On June 26, 2019 at 6PM I gave birth to a handsome little human named Joseph. Nobody can ever prepare you for the mental state that Motherhood can place you in. When I first laid eyes on that little boy he was and still is the purest form of love that I have ever had the chance to be in the presence of. When I found out that I was going into labor I was in disbelief. See JoJo (as I like to call him) is my rainbow baby. I miscarried an angel last year April 28, 2018. After losing that little angel I told myself that I didn't want to be pregnant again until I had reached this point of financial stability but I guess God had other plans in mind. Some days I look at him and I am so completely and utterly afraid of failing him because in my head, I was supposed to be much more prepared for him than what I am but the truth is you're never really “prepared” for motherhood. I look at him some days and I remember the innocence that I used to hold and how life kind of snatched that away from me and I dread the thought that it'll do the same to him. When I look at JoJo, I see someone that is carefree and taken care of, not a worry in the world and I wonder about the man that he will grow up to be. I wonder will I be able to truly teach him how to be a man when I am a single mother and I have no male influences to be around him. JoJo is only 3 months old at this moment and I am afraid, I am happy but I am afraid. There is so much going on in this world and it hurts that I won't always be able to protect him like my mother wasn't always able to protect me. I watch him as he constantly smiles and I pray that that smile never fades away, I pray that he always remains happy although I am very aware that some days he'll find it hard to smile but I can't help but to hold on to the hope that his good days will forever outweigh the not-so good days. I imagine the motivating things that I will tell him when he gets to the point that he can respond to me. Nobody can prepare you for the sleepless nights that you may encounter, not because he's up crying but because you're up crying because your worried about what kind of future can you help create for him when you don't have much. I look at other mothers that have husbands and I think of how lucky they are to have someone to reassure them that everything is going to be alright, someone that can pick up the slack when you're having an off day. I find it funny how even though we are truly never alone in our feelings and emotions that somehow, we still feel as though we are even though there are many women out in the world at this very moment dealing with the same thoughts and feelings. We have taught ourselves to bottle those feelings up because we must remain strong, we must wear this mask, a mask that says, “Everything is okay!” when it's not, a mask that says, “I have adequate finances to take care of everyone!” when you really don't, a mask that says, “I'm completely energized!” when you're tired and emotionally drained. Someone once approached me and said that I smile a lot and seeing my smile made them happy and brought joy to them because I radiated and I thought to myself, “Well I guess I wear this mask pretty well.” The most insane part about Motherhood is that even though sometimes you don't feel like you're enough, to that little kid, you are their everything and that alone gives you purpose. My heart melts every time I see my little human. In fact, these worries only exist because I love him so much and I want him to have more than what I had growing up and the thought of not being able to provide him with better is a very scary thought to me. I want to tell mothers that it is okay to have these thoughts, they are so natural to have and nothing to be ashamed of. We must take each day one at a time and know that we've got this, that we are Superwomen to them and if our kids can think that highly of us then we should be able to think that highly of ourselves as well. So, have your mom thoughts but remember to pick yourself up at the end of it and genuinely know in your heart that you're doing a great job.
Instead of just talking to you about the worst event of my life, I also wanted to write about something serious. The amount of African Americans in this world that don't take mental health seriously. The toxic behavior is passed down through generations. Everyone assumes that the color of our skin protects us against depression. Many African American feel like they aren't allowed to talk to someone. Everyone allows them to be alone a world that hates them. Why aren't there more people talking to African Americans with depression? Everyone knows that it's there, yet, we ignore it with a passion. My mom had a serious health condition that ate at her body fat. The person I loved the most was slowly becoming someone else. Her anger was stronger, and her weight was at a all time low. She would yell at me and my brothers about everything. Until one day, she didn't say anything to us. She didn't look me in the eyes, and I knew it wasn't just me. She was fighting this condition with every bone in her body. My mother would eat the fattiest and healthiest foods on the planet. The person that loved a good medium-rare steak, gave up all meats. She was the strongest person in my small little world. You could imagine my surprise when she stopped going to work, stopped eating, and stopped talking. Everyday after school, I came in my house to see her on the couch. She wouldn't say anything to me or even look in my direction. Everyday I watched my mother get smaller, and smaller. She weighed more than me before the condition, but I quickly surpassed her. I walked in on her pulling on her skin in the bathroom, and it finally hit me, my mom didn't feel beautiful anymore. Another day, she finally talked to me, and it was more than a few words. She grabbed my attention with a those words: "Keiona, I seriously think there's something wrong with me. I think I'm depressed." After that, it was back to silence. Nothing came from her for a month. Just looks. I was communicating with my mom with facial expressions. I lost her. I was 15 years old. I lost my mom, and I didn't know how to get her back. That hurts, I wish you understood, I was supposed to be her ball of joy. Why couldn't I make her smile? Why couldn't I get a laugh? Just one? Did I lose her forever? I did learn that I wasn't ready to deal with something like that. So, you want to know what I did? I went to my grandmother and I told her everything. Everything that my mother was going through and everything she said to me. Want to know her response? Ladies and gentlemen, would you like to see into my world? My grandmother said my mom wasn't depressed. My mother was fine, and that she's just upset that her butt is gone. "Black people aren't allowed to feel depression, we're too strong for that. Just pray on it." My mom was going through something real! Why didn't she help her? Who was supposed to help her, because I couldn't do it. I realize that every black person has experienced depression, whether it be firsthand or not. They tell you to pray about it, but I'm going to be honest, praying doesn't work. My mom openly said she didn't want to be here, and that she wanted to kill herself. How does a 15 year old process that? How was I supposed to pray about that? I want to say something to everyone, not just the black community, it's okay to feel. IT'S OKAY TO FEEL. IT'S OKAY TO WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE. IT'S OKAY TO HAVE DEPRESSION. People shouldn't have to feel like they need to suck it up. I wish I understood that when I was 15. I watched my mother more closely, and made sure she didn't have access to sharp objects. I tried to pull her out of her darkness. I played the violin for her every time I got new music. I even tried to learn new instruments, because I remembered how much she loved to hear me play. I tried to take her place, and watch over my brothers more. The bills didn't get paid in the end, and we ended up moving somewhere else. My mom got out of it, I don't know how, but she laughs again. She even wants to buy some land, and start preparing for a bigger house. She works harder than I've ever seen, but I can honestly say that she's happy. To every African American out there, please understand that depression isn't something you can just ignore. It's okay to get some serious help from someone. Jesus is powerful, but making sure you're mentally okay is safer. Don't ignore someone else if they have depression. Don't tell them that they need to pray more. Actually that goes out to everyone. Please take mental health seriously, because if I didn't, I would've lost my mom for real. Remember that it's perfectly natural to feel this way about anything. Talk to someone. Please.
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