When I started my writing career, I wasn’t a mother yet. As my work began to really thrive, at least in the way that meant my work was being noticed, I found out I was going to be a mommy.
When the pandemic hit, I was entering a new stage of motherhood. My daughter had just turned 3 years old. That’s when I stopped writing and started focusing on things that ultimately needed to take priority for the means of survival, if nothing less.
Now, I’ve returned to writing and my daughter is a whole 6-year-old. I don’t know where the time went, but I’ve learned a lot about parenting in these 6 years.
While I’m so excited to start a brand new column, I felt like I should let you in on what kind of mother I am to my daughter (and what parenting looks like for me) before we dive into all the other stuff. This article will be a little lengthy, but seemed like the perfect point for me to begin with because I cannot stress enough that everything I write on Goddess Column are truly my thoughts, views, and opinions out loud—it’s what works for ME. You may not agree with everything I write and that is 100% okay. I know parenting can be a touchy subject for some, so I just wanted to throw that little tidbit out there.
So, let’s get into it! This is my take on being mommy.
I don’t accept any and all parenting advice I’m given.
When I finally went public about the fact that I was going to be a mommy, I’m certain I had more than a few people who doubted me from the start; and you could tell based on the advice they gave me. Then there were the random people you’d meet in the grocery store who would ask, “Is this your first one?”, and then they’d carry on with all the parenting tips they could give me before the cashier finished. Parenting advice can come from any direction, any experience, and because of that there’s a lot of it out there—what to feed your child(ren), when they should sleep, and a whole lot of other stuff that should ultimately be left up to you and your child. Understanding that I didn’t have to do what others thought I should do with my daughter was the foundation on which our bond was built.
I do believe in being your child’s parent AND friend.
I think the piece of advice I received that got under my skin the most as a young mother and even now, is the notion that you can’t be your child’s parent as well as being their friend. Y’all. That is complete bullshit to me. I’ve mostly heard this from seasoned, traditional women and I know it’s what they were taught by their parents. I also blame this notion for many failed connections and relationships between parent and child. Again, just my personal opinion. From the very start, I have always made an effort to be my daughter’s best friend, confidante, and mother. Yes, even when she was a baby. Of course, the roles can change in minutes and it never stops rotating. It also never stops being worth it. I can discipline my child. I can apologize to my child. I can have fun with my child. I can teach my child. I can comfort my child. I can do all the things that are required to be a good mom and friend for as long as she lets me.
I will protect my daughter physically and emotionally for as long as I possibly can.
Whew! This is a tough one for me because I am definitely a “be careful” mom. I had just recently seen a post from another blog that said moms who say “be careful” to their children are more likely to cause them to hurt themselves and you should have seen my face! I disagree. I love my daughter and I always wanted her to know early on about the dangers that are out there. I don’t think you can teach a child to be cautious too early. In fact, they do it naturally before they can even talk or walk. I believe my child when she tells me she is uncomfortable or scared. If I can give her understanding as to why she shouldn’t be afraid of something or teach her how to do something that at first seemed scary, I can protect her both emotionally and physically. For us, this comes easy because we trust each other and we communicate with each other because we are friends.
I took my mom’s ‘formula’ and just added a few other ingredients.
Geico should have just called me to do the commercials about becoming your parents because I’m every bit of my mother the older I get. I’m very proud of that. Don’t get it twisted, I definitely made mistakes in the past that may have looked like I wasn’t raised correctly—sorry, mommy—but she definitely raised the hell out of all her children. She loves us unconditionally, kept us in the church, told us the truth, taught us how to live properly, and kept us safe. Any time my siblings or I said how much we wanted to be like her when we grew up, her response was always, “I don’t want you to be just like me, I want you to be better than me.” I will never forget that. We didn’t always have the parent and friend complex figured out, but we got there eventually and our relationship couldn’t be stronger. There was no need for me to go completely against everything she taught me, but this is my daughter and I can alter and add things as I see fit. You can still uphold your parents’ values, while adding your own. It works. Trust me.
I don’t try to do everything on my own.
I was a single parent when I had my daughter, but I always had a village. Now, my partner and I raise her together, but we still have our village. I don’t think any of us assume that parenting is easy anymore, but I know some of us still think we have to do it alone. Notice that I said that we think we have to do it alone and not that we think that we can do it alone. I’m sure some of us could do it alone if that was the only option, but it’s not. I understand that not everyone’s support comes from family. I understand that not everyone is capable of asking for help when they need it most. I understand that there are people who don’t trust anyone. If any of these sounds like you, I want you to dig deep and find some kind of middle ground that opens the door of support directly to you. Parenting is so difficult and ever-changing. Don’t go at it alone. And if you feel like you can’t find anybody or don’t want to share with people who know you personally, you can always drop me a line and I’ll listen.
I am (what some might describe as) overly transparent with my daughter.
Obviously, I use good judgment in what subjects to introduce and when to do so, but I take great pride in my transparency when it comes to helping my daughter understand things. It’s like the parents who teach their child the proper terms for genitalia instead of giving it a nickname. A prime example for my daughter and I was sharing the real understanding of why she was calling two men “Daddy”—her biological and my partner, of course… but more on that another day. The point I’m making is, through the bond of trust, my daughter is comfortable even at just six years old asking me a question and expecting to get an honest answer. Sometimes I have to tell her that a question she’s asking isn’t something she should worry about right now because she’s too young, but I never completely close the door to communication. It’s something I look forward to consistently doing as we continue to grow together in life. We’ll revisit those questions she couldn’t ask when she’s older and I still do that with my mom. It keeps that trust and transparency so fresh and makes for a strong, lasting relationship.
I’m present every day.
This can be a struggle, especially when adulting starts kicking my ass—I’m sure some of you can relate. Nevertheless, I can truthfully say that I show up every day for my daughter. Being present can look different for all of us, so I’ll try to explain what it means for me. I am there physically every day being that I am a full-time mom, but I don’t really mean being present in that way. I involve myself with my daughter’s daily life. I play with her. We watch tv together. We make art and sing together all the time. We argue. We disagree. We talk about our feelings. We cry together sometimes. I’m as intertwined with her as I can be. I try to be as organically present as she’ll allow (because there are times she doesn’t want me all up in her business, lol). Again, with those changing roles I assume as a parent, my being present comes in different forms, but the goal is to make sure that she knows without a shadow of a doubt in her heart that I’m always right there.
I take necessary breaks when I’m given the opportunity.
Being so present can be exhausting. Still, it’s worth it. So, yes, I get tired often. I’m not going to act like I can do the things I’ve explained here today without growing tired or worrying sometimes. I do. That’s why I try to take mental and physical breaks when the opportunity presents itself. Whether one of her aunts calls and asks if they can pick her up for a few hours or she goes to Lola’s place for the weekend, I do make it a point to take care of myself and give myself the well-deserved break I am given. It doesn’t always mean a mini-vacation; sometimes it’s only enough time to clear my mind over cleaning the kitchen or folding clothes. Sometimes I have enough time to enjoy a date with myself or my partner. Other times, I’m left with so much time away from my daughter I am unsure of what to do with myself! No matter how the break time comes though, I take it. It keeps the engine running and the fire burning. I can’t be there for my daughter if I’m not there for myself.
I believe in a firm sense of discipline.
I haven’t and won’t talk about discipline much. I feel like discussing discipline of children is very close to the sensitivity in which politics have to be discussed. Still, I can say proudly I believe in discipline. My mom did a fantastic job disciplining her children. It never took us too long to figure out that bad actions came with consequences. I’m no different with my daughter. I’m fully aware that my child isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes and makes some ‘not-so-great’ choices from time to time, so I’ve had to discipline her accordingly. I’ll go ahead and say it now, I believe in appropriate physical discipline. Yes, whoopings. If the offense is major and calls for it, I do feel it can be necessary. That is my choice. I am completely against hurting and abusing children, just to be extremely clear, but in my household, some actions just cannot be settled without a little “spank-um-booties,” as my aunt calls it. I am primarily a parent who withdraws privileges though. Having a clear understanding of my child emotionally comes in handy when knowing what styles of discipline have a positive effect on her behavior. Early on, popping my daughter didn’t do a whole lot when it came to understanding that she was being disciplined. I also feared that she would become fearful of me instead of learning to respect me. Over the years, we’ve both gained a stronger understanding as to why discipline is so important and her behavior shows that daily.
I want her to have the best life I can provide.
That’s it. That’s all. I just want her to have the absolute best life I can give her—and even then I want her to reach for higher. I want to further the example of great motherhood that my mom set for me. I want her to take life by the reins knowing that she is fully supported and unconditionally loved by her mommy. I want her to know that we will remain the best of friends as we laugh, cry, and live through our life together. I want her to understand that I only disciplined her to instill value, honor, and integrity into her life. I want her to know that I am always there for her. I want her to know that she has people in her life she can confide in that mean the both of us well. I want her to continue to ask all the questions she has about life, knowing that there will be a truthful answer from me on the other end of it.
Being mommy is the best job I’ve ever had the pleasure of occupying. It’s not easy, but so worth it and I’m blessed to have my daughter in my life.
And that’s my take on being mommy.
Love always, Isis.
Love it and you! Glad to have to Goddess Column back in circulation.
Love you LaFrench! I look forward to getting together soon too! Collab, collab, collab!