A Few Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

SketchValentinesDay590Today is February 14th…Valentine’s Day!!!!

Love is in the air; flowers and chocolates have been sent aplenty. What a great day to be loved.

Or is it?

Recently, I was part of a discussion about Valentine’s Day and we hit on quite a few topics. From whether or not we celebrate, what the day means, it was a great “roundtable” discussion with some amazing women, and I wanted to share some of MY thoughts on this day.

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day.

In my opinion, it’s become a commercialized day to see who can outdo the other person with the “best” gift, etc. For me, the meaning has been lost and is all about spending.

Don’t get me wrong I am a HOPELESS romantic. I love a good romance novel, movie and the overall feeling of love. I LOVE love. However, if you only use THIS day as the ONLY day to express your love for another, then there are some other underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Relationships take work. From marriages, friendships, business partnerships and the like; they ALL take work and growth and sometimes a little sacrifice. Declaring a day to show your love for someone disturbs me. This has been something I’ve felt for a long time. I’m not a bitter woman who shuns Valentine’s Day or anything like that. I simply believe that we have become too engrossed in the purchasing power associated with the day and the true meaning has been lost.

Instead of using today to shower someone with gifts, how about spreading it out every day? Little notes here and there, an encouraging smile, offering your hand without expecting anything in return, being a shoulder for someone who needs it. It’s the little things, compounded over time, that show your love for others.

I enjoy seeing all the posts about the gifts received and dinners attended. Everyone is happy and is having a great time. At the end of the day, the flowers will wilt, the chocolates will be eaten, the dinner digested. Did that make you feel whole? Did all of that make you feel complete? If you didn’t receive any of these “gifts,” would the day still have meaning for you? What about tomorrow or the next day or next month? Sometimes we tend to look for love in the wrong places and never find that true happiness which can only come from within.

At the end of the day, as long as you love YOURSELF, the other things are simply secondary.

A Word (or Twenty…) on Parenting

Parenting…It’s Not For Everyone.

The other day, I was chatting with a friend, and one of the things we talked about waparentings life as a parent today.  We talked about child angst and how our kids defy us and test us every single day.  From the back-talking to meltdowns to the many attitudes, being a parent is the toughest job out there.

This is always such a heated topic because everyone seems to have an opinion, especially when it comes to discipline.  For me, I have strong feelings on this and for those who do not agree with me, that’s fine.  Growing up, my maternal grandmother (I called her MaMa, may she rest in peace)  helped to raise me and my cousins when I lived in California.  I grew up in a strict, traditional Jamaican household.  She was the boss and ruled her house with an iron fist.  She was the LAW.  You didn’t DARE cross her, or you would feel her wrath.  MaMa was not someone to trifle with, and she was someone who could stare or take you down, if necessary.  As a kid, I saw her as a beast.  She was tough, she was strict, she didn’t allow any crap and when you defied her, you  learned very quickly what happened when you don’t listen.

We had rules in her house.  We had the obvious, say “please” and “thank you.”  One of the major one was to ask before you take something, especially from the fridge.  Another was if you were at a friend’s house, you make sure you were home by the specific time that she told you.  Well, one day, I was across the street at a friend’s house and MaMa told me to be home by a specific time.  I didn’t leave by said time, and my cousin had to come get me.  Mind you, we lived in a cul-de-sac and you could literally see in my house from my friend’s house across the street.  So, my cousin’s at the door, and he says, “MaMa gon beat you!!!”  I barely got my foot in the door, and she let me have it.

I deserved it.  I was told to be home by a certain time and I didn’t listen.

MaMa was a tough woman, but she took care of all of us as if we were her own.  Every day when I got home from school, she would have Milo, toast and hot dogs (or “weenies” as we called them) waiting for me at the table.  If it rained, she was waiting at the curb for me with my favorite clear plastic umbrella when I got off the bus.

MaMa and me in 2002

Fast forward to 2002.  MaMa and my 3 aunts had moved from California and had been  living in Florida for quite a few years.  I was in town for a Convention and was staying with them.  It had been quite some time since I had seen everyone, and I was especially excited to see MaMa.  When I saw her for the first time in so many years, this grand woman who I thought was bigger than life was the same height as me.  I couldn’t believe it.  A little bit of that 5-year-old crept up when I first saw her, but it was so great to see her.

This was also when I noticed how times had changed.  I watched how the cousins spoke to MaMa, and it was as if they were the same age as her.  I heard somebody drop an F-Bomb and the things that came out of their mouths made my jaw drop to the floor.  And MaMa did nothing.  I remember asking her about it and she said it’s how it is today.  I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I was shocked because if I DARED try something like that as a kid, my face would spin like a basketball on Michael Jordan’s finger.

She taught me a lot and I learned a lot from her and my Mom.  Both women taught me how to cook, and I mean really cook.  The other day, I was making Curry Chicken and I had the pieces in the sink, cleaning, gutting, skinning and all I could think of is how I would watch my Mom and MaMa in the kitchen doing the same thing.  Most people would probably look at what I do with chicken as primitive and barbaric, but let me tell ya, it comes out tasting awesome EVERY time.

Thinking back to when I was younger and how I was raised, I have definitely brought a lot of those lessons into raising of my 3 boys.  In a lot of ways, I feel that there’s not enough emphasis on discipline, where most parents want to be “best friends” with their child(ren).  My boys can make lots of friends as they grow up.  I’m not here to be their friend.  It’s not my job to be “one of the guys” with them.  They are my responsibility and it’s my job to prepare them for the world.  They don’t like a lot of the rules we have for them, and although we don’t rule our home with the same iron fist I grew up with as a child with MaMa, my boys get a little of that discipline I received as a child.

Does everything run smoothly in our house?  Absolutely not.  Have I made mistakes?  ALL THE TIME!!!  Just the other day, my youngest was playing and got hurt.  I still feel guilty about what happened.  But, he’s fine;  he’s all over the place and is in good spirits.  It’s part of the job, sometimes it’s the unwritten rules that we have to remember when things get hairy.

My boys are loved.  My boys are taken care of.  My boys know that they can always come to us about anything – good, bad or ugly.  We encourage them to tell us the truth about everything, even if they think they will get in trouble.  We tell them that we get angry when they’re NOT honest with us.  We pray with them every night before bed; we say grace at every meal.  We hope that all we’re doing will help them grow into amazing gentlemen.

As a Mom, I am always going to worry.  It’s hard NOT to worry.  When they get hurt, I worry.  They go to sleep, I worry.  They go to school, I worry.  Sometimes I worry too much and I make myself go crazy, which ends up being funny when I look back on things.

Parenting is a tough job, and we’re going to hear chatter everywhere we go.  As long as we know that what WE are doing benefits our child(ren), the chatter doesn’t really matter.  For those who aren’t parents, there are things we do (or don’t do) that you may or may not like.  That’s okay.  I was one of those people before kids.  I thought I had all the answers.  That all changed once I decided to become a Mom.  When we can come together and understand one another, things can run a little smoother.

As I write, I realize there are lots to share.  More blogs to follow on this topic, so I hope you come back for more.  In the meantime, please share any thoughts you may have or if this piece spoke to you in any way.  I welcome feedback.  Thanks for reading.