I Saw His Junk: Mom Trauma is Real

Soooooo….rather than run this nightmare over again and again in my head, I’m sharing it with y’all.

hello-trauma

I’ve shared other moments of mom trauma and why should I stop now? My partner, God love her, said about month ago, that it was time to I have a chat with Zion around the realities of puberty: body changes, sex, etc. While I agreed that it made sense, I was in no rush to navigate yet another awkward ass conversation with a middle schooler. I had planned to have the chat during a ride home but he was on an anime rant and I just let it go.

But this morning was a clear indicator that little man has transitioned into another developmental phase; one I am wholly unfamiliar with. I had no brothers or male cousins I was close to. I recognize I’m imposing gender bias on this shit, but it is what it is. The awkward conversations of my youth involved tampons versus maxi-pads . So although I am a lover of words and deeply committed to disrupt the gender binary that is traditional parenting, I withered like an old raisin thinking about what I need to do. I mean, l shudder at the conversations my mom had with me about feminine hygiene. Hell, I hated even watching sex scenes on TV with her.

Well, I didn’t have to wonder long because God remains all knowing and painfully witty. In my typical morning air of annoyance, I ascended the stairs ready to breathe fire.  Zion is late yet again.  I’ve forced him to take a shower yet again.  And although I hear fumbles in the bathroom, I hear no water. Not a damn drop.  So I’m going up to tell this fool to get the led out.  As I bust into the bathroom, Zion is pantsless and turns around in terror.  Like most adolescents, Zion demands privacy when it comes to his person.Whatever, dude. I mean, I wiped your butt. Repeatedly. Anyway, back to my trauma. As he swings around to get tot he door and close me out, I see it: His junk. My son’s junk!  It’s not a ding a ling or a wee wee anymore. It’s like a real penis…a dick, even. Shit!

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I worked to play it off…like saying,

“Oh my bad dude.  Just telling you to hurry up.”

and

“Uhhh, I’ll just get started on your lunch.”

And as I assembled his delicious turkey wrap (minus tomato), my brain begins to sweat as the “ill equipped parent” alarm rings in my head.  I got major Googling to do! The nerd in me immediately wants to get to researching culturally appropriate strategies for talking about puberty, the list of stuff that goes down in boys’ bodies as they develop, and indicators of emotionally healthy black boys.  I was spinning, y’all.

Then Zion comes down, seemingly unbothered, making his way over to his favorite shoes, and smelling much better than before (thank you Dove for Men!). I frantically get my favorite coffee going to better help my neurotransmitters not only process the young man missile burned into my brain, but hopefully come to settle the hell down and realize he’s ok, and I’m ok despite dragging myself out of another bowl of mom trauma.

My googling delivered some decent results.  I appreciated the Mocha Dad is working through the struggle too. Sadly though, when I just Googled “black boys puberty,” all I saw was a list of articles on how Black boys are entering puberty earlier than White ones, and the negative implications (obesity, even higher suicide rates!).  Um, gee fucking thanks.  SO not helpful. Not to mention it is yet another way the media perpetuates negative difference,dehumanization, and sexualization of Black boys and men. This one was particularly tough:

“It may be largely genetic, as it is well known that different races have different timing in puberty, other factors being equal. But the variation also may be influenced by environmental factors,” Herman-Giddens said. “One thing that concerns me about our overall findings is the expanding gap between the onset of physical development in boys and the maturity of the brain.” –Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens,  lead investigator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health

While I recognize there is some empirical data backing up the message, the internet is reckless as hell in not caring that these messages are linked to already prevalent fear and preconceptions of my son

aka they mature faster aka they want sex earlier aka they are a threat aka they must be monitored aka lock them up aka shoot to kill

DO BETTER MEDIA.

So what’s a clueless chick like me to do? Day drink? Well, of course. Second guess every move I make? Done!  But neither actually helps me talk to my son. Just as I’m about to binge watch 90’s Black family sitcoms for guidance, here comes Brown Mamas for the win!

relieved

Y’all, I got a book recommendation, some empathy and most of all some redemption in the fight against mom trauma. Essential lessons:

  • He’ll continue to stink; I’ll continue to be in his ass about it
  • His junk grew; and he’s gonna wanna touch it
  • In all of his awkwardness and mood swings, he is looking for 2 fundamental things: place and purpose

And the angels weeped. My butt cheeks released. I knew what I needed to do:

I will keep loving my son.  I will keep holding him accountable. I will hold him close, show him affection, and teach him to be affectionate. I will celebrate his assets and push him to develop them (even when I don’t understand them…anime, anyone?). I will make sure I don’t own all of this, making sure he engages with his dad and granddad. Whether I like it or not, they can teach him stuff I just can’t. And lastly, I will keep checking his sheets to have the masturbation talk when necessary. This shit never ends, y’all.

Have you experienced mom trauma? What happened and more importantly, what did you do?

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Betty’s Bald…So What?

So, as some of you are already aware, I shaved my head.  I’ve had such an interesting scope of reactions, I thought I’d do a little reflecting; pontificating, if you will.  I just really wanted to use that word, ya’ll.

So after growing the fro out for about 4 years, I was ready for a change.  Simply as that.  A sista gets restless with styles, and I was ready to just start over.  I wasn’t trying to make a political statement, or any kind of social experiment; just a change, ok? Not until I got my cut (thanks to my girl, Candace for helping me take the plunge), did I realize how MY decision to shave my head seemed to inspire advice, opinion, dissatisfaction, and most frequently, criticism from others; more specifically, other women. Hell, even the young women I work with took me through the ringer about cutting my hair.

Why does hair have such a hold on us?  Is it because it’s a safe place to hide?  A measure of desirability and attractiveness? AND THIS IS NOT SPECIFIC TO BLACK WOMEN.  Yes, we have a ton of cultural baggage around hair, beauty, and body, but I have experienced strong reactions from women of various backgrounds about lopping off my hair.  Folks ask,

  • Are you ok?
  • Did you have a break up?
  • Going through a rough patch?
  • What happened?

Here are the reasons I cut my hair:

  1. I wanted to.
  2. Because I wanted to.
  3. I really wanted to.

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That’s the long and short of it.  No noble cause. No political statement. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true.  I suppose my hair can be interpreted as an act of defiance. But only if you feel women who choose to have hair are operating outside of what’s acceptable.  I have long Shameless Mya’s posts and reflection on shaving her head, but it just wasn’t my journey this time around.

I am not a trailblazer or the face of feminism.  I just cut my damn hair.  The reality that such a decision still connotes a crisis, a health issue, or an emotional breakdown means we still believe that the shell of a woman (looks, body, hair) are an indicator of her emotional stability and her social standing.  The fact that I even just wrote that sentence made me say out loud, “What the f@$k?!”  No really, I just said it.  Loud too.  The dog looked up at me.

Secondly, the thing that really got my goat (yep, I’m an old chick at heart), is that so many women have said, “Well, you can get away with it.   You have the face for it.”  C’mon ladies.  While I agree that different styles may complement different faces, we can ALL get away with an almost bald head.  Short of three sixes or a conehead, an exposed scalp reads as just that: a scalp.  It is the unseen that presents itself as a barrier: self-confidence, concern for how one is perceived, in a word:

FEAR

Well, I object.  We all have “the face.” And dare I say we can all get away with how we choose to show up in the world. And the firmer our feet are in that choice, the less our daughter, nieces, mentees, and unborns will even pause to think of such played out topics as a haircut.  I am not discounting the fun convo that sparks when a friend tries a new style; that’s just fun. But the point at which we feel a drastic cut, or the absence of hair MUST mean a cry for help, rejection from a dude (don’t even get me started on that heteronormative ca ca), or a Sinead O’Connor “fight the real enemy” circa 1992 demonstration.

Just quit it.  It’s hair.  It’ll likely grow back.  And if it don’t, you’re still fly as hell, so boom.

Your temple is yours, so own it as such. And do not let the reactions of others drive what you do for you, whether it’s on your head or in your heart.

 

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Music to My Nose, Huh? I Don’t Think So.

I’m sitting here, eating left over chili dog that my daughter didn’t want. It’s cold, but it’ll do. I simply couldn’t garner the energy to make myself a fresh one. Ten hour work day, packing for a move, grading essays, and waiting for the one fingernail I had to re-paint to dry. I remain grateful, but my journey to urban zen is rudely interrupted by what I am deeming one of the most infuriating commercials of 2014. Can you guess? Well, you don’t have to cuz I’ll gladly tell you:

Gain Flings
Take the next 30 seconds to relish in this little beauty.

You know what I did, right?  One of these:

20140421-222401.jpgYes. I took out special time to rant about this travesty of a commercial because:
1. It’s yet another demonstration of advertising’s inability to see my black ass as anything but a church singin, smilin’ mammy. Note big mama wailing out a super so-saved run at the end (hiya, and hi-yaaaaahhhh!). First Black president? Nope. Release of Marissa Alexander? Negative. The cancellation of Preachers’ Daughters? Naw. Self-actualization and spiritual empowerment? No, thanks. I’m celebrating over laundry! Eye roll. Middle finger up. F— you very much.

2. It tries to make my least favorite chore of laundry look like a celebration just because GAIN smells good. Guess what? So does a honey glazed ham, but I’m sure the hell not inclined to devote the time to cook one every day. Dumb asses. Not to mention the fact that it takes no more than one night of post-milkshake flatulence, an overcooked bag of microwave popcorn, or one of my daughter’s mani/pedi marathons to wipe out what they are proposing is the enduring heavenly scent of GAIN in our homes. I object.

3. They have the audacity to show a woman savoring the smell of her sheets that have just dried on the line outside. Oh sure, I’m certain that after scraping together enough clothespins to hang my linens up (because I guarantee you my son has tried to make some kind ammunition or craft project out of them, so half them bitches are lost now), straining to make my short ass arms get everything fastened and secure (and completely pitting out in the process), waiting who knows how long it would take for sheets to air dry in this wet ass spring Washington state weather, I can’t wait for my sheets to fall upon my face so I can breathe in the mind blowing fragrance of GAIN. Yep, that’s every woman’s dream. Hey GAIN, here’s another mind blower for you: electric dryer yield far more smiles from busy Betties across the land than a clothesline ever could. I’m not Celie and me and Nettie are prancing about the clearing as we hang Mista’s socks in the cracks. Imbeciles.

4. How dare you minimize that handsome bald brother to a sheet sniffing goober that’s laid up in the bed with a bunch of harmonizing strangers in his bed?! You could have easily shown him and his son (since you think you’re being so damn progressive), folding clothes in front of the TV like normal, everyday, hard working folk. You’re dead to me.

You may be thinking, damn Betty, hard day? Such ranting is surely the result of misplaced anger. To that I say: BINGO!
Monday kicked me square in the chest and negativity is doing the nae-nae across my face. And, it’s laundry night.
Okay, I’m done. Pray for me ya’ll.
Love,
me

There’s Something About a Dance Floor

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Did you know that I love to dance? I love music and I love to dance. And if by chance I get to dance to music that I love? Well, you might as well buckle up sugar, cuz I’m about to rock you and your ancestors right on down to the root of redemption. Dancing, in a club or at a party, is one of the best forms of therapy I have ever experienced. Now, you know I’m a fan of meds. I’m a proud popper of psychotropics since 2009, baby. However, the dance floor has an uncanny ability to break right into the middle of a shit storm and make way for the funky beat to mend all wounds. What’s even better is the dance floor’s ability to remind us that we are all connected. How many times have given a “I see you, girl!” or “Okay, then!” to a virtual stranger who was in the throws of a major groove. We roll up on the sexy to engage in mutual swerve and sway, we give boogie battle cries like, “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fi-yaaaahhhhh…” and answer the age old question of “Do the ladies run this muthafuckah?!” without the least bit of trepidation.

Heads and necks bob out the week’s worry.

Hips grind down the well earned chips on our shoulders.

It is a meeting place for all God’s little tore up chillun to lose themselves in the potential and energy of collective cool. Skinny jeans or slacks, bad weaves, locs, or mullets, 22 days sober or three sheets to the wind; we ALL make our way to the sacred space of the dance floor to build our boogie wonderland.

It is escapism and release at its finest. Some use the dance floor as their church, their museum, their meeting room and watering hole.

When my dear friend, Mr. Melanin spins once a month at the New Frontier (1st Saturdays, baby…get there), I take some of my week’s worst shit in there, and stomp the dog shit out of it on that tiny, worn out , sloped-to-the-right dance floor. Those turntables crank out soul food and for a brief episode, introversion takes a back seat to brave.
I dare to wonder, though…what would happen if I took that sense of abandon and life-loving into every aspect of my life? If I didn’t overthink parenting; didn’t fret the impacts of my decisions? What if I didn’t even acknowlege the possibility of failure and defined success as a step in the right direction vs. arriving at an arbitrary destination I based on someone else’s journey?
What if it didn’t even occur to me to compare myself to anyone else? I wish I could say I was evolved and actualized enough that I am soley focused on my journey without regard for anyone else. But I did say I was going to be honest with you, so I must admit that I allow the judgement, criticisms, and happenings of others distract me as I move through this life. I desperately want to report otherwise, but it just wouldn’t be true.

However, this is SO not the case on the dance floor. On the dance floor, confidence abounds. I am doing the damn thing, and I simply invite all those with a pulse to do the same. I allow myself to feel, absorb, and reciprocate the energy of those around me. And I don’t sweat what’s coming next. Rather, I welcome the next key change, the shift in tempo that waits around the corner. I don’t just ride the expressway to Funkytown, I drive that bitch like Danica Patrick.

Cherish the day when I am brave in both worlds and can rock risk as hard as I rock the party.
BB

WTF Wednesday

Hi Lovies,
So I’m starting a weekly check in with ya’ll as I work to process the shit storm that is our day-to day lives. From crazy making and blood boiling to hilarious and absurd, Brown Betty is bringing you some delicious foolishness to chew on for a spell. Ready. Set. Boo yow:

Tablets for Women – Apparently, iPads are way too complicated for women. The complexity of technology just alludes us, and agitates our delicate sensibilities. Never fear, the ePad Femme is here! To accommodate our limited intellectual capacity and our one dimensional interests, this lovely she-gadget comes preloaded with apps geared towards female interests such as cooking, fashion, and yoga. Such a crock of shit. Why don’t they just wrap it in tulle and include a complimentary apron and signed copy of The Rules too? Not sure how these companies keep outdoing themselves with the insulting sexism, but somehow they manage.

Harlem Shake – I’m not trying to let my angry black woman flag fly, but wtf is all the rage about this nonsense? Seriously, explain it to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like to wile out as much as the next hard working sista, but these videos just look like tragic outtakes from a remake of Porky’s. Someone begins frantically humping the air, then the crowd responds by seizing, flailing, and tweaking, many times half naked or in superhero costumes. Now, back in the day the original Harlem Shake was a fresh lil move born out of hip hoppers to make the upbeat joints crack. The move was originally invented by the late Al B., along with his crew the CrazyBoyz in the 80’s. As always, the innovation of young black folks astounds. The community catches on, and you start seeing it in in videos, like here. Check it at 2:10 to see little mama go hard with her Harlem Shake. Mind you, this video dropped in 2001! Another discouraging example of how Black creativity/art is undermined in the name of humor; and tasteless humor at that. Hip hop culture is art. Period. Don’t dis it by making a mockery of it. If you choose to pay homage to the authentic move, give this a few plays, practice, and impress your friends and family with your new found swag. Anything less, is just a damn shame. Kick ass article here by Sara Kugler on this very issue.

The Evil Eye – I’m not referring to the new trend in jewelry, I’m talking about this little dude here. I literally laugh every damn time I see it. How do little little people pick up on our expressions so well? It’s a reminder to watch myself around the youngins. An unsuccessful reminder, but a reminder nonetheless.

Vinum – Food: yum. Drinks: a generous pour like Betty likes. Black owned? Oh hell yes! Support this place, ya’ll. Have your after work drinks, lunches, and quick check in’s here. Ideal location in downtown Tacoma, open mics, intimate soul sessions, chill vibe; what more could you ask for? We can’t complain we don’t have enough minority owned business if we don’t support the ones we have.

Not-so-Happy Birthday – I hate Chuck E. Cheese as much as the next parent. Shitty food, even shittier libations, and a bunch of kids you can’t stand or control. Cooties abound, and before you know it you ain’t got a nickel left to your name. But these dumb asses took it to a whole nuva level. Two dads start arguing and it escalates into an 18 person brawl to include gunfire and a trampled grandma. Oh, did I mention they were BLACK? Yep, we need more bad press. The cold kicker? Empty vodka bottles in the diaper bag. I’m out done. Out. Fucking. Done!

Rubber Pope – Artist, Niki Johnson uses condoms to make a statement on the Church’s position on birth control, and as a response to the comment that the use of condoms in Africa would spread the AIDS epidemic (back in 2009) . Go ‘head, girl. Outrage is such an exceptional muse. Peace.

BB

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