We love natural hair!

When I had my first child, a boy, I was IN LOVE with his curls. He’s mixed (black and white) and his curls were the.cutest.thing. They’d get little blond tips in summer and although he hated having his hair combed, I discovered the best way was in the bath with lots of conditioner and a hair pick. The thing he never liked was braids, product in his hair, or to have it combed (much). He went through some phases of wanting it cut shorter, but for the most part, he loved to rock his natural hair in afros, a flat top, the old “let’s just let it grow and see what it does” look and most recently, it was faded and then twisted on top. 
I never understood the people who would comment about his hair needing to be cut down and short. He’s 16 now and he loves letting it do what it does. His hair was, and is, amazing.

So, now let me back track a bit. My daughter, Amaija, was born in 2006. Her father and I had agreed, when we knew she was a girl, that we would never chemically process her hair to take the curl out. I agreed for a few reasons: I wanted her to learn to love the hair she was given. I prefer to go the natural route with our health and wellness and so chemicals on the hair was not going to happen. I didn’t want her to spend her life fighting her hair. This may sound crazy, but I didn’t think many white girls really had curly hair. And the ones I did see with curly hair, straightened it as often as needed.

My first son was 6.5 years old when Amaija was born, and I felt like I knew how to do this hair thing. I paid attention to her curls and the texture of her hair as she grew. For the longest, I did not need to do much with her hair because it took quite a while to grow in. When the curls came, I had so much fun doing little pony tails on top and using a very light product since her hair was really fine. Her hair grew in full and beautifully curly, still keeping it’s fine texture. We tried out different products along the way and got quite the collection. The thing I always wanted was that she KNEW how to take care of her hair and love the curls and know how to work with them, instead of against them. When it started to get longer, we started washing and then combing with a heavy conditioner, rinsing and then we just let it be. We would put a little curl product in her hair and played around with various braids styles, three piece twists and finger coils, but for the most part, she wanted it to do its thing without messing with it too much.

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Embracing my own curls.

I myself had gone back to straightening my hair and so as she grew she would ask me to straighten her hair. I would agree now and then, but it was so.much.work. I knew I had to embrace my own curly hair to be a better influence on my daughters and to practice what I preach. Her hair helped me in my own journey of accepting my hair.

I decided to do a little interview with Amaija about her hair.

What is so great about your hair? Why do you like it?

Because I can do a lot of styles with it. And not many other girls my age wear their hair like me.

 

What is your hair care routine?

I wash it a few times a week and in between those washes, I co-wash. Co-washing is conditioning only and I do that so my hair doesn’t get so dry. I use a wide tooth comb in the shower with conditioner in my hair. After I rinse it, I use my fingers to separate the curls while rinsing out the conditioner. When I get out of the shower, I towel dry it and put in some kind of product. My favorite is Mixed Chicks Leave-in Conditioner because it isn’t too heavy and my mom likes it, but we haven’t bought it recently because it has parabens and dyes that my mom doesn’t like. We recently bought a new Shea Moisture and so far, we love it. And it’s $10 cheaper!

Sometimes we straighten your hair with a blow dryer, round brush and flat iron. What do you like about that style and in the end, do you prefer it straight or curly and why?

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Can we say “Shrinkage?”

Sometimes it is a little easier to do my hair once it’s been straightened. Keeping it straight is hard though because it goes back to being curly after a day or so. I always like when my mom does straighten it so I can see how long my hair really is! I prefer my hair curly because when my hair is straight, I have to brush it (which I don’t do when it’s curly) and after a little while, I get annoyed with it on my neck and down my back. Plus, I know that straightening my hair damages it.

What do people say about your curly hair?

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Today at the Mall of America

Most people love my hair. Since I was little, people want to always touch my hair and ask my mom if it’s hard to take care of. I don’t really mind if people touch my hair, but they have to ask me first.

I’ve noticed the other girls at school with curly hair always have it in braids or they’ve permed it so it’s straight. One of my friends has spent a lot of time getting Brazilian blow-outs and most recently a lye-based chemical relaxer. I like that my mom has taught me how to take care of my hair and to love it, instead of spending so much time straightening it.

My message to other girls with curly hair would be don’t damage your hair to have it straight by perming, using chemicals or heat. Learn to take care of what you have and you will get a lot of compliments! Celebrate who you are and what God gave you.

 

 

 

Reflections on divorce

It’s coming up two years since the divorce was finalized. I used to call it “my divorce,” but I’ve stopped saying that and am now calling it “the divorce” because it’s not mine and it doesn’t define me. For a while, it was the thing that consumed me almost as much as being a mom did. Divorce sucks and with all of the draining legalities, comes a whole different set of things you go through.

While I was going through the process of the divorce, I googled often. I looked for blogs, real people who were willing to talk about divorce and how, yes, this is quite possibly the worst thing in the world, but here are some tips to get through this alive, well and MAYBE, happy. Divorce is like an earthquake. It shakes every part of your life up, some things shatter, some are slightly damaged and some things seem to be just fine. Some things even come out stronger as you rebuild and you realize there might be a better way to do something as you re-build.

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11 ways I stay sane as a single mom

Almost daily, I have at least one person stop what they are saying mid-sentence, stare at me with wide eyes and ask me, “how do you DO it?” I know i make this single parenting biz look seamless (yes, that’s sarcasm), but really, i have no idea how I do it. I’ve been thinking about this, however, because so many people ask me with such disbelief. Parents with one child. Adults with cats (and no kids). Married people with one child or maybe two. One of my favorite parenting mottos is to have only a few rules, but I make sure the rules are clear so there is little room for misinterpretation and negotiation, like “food stays in the kitchen;” instead of any other combination of “don’t eat the food in the ____ room.” Clear and concise. Beyond that, this is how I do it… (cue Montell Jordan). I was going to do 10, but felt compelled to add one.

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the question of my life

the question of my life lately is “well, what do you WANT to do?” (insert eye roll because by 35, don’t most people have this figured out?!)

such a funny question. i have two answers. one is the one i tell people. the other is a secret that isn’t going to be a secret for much longer, once i write it out on this post. both are true, just one is more desirable to me.

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co-parenting fail

So much of being a single mom is about having control, planning, knowing what is for dinner days in advance, having the white board calendar filled out perfectly so i can at least pretend the kids will use it to know what’s going on.

When we got divorced, we decided we would share joint physical and legal custody. My ex traveled A LOT for work and truly was not in a position to share more of the physical time. It’s now been a year since he was traveling and also a year since he has really paid any child support (i think with the exception of one month). Trying to take care of my kids, my house, maintain a job, make it to appointments, shit, even SHOWER strategically, has gotten pretty stressful! Today…a car maintenance appointment at 7 am, otherwise, it wouldnt’ have gotten done. So i showered at 5:50 am, dressed, snuck out of the house to get the car in. I got back and everyone was in their pj’s and acting like there was no school today. What is that, anyway?! It’s as if they have never gone to school and as if we didn’t talk about it last night when we laid clothes out.

Anyway, the ex is over $10,000 behind in child support and well,  nothing is happening. The enforcement is a joke. Now, after months of struggling, I emailed him. I always include my mom and his mom as well because I want the message to come through as it is, not as it is interpreted. I offered 50/50 physical custody, Friday to Friday. We currently share joint legal and physical custody and since he traveled before and it was not possible, I didn’t go for that before. Now though, it’s been months of no support and I simply cannot maintain like this. I sent it with complete hesitation and then waited.

I didn’t get the best feedback from some people. They thought I was bailing him out. They thought he should deal with the consequences of not paying. What they don’t know is that the consequences are still something he will have to deal with. He could still face certain consequences, however, it just won’t continue to add up beyond the current $10,000. To me, bailing him out is not holding him accountable. I want them to see him, to have a relationship with him. He wasn’t good for me, but I do not want to be, and I cannot be, the one who will keep them from him. He doesn’t do things the way I would, but isn’t parenting one of those things that most couples struggle to agree on how to do some things anyway? How is this any different? I WANT my kids to know their dad. I want them to know they can love me, him, both our families, their siblings and whoever else they feel love for. I will never interfere with that.

 So how do we get through the ugliness of separation, divorce or just not being together, yet still be their parents with the best interests of the kids in mind? My point of view is we don’t get to do things as if we weren’t together (for the most part). Would you trust your ex partner to take care of the kids if something happened and you had to go away? Probably, right? Would it be perfect? No. Would they be okay? Most likely, yes. I know there are exceptions, but I strongly believe USUALLY the other parent should have fair access to the kids. That being said, when we got divorced, their dad traveled A LOT for work. For that reason we set parenting time based on that, as he simply could not be in town more. That made sense at the time. Things have not always been how I would like, but they have gotten better. He is more consistent, quite reliable and still probably a great dad for the kids. I have never doubted he loved them. I do believe lawyers put a lot of things into play that create dissonance and discord. We don’t have to fall to that though. At the time, it made sense to do an every other Friday- Monday, plus one extra night type of schedule. Unfortunately, child support has not been paid and I am struggling, like for real.

To try to fix this problem, i wrote an email. I don’t want my kids’ dad to be in jail or to lose his license because that would take him from them as well as his chance to earn money. what good is he then? For that reason, I proposed a 50/50 time arrangement, instead of every other weekend and an additional night. I sent it thinking he would not even agree. The next morning, i got an email from his mother, saying he was considering it and it seemed fair.

Here’s the deal. I’m not perfect. He’s not perfect. We are FAR from good together, but none of that takes from them loving him and him loving them, or me loving them and them loving me. We are different and both capable of providing for them. It makes me sad to think I would not see them for a week, but I feel good knowing they love him and he loves them. I feel good that they will have time with both of us as parents and i know they will adjust. Hopefully he will agree to this. My goal is to really be decent co-parents for them. I know this may take some time, but in the end, that is what I hope for. I hope we can feel happiness for each other’s successes, support each other (from afar) through tough times and schedule changes, and most importantly, be there for our children.

Co-parenting is not easy and may be one of the more difficult things parents are asked to do. Even while married or in a relationship, co-parenting is necessary. You have to learn to compromise, decide what is worth fighting over, determine how you will support one another and how you will work as a team. Transitioning to co-parenting while apart is challenging, but in the end, I hope that we can put ourselves aside and really figure this out for the benefit of the kids. to do this, we have to let go of the control we may feel we want/need and just TRUST. LET GO. My hope is that we can choose to figure out how to best co-parent the children we were given to raise and care for.

**Update: The ex wanted to do 50/50 but only if we switched weekends. What that meant for me was that me and all of the kids would have never been together, because my daughter currently goes with her dad the same weekend as the other kids go. That means planning for events for my kids and extended family would have been impossible. It meant I couldn’t have worked extra to earn more money. So I said no, take the offer as it was or leave it as is. He never responded, so I’m still the primary caregiver.