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.

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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.

The Worst Advice I Have Ever Received…

So I think bad advice is any advice that is strictly from another person that doesn’t take into account your life. There is not one word that fits everyone. We think that just because it seems like good advice that it will work out all the same. But that is not the case. Just like with life advice seems to be work out differently and varies from person to person.

So let’s get to it…..having children is so super natural that after you birth them you know exactly what to do. It is not as natural as everyone makes it out to be. At least not for me. I knew how to do the basics, but there are a lot of things that comes with having children that didn’t feel as authentic as the books and folks makes it sound. Let me squash all the folks that would love to try to “go up on Tuesday,” I love all 3 of my children. So let’s squash that now. It was never lack of love but lack of mothering skills that I thought I wouldn’t be enough for them.

mothers

My pregnancy with each of my children were all different. Each pregnancy came with their own sets of issues. The bonding with each child also was different too. That is fine as I believe to this day that the difference with having 3 kids should always be taken into consideration with how they are raised. However when you add in the birthing experience and nursing, pumping or bottle feeding and all the things you must quickly learn, the natural instinct didn’t kick in like folks tried to sell me. Some folks said once the baby was out of your womb you would just feel like you had been having kids all your life. I have to STAWP you there, that didn’t happen. I felt like I was tired all of my life. I felt like I was overwhelmed all my life. I felt like I was not prepared all my life, but not one time did I feel like a champ of motherhood just from birthing my kids. I needed so much guidance. I got to shout out the mothers.  I don’t mean just women who have babies. I am talking about the old mothers that we lack today. It’s rare to find a mother of Zion like the old folks used to call them that would give you advice, had enough tenacity to listen, and be there for younger mothers. You see that, teach AND listen. It’s a lost art.

We love to tell folks that don’t have kids how great it will be. It is great if you are talking about the overall sense of accomplishment. We fail to tell folks the real of what to expect. Handing me my oldest child in the hospital came as a shock.  I didn’t get to connect with her right after birth due to her being premature and that made me feel like I had no clue who she was. I felt more connected to her in the womb than outside. Reality hit me like a ton on bricks. I knew how to feed her and told myself well the other things would come. It did but those first few months as she was sick, listening to everyone tell me what I was supposed to do didn’t feel as organic as everyone suggested.  I really wish I could go back and set a few folks straight about a few things. Having a baby is an outer body experience. There are more times that I felt like I didn’t know what to do or who I was becoming. That has nothing to do with the actual child but the preconception of what I believed as a mother in the early years. News flash, even after the 3rd child I still wondered if I having another one was a good idea. It was obviously, but that feeling of natural instinct is always shuttered by doubt and lack of information.

crescent moon and cloud wind chimes

Photo by NIKOLAY OSMACHKO on Pexels.com

I really hope that other mothers who I KNOW FOR A FACT have gone through this, would be honest. It’s not a lack of love for your child (ren) but its a lack of trusting in yourself or lack of information to the new expectations of motherhood. So let’s mark false to all mothers having this natural nurturing ways about them as soon as they birth. Overtime you get better. Over time you develop what your child needs. So although our womanly body is “made” to birth babies, the mind and the body and the emotions have to link together to make the whole experience better.  I applaud all women to understand that above thinking that it will all just come together like a jigsaw puzzle on its own.

Better Breakfast Month

There are so many holidays in the month of September. I do think it’s a good idea that they whomever makes these days made better breakfast to be in September. It’s a good idea because it correlates to kids going back to school!

food gourmet on top of brown table

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

We no that in the United States unfortunately some kids struggle with meals. This really ought not be but it is a reality for some. Breakfast is super important. As an adult it’s hard for me to concentrate when I’m hangry. (Angry + hungry) how much more for our children? I know some folks really can’t eat breakfast. I am not one of those people. I would encourage the non breakfast eaters to at least eat fruit.

Eating better starts with choices. Having a variety of choices comes down to being prepared. Instead of sugary foods invest in whole grain options. I would suggest prepping it ahead of time. Time is the biggest issue with breakfast.  Not having enough because the stress in the morning and trying to be on time sometimes clashes. I get that!It’s easier to grab on the go.  The same breakfast sandwiches you can purchase at a fast food place can be made at home. Invest in fruit. Invest in cereals with less sugar and be creative. You can have fresh fruit in your oatmeal or cereal as an alternative.Make the time to prepare things at night meaning packing bags can help cut down on time.  If you have lunch and breakfast prepared you can be more in charge with what you place in your body.  Often times we shove food into our body and grab food from vending machines because of not being prepared.  If you have a family if you mirror the change you want to see it makes it easier for others around you to align.  Not all food that is grab worthy is bad.  You can grab yogurt and eat that with some granola and fruit and have that be better than a sugary donut a diet soda.

Even if you say come on “I can’t do that,” commit to a few days a week of making healthier choices. Once you see how much better you feel it may be an easier to make that change stick!  The benefits of eating a better breakfast:

  • Better Concentration
  • Aids in weight los
  • Helps in portion control for the day
  • Better productive day

Can you step your game durng breakfast?  Give it a try!

Breastfeeding Month: The Real

So happy breastfeeding to all the mommas who have chosen to embark on the journey. Let me say now that my only major concern for babies is that they are healthy and are fed. I have 3 kids and they all have been breast and formula fed. I’ve never been the type to advocate so much for breastfeeding that I’ve mommy shamed another woman for choosing what works for her. Breastfeeding is not just about getting milk to a baby but it takes a toll on a woman’s body and mind. Do what’s best for you, your baby, and your mental health. Let me break down from my experience the real behind the scene issues:

My eldest baby

My eldest is now 9 and won’t remember if I gave her formula or not but when she was born 6 weeks early I wasn’t sure what method of feeding I would do. I considered formula for the convenience. Soon as she was born I was encouraged to breastfeed to help her get stronger. I wasn’t able to have her latch so I pumped her milk. I was doing well but even with a lot of production she wasn’t gaining a whole lot and I was told to put her on a formula that was specifically for premature babies. If you have ever paid for formula you know that it’s not cheap to begin with. So this new formula was even more expensive.

I didn’t feel a sense of guilt for stopping the breastfeeding journey. The delivery was so traumatic that as long as she was healthy I didn’t care. I didn’t have a lot of folks shaming me and to be honest she was in the NICU and between visits, healing from a c-section, and my emotions all over the place I might have given out a 2 piece to folks. My body was doing the most but I do remember being super engorged, in pain, etc. Getting past the pain and making the choice I did for her worked out for us.

The Middle Child

My son, whew he was the picture perfect pregnancy. He was due September 20th and came September 12. So having gone full term I was just happy. I wanted to breastfeed right off the bat because when I had the eldest the nurses was so good at helping me that I wanted to try again. So I embarked on the journey again. He was 7 pounds 4 ozs. at birth and yet I was told he was too small and I was pretty discouraged to breastfeed from my nurses and told to formula feed him. This was not what I had experienced the first time. I think because I was dealing with serious postpartum depression I didn’t even speak up for what I wanted.

Guilt set in. But the guilt was being hammered by the postpartum and I gave into the formula feeding to be honest. My son went from newborn clothes straight to 3-6 months clothes. He was huge. All of the doctors saying “see what I said.” Let me say what I know now is that I should have asked for a Lactation consultant. I should have trusted my intuition. I could have kept on going but I allowed other voices to be my guide.

My littlest

My younger baby boo and I had a traumatic pregnancy and delivery. From the blood clot in my brain to hemorrhaging and having to be readmitted for internal bleeding I was still determined to breastfeed. The extra week in the hospital I was readmitted the same day I was discharged and that was when my milk came in. The nursing staff actually had to pump me physically. I had too many things going on and was focused on living. Shout out to University of Penn for the amazing nursing staff!

My husband had all three kids and I pumped what I could and supplemented with formula. The week came and went and I was discharged and went home nervous that after a week my newborn wouldn’t latch. She did and that started out our journey!!

However let me highlight a few things that most if not all breastfeeding moms know:

  • My daughter wouldn’t take a bottle. It didn’t matter if the bottle was shaped to be close to an actual breast or not. When I first had her I had her at work with me for 6 months and when I took her to daycare despite having a ready supply of frozen milk she wouldn’t take it. She would literally not eat all day until I picked her up. I took her to a Lactation consultant and her pediatrician and eventually had to stop working to nurse her on demand.
  • Yes I tried the give her a bottle with her dad or another family member, she wouldn’t even take it not even from me.
  • I spent more nights worrying about her intake
  • I was worn out and stressed out
  • I was a human pacifier and bottle
  • The Benefits

    • Not having to worry about making a bottle and always ready
      Weight loss I went down to my pre-pregnancy weight with nursing before my 6 week check up
      Baby was healthy and is my healthiest child now
      Bonding was immeasurable-til this day she’s super close to me

    What folks don’t talk about:

    Nursing is a mental and emotional job! I say job because outside of general care of a baby, there are cluster feeds aka when your baby can and will want to eat more than the 2 hours apart. There are growth spurts. There is mastitis. The pain and agony to get passed that has my breast hurting as I type. Also if you don’t have a lot of encouraging family surrounding you it makes it hard. You have support systems that say mean things like, “you’re not giving them enough.” “That baby would sleep if you gave him/her cereal.” “You’re doing this so nobody else can hold the baby.” “Cover up.” These are the types of reasons why breastfeeding involves more than that just feeding a baby. It is mentally and emotionally demanding.

    Pumping mothers

    This is just as hard to do as it is to have a child directly breastfeed. Some women are hard pumping at work all day and that is a lot of work! Some women prefer pumping over the traditional breastfeeding. It is not easy. You see pictures of women who have these stashed or milk that look like they could feed an army or babies and then you second guess what you are producing. Some women naturally over produce. Some do not! A women especially if she’s going back into the work force after maternity leave are stressed out trying to prepare as much milk as they can!

    Saying things like eeew that’s gross, just stop! Even if you never had a child learn to mute your words if you can’t find something positive to say! Mommas are our here giving life to our future! Formula or breastfeeding it don’t matter. What you don’t understand don’t always need a clap back! Learn to support one another no matter!

    Would I do it again? Absolutely but luckily I don’t have to!! I enjoyed the time with each child in their journey and it didn’t matter that I had to supplement, pump exclusively, or have that time cut short. I made it through and did what was best for me at the time.

    Grateful for my time!

    I was about to go 2.5 years with my youngest and that is a super power well within itself! All of the crying I did over spilled milk! Yes this is a thing. After I worked hard to get milk together having it spill will evoke real tears! All my breastfeeding mommas know what I mean!!

    So to all moms do not mommy shame someone else for their choices. If you breastfeed you know the mental and emotional anguish you have chosen. As natural of a process its supposed to be, there are women who can’t and women who feel bad for not choosing the option! All women who are taking care of babies could use a little extra love for its not as easy as we mommas make it!

    Recently the law was passed that all mothers in all 50 states can breastfeed in public. Regardless of where you stand on the covering up of a mother or not she has a right to feed her child. I personally never breastfed my child in public without a cover but I’ve seen other moms do it and it doesn’t bother me. I usually give a smile or head nod to let them know that I understand!

    Little side note: most babies burn up under those cute little cover ups and they will pull themselves out of it but still nurse! So sometimes the babies are letting you know let them alone!

    If you have chosen to breastfeed, congrats on your journey!

    Extra Nugget: Let me end by saying to all women or men please mind business when it comes to asking a woman whether she’s having a baby or not. It’s her decision and you don’t get a choice in meddling in someone’s uterus. If you see a woman and she looks like she put on weight, it’s disrespectful to ask are you pregnant? If she wanted you to know she in her time would announce it! It’s actually disrespectful to ask how far along are you?! You don’t know what’s going on with that woman! Let us be our brother and sister’s keeper and be mindful of our words and gestures!

    Happy national breastfeeding month!

    Ask Toi: How do I deal with my Parents thinking I’m not following old school parenting with my own kids?!

    This is multilayered. This could have come up if you’re making comments about new school parenting is better. It can come up if you do something that an old school parent thinks is too new school. It could come up if you ask for advice from old school parent but then do the opposite.

    Depending on when it comes up is how you proceed. There’s no doubt that old school parents believe and hold to their old school values. That can be from diapering to discipline. So if you are stating how better the new school way is better often times old school parents hear “you think you’re a better parent,” or they hear, “you think my ways are wrong.”

    If the argument of who is better comes up during a time when the new school parent does something in front of an old school parent that could mess with the new school parent and you think you’re not good enough. You may feel pressure for approval and it can mess you up if you aren’t feeling it. If you ever ask an old school parent advice and then don’t take it, it could come off as a “why you ask?!” This is probably the most irritating interactions.

    So here’s the thing:

    1. Parenting is subjective: you won’t ever get to the point where you feel 100% feel that you are quite finding your rhythm and old school parents are super high fiving you! It would be nice but not everyone has that happy mesh.

    2. Old school and new old school ways are within you. You will fuse them but only how much depends on you.

    3. Try not to take everything said to heart. Between your own parents and finding your way and the world with their long laundry list of to dos and not to do it will be hard to find your actual way. It’s okay!

    4. Trust your instinct-this is hard but necessary

    When I had my first child she was born 6 weeks early and had to stay a few days in the NICU. I was fortunate that it wasn’t a longer stay. I relied on my own mother to guide me. She gave me basic parenting skills. However my child had a lot of health issues therefore I had to rely on the doctors for a lot that first couple of years. Probably more than I would have all things considered. A lot of folks was knocking me for it. I trusted my instinct, and did some give and take with those around me. I pushed through! You’re not choosing one side over the over. You’re choosing what you need to feel successful in parenting. Also it’s okay that old school won’t agree. Parenting comes with thick skin. Take things with a grain of salt. No the things that our parents did when we were younger will work now, times have changed but what’s the same is wanting better for your child, keeping them safe and healthy, and working hard to provide. Be gentle with yourself but stand strong in your decisions.

    Sunday Message: Living your Best Life

    I’ve been waiting to right this one for quite some time! The phrase is everywhere. To be honest it’s a good thing to live your best life! Who wants to live the opposite?! However beyond quotes and knowing your angles on Instagram if you’re gonna live it then do the work that it requires.

    Living your best life is best when you start from the inside out. It requires you to leave a few negative folks behind, own your stuff, and be authentic to you. Sound easy but not exactly?! You will find resistance along the way. This is when it’s easier to fake it than to really live in authentic truth! The second you go to live your best life it may cause a ripple effect with those around you! Be prepared!

    More than Instagram Angles

    Who doesn’t love a good picture on social media?! I know I do and you do too! However don’t forget that every picture has a story. I sometimes go back to my pics and think back on what was really going on?! Was I just really good?! What happened before and after the pic! For instance here’s a pic from my solo trip:

    I looked great, felt great and had a good amount of adult drinks. I was in my zone and it was an amazing time. What wasn’t shown was that there was so much work going on. I was in the midst of leaving my job and taking a leap of faith. I actually had secured the bag while there. However dancing between do I leave and start from scratch and how that would affect my family was on my mind. I’m happy to say that leap was super scary and it paid off! However fear and letting go was on the other side of living my best life. Being used to certain behaviors and being completely unsure of myself was on one side and complete freedom, better pay and a better opportunity was on the other side. I could have stayed and made a few waves at my past job but when you don’t move and sometimes take initial fear you could hinder your own blessing. Scared I still leaped! Shout out to those who know that where I am now is a complete reflection of grace! It is not of anything of myself!

    What does living my best life do for you as a person?!

    It makes you grateful! Plain and simple! You know how many times a door shut. How many times you were alone?! How many times you had to shut down the naysayer in your own head but you still had to push?! It makes you stronger as you get to the next fight! It gives you a confidence to gas yourself!! It reminds you that you can do anything! It doesn’t erase the pain but it almost suggests that the pain was worth it! So it’s okay to acknowledge it!

    Fear sometimes drops off

    As I kept going on even in fear it eventually dropped off. I never get to a point in my life as if things are just so Gucci. Nope! I walk-in humbleness. I walk like I know where I am going even when it feels like I’m working with a broken GPS! Fear has many of time walked with me until it fell off like a child learning to ride with no brakes! During many moments of my life it’s been like that! However my biggest motivator is myself and next is the little folks that call me mom! I let them know when I make a mistake I use it when I parent. When they can’t get along I openly let them know of the same moments I’ve had. I also want them to know they can keep going!

    So while you say you want to live your best life be prepared for the work that comes along with it. Accept your flaws but don’t simply just say this is me oh well, take what is said and done to you and make the necessary changes! This requires a gut punch here and there! I used to say oh well to what folks said but everyone ain’t telling the same lie! Own it and change it! Also stop living your life with the brakes! The more I get out, the more I attack the list of wants without excuses the more doors open! Step through them!! It’s okay to be okay and enjoy this life! You don’t have to be downtrodden all the time. Life will give enough of those moments so that you don’t have to create them! Learn to enjoy moments. Smile a little! Enjoy a treat and have a little balance! Get out and explore! Live your best life!