Being a Mom is … realizing you haven’t updated your Mom blog.
It’s been a few months since I last did any update and it’s because of one thing really—my kids.
Gone are the days when I had all the free time in the world to do what I wanted. You hear it all the time that kids will take up your time, but those words really don’t make an impact on you until after the kids come.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that I regret having children. Never. Having kids was one of my biggest goals in MY life. I wanted to become a mom and was aware of the obstacles and challenges. I might have done things differently, sure. Explore the world a bit more and really enjoy the freedom that I did not realize I had (of course being poor kind of limits any freedom you can do). Start my business when I was younger so I really had that business experience. There’s a lot of things I wish I did before my kids, but never in my life will I ever say I don’t want them.
I do wish I was aware of what sort of time I would lose out on by having kids in my life. Being a mom is still new. I’ve been doing this gig for three years now so I have some moderate experience… and then baby number two came and yeah. Still adjusting. But I really want to talk more about motherhood and the life of being a mom like all those popular mom blogs.
I just … don’t know where to begin.
I suppose I could mention that the horrible nights of my son not being able to sleep is long over. I think that might explain my absence since it was a struggle dealing with his tummy issues. He sleeps like a champion now and eats like one, too.
I could talk about my son and his inability to eat anything I make him. How the hell do parents feed their kids? Mine once liked nuggets and now he doesn’t. He once liked ravioli and now he doesn’t. He has such a picky appetite that there are nights he doesn’t eat anything at all until the next morning. I’m trying to figure out if there is some magic wand that I wave to get my son to eat the food I cook.
A struggling challenge I encounter a lot these days is balancing two kids and keeping self-employed. The struggle there was a nightmare with two up until we finally bought a super hand-me-down couch to sit upstairs in the living room. Sure, it’s hideous and has the ugliest floral print I have ever seen, but my god did it save me. Now I can have my children in the living room so I can work…when they let me.
Perhaps the biggest thing to talk about is that my son is going to be a year old soon. One year. Can you believe that? With my first, it felt like time passed incredibly slow. I lavished and ate up every single second of his babyhood. I loved it and hated it but mostly loved it. With the second one, I seem to have gotten over baby stages. I knew right when he was born that I would no longer sleep for three months. Now that he sleeps like a champion, I can finally stop being a zombie. Of course there is the issue of his mobility becoming a new problem. Curse their figuring out they can move…
So yeah, that has been my life for the last few months of radio silence. I was still adjusting to being a mom of two. Now that I’ve finally found a balance, I guess you can expect a lot more of me trying to explain this new life of mine that I’m bumbling through but loving every moment.
I mean if it doesn’t bore you to read… cause it sure does feel like I wrote a bunch of nothing.
Who is she?
I remember asking that one day. It’s not a question I ask anymore, but sometimes I wonder if other photographers do.
Three years ago, I decided to jumpstart my career by joining photographer communities. After a long hiatus due to my Nikon film camera failing, I came back to the industry eager to spread my wings. I began to join forums, groups, and any location where photographers mingled. It was an exciting time for me; I was so innocent to the whole idea of networking with likeminded artists. I was going to hang with the best of them, share my work with others, and receive constructive critique. Things were different compared to the early 2000’s. Back then, Deviantart and other forums were the places to be for this. I figured things would be the same just different web platform.
Man … was I in for a rude awakening.
No longer was the community about the art, it became a popularity contest. Arrogant professionals who slapped at the amateurs. Amateurs who couldn’t take critique. Professionals who enjoyed giving unsolicited critiques. And personalities of every type fighting for recognition. There were bullies, copycats, and even petty rivalries. It was hard to believe that the community had turned into this … war zone of sorts. Gone was the time where it was just an art form. Or maybe I was just not lurking in the right places.
I did what I could to try and reach out to others. It didn’t kick off well. Maybe it was because I wasn’t a big name. Maybe it was because I wasn’t creating stunning lifestyle imagery that was all the rage. I don’t know. Being a new face meant nobody pays you much attention. That’s what made it so easy to sit, listen, and read. I picked up fast on the lingo with photographers. Business tips, lens talk, the difference between clean and matte, and a ton of other things.
I even began to learn about the big time names in the industry. Names that weren’t exactly famous to me but famous because of their huge following. Sue who? Jasmine who? These photographers were the superstars; people who turned their business into something more. Often I’d hear wonderful stories of how these people changed or inspired them to do better. It was wonderful looking at photographers share work and say that it was all because of this person or that.
But sometimes … there were people who enjoyed ripping these successful pros down. How dare these successful entrepreneurs be successful. People loved pointing out how they were imperfect and undeserving of their fame. Because what better way to feel better about yourself than to tear another down.
One name came up quite a bit in one group with a mass of female photographers. It was a name that would go on to be the most repeated name since joining the community. A popular photographer respected and renowned for her takes on children and maternity. Beautiful hand-crafted artwork.
Who is she?
A question I asked one day in a community where her name came up often.
The worst person to have ever walked this earth, they said. Someone who was arrogant and didn’t care much for her fans, they told me. Someone who didn’t deserve recognition and cheated to get where she is, they rambled. On and on they went about this person in a thread in a Facebook group…and I all I could think was Wow.
Never mind the fact that stories shared were usually second-hand or third-hand accounts. For these few, the stories were all they needed to hear to confirm their views. Looking back, I think some of the animosity was born of pure jealousy and desire to see another fail. Uncertain of what to think, I kept my thoughts neutral and head low. If the stories were true then christ almighty, but there was never any evidence save for the gossip. What did I know? If people said she was a bad person, then she must be, right?
One day, I saw a notification stating that someone reported my post. Reported? By who?
I couldn’t believe it. My thread tossed into the fire because I was venting? I was furious. I couldn’t believe that the stories were true as they said! You’re thinking that was the moment I went down in history to hate this woman for the rest of my life. Well, almost. I could have walked away thinking this person was just a bully.
… but I tend to dig deep rather than assume the worst.
Curious, I went ahead and messaged her to ask why. A polite, simple request to just try and understand the reasoning behind the report since I knew she did it. She could have ignored me. Told me to fuck off like so many claimed she does. Read the message and never reply leaving me left to wonder for years. None of that happened. Instead, she asked how did it happen, apologized for the confusion, then went to report the bug. We shared a few more words until it faded off and life went on with the matter addressed and fixed. It turned out that it was not my post but another post within the thread. For some reason, because I was the thread owner, I was able to see the notification. An error in the system that was now repaired so that it never happened again. Little did I know that this was only beginning.
In a community where I often felt alone, she made me feel welcomed. Over time we would go on to have more conversations whether initiated by either her or me. Our paths would cross a few more times until we finally just friended each other and went on from there. She was amazing. I remember her excited about coming to Philadelphia to meet me. Me? Why? Because she liked me, she said. Terribly anti-social and shy me couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to meet me, and yet she did. When we finally met, she was funny, real, genuine, took pictures of my son, then went home to share them. It was a great experience and the first of many to come.
For the last four years, I’ve been her friend. And for four years I’ve watched and seen everything thrown at this woman. Tons of massive praise from her admirers and the occasional pebble thrower from haters. From the other side, it’s actually kind of weird how far some people will go to discredit someone. People who go out of their way to even lie about her just to paint her in a terrible light. I began to notice that the loudest criers were the same ones who loved imitating her work. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want their work to look like someone else’s. Maybe it’s me, but I wouldn’t take it as a compliment if someone said my work looked like another. The whole point is to set yourself apart from the rest. But… that’s a whole other issue in itself … for another time.
Who is she?
She is a friend who in a time of need listened when I vented, chatted when bored and laughed at things that amused us. She worried over me when I struggled with postpartum depression. Nagged me when I didn’t get it handled. Not afraid to be upfront about her feelings and never sugar coats bullshit when she sees it. Last month, I spent my nights awake for long hours trying to soothe a colicky newborn. I vented about this often. This woman went out of her way to gift me a brand new sofa that I had a place to rest while soothing him.
I cannot begin to understand a person when they tell me she is cruel. It just does NOT compute when someone claims she’s horrid, arrogant, or worse. Having endured and suffered cruelty in my life, she’s the farthest thing from it. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she’s perfect. She makes mistakes and bleeds like the rest of us; nobody is perfect. But sometimes it’s hard to be human when the world expects you to be a “perfect industry leader”. I don’t envy her situation. I don’t think it’s fair, either. But as a friend, I can do my best to try and clear up her name whenever people work hard to smear it.
Because I’m her friend, not a follower.
A person with an agenda can misconstrue a simple misunderstanding and make far worse than it is. I went into a situation expecting to come across a savage individual. I instead made an unlikely acquaintance who is someone I’m proud to call a friend.
So who is she?
I don’t know. Why don’t you find out yourself? No, seriously. Find out yourself.
I’m a big girl. This is known. But I haven’t been big all my life. That’s my motivation for wanting to lose weight: I want to be me again.
Earlier last month, I signed my entire family up for the YMCA program. A whole year to use their gym, pool, free fitness classes, and discounts on any special classes. The YMCA is cool as hell. It’s just around the corner from where we live; one of the benefits to living here since our move in April. You know, outside of the fact the Ice Cream man drives by every day at the same time. Whoops.
After three back to back pregnancies, I have gained a significant amount of weight because of it. Weight that has not fallen off. I was already a thick woman, but I gained another 50lbs on top of that and have not dropped it off.
Now, I already have body issues when it comes to my appearance. I convince myself daily that I am a beautiful woman after years of childhood bullying. Now I find myself looking at the mirror and gazing not just at my face, but my entire body. Yes, I have lovely curves. I have curvy hips, a huge ass (100% certified black booty), and a decent bust size. I love my curves. I love being curvy. But I also want to be healthy and fit, too.
I’m a bit of a penny pincher—aka cheap—so when it comes to losing weight, I am in the business of DIY. I feel like that with enough motivation and desire, I want to start this off on my own. Besides, I did it before.
When I decided years back to finally learn how to care for my hair, I cut it all off and went completely natural. I researched, experimented, and learned all I could about natural hair through the Internet. It took trial and error, but I figured out how to take care of my hair. So what’s stopping me from doing the same here?
I’m going to lose weight. With a little bit of work, I want to go back to my original weight of 160lbs by the end of this year.
You know how they say there is an app for everything? They weren’t lying. This week, I downloaded various apps to my iPhone that claim to help me lose weight. For the next few months, these are the apps I am going to be trying and reviewing.
Eat This Much
Pokémon GO (Listen … if I’m going to be walking, I’m going to catch Pokémon, okay?)
All these apps are either fitness diaries, walkers, or nutrition guides. Or Pokémon training…
I need to commit at least 3-4 days a week just going to the Gym to see results. Online fitness guidelines say that beginners should take it slow. You should always give their body 48-hours to recover after a workout. I think I can commit to just 3 days a week and then increase as I get better.
So far I have been pretty impressed with MyFitnessPal. It lets me add friends from Facebook, track what I’m eating, and even logs calorie intake. It works alongside Runkeeper which I intend to use for the days I decide to just go for a walk or jog. (Or Pokémon train) By logging everything, I should have a clear idea of what I am doing right and wrong. It’s pretty empty so far but I hope to have something here by the end of the next month.
Since I’m breastfeeding, I can’t go anywhere below 1500 calories, 1800 being ideal. To maintain a healthy milk flow, I have to make sure my calorie intake is around this range. The reason for that is because breastfeeding alone can burn up to 500 calories a day. Yeah! Neat, huh? It’s kind of why women lose weight while breastfeeding. So any nutritional guideline I follow has to keep in mind that I am feeding another life.
I haven’t got a clue what to do about food. I know it’s about “portion control” and calorie counting, but that’s it. So to help me with that, I’ve downloaded nutrition guides.
MakeMyPlate creates a weekly eating plan staying under a strict calorie intake per day. They create a visualization of what you will be eating that day. It creates a grocery list so you have all the items in your fridge for that week. It’s pretty neat if not a little depressing. The meals look simple and just plain boring. You know I’ve heard that dieting can be a killer to the tongue, but this is sad.
Then there’s Eat This Much. This app does the same thing except you can set just how many calories you want to maintain. The food looks a little better. They even have the option to follow vegan, vegetarian, or paleo. I’m very interested in doing a paleo diet, but when they gave me this recipe I just had to say ‘nah… I’m cool.’
I’ll use it as a guideline but I think I need to research and make a list of tasty but healthy options. I’m sure these are good and all but I am a firm believer that I need to enjoy what I am eating. Pears and bacon? Mm, no. No thank you, darling.
That leaves me with just one thing—portion control. How do I manage that? I guess it will take a bit of commitment to not overdo it. But another way to assist with that is by drinking a whole lot of—
I figured if I’m hungry, it must mean I’m thirst. I don’t know where I heard this from but I’ve been trying it more. Fill my stomach with enough water before a meal and it should help with keeping the consumption of food to a minim.
To help with the boredom of water, I’ve been drinking sparkling flavored water. It’s been a tremendous help in getting me to drink water. I was a BIG soda fantastic and knew that if I wanted to lose any weight I had to cut it out. I realized the reason I love soda is because of the carbonation. By applying that to water, it has made the shift easy.
. . .
And that’s the plan so far. I go to the gym every other day or at least three times a week starting out and work out for 60-90 minutes. I take classes when available and eat healthy options within a certain calorie intake. Any diets I decide to try or whatever else that falls in line under Fitness. In a year, I want to have one of those before and after shots to show off to the world. Since I never tracked the growth of my pregnant belly, maybe I’ll track the change of my weight.
Someone told me that if you keep progress of your weight loss like this, it motivates you to keep going. I hope logging my progress does just that.
On top of being a mom, I label myself a Work at Home Mom since I’m a Photographer.
Photographer? That’s a sweet gig.
Kind of. It’s a fantastic form of art that some do as a passionate hobby and others for income. I sit somewhere in-between.
I chose Photography because it chose me.
No, really. It did.
In 2002, I was a student attending the Art Institute. I was feeling frustrated with my experience so far with the major I took up. Animation & Media Arts didn’t feel like something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. I was feeling uncertain about my future after college. One day I was wandering the school halls and came across this gorgeous picture. It was this photograph a student had taken of a couple walking in the park during autumn. Everything about it was amazing; the sharpness, the colors, and the mood all spoke to me.
“That’s it,” I said to myself. “I’m going to become a photographer.”
I was so confident of this decision that I changed my major to Photography that same day.
I remember going to do my glucose test three years ago when I was pregnant with Daniel. I recall this one mom bringing in her toddler to also have his blood drawn. The nurse took them in and – with a little of bit fussing – managed to complete the task on time. She thanked the phlebotomist and headed out. The phlebotomist then ushered me in and immediately started to make fun of the mother.
“He’s still in diapers, can you believe that?” she said while shaking her head and sticking the needle into my vein. “What is that mom doing? He’s about four and still in diapers. That’s a damn shame.”
“Yeah, she should know better,” I said with an awkward grin. In truth, I wasn’t sure why she was even mocking this woman with me. Maybe she was a first time mom just like me doing her best to raise her little boy. And yet I sat and listened as this professional mocked the woman for not having her son trained out of diapers.
Looking back, I wish I had spoken up and said something in her defense. But seeing as I was not even a mom yet, I didn’t know what to say.
That was the moment when my anxiety kicked in and the fear raising mine sunk in. The fear of judgment on how I raise my child.
Daniel is about to turn three next month and enjoying all the things about summer so far. Next month we plan to celebrate with a few friends and family. I’m both excited and worried at the same time about it for a few reasons. One is because my son is TURNING THREE! That means for three years I have been doing the deed of being a parent. Somehow.
The other reason is because of a problem I have known about for a while: his speech delay. He doesn’t speak sentences like I imagine most children do at his age. He doesn’t communicate with us his wants or needs. He knows how to show us what he wants and he understands a little of what we say, but he doesn’t know how to speak to us. His vocabulary is small and most of it is just echoing what we say.
Many moms say this seems to be normal for boys in general. Others say that their kids have some sort of delayed something so its natural. I plan to get him evaluated and do all the necessary steps to see about getting that fixed.
Some tend to sympathize with me since they are either in the same boat themselves. Others have been encouraging, supportive, and offered excellent ideas or suggestions.
But then there are some who have offered thoughts that tend to be more critical than supportive. While I don’t expect everyone to understand when I seek out help or vent, it tends to kick my fears into overdrive. Sometimes it’s not even because of verbal or written communication to others. It can be a look from a parent at the store when my son is having a tantrum. It can be the noise that comes from our table when we are out eating. I worry a lot about how others view my parenting skills when they witness his behavior.
What are they thinking? Do they think I’m an idiot? Too free? Not disciplining right?
I have lived with social anxiety all my life. I’ve managed to cope with it in my adulthood, but it almost feels amplified when it comes to parenting. The constant worry that someone is laughing or judging. The fear of widespread gossip or just disappointing thoughts on my decision making. The awful feeling of knowing someone out there thinks I am doing a bad job.
Anxiety is weird like that. While it makes no sense why I would think that way, these are the thoughts I often tackle as a parent. With no relief, all I can do is try my best to ignore it.
I think what helps is that I tell myself my son is happy. Bottom line he’s a healthy and happy boy. He laughs, he runs, he plays. He’s a lively child with a ton of energy that is difficult to contain.
With my son’s speech delay, I need to tell myself it’s not my fault. I have to remember that every child is different, including Daniel. That no matter what sort of disability or learning issue he may run across, my son is perfect in his own way.
“Regardless of what he may or may not be, he is still just Daniel.”
The words of a friend that still rings now. No matter what, he is an amazing kid. My kid.
What matters is that my son is happy. That our family is happy. While it may not be easy to tune ou my fears that comes with my anxiety issues, I know that I am doing the best I can. Nobody can be or is the Perfect Parent.
We strive to do the best we can for our littles and hope they turn out to be decent human beings. In my case, this too will be something he conquers.
You’ve made several attempts to rock the baby to sleep. The Rock N Play purchased to auto rock goes unused because he hates it. A wailing cry that pierces the ears of my husband and disrupts the both of us from getting any sleep.
Just like all those commercials and classic movie scenes, being up all night with a baby sucks. Saying goodbye to a good night’s rest is the trade off for being a parent. The joke goes that you must say goodbye to regular sleep and hello to long evenings spent looking at your clock.
Last month, I delivered my second, Junior. I have been over the moon about his arrival for the past few days. Not just because he’s here, but because I am finally done with the god awful pain of pregnancy. There are some mothers who find pregnancy easy and breezy, and then there is me. If there was a way to skip that part of child-bearing, I would have hit fast forward a long time ago.
It’s been close to five weeks and Junior is already showing us just how different he is from my first son. His arrival has brought with him a whole batch of new challenges. Most of the challenges I’ve already got a good handle on. The diaper changing, the late night feeding, and even the cries are a little tolerable now.
There is only one thing I have been ill-prepared for. My son has Colic.
Colic is an unknown diagnosis given for babies that cry for two hours straight with no pause.
Some think its gas while others aren’t sure. All I know is that my son has the ugliest cry when he’s upset. Grunting, groaning, and often confusing me to think he’s a grown man. It’s referred to as a fussy stage but this sort of crying is nothing I have ever seen. It keeps my husband and I awake for late hours and me occupied all throughout the day with his constant wailing.
Babies wail. Yes, I know. Some wailing is fine, but this kind of wailing was just too much.
Last night was a bit of the final straw for me. After the third attempt to put him down to sleep only to have him cry, I was ready to break down and cry myself. Not only was it making it impossible for me to sleep, but my husband was also suffering the consequences of it. Neither one of us was getting any sleep. Worst of all, I feel terrible knowing our little junior is unhappy about something we can’t fix. Even after several diaper changes, feedings, and cuddling, nothing can stop the crying.
We needed to do something.
Our first son, Daniel, was an OK sleeper. I say OK because there was the downside of him wanting to sleep in bed with us. Unlike my second son, he kept his milk down, was never gassy, and crying was minimal. He wasn’t completely easy, but in comparison, I can definitely say he was an easy newborn. Still, his inability to sleep in his bed space meant trying alternatives to get him to do so. That’s when I learned about Gripe Water.
Gripe Water is a natural medicine used for gassy and colicky babies. It’s supposed to help put their tummies at ease by using safe, natural, vegan products. It’s supposed to help with hiccups and teething, too.
Has it worked? Well … yes? Within minutes of his first dose, our son quieted down and finally got some sleep.
… for like two hours.
That is not to say it didn’t work, just that it was not a permanent fix. I can expect him to wake up every two to three hours to eat. So as long as he is getting some kind of sleep, that’s all that matters. My recommendation for Gripe Water is Mommy’s Bliss. Unlike another brand that was thick, black, and stained my son’s outfit, this one was easy to give. You can believe this brand will remain in my cabinets until he can get a full night’s sleep on his won.
So it worked but it wasn’t a fixer of everything. Point is that this newborn stage is going to be a rough ride regardless of what we do. All the medical interventions in the world will not save us for the next three months.
Well … except Zantac. He needed that. Reflux was not doing him any favors by throwing up his milk.
If either of us seems grumpy, forgive us. It’s possible that one of us spent the evening with no rest and running off coffee fumes.
Well .. at least I have is this adorable image of him sleeping. You would never know his crying sounds like James Brown in the bathroom.
Sleep on, little on. Sleep on.
I did it. I got up and did the thing.
I made this blog. This blog right here that you’re reading.
Why is that such a big deal?
Well…. my last website was back in 2007. It was my last attempt to try and keep my hobby of web design and blogging alive and it lasted all for one month. After that domain expired I was convinced it would be the last time I would ever blog.
…I guess I was wrong.
So how do I start this off? Introductions!
Hi. I’m Sabrina.
See that picture up there? That’s me.
I’m really nothing special. Average face, big lips, large nose, and dark skin. I wear make-up when its convenient but I look like this almost everyday. That way if you ever come across me you’re not shocked by my appearance (“Oh wow, you look … different in person” said someone a long time ago when they met me for the first time).
So if you’re expecting a beautiful diva here then … no. I’m just plain ol’ me. Memorized? Good! Moving on.
So that is me in a nutshell. Well, more of a gigantic nutshell but you get the drift.
I made this website and blog to focus on three subjects: Being a black woman, a mom, and a nerd. These three things matter most to me and will always be the highlight, purpose, and reason behind this blog. I may occasionally go off topic and ramble of other topics that matter to me but you can trust and believe I will never, ever stray from the purpose behind this blog’s existence. I’ll ramble about my natural hair journey, discuss living life as a black woman, rave or rant about mom things, and will occasional geek about a game or two. Anything that fits under those three subjects will be here. Perhaps that describes you? Perhaps it doesn’t! Maybe you can relate to one or two of the three subjects or none at all. What matters is that you’re here and you’re going to stay and read or just be on your merry way. Either way, I’m here to stay.
Okay, I’ll just be honest. I don’t know what this blog will become in the weeks or months to follow. I might change a few things or a lot. Heck, this layout might look different by morning! But one thing is for certain is I’m going to try and see it through longer than just a month like my last website.