Happy Birthday Mini Me: 8 Things My Kid Has Taught Me

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Photo by Amrita Singh

My darling Cycy,

You are a true reflection of me. The older you get, the more I see it, the more it frustrates me, the more it makes me happy. We’re so much alike – from the way that we bicker to the way we play. I see myself in you each and every day.

Your intelligence makes me so proud. Your poise, the way you speak, the way you represent our family smarts each day at school. You make me wanna tell the world you’re mine. You laugh at all my jokes – and then add your own punch lines. Then we both tilt our heads back, laugh, and point like fools. You ask me 1000 questions a day. There’s not a thing you don’t want to know. Our car rides are the best. That’s where we have our deepest conversations. I just want to teach you everything and prepare you for what’s to come.

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I’m A Haute Mom…If I Do Say So Myself

How cool is that?

I’ve been given an awesome opportunity by American television host, Aubrey Aquino, to be showcased in all my mommy glory on her blog, 53 Weeks! The site features a weekly Wednesday section called “Haute Mom” where Aquino shines a light on the lives of some pretty amazing moms and their kiddies. Guess whose turn it was this Wednesday? photo-19You guessed it! Me!

The article is written in Q&A format, and I give my take on anything from advice to new mothers – to a little bit about my fashion sense and style. The bonus? I get to inspire other moms and show off a couple cute photos of my kids for a week (secretly every mama’s dream).

While I walk with a little extra pep in my step today, please go ahead and check out the full write-up, by clicking here: SASHA IS A HAUTE MOM.

Thanks for all the love! *flips hair*

x

RESP: A Four-Letter Word Parents Should Know

By: Nicole Simons

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Most parents don’t want to think about it, but it’s going to happen – your little baby will be off to college or university one day. The boo-hooing isn’t only because the itty bitty toddler you once knew is now all grown up, rather it’s the sheer panic of whether your pockets can afford the big step. How much will a post secondary education cost when your child is ready? Studies show that in just over 10 years, a four-year Honours university degree will cost more than $110,000 for a student living on campus. That’s a hefty bill for the average family, so unless you have access to a pot of gold, you might want to open up an RESP.

What’s an RESP, you ask?

It stands for Registered Education Savings Plan and it’s a super smart way to save for your child’s post secondary education. Parents, relatives, and even friends can open an RESP for a child.

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Six Birthdays, Six Wishes: A Love Letter To My Daughter

photo-22My sweet little Mykki Mouse,

I never had to be brave until the day I met you. Your home birth was planned to perfection; I wanted your first breath to be taken in a place I designated most sacred. In our private space. Never mind the absence of a full medical staff and having only limited emergency equipment, I knew that in the hands of a pair of midwives and me, you’d be just fine. I had the pleasure of placing your barely six pound frame onto my stomach. Your skin felt so warm against mine. I uttered the biggest sigh of relief and paused for a moment – palm on my forehead. We did it.

You have brought me nothing but pure joy since that very first moment. Watching you grow, absorbing the world around you, quiet yet so inquisitive, I’m reminded each day of the light you bring to my world.

I want to protect you as long as I can.

My heart is filled with many goals, dreams and wishes for you. On this, your sixth anniversary, I’ll break them down to the ones I crave for most…

1) The kind heart I see in you now must stay firmly in place. Keep it, nurture it, handle it with care. You are the first to hold your sister’s hand when she is down, the first to offer a bite of your food when you notice someone is not eating, the first to offer to help wash the dishes and then turn around and do it anyway after I’ve told you not to. I couldn’t live without your affection and kindness.

2) Don’t ever apologize for who you are, for what you want, for how hard you have worked or where you are going in life. I don’t doubt you will work hard, but I can already see signs that you are quick to apologize, to back down. Don’t. You have learned this from me and I wish I could take it back. Stand your ground. Be proud of you. Do not live to make others happy or to measure up to someone else’s expectations. You are enough.

3) Be a student. Be a teacher. Learn at every opportunity. Master the gift of reading. Keep asking questions. And when you know something and know it well – teach others. Do not hoard your knowledge – share it. There is inherent beauty in being both student and teacher. It is a gift to learn and a privilege to teach.

4) I wish you wins and losses, trophies and empty shelves. As much as I would love to see you succeed in everything you attempt, and as much as I believe in your talents, I must wish you challenges. It is within the losses, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places, and the failures that your character will be built. As your mom, I’ll do my best to guide you through these moments. I want to prepare you for the real world. Nothing worth having will come easy.

5) Your dreams: do them. Your heart: follow it. Your family: treasure them. Your friends: be loyal to them. Your fears: embrace them and allow them to make you stronger. The money you earn: respect it. Your passion: LIVE IT.

6) Finally, I wish to be here for each of your moments…if for nothing else, to keep you on track.

Mykki Mouse, you are the happiest little girl in the whole wide world. You are clumsy and messy, you’re independent, and you love me. You never leave my bedroom without saying, “Love you, Mommy.” I melt when you stare at me with that little grin – the same grin that almost always leads to us both laughing and blushing at the sight of the other. You’re so romantic. I love it when you grab my cheeks with both your hands and tell me how pretty I am. I adore how quickly you miss your sister when she’s not around. I will never forget your nighttime disappearing acts – sneaking off to bed without a peep to the rest of us, simply because you’re that exhausted. Just promise me you’ll never get too old to cuddle with your mother.

Thank you, my sweetness, for being the best friend your sister could ask for. You complete our family. image_1

I will always love you.

-Mommy

Healthy Co-Parenting equals Healthy Kids: 5 Ways To Make It Work With Your Ex

Co-parenting after a relationship ends can be one heck of a challenge. Depending on the nature of the breakup, parents working together to raise a child/children can be an emotional and tiring process.

our baby looking over daddy's shoulder

our baby looking over daddy’s shoulder

If mom and dad are not able to talk about their differences and concerns regarding parenting, or if they can’t come to a resolution about co-parenting disagreements, then one of two things typically occurs:

a. Each parent simply continues to parent how they see fit, regardless of whether their rules and expectations violate what the other parent is trying to do, or

b. One parent throws in the towel and withdraws from active co-parenting, becoming more detached, and most likely leaving the decision-making, disciplining, and follow-through to the other parent.

In both of these circumstances, the child loses out. In scenario a, the child receives inconsistent messages, which can lead to feelings of uncertainty and worry (and often to behaviour problems at home and school). In the second scenario, the child loses out on an important contributor in their life.

I’ve been through a bit of both. Lord knows it’s been a roller coaster. It has taken a combination of time, understanding and maturity to bring me to my present day approach to co-parenting with my ex. I want my daughters to experience a healthy mind, body, and soul during their childhood and well into their adulthood. It’s important for the four of us to have balance. When I look at the big picture, there’s a reason why my ex and I came together and made these little miracles. I certainly couldn’t have done it on my own. So, in that respect, I give credit where credit is due.


 

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5 things you can do to help make co-parenting after a breakup go smoothly:

  1. Communication is key. Just as it is the key to building a solid couple relationship and/or marriage, communication is vital for building a solid co-parenting alliance. I used the word alliance deliberately, because wherever possible, mom and dad need to maintain a united front. You need to communicate with each other and effectively discuss your views on parenting. And no fighting over schedules. Your end goal should be the same, both parents wanting to spend time with the child – so try and remember that when figuring out a timetable that works for you.
  2. You don’t have to be estranged in order to prove you’re no longer a couple. It’s healthy for your kids to see their parents in the same setting. No, you’re not together anymore, but you don’t have to pretend you hate each other either. Kids are smart and can pick up on more cues than we realize. Having moments with both mom and dad present can sometimes be what they need to fill that void of the ideal family. Now, this can get tricky if there are still unresolved romantic feelings between the parents. That said, set limits to the time spent together and don’t over do it.
  3. Don’t undermine or criticize the other parent in front of the children. Kids need to be kids, so don’t stress them out with your adult issues. Not only do they understand what’s going on, but they remember everything. So if you’ve got a problem, save the drama and gossip with your friends for another time when your kids are not around. They don’t need to hear it. They are also not objects, so DON’T USE THE KIDS AS PAWNS. I’ll admit, this one’s easier said than done. But when I think about that pure, innocent, super hero-like love my girls have for their father, I’d rather not spoil that with a miserable and negative attitude.
  4. If your ex has moved on – try your best to mind your business and not get caught up in your feelings. Woo! Another tough one. Because I swear it seems the men always move on faster than we do (am I right, ladies?) Well, after you get all in your feelings and vent to your girlfriends (or whatever else you need to do to get over it) – it comes right back to communication. Talk to your ex about what this new addition to the already broken family will mean for your child. Hopefully your ex made a good judgment call on whom they chose to bring into your child’s life. Remember your ex’s new partner can’t ever replace you, and your child is well aware of who mommy and daddy are. Let’s keep it real, do whatever proper investigation you need to make yourself comfortable to know your kids are in good hands! And, give your children the time to adjust to the new setup as well.
  5. It’s not written in stone. Remember that this is an ongoing process. Parenting plans should be revised over time as needed, and as the kids get older.

If all else fails: Therapy is not a bad thing. Try it. I haven’t done it, but I’m not opposed to getting some extra help if ever the co-parenting situation takes a drastic turn for the worse.

A Dark-Skinned Mother’s Prayer For Her Light-Skinned Daughter

11:36 am “Come on, Sasha, just one more push.”

I heard nothing after that, except a loud shriek two minutes later. My new baby was hooting and hollering. Hallelujah! She was breathing, healthy, all fingers, and 10 toes; a chunk-a-licious seven pounder, with rosy, chubby cheeks, and shiny brown hair with honey blonde streaks. She was precious; the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And she was mine.cy

My baby girl had those “pretty” eyes. When her lids opened up for the first time seven years ago, they revealed a piercing grey colour. I was hypnotized. Her skin was the perfect shade. Right away, my sister nicknamed her “Pinky.” I was overcome with joy. “To whom do I owe my gratitude for this gorgeous creature?” I thought. This must be what every new mother feels. But the new-found celebrity status that would follow was something I wasn’t entirely prepared for.

Heads turned when I walked past with my baby propped inside her stroller. Then questions of her nationality, my ethnicity, and her father’s heritage ensued. Everybody wanted to know her “mix.” I remember a particular doctor’s visit when a Caucasian mother and daughter arrived into the waiting area. It was a Tuesday morning, not a soul inside but me and baby, and an elderly couple over in the far corner. The mother and daughter checked in with the receptionist and began looking for a place to sit. Lots of empty chairs around, but they made a B line straight to me. I had baby out of the stroller and in my lap, bouncing her on one knee at the time. As they got closer, they began racing – literally running in the doctor’s office. I noticed mom slightly nudge daughter with an elbow to her side and as if jokingly she said, “No you sit there. I wanna sit next to the pretty baby.” cy2She led with the question that usually came second. “Wow, is this your baby?” I had been told before, that I look like the young nanny, so I figured this was where she was going with that one. If it wasn’t this scenario, it was another, where folks would play an annoying guessing game. “Her dad is white, right? No, no wait lemme guess, he has Chinese in him?” Ugh. Wrong!

See, it had been eight weeks and my baby was still light-skinned. For my non-black readers, let me explain. In many cases, when a black baby is first born, their complexion is of a lighter tone. But you can usually tell by looking at the slightly darker ear lobes or somewhere around the finger pads, what the baby’s true skin tone will end up being. The skin tone changes over the next couple of weeks. My daughter, however, had gone from a blush pink to what some would teasingly call a “high yellow”…or as my fellow Jamaicans would say, she was “red skinned.” The shocker at the time: neither I nor her father was light-skinned. We still aren’t. Some people couldn’t fathom how our gene pool could have produced this outcome. Never mind our dozens of black family members who are of a lighter hue – the general population remained clueless to genetics and how they work. I can still hear one distant relative’s voice when she said, “My goodness, how do you feel, Sash? She’s way lighter than you!” A man and woman both with a brown complexion making an olive-skinned baby, I guess that was unheard of.

cy3This has gone on for years, and as baby girl grows older, my answers to the 21 questions get cheekier. Then I educate them. The number one challenge is to protect my daughter from colourism, as best as I can. That, being the prejudices people can face based on the lightness or darkness of their skin tone. My pumpkin now has a younger sister, whose complexion matches mine. While many in my community understand colourism as the discrimination against darker-skinned blacks, it happens on the flipside, too. Having longer hair or lighter skin will make some assume she thinks she is prettier than them – something I’m working to make sure she, and others know simply isn’t true. Last thing I’d want is for her to feed into that stereotype and feel alienated from her own people. She’s “black enough” – she’s not advantaged – this, I pray my child understands, is her reality. As her mommy, I just want to wipe away the insulting names I know she’ll get in the future. And now that her eyes have changed to hazel, well good Lord! Too bad the buck doesn’t stop here on a wide-spread issue I wish would just die already.