Take a Break

I love my family. I really do. Today I had to take a break. I have them spoiled and they know that I will make them a huge breakfast every weekend without hesitation. However today when they came in and wanted more emotional support than I had filled in my own tank, I said no!

No means I need a break. That means go grab some cereal until I can gather myself. That means no I can’t manage your emotions until I manage mine. No I can’t figure out all of your needs right off the bat. No means I still love you. No means I will be back in working order after a small break. No I won’t just jump up and act like nothing is wrong. No I won’t just accommodate you until I have some time for prayer and calm.

I will be back after I gather my thoughts, get a shower, plan my day, or simply sit in quiet. I’m simply taking a much needed break!

Communication is great. A few years ago I might have went off to get a break but today, nope! I know what I need and finally realized how important it is to take it. Self-care is not just a Sunday thing but a daily thing. It’s a moment by moment release so I can live my best life. The pancakes can wait. The kids are old enough to manage. My husband is fine. This break is everything!

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Surviving R. Kelly; My Thoughts

Let’s cut to the chase on this. There is so much to unravel! These are my thoughts:

R. Kelly is a sick. He really is. There is zero doubt about that. No excuses!! No bull. It is what it is. He was molested himself as a child and that’s so super unfortunate. However he then inflicted pain on others. He doesn’t get to get a pass for his sexual misconduct that had been brewing for years. There comes a point when you even in your pain still have to take responsibility for your actions.

Aaliyah

First of all my heart goes out to her. She is a victim. There are a lot of boys let alone men with money and influence that manipulate girls and women all the time. It’s wrong. So it’s not far fetched that she too was manipulated. My anger resides with R. Kelly being an adult. He knew better. I’ve heard theories that he was sick in the mind due to his own abuse endured but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t aware of what he was doing was wrong. The mere cover up of her age means he knew better from a legal standpoint.

My second place of anger is with Aaliyah’s parents. I’ve read the statement about them stating that they were with her and that at no time had she been alone with R. Kelly! However they weren’t there when she got married. The documents were forged and I get that. What I’m saying is there had to be a financial gain for them to allow their daughter to have this “best friend” in R Kelly who was grown. My child is monitored on friends her age let alone my husband would lose his mind if he found out there was a grown man who was her best friend hanging around her. What in the actual world could you have in common with a child?

I hope every parent put yourself in the place of Aaliyah and the other parents of children who were assaulted that you take a firm against such behaviors. I pray that you don’t have to be known as someone didn’t have your children’s best interest at heart!

The ideal that Aaliyah was wise beyond her years or that she was fast or that she was pretty much the reason why she was groomed towards this is completely out of pocket. Aaliyah was a child and her parents failed her and R. Kelly was WRONG!!!!!!!! He was and is disgusting and it’s disgraceful!!

I get you don’t want to speak ill of the dead so since she’s not here it would be in their best interest to rely on a Non disclosures or that $100 they or she was given for her silence. It doesn’t change the marriage being done. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again he married her to sleep with her without others having a legal issue. Anything done that is based on a lie wouldn’t last. Yes it was annulled. I do understand that but what type of relationship could I have with a man who took my daughter to marry her and hence sleep with her even if I wanted to maintain that I was a loving and doting mother?! Even if I wanted to distance myself and make myself be a victim I would want to protect her and therefore would not cover for him. I would be attempting until his dying day to end him. I pray I never allow my daughters to be compromised and I pray that my daughters never feel the need to be tempted to succumb to anything in any realm such as this!!

Family Ain’t……

His family and friends who knew and now are speaking up about this all should be locked up. They all NOW claim how horrible they feel. They feel so bad but did the checks dry up? When benefits did you receive that would okay seeing girls that could very well be the same age of kids you should have been protecting. All of them don’t get how self incriminating it is for them to place themselves in these circles with him and want to push blame on him alone not seeing how complacent they are and were and how they too have a large responsibility to the victims of whom they thought very little of. All of the adults that knew and can recall such details failed each child they came in contact with and knew of R. Kelly’s mess as it unfolded!

Multiple Tapes

We know about the infamous tape where R. Kelly and I’ll use the legal “allegedly” filmed himself doing down right things to this child but the parts that stuck out to me are as follows:

The back up singer knew and saw him “allegedly” sleep with Aaliyah at age 15 but is crying and upset about him in the tape with Sparkle’s niece who was 14. My question is does she feel this pain now or was she feeling that at the time?! I really want to know because I catch you in the act once I wouldn’t be shocked seeing it again. I would be mad but not shocked!

Separate the man from the artist

R. Kelly had been known to tape his encounters, there are more than the infamous tape out! I’m sure there were more than just the children they were discussed on this series. This is why I don’t get why people don’t believe that he really is the man he is being painted to be. The ideal that you can separate the man from the artist….

How can we separate this musical genius from the fact that he literally has a network of enablers that literally helped him to abuse kids. Like are these people void of care? The ones that have kids scare me the most. Like watching this has reaffirmed my ability to make sure that I don’t allow my kids to be groomed like this. Despite the fact that he was so influential, others like him are in our very own communities. They say the things that young people want to hear. They scare them into silence. They abuse them into fear. It’s scary. I’ve been teaching my kids good and bad touch since before they could barely talk. The thought that I could know my children were sexually abused but sit with the abuser of my kids for any reason is overwhelming.

Am I supposed to be like well it ain’t my kids, let’s step in the name of love?! That’s basically what it sounds like. Let’s just keep the party going cause it’s unfortunate that kids that don’t belong to me went through horrible things but it ain’t my issue. If I read a story online I get moved. Kids should be off limits. Kids should be protected and I for one stopped listening to him and stopping the playing of his music around my family. My choice but to keep money flowing into R. Kelly’s pockets as he continues to “allegedly” imprison and groom women (who knows if they are underage or not) would be misguided for me as a woman! What am I doing at a concert as he parades knowing he likes young girls?! Aaliyah was not fluke. Aaliyah wasn’t this special child that he just bonded with. She on her own outside of him was phenomenal but the relationship of Aaliyah wasn’t isolated. R. Kelly doesn’t see anything wrong with having sex with children.

There are way too similar allegations for me to pull a Stevie Wonder. If there is smoke there is fire. I personally am disgusted by the whole documentary thus far.

R. Kelly is like the predator that you know but people tell you he’s not as bad as he seems. It’s like a group of people with evidence of abuse and documentation of abuse but we have to support him and for what? Music. As iconic as his music has been, he is equally flawed. He is problematic. He is an abuser. He is a manipulator. It’s disgusting!

I think the more you know you bear the responsibility of walking in life better. Having R. Kelly the musician’s craft block out years of abuse toward women as a woman myself and definitely as a mom isn’t a price I’m willing to pay. The fact that most of the forgiving fans have been women worries me. Do women lie about such things? Yes. Is everyone telling the same lie? I highly doubt it and I believe them. Not everyone is telling the same lie. Some of these women have been attempting to speak up way before Lifetime produced this series.

So there is a lot to unload. These are my raw feelings. This is how I feel. It’s hurtful as a woman to watch this. It’s almost triggering. It was difficult and is difficult to watch. It’s hard and I made triple certain that none one of my kids were up as I watched this. Although I talk to them for their age to prevent as much as I can with the help of God no way would I allow them to hear that a grown man made kids do the things that R. Kelly is being accused of. I’m grown and it was hard to hear that some of the very beloved songs actually meant more than we imagined. It’s hard! As more men are being held accountable, I pray that even if R. Kelly feels or felt like he is getting away that karma steps up and does her thing.

I hope you make your own decisions if you have an opportunity to catch the series. My opinion is not to make you believe what I believe. Personal choices on whether or not to support R. Kelly, is just that, personal.

There are countless women and men to be honest watching this and having this all hit is a lot! A lot of the stories we knew about. R Kelly has been accused since I can remember. He has been known to mess with young girls. But seeing the lengths that not only he took to cover it is jaw dropping. To see the network unfold in how he would have his own wife in the house suffering abuse while still continuing his life is crazy.

Here is a clip from the Boondocks that pretty much had it right (I do not own rights to this episode; trigger for strong offensive language):

R Kelly Boondocks Trial

To victims of abuse especially sexual abuse who have never told their story and need support, or even the ones who find themselves triggered:

Christmas Fun: Story time with the Polar Express

So not bad for a Friday night but we decided to go to the Barnes and Nobles story time of the Polar Express reading by Chris Van Allsburg for the 30th celebration!!

The reading included hot chocolate and cookies and Christmas carols. It was an amazing time.

The kids enjoyed wearing their pajamas outside the house!!! I enjoyed the fact that there’s no place I would love to be than in my favorite store of Barnes and Nobles.

We ended our night with you guessed it purchasing books!

Take some time to Google free events in your area especially around the holidays. You will be amazed of the fun you can have!!

Breakfast with Santa: Legoland Discovery Center

Every year we do at least one Breakfast with Santa but this year we decided to do it at Legoland Discovery Center in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

One of the benefits of having a season pass to Legoland is getting invited to exclude events. This event was free to Legoland Discovery Yearly pass. We were invited for a continental breakfast with Lego Santa himself. Once there breakfast was already ready. The kids and adults were able to help themselves. The guest of honor made his way over and gave our letters so that the kids could write a letter to Santa! Not to mention full access to the play center before regular opening hours. That in itself is a major win!

Even though it was our first year at the event it definitely will not be our last. The kids had a great time making a morning of fun and the adults were able to relax knowing the children are in a secure fun atmosphere. Plus anything with coffee sign me up!! If you’re in the area and looking for a place for your children to have fun in all year would consider coming to Legoland Discovery! We bought the year pass due to wanting to have an option for the Winter months as well as rainy days like today.

There is a huge jungle gym, snack center, active places to build LEGO projects of all kinds, mini 3D movies, laser zone, and of course a live action Lego man that comes out several times to take pictures with everyone all year long. One of the best parts is the interactive ride for the family of all ages to enjoy!

So I would certainly give my stamp of approval for Legoland Discovery Center! It’s a must try if you’re in the area!!

Who doesn’t love festive events? Certainly my family loves them!! Here’s to getting into the full swing of holiday events and things to do! Also if you have a family of multiple kids gift cards to LEGOLAND make a great group gift as well!! This way instead of more toys you give the gift of an outing!! That is the gift that keep on giving!!

Ask Toi: How do I handle my ex-husband when I’ve asked him to clean his home before the kids come for their visits?

Back story for my readers is they have a custody order to split time. It’s been working. The problem is the kids are old enough to verbally state that not only is the home unclean but its more or less on the hoarding side. There are bugs running around and the kids no longer want to visit until he cleans. She the wife has asked him to clean it up and he the father has suggested that its his house and the kids must still come over.

My answer is simple:

If simple communication between you and your ex-husband isn’t working, you must get the courts involved. Here are my rules when it comes to houses.

One if you are a dirty person it should only affect you. When there are children involved every house may have some clutter. It’s not okay to have so much clutter and dirt and bugs running around. That is a health issue. Now I am not going to act all holier than thou and act like I have never in my life seen a roach or two, but the way the house is being described its unfit. If its unfit the kids shouldn’t have to come and visit in that mess. He needs to clean up his act. His kids well being is and should be the most important thing to both of them. It is his space to do as he pleases. He can’t have children in an unclean home. She should go and file an emergency junction to have a court appointed person go and do a welfare check of the home and if it deemed nasty and unfit he needs to clean it and have it checked before the kids can come over. Simple and plain. As a parent you shouldn’t have to have the courts in-between this. His kids have expressed their concerns to their father and his response to his children are, you are going to be in here however I have it. Wrong answer. I couldn’t imagine my children telling me they were in an unfit home and not speak up and try to work it out only to hear my ex husband say this is his space. I am going to side eye him quick! This is simply unacceptable behavior and response. 

Now before everyone get in their feelings. I see a few things to look at. Was he always this unclean?  Could it be that as wife was able to manage that home they once shared?  If he is going through some depressive state and is unable to see this as an issue, this needs to be evaluated. If not having your children come and visit you doesn’t prompt this man to clean, the children are the only concern.  It needs to be cleaned sooner or later. I don’t get how people think any human can operate with that much clutter and uncleanliness around them. Momma go and get this fixed asap! One of the worst things about co-parenting is learning boundaries and coming together for the sake of the children. It’s important to remember that if you have a child with someone you are bonded for life. Even if your marriage doesn’t last, you will forever be in some form of commitment to the children and the other parent. Keeping communication and a warm heart to speak when things aren’t okay is necessary to make sure that the child gets as much as they can from both parents!

Ask Toi: Do you think people should go to counseling before having Children?

Yes and no. I think that if you have had things happen in your childhood that affects your ability to raise your children then yes. If once you have children you notice things that come up, by all means run don’t walk and go to counseling. If you feel like your childhood wasn’t an issue than no. Not everyone has bad childhoods. If you feel like you did or as an adult even before having children, you yourself know or can feel triggers. Also regardless of being a parent or not, you can see a counselor to help you get better at self-care. Everyone I believe can benefit if that is a choice they take from speaking to a licensed professional.  Having children will test you in ways that no one can prepare for. It takes a lot more than knowing how to keep a child alive, feeding, or housing them to be a parent. Each child is here on this Earth for a purpose but some people don’t realize that the child rearing years can push them further away from their purpose if you don’t keep a clear mind and watch how you treat them. What we say, how we talk, what consequences we give matters. They aren’t just dolls for us to take care of and show off. They are humans who need guidance and we as parents are responsible in how we do it.

What I know is that regardless of children or not, I for one felt triggered having my kids. Part of that was going through postpartum depression. I have said openly that I went to counseling and took medication to work through my own issues.  During that time of counseling things that I hadn’t talked about or dealt with came out. I worked through them and continue to work through them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that my childhood was awful.  It meant that I found as an adult things that I would rather deal with to be a better parent.  For me my ultimate goal is to be the best parent for my kids. All three of them have different needs. I didn’t have to feel after going to counseling that I had to treat them the same as far as giving them the same exact method in how they receive correction.   It’s my job to find out what works best for them to be their best. It’s not about me, my ego, what my parents said goes, what my husband’s mom said goes, it’s about them and being to them what they need, period.

I for one don’t like yelling. However as a parent I find that if I am not mindful I will do it. I don’t want my kids raised in a home with yelling so when I was in counseling its something that I worked on to eliminate it. I don’t even take my kids around folks that do a lot of arguing or fighting. Should I find that we are in that type of environment I will immediately remove my kids from it. I think yelling is unnecessary. As a parent I can speak to my kids and give them respect and expect it from them without yelling to get my point across. It doesn’t mean that my patience tank as I call it is always full. When I find that it’s not I apologize and work with my kids to be understanding. This I found out how to do in counseling. I had to let a friend of mine know who was keeping my kids why one of my kids responded the way they do to yelling. It’s not that I want to keep my kids in a bubble but I do feel an in control parent can watch how they speak and that’s just as important to the message.

I have talked to other parents who stated that things in their childhood didn’t come out until they had children. I would say be proactive in dealing with it. I know I am not perfect but if I am constantly checking myself and willing to tweak what I do where my kids are concerned, I know and pray they have a good outcome from that. Sometimes I also think, if my voice is their voice would I want my kids to yell unnecessarily to my grandkids in the future?  If I am putting them down, who is going to pull them up?  There are parents who belittle their kids and then when their kids do “great” things they take the credit? I don’t want that. I want them to shine because their support system behind them helps them shine! All adults need to have an outlet whether they are parents or not. If anything is on our heart and mind and talking to a licensed professional is a good thing for self-care.

Having kids will bring out things in your childhood if its left unchecked. That is a good and bad thing. To fuse two different upbringing from my husband and I and knowing that we can take from both and find what works for us with our own takes a lot of finesse. I would say if you are talking about having kids that you have some real conversations on how those kids will be raised. It’s not the time to wait until they arrive.  Counseling is another way of helping to deal with those difficult decisions for any part of your life not just parenting. Also be prepared for those around you specifically parents to say things like you weren’t raised that way. It is true.  A lot of the things that we do for our children don’t mirror my parents or his mom. However end of day you have to take into consideration resources available, times, and your kids personalities and they way they learn. I would rather support their way of learning and have them find ways to be that much better than to only do what I was taught to please any one of the sets of parents. Parenting for where my husband and I are right now is a lot of meshing. We mesh both sides and what we see and what we deal with when dealing with our kids.

If you are concerned with if counseling will work, I would say go to a few sessions and find out for yourself. I find that I feel better equipped for the time I went to counseling. I was given tools to work through me which in the end of the day will help in how I deal and heal with my kids. They are the best parts of me. I see myself in all 3 and I would hope the things that I didn’t master they master. I would hope that the things I wanted in my childhood I make sure they have and its beyond material things. I want them to feel secure in being them. I want them to be able to not hide who they are. I know they will not fit what I think they should be. I hope as they figure out who they are that they can count on me and my husband to love them through it. I pray constantly that I would choose my words carefully when interacting with them.

People give counseling a bad name. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you have issues with everyone, you’re weak, you are unstable and any other negative word choices people give it. The notion of keeping your business to yourself is the reason why people respond to life the way you do. You should be open to speak honestly about things without fear that if you do something is going to happen. Getting help is not a problem. You should be getting help and in that shows strength. If you are someone who needs a counselor regardless if you are a parent or not or if you are being triggered or not, go and get that help. I would rather someone be in counseling than to treat a child wrongfully indirectly because they were taught not to speak up.

Ask Toi: How do you tell someone about your will and whom your kids will go if you should die and it’s not them?

Well this was an interesting question this morning.

The back story for my readers is the husband and Wife made their wills to include who their young children should go to in their death…..the grandparents are upset they weren’t chosen….

First of all I pray that you are here for your children and this will never have to go into an active plan. However the reality of your children not going to either parents is a harsh reality. Parents being a caregiver after they have raised their own kids isn’t always an ideal situation. Age of your parents, their health, how active they are with their own grandkids and suitability doesn’t always match title. You need to take into consideration how you were raised and how the grandparents interact with the kids to play a major role in them being chosen.

There should be many factors in making that hard decision. It shouldn’t be based upon friendships or family relationships to be honest with you. It should be about whom aligns the best with you and your husband’s parenting style and who will give your children the same type of lifestyle that you would if you were still here. You can’t choose people to raise your children in your place just based on relationships.

Also how often does the children interact with whomever your choosing? How active are they involved with the kids? These things matter. Think about you not being here, your kids being devastated and then having to live with people they know only in title. If whomever you’re choosing hasn’t made efforts to be in the kids’ lives they shouldn’t be at the top of the list. Also one of the biggest things to think about is how whomever you choose deals with discipline. Discipline is a major compartment in who you choose. If someone doesn’t align with you and your husband than they shouldn’t be on the list. Also factors with age and appropriateness needs to be within your decision making process as well.

So although either parents don’t make the list you can approach it in the sense of being honest with them. Let them know that you love them and you want this decision to be in the best interest of the children involved. Parenting is hard and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. You can talk as little as you want about the choice.

Know that they will be upset. There is no way around it. They will be offended that you come off feeling that their parenting is not enough. This is what they feel. Even if it’s true you have a right to feel the way you do. They will think that you don’t value what they taught you and it’s not good enough for your kids. Some parents may come off rash and demonstrate further why they weren’t chosen by being even more disconnected to their kids. Either way you have to find a way to take all of these things into consideration but still make the decisions for the kids at hand that matter!!

Ultimately whatever chooses you make is dependent on you and your husband and as long as you can live with the decisions, everyone else around you will have no choice but to accept it. Also even though you have not chosen the grandparents, still apply the same logic in whom you do select.