New Year, New Me: Reflections on My Resolutions

2019 is well underway!  If you’re like me, you look forward to the new year.  After the rest and relaxation that comes with the holidays, the new year provides the opportunity for renewal.  With that comes the time to make resolutions.  You either want to begin a new habit, set a new goal or finally release whatever has been weighing you down.  I’m no stranger to setting resolutions in January and realizing in December I’ve made little to no progress.

The past couple of years have been a rollercoaster for me mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I gave birth to my son, experienced unemployment due to a layoff, and underemployment.  I was so focused on my family and put myself and everything I needed second.  As 2018 came to an end, I realized I lost my sense of self and wanted to become reacquainted with parts of me I lost.  I declared 2019 would be the year I focused on self-care in several facets of my life.  As Audre Lorde stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  (Lorde, 1988).  I’ve accepted that self-care is not selfish, but necessary to sustain myself in all facets of my life.

The first thing I did was write down the areas of my life that I wanted to focus on in 2019.  The areas that could use the most attention for self-care: family and health.  I then thought of words and phrases that would guide me through the year.  Several came to mind, however two resonated with me: consistency and courage.  I want to be a different person on December 31st than I was on January 1st.  The only way for this to happen is through consistent action and the courage to do what is necessary to achieve my goals.    

I have two goals for 2019 that are centered on my family: finding friends who are mothers and monthly date night with my husband.  As I navigate motherhood, I realize how important it is to have friends who are mothers, especially mothers who have children the same age as my son.  I absolutely cherish the friendships I have with the woman in my life.  However, there is something to be said about having a supportive group of mothers who can reaffirm me, as motherhood is a role I have to learn as I go.  There is no handbook to raising children.  I have joined a virtual mom’s group where I can ask questions, find resources, and receive support from other mothers.  Like myself, my husband has an unpredictable schedule.  As an entrepreneur, he makes himself available seven days a week and countless hours during the day.  It’s very seldom we have time to spend with one another.  Because of this, we have to be intentional about scheduling time to reconnect as husband and wife.  While we haven’t had our date night for January, we have remained committed to one of our favorite past times- watching all of the Oscar nominated movies, including Black Panther for the umpteenth time #wakandaforevereva.    

Another resolution for 2019 is to focus on my health.  Like most people, I want to lose weight by working out and healthy eating.  My health has been an afterthought the past couple of years.  Going through the fast food drive thru was more convenient than grocery shopping.  Working out before the break of dawn or after I put in a full day’s work was not an option.  Prior to having my son, I was a runner.  In fact, I was 10 weeks pregnant when I ran my first (and last) marathon.  Since then, I have had a hard time fitting running back into my lifestyle.  Training for a race is like a part-time job.  There is a training schedule you must maintain to complete a race successfully and injury free. 

So, far this year, I have managed to workout 3-4 times a week and I have scheduled time with a personal trainer twice a week.  I have to wake up at 4:30am to do it, but it’s a sacrifice I can manage in order to reach my goal.  I have also managed to meal prep a few meals each week.  Right now, I prepare 2-3 meals for dinner for my family.  My husband and I have unpredictable schedules.  Sometimes we’re not home until 7:00pm.  Having dinner already prepared allows more time to spend with our son and have a healthy dinner. As for running, my feet have yet to hit the pavement. I’m still included in my running groups Group Chat. My running group’s leader texts me to check on me, understanding the challenges I’m having working running into my schedule.

I personally believe 2019 is off to a great start.  I’ve identified the goals I want to reach and what I need to do to achieve them.  I’ve also learned to allow myself grace when I’d rather sleep in than go work out or eat a chicken biscuit instead of the green smoothie my husband made for me. By consistently making changes and having the courage to get up when I miss a target, I know that I’ll accomplish the difference I set for myself by December 2019.  

#IllAlwaysLoveMyMama #ShesMyFavoriteGirl

Mama was the first sista I ever cited and was my introduction to Black womanhood and Black Feminism. Long before I took up room in the academy, Mama taught lessons about agency, an ethic of care, resistance, joy, and love. Mama’s words and experiences were legitimate sources of knowledge and her ideas were my tools for analysis. As I’ve grown into my own person, our ideologies have diverged at many points and the way we do our work looks different, but there is most often a profound respect for each other as mother and daughter and as grown, independent people. IMG_3236
Mama did a perfectly imperfect job of teaching my sibling and I the balance of independent decision-making and community interdependency. She was intentional with us, and regardless of how lessons or manifestations of those lessons showed up, she (for the most part) would talk us through them.  Because of her commitment to us being our own, but connected person, my sibling and I live across the country from her while still being purposeful in our connections and in our grounding.  She’s proud of us, thankful that her investments paid off “in adult children who can make decisions on their own, who know who they are, who advocate for themselves, and who will be alright when I leave this place.” We’re proud of her too. She’s such a cool kid. B9F85A77-9689-4F39-A445-7C7C1614FC78

Mama played short and long ball with advocacy, agency, and resistance. My sibling and I are her long ball, but getting us to adulthood was short ball. Her advocacy showed up in the small moments, like her advocating for therapy as a general practice as I entered adulthood because, as she put it, no parent, regardless of intention, was perfect, and that this world didn’t care about Black girls’ and women’s trauma or parent issues. Mama had strict parenting practices. That’s what parents who love you do when they don’t have the economic or other capital to leverage/negotiate on your behalf if/when things go left. She was honest in that she told us that she didn’t have the luxury to raise children who couldn’t advocate for themselves and who couldn’t be resilient. Again, this world wasn’t created for Black girls and women. I appreciate that she told us that the world wasn’t fair, but would raise hell when folks acted unfairly or unjustly toward us. That’s how she rolls. #IGetItFromMyMama

IMG_1053As an adult child and someone who still considers and desires parenthood for myself, one of the realest things Mama taught me was through her commitment to herself as a person. In a society that requires and idolizes sacrifices by mothers’ (and other caretakers), she resisted the narrative as much as possible. She made time for herself in the midst of raising two kids and keeping all the parts to life moving (as smoothly as possible, when possible). She did small things (that I hated when I was little lol) like telling us to not come to her bedroom door before 8 AM on weekends and telling us “no” she was tired and needed to rest, as well as committing to her daily power walks and sending us outside to play so that she could read in quiet. These things were subtle, explicit, and efficient ways for her to prioritize herself, a practice that I value dearly as an adult. She often reminds us that she chose to make personal sacrifices for her children, and while I hear her agency in that, I think of all the things she chose/”chose”/had to release (in the immediacy and in the long term) in the name of motherhood. As a society, we’ve got to do better by mothers, parents, and caretakers.

1956922_10101440386061807_7369559418859423826_o I use the captions #IllAlwaysLoveMyMama #ShesMyFavoriteGirl for our pictures/selfies. She really is my all-around favorite. She’s this extrovert’s favorite social introvert (that’s code for she’s friendly but she don’t fool with a bunch of people lol). She’s this pay-full-price-for-convenience shopper’s favorite  thrifter because she always finds the best deals at estate sales. When we get on each others’ nerves, because that’s what happens with two grown, independently thinking people, I still wouldn’t trade her for anything. We don’t look much alike, but if my soul had a face, it’d have her nose, eyes, and lips. I am who I am because of her love, her commitment to me being my own person, and her fierce advocacy from Day 1. I don’t like to imagine life without her, but I know that it is eventual. So, I give her her flowers while she yet lives. She’s my boo. I love me some her. I’ll always love my mama. She’s my favorite girl.