this is my baby girl. The one who had Wilms tumor kidney cancer at age 6. She went through chemo and radiation. She came from a broken home, poverty, and domestic violence and beat all odds.

While attending school on the dean’s list, Brittany worked in a  residence hall, she discipled freshman girls, she was a leader in her Christian organization, and made time for family back at home.

My little girl, the one who helped raise her siblings. The unofficial boss will head to Houston this fall to start her teaching. I am so excited to help purchase things for her classroom. I can’t wait to see her name on the door…welcome introducing Ms. Hoosier. To me she is my Britsy boo! These future leaders will be blessed to have Ms. Hoosier the same

 way I’ve been blessed for 22 years.

Till Divorce do you Part

image                                                                                        If you pay attention to anything in Hollywood you know that marriages and divorces occur as often as the sun rises. One moment these celebrities are in love; having a baby, and the next minute they are splitting up homes and child support is being enforced.

Some of the names that are synonymous with divorce are Zsa Zsa,Elizabeth Taylor, Halle, and J. Lo. Recently Halle ‘s ex husband David Justice said she was the problem in the marriage and that he never abused her. He said she falls in love with the men and then when she is done they are seen as horrible people. Halle’s ex husband Eric Benet agreed with Justice’s statement.

I use to think maybe Halle was crazy. She is beautiful on the outside but maybe evil on the inside. Why can’t one of the most desired women in the world stay married.

Then there is J.Lo or Jennifer Lopez. She has admitted to being in love with love and a relationship addict. Why is a woman who has so many accolades for acting and singing always married and divorced?  Why can’t this woman keep a man? Well I use to be one of the people on my soapbox as I sit with two marriages and one divorce under my belt.

How is Zsa Zsa or Elizabeth Taylor any different from me? The only difference is money. How are these ladies any different from Danielle who has had three different relationships and children from all three of them.

Is Juanita any better because she didn’t get married?  She had four relationships and four children from all of the relationships. She wanted the same things Halle wanted. She had issues within herself and there were problems with the men. At the end of the day who am I to pass judgement on any woman? Don’t we all just want to be happy? Don’t we want to raise children and if we make the wrong choice don’t we have a chance to give up and start over again?

Instead of being glued to what is happening in the world of Ms. Berry, or Ms. Lopez, how about we all strive to be better people, better mothers, and show our daughters what strength and power looks like.