Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I spent my birthday securing my place in the workforce. I returned from Disney with a message about available English teaching positions in Charles County School System. I interviewed with two seperate principlas: a seemingly cool dreaded brother that looked a little like a younger Al Green and a overly enthusiatic white woman with a hispanic name that had recently been to a beach or tanning bed. I am amazed at my inability to take the road of least resistance. As sexist as it may sound many teachers have the theory that a male principal gives you less woes. I am coming off a nearly two year sabbatical. I don't need drama.

My sister reminded me that I prayed to be delivered from the classroom and that like in the book of Galations (5:1) it says to Stand therefore in my liberty..and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. She skeptical about my decision to return. The bill collectors are not. See, I understand what God has done for me granting me time off, but He also knows I have commited a number of sins daily to maintain my lifestyle. I've robbed modern-day Peter to pay modern-day Paul. I will also be guilty of slowly killing my husband. He's been working hard, ya'll. Overtime.

My husband warned me when I began looking to return to Education to save myself some stress and just, "go in there and do what's required and no more." We call that the Walking Retired. Some do it, but that's no way to teach.

Needless to say I had another dilema on my hands. I try to ignore it but I have a tugging toward the 6 grade Enrichment Reading position with Ms. DeLaCruz at the healm. It was something about her belief that all her students could score proficient and above on state testing. It was also the way she gave me permisson to wipe their ( above average kids I'll be teaching) butts. She had a piercing stare and she wanted to know if I was up for a challenge. As God would have it cool black brother with dreads was dragging his heels about making me an offer, but Ms. Perky had already put in her bid when I returned to Personel. He missed out.

Now I was like the Yolanda Adams tune, What about the Children? In this case, my own- Nylah and AJ. Nylah is one thing, seek out the best before and aftercare program, but Aj is not a kid you just drop off at a daycare center. While the prospect of a steady salary and health benefits has me breathing easier all of a sudden I am hyperventilating. An overreaction, really, cause I realize all that I was able to do for him in the 22 months I was off. I call one of his many clinical care coordinators and within twenty minutes I've got an appointment with a company that provides nursing care while I work. This wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been off all that time to assemble resources for his disability. And, it certainely wouldn't have happened had I killed over on the floor with a brown paper bag pressed to my nose and mouth.I am going back to work to continue to be a resource to my family and I am content with this decison.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thrifted, Not Re-Gifted?

Thrifted, Not Re-gifted
A funny thing happen to me at the thrift store. As I was scanning the bookshelves for the lastest literary cast-offs my daughter cried out to me after unearthing a slightly worn copy of my debut novel, Soon and Very Soon-with a signature, no less. I haven't done many of these. This gave me pause. I was insulted. I felt the way I did when I found my favorite cassette tape of all time, New Editions's NE Heartbreak album in the bargin bin at Sam Goody record store. Surely, it was a mistake. The owner must have been like those clueless sad-sacks who give away one-of-a-kind artwork only to find iout its worth later on the Antique's Roadshow.
I made my daughter take me to the exact same spot where she found it. I examine the void it left on the shelf between an outdated volume of the Childcraft encyclopedia and another book as if it would give me some clue as to who could have given my baby away. I want to know this person's identity more than anything. See, my book only came out seven months ago, and we were in my neighborhood. I was sure I could crack the case. That's only a twenty-five to thirty mile radius to cover. Not exactly a case for Scotland Yard. I narrow the field of known residents that I had told about the book or sold the book to. Just when I think I have a list compiled, I think how ridiculous this whole thing is. How do you tactfully ask someone, did you happen to pitch my book out with your argyl sweater and Hammer pants? Was there no one you could personally give the book to? Ever hear of paperback swap, for goodness sake.
There had to be a logical explanation. The writer in me had me sit down at the kiddie desk set they were selling for just $7 to ponder a few possible ones. Maybe this person had a husband like mine who constantly threatens, "Don't bring another book in this house." But of course this person couldn't resist my realistic tale about two pastors that marry and combine their churches. So she took the risk and discarded the evidence immediately after the last page. Yeah, that's it.
Just when I thought I could rest a bit after a major signing at my sorority's convention at the end of this month. Yeah, maybe I'll do the Baltimore Book Festival in September, then the Capitol Book Festival. I've got a sequel to write. I can't possibly create and promote simultaneously. Soon and Very Soon will do alright. Wrong. I got a few more calls to make, connections to follow-up on and weekends to book with signings.
"Look mommy, you've got that book."
That's my six year old who has gotten good at reading the spin of books. She gets caught up on the last syllable of Terri McMillian's last name as she spots the hardback copy of A Day Late and a Dollar Short. I do own that book. I stood in line for hours while pregnant to get it signed at the crowded-to-overflowing Karibu books in the Bowie Town Center (Don't get me started. That's a whole nother lament). I would have loved to get it for $2.10. Just thirty more cents than my book was going for at the Waldorf Thrift Store.
God has a sense of humor. Just as I was about to grab my book up and discreetly pay for it at the counter like it was the last scandal sheet written about me left on the newstand, I realized I've gotten some real good books here. I wasn't thinking, poor Audre Lorde when I picked her book of poems up and added it to my library. I've found, read and treasured, Grisham, Jakes, Gaines, and Steele.
I could take it home, wipe the red colored pencil price tag off with a bay wipe and add it to the other books packed to go to Florida-for sale for $15 a pop. Genreic signature could easily be personalized on the spot. Dead wrong-maybe, maybe not. ( I put this is print so I wouldn't be tempted to do that)
I left the copy of Soon and Very Soon on the shelf next to the outdated volume of the Childcraft encyclopedia and the other book. God has plans for that book right there. My goal was that it would be widely read and that it would be a blessing to the reader. I couldn't think of a better place for that goal to be accomplished.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Deconstructing Suprwoman

Somewhere in between planning my dream wedding with Barbie and Ken, and actually jumping the broom myself I bought into the image of a woman married-with-children as some sort of superhero. She was a cross between Super Woman and Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman, in my opinion had the better outfit.) For six years I’ve tried to wear the bullet proof brassiere, star-spangled briefs and fill her incredibly big and awe so sexy go-go boots. I had no idea I was experiencing a well known complex or syndrome among woman, but I was terribly miserable. I was a writer, for goodness sakes but felt guilty when I sat in front of the computer for any length of time. I gave to my family and only when they had retired and were tucked in bed would I allow myself to create. By then I was exhausted. The misconception was that I should be able to do it all: be a meek an humble career women that morphs into a baby-changing, house-maintaining diva that remains sexy to boot. The Women’s Gender Study done by Iowa State and Kharkiv National University defines the Superwoman syndrome as a wish by a female to be excellent at all her roles to the detriment of herself. The study also warns about the psychological stresses associated with this kind of conditioning. Women are germane to the notion that our households won’t run unless we are in the thick of things and find comfort in defining ourselves by the roles we play in others’ lives. Not until I became a mom did I feel the need to wear the “S” on my chest trying to be super at everything. I still take it personally and feel guilty when my house isn’t as clean as it could be or if I haven’t given my husband and children every bit of my time that they crave. I multi task to the point of an ADHD diagnosis, taking on the entire load out of guilt and mastering much of nothing. My greatest sense of pride is being a wife and a mother, but sometimes it feels like my greatest failure.If you are like me there is hope. Linda Ellis Eastman wrote a book called The Super Woman Syndrome. It talks about saying no to others and saying yes to yourself for a change. Giving yourself time to recharge is also important so that you and your family don’t suffer. I’ve heard it said, ‘a happy mom is a happy home.’ It is important to build in options and resources like the Mocha Moms that allow you to take time away . I learned quick that it is a mindset, being a good wife and mother does not mean being consumed by those roles. There are only 24 hours in a day and I have a right to carve a few of them out for myself. I realized I am not a superhero, nor do I wish to be anymore, and I have managed to pull my real identify out from under the rubble.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Blessings and Curses of a stay-at-home mom

I've been thinking a lot about Blessings and Curses as it applies to my life. Everyone who knows me knows that I am an author with a book due to be out in December- a blessing, right? I am home working on my final manuscript and promotion, which, by the way, is a FULL TIME JOB. I am also caring for my son. What a blessing. I always wanted to be able to buy my time, to get out of the rat race which for me was teaching teenagers how to read and write better. Even before having kids, over five years ago, I wanted to be home, work from home-manage my home. God has made it all possible from one litle gift. My son was born in January '06. Soon after we started to realize he had a seizure disorder and gastro problems which mainifested itself as severe reflux. Fast forward to today I am home with him because I want to and HE needs me. Now I manage his care mainly and write secondly. I take him to theraphies and doctors in different departments of Children's National Medical Center. (They see me so much the security guard stopped asking for my ID when I enter by the main door.) My son has challenges that for a long time I didn't want to name or claim. He is the most calm, loving and irresitably handsome child when he is not in pain. I seek to keep him content most of my day-waking and even night-sleeping hours. He sits by me now while I'm writing in a bucket high chair used to keep him erect.

I've beeen struck by a few things recently. He had two appointments at Children's this week already and it's only Tuesday. Yesterday while waiting in GI, I saw a twelve or thirteen year old boy in an adaptive wheel chair thingy with a harness and immediately thought, Will my son need one? My son is a petite 19 months and still uses an infant stroller and car seat. But what stopped me in my tracks and saddened me deeply was the diaper bag his mother had dangling from the handle. At the time I wasn't quite sure why this such an emotional trigger for me, but in retrospect, the bag with its bright whimsical characters and designs symbolized everything I did not want to face at that time. My son may have to be handled at twelve, eighteen, twenty-two, thrity and beyond with the same kind of care and attention of a new born. The realization crushed me. Today after his Occupational and Physical Thereaphy sessions I could not even hold the colorful brocheure of adaptive strollers his therapist tried to hand me. Instead I told her I'd get it next week.

So what's the blessing; what's the curse? Count it all joy. I come back to what I know God to be. He is a healer and a deliverer. Who knows what he has in store for my son or what strides he will make in the future. I want to make sure I don't limit his possibilities with my weary faith. I also know that what the devil designs for evil, God can turn around for good. God so orders your steps to be prepared for obstacles.
My husband and I learned little by little about my sons difficulties. What we thought was this illness and that illness turned out to be a manifestation of something more. So, although we make frequent hospital visits, my son is not ill; he has what appears to be a disability. I know if I knew that all up front at three months or even before he was born that I probably wouldn't have been able to handle it. God knew I was treading water in my previous profession and made it so that instead of consuming myself with giving to so many other kids that I'd be at home heaping it on one child-my child. The time has allowed me to work on my passion and the stories I have devoted to His purpose. So I'm two for two for blessings, no curses here!