Monday, April 23, 2018

This Deliberate Parenting Thing!!! Part 2

Here's the concluding part, as promised. If you missed part one, you can catch up here.

So, Friday. Target. Restroom. Periods. Bleeding. Eggs. Sperm... Pretty straightforward conversation, until Alexis blew me away with her next words.

Alexis: "So you don't bleed when you're pregnant? Being pregnant sounds better than having periods. I can't wait to be pregnant!"
In My Mind (IMM): "Wait, what?!! Slow your roll, child!"
In Real Life (IRL): "You can wait. First you get your period. This year, or next year. Nobody knows when exactly. Pregnancy is still far far away."
Alexis: "Yeah. That's true. I have to go to college, get a job, then get married. That's still a long time."
IRL: "Yeah. That's the right order"

That wasn't so bad...
So, we leave the restroom, ready to explore Target. STOP. Is that a 50% off sticker? On KY Jelly? I' never seen KY Jelly on sale before, nor have I ever seen this particular one before. KY Touch? ooooohhh??? Interesting... I pick it up and I'm liking the description.

Alexis: "What is KY Jelly?"
IMM: "None of your business, child!"
Wrong answer, Gbemi. Honest, age appropriate answers.
IRL: "Its a personal lubricant."
Alexis: "What's a personal lubricant?"
IRL: Errrmmm
Alexis: "I know you'll tell me to google it. We'll google it later. What's a tampon?"
She grabbed a box that caught her eyes.
IRL: "That's what we use to catch all the blood from periods."
Alexis: "Like a band aid?"
IRL: Sort of...
IMM: HELP!!!!!! I don't know the answers!!!

We moved on, looked at some clothes, tried on some sandals and ended up looking at dolls. She does this thing where she acts like she's reviewing toys for an audience. She's a natural. She really wants her own YouTube channel, but I'm not ready. I'm not sure I want to let her get caught up with views/subscribers/comments yet. I made a video. Maybe I'll post it on my YouTube channel. Or not. I don't know.

Next we looked at books. I picked this one out
Seems like teen/tween level reading. I'll read it first and decide if she's ready.
So we're still looking at books and she squeezes her face.
"What's up?" I ask.
"I just saw something that made me mad."
"Mad? What did you see?"
She points to a book with the picture of the president.
"Why did it make you mad?"
"My friend told me he said nasty things about black people."
IMM: Who sent this friend oooooooo?
IRL: Nasty things?"
I ask her, as I wonder which of the many "nasty things" she had heard and how I to respond.
"It's a bad word. I'm not allowed to say it."
I tell her it's okay and she says "He called us sh*tholes"

Once again, I am not ready. I'm mad that all my attempts to shield my children from the goings on have been unsuccessful. Now I'm left questioning my ostrich-in-the-sand approach. Ugh!!!

IMM: Quit centering yourself, Gbemi! Focus!

I was going to start explaining to her that he was referring to third world countries, and not her personally, but I was not sure how to define a third world country to a seven year old.
So I switched back to active listening mode.

IRL: "sh*tholes? He said that? How does that make you feel?"
Alexis: Mad. I already told you.
IRL: "How do you think a person who says hurtful things to others feel about themselves"?
Alexis: "They feel good, because they are better than the people they are saying nasty things about."

That was not the answer I was hoping for. *facepalm*

IRL: "Do you think that a person who tries to hurt others is really happy? Or are they sad, so they end up spreading the sadness inside?"
Alexis: "The president can't be sad! He has everything!! How can you live in the White House and be sad?"
IMM: If only you knew, child. If only...
IRL: "Well, sometimes people have a lot of things but they are sad inside"
Alexis: "Hmmmmmm..."
IMM: She's not buying it. HELP!!
IRL: "I kind of feel sorry for him. He is rich, but inside, he's hurting"
Alexis: "Me too. I feel sorry for him. He's a sad president."

That was how Friday went.
This ongoing conversation is nowhere near over. And I am not ready.
I won't always know what to say, and I am learning that that's okay.
I'm committed to listening actively and responding honestly.
It's a lot easier to be dismissive. To pretend that I know everything. To say "because I said so."
But my goal is to do better. I won't always get it right, but by God, I will try.

I would really like to hear about some of your conversations with children. And if you're thinking about trying this responding honestly thing, let me know how it goes.

This Deliberate Parenting Thing!!! Part 1


I had had a really stressful day. I'm still working on Hurricane Harvey recovery and even though it's been eight months, many survivors are still not back in their homes. In my work as a Disability Integration Advisor, I see to it that survivors with access and functional needs, particularly those with disabilities, do not fall through the cracks. It's more challenging than the work I did as a Disaster Case Manager, which I talked about here, and I have had to learn a lot in a short period. It's great that I am a subject matter expert now, and working for a government agency has been interesting. The best thing, though, is that I get to go home everyday. Working away from home was hard, not just on me, but all of us.

As you can imagine, the kids love having me back home. It's interesting though, how being away changed the vibe at home. They are more independent and don't seem to need me so much, which is both awesome and not so awesome. Daddy developed a more efficient morning routine. Also, they don't come to me first like they used to, which... I was going to talk about Friday, not about how I it feels to know I am not indispensable.

So, Friday.

I got home from work at 7:30, and only then did I remember that Alexis had a Girls Scout meeting at 6:30.
In My Mind (IMM) "Ugh! why do I let down this child so much?!"
In Real Life (IRL): "Alexis!! Put your shoes on! Let's go!"

We raced to the meeting location, but there was no one there.
IMM: "When am I going to get my life?"
IRL: "Sorry Alexis, today wasn't a meeting day."
"It's okay mommy" She hugged me and I felt better.
"Lets go check out this new Target that just opened." I said. Thinking about how to make it a good day in spite of my gaffe. So we went in, holding hands and laughing. Turned out to be a really interesting evening.

You see, I'm doing this thing where I'm responding to the natural curiosity of my children with honest age appropriate answers. That may sound simple, but it's hard. The honesty part, mostly. It means I have to say "I don't know" instead of pretending. Also, I can't say "because I said so".

It's hard because it forces me to think about my answers. It forces me to admit that I might be wrong. It's humbling.

It's also tricky, seeing as "because I said so" is actually an appropriate answer. Who has time to explain everything? But the thing is, they are not toddlers anymore. Nathan just turned ten and he appears to have skipped late childhood and gone straight to early adolescence. Puberty is here. And looming for Alexis. They have questions and I want to be able to answer them honestly. David has soooooo many questions, it's unbelievable. But he has learned how to use google and now, he's showing me up. I was talking about him the other day on Twitter. Look, I have my own personal walking and talking encyclopedia. YAY!!!

Yeah, so they're growing and changing and so is how I parent.

I have realized that "The Talk" is no longer a one time conversation. It's an ongoing one. One that requires a proactive approach. Everything that happens is a learning opportunity and I hope I can max as many as possible.

It's hard, but I'm doing it. Because I am trying to parent deliberately.

So, Friday. Target.
First we went to the restroom, which led to a conversation about periods.
Her face when I told her about bleeding for 3 to 5 days was epic πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ We talked about eggs and sperm and what happens when eggs don't get fertilized. Pretty simple, yeah? So I thought until she said something that blew me away.

This post is getting long. And I'm sleepy.
Let's make it 2 parts. I promise to finish it tomorrow.

PS. Why did I stop blogging???  This is fun.
Well.... Technically, I didn't stop. twitter is a micro-blogging site after all.
That's where all my blog posts are. Follow me @gbemisoke

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Day Joy!

We spent Christmas day in our Pajamas, lounging and having a blast. The little humans were literally bouncing off the wall,
My personal Santa was on standby πŸ˜„
I was probably more excited than the babies πŸ˜ƒ
And of course, there was Jollof rice 😁

Reading about the real meaning of Christmas before opening presents helps us focus on what's important.

My heart is full ❤

Leave a comment telling me how you spent Christmas. 

Thanks for coming by. May your dreams come true. xoxo

Friday, September 29, 2017

Harvey Happened and Now Nothing's The Same

So, I've been working as a Case Manager helping Hurricane Harvey survivors for the past 2 weeks and I'm having a blast, getting a chance to see all these beautiful cities in Texas I probably won't have been to if Harvey didn't happen.

Here's the thing though, I have another job, which I took a leave of absence from so I could recover from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. While I did not suffer any material losses from the hurricane (thank God!!), all the anxiety and worry from seeing the extent of the damage on TV left me a mess emotionally.

I went through this confusing phase where I would express gratitude for not being affected, then I would feel guilty because it seemed unfair to the people who had lost everything. Like a "thank God I wasn't affected o!!" thought would be closely followed by "Oh?! You're grateful? What about those who were affected? Is it not this same God that is their Father? He had the power to deliver them, but didn't. Did those people have to die? Just like He didn't deliver them, you do know there are no guarantees that you'll be delivered from future disaster too? What are you thankful for, really?"

I was confused. I couldn't really articulate how I felt, and as these thoughts percolated through my mind, I became a mess emotionally. I was having a hard time sleeping, then I started to have panic and anxiety attacks and I knew I needed to take a break before I completely broke down. So, I requested a two week leave of absence from work, and then asked for a 6 week extension when I realized I needed more time. I was going to lose much needed income, but I needed to prioritize self care and I did.

Three weeks into my leave of absence, I was feeling better, sleeping well, praying through the mess, feeling all Zen and shizz when I got a call from a job I had applied to last year. Was I available for immediate deployment? The hurricane had left a lot of people vulnerable, and they needed Case Managers.  Well... I'm not working right now... so yeah, I guess... Seeing as I wasn't due to return to my regular job for another 4 to 6 weeks, I figured l'd try the gig out for a few weeks, and if I didn't like it, return to my regular job as scheduled.

So I deployed, 2 weeks ago today.  I love, love, love, love it! πŸ˜„

Thing is, I still have my old job lined up, with a promotion and raise guaranteed upon resumption, because I passed my board exams. I'm now a BCaBA 😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

I really really like my CEO and there's so much I was hoping I could contribute to the growth of her company. She's a nice person who genuinely cares about people. I can't say the same for some of the other people I worked with though πŸ˜•
While I do not expect to be best friends with everyone I work with, there was a lot of tension... walking on eggshells, being spoken to with condescension and only getting negative feedback was stressful. I found myself constantly questioning my competence. I liked to think I was good at what I did, I heard that much from my clients parents, co-workers and CEO but my supervisor and manager... let's just say I learned from them the kind of supervisor or manager I never want to be. More than once, I've had to go to the bathroom to cry and more than once, I've had to comfort a crying co-worker. One time, a co-worker got fired, partly because he stood up for me when I was treated badly. I kept telling myself to suck it up. "Girl, you're here to advance your career, and if this is what you have to put up with, it's a small price to pay. Why are you giving them so much power???" I like to think that I'm resilient and staying on this job was a way to prove that I am not a quitter. Also, all I needed to do was pass my boards, get that promotion and move up. I figured things would change then.

Looking back now, I realize how toxic that environment was. Life is not perfect and people will be people, yeah, but I did not need to have suffered like that. Nope!

My experience for the last two weeks has been overwhelmingly positive. Working in human services is emotionally exhausting, however, when your work environment is positive, it is 100 times better.

It's not all perfect. I'm away from home for extended periods and I miss my Lover and my babies. Also, it's a temporary gig and I don't have anything lined up for when it's over.

It's okay though. I'm learning that I DO NOT have to have everything all figured out. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, my work is appreciated and I go to bed at night knowing that I have made a difference in people's lives. Also, living in a beachfront hotel is awesome πŸ˜„ not being able to go chill there because I'm working, not so much πŸ˜•

I'm in a really good place right now. For this, and all the other blessings I  my life, especially those that money cannot buy, I am grateful. ❤

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sewing Again

I love sewing. Making. Creating.

I wish sewing wasn't so labor intensive though. That's the main reason I stopped. It's not the most productive use of my time (in my present circumstances). I also wouldn't do it for free. 

Being a crisis counselor, on the other hand, is something I would gladly do for free. In fact, I started out as a volunteer at my current job and I'm halfway through six years of school because I really really really want to be a licensed therapist.

If anyone told me I would ever give up sewing, I would have laughed and said NEVER!! I've learned now though. After watching my best laid plans crumble time and again, I know to never say never  

Will Gbemisoke Couture ever come back? Perhaps... I'm learning to trust God, and not my plans for my future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Of Sliding Tackles And Preventing Them

So, I saw this on Twitter

And these were my thoughts

Which led to some interesting conversations

So I thought a post would be a good idea.

See sliding tackle!
She would have sworn that her husband could never say those things to her. That's probably what hurts the most. Being blindsided.

We could focus on how evil he is, and how men are so and so, but that's not the point of this post. I'm not interested in him. I am interested in her. And myself. And you, reading this post.

How can we keep from being blindsided?

Ever so often, I speak to women (and sometimes men), who like this woman, are pained, disappointed, and shocked by betrayal. They never expected that their spouse would have an affair/be sexting with a colleague/expressing love for their ex/become verbally or emotionally abusive/*insert your own example here*. Even if they had had suspicions, the shock on actually finding evidence can be devastating.

Hearing of people who have had similar experiences, doesn't suffice as preparation for the shock. You see, these type of things aren't supposed to happen to people like us. They only happen to "those people", you know, the ones that are not as smart/sharp/educated/exposed as us. Those careless people, who didn't really pray before choosing a spouse, those sinners. Or those religious, holier-than-thou hypocrites, who are so out of touch with reality. Whichever applies.

Why is it so hard to acknowledge that anything can happen to anyone, ourselves inclusive? Like exploring worst case scenarios and doing a little more than saying "God forbid!" somehow puts a hex on our love?

Life happens.

But wait!
How can you say I should expect my partner to be evil?
What happened to expecting the best of people? Doesn't that show of a lack of faith in my partner.
Also, aren't we supposed to reject negative things and only expect positive things?
You know, speak in faith, calling things that be not as though they were, Hebrews 11 style.

Let me explain (before you bind me)

I am of the opinion that faith does not mean living in denial. Life happens and the many examples around us hold lessons if we care to pay attention.
I am making a case for being proactive. For taking precautions. Every time I put my seat belt on, I am preparing for a crash that might never happen. Yet, I put it on. I'm probably only doing it so I don't get written up by a cop, but still...

Like Proverbs 22:3 says,
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
Acknowledge the possibility of undesirable outcomes, and have honest conversations with your partner about these things. Especially if they haven't happened yet.

For example, couples drift apart. That's a fact of life. If you acknowledge that this is a possibility, you can talk about it. What are we doing to keep the fire burning? That seems to me like a better plan than saying "God forbid!" and "It is well", without actively working to keep it from happening.

You might also want to consider losing the "hmmm...see them! they couldn't make their marriage work!" attitude for a "there goes I, but for the grace of God" one, when you hear of other people's struggles. They, like you, had good intentions.

What if it has already happened?
What does a person whose partner insists on being with someone else do?
That's a whole different post.
Look out for it.

Thanks for coming by again and again.
May your dreams come true.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Unconditional Love: The worst thing you could give your spouse.

"To have and to hold from this day forward,
for better for worse, for richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
till death us do part."

The vows.
The official end of "happily ever after" fairy tales.
The official beginning of your real life journey.

Now, you've sworn, before God and witnesses, to walk life's journey with this one person. Forever. Death being the only thing that could possibly separate you. You are so ready for the next phase of your life. Yes!!

Happily ever after? LOL


Who made the happily ever after promise to you? Hollywood? Disney? Novels?

Yes, you're well within your rights to expect happiness. You deserve it. If not you, who? You're special, good looking, educated, all that and a bag of chips. And cookies. And skittles. Yeah. We know.

I hate to be the one to break it to you. Nobody owes you. You want to be happy? You've got to be willing to put the work in. Nothing is getting handed to you on a platter. If you're old enough to be married, you're old enough for the truth - marriage isn't for entitled people.

One of my favorite verses of scripture about marriage is Ecclesiastes 4:9 because I think it paints a realistic picture if what marriage really should be like. A mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship.
Whether you've been married for two weeks or two decades, the immense power that your partner wields over you will always be a two edged sword. This one person has the capacity to bring you joy and cause you pain. To make you laugh and make you cry. To take you to heights of passion and depths of despair.

In a perfect world, they'll only use their power for good. Unfortunately... *insert sad face here*.
Intentionally or not, the love of your life will hurt you. And you them. It's only normal that you'll piss each other off. In small ways. And big ways. C'est la vie.

The tricky part about hurting our partners though, is that what seems like a big deal to them might not be to us. You think nothing of a playful jab and they are deeply offended by it. Are they too sensitive? Or are you the insensitive one here?

Each of us has a mental ranking system that we use to assign importance to issues. This complex system, which can differ significantly from person to person, is a function of many factors, social conditioning, age, temperament, culture, race... The list is long.

How does this affect your relationship?
What you consider to be a big deal, say an affair, might not be a deal breaker to someone else who considers being rude to their parents major. It's easy to see why a person who grew up in a polygamous family might not mind sharing their spouse with several others, to you though, it might be unthinkable. However, the same person might not be able to put up with you giving their mum a piece of your mind, which to you, might not be a big deal because your folks let you speak freely.

The nature of the offence is irrelevant. What matters to each person is where it ranks on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being "It is what it is" and 10 being "NEVER!!"

Let me point out though, that while it is important that issues are resolved and not swept under the carpet, making a big deal out every perceived hurt is not very endearing. 1 Corinthians 13 talks about how love is not easily offended. Nobody wants to be with a fault finding nitpicker. Remember the proverbial quarrelsome woman, whose husband would rather live on the rooftop? Ain't nobody got time for that. You'll have to let things slide from time to time. What you choose will depend on your ranking system and you'll know your partner well enough to figure out what works and what doesn't.

What about the big things. The deal breakers. The offences that rank 9 or 10 on your scale. The ones that have you plotting and planning how to exact your pound of flesh and make your partner suffer for what they did, even if it means jail time for you.

What are your options when you're hurt at this level?

A) Unconditional Love
Of course!
You vowed to love them, didn't you?
You've been known to goof too, and they forgave you.
After all, no one is perfect. Love covers a multitude of sins.
Remember your vows. You swore to love this person unconditionally! That means that no matter what they do, you MUST forgive (and forget). Remember, God hates divorce.

B) Revenge.
Refuse to forgive.
Why should you forgive?
They knew what they were doing, didn't they?
Yeah, you've been known to goof too, but not this badly.
You didn't really (really really) mean to hurt them when you did. Really.
But this one that they did?! Unforgivable!! They need to know you're not one to be messed with, so you retaliate. Or revenge. Or leave. You find a way hurt them back.

While "Unconditional Love" might seem like the "good" thing to do, and "Revenge" the "bad", I am of the opinion that they both have the potential to permanently damage your relationship on the long run.

I can already hear you
"Did you just say that unconditional love can damage relationships?
How? I don't agree! God calls us to forgive!
You must forgive you partner no matter what!
Remember that Jesus said to forgive 70 x 7 times!"

Allow me to elucidate.
Yes, God loves us unconditionally and we should love like He does. The bible says that anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

God's unconditional love does not give us a free pass to do as we should without consequences though. He lets us know that we can count on His love for us, then He gives us options, spells out the possible outcomes for each line of action and leaves it to us to choose.

Remember Joshua's conversation with the Israelites?
 "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve"
God loves us.
Nothing we do, or don't do, could ever change that.
That doesn't change the fact that He has expectations of us. In fact, it is His love for us that makes Him give us the power to choose. Like,

"I'll always be here for you. If you want to enjoy a relationship with me however, I have expectations of you, just as you have of Me."

I do not believe that loving you partner means putting up with everything they do, even when they are hurting you deliberately, while you helplessly endure cruelty, hoping and praying that one day, they'll change and come to their senses. I believe that it not only fosters disrespect, it also sets the stage for resentment and even abuse.

Think about it.

  • If I never have to deal with the consequences of my actions, where is my incentive to behave?
  • If I know that no matter what I do to you, you'll take me back, why will I not take you for granted?
  • If all I have to do is say sorry, whether or not I mean it, only to hurt you again and again and again and you'll forgive me, why would I do better?
  • Does your love for me mean that you should not expect, or demand, to be treated fairly?
  • Does being a "good" wife or husband mean having no expectations of your partner, even though they have expectations of you?

If this free pass to be reckless is what unconditional love is, then it's the worst thing that my spouse could ever give me. I honestly believe that we respect people who hold us accountable and who do not allow us to walk all over them. Boundaries are an important part of a relationship, especially if a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship is what both parties are working towards.

This my version of unconditional love:
"I love you too much to treat you badly. I am deliberate about my choices because I know that the consequences of my actions affect you. I hold you up to the same high standards of love and respect that I hold myself to. I love you too much to let you treat me badly."

What's yours?