Relaxed to Natural




I have an announcement to make: I’m growing out my relaxer!

If you are underwhelmed by this declaration, then join the club. I am too. I had no intention on writing about the transition, but a good friend made me change my mind. (Thanks J!)

I grew up in a family that wore a range of hairstyles from afros, dreadlocks, and braids, to Jherri curls (um, yeah) and relaxers. Hair lengths ranged from finger-snap short to waist-skimming long. I don’t really remember anyone making judgements on one style versus the other. I take the back. My mom hated Jherri curls.

Momma, who spent a good deal of her college years trying to force her fine, silky locks into an afro, had come to a conclusion by the time I came along. Hair care was best left to the professionals.

So as soon as I was old enough to sit still, my mom took me to a stylist twice a month for a shampoo, blow dry, and ponytails. If a special occasion, like school picture day, came up in between rotations, she made an emergency appointment. The only hair care items we had at home were combs, sponge rollers, headscarves, and a can of oil sheen.

High-school swim class dictated my introduction to relaxers. Neither my mother nor I could imagine shampooing, blow drying, and curling my shoulder-length mane twice a week. My hair stylist explained that a relaxer was a lifetime commitment I had to renew every six to eight weeks.

For 23 years, I followed the advice of both my stylist and my mother. I’ve had my hair relaxed every two months by the hands of a licensed beautician. During that time, I gave myself only one relaxer. It was done under the watchful eye of my college roommate because I couldn’t get home to have it done.

Going to college two hours from home forced me to get more involved with my hair. I made it home every couple of months, so I needed to get acquainted with shampoo and conditioner. I learned how to do roller sets because I was afraid of burning my hair with a curling iron. I figured that was a piece of professional equipment I had no business using.

As soon as I was gainfully employed, I went back to a stylist full time. Having children, however, changed my hands-off-the-hair approach. Neither my time nor my money were as free as they once were, so I took to doing my hair more often. And after I had Lil Ma, I noticed a difference in my locks. They’re a little thinner, and the texture is different. It’s not bad, but it’s not the same. So, after a consultation with my stylist, I decided to grow out my relaxer.

Since I made the decision, I’ve paid closer attention to how polarized women can be when it comes to hair. Upbringing and external influences have our opinions all over the map. Some think we should free ourselves from the “creamy crack” while others think a girl needs a relaxer by the time she’s six.

I’m thankful to be a haircare moderate. It’s your head. Do what makes you happy. Don’t let anyone else decide what’s right or what’s beautiful for you. I’m on a relaxer-free journey today, but who knows where I’ll be a year from now? For me, it’s an exploration of options.

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The Difference Between Moms and Dads



Hubby is home for a few extra weeks, so it’s time for us to get back into a partner-parenting groove. (Hooray!)

These last few two and two cycles have sucked. Numerous home repairs, work issues, and testy kids have made for a rough spring.  So I’m happy that things are settling down as we move into the summer months.

With Hubby at home, I don’t have to race out of the office while praying for clear traffic. He takes care of daycare pickups, homework, and dinner. When the girls have simultaneous meltdowns, we divide and conquer. I must admit the meltdowns are much less frequent now that Daddy’s home; the kids are overjoyed to have him around. (Especially the little one — I swear she is his carbon copy.)

My house is good shape. The grass it cut. That pesky tree branch that hits me in the head every time I walk Mini Me to the bus stop is trimmed. The Christmas lights from 2012 are gone. (No, this is not a typo. Those lights were up for more than a year.) The bathroom sink is unclogged. My car finally stopped sputtering like a 1910 Model T thanks to six new spark plugs and an oil change.

Life is good.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a sputter-free drive to a my book club meeting. I’ve gathered with this group every month for the past 15 years. We’ve supported each other through job changes, marriages, births, and loss of loved ones. Along the way, we’ve read a collection of good, not-so-good, and downright awful books.

My friend had us laughing as she stated her plan to cook for herself this week because it was her husband’s turn to manage dinner for himself and their kids. She explained that if she wasn’t interested in what her Hubs had prepared, she’d just make something else. It didn’t work the other way around, though. Whenever she cooks, everyone in the house has the same dinner. They reached this arrangement a while ago, she said, and it works just fine for them.

I started thinking about how Hubby and I handle situations differently. Things that seem so important to me go unnoticed by him. For example, Hubby took the kids to see his mom while I was at book club. Mini Me, who’s nine years old, was wearing the same set of pajamas she had on when I left the house.

“Did you wear your PJs to Grandmas?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said. “Grandma didn’t mind.”

Normally, I would be miffed. Who takes their big kid out in pajamas?

But really, what does it matter in the grand scheme of things? No one, not even me, is going to remember that my kid wore pajamas to her grandma’s house on a random Sunday in May. Our girls are happy and healthy. They got to spend time with their dad. I was able to hang with friends for a while. Our partner-parenting groove is working.

So instead of fussing, I kissed Mini Me on her forehead and told her I was glad she had a good time.

Like I said — life is good.


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Green Thumb, Black Thumb


When I was a kid, you couldn’t tell me I didn’t have a green thumb. It started when my seventh-grade science teacher gave each of his students a piece of his chlorophytum comosum, better known as a spider plant. My spiky green portion was so small it fit in the palm of my hand. I became an expert at potting soil, watering practices, and plant food. By the time I went to college, Sylvia (yes, I named it)  lived in a 18-inch pot in my parent’s family room. Mom sat her on the patio one warm spring day to catch some sunlight without accounting for the freezing overnight temperature. By the time I came home for spring break, Sylvia had gone on to glory.

It’s been nearly 20 years (gee whiz!) since Sylvia, and I think she took my green thumb with her. I have yet to meet another plant that I can keep alive. There was Sylvia Jr., a small piece of the plant I took with me to college. It sat in a my dorm room window next to an African violet. The blinds in my room fell off the brackets and took them both out. My mom gave me some plant that was infested with fungus. For months, I painstakingly cleaned it with cotton swaps dipped in a solution of alcohol and water, until it too, succumbed. There are also a slew of devil’s ivy and aloe plants that have failed to thrive under my watch.

When Mini Me was born, my best friend gave me a beautiful flowering plant to place outdoors. I sat it in the dining room, because our kitchen table was covered with bottles and new baby things. When I remembered the plant two weeks later, it was history. My mom asked me to keep her peace lily, and I sat it on the porch during Lil Ma’s birthday party. It burned in the hot July sun because I left it out there too long. Was this justice for Sylvia? Perhaps.

I don’t know why I keep torturing myself and these poor plants.

Yes, I do. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. I want to know that Sylvia was not a fluke, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

My latest victim is Bubba, a large plant I inherited from a coworker who left the agency. A three-month maternity leave (I forgot to ask someone to water him) and two office moves have taken their toll. This plant is dying from the bottom up. I consulted with a coworker who is certain that I can save him by cutting the good ends, placing them in water, and starting over. We’ll see.

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#TBT – It’s My Anniversary!




Five years? Oh yeah!

Hubby and I have been together since 2002, and we were married five years ago today. Besides finally tying the knot, there are two things that have made the past five years the most eventful of all the time we’ve been together.

Two weeks on, two weeks off. Hubby started a new job that has him out of town on two week rotations. We’re still learning how to make that work successfully.

Our family grew. What can I say? Lil Ma is awesome, but I had no idea that increasing our family by 25% would make certain aspects of our lives 110% more challenging.

There’s so much I want to write about our journey so far, but it would make for a post much to long for anyone to tolerate. So I’ll keep it short.

Happy Anniversary Hubby! The past five years have proven that we are absolutely made for each other. See you when you get home. (Did I mention that he’s on the road for work right now?)

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Tossing the Hate Cup

Today, for the most part, was a stuck-behind-my-desk kind of day. I had a inbox full of messages to sort along with completing a stack of paperwork. These are two things that I really don’t care to do. But my calendar and to-do lists were surprisingly short, so I had no excuse for stalling.

While I’m tap-tap-tapping away on my least favorite spreadsheet, I hear of set of footsteps approach my office. I held my breath and hoped that they would pass me by. Now that I was in the paperwork groove, I was determined to finish.

“Thanks,” I heard a woman say, “for filling my hate cup today.”

The statement was made plainly, and dare I say pleasantly. She just as easily could have been asking someone to pass the potatoes at the dinner table.

I’ve heard a few cup metaphors: My cup runneth over. That’s not my cup of tea. The cup/glass is half full, half empty, whatever.

A hate cup was brand new to me.

Even though I was on a roll with my paperwork, you know good and well I really didn’t want to do it, so I thought about that phrase for a while.

I sometimes let annoying situations ruin my frame of mind. I’m not talking about the big stuff. That’s easily understandable. I’m talking about the small, who-ate-the-last-of-the-apple-jacks kind of stuff. A morning hangnail can set me on a path of grumpiness that lasts the entire day.

I guess I have a hate cup, too, but it’s time I tossed it. My life is full of good things, so my time would be much better served focusing on those.