The Helplessness of Parenthood

As parents, we want to shield our children, protect them from pain and danger, sacrifice ourselves for them. But, we are not always able to do so. There are some things that will happen that will cause us to feel inadequate and guilty but, we would not be able to stop any of it if we tried.

We forget that though they are our children, they have their own path to walk and destiny to fulfill. They will experience pain, no matter how much we make it our life’s mission to circumvent or prevent it.

Yesterday, one of my children was injured badly. It hurt me to my core. I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. But, someone reminded me that even if I had been standing  right beside her, I couldn’t have stopped the inevitable. I had to adjust to the fact that I could only be of support–that she had to go through this without me being able to save her from it. I felt totally helpless within the situation.

As the nurses placed her armband on my wrist, I felt my whole being quake. How could this happen? Why did it happen? I heard all of the should’ve/could’ve/would’ve’s ripple through my psyche.

I had to remember that she is her mother’s daughter- we are of the same blood. She carries within her the DNA of warriors- resilient, strong, steadfast, unyielding. She is weak. I saw her writhe in pain and yet never scream. I cried silent tears watching an extension of me but, the tears began to dry once I realized with fullness who I was actually watching- Me 2.0.

My baby girl will be fine. She may carry marks from the trauma, have an ache, and vividly remember what happened on that day. But, she will not be broken by it.

And for that, I am grateful.

Lessons from a Decade of Living

Peace all! I hope this post finds you well. I was sitting here this morning scrolling through Facebook looking at all of the 10 year reflective posts. I even posted my own- a picture from late 2009 when I was pregnant with my son Bryson and a picture of me taken recently.

On the surface, you can see how much I have changed in my appearance. I look younger now than I did then. But, on a deeper level, I am vastly different than I was then. In 2009, I was in a loveless marriage. I constantly felt that I had to prove something, be perfect (whatever the hell perfect means), and fit into some image that I felt would help my life improve.

I was in undergraduate school working on obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. I was working full time as a nurse in a nursing home. I was a wife and mother of 4.5 children. And I was miserable. I wanted so much more of life and more for myself.

I wanted to not water myself down for folks- to be my amazingly intelligent, wild, magickal self but, I was in denial. I allowed church to dictate my manners, my marriage to isolate me from enjoying things, my children to be an excuse as to why I couldn’t be free.

I thought nothing would change until one day 3 years later when my now ex -husband was taken away to federal prison. Then, it was just my children and I . I made a decision to leave familiar and dive head first into something new. I began to run every day and my figure slimmed. No coincidence that my hair journey began shortly before December 24th, 2010 when I cut all the chemicals out revealing curls and expanding my energy.

It was like a domino effect really. I chopped the hair, got pregnant again 2010, gave birth in 2011, husband gone and marriage over in 2012, started taking control of my life and taking risks in 2012, moved away in 2013….and now in 2019….I am me!

I began to do what I wanted and how I wanted. There were times when I would revert back– my crazy ass wound up in a terrible relationship with a narcissist after my marriage ended. However, even through that, I continued to pursue myself. I allowed myself to breathe, to enjoy myself, travel, eat , cry, move my body, make new friends, let some go, connect to spirit, heal, and most of all-BE!

May 2020 bring more of me to me- more joy, more experiences, more love, more passion, more authenticity, more connection, just more. I am so, so ready!

 

Peace,

Ashaki A.

 

 

Going Back to Move Forward

This past weekend I felt inclined to visit my family’s old neighborhood and old farm. As I drove down old Skillet Road, it was as if I was being guided to go back, to understand who they were, to stand on the earth they had farmed, to reconnect with the past.

Initially, I visited my great-grandmother’s old house that also stands right beside the house I grew up in. A dilapidated shack now, but still the remnants of the house that once held so much joy very much visible. I remember sitting on the porch in the summer, shelling peas with my great-grandmother and Grandma Lillie, listening to them talk, feeling the heat of the Southern heat. I remember sitting on her porch, my barefeet touching the stone steps, feeling the coolness of the concrete on my skin in the evenings.

On the other side of our old lot , there used to stand another house that I literally grew up in. My godmother lived there with her daughter and her grandparents. How many days did I spend swinging on the swing, sipping “red” Kool-aid, imagining life far away?

I left Henry Street and drove down to the Skillet. I see so much has changed in town but, not much out in what we call the “country”. I drove and turned onto Skillet Road. I see the old burnt farmhouse is still there but, now there is land for sale. I parked and stood on the land, listened for the elders to tell me what I already know and felt. This land belonged to us and we must reclaim it.

I stood in reverence for once. My people farmed this land, raised livestock, lived a life. Children were born and reared here, traditions were created here, our ways were cultivated here. I left the Skillet and still seemed to hunger for more. These past months as I have continued to research of our family, I have discovered that we moved quite a bit- from Minturn, Clio, other parts of Marlboro County and Dillon county as well, so I drove. And I felt myself churn inside because of my neglect of my own rich history.

I would not exist without these farmers, seamstresses, maids, ex slaves, and such. Would I be as driven, as resilient, as proud, as intelligent, as kind – without these folks? This journey of self-discovery continually drives me back to the ancestors- the ones that I have not properly paid homage to. I will do better. I promise.

 

Ashaki

Creating Our Own Traditions

My children and I have gotten into the practice of creating and cultivating our own traditions over the years. We have our annual fall feast, our summer trips, our weekly movie nights, and the sometimes dreaded family meetings.

One new tradition that I am happy to be able to share with my daughters is being adorned with waistbeads. In my family, being adorned with Afrikan waistbeads is not for fashion- it is highly spiritual and sacred. In ancient times, young women of a certain age were adorned as she matured into pubescence and beyond. My family and I follow a similar tradition.

I had the honor of creating and adorning my oldest daughter today. Each bead color was carefully selected and threaded- white for purity, blue for protection, pink and rose quartz for love. She was so happy to receive her first strand today.

As I tied them on her tiny waist, I felt I had somehow done this before- as if every action I  had taken was a repeat of those from long past. I do sincerely believe that we are our ancestors- that we follow similar ways of being once we have tuned into the frequency of those who came and lived before.

As I gave offerings of food at my ancestor altar this evening, I felt my inner self beam with pride because I know the ancestral mothers see me and all that I am doing to keep my Tribe connected to the old ways. It is so important that as we move forward in our lives, that we pay reverence to those who are responsible for us being here now.

Ase’ to the ancestors always!

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Revisiting The Past

Several weeks ago I went to SC to attend one of my younger cousin’s baby shower. It was a beautiful event but, I felt a strong urge to stop someplace on my way back to Charlotte. I had been through the area a million times, never quite sure of where I was truly going, definitely not feeling strong enough to go there. But, on this day, spirit was pulling on me to finally go back there.

I went back to the place that my grandmother lost her life. As we drove up to the abandoned facility, I immediately felt heavy- so heavy and dark and sad. And even though I felt so heavy, I knew that spirit led me there and I had to go through it.

As I stood at the gate, I peered at the lonesome building , going back to the last time I visited my grandmother there. It was just as dark when residents lived there- a deeply saddening space that housed elderly people. They were not treated well- the workers were cold, giving patients medications without water, not properly treating their wounds, allowing patients to sit in their excrement and urine for hours. And this information I saw with my own 2 eyes. I remember wanting to get my grandmother out of there. I remember the pain in her eyes that last Christmas that I saw her; the apologies for past “transgressions”, the shifts in emotions from extreme joy to severe despair.

I stood at the gate for a few moments, recalling the words of the administrator “We have an open gate policy”. I shake my head at their attempt to blame shift at their negligence. I then got back into the car and drove down the street, “watching” my grandmother, in my mind’s eye, take her last walk that February 2001.

When I reached the railroad tracks, I felt the most intense sorrow that I have felt since the day after her death. I had not been back to this area since her death and standing on the track, walking the path I had walked 18 years ago brought back a flood of emotions and I could feel the remnants of her there. The fear, the pain, the sorrow, the intense sadness that was left at that place all flooded and permeated my being at that time.

I felt stuck, I felt the bondage, I felt a wailing deep within myself. And the tears just flowed from my heart and soul. I grasped a few of the rocks from the tracks- the same tracks that my grandmother had been dragged across those years before. I could not move. But, then I felt this cool breeze blow across my face and heard grandma say “Child you have to go”.

I came back to myself, called my spirit back to myself, and felt a renewed sense of purpose. There is a divine reason that I could not return until this time. I am rooted and grounded in the love and security of ancestral connection. I am ready to work. There is heaviness in that area. souls that need healing, love, and light. I have been chosen to do what is not done by anyone in that area- to bring my whole, Afrikan, spiritual self and cleanse and sing and chant and set them free. My grandmother and others are waiting for those songs, that smudging, that light. I am strong now. I am prepared. I am ready.

Wednesday, June 12th is my grandmother’s bEarthday. She would have been 81 years old. She was taken from us too soon. But, in her years on this earth , she gave so much, she gave all of herself for those who she loved. I am eternally grateful that I am of her lineage. She continues to walk with me every day. Ase’ to her spirit and to the spirits of all of my ancestors. May I continue to walk into my destiny and path that they have lighted for me.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Family First…Good Vibes, High Times

I cannot believe that it has been almost a month since my last blog post. I attempted several times to put pen to paper but, the vibe was just not there. But, here I am on a gloomy , yet peaceful Saturday morning, sitting with my laptop, pouring out of myself.

Last night was so dope. Some of my younger cousins came into my city to see me and my children and it honestly was the best thing that could have happened this week. We ended up cooking a huge meal, sharing laughs, drinks, and listening to music. The energy of the night was intoxicating to say the least. We all fell asleep all over my apartment- from beds, to couches, and to floors.

I couldn’t help but to reflect upon our grandmother and her ideas about family.  Family was the most important thing to her and she always reminded us that although we may not always get along, it is so important to nourish your family relationships. But, in our family there has been a rift between some of us. There is a legacy of grudges; some so deep that they can last for years.

In the past, I have shared the fact that some of my family and I do not have a relationship. It is what it is. I make no apologies for taking certain measures to ensure that I remain happy and healthy. However, when it comes to my younger cousins and myself, we move a bit differently. We have chosen to respect each other, love each other, and give each other space to be exactly who we want to be.

One of my cousins is in the military and will be deploying soon.  The time we share is precious and we know that. I am so grateful that he came to visit before his departure. I know understand even more why Grandma Lillie was so adamant that family love on one another. The fiber that holds us together is laced throughout our DNA and what affects one of us , truly affects all of us.

So, I have chosen to take last night’s energy and lock it up deep in my heart- another memory to keep my company on days when no one knocks on my door. I felt Grandma Lillie with us last night, guiding us as we cooked, smiling at her legacy, feeling proud that we are following the path.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

The Hardest Job Ever

Greetings fam! I hope this message finds you well. I am currently sitting in the local Barnes & Nobles trying to process the happenings with my children. So, let’s start with the fact that I have 6 children. And before you ask, yes I birthed them all. Their ages range from 21-7, 4 boys and 2 girls.

So, let’s start with the 21 year old. He was an only child for the first 7 years of his life. I gave birth to him at age 16. It was not easy and my mother was an integral part of his life for years. He was with me during a lot of tragedy but, he doesn’t even really remember because he was with her a lot and I sheltered him from knowing the entirety of a lot. He and I have not been close since he was 17 years old, ran away from home, did some other things and I had to send him to other family members.

Now, on to today’s hot topic– my 13 year old daughter. She is a sweet girl but, also very passive aggressive and will tell an untruth in order to save her own skin- even at other’s expense.  Anyway she got into trouble yesterday and was punished and today she decides to chop off all of her locs! Another one of my children came to me and said they saw her hair in the trashcan and sure enough she has all of 3 inches of hair left on her head. I still cannot process what would possess her to do such a thing. But, this is my life.

My children are my inspiration but also my greatest challenge. And having the number of children that I have, dealing with all of those personalities at once, trying to guide and cultivate productive people, provide for them all emotionally, financially, spiritually, and otherwise, is downright exhausting and heart-wrenching at times.

I broke down today. I just broke. I couldn’t help it. I find myself feeling like a failure. What am I doing for them? Am I doing a good job? Am I properly preparing them for this world? Am I setting a good example? All of these questions haunt me.

Typically, our days are filled with school/work, homework, dinner, baths, catch up…Wash rinse, repeat. I try to interject some fun into their lives on my free weekends too. But, is that enough? I ask them how they are feeling, what’s going on at school, do they feel well, and so on and so forth but, is that truly enough?

I have spoken before about my dysfunctional childhood. The woman who birthed me and I have little in common, especially when it comes to parenting. I am ever present, stern but loving, concerned, fun. She was cold, distant, and eventually neglectful and verbally abusive. But, I focus on the good days that I remember and accept that maybe she did the best that she could. I try to give them all that I longed for with the exception of the material things, though my children are not hurting for much.

I could possibly go on and on and on about how inadequate I feel in this moment, how helpless, how ill-equipped but, that would only serve to add to an already stressful day. When I rise in the morning, my intention is always to do my very best by myself, my children, and all that people that I interact with.

My eyes burn with tears that I am refusing to let go at this table in B & N. I am having a chai tea and a piece of chocolate cheesecake that I know I don’t need–it is serving as a placeholder for a hug that I so desperately need right now. Parenting is the most difficult job I have ever held.

I can only assume that the most high, my ancestors, my guides, and all the benevolent spirits attached to me knew what they were doing orchestrating a life filled with children that I am supposed to rear. These children chose me to be their mother. Maybe they saw potential in me that I am unaware of. I just pray that whatever lesson I am meant to learn by being the mother of so many children become crystal clear. Because days like this are hard….so very hard. Tomorrow is another day. I just pray that it is better…….

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Divine Mothering

Greetings, greetings, greetings! I hope you are doing well this Tuesday. I am in full recovery mode after suffering all weekend with sinus inflammation, drainage, and headaches. Today, I am about 75% healed and actually feel well enough to get some things done lol.

Anywho, I wanted to share how the universe will deliver what we need when we need. I am a nurse by profession. I have spent my entire career caring for elderly patients in various settings but mostly long-term care and rehabilitation. I have no idea how many lives I have touched in my nearly 19 years but, I know it definitely is in the thousands.

Well, there have been times in which I have been affected by patients and families as well. Some of these people just grow on you and you end up connecting with them on a deeper level than just healthcare. Recently I had an Ethiopian man as  a patient. He only spoke about 3 words in English. His wife was there daily, staying by his side as he recovered after surgery. His children visited daily as did other family members.

His wife is one of the sweetest spirits I have ever met and she truly gave me something that I have been missing for so many years. She mothered me. Every single exchange between she and I was one filled with concern, compassion, and genuine love. She fed me fruits, traditional Ethiopian foods, breads, and more. Each time I entered the room, she called me to her, holding food and feeding me as her own child.

In the settings in which I work, sometimes lunch does not happen- medications have to be passed, doctors are calling you to inquire about patient’s conditions, supervisors need you, etc. She observed me going without and out of concern, she fed me. But, it was so much more than just giving me food.

When she fed me, hugged me, and thanked me, she gave me the nurturing that I have been missing. She had the same feel as my grandma Lillie- warmth, love, joy, and divine feminine energy on high. She was graceful in all ways and her inner light shown bright. I am the one always giving so to be nurtured in that way was salve to a sometimes weary soul.

I am sure that she doesn’t even realize how impactful her simple kindness was to me in my life. On the day of discharge, I spent time in the room with my patient and his family, ensuring they had everything that they needed. The husband embraced me and kissed both my cheeks before leaving. I felt tears well in my eyes because they naturally embraced me as their own-even if it was only for a short period of time. May we all incline to treat one another as our own. Because the world certainly can use more love.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Racing Ahead

Greetings fam! I hope all is well. Today, my youngest daughter and I created a beautiful memory together. We ran a 5K together! Now to bring this into perspective, my daughter is 10 years old and I have not run an entire 5K in 5 years. But nevertheless, we did it and I am filled to the brim with joy. As I sit here tonight, I have a few thoughts that I want to share (of course!)

  1. Mind over matter really works (sometimes)- My daughter has trained for 2 months for this 5K. I kept telling myself that I would train. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am pretty active. I do go to the gym as often as possible and I am a yogi. I also eat pretty healthily. However, I never trained. I knew that I would push myself to be in place for my daughter and that is just what the hell I did!
  2. Our children are truly watching, and they do want our support and approval. My daughter is very headstrong and opinionated (not unlike her mother). I never have considered that she was modeling my behaviors until today. I have always loved to run and be active. Watching her run by my side, in step, and with a look of sheer determination was heartwarming. Once we crossed the finish line, I felt how much she needed my encouragement and how much she appreciated my presence.
  3. Lastly, I got to see #blackgirlmagick in action. The young queens represented themselves so well. They were all so positive, so lovely, so determined. It was inspiring to be a part of the conglomerate. I have a desire to begin to work more with our girls. Today, the fire was stoked!

 

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Seeking the Past & Looking Towards the Future

Greetings fam! Willing all is well with you all today on this beautiful Sunday. I spent my Saturday with my children. I took The Tribe (my affectionate nickname for my children) first to the Charlotte Museum of History. They were having a free event in which we able to tour the property of the first magistrate of Mecklenburg County. He was also a slave owner and the descendant of the household cook, spoke on her journey of discovering her ancestor.

As we made our way up to the house, I instantly felt the heaviness of the spirits on the grounds. The house was made of stone and we learned that the house was built by the slaves and that the actual stone had to be blasted from the ground and pieces laid to build the house. When we entered the house, the dank smell overtook us and I could “see” how this magistrate and his family lived. He owned many acres of land and the slave quarters have not yet been discovered, yet we know they existed. I could feel the remnants of times past, the extreme weight of oppression, and how many of us continue to carry those burdens from their ancestors.

I strive to show proof to my children of our illustrious past but also the ugliness of all that has been done to us. I need for them to know their history, the roots in which they sprang from, the journey we continue to travel.  Knowing the type of people that you come from is so important because how can you know where you going if you don’t know where you came from.

I began many years ago, researching, digging, and seeking my ancestors. I have found many different characters, discovered some hard truths, and found peace in my discoveries. Some of the history was painful, some triumphant, but all of it helped to create the person that I am today. I stand on the shoulders of those who passed before me. I weep for their struggle and I smile at their tenacity. May peace be upon their spirits.

Visiting historical sites has always been important to me. I enjoy digging into the past and seeing how far we have come but also realizing how much further we must go. May you seek the past with determination as well and find more of yourself.

 

Peace, Love, & Abundant Light,

Ashaki

 

Photo cred: Literary Hub