Don’t Complain

I remember when a good friend of mine was pregnant with her first child.  We are college buddies.  We were at an event for another friend of ours.  We’re standing by the bar (of course she wasn’t drinking) and an acquaintance looks at her blooming belly and begins a conversation about childbirth and the woes of being a mother.  This was a lengthy talk.  Our eyes grew wider as we listened intently.  This was many years ago but all I remember are the forewarnings vividly.

Oh you like to be cute! I see your nails are done. You won’t have time for that.

You’re lucky if you get a chance to eat!

This happens all the time.  Right?  A group of “seasoned mothers” with a “mother-to-be.”  We tell them about the hours of labor, the pain, what color your body part turned, what new smell you discovered…

When my cousin was pregnant with her son, another family member and I were “bragging” about the happenstance of being able to shave and shower in the same session without interruption.  Pregnant Cousin promptly responded, “You two sound like refugees!”

She’s right.

Today, I laugh about the awkward conversations amongst the mommy crew.  Its honestly all in comradery.  I don’t think anyone ever wants to scare the new mommies.  Motherhood is something to celebrate.  It is never dull, you are always learning, and you are consistently responsible for the experiences and growth of another human being.

One of my favorite quotes is by Kahlil Gibran:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

There are days where I am completely exhausted from work.  Then it’s time to put on my “mommy hat.”  I have to do homework, clean, prepare food (or at least take it out the fast food bag,) run bath water, make lunches, read, pray with the kids, and then finally collapse and try to take care of myself. Like any human I get overwhelmed but I love my children.  I love doing arts and crafts with my step daughter, watching movies with my 3 year old, and having crawling races with my son (I always let him win.)  There are challenges and there are tests that I in no way could have been prepared for so now I just stay in tuned with gratefulness.

I read an article (http://nypost.com/2017/04/23/several-dead-after-house-fire-breaks-out-in-queens/)  the other day that floored me.  I had just finished arguing.  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and it was too late to go back to sleep and try again.  I woke up an asshole.  I can admit it.  It happens to the best of us but I was saddened by the article.

Four children died in a fire.

I kept seeing the words flash across my mind like a scrolling LED message. What a sobering moment.  It was like God screamed “STOP COMPLAINING!”

STOP COMPLAINING

What would you do without these “little headaches?”  I have another cousin that calls them “freedom suckers.”  I am eternally grateful for the blessing of being a mother.  There are other titles that I am so proud of but that one has to be the best.

Finally, when I was pregnant with my daughter I remember a co-worker saying, “One day you will be alone with the baby and the baby will be crying and you will be crying and you two will just cry together and soothe one another.” Whoa!  I felt depressed but that isn’t necessarily a sad moment.  I know several mothers who have experienced that and it is a tremendous bonding time with your child. You both want to be heard.  You both probably don’t even have a specific reason for crying.  You both will provide comfort in a unique way.  Crying isn’t an expression of weakness.  Crying is how you bathe your soul.

Take a bath today.  Try not to complain. Enjoy every part of who you are.

-Shaun L

 

 

Review on DiaperDabbler.com [SPECIAL COUPON CODE FOR SYMACMU READERS!!!!!!]

When I had my 3 year old daughter I was not picky about what diapers I used. I was given a few boxes from my baby shower. I was (and still am) a coupon fanatic. Therefore I used whatever was on sale. She never suffered from diaper rash so I was lucky. Some mommies cannot be that liberal because their children have sensitive skin. Unfortunately the only way to find what works best for your baby is through trial and error. 

My son is the guinea pig (a very very cute guinea pig) for this trial. When you leave the hospital, you will probably be given a couple dozen Pampers Swaddlers. FYI, up until the trial done for this review I was only using Pampers on my newborn. 

DiaperDabbler.com is a fun way to try out different brands without buying the whole pack.

I received my package in 5 business days. There was tracking provided so I knew exactly where it was at all times. When it arrived, it was in a brown standard shipping envelope. 

All the packaging was simple with a personal touch. 

My diapers came in packs of three individually wrapped and labeled with the brand and size. 

You will also receive a print out that will assist in you rating each brand. Let’s face it…”mommy brain” is real and we need help with memory and staying organized. Studies show we become sharper and more astute in other areas but I’ll save that for another post!! 

The company also threw in a few complimentary wipes to check out! 

I started with bambamboos because I’ve never heard of it. They have no overwhelming smell, they do not feel soft and the design isn’t necessarily eye popping. It was clear that this would be a brand I was rating mostly on function. I also sampled Earths Best Tender Care and Bamboo Nature. 

Currently my son sleeps for 1 1/2-3 hours after each changing and feeding (according to this awesome app I have called Feed Baby.) The diapers need to withstand that timeframe as well as keep him relatively dry. Just for added information for seasoned moms: My son is breastfeeding exclusively. 

I am actually excited about changing diapers! The company can easily be reached via email with any questions or comments: care@diaperdabbler.com

Now…exclusively for my ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly readers…(insert drumroll) here is a coupon code you can use on your next order: DIAPER10 
You can reach the company on Twitter @DiaperDabbler

You can reach me on Twitter @Shutyamouthnow

Happy Dabbling!!

-Shaun Liriano 

Machine Mom

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Off work at 2am. In bed at 3am. Up with the kids at 6am. I don’t even bother with coffee anymore. Thank God my household is run by a team effort. My fiancée is very active as a parent. We push ourselves and each other. The question still remains: What did you do for yourself today??? #30dayselfesteemchallenge

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While the kids were at school, I ran to Denny’s and had some tea with lemon and honey (I have this irritating cough.) Sitting there I thought about the waiters and the waitresses. What landed them here? Are they budding entrepreneurs? Is this step one or level one to this great designer plan of their lives? Maybe one of them or all of them wanted this. Maybe they want to serve, to smile for a living,  to provide people with sustenance. Maybe it feels good to calm my cough. Maybe it feels good to sit beside the elderly and assist them in reading the small print on the menu. Maybe this is it. Maybe that’s okay.

Put Your Big Girl Panties On!

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My two year old is potty training.  We have officially taken her off the pull ups (except for bedtime) and she is wearing her “big girl panties.” I’ve been thinking about the symbolism in that milestone.  When you are transcending into something great or just different, have you made the necessary adjustments?

1. “Bo Bo’s Aren’t Forever”- It’s time to get rid of the pacifier. Translation: Get rid of your vices/your addictions. Let go of the things that have power over you and your state of mind.

2. ” Take Your Fingers Out Of Your Mouth” – Translation : Be as articulate and as diplomatically verbal as possible. Don’t let other people speak for you. Don’t let others assume your thoughts. Express yourself.

3. “Are You Whining?”- Translation : Stop complaining and bi*$hing! If you’ve been cutting corners, it’s time to accept what it is and do what you can to change what it could be! Take responsibility and push your personal limits.

4. “Do You Want Time Out?!” – Translation : Time Outs, Thinking Corners and even Pow Pows are just forms of discipline. They are a way of grabbing the reins in chaotic situations. Sometimes you may have to give yourself some meditation. You may need a prayer group to be a part of. You need a vacation. You need an hour to yourself at the library. You need to unplug.

5. “No More Diapers”-Translation: The safety net is gone. If you have an accident or you make a conscious mistake …you will have to be accountable for your SH*T! You have to flush away foolishness and wash your hands of excess, waste, impurities, and most importantly. ..the past! It will be difficult. You will error but you shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed of the process. Trying isn’t failing. Every time you succeed you should celebrate! Everyday is an accomplishment.

It’s time to put your big girl panties on!!!!

By:Shaun Nickens

Is this you?

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Sims character needing sleep

Have you ever heard the expression, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” Are you a super parent, perfectionist student, or overtime addicted employee? Do you do a lot of “ripping and running?” Are you frequently late because you’ve overbooked or double booked? How do we find the balance?

Is there a balance to find?

In my personal life I am quite unpleasant with my fiancée and the children when I am lacking adequate rest. I have a fast paced, customer service based, night job. By the time my nerves settle enough to fall asleep it’s time to start a new day. In fact my nights and days all kind of just mesh into one big ball of movement and production.

Is there a way to keep your sanity? I think so. I say think because I don’t know. The people I know who do it still crash every once in a while. There are others who seem to maintain a peaceful upbeat attitude but they may indulge in less than healthy behavior from time to time. Can healthy behavior prove to beget consistency? 

Maybe.

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A few days ago I listened to (audio book) “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy. A lot of the content I have heard /read before but authors and orators are finding creative ways to express old thoughts in a way that will heighten receptivity.

My Favorite Quote was, “Choose habitual thoughts that are constructive, harmonious and peaceful. They should only heal, bless, inspire and elevate you.”

Sounds simple right? It’s not but I will make a concerted effort to do better. What I will make a bigger effort to do is take ownership. Accountability or lack thereof is one of my reoccurring flaws.
I cannot impregnate my subconscious with negative thoughts and then be a dead beat parent and abandon them. They will keep crying. They will remain hungry for more negative energy. They will continue producing dirty diapers of despair. They will exhaust me completely.

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If you are a part of the “go hard or go home” family, how do you keep your attractive temperament? I would love to know your secrets. Yoga? Prayer? Drugs?! Leave me some feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

By:Shaun Nickens

Mothers

I know mothers who work 16 hour shifts.
I know mothers who wrapped coins to buy their lunch so their children could have steak for dinner.
I know mothers who iron sheets so you sleep better.
I know mothers who will mend your clothes and hand wash them.

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One of the plants growing from seeds my girls and I planted on Earth Day

I know mothers who start Christmas shopping in July.
I know mothers who video chat their children on their breaks at work.
I know mothers who dream of their children.
I know mothers who cook 3 meals a day …every day.
I know mothers who didn’t get a chance to watch their children grow.
I know mothers who are mothers first and women second and who completely forget that they are at all, human.
I know mothers who want everything.
I know mothers who never get anything.
I know mothers who know they are privileged to be chosen by God.
I know mothers who feel burdened.
I know mothers who would do anything for their children.
I know mothers who don’t know what to do with their children.

I am privileged to know you. I learn from you every day. There is a chance for a miracle in the life of a child every day. We hold a responsibility every day along with great fathers to build up dreams. We hold a responsibility to see a new sparkle in a little eye. Celebrate EVERY day.

Bless!

-Shaun M.N.

What the Heaven Are You Looking At?

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Cookie. “
“No honey, Mommy doesn’t have a cookie,”I whisper.
“Cookie.”
“Be a good girl, we’re in church,”I whisper.
“COOKIE!  COOKIE!!!!!!!!!”

My one year old flails herself around screaming to God himself for a cookie that I don’t have. Her big sister looks at me helplessly watching my brown face turn beet red in embarrassment.  Then she sweetly leans in and says, “You have crackers though right?”

The innocence. 

As I fumble through the diaper bag l glance up and see an impatient onlooker two pews ahead of us. She looks over her shoulder every time one of my children or any child says or does anything! 

Bear in mind, we are sitting in the very last row of the church.  Why? It is simply because I remember being young and single with no kids and shaking my head as I watch a parent provide pacifiers, goldfish, handheld electronic games, or anything short of monetarily bribing their children to be quiet during a church service. I always said I would sit in the back when I have kids.
A friend of mine said they once sang the ABC song during a baptism to keep their little one calm during service.  I thought to myself, “I wonder if that will work. ”

Meanwhile, the baby seems to have built an equaliser in her lungs and a microphone in her throat.

COOKIE.COOKIE. COOKIE. COOKIE!!!”

I stayed calm. “They can sense your fear,”I thought.

The lady two pews ahead is still staring. 

“What the hell …heaven. ..is she looking at?!”

This is when you will hear non-believers say the church is full of hypocrisy.  It is because of situations like this. A kid is fighting a nap and you are giving a parent a murder one ice grill (my slang shows my age) instead of being empathetic. A scripture came to mind:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
~Matthew 19:14

The next time the woman glanced I smiled.  I simultaneously tuned in to the preacher saying,

“Reach into yourself when it is difficult and be your better self always.  Forgive those you’ve trained yourself to forget because of the pain they’ve caused you.”

I chuckled to myself knowing adults have a hard time focussing in church,  let alone children.  I gave the girls a granola bar to share. I kissed them on the foreheads and we snuck out (towards the end) with stealth while another kid had a breakdown over juice. I silently hoped they enjoyed fellowship and hoped they learned something.  I know I did.

By:Shaun Nickens

 

3 Reasons I Love Being a Parent

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1. I took my 1 year old to a mommy and me “Babies Music and Play” class yesterday morning.  I don’t have her in a traditional daycare so I proactively look for opportunities for her to socialize with other children.  The kids all went into the meeting room and immediately began playing with one another.  When it was time to sing songs, my kid was singing at the top of her lungs. She showed the other children how to play with the toys. She stood in front of the play kitchen and had a full length conversation on the “phone.” She was showing off her vocabulary “Papi”,”mommy”, “hi”, “I’m okay”, “What you doing?” I was so proud! The other mother’s started asking me questions about her age and activities.  I felt instantly privileged to be her mom.

2. Sometimes I’m exhausted.  No, like borderline dead/comatose exhausted.  Like putting your phone in the freezer and your eggs in the bathtub exhausted!   Like putting your window all the way down and your music all the way up so you can drive home safe exhausted.  Yet, I will jump up at any time day or night if I am responsible for doing something for my children.  There is something wonderful about being needed and wanted at the same time. There is something awesome about tiny fingers holding your head and looking into your eyes lovingly and curiously. 

3. Children are raw, open, honest and unapologetic.  They have so many questions.  I love the responsibility of being one of the first people they go to for their answers.  Your four year old wants to know:
“Why do you go to work? ”
“Why do you have to make money? ”
“Why do you have to pay bills?”
“Why do we need heat?”
“Why is it cold?”

You better come up with some great answers for them and for yourself!  Children help you reassess, edit, and improve your life. My sister is 15 years old. She plays music at the highest decibel and dances with the girls until they are all out of breath and she is their she-ro! Kids are simple. They just want attention and uninhibited honest fun and unconditional love. They want you to be yourself which is the opposite of the facade we normally have to display.  Parenting gives you at least one safe place to be yourself.

By: Shaun Nickens

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*Day 10 of the 30 day writing challenge! Tell me why you LOVE being a parent.  Follow us on Twitter @shutyamouthnow
Bless!!

Represent! {From the Heart of a Disturbed Colored Girl}

I wasn’t going to say anything.  I wasn’t going to write one word. I have family I love and respect who are retired law enforcement.  I know good men and women who don’t abuse their badges.

This post is not about them.

This post is being written because I drove home from work in tears today.  Overwhelmed because I have colored male friends,  black god brothers, a Hispanic significant other,  An African-American step-father, an Afro-American father. I have a few Negro uncles. I don’t know when the day will come that they will be deemed Niggers and shot down in cold blood.

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I don’t know when someone will decide their lives are worthless and even when they are breathlessly saying, “I can’t breathe. ” No one will take the noose…I mean illegal choke hold off of their throats and let them go home to their six children. 

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I don’t know when we get to stop being the victims of real life screenplays.

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-RIP Mike Brown age 17-

I don’t know when the scab of fear, prejudice and hatred will finally peel off without staining our history with the crimson blood of our children.  I don’t know why they don’t have to come up with excuses or lies anymore.  No more wallets that look like guns. No more self defense pleas or over-zealous neighborhood watch.

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No more …

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…husband-less wives who are widows before they are brides.

I fear for our children who are too busy working on their twerking to focus on freedom.  Freedom from generational racism and shackles of cultural cynicism.  When I was young, my parents would say, “Represent!” They would say it when I’d leave the house for school.  They would say it before a demonstration in my karate class. They would say it before I would read scripture in church.  They would constantly remind me that I am a direct reflection of my family, my upbringing and my ancestry as a whole. I was representing my generation. I was representing women.  I was representing my culture.  None of the victims pictured above were perfect and I definitely don’t claim to be. Everyone makes mistakes.

I ask how you are representing those who are still giving their lives for you not to be considered an animal???

This has everything to do with color, ethnicity and generational prejudice. There are people who don’t see any race but the human race. There are also people who pass bigotry down the genetic chain like money in a will or a piece of old china. 

There is no decision but to represent.  Pray for those who have lost their lives and act so that they haven’t done so in vain.

-By: Shaun M. N.

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Sources:
*www.nydailynews.com
*www.planetill.com
* http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5665305
* http://www3.alibris-static.com/cover/v44147e43zu.jpg
* http://blogs.bet.com/music/soundOff/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/chaz-shepherd.jpg
* http://www.policestateusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/eric-garner-4.jpg
* http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/07/18/article-2368211-1AD7124B000005DC-905_306x423.jpg
* http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1050184!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_970/sean-bell-cover.jpg

Not the Mama! (Fears of a working mother)

cold sweat series
cold sweat series

My mother always tells the same story.  She worked long corporate hours.  My father was a blue collar welder.  His construction hours meant he could leave at 5am and be home to his family by 3pm. He spent plenty of time with me.  My mother came home from work one day and she took me out of my fathers arms and I cried. No big deal right?  Well, my mother tells this story every time she is mad at me.  For the past 29 years, I have been hearing this story at least once every 60-90 days.

Now that I am a working mother, I completely understand. My childcare situation is somewhat unorthodox. My work schedule is 1:30pm-10:00pm.  I am never away from my daughter overnight.  On my days off, she is with me.  She’s my sidekick at the mechanic, at the nail salon, church, grocery store etc.  Its not like I don’t have the option of getting a break from time to time.  I am absolutely terrified of losing my bond with her.  I do not want to miss out on crucial moments in her life.  She’s in a babbling stage now.  She says, “dadamamapapababadadmamapapababa” over and over again until someone reacts. I love it!  Yet, I’m still secretly fearful of missing the first real word.  What if I miss the first crawl?  I’m petrified.

not the mama

Remember that old show, “Dinosaurs”?  I still remember the song, “I’m the baby, gotta love me…”  The baby dinosaur used to bust his father upside the head with a frying pan and say, “Not the mama!”  So I have a confession…I’ve had nightmares of my daughter busting me upside my head with a frying pan and saying, “Not the mama.”  Freaky right?  Its just that no one really prepares you for this.  Most of us don’t have the luxury of planning their parenthood.  There is no time to save months of income so you can extend your maternity leave.  I had 6 weeks with my kid after she was born.  I squeeze in every bit of quality time that I can get.  I love family.  I ache for my loved ones when I am away from them.  I brag about them.  They are my prized possessions.  You conceive this unimaginable blessing, then you feel it grow within you, then you painfully deliver this blessing into the world, and then you trust others to help you raise your child and build his/her character.  Children grow so fast and you just don’t want to miss anything.

Early this afternoon I was in Kmart getting a swing tray booster seat for the little one (she eats solids now!!! 🙂 )  While I was on the check-out line, the woman behind me smiled at my kid and said, “She’s getting so big.”  I was instantly uncomfortable.  I thought the lady was insane and thought she knew me or my daughter from somewhere.  This was a mistaken identity situation.  It had to be an error because I don’t know this lady.  Finally, sensing my uneasiness and attentively watching me as I hurriedly attempted to speed up my transaction, she spoke again.  She said, “I live across the street from your aunt.”  Now it all made sense.  My aunt is retired and watches my kid 2 days a week.  I noticed the cute Christmas outfit she had in her hand and she said, “This is for my grand-daughter.  She’s the same age as your little girl.”  We continued talking while I bagged and loaded baby food and diapers into the cart. She proceeded to tell me that she was starting to butt heads with her grand-daughters mother.  She said the mother was starting to feel threatened.  I asked if she had an example of something she was accused of doing that may have been out of line.  She told me she bought the baby’s Halloween costume.  I was brutally honest.  I said, “Yeah, that was out of line.  Of course you meant well and your heart was in the right place but “firsts” are off limits for grandmas.”  She was receptive and we continued to chat while we rolled our carts out to the parking lot. I took holiday pictures with my own professional camera for Halloween and Thanksgiving with attire specially picked. Sometimes Mommy’s and Daddy’s get possessive or have disagreements, let alone…grandmas.  I would have hung that costume in the closet and bought my own. With some things its just the principle.

Parenting is extremely difficult.  A fellow working mom confided, she has had day-mares of forgetting her son and nightmares of hearing him screaming and she jumps up to check on him and he’s comfortably resting.  Till this day if my baby sister is asleep (she’s 14 by the way), I still put my finger under her nose to make sure she’s breathing.  The fear of losing a bond with a child.  The fear of losing a connection with a loved one.  The fear of doing your best but not being good enough is enough to wake you up in a cold sweat. Sweet Dreams.

By: Shaun M Nickens