about me · Reflections

June 20th

I love being apart of a group that motivates you to who you said you would be! Today’s post is prompted by the Girl Boss, Javacia arris Bowser of See Jane Write. She recently blogged about not having writer’s block and how simple it can be to write about the things you are into right now. Today is my niece’s 5th birthday, and I’m all into it!

I get excited about birthdays in general. There’s no reason not to celebrate life, another opportunity to do and be, and of course, eat cake! Being a preschool teacher, I always look forward to the 5th birthday so I can say, “You’re a whole hand now!” In my eyes, 5 means you’re a big kid now! But of course, my niece is special. She is the reason that every child above the age of 2 at our school knows me at “TeeTee” instead of Ms. Valerie!

Now that my Gracie is five (a whole hand). I reflect on the fact that she is unique in so many ways.

  • She only knows my life the way it currently is. She knows nothing of me being a child, going off to college, making so many mistakes, or even being something other than a teacher. She only knows that every morning she can knock on my door to see if I’m awake and every evening she can come in to tell me goodnight and say, “Te Amo!”
  • She is the most singest child I have ever met. If she hears a song once, she does her best to sing all of the words but then just makes up those she doesn’t know. BUT if it is a song she enjoys, she will bellow it out (especially in the bathroom) until the song is also stuck in your head.
  • She is very particular about people’s belongings. Sharing is not a foreign idea but if she sees you with something that she knows belongs to someone else, you had better make sure to have asked for it first!
  • She has the tiniest voice, the most chocolate skin, the most gorgeous eyes, and the brightest smile of any 5-year-old girl hands down!
  • She knows no strangers. She is friendlier and bolder than I ever was!
  • Because she is the only child in the house, she also thinks she’s an adult (insert eye roll). I believe she cringes inside each time she hears, “you are only a child!”
  • The day I became an aunt was one of the most emotional days I have ever experienced. I was happy, excited, nervous, cautious, anxious, overwhelmed, tired, but endured no contractions, labor pains, and the like.

She’s the best! She makes me tired yet pushes me to do and be more. So happy birthday, Naomi Grace! Naomi Grace! Gracie! Gracie! Gracie! Gracie! Grace! Grace! Grace!!!!! My little brown girl …




Personal essays · Reflections

Mother’s Day

I can appreciate a holiday that allows people the opportunity to express their love, appreciation, and precious throwback photos of their mother. Just like my favorite, Valentine’s Day, each year on social media, feeds are flooded with pics surrounded by words of adoration that make me smile. But one thing I noticed this year was a generational theme. So many pics of mothers and grandmothers – 1st-time mothers posting pics with their child and then their mother. It reminded me the importance of a village (refer to my previous post here). It made me realize the significance of one’s past to acknowledge the future.

Mother’s day also reminds me of those who have lost a parent. Many of my friends, peers have lost their mother. My sympathy extends to them each holiday. I never know if it’s safe to call, text, or share a fond memory. I depend on my mother so much, and I could not imagine life without her. My mom lost her mom was about my age. Even though we are in two different phases of life, I know my mom would appreciate having her mother now.

This year, in particular, causes me to think upon those with strained mother/daughter relationships. Being a mother is an unending, tireless, and frequently, thankless role. Many are given the responsibility without warning or preparation. I have always seen motherhood as a gift because not every woman is granted the title, at least not biologically. One of my mottos has been, “Children don’t come with instruction manuals” and if you become unexpectedly or undesirably pregnant, no manner of manuals will help. It is my hope this holiday provides an opportunity for healing or reconciliation.

And in honor of this particular day, my brother, the artist, GI Magus has released a new song, Simone GraceIt serves as an ode to the beauty of the black woman as a hope to inspire young brown-skinned women to accept themselves just as they are and to carry that feeling into adulthood. It is an intergenerational lullaby that should motivate mothers to teach their daughters to embrace every curve, every dimple, every mole, and every pimple. Anchored by the hashtag #tellher, GI is signaling to all his followers to tell her that she is loved, that she is beautiful, that she is essential, and that she matters.

Motherhood is more than a notion. Being a godmother and aunt are roles that I have been honored to claim. Being surrounded by so many beautiful women who have shown me numerous lessons in sacrifice, devotion, elasticity, multiplicity,  and sheer grace has allowed me to appreciate being the man with a womb. Regardless of the circumstance or the relationship, #tellher (mom, sister, daughter, wife, friend) beyond social media and before it is too late. Do not assume that she knows. She would not mind hearing it again and again and again…

Give love. Get love.