Monthly Archives: July 2014

Rebel with a cause (against my family)

My world definitely revolves around my family life, specifically my kids; I would give anything and everything for my children. However, I am realizing more and more that it’s important to not sacrifice my identity while I sacrifice for my children. This is so much easier said than done when you’re juggling being a wife and a mother of two young children, but I know how important it is to remember that I am a woman first and I have an identity outside of these two roles.

I really do make an effort to take advantage of those moments where I can just be Jen and take off my wife and mother hats even if it’s just for an hour. Sometimes I bring dilemmas on myself because I get overly excited and so focused in on having me time. For example, once my husband gets home from work I will leave the kids home with him and plan for a trip to the market or a department store like Marshalls, which are both less than 15 mins.away, but I won’t get back home till about 4 hrs.later. SOMETIMES I GET CAUGHT UP! It really bothers my husband because I’m telling him one thing and doing another, so we finally decided that I need to just really be honest and give him a time much later than I expect so he can plan accordingly. But sometimes I forget and that time alone, that me time, that’s crucial, takes over and time moves quicker than I realize and I go off into me time lala land.

I am making an effort to keep my husband informed, but I am also making an effort to help him understand the importance of my getaways. He acknowledges that I work hard as a stay at home mother and wife, but he doesn’t have an understanding as to the psychology behind my getaways that I get carried away in. Well, one day soon enough I hope he gets it, cause me time lala land is not easy to get over and I honestly feel like I deserve me time lala land and it is more than okay:).

Here we have an example of that rebel with a cause attitude against my husband that is unintentional and I don’t realize I’m doing it until it’s too late, SORRY HON! And now on to the children.

My next example of my rebel with a cause attitude is quite intentional, but not practical. My poor Bella is a victim of this one. It all stems from my love for those moments where I have an opportunity to get out of my yoga pants and camis, house robe or lounge clothing and get dolled up! I get the chance to wear some makeup, dress up with THE OUTFIT THAT IS THE ONE and some heels.

I often have selective memory loss on one important detail though, (when my daughter is a part of this outing) that I am still nursing and therefore need to wear a nursing friendly outfit. You would think that I would remember this small detail after 11 months. But then that rebel with a cause attitude comes around and I say to myself, NO, I REFUSE! I refuse to wear that wrap dress or that button down shirt, when I have that boatneck dress that I haven’t worn since I’ve been pregnant with my daughter or that cute sleeveless mock turtleneck dress that is so flattering on me!

I reassure myself by saying something along the lines of, we will figure something out somehow IF she wants to nurse while we’re out…IF, IF, really I know better, my baby girl wants to nurse when she wants, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. So, that rebel with a cause gets me into quite a fiasco with a crying, yelling and a demanding baby because I want to wear what I want.

At the time when I’m getting dressed I convince myself that it’s a good idea; I deserve this opportunity to wear that dress, that outfit, until reality hits and I have to rush home or to an appropriate place where I can fully undress. Recently I made the decision that the non friendly nursing outfit is not worth the tears or fits of my daughter. Therefore, I have raised my white flag and given in. Although I love nursing and don’t believe in giving my daughter a deadline to stop nursing (my beliefs are somewhere between mommy led weaning and baby led meaning), I must admit that I am looking forward to wearing those non friendly nursing outfits again once that time comes.

I have so many more examples of the rebel with a cause attitude, but the main message in this post is simply “choose your battles”. Yes there are so many countless times when women and those of us that also hold the title of mommas compromise or disregard what we want for the people we love; our family. There is nothing wrong with being selfless, but there is something wrong with losing yourself or that alone, me time that is crucial for everyone. The getaway makes the return so much sweeter.

If it’s a walk around the block where you feel the wind against your skin and smell the roses, perhaps it’s a bike ride where you get a different view of the outdoors, maybe it’s a trip to the bookstore where you can get lost in a book or a trip to the nail salon, hair salon once a month to pamper yourself, DO IT FOR YOU, just be sure to plan ahead with your spouse/your significant other of your whereabouts so they don’t worry or feel uninformed and DEFINITELY if you’re breastfeeding wear that nursing friendly outfit, there will be a time when you can ditch them and have no limits on your fashion picks. No need to learn the hard way, I have done that for all of us!

“Back to Basics”

It was the summer of 2003 and I just graduated from 4 tedious, yet eventful years of college. I was looking forward to enjoying the summer and then it was off to grad school in the fall. Something in me itched to do something different, something outside the box, with my life. After much thought I decided to venture out on a path I never imagined I would take. I don’t know if I was having a pre midlife crisis or what, but  I decided to take on a new attitude about my hair.

After years of braiding my hair and getting Super Strength Perms/Relaxers in between, to straighten and “tame” my coarse, extra thick hair, curiousity got the best of me. At the time of my “curiousity got the best of me” high, my hair was braided with extensions and so I had the lovely task of having to unbraid my hair, which I hate. Any woman who has had to unbraid her hair knows how tiring the process can be and if you have to wash your hair yourself because you can’t or choose not to go to a salon, it is even more tiresome and time consuming! However, because I was so excited to see “me” as in completely whole, real, genuine, thick, coarsed hair, no chemicals, no colors “me” it was worth the tiresome hours that lied in my near future.

While unraveling the extensions I had put in for my college graduation and carefully sliding my fingers through my hair, my curls were just “popping” out of place and it tickled my fancy, I actually chuckled. I remember saying wouldn’t it be cool if my hair was always this manageable. I felt that the only reason why my hair was manageable and my curls were defined and looked healthy was because it was stretched while braided so I concluded that only extensions could have that effect on my hair. I truly believed that it was impossible for my hair to have definition, fullness and “stretch” in its complete natural state. BOY WAS I WRONG!

I had so many misconceptions and misunderstandings about my hair because of society’s stance on what beautiful hair was, what “acceptable to wear” hair was (especially for a new college grad, upcoming professional woman) and what added the most to the cobweb of “untruths” were  the lovely changes that my hair went through over the course of my life at that point.

Those changes included getting a ‘kiddie perm” at the tender age of 9yo. Getting a kiddie perm was actually quite the norm, at that time, for girls my age of African American descent. The point of getting one was to straighten out the tightly coiled hair that our mothers struggled to manage. Most of us had already had the experience of straight hair with the pressing comb, before we got a perm. Later on the next stage of taming my hair with a more “natural look” was the good ol’ jheri curl, then on to dry (jheri curls). No one could tell me that I wasn’t cute, but no one told me that my hair was experiencing serious damage:( . My mom did what she thought was best and I don’t blame her for it. I am actually thankful for the experiences because I am a real life example to others of what to do and what not to do. There is no need for other women to learn the hard way, if they hear me out and take notes from my experience.

I knew I would need some resources to direct me on this new hair journey. So the avid reader in me ran to the library that day and lo and behold there were books galore on managing, growing and loving African American textured hair. I was so EXCITED:)! I grabbed every book in that section, found an empty table, stacked up all the books and took a seat ready to delve into a life changing experience. Most of the books gave advice and counsel on how to manage your natural hair so you can love your hair. They suggested understanding the hair typing system which ranged from 1a—-(unmanipulated) straight hair to 4c hair—-(my hair texture, btw) tightly coiled, kinky hair and suggested different products for each hair type that contained the most effective ingredients for managing your hair. As I continued to read, I kept getting more and more excited to embrace my natural hair because it felt nice to touch and looked good, but I had no idea that I would be persistent on my journey based on a conviction instead of a feeling.

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The book, “Hair Story, Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America”, gave me that conviction. The title alone intrigued me. It completely caught me off guard because I expected to read another book about hair typing and recommended products. This book drew me into the world of hair, MY HAIR, on a deeper level. I don’t want to give away all the details of the book, but I will tell you the lesson(s) that I gained that made me say no more going back to that “creamy crack” (<—a term often used to refer to Relaxers to straighten African American women’s hair). The lesson was that “black hair is good hair”, kinks and all, naps and all, tight coils and all, but even more so all hair is good hair.

Many of us relaxed our hair with Perms not realizing we were trying to relax more than our hair, we were also trying to relax society’s opinion of our hair, relax the nerves of corporate America intimidated/turned off by our twists & Afros, relax our hands so our hair wouldn’t break a poor defenseless comb, relax the attitude of the men we wanted to appeal to so they wouldn’t have a wandering eye towards a white woman, an asian woman, a Latin woman or any other woman who had straight long hair that flowed past her waistline. Besides the 70s when big Afros were the trend (most of us of African American descent own atleast one picture of a parent or a loved one rocking one as a testament of that) there was hardly any love, respect, admiration or compliments towards the kinky, tight coiled hair that most African American women have in its natural state. There were, and honestly I believe there still are, so many extreme measures that African American women take to have their hair in every way except for their “I was born this way” hair. The book talks about that in detail.

I must say though out of all of the book’s messages that I felt were written especially for me, the most important one of all was that I can’t love myself and not embrace all of me, naturally. This is my conclusion, my decision and mine alone. I don’t judge any woman who chooses to alter her hair away from its natural state and I appreciate not being judged for not wanting to alter mine. This is simply MY HAIR STORY and I think a person is so much better in knowing the reasoning behind why they do what they do or say the things they say, the habits, the quirks, etc., so I highly recommend this book not to change the state in which a person wears their hair, but to discover the history behind one of the most controversial issues that an African American Woman will have to deal with her whole life. I have chosen to stay on this journey since 2003, bad haircuts, breakage and all, because beauty, for me, is only skin deep, it lies in the eye of the beholder and I am determined to embrace every kink and coil—–NO LOOKING BACK 🙂