Thursday, January 31, 2019


August has an Autism diagnosis.

There. I said it. 

Out loud.

(Wrote it. Online.)

It actually feels like a relief to write it here because now I can normalize it in public.


By the time he turned 1 ½, I had a hunch that there was something special about August. I've written about it on the Mommy Delicious Facebook page before. I’d been reading books to him, speaking to him, and doing all the activities that I did with Aiden with him… but he didn’t respond in the same way.

His speech and language were not like Aiden’s were at the same age. (But then again, I thought Aiden was a baby genius because he and I were having full blown conversations by the time the kid was 18 months.)

I remember thinking that I made it too easy for August not to use his words because I accepted him pointing to objects or using two-word phrases to communicate his needs.

I remember thinking that I needed to read more books to him or do more activities with him in order to develop his speech.

Then I remember thinking that I just needed to chill and not compare him to his older brother.

All of these things were true.

So I did my due diligence, did all the things I said I’d do to “catch him up,” and waited it out. Then I noticed that he started to play with his toys in a way that was… interesting. He’d twirl a string for hours on end, he’d look at his toy cars and buses and trucks on an angle to watch the wheels go round and round. And he’d fixate.

Real talk: his fixation game is strong. 

By the time he turned 2 ½, August could identify every letter of the alphabet (both lower case and upper case, both in order and out of order), say the sound associated with each letter, identify every number from 0-20, count from 1-20, count backwards from 10-1, label shapes (including things like "hexagons." I mean, what 2-year-old calls something a hexagon?!), and recite entire books like it’s nobody’s business.

All of this was very… interesting.

So HEB and I agreed to get him evaluated. 

I learned that the process could be long and draining and sometimes frustrating. 

Aight, bet... I just had to brace myself for a battle. 

I also learned that on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), you need to score at least a 30 in order to receive the Autism diagnosis and get the services. 

Aight, bet. 

So when the Psychologist came to evaluate him, I emphasized all of his symptoms and pushed for him to receive the diagnosis so that he can also receive the services. He got a rating of 30.5. When the Speech Therapist came to evaluate him, I pushed for him to receive that service even though he is maniacal about labeling objects and knows a lot of words. When the Social Worker came to evaluate him, I pushed for her to get an Occupational Therapist out to my house asap because I knew he was very sensory-seeking and I needed the guidance of a professional.

Throughout the entire process, I realized that I didn’t need to “catch him up.” I just need to embrace his dopeness, love on his special-ness, and get him the services that he needs in order to thrive.

Through Early Intervention, August qualified for 20 hours of ABA therapy each week, speech therapy 3x/week, and OT 3x/week.

Now that he’s 3-years-old, we have to go through the entire evaluation process all over again in order to get him the same services as a preschooler. So I’m bracing myself for another battle.

But this time I feel more confident because no matter what happens, know this: August will be okay. Better than okay.

Because I’m his mother and I’ll make sure of it. I’ve fought for Aiden to have everything he needs to be happy andsuccessful.

And I’ll do the same for August. Always. All the days.

Rest ya understanding on that.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

There's No Easy Phase of Parenting

I remember when Aiden was younger and I had to do everything for him. Feed him, bathe him, change his diaper, entertain him... you get the drift.

There were days that I was so exhausted that I couldn't wait until he got older. To me, Aiden getting older meant that he would be able to do so many things for himself.

And parenting would become easier.

Well, guess what?

Aiden is older now. Homeboy's eleven.

He's much more independent than he used to be. Matter of fact, Aiden manages his football schedule, he takes the subway to and from school by himself, he stays home alone for a couple of hours when I need to run an errand, and he's very efficient when helping with August.

But guess what?

Parenting did not become easier.

Because when Aiden forgets to text when he gets to school or gets home from school, I have a little mini-freak out. When Aiden gets all pre-teenagery and hormonal, I have to work extra hard to practice patience and understanding. When Aiden forgets a homework assignment or forgets to study for a test, after feeling a little bit of rage on the inside, I have to take deep breaths and get him back on track.

(Side note: Middle school ain't for the wimps. When did it become so hard with so many subjects and so many assignments from every... single... subject?)

I have to constantly talk to him about online safety and being aware of his surroundings, appropriate conversations and when to exit chat rooms, the fine line between things being funny and things being inappropriate.

How to be a leader and stand up for what's right.

Systematic racism.

Implicit bias.

How to control his impulses, especially if he's approached by police officers and/or authority figures. And especially when I'm not around.

Even though I'm preparing him for independence, in many ways, he needs me more now than he did when he was just a baby.

So, yeah... there's no easy phase of parenting.

We just have to learn as we go and hope for the best.

And always know that we're doing the best that we can.

Friday, January 18, 2019

What Nightmares Are Made Of


That's how many times, on average, it takes a victim of intimate partner violence to leave the abuser. Seven.

Seven incidents of humiliation. Seven incidents of confusion. Seven incidents of thinking, I can't believe this happened to me. Seven incidents of self-blaming and self-loathing. Seven incidents of thinking, But maybe it'll get better if only I could love harder/be more supportive/be less demanding.


Some victims leave long before. Some leave long after.

All are scarred for many, many years following the experience.

I know this personally.

I know because not only have I studied the statistics, but also because was a victim of domestic violence. And at the hands of Aiden's otherparent. I've written about this beforeMore than once. I know because I stayed far longer than I would have ever imagined. I know because I left after way too many incidents.

The very last incident took place in my apartment. That's when he strangled me until I passed out... three times in one night. He was mad at me for getting mad at him for taking money from me without my permission. (In the real world, we call that stealing.)

The time before that took place in my bedroom. That's when he snatched my cellphone away from me while I was in the middle of a conversation and attempted to throw it. He was mad at me for not giving him the attention he wanted.

The time before that took place in my living room. That's when he strangled me until I passed out... twice in one night. He was mad at me for getting mad at him for arguing with two random guys during our date night at a bar. After I woke up, he took my keys and cellphone so that I wouldn't call anyone or try to leave my apartment. (In the real world, we call that holding someone hostage.)

The time before that took place by the foyer in my apartment. He dragged me across the floor. I still have the scar on my shoulder from the rug burn because of it.

The time before that took place in a hotel room while we were out of town celebrating my birthday. He threw me up against the wall and then body slammed me unto the bed. He was mad at me because I wouldn't give him my hard earned money to leave me alone in a hotel room and go to a strip club during my birthday weekend celebration.

The time before that took place in the bedroom. He handcuffed me to Aiden's crib because he was jealous after I received a phone call from a male friend. (He used to be a security guard so the handcuffs were from his job. And yes, Aiden was in the crib at the time.)

When I was in high school, I remember witnessing my foster brother drag his pregnant girlfriend down a flight of stairs and punch her so hard in the face that it almost immediately swelled up. I remember talking to some of my closest friends about the incident. I remember saying, "She should leave him!" I remember judging her and her situation. I remember thinking, why is she staying with him?

Ten years later, I found myself in a similar situation. Only difference is that this time I was the victim. And this time I was the one staying.

Thing is, "she could easily leave" is such a heavy, loaded statement. It's not that easy to leave. It's not that easy to walk away. It's not that easy to break those strongholds. It's not that easy to break the chains, to break free, to face the truth.

Denial and oblivion... sometimes it really is bliss.

Truth is, I don't know why I stayed with my ex for so long. Maybe I got caught up whenever we had our honeymoon phases. (They pretty much happened after every violent episode and they confused the hell out of me. But they also gave me hope that things will get better.) Maybe I was afraid to embrace the "single mom" status. (Y'all know all the statistics, thoughts, and assumptions attached to that label.) Maybe I was in denial. (Denial and avoidance are my defense mechanisms of choice.) Maybe I was afraid of being alone. Maybe I believed that this time would be different. Maybe I thought that my love, my unconditional love, would be enough to motivate change in him.

It wasn't.

There was no change.

After a while, I came to terms with the fact that some folks are just broken beyond repair and there's nothing you could do or say that would help to "fix" them or help them deal with their mess. And some folks just don't have the capacity to empathize or feel compassion towards others. Control and power, that's all abusers want. And those honeymoon phases or those "I'm a changed person" speeches are just more ways to manipulate the situation, and exercise control and power over victims.

Call me heartless and judge as you many, but it is what it is. *Kanye shrug*

Once I was honest with myself about what was happening -- reallyhappening -- I could no longer deny that I was living in a cycle of domestic violence. And I could no longer deny that my life -- and Aiden's life -- was in danger.

I realized that my abuser did need help, and some type of change did need to happen in his life. But I also realized that that's work he needed to do on his own. Without Aiden and me around or along for the ride.

So I bowed out. Gracefully. 

*Dusts dirt off of shoulders* (That was a Jay-Z reference.) 
Looking back at that tumultuous time in my life, I know that God must've thought that I had a purpose in life because I can't even begin to fathom how I survived. But I'm so thankful for God's grace and faithfulness and protection. It's the only thing that helped me to survive and live to tell what nightmares are made of. 

I'm here. To share my story. 

I hope that it brings healing and comfort and strength to some. And understanding and compassion and clarity to others. 

So the next time you're thinking of asking the question, "Why is she staying?," remember the number seven, and then think again.

{This post was originally published on the Mommy Delicious website on 9.12.14.}

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Brick by Brick

How I greeted students after Winter Break
I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise known as seasonal depression. In fact, even though it's the start of a new year and new beginnings, January is my least favorite month of the year. I hate that it's cold and that it gets dark by 4:00pm and it really affects my mood.

Every year, I sit and complain and wallow in the fact that I really hate January and wish it were Spring already.

But not this year.

This year, I decided to do something -- anything -- to combat my SAD. I decided to move my body.

And so.

I began running. Again.

My first run was 30 minutes and I ran 2.51 miles outdoors during daytime hours, with the sun in my face. Two days after that, I ran 4 miles in 47 minutes. Two days after that, I ran 5.6 miles in 60 minutes. By the time I got to my tenth day of consistently running, I ran 8.1 miles in an hour and 30 minutes.

Not gonna lie: that 8-mile run was hard AF! Around mile 5 or so, I started to feel like I was done! But... I decided to buckle down, get in the zone, and grind through.

Brick by brick.

One step at a time.. one block at a time... one mile at a time.

That's how I got to the proverbial finish line.

NYE with kids be like...
That led me to think about my 2019 hopes and dreams. I have several goals for this year and if I take things slowly, stay the course, and remain consistent, I will be able to look back on the year and realize that I met all of my goals.

Brick by brick.

That's how I got to the proverbial finish line.

If I want my friendships to be healthy, then I need to commit to reaching out to my friends more regularly.

If I want my hair to be strong and healthy (that's real goals, ya'll!), then I need to commit to deep conditioning my hair at lest three times a month.

If I want my savings account to be healthy (for me, that means ten grand that's just for savings), then I need to commit to having automatic transfers to my savings account each month.

If I want my relationship with my children to be positive and healthy, then I need to commit to spending quality, non-interrupted time with them.

Brick by brick.

If I want my to feel mentally healthy, then I need to commit to listening to what my body needs more regularly, and commit to having "me time" a few times each month.

If I want to feel physically healthy, then I need to commit to moving my body a few times each week.

If I want to establish a healthy work-life balance, then I need to commit to leaving work on time at least three times each week.

If I want to minimize my evening stress, then I need to commit to doing one thing that takes my stress away. For me, that's meal prepping on Sundays, which means that dinner is ready to go each night and all we have to do is heat it up.

Brick by brick.

One step at a time; one block at a time; one mile at a time.

One day at a time; one week at a time; one month at a time.

I can do this...

Brick by brick.


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