Pick your battles…Parenting Autumn

IMG_217943346666549    You have the ability to choose. I think often times we lose focus on the power of simplicity because if our lives are not forced focus, in crisis mode, hectic hellish or nonstop un-normal we fight to right our ways our way. Discern what matters God has placed within your life to deal with. Remember anything He gives us He also equips us. There are difficulties we must face, know that we do not face them alone. So often, we place burdens on ourselves that are His and we blame Him for the most. We carry that ice chip on our shoulders, in our words and we embed it in our hearts. God loves and He disciplines those He loves. He is not going to allow us to outdo Him. Honestly, there is no way we can.

My Autumn is 13 years old, an awesome daughter. She is my only daughter. #motherhood As her mother, I think I mess up a lot. I think I have to watch her more so because I fear for her. I think she could have had a mother that has more expertise in all things. I think she could have had a better mother—a mother who knows how to raise daughters. (I have three sons.) I do not allow her any social media time, her friends are few and she starts high school next year. Oh, and her figure, her shape is coming in already (just like mine at her age) and she is a beauty and so smart. Therefore, I am frightened in so many different areas of her life because I am her mother. Am I too stifling? Do I suffocate her? Am I making her feel she is loved and loving? How is her self-esteem? What are boys saying to her in that school? What are men saying to her? Then again, what are girls saying to her? Do we talk enough? Am I doing right by her? Has my singleness all these years braced her or harmed her for her future relationships? Big sigh.

When I get this way, which is not often but often enough. I immediately go into a tailspin of fear after hearing about the 12-year-old girl who committed suicide on FB. This cuts my heart up in so many ways. My soul is silenced when my friend tells me. My heart aches. She sends me the link of the little girls’ suicide. I refuse to open it up.

At times when I worry and Autumn is home, I run in her room and jump in her bed with her. I snuggle up with her while she reads her book. I make her take out her ear buds and we talk. Earlier this week, she complains but is laughing, “Momma, why?! It is hot. Stop.” She says. I smile and kiss her cheek and say, “Well, I’m not. My feet are cold. Warm me up” Her: “Your feet are always cold.” Me: “Let me search your phone to see what I can see. What’s your code?” She tells me and goes back to reading her book. While perusing through her phone, I find this text: Her and her friend are discussing their hair issues:

India (is a great friend to her and has long straight hair): “Use the ECO gel on your hair.” Autumn: “I did and my hair came out so short. I did not like it. My Mom used it and her hair looked great! But she used oil on hers and I did not. I am going to use oil and the ECO gel tonight.” My eyes water, I turn to her and smile, “You don’t ever tell me my hair looks great. You just say good or act like I am getting on your nerves. You love me!” Autumn, laughs so.

She has an awesome laugh too. Her natural hairstyle, her choice since she was 9 years old. Our hair textures are different but she has embraced her hair with such creativity and uniqueness it baffles me. Her self-strength is so powerful. What an amazing mirror I have. {An excerpt from one of my original poems: “I see Autumn leaves in the coldest of winter.”~M.} She is rooted well. I am so humbled by God’s love for me.

Therefore, I am going to push aside the “what if” and “if I just had” and also the “but God” and pick my battles, the winnable ones— the God has equipped me battles. I love being her mother more than the fear. Parenting costs so much yet the rewards are priceless and non-refundable. It is impossible to do everything right, I know that but the easiest part is when we do our best for them. We do not argue about social media. It is just an “is” in my home. We have discussed the possibility of Snap chat when she turns 14. So, I am on a journey to learn all I can about that before her next birthday in order to give the right answer to her, yes or no with an explanation of my choice.

I grieve for our children. I love our children; it truly takes a village. Suicide is preventable. Autumn and I discuss the neglected and abused children, teens, her peer group. I smile because her anger, her fight is just as strong as mine. Children, Adolescents have my heart they always will. We all are accountable to all we are connected. Please see the hope in that statement, there is no condemnation nor judgment. None, zilch. We must find ways that show our children they are loved without sacrificing our moral upbringing, without them suffering the residuals of this mean, mean world.

I think if we take a firm and mindful stance to focus on the winnable– our aspirations, hopes and dreams we have no recourse but to line up with what God has purposed for our lives. #TrustHim In all we do there has to be a peace that remains. I am learning this scripture holds so much direction and guiding, Philippians 4:6-8:”Do not be anxious about anything but in everything…”

Discern and pick your battles in every aspect of your life. God has planned for you to win the war. Growing up I did not like kids, did not want to be a mother. If I married, I wanted one child that was it. I remember telling my father I was never going to marry. He laughed along with giving awesome advice. (I will share that conversation later.)  God laughed too! I have four children, married once and divorced. I have been single longer than I was married. I am a grandmother! I am a child advocate, graduate student of Counseling and I teach Sunday School. Oh, God laughed big!! Remain focused on where He has you. Be God-confident!

My heart is all over the place… I hope this read makes sense. It all circles back.

My heart–Intimately worded,

A. Michelle!

 

 

Geeked!!

What God wants…

Happy 2017! I have committed to living a better life…no resolutions. Great things happening this morning, Wednesday, January 4 has led to a shift in perspective. Although I am able to encourage others (not just shoot off cliches) I find myself in the “dumps” quite often.

Early morning I receive a text requesting that I speak at a Book Club event. I smiled and agreed. My friend, requested and suggested the topic to speak on: the “work” needed in the “Sisterhood” era. Earlier this week I tweeted my thoughts on Self-care:

Click on link: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOvSoQCjiE0/?taken-by=nit_one

I smile at her suggestion, our communication and reflect. During my graduate interview in 2014, I was asked by the panel, “What population do you think you will have trouble serving?” Me, “To be honest, its not a matter of trouble. Its a fear. I fear working with Black Women and that makes me feel guilty. They are a population I feel I cannot reach. There is so much hurt there. I can’t understand it and it bothers me so.” Dr. S, “Than there is where you are most needed. Your greatest fear is entry point to your greatest triumph.”  I side-eyed her, she is African-American. I thought to myself, pssh if I am accepted I am not dealing with anyone I do not have to. My plan was to maintain a B average and avoid the difficult. God has other plans. Accepted in, A average and I did not avoid any difficulties…I worked. I studied. I cried. I counseled.

As my day progresses, I review assignments for my next class: Substance Abuse Counseling. I am excited that we have the previous professor we had in our Crisis Counseling course. She is awesome! My final course, Gender Counseling is taught by another professor I adore so my nervousness in achieving all A’s is swept away. I am able to do the work. I have learned as a grad student that apprehension about a course has a lot to do with learning the professor and the way they teach. Once the final two courses are completed, I begin my practicum and internship in May. Finding and researching the correct placement for my counseling career is exciting, slightly overwhelming. I emailed two more resumes and requested contact information for spots in Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking of minors. I will be a practicing student counselor. Oh my!

One of the assignments in the Substance Abuse course is to abstain from one certain thing and journal our progress for the next 8 weeks. I have chosen to abstain from sugar. I have practiced the Daniel’s fast several times and although it takes great discipline, I enjoy it. The healthy results gained were fast, effective and practical. I am intrigued with how I will progress in abstaining from sugar as a project assignment. Especially, after I was a dessert pig over the Holidays.

I am looking forward to traveling and attending counseling workshops with my cohort. We get to meet one classmate’s mother when she visits. We have been pressing through together for three years; meeting mothers are a treasure. (I love the Elders)

The Little Ones return to their regular schedule of school and homework. They were not excited this morning yet this made me smile too. Their ways, their reactions I am learning to devour every chance I get. Time is so swift. Brutus’, “two more minutes” are the most endearing because he mumbles it and pulls me in for a hug. Autumn’s, morning “mm-hmm” and conversations on the drive to school remind me so much of myself. She said, “I already know they are going to be asking me for my pencils. I am going to say no. These pencils are my fav, the eraser just does not stick straight up you know. They twist up. You know I bought three packs. (Big sigh, smiling). It makes me feel better knowing I have them and I will not run out. Its 9:05, not late and not too early. Bye, Mother.”  My teen, she is a stickler for wanting things a certain way. (We cannot just write with any kind of pencil. She buys pencils!!! Lol) #motherhoodbliss

The career hunt is still a career hunt. I am maintaining a consistent belief that God is my provider. After this stint of unemployment, something wonderful will come. #bigHope #BigGod

Just a quick blog message, I am going to enjoy 2017 moment by moment. You do the same! Nothing is greater than walking the path God leads us on, for there; there He has equipped us for it all. Dig deep. Go further. Faithfully pray and do good works. #necessary work

God’s grace,

Michelle, Counseling Graduate

Heart Moments #NecessaryWork

I have a tendency to listen more than I advise. It makes me smile, being aware that I am capable of that particular attribute. #lifelessons

Volunteering has opened my eyes to so much more than an individual’s present circumstances. I volunteer with the Child and Adolescent population in different roles. Lately, my work has included working with teens that are recovering addicts. All male and of all races. They have my heart. It amazes me that so many are addicted, so young, so many trying to cope with life, their way.

I do not see myself as the typical counselor. As I journey towards licensure I pray that I do not lose sight of caring. The type of intimate caring with your heart that becomes easy to lose in all the rules, policies and regulations. I tend to mother first. I am quiet more than intrusive. I have learned in the most difficult way to be quiet, to listen.

It becomes laborious to think outside the box when policies and set therapeutic techniques are the norm. We cannot touch, hug, and show any kind of affection. We know not to preach, fuss, and become a parent to them. These rules are for my protection and quite different for me for I am a mother and I was raised old school in a two parent home. (Most of them just need a good switch and their mouths washed out with soap. I digress. Lol.)

One day while visiting the park, I listen to Brandon. He is 15 years old, Black, appears kind, great dimples. I ask, “When did you become aware of your family’s use of drugs?” He responds, “Four. I was four years old.” My heart breaks. He has seen a lot. He has become conducive to his environment. He has done more criminally than a grown man has. He is 15.  Me, turning away because I am about to cry, “I would hug you but we can’t do that. You know there is more out here. More to life.” Him: “I like my environment Ms. Michelle.” Me, heart completely shattered: “I know. I know you do.”

Our conversation bothered me so much. Why should I be this bothered? He is receiving necessary help. I find out that this is his second time in. For weeks, the word “environment” and his predicament weighed heavy on me. I called my older sons, Damien and Darius. I questioned them on implementing a journal technique, getting the clients to write. Both respond: “Not sure why you think writing is going to help them kids.” It kind of hurts when your children tell you your thinking is off base. The more I learn of Brandon’s life, the more I felt helpless. My thoughts, he is receiving what he needs. He has counselors. He is going to his NA meetings. He is going to be fine.

Yet, the way he talked, his topic of conversation did not change. He was still going to rob people, commit home invasions, and maybe not get high as much but he would still carry out the same behavioral actions. The more I kept telling myself I could not improve the system the more depressed I became. Helping is about change. Volunteering is about improvement.

As God worked my heart, an idea began to form, EFL, Equine Facilitated Therapy. A proven therapeutic technique. I spoke with my Director. She gave me the go ahead to pursue. Throughout all the required business details, I kept quiet. I just knew this was going to fall through. I presented my proposal as a recreational activity. The Director accepted as an additional therapeutic technique for the Adolescent clients! My family responds: “Good, Momma.” I know this is huge; pretty mega. I laugh and I am so giddy.

Oh, how I wish I could share photos. I love confidentiality; I do but man I wish I could share photos. First session: the experience is exciting and unbelievable. Brandon, leader, aka tough guy is the most fearful. Kenny is as well. Remember, all these teens have some sort of record. Yet, they are quiet, scared, and respectful of these great creatures.  Of the twelve, Brandon and Kenny hide behind me, and counselors whenever the horses move. At least eight, take to the horses. They are working as a team to guide, walk and command the horses. Kenny, the one so afraid is able to lead and command the toughest horse there.

As we are watching him, his counselor says to me: “He has been shot twice. Gangs are trying to kill him. He is a tough one. His dad abused him. His mom doesn’t want him.” As she is speaking, I am watching this child smile; laugh, talk and I cannot hold back my tears. Me: “I need to take the time to read their files.” Her: “You haven’t? You put all this together without reading their files. Look around you. I have never seen these boys this way. Good job.”  I smile more, whisper to God a thank you and take more pictures. Brandon, my ringleader has not taken to any of the lessons given. He actually has the other clients surrounding him for protection. Smh, awesome leadership skills. He states he does not want to come back. (The EFL therapy is mandatory!) However, our second session he is riding. He even coaches and reassures me as I ride.

EFL is more for the teens but as I learn and bond with the horses, I am learning so much more about myself. At times, the sessions are so intensifying…its overwhelming to come face to face with your past, your Self in front of others. What I am learning about me at 46 years of age….I am a good person. That although I have been told otherwise and been made to feel inferior over the years I know that my heart is pure. I am proud of me, of who I am, of where this journey is leading me and it is wonderful to be okay with myself. #becoming

The responsibility of communicating with an animal that weighs up to 1600 pounds and it is just as furious about surviving as we are is humbling phenomenal.  I come home completely drained from the experience, happy. The emotional, mental and spiritual content, connection is difficult to express, another reason I have not blogged for a while.

Listen to the nudges, pricks, ideas you receive. They should cause us to go deeper, reach further. The possibility of change begins within us. Do the necessary work, it will influence the future. We can.

Love the journey,

A.Michelle!