S1E14 - On Parenting the Child in Front of You (rebroadcast)

Episode 14 April 26, 2023 00:45:59
S1E14 - On Parenting the Child in Front of You (rebroadcast)
Start to Finish Motherhood with Aisha
S1E14 - On Parenting the Child in Front of You (rebroadcast)

Apr 26 2023 | 00:45:59


Hosted By

Aisha Jenkins

Show Notes

*this is episode was previously recorded under my old podcast series Mocha SMC I thought it was so important I am airing it again here*  

As Single Mothers by Choice we get to make many of the decisions for our children, up to a certain point.  At the point when their personalities and their individual needs emerge many of us learn that the one size fits all approach that we grew up with will not work with our children.  We’ve had to adjust parenting styles and even to our support village so that we can safely and consistently parent the child in front of us.

For additional resources and to join the Start to Finish Motherhood membership visit: https://starttofinishmotherhood.com/

You can download my free Conversation Prep to help you prepare for any tough conversation you will be having.

There are also some resourceful videos on my YouTube Channel: 




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Episode Transcript

This podcast episode was produced and edited under the Mocha SMC brand. I produced the episode. I edited it, and I facilitated the conversation with the two guest hosts. I hope you enjoy it. Today's podcast is one that's been near and dear to my heart. It's been a long time in the making. It's about parenting the kid in front of you. It's really a nod to my own mom, who, while she wasn't a perfect human being, there were some things that she did that allowed me to grow up as a free black girl. I wanted [00:01:00] to do the same for my kids if I ever got the chance. What I love most about how she parented me is that when she reached a point, The limitations of her being able to sculpt and nurture me, she put me in the hands. Of trusted adults and kind of essentially got out of the way so took her stuff and set it aside so that I could blossom and I could bloom. It's one of the things I hope to do for my own kids. Here we are today with Jillian and Christina, welcome to both of you. Before I ask you to introduce yourselves, I do want to say that there. Things that I observed about both your parenting styles and the things that you've written that really, spoke to me. So first, Christina, you're like the jet beauty of my S m C story. You're the first black s m c I think it was an Ebony that I read your story and I was just like, yes. You know, so to kind of see myself reflected and to to be in the same space and. [00:02:00] Having the luxury of following your story and following your parenting has been nothing but a blessing to me, and it does influence my approach and the tweaks that I've made to how I'm parenting my girls. And then Jillian, I stumbled across your story and your thought process by happenstance. I was trying to produce another episode and I sent you an email kind of by mistake and then you just open up in a way that I was just like, I was near tears. Like this is, this is kind of what it's about and I think it's something that needs to be shared, and it leaned more toward having people ask you about your approach to parenting and having people witness your parenting style, which I think is something we don't often get to do or often realize as single mothers by Choice. I'm going to turn it. To both Christina and Jillian to introduce yourselves. Then we'll go jump into the episodes. Sure. First Aisha, thank you so much. For [00:03:00] those very kind words. I am, Christina, , I live outside Washington, DC I have a 10 year old son who was, conceived by anonymous sperm from a bank. We are. Living our lives here right now. I thank you so much for those words. I will say that, you know, as we will go on and talk about through this conversation, parenting is a journey and I'm still on it. So I am not trying to hold myself out as some kind of perfect parent. I'm struggling like everyone else, but it really has been a true joy. So I'm so glad to be able to share. With everyone today. Well, thank you Jillian. I'm Jillian. I have an 11 and a half year old and an almost three year old and we live in Texas, Houston, Texas. I do wanna say also thank you for asking me about parenting cause I've never, I swear like 11 and a half years it wasn't something that I gotta ask. So that was really nice to, to be able to, to open up about. So thank. Well, thank you. I've got an eight year old and a three and a half year old, and so right [00:04:00] smack dab in the middle of parenting and realizing that the people you have in front of you are not just little molds of yourself, They are individuals, and you have to honor that. All right, I feel like once we make this decision to have children on our own, we immediately start imagining. Who they're going to be and how we want to parent them. I know that this was true for me. I was so, you, you're so full of hope, right? and this was especially true with my first pregnancy, where I had the luxury of having a smooth pregnancy. So there was no chance that I was not going to meet this little person. And so I was just, you know, completely in love and I'm like, this is what I'm going to do. And so Christina and Jillian, What were your thoughts about how you wanted to parent as you were trying to conceive, or when you got that positive pregnancy test? I can say for myself that one of the things that I am really blessed about is that I. Had good parents who were good parenting role models. For me, I did know early on that I was having a boy, and so that was [00:05:00] an interesting, experience for me. I'm the youngest in my family, so I had not really had that experience of seeing children and knowing, you know, oh, I raised my cousins, or I babysat or did a lot of that stuff. So a lot of this really was new to me. So I have to say, I don't know whether I had a really good idea in my mind of how it was going to look, but I did want to be, really generous with love, which sounds so obvious, but my sense was that young boys, particularly young black boys, I just have this. Sense that they are loved to a certain point, and then it feels like there's like a cutoff. And then you have to be rough and tough and present this image to the world of, you know, strength and not ever being hurt. And I think that the damaging way to live, it's certainly not all men, and I don't want to say, you know, suggests that everybody has this experience, but one of the things that I just said to myself is, I want this child to feel loved all the time. This does not mean that I'm happy with him all the time, , but [00:06:00] it means that he will always have a place to come Home will always be a comfort for him. Home will not be a dangerous place for him. This is tough. Sometimes we're, it's just the two of us. And sometimes mommy gets mad. Sometimes the mommy has to tell, tell her like, you need to give me a little break, honey, so that I can have a moment to myself to come back to myself. But I think that those were, those were sort of the main things that I was thinking is that I wanted a kid who could be emotionally supported and who. Go out into the world and not feel like he needed to present like this face to the world of endless strength without emotion. I love that and I, I do think that it is a journey, like from the, from the time you find out, like I have two girls and for both of them I thought that they were boys. So I had started out thinking about how we were going to be as parent and kid, and I was gonna have little Wesley, you know, Wesley, was gonna be for. Of them, just kind of the two of [00:07:00] us, like skipping in the forest and then that changes radically. I did IUI for my first, I had to wait until 14 weeks to find out the gender, but I thought I was having a boy. I had names picked out, and when I realized I was having a girl, I had a bit of gender disappointment, like. Okay. She's not going to be Wesley. How do I deal with this? Part of it was that in my upbringing, I grew up with sisters and so girls always kind of came with a lot of drama. I don't handle drama well. And so for me, I had to take a step back and say, huh, how am I going to do that? But Jillian, what was your thought? What was going to be your approach to parenting as you were trying to conceive? Honestly, I didn't think of how I was gonna parent beyond. I want them to be good. I mean, it was, that was my frame of reference was like, for them to be an adult, you know, you have to have these certain qualities. I wanna be able to help them to have those qualities. I know it's kind of dry, but that's basically what I went with because the other part of me was like, I've done this before. I've been raised around kid. That part I can do. So I don't think I thought as [00:08:00] deeply as I should have as far as, how to parent. But that was where I. and, and then I had the opposite experience where my pregnancies did end up being really rough, so I got stuck into that part of it more so before they were born just trying to get through fertility. And so, no, I didn't do as well on that as I probably should have. I will say I, my journey tended to be kind of like a cross between both of yours because I am one of six girls, so I have five sisters, and they all had kids before me. They were younger. Single moms. And so I got the benefit of hindsight watching them raise their kids. And I was just like this, I don't wanna do this. Okay, I can see that. So, so for me, that was my model. And like you, Jillian, I wanted to raise good people, just really good, empathetic people. And I think that that set the baseline for a lot of the decisions I made. Early formative years from school choice to where I live and the values that are important. Okay. So I realized [00:09:00] as part of that initial thinking that there was a lot I needed to unpack about my upbringing. So I had to kind of go backward in order to to move forward in my parenting journey, realizing that where each individuals before we're parent and the parenting lens that we use is framed by. previous experience. So whether it's good, bad, traumatic, ugly, we do sometimes bring that in either consciously or unconsciously to our parenting. How has your worldview shaped your approach to parenting or how you're currently parenting your kids? My worldview right now, , I'm, I'm, I'm gonna say that at home I try to be a little bit more. And a little bit softer because my worldview and the things that I think I kind of grew up with was like, don't question adults. Not necessarily from my mom, but just in general. You know, you don't speak to adults this way, you do these certain things. And then so I just try to be a little bit softer. I allow them to come back at me and let me know what we need to discuss. But yeah. Try to be [00:10:00] softer and try to be open. Try to be humorous, because I know that that's things that he needs especially. Yeah, I like that. I think somebody said there, there are parts of parenting that's really hard and you know, we get caught up sometimes in that tunnel vision with, you need to do this, do this. And we're pushing, pushing, pushing. And somebody's just like, but at the end of the day, this is still their childhood. Right? And I think that that really kind of softens the view of where we are. This particular point in time and it makes the picture bigger that it, we'll get past this moment. Christina, how about you? You know, one of the things that comes to mind first when I think about that question is questions of discipline. That my, upbringing, as I mentioned, I'm the youngest and so my brother and sister would laugh because of course they believe that I got away with. everything, and they had the much more strict upbringing, but there were some things that were part of my childhood, like spanking. I will just be right out front with that. I was not spanked a lot. I don't think that spanking was something that personally I, I am not talking about anybody else's experience with it, but I don't [00:11:00] think that it personally damaged me or my parent, relationship with my parents was, you know, irreparably harmed that being. I remember every one of 'em, and I did spank Micah when he was little and then, and I would say like little maybe up to like toddler age, not with an object or anything. But then at a certain point I just said, you know what? This can't be a tool in my toolbox because there is no other adult in this house. There's nobody to tell me to stop, and there's nobody he can go to when. Mom is in a range , and that's just not fair to back a child into a corner like that. By virtue of just my physical presence, you know, just because I'm bigger than him, I will say, you know, it, was something that I had to. Think about, which seems though that there are probably parents who either think and don't think twice and they don't care or who have never done it and like how could this have ever been something in your, so I'm only talking about my own journey here, where I really did [00:12:00] have to say, this is something, this is a, a boundary that I'm setting for us because of our special circumstances and because. Just to reflect on the person. When you're talking about parenting the child in front of you, it hurts his feelings. It really . It really does. It hurts his feelings more than it hurts his body probably. So, you know, my feelings weren't necessarily hurt. By spankings. I mean, I'm sure I was, but you know, whatever, move on. But he like really like internalizes, it like things like, oh, you don't like me anymore. I'm like, oh, okay. That's just one thing that when you come up, when you talk about how one's worldview changes when you were actually parenting the child in front of you, that's just one obvious thing. I've had to develop other tools in my toolbox and so. as Jillian mentions this sort of like endless negotiation that children are learning now. Like sometimes he'll come to me and say, mom, I think you need to say I'm sorry. I never in my life has to apologize to me for yelling. He's like, is there something you need to say mom? And I'm like, [00:13:00] absolutely not . But these kids are like learning a lot of emotional. Type things in school and sometimes I think, okay, you know, I, I accept that you feel bad right now. I, not everything can be an apology, but I understand where you're coming from. So sometimes I have to think about this because sometimes I just wanna say, be quiet. And I can't, Imagine like I said, I mean my parents sadly have both passed away, but I would love to ask them because I think they would just like laugh hysterically to hear me having to like kind of deal with the kid who talks a lot because I talk a lot and I think they would love to see how I have to negotiate that. But anyway, so yeah, that's one, that's one thing that sort of stands out to me for that question. Yes, that's exactly how my son is. I have to accept that, you know, he's a talker and he's gotta talk to me and he's, I've gotta let it happen. and that's a good thing. Like, I know at my daughter's school this year, I think they introduced a [00:14:00] new part of the curriculum called emotional social learning. Mm-hmm. . And there's actually a room that is like, almost a sensory room as well, but they have budget for a person. to kind of lead that, type of learning. And so I will say for me, my childhood was rough. It was full of drama. I grew up in Brooklyn in the eighties, during the height of the drug epidemic at the epicenter. so for me there was a lot of drama. There was a lot of , arduous labor. Like I remember Saturdays, my dad would have us moving stuff literally. 10 year olds moving concrete blocks. Don't ask me what. So, similar to what both of you said, I tried to be intentional about, one, creating safe spaces for my kids to have those conversations with me, but also being really affectionate and speaking love and positivity into my kids. And it's just like I hug them. I tell them that I love them. You know, I send them to school, they get out the car. I love you. because I feel like they need that coat when they go out into the world and they're still little [00:15:00] people who are very vulnerable. And so for me, I wanted home to be a safe home base. I wanted there to be no drama, no screaming. That's part, of why I chose the SMC path I was married and what I was seeing in my marriage that we were. Such cross purposes with how we wanted to be as humans and how we might want to parent that. I could see me choking back a lot of swear words, a lot of tension in the home. So when I went back to dating and I thought about what I really, wanted and I just wanted peace and I wanted to say space in my home and for my kids. And so for me, I try to do a lot of hugs and you know, a lot of communication. The other day I yelled at my daughter as we were getting ready for school and I try not to cause trauma before I have to drop her off at school because that disrupts her learning. And so when I picked her up that day, she told me that she sat in the thinking chair at school and she talked to her teacher and she told her teacher, she was sad because her mom yelled at her. And so she told me, she was like, mom, you totally emptied my bucket. And I felt [00:16:00] sad, right, Christina? It's just like, you know, where are they getting this language? But I felt sad for me because I had to validate her and I knew she was right. I was like, you know, I'm sorry I emptied your bucket. You know, how can I make it right? You know? But the fact that she felt safe enough to tell me and to tell her teachers. Feeling like she had to choose between me and her own emotional safety. It, it says something and I hope it's something that she continues to do as she develops. But, anyway, I get, I get all choked up. So no, that's such an intelligent way of talking about it and I will say, as much as I laugh about my goodness, you know, these children have so much to say, it is good. It, it goes back to the. Thing I said is to raise somebody who's emotionally healthy, who can set boundaries for themselves. Mm-hmm. and not like, wait until something builds up so much that they explode in some kind of bad manner. Just think it's, it's just better. These are the people who we want, these are the good people. [00:17:00] Jillian, as you said, I mean, these are the good adults that we need to have in the. So as SMCs, we get to make all the choices. That's That's one of the blessings, right? And one of the curses. And so kind of looking back on your life as children, there are some things that we have to be intentional about. So what were you intentional about bringing into your parenting style? And then what were some things that you were just like, Yeah, I'm gonna leave this behind. I know we talked about spanking, but was there anything else that you were like, I'm going to be intentional about doing these things to make this a part of our daily lives? I can start by saying, one thing that I'm very intentional about is privacy and it, something that I just feel that it's a lesson that if he understands that he has a right to. Bodily autonomy and private spaces and things like that. So my hope, honestly, is that later on he is in a dating situation where somebody says, stop that. That's too much. That's, you need to stop that. He will understand because somebody stopped for him. I, I'm [00:18:00] not as, there are people who take, who go in a very, what I consider to be like, Extreme. I, I shouldn't say extreme. I can't think of a better word right now, but where my child should never be forced to hug. I do think that actually is true. I'm not like, as kind of hardcore about it, but there are certain things that I do. I knock on his door before I come in. I knock and I wait for him to invite me in. I let him know that his room is a place that he has his dressing and things like. You know, now he's getting old enough that it's not as big a deal. He can dress himself, but you know, when he was younger, I would ask permission to do certain things or I would tell him that I'm gonna do certain things. Now we're gonna, you know, I'm gonna take off your shirt. Okay, now shirt back on, and stuff like that. I think that often we think we can get to, you know, the child is a tween or the child is a teenager, and now we can start having the sex talk and the privacy talk and the consent talk and stuff like that. But I do feel like some of those. need to happen all along in small ways. So that was something that I felt like pretty intentional about. And I think, you know, I talked a little bit about discipline in terms of things that I am [00:19:00] more intentional about sort of leaving out of our, of our lives. Yeah. I think kind of like when we talk about race, you know, I think it is something that is just present and it should be in every kid's dialogue, you know, white, black. , every color in the spectrum that we should be talking about race. You don't have to like be an indoctrinaire about it, but I think it's ever presence like privacy, and like those two year olds who is just like, I can do it. I'm just like, Ooh, it test the bounds of body autonomy, . So how about you, Jillian? . I do think there's a bit of, about what Christina said because, you know, having a toddler and an 11 year old, it's like sometimes toddler, you know, you need to, need to teach. Start teaching them early. That privacy's a thing, But I'm also trying to be intentional about boundaries and respecting who the other person is As far as, we are very tight knit. You know, it's only three of us, but we're still very different people. We still have needs, we need space sometimes. Sometimes we need to be able to say, You know, I need a break. You know, you need to be able to let people have what they need when you can give it to them. You need to [00:20:00] be able to understand that it's not about you, basically. It's not like we're telling you to go away. We're just saying, this is what I need in the moment. So I'm trying to teach them right now that it's okay to voice what you need in your moment. It's, it's getting easier, but it's, it's, we're learning that right now. Yeah. I, I would say a combination of what both of you said. Body autonomy and setting, healthy boundaries. And then also for me, making sure that my kids realize that they play a role in the community or the ecosystem. Right. I do a lot of gardening at my house and, part of it is learning, part of it is teaching solitude, being out in nature and having that appreciation for things that are vulnerable. right? Because yes, we can pour like hot water and chicken grease like in the garden, but what are we harming? What are we killing? But helping them to understand that they are a part of an ecosystem, right? They're part of a community and that, they have jobs in the community and they're responsible for protecting the community as well. And so community and ecosystems are just a big [00:21:00] part of my, my parenting style. And then of course, the thing that I wanted to leave behind was just a lot of high drama and a lot of, I don't wanna say materialism as SMCs. Sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the the giving of our village, right? What do the kids want? You've got a million people sending gifts. You've got a million people like just giving stuff, but trying to understand that, okay. So what do we do with all of this stuff? What's our responsibility? So we do recycling. Christina mentioned something triggered me to have a conversation with my daughter about giving Tuesday because she has a part of her bank that is like a donation. So now we've waited all year to get to the point where we get to decide where we're donating. And so we waited all year to get to this point where we get to choose where we donate. So I donate to PBS because PBS. PBS kids, they are just rocking it. And so I donate there. So I asked her, where does she want to donate? And she wants to donate to our local Y M C A because they feed into her, PBS because PBS. Community. And so I'm just like, I want that giving, [00:22:00] not just receiving things, but the, the value of giving to also be a part of our parenting. A lot of us, you know, as SMCs, we get to kind of make the rules, right? we've read all the parenting books and we're already. Side of what's considered mainstream and traditional. So we get to like, do different things with how we raise our kids. How do you raise your kids the way you want to raise them in the context of long held family traditional values? I have to remember who my children are when I, I think about, my oldest and how sensitive he is and in his heart and like I have to make sure that I'm parenting. To that, paying attention to what's gonna build him up, because it will be so easy to just do something and like tear it all down. So I wanna constantly be putting in good things, and so I need to pay attention to him. I can't pay attention to everybody else. And it's similar to my, my toddler, where she has her certain needs. So if I'm not the one meeting her needs, who's gonna do that? It's up to me. So I have to be intentional [00:23:00] about what I'm doing. And I know like the holiday seasons are coming up, right? So we're going to be in the midst of a lot of this. Oh, you let that boy get away with a lot of. Stuff. Oh, she talked back to you like that? Like how do you stand firm and it's just like, this is the way I'm parenting. I need you to back off. Like, how do you, Christina? Yeah. You know, it is, you know, sadly, as I mentioned, my parents have passed away and so that sort of immediate, oh, you let him talk to you like that, or, oh, he, that kind of thing is not necessarily a part of our lives, but I think. I mean, I really have to agree with Jillian that it, it is a matter of, you have to remember. Your child is your child, and your child is having his or her own life journey. And some of the things, not all of the things, certainly, I don't wanna say that everybody's family traditions are like troubling or something like that, but some of the things that we were raised with don't really make that much sense. They just were passed down because they just, this is just the way we talk. I actually experienced this [00:24:00] recently. My son and I got to visit my college. I went to Florida A and M University, the H B C U, and so this was , I'll say. He just told me later, like all the people there are black. Did you notice that? I said, I did notice that. Sweetie. But. One of the things we saw there was we met a person there who was a peer of my father. So someone who's like my parents' age, although she was a little younger than my father. Afterwards, my son was like, she's my friend, and also he called her Dolores, so he called her by her first name. And I just like cringe because. I just don't like it. I just don't like children to call older adults by their first names. And also I wanted to say, somebody who could be your grandmother is not your friend. But then I thought like, why am I getting so hung up on the fact what he is expressing to me is that he loved this woman. He thought she was great. That is the most important part. Second, I did actually tell him like, please call her Miss Glover. But the other thing, but I realized that I was getting like kind of hung up on the sort of etiquette and not really listening to what it was he was saying, which is that he had a wonderful time and he [00:25:00] loved meeting this person who was very friendly to him and loved him back. So sometimes you do have to just sort of step out of yourself a little bit. There's certain things that like kind of are immediate triggers for me and I missed the forest. because I'm like triggered by like this, this tiny tree. So anyway, it's weird. I get very, it's, it's strange growing up. I, you know, live outside DC in this very progressive kind of blue community. But when I get back south, it's like all of a sudden, like, and this is where I grew up too, outside dc but like when I get back to fam, I all of a sudden become like this highly southern, very strict mother. Like, you know, Ma'am open the door and you know, Anyway, it's silliness. But yeah, I think it's just a matter of, you know, these kids today, I mean, I don't know. Jillian and Aisha, if is the same for you, you cannot parent these kids carelessly. Okay. Because they will really call you . Oh, you have to. You to. You have to be in the moment. I will sit there and be driving, my daughter's asking me questions. I'm mm-hmm. , Uhhuh, . Sure. She's just like, mom. You're not even listening to me. What [00:26:00] did I say? And I'm like, I'm sorry, . They don't let it go. They don't let something go. And they're like, mom, mom, mom, mom. . Like, I better feel that the words are like hitting my head like rocks. I can't. I thought it was just my child who would call me out. But yes, my son would do that. What did I say? Okay. And it's, it's just like free kids, right? And so I know for me, my parents are also long deceased and so the kind of rules and structure that used to exist when you have that older generation in place does not exist. So it's really like anything goes. I had to really take a deep look at who my sisters were. As people and the drama. And so for me, I've got like one or two aunties that the girls know growing up, and I really had to put strong boundaries in place because I got to witness what it looks like in my family to see nieces and nephews where there were not strong boundaries and there were influences that people felt like they could not. Change. And so for me, [00:27:00] I think that it is a privilege to be able to influence someone's child. It is a privilege to be able to nurture and talk to someone's child on a regular basis, and that's a privilege I don't take lightly. And so for me, I had to really look at the people in my circle and really examine their values and not in a preachy kind of way. It's just like, yeah, you know, I'm the only one with small children of my sibling group, so it's easy for me to just, Yeah, we're going to spend Thanksgiving in Virginia this year and not like I can set up some firm boundaries by the very nature that my kids are young and my sisters are all like grandmas now. And so for me that's helped to avoid a lot of unnecessary drama, so strong boundaries. What's been most surprising about the parenting journey, ? What's been most surprising to you? For me, I would say that, When your child is young, so my child just turned 10 when here he is young. They pretty much do everything you want to do, right? I'd be, what are they [00:28:00] going to do? They can't drive the car. They have no, they have no opinions about anything and you can do a lot of the thing. You can just take them places and it's fine. At a certain point, I wanna say, when my son got into kindergarten, I think it was when it started becoming very clear to me that he really had his own personality about certain things, and there's certain things. Bother him that don't bother me. One thing that is, sadly, something that is very common to both of us is we always are running late and I, I'm just not very good with time and neither is he. And we both get very distracted. So I'm constantly like, ugh. But I realize that, for example, if I started the morning like this and got him to school like that in this very rushed kind of like, go, go, go, go, go. Grab, grab, grab that. He would be like, rattle. for the whole day. Mm-hmm. , it would really cause just, and I would, and I would hear from teachers, like it would really just cause just a cascade of, of effects. So anyway, all that to say, like, I had to say, well wait a minute. Like I can't, like we can't both start the day like this , so [00:29:00] I've gotta like do better. To help him do better. I think that, this is just one like small example of something that I saw when he was in kindergarten, but as he's getting older and older, there are certain things he likes to do. I used to be able to go to more S m C events that I can't go to now because he's not interested in going, or he'll ask if there's kids there that are his age and if they're not, he doesn't really wanna go. Yeah. He's just is he's turning into his own. Little person and, and and so I have to deal with him sometimes like. , a little person, like I know what you wanna do is, is talk like nonstop, but mom can't like handle the nonstop talking, so we're gonna have to negotiate something here anyway. Yeah, just seeing them become their own person and realizing that you have less control than you think, which is. Comforting in some ways because when you, when they are babies, you think that, oh my gosh, if I breastfeed, oh my gosh, if I co-sleep, oh my gosh, if I do this or that, you know, all these things that seems so important in the moment. Years later. You realize this, [00:30:00] this did not make that big a difference. They're going to be their own person. Yeah. Jillian, I think for me the, the surprising thing, there's so many surprising things. Honestly, , the surprising thing right now is that I have to constantly kinda examine myself against him. So like, there's so much of us that we're so much alike, but it still surprises me. , oh wait, he got, he's as sensitive as I am, so I need to go back and think, how would I want this to be done to me? So now I need to do that for him, or that when we're having a really rough moment, I need to, I need to get humorous with it. And it's like, give him a weird look or like something to like kind of break it down because you know, he, the way that he. He's that sensitive person, I need to pay more attention to that. And so reexamine how I react to things and how he needs to be reacted to, I guess. But, so yeah, as you can tell, I'm like dealing with my parenting on a very regular basis, trying to figure out how to best handle. Us in that way. So I guess, yeah, I'm, see myself in a, [00:31:00] in a better light than what I grew up with. So I I will, kind of agree. Christina, you had something, I just was just pivoting off of something that you said, Jillian, I would say in, in terms of examining yourself, one thing that I don't think that we do enough of is asking for. Some of these things, my son has adhd. I may also . It is, it is not uncommon for people whose children have ADHD and go through the diagnostic process to look at some of the things that their children do and say, wow. Hmm. You know, so , so I'm in a process now in my, early fifties of thinking like, huh, lemme look back at this thing that happened when I was younger. Gosh, I wonder all that to say that some things by nature of that, again, he is his own person. And some things that could, you know, work or be motivational for a, you know, a child neurotypical, you know, a child who doesn't have. are things that just either cause him to like shut down or he gets in a very, like self anger, you know, internal Yeah. That, is not something that, I [00:32:00] know naturally how to address. And so I've had to go to other sources, how to work with kids with ADHD and how to parent kids with. Yeah, so that I can have more tools in my toolbox for that. It's not something that comes naturally to me at all, and we think that all this stuff should just come naturally, but we are people too. We have our own triggers too. Yeah, and there's something to be said for being kind to ourselves as we are kind to our children. I think you hit on something. Christina, and this is, this leads into my next question that we start out with these little bundles flopping around on the bed, And then you are in full control. You're their world until they enter school. School is like going from the frying pan to the fire. You learn about your kid, you learn about yourself, you learn about the school system. And I know for me, part of raising the kid in front of me was coming to terms with the fact. My child might not like the things that I liked or might struggle with. Things that were easy for me, and I'm currently in the midst of [00:33:00] this. My daughter, her school was interrupted by the pandemic, and so that meant that some of the, the fundamentals of reading and, you know, regular, typical behavior stuff put us in kind of a spiral last year where the school was trying to say, that she was, she had a D h D or. Sent us through the whole diagnostics. And so I really had to take out a lot of time to evaluate who my child is, who I am, who her school is, and what tools are available to us. And part of that is looking at her and saying, okay, developmentally, is this what, feels normal? And then being honest with, okay, yeah, there, there's some, concentration issues. Is it major? What else is going on in the classroom? And so I think that there are tons of times where your kid enters the school system, where you're getting all of these messages and you have to stop and say, who is my kid? What's normal for my kid? In order to do that, you have to see your child. , good, bad, [00:34:00] other where they are developmentally to be able to say, okay, this is an area where they need help. This is valid, this is probably race-based. This is, you know, typical. I also have a kid who is on the younger end of the age spectrum. Like she turns her age for the classroom, right, a week before school. So technically developmentally, she's still like when she's turned seven, she's still on the back end of six, and so I'm going to get a lot of those issue. where I had to advocate for her because part of seeing the kid in front of you is knowing when and where and how to advocate for your kid. I had to push back on the school like you're putting her in timeout. for doing things that are developmentally appropriate for where she is for her age, and they're like, no, no, no, we. It, it's a, you know, it's a responsive classroom. I'm just like, no. So they sent me like these pages from a book. They're like, you know, evaluate these behavioral, patterns. I was like, but did you mm-hmm. because mm-hmm. based on this book, she's hitting everything that she should hit for where she is in her age group, early [00:35:00] seven. So part of it is like pushing back on the system as well. Now I have a healthy regard for teachers, but I also know my kid, and I'm just like, Hmm. Yeah. Long story short school is like going from the frying pan to the fire. So how has your parenting approach changed or adjusted based on who your kid is in school? So we're homeschoolers, so I think for us it's more so about looking at him or her, which she's, you know, kind of early on, but looking at him. Really thinking honestly about his abilities and what I can do for him. Like Christina said earlier, sometimes you have to ask for help. And I think as a homeschooling parent, that's where a lot of my outsourcing comes from. I have to have other people who can help me to look at it in a very general way instead of, you know, my attachment to my child. I want to be able to do what I can do to make him the best. You know, that kind of thing. I have to be able to look outside of that and see what he actually needs. So that's kind of. Schooling comes into my parenting. All right. And Christina, how about you? I would say [00:36:00] that Micah loves his school he, my experience with the school is mixed. It is, it's mostly a very nice place. There have been times when I feel. That I do think they care about him. but sometimes they just, they cannot know him like a parent does. And I do feel that as single parent of a black boy, that I have to present myself a certain way. To not be perceived as whatever somebody's going to perceive as a single, you know, mother of a black boy. That means that probably there are some times when I, I might hold my fire. I guess because I say I want to hold this until the time when I'm really gonna need to say like, look, you guys, this is not right. I'll be honest. I don't even know whether I am being too cautious. I might be. This is one. . There's a handful of times where I wish that I've had another parent in the household, and I will say that this is one of the experiences or dealing with schools dealing with special needs where I think it would be really [00:37:00] nice to have somebody there because I see certain things a certain way. But having somebody who loves Micah as much as I do. Who could be another set of eyes. I do miss that. Anyway, I will just say, the, the long way of answering that question is that it is very much still a journey. And I think to myself, you know, he is in fourth grade now, and boy middle school, this is gonna be, whew. Because the elementary school is still a fairly self-contained situation. But the way our school he has three separate teachers. He has a homeroom teacher, a math teacher, and a language arts teacher. And just experiencing that has been, A, change. So when he gets to middle school, it has six different teachers, or seven, I don't know how they do the periods here. Yeah, It's a, it's an ongoing process, I'll say with this one. So that, does lead me to, to my next question. So who's in your village? So you mentioned having someone who loves your kid and is invested in your kid as much as you are, that you can bounce these things off. Because I know there was a time when [00:38:00] my youngest, there was something I knew was wrong with her eye and I was just like on the phone with my sister. I was like, Take a look at this picture. Do you see something wrong? My sister's like, yeah. So you know, my sister's a part of that village that's just like, I just need a second set of eyes. I need a second set of ears. But also I have a really great relationship with my donor sibling mom, who is also like a social worker and like, and you know, developmental psychology and all of that's. Stuff. So, who's in your village? Who, who are the people that you go to with the minutiae of parenting? Like, look, you know, she picked out the blueberries from all of the strawberries. She's a genius, right? Who are those people for you? There's definitely, there's definitely a lot of other SMCs. I mean, I feel really fortunate the DC metro area, Aisha, as you know, has a million SMCs and so there was a, there's a cohort of women who I just sort of bonded with. We, we were all pregnant around the same time, so our kids were all somewhat around the same age, although most of them had girls. So now we're starting to kinda drift a little bit cause my son's interests are, [00:39:00] are a little bit different. but I definitely still talk with them. I actually participate on an online group for, you know, for other single mothers by choice who have children with special needs. And sometimes that is really helpful because I think people often wanna offer parents a lot of advice. Regardless. And people wanna offer single moms tons of advice, , because they feel like empowered to do it, got my guest because they think that we're asking for it. So in cases like that, I really do wanna talk with other mothers who have been, who are going through the same thing. So it's not just like, you know, ask your husband or was whatever somebody who's going through the same thing, who's going through the same negotiations with the school, who knows what it's like to be. That one parent in a room when there's an, you know, special education meeting and you're the, you're the only person and then the whole rest of the school is, is sitting on the other side of that table. That's a very unique experience. And so these are the people who are in my village for things like this. I do miss having the, oh my gosh, can you believe how smart he is? Kind of conversations. But a lot of, a lot of [00:40:00] my friends, just people who are friends with me before this journey I'm blessed that many of them are still friends with me now and so I can share some of that. And some of them know, that they have been drafted into this role because my parents are not here. they're, they recognize that like, okay, now she's gonna talk about his grades, but that's okay. They're very generous, so I'm lucky that way. Yes. And Jillian, So I love a family group text I'm like really quick to send like some, like, goofy pictures of my mom and my sisters and, so those are the primary people. That I'll send something to and like, Hey, you gotta see this, or We're gonna go do this. You wanna hang out? As far as our community, I think post covid, that's something that I'm having to reevaluate, like do our, needs match up. Our values match up now. for right now we're, we're pretty contained my mom and my sisters. But yeah, I think we're, we're getting to where we're, we're kind of stepping out and like finding other parents that have older kids and. Parents with toddlers, so kind of digging around, but mostly it's , my family, my mom and my [00:41:00] sisters. Yeah, I would say, definitely echoing what Christina said. One of the reasons I actually moved to this area was because of the large active and diverse S M C community, and you really can find your people. Like I'm, I'm really pro-black, but I also have some white SMCs that are just like, have been in my corner, my entire birth cohort. It's the in-person community. It's my, you know, the siblings. It's the virtual community. Last question, what do your kids, what are they gravitating toward as professions? . Oh my goodness. , I, Micah has wanted to be a firefighter since age. Three. I don't know. I don't know how it happened. I don't know how it happened He has been, he has wanted this, you know, I mean, he's only 10, so this has been a pretty long time. Although he has recently switched to wanting to be a SWAT officer, so he, I know it's, it's quite a, conversation because he loves police, he love. Police as you'll love this story. We recently were in New York. I had to go for a business trip and so [00:42:00] I had to bring, bring my son along. So we were in Manhattan. Every police officer he saw, he is like, I think I'll go talk to him. I said, Hey, let's not talk. To every police officer. So he was like waving at every police officer, just kinda like giving him like a little underhanded wave. And I was like, let's not wave at all the police officers. Right. But, you know, it's, it's in, in a way, it's darling because he thinks that, like of course every police officer would love to wave back at me. I'm a great fan and I love police officers. Anyway, so he has wanted to be a firefighter though for most of that time, and I have taken him to every fire department, open house, , that is within a 20 mile radius, of my home. And we've been to so many that he has like a, yeah, give you like little fake fire heads. We have a stack of fire hats in his I love, I love, I love that. I love that. I love all of his things. But you know what though? If he says he wants to do it, and I was like, okay. I said, that sounds great, that you know, and who knows? But there's nothing wrong with [00:43:00] encouraging that he loves it and, that sort of thing. I don't, love it. But, you know, why not? You know, , I mean, it, there's, there'll be time enough later in life to experience non joyful things. But, but this one he gets happy. Makes you know, which mostly makes me happy, except when I'm driving to all these fire departments. , how about you, Jillian? I think my oldest is, he's very much into animation and, and that kind of thing, so that's where the conversations come from, where he is like, mom, are you listening? like, yes, I hear you. I hear you. Keep talking. I'm, I'm listening. So he is into animation. I think my youngest. , we'll see, but I think she's gonna be a food critic or something. She was that baby that, that got the reputation for being hangry all the time. Uhhuh. And even up to last night, she's like screaming for food, like a little library thing. She's like, I need food. I'm like, okay. So I think she's gonna do something with food. I don't know. But that, that seems to be their, their personalities. Right. . Yeah. My, my daughter, I love kind [00:44:00] of like her creativity. I think she's going to, she's artistic. Like she, she draws really well, I mean like kid drawings, but, you know, it's very cute. So I've started a little portfolio for her, but our ongoing, talk because she also likes to build with the, the mega blocks. And so she builds structures and I'm just like, she's like, I'm gonna be a builder. I was like an engineer. She's like a builder. I was just like, an engineer. So finally she's joined me on the engineer, the engineer, you know, career path. And so she's, our ongoing conversation is about the house that she's going to build for me. And so she's just like, but can I be an, what did she call it? She combined like artist and engineer. And I was like, definitely you can build and then you can design what the interior looks like. So, you know, it's all part of this ongoing conversation about how you steer them. And it's just like, but she's like architect. She's like builder. Architect, I just need you to, to just jump with me over here. But, thank you both for joining me today. Like I said, this, this episode has been a long time in the making. It's something that I'm passionate about. It's one of the joys of, of raising [00:45:00] little people to go out into the world. It's just being a part of. Helping them out there, you know, and I really feel like it's a privilege. I pray most nights that God allows me to be the parent that my kids need me to be. And so whatever way, shape, or form that is, there you have it. Parenting the kid in front of you.

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