Its here, the day that many of us love and hate….Mother’s Day.
Most of us have awesome moms, aunts, grandmas, friends and mother figures that deserve all the brunches, flowers, pampering and accolades they will get today. But while we’re doing all of that, on the inside, we might be dying a little.We can’t become biological moms (or not without plopping down thousands of dollars), some of us have lost a pregnancy, or a child, or even lost a mother or grandmother. Some had crappy moms or grew up without a mom at all. Because I don’t live in the same cities as my family, I’m not forced to go out to do anything, which is good, because honestly, this year, I really am not in the mood to pretend. Not only am I working through my infertility feelings, I lost my Nana a few months ago. I loved talking to her, and she was my favorite call to make on Mother’s Day.
So what can you do? How can you handle this day that celebrates everything that seems just beyond your reach if you’re having a hard time?
Here’s what I’ve got:
UNPLUG. Seriously. Looking at Facebook and Instagram all day is not going to do anything to uplift you if you’re already feeling down.
Do something for Yourself. Whatever that means to you. Get a mani/pedi. Go shopping. Do yoga. Binge watch whatever you want. Do what makes you feel good about yourself today especially.
This is not something I would usually say, but….Skip church today.
Now, hear me out: In a lot of churches, especially Black churches, Mother’s day is a big thing. There are luncheons, and special sermons about mothers and mother hood. My old church used to give out single roses. They’d start with Moms, then Grandmas and Aunts,…..then trickle down to all those that “desire to be mothers”. This was always extremely hard for me, even before I had (or knew I had) fertility issues. I was here without my mom, no family around actually, I was painfully single at the time, so I just felt very isolated that day. Get your spiritual connection on your own today by praying, reading and spending time with God alone.
In the end, its up to you.
You know where you are, and what you can handle today, and if this is a time that is difficult for you. Don’t be afraid to say “No” or limit your time out if you’re invited to celebrate.
Celebrate the great relationships you do have today. Enjoy some of the benefits of not having children. (There are several!) Don’t let this 24 hours damage your spirit too much.
What am I doing today? Blogging (obviously), Staying off of Facebook, my calls to my Mom, Aunts, and friends,Cooking, Cleaning my Bathroom…
I am a very socially and politically aware person. However, I try to keep politics and social issues (not dealing with women’s health) out of this blog. Mainly because I want to keep this a neutral place, and for the most part, a light place. But there are always exceptions. The events of this past week is one of them. As a woman, a Black woman, and a daughter, niece, partner, and a potential mother of Black men, I could not let this moment go by without using my voice to say something.
Unless you live in the deep woods with no communication with the outside world, by now you know about the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer, and the subsequent anger and protest in the town of Ferguson, MO. Before I go any further, let me make these few points clear in an attempt to lessen any confusion or misinterpretation.
1) I understand that most law enforcement men and women do their jobs properly and risk their lives every day. To those men and women, I give my respect and support
2) I am aware that there are some people in the midst of these protests that are agitating by looting, fighting and shooting. I do not condone violence, including looting of stores and riots.
With those points out of the way, lets get into it. Michael Brown was shot by a police officer. He did not have a weapon. Allegedly, Michael and a friend were walking in the street when an officer approached them in his vehicle and demanded that they move to the sidewalk. At this point, details and accounts vary, but some type of altercation/tussle happened with said police officer and Michael. He ran, but stopped, putting up both hands in the universally recognized sign of surrender. There are multiple eye witness to the shooting and its aftermath. The Ferguson Police Department left Michael’s body in the street, uncovered for 4-5 hours. When they did retrieve the body, there was no EMS or coroner van, just a police SUV. In the following hours and days, the police department would not release any information on the incident. The citizens of this community, many witnessing the shooting and living under the tense relationship between them and the police, began to protest. Some people took that opportunity to loot and riot. As tensions mounted, the police donned full on riot gear and used teargas,flash bombs, and other heavy equipment in an attempt to control the situation. The protests continued. Anonymous gets involved. Days passed with no word from the Governor, the Police Chief, or the President. Several journalists and media outlets report harassment, threats, and an attempt to block them from covering the events. After all of this, the Governor of Missouri and The President speak out. After almost a week, the police release the name of the officer, Darren Wilson. They also release footage from a local corner store that allegedly shows Michael stealing cigars and arguing with a store clerk. The family is upset about this newest revelation and accuse the Ferguson PD of smearing Michael’s name. The police Chief releases another statement that the offending officer did not know Michael was a suspect when he approached Michael and his friend for jay walking. That night, some people loot and riot…again. A curfew is instated as of Saturday afternoon, August 16. The unrest continues….
In this case I see several issues:
1) Police Brutality
2) Racial Profiling and the default criminalization of Black males
3) The violation of the First Amendment by police in the attempt to prevent the people of Ferguson from protesting and attempting to restrict journalists from covering the situation.
4) The militarization of local police
I’ve already gone on long enough, so I’ll try to make my points brief. All of the above listed issues should disturb you as a human and as an American. If the fact that people’s rights are being violated does not bother you, no matter your political affiliation, religion, ethnicity/race, please make an appointment to have your humanity checked.
Police brutality and harassment over petty offenses like jay walking have been going on in Black neighborhoods for years. Is it poor police training? Is it “broken windows” and “zero tolerance” policing policies? Is it over zealousness? Prejudice? Probably a mix of any of those elements at any given time or situation. I can expand that point to say its been going on in poor neighborhoods for years. Because of the years of tension and mistrust, the relationships between minority and poor neighborhoods and the police is fragile at best. This strained relationship leads to everyone, cops and citizens, being on edge all the time. Point number 2 means one thing: Black men are criminals. Period. No amount of money, education, success, or clothing options can change that in some people’s eyes. And some of those people happen to be police officers. That leads to profiling, and sometimes worse. It happened to Henry Louis Gates Jr, a Harvard professor, it happened to Tyler Perry, and it can happen to any Black Man or boy. When was the last time a WASP man was stopped for simply walking in his neighborhood and asked for his ID? I’ll wait. When was the last time it happened to a Black or Brown man? Probably 5 minutes ago in any given town or city.
The issue is that if it doesn’t affect you, you have no idea. Many people across America can’t understand what’s happening in Ferguson because they have never lived under those conditions. They don’t understand the anger. To them, the unrest just looks like chaos and disorder, but these are the actions of the unheard.
Dave Chappelle explained the relationship between Black people and the police (and White people’s reactions) the way only he can in his 2001 stand up routine “Killing them Softly”: (We need a little levity right now) The clip is kind of long (7 minutes), but in order to get the full idea you have to watch it all.
What he said was 100% truth.
What about the blatant disregard for the First Amendment?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The actions of the Ferguson Police Department definitely trampled on two of the three rights of the people in Ferguson. The people are angry and frustrated. They want answers. They want justice. They have the right to assemble and protest. Even with social media, live Tweets, and cell phone video, we still need stories covered from a journalistic point of view. Of course Ferguson police didn’t want the world to see what they were doing…look at what they were doing. The fact that two journalists were pushed and punched, detained with no cause given, then released, without an apology or explanation is frightening. “Where they do that at?!” Apparently, in Ferguson, MO. This sounds like a story from Iraq or Russia. Not the United States, but it was.
This all makes me think about my journey into motherhood. When you face difficulties getting pregnant, you often stop and ask yourself ‘Is this really what I (we) want to do?’ You think about the money, the meds, the heightened risk of complications during pregnancy, along with the questions any woman considering motherhood would ask herself: Am I ready? Do we have enough money? Am I going to be a good parent? As a Black woman, I also have to also think about bringing a Black male into this world. The thought that no matter how well I raise my son, no matter where we live, he could still be a target is sad and disheartening. He doesn’t have to be a gang member, or a drug dealer, or a bank robber. His skin tone would be enough to label him dangerous and suspicious. How would I deal with that? I don’t want to add the “how to deal with cops as a young Black man” speech with the standard teenage speeches parents give about sex, texting while driving, drugs and all the rest. How do I explain to my future son why we even have to have this talk? How do I explain that some people just can’t get past stereotypes and unfounded fears? That they’re too close minded to learn and see who he really is? I hope that by the time any child I would have is old enough, this will be a thing of the past. I’m sure Michael Brown’s mother had the same thought 18 years ago.
One of my favorite book series and movie franchise is The Hunger Games. The people revolted and they were forever punished by an oppressive government and a yearly sacrifice of children for entertainment (and as a form of repression and control). When it becomes too much, the people organize and…(I won’t tell it all because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the trilogy). When I read these futuristic novels or watch those types of movies, where the government is extremely repressive and brutal, I think there is a small shred of plausibility in this, but it is mostly a work of fiction. Until I see it happen. Until I see police throw tear gas and flash bombs at people who are (mostly) peacefully expressing their frustrations and the need for answers and transparency. When journalists are harassed, roughed up, and arrested without cause. Most importantly, these citizens have a right to do these things under the First Amendment of our Constitution. It makes me again wonder: what kind of world will I bring my future son or daughter into? Will they be allowed to express themselves freely? To speak out against injustice without fear?
I wonder if I want to bring a child into a world like what I’ve seen over the past week. A world I know exists, but try to rise above or have hope that it will some day be a thing of the past. Instead, it seems as that not only is it not going anywhere, its getting worse. Going backwards. And it makes me sad for our country, but it also makes me angry. I am in no way naive or unaware of what happens in the world. I feel that I can’t afford to be. As they say: “I stay woke”, but I generally just choose to be hopeful. There is good in the world, and being aware and hopeful for me is the best way to go about things.
If I am so blessed to bring life into this world, I will do my best to teach tolerance, love, compassion, self awareness, to speak up against injustice, and possibly the dos and don’ts of being stopped by police as a Black man.
Lets hope I can leave that last one off.
Justice and Answers for Michael Brown and his family.
Peace and Healing for the Ferguson and St. Louis, MO community.
So, its Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate how awesome moms, grandmas, great grandmas are. Being a mom is a 24/7 job. They deserve at least one day to get as many cards, flowers, dinners, brunches, spa days, poems, and as much quiet time as they can get!
Mommies of America, I salute you!
Sometimes, this day gets awkward to me, even before my fertility questions. The reason: People feel compelled to tell you Happy Mother’s Day simply because you’re a woman. Some women aren’t mothers, by choice or by circumstance. I mean, I get it. Mothers Day is a day to celebrate moms, which by extension is all women. But its not necessarily socially impolite to not wish a woman you don’t know happy mothers day. “Happy Mother’s Day!” “So, what are you doing for Mother’s Day?” Then the you have to politely say “Oh, I’m not a mom” , “Well, my family doesn’t live here” or the worst “Oh, my mother has passed away”. Now everyone is just staring at each other with awkward silence, trying to find the next thing to say.
So, my suggestion, be like the random guy in that came up to my mom and I in Wal Mart a few years ago. A moment that continuously provides us with laughs because well, it was pretty comical when it happened. We were at a Super Wal Mart around 11:30 at night, pretty much just strolling through the aisles, when out of no where, dude walks up and says: “Happy Mother’s Day, if yall’s some mothers” We just looked at each other. My mom managed a ‘thank you’. All I could do is smile because I wanted to laugh immediately. But hey, he was just trying to spread joy and appreciation. He covered all his bases: He wished us a happy Mothers Day with the caveat IF we’re mothers.
On a real level, in all of the celebration,people tend to forget that Mother’s Day can be tough for some. There are those who no longer have their mother’s here on earth, those who just don’t have a good relationship with their mothers or who have never known their mothers, and of course, those who want to be mothers but are unable. This day can be happy and full of friends and family, but can also brings some sadness, ‘what ifs’, and loneliness. And some women just don’t want to be moms, and that is perfectly fine!
Remember those today that may have a hard time on Mother’s Day. If you’re one of those, remember that there is always hope, and love. If you are not a mom by choice, don’t let people make you feel like you’re wrong for your choice.
Its National Infertility Awareness Week, y’all!!
If you’re in the fertility struggle, you’ve had that moment (probably more than one) where someone asks you about when you’re going to start procreating.
Now, even without fertility issues, I just think its rude to randomly ask people when they’re having babies or when they’re getting married. Especially if they’re not even close to you, which is usually the case. People who know you…well know you and probably have an idea of what’s going on in your life and wouldn’t ask you (Out of context. In front of people.) when you’re going to have a baby.
So today’s post is going to be a quick info guide for those who have someone in their life struggling with fertility (or the just plain nosey) and all of us Maybe Mamas on how you can deal with the inevitable questions and what not to say.
Things Not to Say to Someone Living with Infertility, bought to you by Resolve (National Infertility Association) and NIAW(with some added thoughts from me for fun )
Don’t tell them to relax. Comments such as “just relax” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.
Don’t minimize the problem. Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain.
Don’t say there are worse things that could happen. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Different people react to different life experiences in different ways.
Don’t say they are not meant to be parents. “One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, ‘Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.’” Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.
Don’t ask why they are not trying IVF. Because most insurance plans do not cover IVF treatment, many are unable to pay for the out-of-pocket expenses. Infertility stress is physical, emotional, and financial. (Unless you’ve got $3,000 or more to contribute to the cause, don’t bring up IVF)
Don’t push adoption or another solution. So often infertile couples are asked, “Why don’t you just adopt?” The couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision or chose another family building option.
Don’t say, “You’re young, you have plenty of time to get pregnant.” Know the facts. It’s recommended that women under 35 see a fertility specialist after being unable to conceive for one year. Being young increases your chance of fertility treatments working, but it does not guarantee success.
Don’t gossip about your friend’s condition. For some, infertility treatments are a very private matter, which is why you should respect your friend’s privacy. (THIS! Alll of This)
Don’t be crude. Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like, “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.
Don’t complain about your pregnancy. For many facing infertility, it can be hard to be around other women who are pregnant. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Not complaining can make things a little easier for your friend.
Don’t question their sadness about being unable to conceive a second child. Having one child does not mean a couple feels they have completed their family. Also, a couple may have had their first child naturally and easily but are now experiencing secondary infertility – infertility that comes after you’ve already had a child.
Don’t ask whose “fault” it is. Male or female factor. Just because a friend has told you he or she is experiencing infertility as a couple, does not mean he or she wants to discuss the details.
On the other hand, don’t assume the infertility is female factor. 1/3 of infertility is female factor, 1/3 is male factor, and 1/3 is unexplained.
But here are a few things you can do or say:
Let them know that you care. The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care.
Do your research. Read up about infertility, and possibly treatments or other family building options your friend is considering, so that you are informed when your friend needs to talk.
Act interested. Some people don’t want to talk about infertility, but some do. Let them know you’re available if they want to talk.
Ask them what they need. They may also appreciate if you ask them what the most helpful things to say are.
Provide extra outreach to your male friends. Infertility is not a woman’s-centric issue; your male friends are most likely grieving silently. Don’t push, but let them know you’re available.
When appropriate, encourage therapy. If you feel your friend could benefit from talking to a professional to handle his or her grief, suggest therapy gently. If you go to therapy regularly, or ever have, share your personal story.
Support their decision to stop treatment. No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief.
Remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day. With all of the activity on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, people tend to forget about those who cannot become mothers and fathers. Remember your infertile friends on these days; they will appreciate knowing that you haven’t forgotten them. (Mother’s Day is really a hard day)
Attend difficult appointments with them. You can offer to stay in the waiting room or come into the appointment with them. But the offer lets them know how committed you are to supporting them.
Watch their older kids. Attending appointments may be difficult if they have older kids at home.
Offer to be an exercise buddy. Sometimes losing weight is necessary to make treatments more effective. If you know they are trying to lose weight, you could offer to join them because it would help you achieve your personal fitness goals as well.
Let them know about your pregnancy. But deliver the news in a way that lets them handle their initial reaction privately – email is best. (I disagree with the e-mail, tell me in person or on the phone, but per yesterday’s post…)
But the real question is what do you as the woman struggling say? Me, I haven’t mastered this art yet, so I don’t really have the answer. Even when you think you have something prepared, it never quite comes out the way you think it will.
Fortunately, some people have got some thoughts.
Here are some things YOU can say when people are all up in your uterus (found at answers.com):
Ignore and Change the Subject.
An extremely easy way to respond is to not even acknowledge that the question was even asked. You can always play the, “Oh, sorry – I didn’t hear you” card or if you’re feeling particularly pressured, simply change the subject. Become the master of the “non-answer.” (Non answer answers, usually something I hate getting from people, but it could work in this situation…)
Redirect or Deflect.
If someone asks you about when you’re having kids, simply brush it off with a quick reply such as “not yet” and turn the tables back on them. If they have children, go right into, “Enough about the kids I don’t have, how are yours?” If they don’t have children, you can always redirect to a non-children related topic, such as work, the latest celebrity gossip, or, as boring as this sounds, the weather. The key is to get the attention off of you, especially if you’ve been asked his question in front of a group of people. ( I think this is my favorite response tactic)
If you’re going through infertility or simply having trouble trying to conceive and depending on your relationship with who ever has asked you the question, you could use this as an opportunity to open up about what you’re going through. Many times, the asker may apologize for probing (and often times, the “when are you having kids” question is asked very innocently). At worst, you’ll stumble through a socially awkward moment; at best, you’ll have a supportive ally in your infertility journey within who you can confide.(Only if we’re close)
For some, humor is as much a defensive weapon as it is a coping tool. Witty responses can include everything from, “We’re having too much fun trying” to “Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when we do” to “When we’re ready to give up our complete and total freedom as adults.” You can even play dumb: “Oh, we haven’t even talked about that yet!” Often, the “be witty” tactic works best in conjunction with another tactic listed here, such as the “redirect/deflect” or even as a gateway to “be honest.”
Decline to answer (and be firm about it if you have to).
This particular tactic may be the most confrontational and isn’t something that everyone will be comfortable with, but it’s a valid tactic all the same, especially on days when you just don’t feel like getting into it. “I’d rather not talk about it,” is a perfectly acceptable response and you might go right into changing the subject from there. If the asker continues to press you for an answer, be polite but firm in asking to talk about something else. (BOOM!)
The bottom line is keep you composure when being asked about having a baby. Most people really are asking form a place of love and concern. If you genuinely have questions or want to offer support for the person in your life, just be thoughtful about how you approach the subject.
Let me take a moment to be real: If you’re facing fertility issues, you have mixed emotions about pregnancy announcements and babies. You just do. Well, I do, and I know I’m not alone. Its a strange roller coaster of emotions that start with excitement and joy, then lead to sadness, anger, resentment, guilt, indifference, acceptance…then back to joy and excitement for your friend/co worker/family member. The really crazy part, it this all happens in the span of 10 seconds, while you have a smile on your face. Its like one of those Martin Scorsese freeze frames.
Obviously, you’re excited for this big announcement! After all, no one knows how special pregnancy is more than you. You know that there are really only about 3 days in a month that you can become pregnant, and for this to happen naturally without really trying is truly an amazing miracle! You’re glad the family is growing. The smile on her face is priceless. But then….
You can’t help but be a little bit sad, because her happiness reminds you of your struggle. It feels like you will never get to this moment; sharing the news that you are about to give birth to a tiny human. Another one bites the dust in your circle of friends. The number of child free girlfriends has shrunken by one, and you’re increasingly on the outside of your own circle! How did that happen? And if this announcement now makes you the only non-mommy in the group…ugh! Goodbye girls nights, hello kiddie parties, and more comments and questions: “When are you gonna have a baby?! You’re the last one.” The thought of this conversation takes you to the next phase:
You just get pissed off! Why isn’t this happening for me?! What did I do wrong? She doesn’t even like kids! This isn’t fair! You just get mad at everyone. Mad at her. Mad at you. Mad at your spouse. Mad at the doctor. Mad at God. Mad at your lady parts. Mad at the flowers. Mad at the sun. Mad at your laptop. You’re just mad! And frustrated. And exhausted.
Your heart is broken over the fact that your journey to mommyhood has been less than smooth. In fact, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get there at all. The desire is so strong to bring life into this world that this news makes you feel even more anxious and the longing becomes more intense in that moment. So this brings on…..a tinge of jealousy.
Now, you just feel bad about feeling bad about good news from someone you care about. You feel like the worst friend in the world. “I’m a horrible friend!” “How can I be jealous or angry at her for having this wonderful experience?” “Friends aren’t jealous of friends!” This is the apex of the emotional roller coaster you’re currently on.
Now you just try to protect yourself from all of the feelings you have and from outwardly being the crappy friend that you are in your mind right now. You start to remove your emotions. “Good for them.” “Their baby doesn’t really affect my life that much.” “It is what it is.”
Now you’re at a place of understanding and acceptance. This is happening. To someone you love. You want good things for her and her family. You’re going to be as supportive as you can be.
Now you’ve come full circle and are back to being excited. Its still a painful, but you know that she’s been waiting to be a mom too, and now is her time. That smile makes you smile, and when your friends/family are happy, you’re happy. You hug and smile and get all the deets on the new little one on the way.
I think the key is to acknowledge that you have these feelings. Its OK to feel this way for a little bit. But not forever. Don’t hold on to the negative feelings. Go home and have that cry because you’re sad. Talk to your partner or someone about how you feel if you don’t think you can talk to the new mom about it. When you’re ready (NOT when she makes her pregnancy announcement), if you think its appropriate, talk to her alone and have a moment of honesty. If she doesn’t know your struggle, fill her in and let her know that you love her and are happy for her, and you will be there for her, but there are times this may be difficult for you. If you don’t think it’s appropriate to share your situation or discuss how you feel with her, don’t. Don’t steal her joy. Wait a few days or weeks after her announcement to have this conversation. Let your feelings even out so this can be a productive conversation.
The bottom line is, you will have feelings when those around you get pregnant. Its OK. Give yourself the space and time to have those feelings and then get back to life.