This is a blog discussing all the fears and fabulousness of being a single mom in NYC. We chat about things to do in the city with kids, fashion finds and style-files for women and children, and, most importantly, all the ways to persevere, push pass doubts, walk by faith, and go get your dreams!
Because August is 2-years-old and still uses his pacifier. And folks keep telling me that it's time for him to give it up, but I don't listen to them. I mean, I know he's not gonna walk into high school with a pacifier or go to college with it so I'm cool with him using it at two. But still...
Because despite all the books I read to him or all the songs I sing to him or all the talking I do with him, August is still not talking as much as Aiden was talking at his age. Heck, I used to forget that Aiden was only two because little dude was having big time conversations with me and his teachers and everyone around. August clearly understands what folks are saying and he's vocal about his wants and needs. But still...
Because somedays tantrums and backtalk are at the center of my life.
Because, speaking of backtalk, what the heck is in the water that these adolescents are drinking? And why the heck didn't anyone tell me that this phase of motherhood was coming down the pipeline? I mean, I know that Aiden is trying to assert himself and trying to assert his individuality (that's separate from me) and trying to find his way in the world that's scary and confusing and so many things. I "get" it. But still...
Because bedtime battles. 'Nuff said.
Because bath time battles.
Because I got Aiden interested in reading books and now he's excelling as a reader. But then we had to conquer math. And then I got him doing his thing in math and science and all that jazz. And now we have to conquer writing. And every time we get over one hurdle, there's another hurdle waiting like, "Hey y'all!".
Because it is a "we" thing and not a "he" thing because I'm in this with him. To guide him and cheer him on. Even when it's hard. But still...
Because it's always hard and never easy, especially if you wanna do this thing right.
Because there's always another mountain to climb.
Because once I master one phase of parenting, my kids seem to age-out of that phase and they're on to the next one. (That was a Jay-Z reference.)
Because I'm always playing catch-up with these ages and stages and phases and no one told me it would be like this.
Because I'm tired.
Because yesterday August was an infant and now homeboy's a full-on toddler. And yesterday was Aiden's first day of Pre-K and now he's about to graduate from elementary school and enter middle school.
Because middle schoolers in NYC travel to and from school by themselves and I'm not sure how I feel about that level of independence. Yet.
Because I still feel like I haven't told Aiden all the things he needs to know before he gets to middle school yet.
Because the days are long, but the years are short and I'm always racing against the clock to bottle it all up. Even when I feel like I'm doing it all wrong. Sometimes.
I'm not a Winter person. In fact, I hate the cold weather with a passion. I tolerate in during the holidays, but I'm literally ready for warmer temps as soon as it hits January 2nd. Which makes Winter really, really brutal for me.
Also, seasonal depression is a real thing.
A couple weeks ago, I was so over Winter that I booked a fairly last-minute trip to Florida for the boys and me. I just needed a few days of sunshine and warmer temps to get me through these last few weeks of NYC Winter (and since it was our spring break, I figured why not.)
I really wanted to go to Miami, but the flights were too expensive for all three of us so we flew into Fort Lauderdale, spent a couple of days there, and then took the metro over to Miami. So for an hour of our time (how long it took to get from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami) and five extra bucks (the price of the train ticket), we were in Miami.
can't come to Florida without Mickey
Throughout our trip, we got to do all of the things that I love to do during the Summer -- dine outdoors, hang out at the playground, go to the beach, take long walks, and just sit in the sun. It was exactly what my spirit needed.
Except for when it got rough and I got tired of my kids and tired of being "on" 24/7 and tired of being the only one they could talk to all the time.
And tired of August's tantrums. I mean, it got to the point where I only fed him Pirate's Booty or cheetos because he would throw a tantrum for them and I was over it. But at least he had water and fruits, right?
And tired of Aiden's backtalk. I mean, is there something in the water for the pre-teens nowadays?! Dude's got a response for everything! Pray my strength and patience, y'all.
There's a reason that people go on trips with kids with more than one adult.
After a while, I needed a vacation from my kids. Comes with the territory, I suppose.
Needless to say, when we got back to NYC last week Friday, I sent August to daycare, sent Aiden to his bedroom, locked myself in my bedroom, and binge-watched TV shows while laying in bed and eating snacks.
Talk about the perfect way to end my week off of work.
Don't get me wrong: getting a little sunshine was exactly what this delicious momma needed to make it through these final weeks of Winter, but recharging after being "on" for so many days straight was also important.
This past weekend, HEB and I had our first date night of the year by checking out Yvonne Orji (best known as "Molly" in the HBO series Insecure) at Carolines on Broadway.
She is so funny and we had such a good laugh and a great time!
And, in true Mommy Delicious fashion, I walked away with a few gems from the night. In no particular order, here are four things I learned from Yvonne Orji's stand-up act:
Have fun. HEB and I had fun because she was having fun. Homegirl (can I call her that now?) came onto the stage dancing, she ended her act dancing, and she just starting dancing in the middle of her jokes. She laughed at her own jokes, and laughed with -- and at -- the folks in the audience. She was up there, all in her element, living her best life, and having fun while doing it. Definitely something to aspire to.
Own it. Yvonne was born in Nigeria and she owns her roots like it's nobody's business. During her act, she gave several shout-outs to the Nigerians in the room and rightfully so! She switched seamlessly from her American accent and her Nigerian accent in the middle of her jokes and it made them even funnier. She knows that her Nigerian heritage is what makes her who she is and she owns it. Confidently. Unapologetically.
Connections matter. Yvonne not only gave shout-outs to the Nigerians in the room, but also folks from all over the continent of Africa. She also gave shout-outs to the other Black women in the room (because: #blackgirlmagic). She told jokes, but also created moments where the audience was all like, "Yes, girl! I know what you mean!" She created so many moments like these throughout the show -- so many "me too" moments -- that the audience felt connected to her, connected to her stories, and invested in the entire show. Bottom line: connections matter. And telling your story matters. Which brings me to my next point...
Speak your truth. During her stand-up act, Yvonne was open about the fact that she only recently became able to enroll in auto-pay and reminded folks that auto-pay is not for convenience, but for the gainfully employed. (Word!) I remember reading an article in the Times a couple months ago about how she'll find a 2 Bros Pizza whenever she's in NYC to have a slice of pizza because there was a time in her career where she couldn't even afford that same $2 slice of pizza. She's not afraid to open up, speak her truth, and show people who she really is.
This is something that I try to do over and over again in this space because "highlight reels" don't get people through tough times. Only sharing the good stuff doesn't help other folks figure out how to make it through. Transparency is so important. It's like Mother O said, "What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have."
2017 was a lot of things to so many of us, but regardless of how we feel about the year, here we are. We made it. We're making it. We've survived the worst days and soaked up the best days. And for that, I'm grateful.
I started the year off working on getting Aiden to be whole and making sure that everything is in place to help him be successful. That meant including a family therapist and psychiatrist to our village.
Then I took some time to reset and work on myself. I started individual therapy again and I'm happy to report that I've gone faithfully every week (except when one of us were out of town).
I've put in a lot of work and spent a lot of time getting to know (re-know) myself this year and I've learned so much about what I need to feel grounded and good and loved and... whole.
In 2018, I plan on holding on to that.
I moved in with HEB and learned that home decor is kinda my thing. I'm slowly fixing up (see what I did there?) every room of this apartment to make it look fly. I love that I'm flexing these creative muscles in ways that I never knew I could and I'm living it up as the Property Sistah (see what I did there?).
I've learned so much this year and I'm grateful for all the things 2017 taught me. Like...
To show up for myself. Always. In all ways. Because no one else is responsible for putting mr first except me.
To continue to find my happy place and fight like hell to stay in that place. Because no one else is responsible for making me happy except me.
To do more of the things that I actually want to do. And less of the things that I don't want to do.
To remember that "No." is a complete sentence. No explanations needed. "No." would suffice.
To fear less and to be fearless.
To stretch myself in ways that I never thought possible.
But to know my limits and to know when to say when. (I'm only human and, sometimes, I need to take breaks. And that's quite alright.)
To apologize when I've made a mistake.
But to be unapologetic when I know that I'm doing what's right for myself and for my children.
To continue to be resilient in love and life. And to keep going through life with equal parts grit and glitter.
Here's to more blessings, more lessons, more time with friends and family, more adventures, more healing, and more love. Just... more! Here's to more life in 2018. Onward!
I've been Mommy Delicious times two... for two years, y'all!
Last weekend, we celebrated August's 2nd birthday with his favorite character in the world -- Mickey Mouse! I've been all in my feels these past two weeks because I can't believe that I've kept the boys alive and safe and well and... happy! It's hard going from one to two kids because, like, they both have needs.
All the time.
At the same time.
And it's my job to show up and show out and make sure that they're needs are met.
I'm happy to report that, even with bumps along the way, I've been able to rock it out these past two years. Needless to say, it wasn't just a celebration of August and his awesomeness, it was a celebration for the entire family.
We gathered some friends and headed to The Little Gym on the UWS, where the kids were able to run, jump, play, and flip out. Literally. The best part was seeing everyone love up on August.
A great time was had by all... especially my little Mickey obsessed toddler!
And because I'm obsessed with giving you the non-Instagram-worthy-highlight-reels version of events: Some folks cancelled either because of the snow or cold weather or life in general; We ordered way too much food and I've been eating the leftovers for lunch all week because I refuse to waste the money spent (silver lining?); At first, August was super scared of all the equipment overwhelmed by everything and super clingy to me, which, as you can imagine, was stressful; And I felt like I could have just bought a doggone bubble machine, set up shop in my living room, and watched as the little boy went to town with them because he basically played with bubbles the entire time. #ImJustSaying
Fantasy is what you want, but reality is what you need. #YeahISaidIt
And, of course, we all wore Mickey t-shirts. Because, why not?!
Happy birthday to my baby boy! Mommy super loves you!
Me: Wanna know the difference between me and you? I came home, picked August up from daycare, stopped at the store to pick up more garbage bags and paper towels before coming home, came home, made dinner the kids, did August’s laundry, folded them, put them away, fed August, gave him a bathe, and got him ready for bed, read with Aiden, and hung up the pictures in the living room. You came home from work and watched TV on the bed while eating chips. You only went to the store after I asked you to buy a new pacifier for August. I’m tired too. You could have helped me with something.
HEB: Or… you could have asked me to help.
Me (In my head): This !@#$ing a—hole! Did he really just say that to me? What the entire f@#k?!
Me (out loud): Or… you could have gotten off your ass and actually helped me?
HEB and I officially moved in together a few months ago after unofficially living together for the past few years. As in, both of our names are on the lease. As in, “oh crap! It just got real.” As in, he can’t go home when he needs time to himself and I can’t ask him to go home when I need space. As in, we’re in the same space. All. The Time. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.
Needless to say, we’ve been making adjustments. I’ve been making adjustments. Not only on the space itself by getting my Fixer-Upper-meets-Property-Brothers-meets-House-Hunters-Renovationson (check out my upgrades to the boys’ bedroom and stay tuned for more updates!), but also on myself. And my expectations for what it means to live with another adult. Again.
It’s been… interesting.
Right in the thick of love At times we get sick of love…
Here’s the thing: it’s not all cuddles on the couch while watching Love Jones and creating our own love jones story. It’s not all family game night and everyone playing nicely and eating ice cream and popcorn from the same container. It’s not all peaches and cream. (What up, 112?)
It’s going back and forth about who is more tired and who is going to go over the boys’ room in the middle of the night when August wakes up crying. It’s figuring out the division of labor and making sure that it’s “fair.”
It’s him drinking out of the juice bottle instead of pouring the damn thing in a glass and me getting upset about it. Again.
It’s him telling me that I’m upset over one “little” thing and me explaining that I’m actually annoyed over 15 different little things that actually adds up to one big thing.
It’s not talking to each other or not listening to each other or not talking to each other in a way that the other person will understand it and receive it. It’s figuring out communication styles and then coming back to the drawing board because we just gotta get this thing right.
I know I misbehaved and you made your mistakes And we both still got room left to grow…
It’s passionate arguments and going to our separate corners and coming back to the drawing board. Again.
It’s happiness and frustration. And intimacy and loneliness. And pettiness and growth. Lots of personal growth. It’s… making adjustments.
And you know what? Sometimes it is peaches and cream and hugs and snuggles and speaking each other’s love language.
The other day, Aiden and I were out shopping and I found myself schooling him on how to tell if something is priced too high, what the actual worth of the product is, and how/where he could go to get a better deal. Because: bargain hunting! Duh!
Truth be told, I find myself doing that a lot these days with him -- schooling him on life. Particularly, things in life for when he doesn't have me standing right next to him to answer his questions or bail him out of a potential problem.
I find myself teaching him how to be smart and savvy. I find myself pointing things out that seem sketchy, suspect, a little weird. I find myself teaching him why it's important to exercise self-control, especially when he's riding these NYC trains. I find myself teaching him how to be a cautiously optimistic New Yorker.
Quite frankly, I find myself teaching him how to be independent.
Because homie is ten-years-old now. And although he still believes in the Tooth Fairy, the pre-teen years are upon us and before I know it, he's gonna be independent.
Before I know it, he'll be traveling to and from school on his own instead of having me chaperone him, he's gonna be hanging out with friends instead of having me bring him on a playdate, and he's gonna be learning how to navigate through life.
Before I know it, he'll be weaving in and out of friendships and learning how to find his way and find his people.
I'm happy to report that these days, things are pretty damn good. *wipes forehead and brushes shoulders off* The kid is crushing it in school, he's really into sports, he has solid friendships and loves to hang out with them, he's learning how to control him impulses and manage his frustrations, and, most of all... he's happy.
My baby is happy.
And fly. And dope-boy fresh. (Shout-out to Jay-Z.) What a difference a year makes!
Aiden turned ten the other day and my mind is blown at the fact that I actually have a ten-year-old. That I've actually been responsible for the growth and development and well-being of another person for ten whole years. That I've actually survived -- and thrived -- at this thing called Motherhood.
He makes me laugh, smile, think critically, contemplate, cry, go back to the drawing board, think some more, parent the hell out of him, and repeat.
Aiden and I... we've been through some things together. Even though I've been raising him, he's seen me grow up and glow up. He's seen me through many stages and phases. He's seen me through ups and downs, highs and lows. He's seen me fail over and over again, buckle down, grind through, and crawl towards success.
Aiden knows what it's like to watch his mother grind.
Apple picking in NJ
He knows what it's like to wake up at 5am and get dropped off at the babysitter's house because mommy's gotta get to work. Then fall back asleep for an hour or two and get dropped off at school at 8:30am by the babysitter, not your mom. Then get picked up from school by the babysitter and not see your mommy until well into the evening.
Because we've been there.
He knows what it's like to nap under the desk in my office because, even though he was tired from waking up at 5am, we couldn't go home until the work got done.
Because we've been there.
Modeling Uggs at Kids Fashion Week aka PetiteParade
Ballet-ing it up!
Columbia University, my alma mater
He knows what it's like to be displaced and still have to wake up the next morning at 5am to get mommy to work on time and himself to school on time. Because momma don't play that.
And yes... we've been there too.
He's seen me go from a stressed and stretched-too-thin graduate student to a stressed and stretched-too-thin single mom to a broke recent grad to a busy employee. He's seen me figure out how to make it all work in order to become the Vice Principal that I am today.
He's been right in the thick of things when we were a family of three, then a family of two, then a family of three again, and now a family of four. (No, I'm not pregnant -- yes, I'm including HEB in our little family.)
He's seen me struggle financially and borrow from Peter to pay Paul and make a dollar out of fifteen cents. But he's also seen me sacrifice and save and pay for some pretty epic adventures and vacations. From the beaches on the Jersey Shore to museums in Philly to ice skating and sight-seeing in Chi-Town to Puerto Rico to Costa Rica to cruising all over the Caribbean... we've had a crap load of fun. Together.
He's seen me learn -- the hard way -- that I've gotta take care of myself first. Especially if I'm gonna be the kick-ass mom that he deserves.
Speaking of kick-ass, he's seen me advocate for him and cheer him on and fight like hell to get him what he needs to be successful. He's seen me be thoughtful in the parenting game and get him what he needs -- be it counseling, a psychiatric evaluation, participation in sports, or supervised visits with his other parent. One thing Aiden knows for sure is that I will never not fight like hell for him.
Because we've been there.
And I'll always find more fight inside of me when it comes to that little boy.
I mean, I do so much for other people. For Aiden. For August. For my students. For my teachers. For my family. For HEB. But that whole notion of the strong black woman who does everything for everyone else and goes without? That no longer sits well with me.
Because while I'm doing all these things for other folks, who's doing things for me? Who's making sure that I've eaten, that I'm handling my stress and workload well? Who's making sure that I'm sleeping alright and working out and drinking enough water? Who's making sure that I'm doing well physically and mentally and all that jazz? Who's checking for me?
The answer? Not enough people.
Because I come off as strong and put together and kinda, sorta, maybe, quite alright -- whatever that means -- then folks are going to think that it's okay not to check up on me.
But you know what?
I'm learning to show up for myself. I'm learning to create boundaries and stick to them. Even if it means someone is going to be upset with me. They will deal! I'm learning to have difficult conversations with folks and stick up for myself. Even if it means they will be upset with me.
I'm learning to teach people how to treat me by showing them how I treat myself.
And you know what? It feels damn good, this progress. I kinda like this version of Alicia.
HEB and I recently officially moved in together after unofficially living together over the past 3-4 years. Which means that the boys and I recently moved. Which means that I've been getting my Fixer-Upper-meets-Property-Brothers-meets-House-Hunters-Renovations on. And it's actually been really fun!
I didn't think I had it in me, but painting, sanding things down, and transforming furniture pieces and different spaces makes me feel very accomplished! Apparently I missed my calling as an Interior Designer.
I used minimal paint for the room since I had these cool peel-and-stick triangles sticker thingys that I wanted to use all over the walls. Also, it's such a quick way to transform a space -- it literally took me 10 minutes to put them up! I still may go back to paint the walls at a later time, but for now... white it is!
Because the room isn't large and the closets practically take up one full wall... and I wanted to keep Aiden's lofted Ikea Kura bed, I decided to paint the bed white. Ya know, to make it seem less bulky and sleek and whatnot. (At least that's what the design expects say to do.)
Here's a picture of what the bed looked like before:
I removed the letters A-I-D-E-N and the toy car, wiped down, sanded, and painted that bad boy with three coats of white paint. (Thank you YouTube and all the design blogs out there for hooking a sistah up!)
I kept some of his storage baskets and toy chest because the kid has mad toys and puzzles and little big boy things. I added a bean bag to his under bed area because he loves to sit and read there... or watch football videos on his iPad... or eat snacks. It's become his little oasis and I think it's so cute.
Then I threw some chalkboard paint up on some of the closet doors, hung up the kids' art work here and there, and voila! The #BROS room was made!
With the wall space and storage space above the closets, it was really fun designing different areas of the room. It all ties together, but they definitely feel like distinct spaces within the space. (Ha! I sound like an Interior Designer already!)
Also, I learned that the key to making spaces shine in pictures is... close ups. Seriously! It's makes a world of difference when showcasing a space.
Filed under: Things no one tells you about decorating and designs and pics and ish. #MindBlown
The big challenge was fitting Aiden's lofted bed and August's crib in the space, which took some navigating and moving things around several times before I settled on this current layout. I totally overestimated how much space the room had when I toured the apartment so next time I'll use measuring tape for things like this.
Another (less big) challenge was hiding the door that connects the boy's room to the master bedroom because I do not want them as extended roommate. Which is why the navy curtain is so important.
A third (more obvious) challenge was the shared space challenge. Space ain't all that full and plentiful in NYC so these bros had to share a room. And I wanted to make the space feel fun enough for a toddler, yet cool enough for a 10-year-old.
Mission accomplished, I think.
What are your thoughts on the space? Also, who wants to come help me paint the entry way hallway, master bedroom, and kitchen?
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