Where to draw the line

 

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My little diva and her partner in crime!

As a mother of an adorable, boisterous two year old diva, I find myself in a constant state of organized chaos. Why you may ask?

Allow me to explain. As many parents of toddlers can testify to, you haven’t truly faced the challenges of parenting until you have a two or three year old. It’s as though they are on a different wave length. Maybe because they are now more aware of their surroundings and are on this journey to explore and investigate the world around them; and test their limitations as well as push your buttons in the process.

How else can you explain, you adamantly telling a two year old, do not jump on the bed, do not touch that thing, go seat down and they do the exact opposite. The other day, I overheard our little one arguing (it sure sounded like arguing) with her Daddy about what she wanted to watch on the television. It’s the NBA eastern and western conference finals and he wanted to watch Steph Curry play while she wanted to watch Bubble Guppies and so the argument ensued. Now bear in mind that her speech isn’t all that clear yet, so in the middle of Daddy, NO, Bubble Guppies, you might hear a lot of baby jibbersh. I take a peak from the hall way and I see both of them staring at each other with a stern look on both of their faces. Since she takes after him in looks and disposition, it’s quite a funny sight to behold.

Our weekdays are somewhat regimented; being that we have (or we try to be) out of the house at 7.30am to get to work early while in the evenings  a quick bath, supper, play time then straight to bed. At least that’s how it’s supposed to go, (in my head).

Most of the time in the evenings, I have to negotiate with her to get ready for her bath; ‘Do you want a cookie?’ she nods ‘Ok, so if you want a cookie, you have to let mommy give you a bath darling’. She screams no and off she goes running through the hallway with her doggie to go jump on my bed once again and I think to myself, when did this become my life?  Talk about the terrible twos

Most of us can remember what growing up was like. We didn’t question, we didn’t debate with our parents especially our mothers who ran the house. Whatever she said was the law and you dare not say or do anything contrary. Who are you to question the law of the land? Now don’t get me wrong, I tested my limit several times but I was often reminded who ran the show. I remember one of my birthdays and I got a cake to take to school the next day. I got up at several times in the night to take pieces of it. The look on my mom’s face the next morning was priceless, apart from getting a whopping (which I deserved) I took the cake to school like that, missing pieces and all. Lesson learned but in my defense, it was my cake after all, why couldn’t I eat it?

I can remember the ‘look’ my mom gave us when we were doing something we shouldn’t be doing; show of hands to anyone who remembers that look. Now I give my daughter the look and she ignores me and continues jumping on my bed screaming in glee. While our parents saw no harm in picking up a switch, a belt, a wire, bamboo sticks to remind us of who was boss, I find myself questioning the effectiveness of those methods. Yes, we learned our lessons and swore never to misbehave again but I feel they only instilled a deep sense of fear in us.

I can remember being so afraid of my parents especially my mom for years and I’m sure that wasn’t her intention but I find myself shuddering when I think of those times she picked up the ‘omorungo’ (eba stick) when  I got out of line.  And I don’t want my daughter to have similar feelings.

At this juncture, I’m torn on how to instill discipline in her;  while still wanting her to be confident, and a lovable adorable little girl. I also want her to understand that certain behaviors cannot and will not be tolerated. For now the two minute time outs seem to be working but for how long?

My husband keeps saying; Talk to her, make her understand ‘she listens but I know that it won’t last because the older she gets the more she begins to understand that she can test her limits.

I’m open to suggestions……

It’s not you, it’s me!

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Photo Credit : Pinterest

 

Hey guys

It’s been a minute I know but I’m back now and set to get the ball rolling on a topic that has been dancing around my head for days now.

Unless you have been living under a rock, I’m sure most of have heard about the whole hoopla concerning Beyoncé’s latest creative offering titled ‘Lemonade.’ Now, while I admit I haven’t watched the entire visual album or heard some of the tracks with exception of ‘Formation’ (which is my self-rallying cry to get on the treadmill to run my miles at the gym), I have read enough opinion pieces, blogs, watched vlogs and screened through twitter timelines to get the gist of the entire album. I’m not a card carrying member of the beyhive but from what I have read, the album seems to be pretty good but what piqued my interest and that of many others, was the theme of infidelity which featured quite heavily on the album.

I rolled my eyes time and time when I read stories about how fashion designer Rachel Roy and others was attacked by Beyoncé’s fans for being the alleged mistress of Jay Z which Queen Bey kept referencing in her songs and I wondered why Jay Z wasn’t getting any of the backlash. Now why is that?

Why is it that when one partner (usually the man) steps out of a monogamous relationship setting, it’s the other woman who gets the wrath? I was told by an elder once that while men have little or no self-control and he will cheat regardless, we as women have the control to say no to the advances. And I must say that bothers me. Why are we so quick to give men a pass and label them and place all the responsibility and blame on the woman? These are questions that I have and no one has been able to provide me with a valid enough reason. We are quick to say; “it’s not in our culture for a woman to have affairs or date more than one man” but it’s perfectly within our ‘culture for a man to date multiple women and engage in polygamy. I’m not going to get into the religious angle or the whole feminist, slut shaming angle because that’s a whole other story.

What I would like to understand is how we as women internalize the issue of infidelity. Not to generalize, but I’m sure almost every female or male reading this has dealt with infidelity at some point. It could be our dads being unfaithful to our mothers, our boyfriends, or girlfriends and most times, our husbands have stepped out either once or several times. Then we go through the motions, denial, anger then acceptance. In denial/anger phase we start to question ourselves, why did he cheat? Was I not enough? Maybe if I didn’t nag so much, maybe if I had slept with him or maybe if I had slept with him more? Maybe If I had lost weight when he asked me to; the list goes on. Where does the notion that all men cheat come from? I would say, probably from young girls growing up with an unfaithful father.

Pictures of rap star Lil Kim surfaced this week and many were taken aback at her light almost white skin tone. While many were shocked at her sudden appearance, past articles were referenced where she expressed dismay due to low self-esteem especially when the men in her past relationships cheated on with ladies of the lighter persuasion.

Here’s the thing, and if I sound like I am contradicting myself I apologize. While I understand the occasional nip and tuck here and there, I cannot stand by someone doing surgery to keep a man. You can be the most beautiful woman in the world and he will still cheat. Halle Berry anyone? No man is worth you altering your appearance to please. I spoke about this in one of my past blogs. https://toyamochabam.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/beneath-the-color-of-your-skin/

If he doesn’t like you as you are, then he is not worth having.

While I think it is a very sensitive topic, it is also quite subjective because no one knows how you would act until you are in that position. Dating is one thing but marriage is another. While it might be easy to kiss goodbye to a 5 month relationship with a guy, licking your wounds and moving on to the next; being married for 5 or 6 years with 2 or 3 kids under your belt is nothing to just throw away because he stepped out on his vows.

We have all heard stories from our elders, instructing some to stay in marriages or relationships despite physical/emotional abuse or infidelity, I have come to understand that today’s generation view things very differently. Hence the high volume of failed marriages since the turn of millennium. Women today have less tolerance for BS than our Mothers or Aunties. While I wont subscribe one broad set solution for infidelity such as divorce, I would say self reflection and constant spiritual guidance has always being a steady source or strength for me.

Ladies, in my little time being around, one thing I have come to understand is what doesn’t kill you empowers you. If he cheats, that’s a reflection on his weakness as a man not you as a woman because we are so much more. We are mothers, king makers and king breeders, it is called Mother Earth for a reason. Empower yourself, pray and focus on raising children who do not believe that cheating is acceptable. After all its them, not you!

I am so perfect. So divine .So ethereal. So surreal . I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

Ego-Tripping

by

Nikki Giovanni

Photo Credit – Pinterest

Things I want my daughter to know

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As many of you know, this week was the 10th anniversary of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK awards show. A ceremony founded by DJ Beverly Bond as a platform to celebrate the achievements of various African American women who have blazed amazing trails in their many professions.

From sports, entertainment to politics; it was indeed a celebration of the immense power that we hold as black women. What got me about the ceremony was the fact that in the audience were the young girls were celebrated.

From The Hunger Games 18-year-old actress Amandla Steinberg who was celebrated for her continuous speaking on racism, cultural appropriation, and other issues; to 11-year-old Marley Dias who began a movement to search for books which reflected characters like her. It was a gathering of true female empowerment.

It was while Shonda Rhimes, the creator of successful shows such as Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey’s Anatomy gave an acceptance speech encouraging the young girls to blaze their trail and to change the world that I was inspired to write this piece for my little princess.

To my little princess:

I know right now you are too little to fully understand the things I’m going to share with you but I am writing this so that as you grow, you can refer to it time and again as a reminder to who you are and what you can achieve. These are a few things that I want you to know

Perfection is a farce – My darling girl, you do not need to continually strive to achieve some sort of perfection or someone else’s idea of perfection. Don’t beat yourself up in a quest to be the perfect child, perfect student, the perfect worker or the best partner. As cliché as it sounds, instead, try and work hard to be the best version of you. There will be trial periods where you might feel that you’re not doing enough or times where you will fall, but trust me those times don’t last or define who you are. Surely you will get up dust yourself off and keep on trying. Tough times don’t last but tough people do.

Always have a support system – I cannot say how important this is. Thankfully you already have a strong God-fearing family who loves you beyond words. Surround yourself with positive like-minded people who understand you and want the best for you and vice versa. These people and your family will be the people who will encourage you when times are bad, call you to task when you are in the wrong and will laugh and cry with you. You will need a circle of people who love and support you. Always remember your Dad and I will always be your primary cheerleaders God willing.

Establish a relationship with the Almighty – My darling, I cannot stress how important this is. My parents exemplified the importance of faith and spirituality and didn’t impose one religion over another for us growing up. Each and every one of my brothers and sisters found our paths to the Almighty as we grew older. I want the same for you. There is nothing like fortifying yourself with prayers. Your family will continue to pray for you but you have to find God and establish your bond with him. Trust me once you do, it’ll all make sense. There will be trial periods where your faith will be tested but trust in Him and submit yourself to His will.

Finally Samina,

Always stay true to yourself – Or should I say never ever lose that thing that makes you, you. The world is a big place and not everybody who smiles at you truly loves you or wants the best for you but never let that deter you from seeing the good in people. You will kiss a few frogs but eventually, you will find your prince. Friends will come and go and so what?You will lose jobs and money will come and go but never let that be your end all be all and never let that get you down. Cry a bit but then wipe your tears and keep it moving. Never doubt yourself, always trust in yourself and in your ability to be great.

It’s a big and amazing world. I want you to experience it with an open heart and mind. Never lose sight of who you are. You can do anything and everything by God’s grace. Never ever let fear rule your decisions but approach things analytically and critically.

The world is your oyster. If people don’t get you, that’s their concern, not yours. Always stay beautiful and keep smiling my darling princess.  Take these words as your mantra:

Change the world and when you’ve done that, change it again’. Shonda Rhimes

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait, Of Mona, of Mona Lisa. Every part of me is beautiful. And I finally see I’m a work of art. A masterpiece!’ Jazmine Sullivan

 

I would rather be fat

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ihatethegym.

Hi guys,
I would like to begin by stating that this is a tongue in cheek rant and for anyone who is offended, I sincerely apologize.

I hate exercise! There I said it. Who were the people that got together and decided that running, doing jumping jacks and doing sit ups and press up was a fantastic idea?

There are no words enough to describe how much I detest going to the gym and my enthusiastic trainer doesn’t exactly help. Just like clockwork, 4.30 pm my cell rings and I’m dreading answering it. “Hey Toya, don’t forget to eat something before you head over for here’. A chuckle usually follows before a quick ‘FYI, we’re doing legs or arms today! See you soon. Get ready to sweat!” At this point, I’m cursing him out in my head while I smile and say OK through my teeth. I’m sure he knows that I don’t like him very much but I’m yet to meet the person who likes their trainer.  Anyone? Any takers?

Oh by the way, what is the big deal about eating healthy? I don’t know about you guys but eating healthy is so boring. I have tried every single diet in the book; Atkins, water the zone and they all SUCK! Maybe because the food tastes so bland and horrid. When did Kale become a thing and did I miss the memo that said salad dressing was from the devil? I would like to meet the people who decided that jelly filled donuts, custard filled donuts, and donuts, in general, are evil? Or where the meeting was held when soda was made from the pits of hades? I remember a few years ago before I got married and I was hard at work to look stunning in my wedding dress( don’t judge me every girl wants to look like a princess on her wedding day); my diet included, Eko yes you heard right cold Ogi for breakfast, steamed fish and veggies for lunch, Abgalumo and water for dinner. At some point, I swear, I was bleating like a sheep because of all the carrots, cabbage and lettuce I was consuming. Side note: I looked like a million bucks on my special day.

Can anyone tell me why the things that are bad for you taste like heaven? Why every single thing is bad for you; palm oil is bad, watermelon has too much sugar, and bananas make you fat, since when? At this point I would be much happier if I don’t exercise ever again and once I finish this post I’m going to grab my car keys and head to Dunkin Donuts for a dozen donuts, half of the custard filled ones and half of the jelly ones plus a large size coco-cola, oh wait my trainer just called me,

Damn!

Beneath the color of your skin

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The Brown paper test…

I admit I have been struggling with this post for months on end but the release of the new Nina Simone Biopic trailer staring Zoe Saldana just jigged my creative juices. Why are we as people so caught up on the color of people’s skin? Why does the tone, texture of people’s complexion wip us in a hysteric frenzy?

For those who don’t know, Zoe Saldana is set to play the role of great Nina Simone; one of the most poignant black voices in the last century, civil rights activist, jazz and soul singer. ‘Feeling good’ and ‘Sinner Man’ are some of my favorite tracks ever (in my Cardi B voice).

Once dubbed the high priestess of neo- soul, many questioned the casting of Saldana to play Simone and those criticisms weren’t based on her acting chops but the fact that she wasn’t of the same skin tone as Simone. Following the whole OscarsSoWhite controversy, race has been brought to the fore front. Not just race, but coloursim seems to be alive and well. I mean what happened to Viola Davis or Uzo Aduba?

Watching the documentaries Dark Girls and Light Girls brought into realization how deep-rooted and uber sensitive the issue of colourism is in our communities as Nigerians, Africans, and Africans Americans. While many would dismiss these issues as superficial or silly, I beg to disagree. When you see a vibrant 5-year-old dark-skinned child withdrawing into herself because she doesn’t feel she is pretty and as such unworthy of love. Or you hear a beautiful 20 something-year-old girl being stabbed by other girls due to jealousy because she is of a lighter complexion; then there is something wrong with our society which we need to address and fix.

Kindly watch the documentaries when you have the time, it will open your eyes. Or the recent case of Nayara Justino the ebony samba carnival queen who was dethroned because many were upset at the color of her skin.

Growing up, I never wanted to be lighter; everyone around me was either slightly darker or lighter. Until today, my Mom is the standard of beauty I aspire to be. She had the darkest, smoothest black skin I had ever seen and it glowed and still glows till this day. The way she wore her clothes, the way she carried and still carries herself with such grace and poise and I’m not saying this because she gave birth to me but my Mom set the bar extremely high. She took the time and the care to take care of herself as a woman. My big sis Dami comes a close second; she’s got the nice mix of Godiva chocolate and Mahogany to her skin which just glows for days. I would say there are times I am filled with some form of envy when I see my cousin Bisoye. I asked once what she uses and she said Palmers cocoa butter oil and I bought that thing in droves but still my skin never ever glowed like hers. The Darker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice.

So it baffles me when I hear silly people especially guys say that they only date or prefer light-skinned girls. Why? I have never understood it and no one has been able to provide me with a sensible enough explanation. Some say it’s aspirational such as having a light-skinned partner is the next best thing to having a Caucasian spouse which shows everybody that you have arrived. That sounds absurd to me. In Uni, guys would fall over in an attempt to date my girl Chineze; and her flawless light bright skin was the initial attraction but I have come to understand it was the arm candy appeal and the whole childlike appeal that guys seem to be suckers for.

Due to these insecurities, I imagine this is the primary reason why ladies everywhere bleach their skins. Lighter is always brighter in some warped reality. Now I am not one to begrudge any woman’s right to look good by any means necessary. Hey, if it makes you feel and look good, do you boo! But before you place an order to Denia skin brightening lotion, question why you are doing so. Is it to get the attention of an eligible bachelor or to land a dream job? Trust me when I say your intended audience can tell if you’re naturally that skin color or you purchased the color from a bottle.

Second and most importantly, please do your research into the products or treatment you intend to use. Some of these products may have ingredients that might have an adverse effect on your general wellbeing. I had a flatmate from the eastern part of Nigeria while I was studying for my master’s degree in Dubai and boy there aren’t enough words to describe just how bad her skin looked. She had gone the cheap route in trying to appear lighter but the results were not good. For one, she had dark scaly blotches on her body, dark knuckles, and plus she didn’t exactly smell like fresh roses either but I tell you this chick had the self-confidence of Naomi Campbell and Michelle Obama with a sprinkle of Miley Cyrus.

There is a saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well; if you want to be light-skinned please for the sake of the general public get it done properly. And if you want to go the bargain basement route, just maybe you shouldn’t be in the hot blazing sun where all the chemicals can cook on your skin leading to lord knows what and even then maybe the Almighty made you dark skinned for a reason.

The point I am making in all this is; we as humans, especially women are so much than our complexions. I look at my mom and I don’t see a dark skinned Nigerian woman with amazing skin but I see an intelligent, strong vibrant woman. The color of your skin or its texture doesn’t define you, it doesn’t make you smarter, brighter or better than or less than anyone else. We are all beautifully and magnificently made and if some oaf says he or she can’t be associated with you because of what’s on the outside, that’s their loss, not yours. As a mother of a vibrant energetic 2-year-old daughter, I want her to grow up understanding that she is beautiful in every shape and form, she is worthy regardless of the color of her skin and she is loved beyond words.

I think the high priestess Nina Simone said it best, ‘I have never changed my hair, I’ve never changed my color, I have always been proud of myself and my fans are proud of me for remaining the way I’ve always been…..’ Amen Sister. Amen.

Photo credit: Galleryhip.com

They Dont Really Know Us

Hello everyone,

How have y’all been? I know it’s been awhile, I apologize. I’ve been going through some things but we thank God, things are looking up. So, on we go in this journey of life, dusting off the cobwebs and the negative energy that comes towards us.

Now to the topic of the day. Like some of you know, I moved to the US a few years ago and one thing that people have constantly brought to my attention was my’ accent’. If I could have a dollar for every time somebody said, ‘Oh! What a cute accent. Where are you from?’ I would certainly be on my way to becoming a millionaire. As far as I could tell, I didn’t have one. But I guess anyone with a different tone in their voices must come from somewhere exotic, (at least that’s what I think). Then when I say I’m from Nigeria when they ask where I’m from, the next question usually is, ‘You mean Africa?’

I admit the first time I heard that, I did a double take. I corrected the individual who so happened to be African American but she looked at me like I had two heads. I went on to explain, that Nigeria is a country in Africa and Africa is not a country but a continent. Do you remember last year when Raven Simone said that she was from every continent in Africa?

I’ve had several similar instances where I had to correct people. Made me wonder if people didn’t study geography in school or whatever happened to Google? My hub always asks me every single time I ask him a question; ‘Have you googled it?’ according to him, everything and anything can be found through Google. Which annoys the hell out of me but I digress.

After we moved past the intrigue of where I’m from in Africa, statements such as I don’t look or sound like an African often follow shortly. And I’m flabbergasted; since you don’t even know where Nigeria is, how could you possibly know what Africans or a Nigerian sounds like? The response is usually, I speak English so fluently and at this point, I say my goodbyes and walk away. Girl bye!

I imagine that the power Hollywood wields showing Africa as a continent of starving kids wandering around in huts or bushes, usually afflicted with AIDS or Ebola in their movies must be the reason for all the mouth-gaping insinuations.

On one of my first job interviews, the manager had asked me the usual questions. Tell me about yourself, where you have worked etc, and when I described my background having worked and schooled in Nigeria, the UK and Dubai he was so intrigued. If only he had left it at that. He then proceeded to ask me if I often saw lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) I burst out laughing and said a big NO! He asked me why and I said because the animals are usually at the zoo. I then told him to look up Lagos on his Google app which he did and boy or boy the look on his face was priceless. He asked me if this was where I was from and I said born and bred. Safe to say I turned down the job and moved on to the next best thing. On my next job, I came across a customer who demanded to speak to the manager because ‘he couldn’t understand my accent’ which I had come to understand meant I was not telling him what he wanted to hear.

I asked him why and he said I didn’t speak English. Trying not to laugh was very hard for me at the time and so I got my boss who until this day is one of the most amazing people I had ever met and respect. He carefully told the dude that, I had explained the procedure and policy to him perfectly and he won’t change anything. He had two choices, comply or take his business elsewhere. BOOM!

I have come to realize that many Americans are only interested in their own environment, county or state much less other states in the US or the World or Africa or even Nigeria. While I would expect the average American not to know or understand anything about the African sub-continent, I would admit that what gets my goat is when other Africans particularly Nigerians play into the stereotype.

A friend of ours is so fond of doing that. During our many conversations with people, this person will tell stories of how he would see giraffes from his bedroom window or go walking with the zebra’s in the garden, in Lagos. I mean Lagos, Nigeria. To my gidi people, please let me know me if you all ever had the pleasure of walking with zebra’s in the sunset or have breakfast with hippos or hyenas. It’s a shame.

While I understand that Africa and Nigeria have had its share of doom and gloom; from corruption to wars and strife; I want people to know that is not all Africa is all about.

Nigeria is a beautiful country filled with a rich variety of people from different cultures. There are over 1000 ethnic groups in Nigeria alone, with their own dialects, cultures and traditions. From the hustle and bustle of the Lagos streets to the serene ambiance of rural Abeokuta to the cool air of Jos metropolis. I am happy to call myself a Nigerian.