Monday, September 28, 2009

How do you Create your Culture?

In today’s ever shrinking world how do you Create the Culture of your family.
As the Jewish High Holidays are being celebrated, I think about the traditions that are created and celebrated during this time. I was unable to take part this year but I do love joining in at the local temples that welcome visitors at this time. It is an amazing thing to be part of as you witness history being honored and created. Children are being loved and celebrated by just experiencing the traditions and while some of them may not truly understand their meanings they appreciate how special they are and I can't help but believe that by being apart of these celebrations year after year the children come to appreciate how special they are. I want that for my children. Maybe not Yom Kippur, although I will celebrate it with them when we can, but traditions, celebrations, things to look forward to and know that whatever happens these things will stand. Even through loss and change and death, these things will stand. I can only imagine how hard it must be to continue to do something like the High Holidays after the loss of a close loved one, but I also think their must be some comfort in knowing that in all that changes in this world their are also constants. That type of reassurance makes children strong through many trials.

So I am curious to see those who are blending and creating their own cultures what things do you do? How are you in fact Creating your Culture. You may not even realize that you are so answer these few questions not just for me but also for you. So you can begin to understand how you are in fact Creating your Culture and that you may do it with purpose and love:

1) What traditions did your parents do or not do that you have your family participate in? ie Opening presents on Christmas Eve with friends and family? Saturday morning cleaning?

2) Are there Spiritual or Cultural Holidays that you celebrate with your family? How do you celebrate them?
ie. Christmas, Yom Kippur, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day - do you do all the traditional things or do you blend your own way of doing things into the traditional way of doing things?

3) Does your family include individuals of different cultural, religious, ethnic or racial backgrounds? How do you blend the various traditions and celebrations? ie Christmas tree next to a Hanukah bush? Christmas and Kwanzaa followed by Three Kings Day?

I am extremely interested in your thoughts and insight. Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Selebrating Seven

Seven years ago today I was blessed with the most wonderful gift one could ever have: At 4:35 pm after 36 hours of labor, no medications, being kidnapped (another story, another time), and trying to unpack a house between contractions, I gave birth to MasonMarie Ariella. The name should say it all but that was just the beginning. Head full of hair, eyes alert, she was quite a site to behold. We delivered in a free standing Midwife Clinic (Seton - which closed down one year to the exact day from her birth) so we lay there in this peaceful, quiet room, with a quilt adorning the wall and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan roaring outside the window and we experienced a miracle. Then we had waffles and fell into a long hard sleep.. or so we thought because at 12am the midwife woke us up and said its time to go...

we actually had stayed longer than usual as they typically only allow families to stay for four hours after birth. So they woke us up and we were like "Now, its the middle of the night" but she said "You will be fine" and we were thinking "Ok we can go but what are you going to do with the baby?...ooh she goes with us....ok so what are we supposed to do with the baby?" again we were reassured "you will be fine, you know what to do"

I mean indeed we had attended the classes, and I did use to babysit and D swears he practically raised his sister but still here we were in this foreign city, far from any family, any friends and we were going home to this new apartment that we had not even unpacked with a baby...A BABY, four hours old. I was petrified, I wished my mom was here, I wished D's mom was was here, heck I wished A MOM was here...wait A MOM was here was me.

So we packed her up in the car seat, the midwife checked it for us and helped us load it in and off we drove towards the Holland Tunnel, I wished we still lived in NY at least I knew people there, but alas we were a "family" and so we needed a bigger place and NJ fit our US Navy salary and Manhattan was not trying to hear our budget, so to NJ we went. I remember as we pulled off D and I looked at each other and we just stopped, everything stopped, time stopped, I think our hearts even stopped and we let go this collective sigh and everything started again, but it started over. We started over.

We were parents - responsible for this little life we had created, but now in that moment that life, that 7.7 lbs, 21 inches of hope, joy, love, and wonder, that MasonMarie - she created US.

With that we pulled off and thank God she never made a peep, not in the car ride, not even up the three flights of steps as we carried all our stuff, we called our folks and told them we were home and then we fell out, on the couch, we did not even make it to the bed. At some points we felt completely alone but we had each other and God remained with us the entire time.

Until MasonMarie woke us with her cries for food. We took turns sleeping, holding her, putting her in her bassinet or chair. Honestly I don't think we left that couch for like three days. It was Labor Day Weekend, so even though the Midwife was supposed to make a home visit on Day 1 she didn't because of the holiday. So we just ate, slept, and looked at her hardly ever moving more than a few feet from the living room area. Our parents called with advice but they could not visit until the next week. Soon we got the hang of things and I prepared to return to school on Friday.

Then we looked up....and she turned 7........ Really it happened that quick.................well not really but the rest is for a different day..

Happy Birthday My Love, My First Love : MasonMarie Ariella - Stone or Strong Rebellion Lion of God is her literal meaning - She is in fact Strong, Rebellious and on fire for God.

We pray her light, her love, her laugh will forever shine bright lighting a path for herself and others.

Selebration Seven - God's Perfect Number

God created the world in Seven Days
Some say Seven is His perfect number - that is not my debate so take it for what it's worth

To us it is an important number and thus one we celebrate. Now we don't celebrate all birthdays equally in our household : We have specific numbers : 3,5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 25, after 25 the kids are on their own any way well really in this house after 18 but that's another blog, another day

So Today is MasonMarie's Seventh Birthday! She actually has a lot of 7s in her life she was 7.7lbs at birth 21 inches (7x 3 - 3 being another important number) so while we are not or at least try not to be superstitious 7 is important.

I believe seven is a proper age that MasonMarie is really no longer a "little girl" rather she is becoming a young lady. Not quite there but she is working at it.

So she will be granted a few more freedoms : more invovelment in clothing, activites choices, she chose the decorating and design scheme for her room and she will be consulted a bit more on family decisions.

She also will have more responsibilities: three designated chores, supervisory postions on her sibling chores, room responsibilites (ie maintance and cleaning) and doing her own hair.

So we Selebrate Seven! (I know I have a thing for aliteration - it borders manic or madening) Now I have been planning this since she was born - ask her godmother or my husband. I knew exactly what we were going to do : Have a Girls Only Day at American Girl Store and Cafe in Manhattan! Seven was the perfect age she will be old enough to read the books and understand the charachters - this also will help foster a love of reading as she connects the experience to these books and I have made a commitment to help her read through all of them. She won't be so big that playing with doll will be somewhat passe so seven was perfect.

We have talked about if for a long while and she knows this is a big year also. Life being what it is we can not go to the Cafe on her birthday and have pushed it back for later but we still are having a Selebration! We even gave her the choice and she chose a cookout/party.

Its also the first time she has ever got to celebrate her birthday with her class as school usually starts after her birthday but Labor Day being pushed back a week. She finally gets to have her class party. She doesn't know it yet but 3:00 we will show up with cupcakes and candles and she will be sooo thrilled.

The actual party is on DJ's birthday but he is still so young I don't think he will mind and he is turning 2 so it is an "off year" for him so he will actually benefit by sharing in the celebration because it would have been family only for him. Don't get me wrong off years - don't mean you get nothing - its just not a big Theme Party. Although poor Kyrie her's have been overshadowed a couple of times - there was the Flood for her first birthday, and Josiah was born the day before her second birthday so I was in the hospital - althought Titi Doris made it more fabulous than I probably could have. Having all the birthdays so close together does somewhat cause a problem but most of the big years are staggered; although there will be a bump when MasonMarie turns 10 and DJ turns 5 but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

The way I see it before five they really don't have a truly cognitive memory of celebrations. So a fabulous party for a two year old is more for myself as the parent than the child- and I personally don't need the stress or expense. So we have our banner years and the rest are familial celebrations with a note to close friends like "we're having some cake, if you would like to swing by and hang out". It works for us - plus each banner year is marked with new responsibities and rewards. (I'll detail those on a different page)

My baby is Seven! Complete with eye rolls and a dead pan "Mom I'm not a Baby!" The time flew. I bless God for the wonder that is MasonMarie.

How do you Selebrate Seven? What responsibilites and rewards do you hold your seven year old to?

Purpose and Path: Definition, Explanation, Exploration

This blog has a two fold purpose it is both universal and open to input and posts from others and I deeply value your input but it is also personal and a part of my growth and experience as a mother:

Families today are ever-changing, many families are a blend of different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and beliefs. Families can no longer look to one thing or source as a link to their culture - they must create their own. Embracing traditions, rituals, and customs that make up the fabric of their lives. This is a blog to share that experience. Hopefully we can learn from each other. We can see how one family does it and take those ideas and offer our own.

It is also a place for folks to share and create a universal experience of raising children in this world today. There are so many factors and factions out there to tear children down you must fortify and raise them at home so they can fight the many battles they face.

As a Black Woman when I began my journey of Motherhood; I was surrounded by women of many cultures and they had these traditions that they passed down to their children that from birth gave their children a sense of belonging to a greater community thus a greater good. This sense of belonging instilled a certain amount of pride in who they were and whose they were.

I realized that in the "AfricanAmerican" community we lacked that. Some may say due to the fact that we can not trace ourselves to one particular culture, history or background but for whatever the reason, we do lack those traditions and I made it my purpose to create those traditions for my own children and help instill the importance of passing those traditions down.

I decided to Create My Culture - I look at and embrace a variety of traditions most notably - Some African, Latino, Carribean, and Jewish Traditions that celebrate children. This blog is a part of that journey.