By Winnie Gaturu

Since my son started walking, I've received a lot of unsolicited advice from acquaintances to complete strangers: "You should have another kid to keep your son company," "You should have a girl," (as if I can determine the child's gender), or the one that bothers me the most..."You should have more kids in case one dies." That's downright disturbing!

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Sometimes I want to yell, "STOP telling me to have more kids!
Some of my friends share the same sentiments. For instance, Emily, a mother of one feels offended since most of the people telling her to have more kids are the same ones who told her she was too young to be a mother in the first place. She doesn’t understand how the dynamic changed from her being too young to her being old enough. On the other hand, Valentine, a mother of four, feels that spacing kids out is wrong and the maximum age difference between siblings should be two years. That way, you get them all out in one go and get done with it. She’s also very vocal in telling other mothers, me included, to have more kids. Sigh!

That said, I have a couple of reasons why I'm not considering having another child now or in the near future. For starters, raising a child is not cheap. I want to offer my children the best I can and at the moment, I only have room for the one I have. Secondly, I have my hands full at the moment. I know you'll say I'm selfish but that's just how it is. Unless you'll pay the child's bills, help me carry the pregnancy to term, and raise the child for me, you have no business suggesting when or how many children I should have.

But I won't lie and say that these comments don't get to me. At some point, I even turned to Google to find out whether raising one child would make them spoiled, entitled or lonely like most people keep saying. To my relief, all these concerns are just myths. As a matter of fact, only children are as lonely as any other child with siblings, and being an only child doesn’t make them more antisocial than their counterparts with siblings. They also get to enjoy more perks since their parents can afford to provide more for them. Only children even end up developing a higher IQ. However, there are some disadvantages too, like only children feeling an immense amount of pressure to succeed by their parents, or feeling suffocated from too much attention.

Considering everything, I've made a decision to be content with my one child, at least for now. So to the people telling me to have more kids, STOP! 

Do you mind people telling you to have more kids? 
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Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. You can catch up with her on yourhairandbeautywrite.wordpress.com.



By Winnie Gaturu

Since my son started walking, I've received a lot of unsolicited advice from acquaintances to complete strangers: "You should have another kid to keep your son company," "You should have a girl," (as if I can determine the child's gender), or the one that bothers me the most..."You should have more kids in case one dies." That's downright disturbing!

Continue
Sometimes I want to yell, "STOP telling me to have more kids!
Some of my friends share the same sentiments. For instance, Emily, a mother of one feels offended since most of the people telling her to have more kids are the same ones who told her she was too young to be a mother in the first place. She doesn’t understand how the dynamic changed from her being too young to her being old enough. On the other hand, Valentine, a mother of four, feels that spacing kids out is wrong and the maximum age difference between siblings should be two years. That way, you get them all out in one go and get done with it. She’s also very vocal in telling other mothers, me included, to have more kids. Sigh!

That said, I have a couple of reasons why I'm not considering having another child now or in the near future. For starters, raising a child is not cheap. I want to offer my children the best I can and at the moment, I only have room for the one I have. Secondly, I have my hands full at the moment. I know you'll say I'm selfish but that's just how it is. Unless you'll pay the child's bills, help me carry the pregnancy to term, and raise the child for me, you have no business suggesting when or how many children I should have.

But I won't lie and say that these comments don't get to me. At some point, I even turned to Google to find out whether raising one child would make them spoiled, entitled or lonely like most people keep saying. To my relief, all these concerns are just myths. As a matter of fact, only children are as lonely as any other child with siblings, and being an only child doesn’t make them more antisocial than their counterparts with siblings. They also get to enjoy more perks since their parents can afford to provide more for them. Only children even end up developing a higher IQ. However, there are some disadvantages too, like only children feeling an immense amount of pressure to succeed by their parents, or feeling suffocated from too much attention.

Considering everything, I've made a decision to be content with my one child, at least for now. So to the people telling me to have more kids, STOP! 

Do you mind people telling you to have more kids? 
 https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DnsMSFjLFNw/We9aV3iBeiI/AAAAAAAADII/F9HbMPX6PfYe6aCJqc-eDi3Wgmu41YE4wCLcBGAs/s1600/Winnie%2BG..jpg
Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. You can catch up with her on yourhairandbeautywrite.wordpress.com.
Michelle Obama
By Mwabi Kaira

Michelle Obama was recently interviewed by poet Elizabeth Alexander at the first annual Obama Foundation Summit.  What she said about parenting is not a new sentiment.  Michelle said, "It's like the problem in the world today is we love our boys, and we raise our girls. We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men and I think we pay for that a little bit and that's a 'we' thing because we raise them.  It's powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean?" she asked. "You know, does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much so they feel a little entitled and a little, you know, a little self-righteous sometimes? But, that’s kind of on us too as women and mothers, you know, as we nurture men and push girls to be perfect."

Here's why Michelle's words gave me pause.

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She doesn’t have sons.

Yes, I realize this was a general statement but had she related it back to growing up with a brother and the apparent different treatment they received with being nurtured versus being pushed to be perfect, pause would not have been necessary. Actress Gabourey Sidibe took to Instagram with Michelle’s clip and captioned it, “I love her so much. I say this all the time! Even my brother will tell you that we basically lived in completely different households, even though we were under the same roof.  Can we start raising these boys to be strong black women cuz I’m very tired.”

Gabourey Sidibe's instagram
Maybe I’m overly sensitive when anyone speaks about the shortcomings of boys because I am a mother of two teenage sons who has gone out of her way to raise my boys and not just love them.  Add raising them in this climate where we have seen Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Mike Brown be killed just because they are boys who happen to be black, and this mothering black sons thing takes on a whole different turn.  I know nothing about raising daughters and would never speak on it.  I have lived long enough to know that being vocal about a subject is completely different from actually living it.

Michelle Obama said what I have heard since I was a young girl.  Because I heard and saw it, I made a conscious decision to work extremely hard to raise my sons to become strong, intelligent, thoughtful, caring, compassionate, feminist men.  I have taught my sons accountability since they were toddlers and I challenge them on not only being responsible for the parts they play in situations but to own them as well.  I encourage them to treat everyone the same from the janitor to the CEO. I have taught them to show respect to everyone and to handle adversity with grace.  I have taught them that rejection is redirection to better things and to not take it so hard.  My sons are not perfect and I wish they were better cleaners when it comes to their rooms but overall they are on the right path and I am proud of them.  I am trying my best to love and raise them and I know I’m not the only mother of sons who feels this way.

Should a mom without sons speak on how they're being raised?
Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

Erickka Sy Savané
A story my girlfriend shared with me the other day about a phone conversation with her mom…
“Tell me what you want from the house when I go.”
“Go where?” Bree said to her mom.
“You know, when I die.”
“Die? What’s wrong?? Are you sick???” Bree panicked.
“No. I just want to be prepared.”
This was weird.
“I can’t, ma, just write down whatever you think I’d like.”
“I don’t know what you’d like because I don’t know you like that.”

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Was she serious?
“All the times I’ve tried to get to know you over the years and all you’ve ever done is shut me down. You only came to visit me once in 25 years and that was when I got married, and I had to beg you and pay for your plane ticket. And then there’s the grandchild that you completely forgot about. Now you wanna act like it’s my fault?”

“So it’s my fault?” Bree’s mom said. “Do you remember how you left?”

Whoa. She was bringing that up? They had never spoken about the way she left home. How she had just graduated from high school and had her heart set on becoming a singer- her mother wanted her to go to college. As a compromise, Bree applied to schools with music programs out-of-state, but her mother had her own plans and changed the applications to local colleges in Mississippi where they lived. Bree realized then that the only way she was going to be able to live her own life was by leaving. So one day she bounced, leaving nothing but a note saying that she was heading to New York and would call her when she got settled.
They did eventually talk, but the relationship never recovered.
Her mom turned cold, and Bree came to accept it as the price she had to pay for her independence. Thinking about it today, she can only imagine what she put her mother through. But the truth is, she did what she had to do, and though she never became a big singer, she did get married, became a mom, and lived life her way. Her mom, on the other hand, was still standing in the same spot 25 years later, as salty, and hurt, as the day Bree left. So really who won? There was no need to argue over who was right.

“I’m sorry about the way I left,” Bree apologized.
After a brief silence.
“Okay. Let’s move on,” her mom replied.

Bree's giddiness about mending the relationship with her mom came bursting through the phone as she relayed her story. I met her not long after she made the move to NYC, and over the years, I could see that there was something missing. A mother’s love is like a warm coat in the winter so you know when someone leaves home without it. Maybe this was the start of something new? I couldn't help thinking that 25 years is a long time to be mad. So many beautiful memories they never had. So much pain. I think about what happens when we feel wronged by someone, and how it only hurts us, even if we’re right. My mom used to ask me, “Do you want to be dead right?” when I would walk out in the middle of traffic as soon as the light turned green. As if being right was a protective shield against the pain of getting hit by a car. I think about some of the people that I may owe an apology to and I hope they’re not waiting on it. I hope they’ll talk to me about it or find a way to move on. At the end of the day, we’re all responsible for our own happiness.

Do you have a healthy relationship with your mom?
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Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  
By Sharee Silerio

We often count the days, weeks and months since we lost the ones we love, but it always feels like it just happened yesterday.

Have you ever been through a storm and could feel the sun, just for the clouds and rain to swiftly cover its glory? Have you ever felt like you were just starting to “feel normal," then another crush to your heart brings you deeper into despair?

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This is what it felt like on May 3, 2016, when my Uncle Nell passed. He wasn’t the first family member to go, but he was the one I was closest to. On a Tuesday evening, my mom and I were walking back to her house after exercising when my grandma called. I can still feel the moment she told me that Nell passed; the angst that rushed out of my throat as I yelled “No!” The river of pain that flowed from my eyes; the morning after that felt like it was all a dream.

Nell was one of my best friends. I could be myself and talk to him on the phone for hours without being bored. I could share my doubts, fears, and insecurities. He never judged me, but loved and uplifted me.

Between February and June of 2016, a member of my family died each month – five people. My husband’s grandmother lost her battle with cancer, our nephew passed due to complications from an asthma attack, and my uncle died due to blocked arteries.

Each of these losses – individually and collectively – were a reality check, revealing the healing I needed from a lifetime of pain.

I hadn’t spoken to my uncle in several months, maybe a year, before he died. To be honest, I don’t even know exactly how long it was, but the wedge between us began as his mental illness got worse. He became paranoid, verbally aggressive and erratic. One evening, when my husband and I were at the grocery store, he called me. As I was having a conversation with him, my husband and I laughed about something going on in the store. He thought that my husband was talking about him, so he threatened to beat him up. The moment before this was the last time I felt safe around him.

As his casket was being lowered into the grave during the burial, I became trapped in a net of guilt and regret. I felt awful that I let Nell’s mental illness separate us instead of forgiving his episodes for the sake of our relationship.

For weeks, I struggled to get “back on track," although I had no idea how to get there. I worked as a business manager at a counseling center and couldn’t focus on my tasks. It was also difficult for me to do the things I wanted and planned to do before Nell died. I was depressed, lost and anxious. A few days later, I started weekly counseling sessions.

During therapy, we started with the grief from my losses and worked backwards. It was easier than I thought, and I began to believe that it was okay for me to release the guilt I felt about disconnecting from Nell, in addition to the hurt and disappointment from the way he treated me and the love of my life.

Eventually, I found that forgiveness is possible without receiving an apology from the person or people who hurt me. It is a decision to release what someone did to me and focus on how I can use the hurt to grow. We never know when someone will take their last breath, so it’s best to let things go. Most times, what people do to us has everything to do with them and little to do with us.

The next thing to work through was being molested when I was around 10, and groped during school and walking home from school in junior high. So many times, I felt like I betrayed myself because I didn’t yell for help when I was being abused or tell my family what happened. I wondered how someone could love me when I didn’t love myself enough to speak up. I felt weak, and like I deserved everything that happened to me.

Each time I spoke of my pain though, healing filled my wounds. I felt strength rise from within me, my voice becoming a tool for me to heal myself.

Journaling was another way I found healing. Every day, I wrote to God, being honest about my emotions and thoughts, just like the scriptures in the book of Psalms. The more open I was, the more comfort, peace and love I felt wash over me. God quickly became more real and accessible to me, and now I know what it feels like to have a relationship with the One who created me.

Since then, I’ve been blogging, sharing my journey to wholeness, of self-love, faith and growth. Through the pain, I discovered one of my purposes.

Loss has taught me a lot about life. The main things are that God is a healer; life isn’t promised and every moment we breathe is a gift; don’t live life passively, but intentionally; forgiveness frees the heart, soul and mind to love; pain can open the door to freedom from what holds us back; and I have a choice regarding what I do with my pain. I can either let it destroy me or use it to restore me.


 How have you dealt with the grief of losing a loved one?

Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.