#15: Being an adult means craving steak and treating yourself to steak-frites.

Being an adult means craving steak and treating yourself to steak-frites.

Is it reasonable to crave a juicy steak, and am I worthy of a steak dinner? Yes. Do I have $60 for a quality steak dinner? Absolutely. And I also have a $60 credit card payment to make in 14 days. This thought process is stewardship-based, and the more I recognize what power I do have in decision-making, the more consistently I make wise choices. It is a new kind of brilliance for me.

Since I stopped speaking with mom in February, I’ve noticed large, positive shifts in my thinking patterns like the one above. Each shift reflects a collective group of decisions that honor my values of justice and grace; those decisions reflect a consistently applied wisdom.

In other words, the less I quantify my “inner goodness” by my actions, the more authentically I become self-compassionate, and the more compassion I show myself, the more compassion I show others. Compassion uses an observant mind to notice, rather than a judgmental mind that calculates character based on quickly drawn conclusions, biased opinions, and misinterpretations of facts.

I knew mindful processing was critical to healthy emotional intelligence, but in a particularly difficult 2017-18 Winter, I’d not yet distanced myself from her connection to intensive doubt, criticism, fear, shame, and boundary violations. I thought a greater compliance and physical attractiveness could make me “good enough” and create peace. I finished feeling castrated.

I know no one with a healthy relationship to her own emotions that casually opts to cease speaking with her mother, given the aggressive attachment patterns between mother and child, not to mention what social backlash comes after perceived betrayal and ingratitude.

I know that on February 3, I suffered severe, flu-resembling symptoms that, in actuality, reflected a malignant starvation without self-imposed origins, and I could no longer use nepotism to excuse abusive patterns. It is among the hardest choices I’ve ever made but rebuilt my healthy relationship with self. Respect was its cornerstone.

I believe all us of know boundaries are critical to respect. That is why I worry our need for on-time mortgage payments, employment, social belonging, etc. jeopardizes prioritizing self-care.
In a world driven by silenced mom guilt, confusing fatherhood, declining healthcare benefits, exponentially increased suicide percentages, American citizen-instigated violence, bullying in schools, oppressive entitlement, and international inconsistencies, self-sustainability can feel selfish, untimely, or impossible. It unintentionally flies out the window. But as a highly educated, single, 26-year-old, Black female with no dependents, lease, or geographic commitment, there is no better time (as if time is ever convenient) to address historical suffering, no matter how uncomfortable. I must do it for myself.

The practical updates
Medically: I have recently completed a sleep study for insomnia, identified mild hearing loss in my right ear, and my podiatrist and I anticipate plenty more time before I walk free of bilateral posterior tibial tendonitis. A2 brand milk is less likely to irritate lactose intolerance, a new implant improved hormonal regulation aid, and vitamin D levels thrive in our summer sun.

Artistically, I steadily create: “Altered Book” Zines and their inspired greeting cards for the Fourth Annual Zine Festival this July 20 from 4:00-7:00 PM at Crosstown Arts; Memphis’ first online Mental Healthcare Directory, due for paper publication at the iconic Cooper-Young Festival, Sept. 15 from 9:00-7:00 PM; The National Eating Disorder Association Memphis Walk on Sept. 22 at Overton Park with my co-planners, local ED-recovered women. I field the artistic role, for which I am a commissioned mixed media cardmaker for wo/men in full-time care at our “alma mater” treatment centers; Grant proposals to fund my ticket to the Creative Works Conference Oct. 4-5 at the Halloran Centre; No⁰ Magazine writings: A feature article covering the Center for Southern Leadership Association’s art education efforts in the First Annual Memphis Literary Arts Festival this past June, interview with married artists turned expectant parents, and 2 more pieces celebrating intersectional identity for Issue 95, released this Fall.

Then, there is my pride a joy: working as a full-time nanny. At first, I feared my Licensed Professional Educator experience in Secondary (6-12) English Language Arts background would prove too difficult a transition, and I feared no parent would trust kids to a young professional with mental health background. Interestingly enough, it was only “when my mental health training came to work” that healthy employee-employer respect, built on emotional intelligence skills, enabled my success. 

Understanding early childhood development communication patterns form an unprecedented attachment, trust, and leadership patterns with their little ones. My slowness to judge and quickness to observe meant I proactively discerned and then met many families’ need before it arose. I caught kids’ behavioral cues indicating hunger, dehydration, boredom, constipation, illness, nostalgia, and contentment almost immediately. Non-patronizing speech-enabled me to provide candid feedback; a deep-rooted sense of identity allowed me to receive feedback. A quirky love for literacy, Reggae music, obsessive-compulsive level cleaning, and space-creating organizational talent, an awareness of non-diet, intuitive eating habits, and strange daily cheerfulness made me a five-star best childcare provider.

On the flipside, compromising rest, skipping Sunday night worship, overtime, and neglected artmaking made for a hungry, angry, lonely, tired nanny, delaying punctuality and quick follow-up communication. Each tardy arrival broke my heart, but not because I personally prioritize timeliness. It broke my heart to disappoint already taxed moms with whom I had found friendship and a sincere love for her children. Neither steak nor steak-frites category.

A final announcement for sitter families: Please stay on the lookout for a “Meet the Parents” party this Fall, to which your entire family will be invited to a cookout party at my house that is 100% free to all my childcare clients, so you all may meet one another. You do not have to be a current client to attend. There are uncanny similarities - down to first names, Jewish faith backgrounds, exact birthdays, same age and complementary personality kids, military branch, zip codes, and core values… and the universal need for human contact without singing “Wheels on the Bus.” Of course, attendance is optional, but there are vegetarian, kosher sensitive, gluten-free, and dairy-free menu options, a sprinkler, chalk, bubbles, and television for your kids, quiet indoor nap space (adults welcome), breastfeeding space featuring a door that locks, zero pets, and toothpaste shirt friendly dress code. You could say “Meet the Parents” honors your hard-work, confusion, and sleeplessness, and children are… say... accessories (insert wink here).

May you continue your summer with an extraterrestrial kind of joy in what absurd creativities your little ones make. Thank you for allowing me to steward their care.