This post: Especially the last line!
There is a humbling that comes with age. When you are young, you are on top of the world. YOU feel like you know so much, and others are not seeing clearly. My, how terribly mislead we were. A doing of our own nonetheless. You know the most humbling part? When we think people are not keen on patterns of behavior and they had to just watch us fail. When we think our plan is so fresh and new and effective, but it really is repetition considering the trajectory of lives before us. How blind were we that we couldn’t see and reason that those older than us know more? That maybe, we should listen. Have you ever thought to yourself, why didn’t I listen? We will say we have no regrets in life, but in reality we reflect on the what-ifs. I keep trying to pinpoint, what it was that made us think the way we did and ignore walking, living, breathing, real life examples of history. What was it that made us not heed to the wisdom of our elders.
Why was it that we hated those that were loving us?
I can say, it’s because it is what I wanted. Is this enough? What a sad and piss-poor reason. What did it cost us? It’s mind blowing to wrap my mind around our youth, but exhilarating at the same time. Exhilarating considering that if you used that strong-minded, push to do what you should, then greatness can be the only result.
19yr old…wild and obnoxious…I had a conversation the other day with a 19yr old and a 35yr old about patterns of behavior. I mention their ages because I wanted to show the gap in age. 16 years between them and their thoughts were concrete with their life experiences. Displaying patterns of behavior gets you certain places. Prison, a good job, an affluent life, a strong family, setbacks in life. It all connects with the choices you make and continue to make in life. I hate the ‘ it just happens’ or ‘things just got away from me’ type of excuses. The ‘before we knew it’ type of excuses. I have a genuine fear of hitting 40 with nothing to show for it. I also know in my youth I displayed patterns of behavior that accounts for why I don’t have what I should now. I try to hold myself accountable for all my actions. I see and is an example of making serious poor life choices. I also see and is an example of someone trying to turn things around. I just find it interesting how we don’t see ourselves following patterns of behavior and not act on a change. I understand becoming a product of your environment. I still wonder why this happens without resistance. I also know doing the right thing is hard. I also know you will get assistance when you decide to play fair in life. I just find it odd, how, we can’t see the end of a certain story; the same story repeated many times. How much we think our end will be different. It’s scary to think, ‘man, if I had just listened. Why did I think I knew it all’.
It’s scarier to watch someone not listen….cycling.
I had a hard flashback moment today. It was to the pain I felt during childbirth. I was brought back to the operating table and was feeling it when they made the incision in my lower abdomen. I could feel the pain again but pulled myself out of the thought. I remember screaming ‘Tam, they’re trying to kill me’ and saying ‘OW, it hurts!’. After that I was ‘out’. I would have liked it someone was telling me what they were doing as they went on, but it was a very painful, confusing time. I was ‘put under’ after all my yelling but I don’t remember much else. As I thought about this all today, I thought wow, this is how women die. In my most vulnerable moment, I couldn’t speak to say if anything was happening to me, such as shortness of breath or heart palpitations. I just know it is an experience I never want again. Though bittersweet, as I do want another child. I’m just hoping it can be a VBAC. I tell myself all the time that I’m going to be so much better in my next pregnancy. I’m going to eat well, drink more water, manage my iron and haemoglobin issues better. I’m going to be more prepared. More vocal, more involved in my delivery. I’m going to speak up more. I tell myself all these things but know once reality hits, ‘get the baby out safely’ will be my only focus. No one else will matter. That’s how it was with my son. No form of dilation was happening, and the only peace came with feeling my water break. I think that will be the difference in my next birth. An environment with warm water. A dredge for my tingling veins and disturbed body. It is the least I can do for pushing my body to do what it needs to before it’s ready. Birth is a very natural process, a severely underrated sentiment. The effects on the body is extremely life altering and has continues for years. Yet, that is hardly discussed! There is so much care needed for the mother but no one ever remembers this. My first birth felt somewhat like a plunge. Somewhat procedural, done on rotations or rounds. I don’t want that again. If I do have to be induced, I want to labor in the comfort of my safe, peaceful home. If my health allows, this would make me extremely happier and calmer for delivery. In reality, a hospital birth saved my life, but we weren’t prepared for the process at all. Looking back, we were too ‘limp’. No matter how many birth stories, YouTube videos and TLC’s ‘A Baby story” I watched, it was extremely too new and unlike anything we’ve ever been through. I want to be prepared to deal with it all, especially the doctors and nurse.
I’ve realized too, the older I get, that people are weird. You really must advocate for yourself and your body. There really are people so self-absorbed and miserable in the health field that do no deserve to be there. They give sub-par treatment despite it being YOUR worst moments. I want to be somewhat prepared for it all!
Should you find a minute, to pay your respects to a queen!
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I love observing immigrants. It is my weird thing. I just love their take on culture shock and seeing how they cope. They move with such caution, light footed. Their choices are so tied to so many things. It is almost a burden. We are so lucky to be in a country were compassion is natural response. As much as coming to this country was scary and had difficult moments surrounding navigating the systems in place; I cannot say migrating has been something to regret. I blame that solely on how I assimilated. Also, the birth of a Canadian-born child. You see, if you moved here with children from another country, they will be subdued and burdened with things a child shouldn’t. When you have a child in the country you migrated to, they almost seem to cruise through life. We find ourselves shaking our head at the simplicity and ease of my son’s life. This caused me to compare the resolve within that never truly let’s us settle. This isn’t our home, but it is his. He will never have to learn to assimilate and will naturally thrive in certain situations. This will be worse, once he goes through the various systems that span his life cycle. No internal battle to attach himself to Canadian ways or to hold on to his ‘first culture’. A lot of immigrants become so stuck in their ‘first culture’, they refuse to adapt to the ways of their new world. Irresponsibly imparting certain views in a tolerant environment. Carelessly handling themselves in a way that makes them think their ‘first culture’ is an excuse. Recklessly throwing away all the sacrifices and investments made to pave the way. I say all this to say, assimilation is so important.
A lot of people think to leave their home country for a better life, but never check the culture of where they’re going. What is common place in the corporate world? How loose or strict are certain industries (of interest)? Something as simple as understanding what a ‘scent free’ environment is, knowing a sharp fragrance is a part of being fully dressed. You will have to go back to school. Period. Even to do a ‘small’ course. Are you open to learning and formal education again? Are you ok with ‘play-based’ learning for your children? The concept of free public schools may be new and seem like a relief, but can you accept limited say in your child’s education? If religious, how would you navigate the LGBT curricula that is taught in public schools? How would you handle private school tuition, knowing as an immigrant you won’t necessarily get a high-paying job right away? It is imperative to consider residences and learn about surrounding communities. Child-rearing will fall heavily on parents and a daycare provider. Are you keen on the cost both financially and mentally to get an older relative to come and help instill your values and morals? Are you prepared to leave your children for hours with someone who looks nothing like you? Are you aware of the political practices where you’re going? Is there civil conflict, uprisings or mistreatment of those marginalized? What are their considerations around health and healthcare? What do their people look like? No, really, intersectionality creates clusters of people and what they look like is very important. Where is your community located and what are their social stats? What about social programs and views on community support? Who gets respect? Will your qualifications mean anything? Can you promise yourself that you will seek to manage your mental health when faced with coercion from societal pressure? Are you racist and known to discriminate? There is also more interracial dating because the culture of those who grow up or is born here is wholly Canadian with references to their parents’ culture. They do not live by their parents’ culture with reference to Canadian mores, no matter how much parents speak their language, take their kids to visit ‘back home’ or inundate them with stories of past times. Can you accept interracial relationships? Can you child marry who they please? Are you a person that will experience a language barrier? This will affect how far you get ahead in the corporate world, so can you learn a new language at your age? Immigrant health is known to decline over the years, what is your coping plan? What will you do when you are homesick? Do you laugh a lot and often, or know how to at all? You will have so many moments when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I say all this to say, research and prepare yourself so that you can assimilate, as this is non-negotiable when it comes to survival.
I wish more people would decline to give parenting advice. The stigma around the very presence of children is so telling! We see the annoyed looks on your faces and that twisted smile. There is nothing wrong with saying, ‘I can’t say because I’m not sure myself’. Saying, ‘my situation is a bit different’ is acceptable too. It’s perfectly fine to just keep quiet as well. It just gnaws at me when people who do not celebrate their children tell others not to have any. It physically pains me when people say ‘they ruin your life’. No, you ruined your own life with your choices and is now inflicting this irresponsibility on an innocent being. Do not tell people to not have kids because you don’t want any. Don’t speak against children knowing you want them but just haven’t found the right ‘situation’. I completely understand times where children are born into situations that end up changing. As a product of a single parent home, I know it’s extremely hard. Hats off to all of you! I’m referring to those who were told their partner doesn’t want children, lays bare to procreate then find themselves in a ‘rut’. I’m speaking to those who birthed a child out of a convenient relationship and is miserable with being grounded. Do not fix your mouth to tell people children are a nightmare, when you couldn’t control yourself long enough to use protection. I’m also referring to those who have multiple children, inflict all sorts of abuse on them and have the nerve to say they ‘messed up’.When I was pregnant and about to go off on mat leave, I had lunch with my manager and he blatantly told me he has no advice for me. I made a face naturally and he laughed and said seriously, ‘I’ have no advice for ‘YOU’. Of course, I called out his unfairness because he had recently become a father and could have imparted so much knowledge on me knowing what ‘this thing’ is going to be like. He was quite bemused with my pressing, as his statement was simple. Simple, but weighted. The only other thing he said was that I should do what’s best for my child and don’t listen to anyone. I shot him another side eye as his mother was a prominent figure in his child’s life. I let him have that one, as much as I wanted to know more.
When we had our son and came to grips with PARENTING a child, not babysitting or tolerating one, I got it. When I went back to work, we had lunch again. He was smiling from ear to ear and so was I this time. We talked about the antiquated ways of child-rearing and all that I had escaped by doing things our way. I trusted him and would have listened to his advice; this stranger to MY child. We learned about our child and we cared for and led him with our choices. Everyone was happy. When I told my cousin I hadn’t read any books she was in a rage and sent me title after title of all the popular stuff; we politely declined. Months later when I attempted to find a solution with a popular site I felt like the one thing I was looking for wasn’t there. The one word to connect my issues to a solution wasn’t there. Why? Nothing in parenting is cookie cut; it’s ever-changing. Every time I had posted my issues on mommy boards on Facebook, I was rewarded with comments filled with nuggets of gold. All ending with ‘THAT’S what worked for US’, MAYBE it will for you. A small side-eye there as I thought if it worked it worked, what’s the deal? The more we dealt with and overcame, the more I got it. How can someone else tell you what will work for you or your child when they have never met the child? When they are born, you the parent don’t know their ways and cannot bend them to follow someone else’s routine. In a room with 10 people, 10 of them will be different; kids are exactly the same. Here’s another thought, in a room with 10 people, 10 of them will be from a different situation. Same. There are no super parents and it is perfectly ok to hate being a parent. Be honest about your experience though. Decline to offer advice when you know your ‘situation’ comes with circumstances! Don’t tell people to not have kids when you have 4 with 4 partners and consider time with any of your children as babysitting. Do not have children with someone who does not want any and blame them for a failed relationship. For the love of God kids will not save your relationship, but pit you against each other and teach your children horrible relationships are acceptable. Finally, a single parent experience may seem to be 10 times worse than a 2 parent household, but unless both parents are involved, its one and the same!
I took a ‘leap of purchase’ based on a recommendation from a podcast I was listening to. I don’t really connect with a lot of people so I usually research things I hear on podcasts; typically if I am continuing to listen there is some trust there. *deep, I know* I wanted to get back in the groove of reading but this book was $35 at my bookstore. I didn’t make a purchase then as I wasn’t even sure I’d actually finish it. I still have books on my bookshelf I haven’t touched but lost interest in and tons unfinished. It’s bad, we fight a lot about my books in my home. I perused the bookstore site again a couple days after my visit and found it to be on sale for $17. I said, ‘ok, fine, since you insist’ and made a purchase. Now, before I discuss the book, I’ve been battling issues and concerns of raising a black son in North America. I still drift off on a fear-filled wonder thanks to scenes from the movie ‘Get Out’. I’ve purposely steered away from news about Trump and American politics because I was becoming mentally drained. I also have loosened the grip on my parenting, mainly due to work stress, so there’s been some guilt about that too. Also, I’m currently in a financial rut. I needed a hobby, I needed this purchase to be a win. I was already lagging on working on my art with no strength to change. I needed to peruse someone else’s art and TV shows were starting to bore me. So, purchased at the same time, I read The Handmaid’s Tale and got caught up on the show. I don’t usually care for autobiographies as they’re obviously meant to be self-absorbing, but I already bought this one. I was still empty and so I decided to start Trevor Noah’s ‘Born A Crime’ before it made it to my book shelf unopened.
My God, I felt so full. It was so fairly written.The delusions of race, the viewpoint of life as a mixed child, the tales of Africa; the continent misrepresented. The appreciation and honesty about his mother and her life. The history lessons. The humor. The role of religion in his life, traditional living, the misjudgments of Domestic Abuse. Parenthood. The facets of love, relationships and life. The mere voice of the author. I knew nothing about this man and have never seen him on TV or watched his shows, so I was basically going in blind. Let me tell you, when I say I could hear how he spoke and see clearly and connect with the things of which he spoke about; nothing was missed.
This boy spoke of his mother the way I would want my son to speak of me. When I read ‘The Second Girl’ I connected with the distance that caused her to be who she was. I am not a traditional mother. There are no grand/great-grand parents instilling any archaic child rearing disciplines in my son’s life. There are no rules in my house either, and I absolutely DO NOT believe a child should be seen and not heard. I also do not hide ‘real life’ from my son. I cry, laugh, fight, play, be mad and sad around him. At 2yrs old I sometimes ask him what he thinks about many things and even go along with what he chooses. The only areas of his life that I try to control is his diet, who gets to discipline him and who comes and goes in his life. I am not blinded by love either and is sure to ‘stick it to him’ when he misbehaves and will shamelessly laugh at his misfortunes. The fact that this man has understood, respected, forgiven and accepted his mother for who she is and all she gave at such a young age, warmed my heart so much. The maturity of this child had me in awe as there are still things I grapple with in my personal life. A good mother will give you everything they have, down to their bare bones and all they want in return is for you to be grateful. There is so much about humility that came from their relationship; so much mutual respect.
The way he spoke about race and the examples he gave made me sick to my stomach. Africa, as many know is all suffering, all the time. It’s what’s been fed to us on the media and even in schools. There is a stigma that comes with being African that lets people just not want to deal. The history lessons on Apartheid and the concepts of race and their division was so mind blowing. A couple ‘WTF?!’ left my mouth more than once. It made me think how current and needed his tutelage is. I wanted to get on a podium and scream into a mic “People please read this, IT IS intentionally being done; it isn’t in your mind. They think we should not have nice things!”. The political climate in America, the need for the BLM Toronto, the fact that a certain race that far out numbers many others and are becoming lawmakers in Canada, the segregation that comes with certain religions; it is all being called out in this book. You cannot possibly read this and say ‘Man South Africans are crazy and wack for that shit’ and not point a finger on the current state of things in many countries. There is a breakdown of poverty and awareness on ‘the black tax’; ‘the cycle of poverty and violence’ and the strong hand the government and law makers play in deciding the quality of life of others based on something they cannot control. You can bleach your skin, you can do surgery, you can assume a different identity and even start to talk funny; but there will also be the fact that you were born in the skin you’re in. That, you will have to take all that comes with it and deal; be quiet and slap a smile on while doing so.
Religion was a very big part of his life growing up and for many of us. I connected with him with many things that happened in his childhood and laughed at how much a West Indian life was so similar. We just basically have different name or places for things. Friends, here is a young person that grew up in a racist time under a racist regime, portraying it as the tool it is. Information and the way generations grow and change will even religion out. There are many dark places in every religious sect and the youth are not falling for it anymore. He also vividly showed how misused it is.
Part 2 of his book lost me a bit but I read on as the writing was very good. The voice of the author was very clear and easy-going, so you could cruise through and not lose interest. The aspects of his life that had to do with love and relationships were lost on me because I was a ‘prime’, wild child. I’d been kissing boys for years and you can imagine what else. I wasn’t much for impressions either and the one childhood crush I had, I fell in front of him outside of church one evening and that pretty much humbled me for life. Still, I read on. The love I wanted to explode was that between his mother and father. Why can’t people love who they love and be with who they want to? What does the government and religion have to do with love? This organic, natural uncontrollable emotion; why are those two so disgusting at being controlling. Why do they exist as a factor here? The relationship with his father and the way his mother handled it annoyed me to no end. There was also her own marriage to a monster that drove me nuts. In an effort to not offend those suffered/suffering from abuse and domestic abuse there won’t be much I’ll say there. Just that an unhappy life does not have to be your forever. A man that can turn his back on his own child can never be trusted and that love should never hurt.
There is a ray of hope that comes from this book in the Chapters ‘Chameleon’, ‘Outsider’ and ‘My Mother’s Life’. There is also a sick, sad detriment a CHILD was going through. Don’t become a victim of your circumstance. It is so easy to say ‘woe is me’ and to harp on where you place blame. However, we are our choices, be conscious and alert. Every move you make is your own responsibility and determines your own future. Look ahead and see the bigger picture and keep it moving. Most importantly, accept things. We are often taught to not settle, but there are situations that you will have to accept and work with until you can do better. Fight the social/societal constructs with your brain and not your fist. Adulthood will give you a lot of clarity on this; especially in an environment like the workplace.
This memoir was worth the purchase. One I will save for my children to read. My only regret is the curry stain on the pages from when my roti fell out of my hand one day at lunch…xoxo