Serena Williams Can't Believe She Has A Kid, And Neither Can I

 
Me and my girl...
 

A few weeks ago, Serena Williams, aka the world greatest athlete (don't debate me, debate your mom) had her first child, a baby girl. We all got a chance to see little Alexis via Instagram, and also the sweetest video chronicling the months until her debut. From the video, it's apparent that both Serena and her fiance are complete saps, which I appreciate because I am also a sappy mama. 

Wait, let me go back. First, let me tell you that I love me some Serena Williams. I remember my high school days, knowing exactly one thing about tennis, and still spending hours watching whenever Serena or Venus was on the screen. I've spent years rooting for Serena, even waking up at the crack of dawn to catch her win the Australian Open. Beyond her dominance on the tennis court, I admired her fierceness and her determination to not be "just" a tennis player. She's not just the best tennis player ever, male or female, she's probably the best athlete out here, male or female. We can have a debate about it if you want to, but you're disqualified if any of your arguments are rooted in sexism. 

Anyway, my kinship with Serena got a million times stronger when I saw she tweeted this:

Immediately I thought, "OMG IS SHE ME???? HOW DOES SHE KNOW MY LIFE?" Apparently I'm not the only mama surprised that she did indeed grow another human and is now responsible for them. 

It's such a strange feeling to be in a place that you never expected to be, and that's me when it comes to motherhood. I truly never pictured my life with a child in it, until I met my husband. Even during my pregnancy, as BabyPi kicked me constantly, I didn't have a good grasp of what it would be like to be someone's mama. Like pledging or marriage, you truly don't know what it's like until you're in it and experience it, I suppose. 

I've had so many moments of "oh shit, I'm someone's mama!" in the early months of my daughter's life. I'm still not used to it, and it's still kinda weird(?) to think of myself as a mother. When I think of who I am - who Jareesa is at the core - "mother" is not the first adjective that comes to mind. Not defining myself as a mother first, or solely as a mother, is extremely important to me and how I view myself.. but at the same time, I'm so amazed that I have that title at all. Is this what it's like when you win the Powerball or something? Like you assume something is unattainable and then it happens and you're just...in a constant state of "did that just happen?" 

At least once a day I have a moment where I'm amazed that I'm a mom, and usually it's because Phi giggled at me, or grabbed my face for a kiss, or did some other adorable thing. She's such a joy and even when she's fussing, I'm reminded that she's my joy, my baby girl, and I'm her mama. I know we'll have so many more moments in the future, that will make me equally proud and happy to be Phi's mama. 

I'm Committed To My Boycott of The NFL, Even If You Think It's Stupid

It's fall, which is my favorite time of year. The days start to get a little shorter, the air is a bit crisper, and the kids are back in school. It's also time for my favorite sport - football. But this year, I'll be watching only college football, cause I just can't bring myself to watch any NFL games this season.

Before I explain exactly why I'm not watching the NFL, let me give you some context. I grew up in a football house - everything revolved around football season. My dad went to college thanks to a football scholarship, where he was a running back. As a kid, I always remember seeing football on in the house. In good years, my parents would bless us with trips to the Silverdome to see the Detroit Lions play. My dad started also started a Pop Warner football club, and both of my brothers were on his team. One of my brothers followed in our dad's footsteps and also played college football as well. 

I was a Detroit Lions football fan before I fully knew all the rules of the game. I remember vividly watching football with my dad during the Barry Sanders years, and how excited my dad was to see him in action. I wasn't really a college football fan, but I loved watching Lions games with my family. When I became an adult, that love of the team carried with me, and I spent many a Sunday at the sports bar, or at home, watching my beloved team. Even when I moved and couldn't get games locally, I'd use various avenues to at least see the highlights of my team, if I wasn't at a sports bar downing wings and beer.  But I wasn't just a Lions fan - I was a football fan. I'd gladly spend my Thursday night, Sundays, and Monday nights watching football, regardless of who was playing. There was a short list of teams I wasn't interested in watching, but for the most part, I'd watch an NFL game over anything else on TV.

I'm not a casual fan, by any stretch. And that's one reason why I felt a personal responsiblity to take a stand this season, and not watch any NFL games. Over the past few years there's been a lot of things within the NFL I've disagreed with, including:

·       The countless incidents of domestic violence committed by players;

·       NFL teams paying their cheerleading squads less than minimum wage (and essentially pimping them out);

·       The lack of opportunities for Black head coaches despite the Rooney Rule; 

·       The arbitrary way that the NFL levies punishments against players; 

·       How the NFL uses NCAA football as a de facto development league (yes I'm one of those people who believes that college athletes should be paid); 

·       The health risks heaped on players, both from CTE but also the amount of pain meds heaped on players.

But Colin Kaepernick not being signed by any team in 2017 is what has pushed me over the edge. Yes, I"m boycotting because of Kaep, but honestly, it was simply the last straw that broke the camel's back. I've found the NFL problematic for years, but I couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger. I've now reached the point where I find nothing redeeming about watching the NFL. 

I've seen a lot of comments about people boycotting the NFL this season that boil down to, "this is stupid, unless you're a Nielsen home it won't matter anyway". True, I'm not in a Nielsen home, but I also know that my dollars aren't enough to bring down a billion-dollar industry. That's not my intent in the least. 

I'm the type that votes with my wallet. I don't give my support - financial, time, etc - to institutions I don't believe in. That's why I haven't sent foot in or bought from a Walmart in about fifteen years. I've even stopped shopping a brand I love (Modcloth) because it was purchased by Walmart. Now, me not shopping Walmart has zero effect on their bottom line, but it does have an effect on my conscience and wallet. I could give ~$5000 a year to Walmart, a business with numerous problematic business practices, or I could give that money to brands who practices and ideals align more closely with my own. I'm taking the same approach with the NFL, and I've resolved to not spend money at the sports bar, or buy tickets or merchandise, or add NFL Redzone to my streaming package. These are all things I've done in years past, but I can't bring myself to continue to support the NFL with my money or my time. 

You may think I'm stupid, or misguided, or that I'll cave in by Week 4. I might be all of those things, but I'm also principled. Until the NFL makes a significant change, I simply can't support their activities. So this fall, I'll be spending my time doing other things, like knitting and writing. I expect I'll be a lot more productive this fall, and that's a great thing. 

My Hunt For A Great Work Bag

In college, I ditched backpacks in favor of tote bags. Backpacks made me feel like I was still a kid, but my first tote gave me the grown-up feel and appearance I was looking for. Over the years I've amassed quite a collection of tote bags, varying in size, material and price point. I've also spent the last few years carrying my laptop back and forth to work in a tote instead of laptop bag, cause face it, 99% of laptop bags are ugly and/or aren't functional enough for me. 

As a single lady, I carried two bags to work - my purse and my tote. My tote was the catch-all for all my extra stuff, like my laptop, notebook, lunch (if I managed to pack it), etc. This system wasn't the best, but it worked and it didn't feel the need to upgrade my work bag. I also wasn't the type to bring my laptop home each evening, unless I planned to work from home the next day or over the weekend. 

All of that changed when I returned to work after my maternity leave. After the first couple of weeks, I knew that I needed a new system. My laptop now comes home with me each evening, plus I need to transport my pumping supplies and/or lunch. Some days I ended up with 3 bags and it felt like I was a Bag Lady, so I set out to find a new bag. 

I wanted something cute and functional, and there are a lot of new options out there. A few women suggested I check out Dagne Dover, and I also checked out Lo & Sons based on a Twitter recommendation. I loved the bags but I was afraid to pull the trigger on a $100+ work bag that might not fit my needs. I love a nice bag, but what's the point if it doesn't help me downsize?

After several hours and Google searches, I decided to order the CommuteHer bag from Betabrand. I really liked how functional this bag was, with a variety of pockets and ability to store lots of items. The CommuteHer bag can hold all my gear: a water bottle, umbrella, keys, headphones, work bag, wallet, makeup kit, sunglasses, laptop, pumping supplies, and lunch! The bag is nylon which I'm not a huge fan of, but it doesn't absorb water when it rains, which is a plus. And best of all, I'm down to ONE BAG, yay! 

I've been carrying the CommuteHer bag for about six weeks now, and it's made my commute so much easier. The only drawback is that I need to switch some items to a purse when I go out in the evening or on weekends, but I'm able to transfer my wallet, makeup kit and keys pretty easily. Overall I'm super happy with this purchase...though I do have my eye on other bags, but I'll stick with this one for now. 

Progress On My Stuff To Do In 2017 List

I wrote this list back in February I think? It's July so that's a good time to check in on the progress I've made against this list, right?

This is version 2 but expect to see numerous updates of this list throughout 2017...and if you don't see updates you have my permission to ask me why the fuck I haven't updated my list. Accountability and whatnot...

  1. Finish Phi's baby blanket (this is kinda cheating cause it's like 90% done but I'mma put it on the list anyway) - DONE! AND SHE LOVES IT! 
  2. Post on BGU at least once a week - I'm trying 
  3. Find freelance writing opportunities - DID IT! 
  4. Pitch freelance writing opportunities - DID THIS TOO!
  5. Try knitting socks using the two circular knitting needles method - STILL SCARED
  6. Go see my family so they can meet Phi - DID IT AND THEY LOVE HER TO PIECES
  7. Finally try knitting a hat on double point needles - BOUT TO DO IT
  8. Get pretty and take photos of already knitted items 
  9. List already knitted items on Etsy
  10. Update my LinkedIn page with my APW internship. - DID IT!
  11. Apply for opportunities in Atlanta - STILL DOING IT, NO LUCK YET 
  12. Search for homes for sale in Atlanta - HAD TO STOP CAUSE I FOUND TOO MANY I LIKED
  13. Convince Meg that I should be Chief Data Officer for APW - I'll start off as "Data Guru" tho...ok maybe not "guru" cause all the startups use that term and it's corny...but basically I wanna be the queen of all things data & sales & marketing for APW, I just need a better title than "queen of all things data & sales & marketing". - TRUST ME, I'M TRYING
  14. Take a girl's trip - no baby, no husband.
  15. Help my cousin soror plan her wedding
  16. Get ordained to do weddings in Georgia
  17. Convince someone to let me officiate their wedding in Georgia
  18. Go to Elise's yoga class twice a week - STILL TRYING
  19. Take the baby to Bring Your Own Baby yoga class at Blooma - WASN'T REALLY INTO IT
  20. Pay off my last credit card that carries a balance (I'm actually really proud that I'm down to 1 credit card that's carrying a balance, trust me this is an accomplishment) - MAKING PROGRESS!
  21. Find a reliable babysitter so I can go out with my husband to stuff - THE HOMIES HAVE FILLED IN HERE & WE'RE GRATEFUL
  22. Book a cheap flight deal so we can take a trip as a family, preferably an international trip so Phi can get a passport stamp. - STILL LOOKING!
  23. Go back to the Primal lifestyle, at least 80% (I'll be shooting for 100% but I know that's unrealistic for me) - I'M LIKE 50% SO FAR.

Facebook Mama Groups Vex My Soul...But I Keep Reading Them Anyway

I've had Facebook since the early days - 2004 to be precise - but for years I spent most of my time on Twitter. That all changed when I got pregnant, as I started to join FB groups for pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood. After I had #BabyPi, and I spent hours nursing my little human, I started spending a lot of time on FB, reading and posting in mommy groups. Sometimes I was looking for answers, like why my baby hadn't pooped in 5 days (seriously, the stuff you worry about as a new mama is insane, but that's a post for a different day). Most of the time though, I'm just reading and scrolling, posting when the mood strikes me. 

I have this love-hate relationship with most of the groups I've joined. I initially joined to gain information, and I find them to be valuable resources of information. But they also drive me nuts with a level of insanity I've never seen before. Why do these groups drive me crazy? 

THE SAME QUESTIONS ARE REPEATED OVER AND OVER - This is by far the biggest pet peeve I have with FB mommy groups. It's like these women have never heard of a search function! In my breastfeeding group, everyday there's a new post asking if you can drink alcohol or coffee, or how to boost supply, or how to fix a latch. I get it - mamas need help. I was the same way when Phi first came home. But I (wisely) searched the group before I asked questions, because I was pretty sure my question had already been asked and answered. Why other moms I don't do this, I will never understand, but I wish they would start. 

THEY GET AN ATTITUDE WHEN THEY DON'T LIKE THE ANSWERS THEY RECEIVE - ever dealt with a kid who asked for something, and then pouted when the answer was "no"? I see that behavior from grown ass women every single day. I don't understand the logic behind asking for advice, and then getting mad when you don't like the advice you receive, but whatevs. If you have all the answers, why are you asking a group of strangers?

THEY LOVE TO TRY TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER - I absolutely detest the posts that are solely to brag on their baby. Listen, I think my kid is a genius, and she probably is given that I'm a chemist/former rocket scientist & her dad is a mathematician. However I do not post daily about how my kid was rolling over at 6 weeks old or walking to school by herself at nine months. The other day a mom made a post about how her 3 month old is sitting up unassisted and all I could do was roll my eyes. Great for you lady, but 1-I don't believe you and 2-who cares? 

VACCINE DISCUSSIONS ARE ALWAYS A HOT MESS - nothing gets me riled up like the topic of vaccines. They ALWAYS dissolve into an argument between sane people who believe in vaccines and the nutjobs who still believe in fake science. As a scientist, I feel strongly that vaccine save lives. My kid is getting her vaccines on schedule. We plan to keep her away from kids who are intentionally not vaccinated. We live in an area that's being dealing with a measles outbreak for months and it drives me nuts that children are suffering from measles for no good reason. To me, not vaccinating is child abuse and I have little tolerance for it. I recognize that not every child can be vaccinated but I have no patience or sympathy for people who intentionally do not vaccinate their kid because they believe in junk science. Also, I'm really tired of people trying to justify their anti-vaccine stance by posting links to random websites - THAT'S NOT RESEARCH! 

ALL THE ARGUMENTS AND JUDGMENTAL COMMENTS - No matter how innocuous the topic, there's the potential that it will dissolve into an argument, complete with name-calling and judgments of parenting skill. Some particularly bad threads end with mamas leaving the group - always after making a post stating that the group is full of drama so they're leaving - and/or deleting their posts. I have snarky thoughts about posts I see about 8000 times a day, but I keep them to myself or share them with Twitter, cause that's just polite (ha!).

Despite the downsides to Facebook mama groups, I still find them valuable - I've learned a lot and I try to pass on the knowledge and experiences that I've had. Above all else, they are extremely entertaining and always guaranteed to give me a good laugh when I need it. And when I've needed support or a question answered, I've found mama groups to be helpful in that regard. Now if we only we could get these broads to start using the search feature....