There are no how to guides to parenting.

Top: Urban Outfitters, Jeans: Boohoo, leather shirt: Bershka

21.  I can just about believe it myself.  The little princess who used to hang on my every word and cry at the mere thought of leaving me, is now officially an adult by the world’s standards.  How on Earth will I console myself?

Her lockdown birthday celebration on Monday was absolutely lovely, being the daughter that she is, I had no doubts that whatever I did for her she would accept with love and gratitude and in all likehood an anxious smile.  I was right.  All except for the anxious smile. 

My baby girl, in true Tianna fashion, showed up as the authentic beautiful soul I know her to be, she laughed, joked and didn’t let a single thing bother her, at least thats what she showed on the outside.

For all I know, that beautiful smile could have been masking a multitude of emotions.  In that respect, she really is the child of her parents.  In many ways we raised her right; taught her to be conscientious and caring; to respect other’s rights to their own opinions and make choices that created beauty in this world for herself and others.  However, in other respects we taught her how to mask pain and push through every situation.  Despite it being ok to cry, it was not ok to stay in a state of unhappiness and allow others to see it.  We put on a brave face and shone, no matter what.

There are no perfect parents but part of being a good parent is learning from your mistakes and making adjustments to make sure your children have the best possible life chances.  These realisation don’t always come immediately, infact they hardly ever do but when they do, that’s the check in point.  Check in with experts, check in with other parents, check in with your children.  All of these people have an insight into how you can do better and be better.

I suppose the case of Aisha Kudi had me reflecting on how we parent and how we can put ourselves in a position to assist others to do so. Is it possible to avoid these tragedies by being a community accountable for our young people? I won’t delve too much into that story as I’m sure there is much yet to be revealed but what I will say is we as a society need to be better at looking out for vulnerable people, be that the parent, or the child.

I just pray that changes will be made at a systemic level to avoid something like this occurring again. After Victoria Climbie, we would have hoped never again to see cases like this. Unfortunately, here we are.

How well do you know your vagina?

If the word vagina gives you shivers down your spine, talk of a cervix has you sweating and the mere mention of discharge has you running to grab a sick bucket, this is just the post for you.

This week I will be talking all things fannies and pleading with men and women to normalise talking about changes in your intimate areas. 

Once you’ve had a team of doctors staring up your canal to check if you’ve stretched enough to push an entire human out of you, all sentiments of dignity go out the window.  From that moment forward you know doctors have seen it all.  That being said when I made a call to my surgery this week to discuss intimate matters, they did ask if I was ok speaking to a man about it, very considerate, though at this stage of my life the sex of my doctor is irrelevant.

I’ve always been very aware of what my vagina looks like, I was never afraid to sit in front of a mirror legs akimbo and check what I was working with.  To some extent the “pretty” vaginas in porno and songs that talk of “designa vagina” had a lot to do with that but I also wanted to know me so I could spot any changes.

Having been obsessed with human mortality since the age of about 5 I’ve always needed to know what my normal was so I could keep it that way. 

This goes for your discharge too.  Throughout a woman’s cycle our discharge changes slightly in texture and colour but at no point should you have green or smelly discharge and think things are still “A ok” down there.  Don’t get me wrong, it could just be a mild infection that triggers drastic change but any change is definitely worth getting checked.

The same goes for you fella’s too, grab your balls cop a feel and know what your normal is or better still let your significant other have a feel for you!

This Monday marks the 12th Anniversary of Jade Goody’s passing and that in itself is a reminder to get yourself checked out and don’t miss a single smear test.  My recent smear came back all clear but the nurse did notice a cervical entropic, which explained a number of issues I had been experiencing.  Thankfully it’s nothing serious and I’ll live, I may even be lucky enough that the issue fixes itself but once again it is a reminder to keep checking, know your body and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Now on another note, the first (living) human to exit my vagina turns 21 tomorrow!  Yes, that means I’m no longer a spring chicken and will have to stop insisting that I’m still 21 myself so happy 25th birthday to me!

Mother’s Day 2021

Mothering Sunday has arrived.

There is always so much to be thankful for when it comes to mother’s, whatever your story, there is at least a little gratitude for the woman who brought you into this world. Today, and every day, my cup overflows with it.

Although Barbados has a different Mother’s Day to the UK, I still take this day to salute the matriarchal figures of my family. I am blessed to still have my grandmother and mother available for chats and laughter at the end of a phone line, when many of my friends have lost theirs. The wealth of advice they have to offer, wanted or not, is something that I will always cherish.

I’m also very blessed to have my daughter’s other Grandma, who blesses me with hugs, laughter and prayer in the absence of my mum. When you lose your only child, as she has, mother’s day can be heart wrenching. We are so grateful to be able to love on her like she loves on us.

My own journey into motherhood was not an easy one so I don’t take for granted what a blessing it is to have someone call you mum and despite this being “my day”, I am so thankful that I have my babies to love on.

So I end this post by saying to all the mothers out there, enjoy your day. Find gratitude for your blessings and hug a mother tightly, be that your own mother or someone else’s, acknowledge that most of us are out here trying to be the best we can. Have a blessed day.

What is a family?

Strange title today I know, surely everyone knows the answer to that one, or do they? I literally had to wonder if I was missing something when a friend of mine told me she had lost out on a property because they had given it to a “family”.

It angers me that on a clubhouse stage another friend of mine was told that she shouldn’t talk about mental health from the perspective of race, and it certainly angers me that despite living in a so called libral society free from the bonds of slavery my people are still shackled.

I can only speak as a single mother, because I am a single mother. I can only speak as a woman because I am a woman and I can only speak as a black person because I am black. When you ask me to offer my opinion on something I offer it as a black woman who also happens to be raising her children alone and the thought that in the eyes of someone else that means my children and I are not a “family” makes me angry beyond words.

I am unapologetically black and nobody has the right to tell me I shouldn’t talk about my trauma from my perspective as a black woman. Like it or not, we face the system differently to others. I remember the pain I was suffering on the labour ward with my son and being told I was exaggerating and just needed to use the gas and air and I’d be fine, before having to be rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section because apparently my word as a black woman means nothing. Before you tell me that this happens to other women too, black women are 4 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a white woman and it’s no coincidence that black people are more likely to die of covid either. Why do you think the results of those investigations are still hushed? The only reason for it is the disparity of care they receive due to their perceived “strength” After all isn’t that the reason we were brought and sold in the first place?

I remember as a teen, being told that perhaps I should be a nursery nurse instead of my ambition to be a lawyer or social worker, despite having better grades than many and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a nursery nurse, I did go on to do the job and love it but why couldn’t I get a job that required a degree? What was it that the career advisor saw in me that told her it was unachievable for someone like me? Nothing but the colour of my skin. P.S madam career advisor, I now hold 3 degrees.

I also remember sitting in the staff room of one of my previous work places and listening to the other teachers rant about particular children and how, “It’s the single mums that are the problem.” I kindly had to remind them that this single mother sat right next to them as a peer, not only works her ass of to provide for her children but has worked since the age of 15 and is raising children to be non-judgmental human beings. This is one of the reasons I got into teaching, I didn’t want children, especially black children, to continue to be told they could not achieve all that they wanted to in life.

So back to my initial question; what is a family? A family is, in my humble opinion and closely agreed with by Google, a group of people who love each other where there is at least one adult that has people that depend on them. When you start saying that single parents living with their children are not a family, you shackle them, you tell them that in your eyes they are not whole. You tell them that despite how they got to that position, they are not worthy of the same life chances as everyone else and you feed into their already fragile self confidence.

Something has got to change and I will be one of the change makers.

5 books to read your children on World Book Day

It’s world book day this Thursday, in light if that, I’ve adapted my post this week to talk more about reading and less about me. Here are my 5 recommendations for awesome books to read to your children.

1. The Lion Inside

An inspirational story that shows we all have a lion inside of us.

2. Look Up

A story that teaches us the importance of paying attention and sometimes all we need to do to experience something wonderful is ‘Look Up’.

3. The Lost Happy Endings

Beautiful poetic imagery in this book in which our happy endings are rescued.

4. The Spiderwick Chronicles

A series of books filled with magic and mischief.

5. Noughts & Crosses

A teen read that explores slavery, racism and love in dangerous times.

I have read all of the above books and there are so many more I could list but these are a great place to start.

You can also go to this page to download a digital library. Check it out!

How to Succeed in the Struggle

I sometimes find it hardest to write when I’m happiest, it’s as though pain causes me to express myself in a way that no other emotion does. Strange that. Or is it?

Pain is, in my opinion, the body’s way to trigger our minds into searching for solutions. Without the pain of slavery causing my ancestors to be separated from their loved ones, would they have found a way out? Without the recent pain of watching George Floyd murdered on our TV screens, would my community have pulled together in such a way to start a wave of change, unity and passion to break down systemic oppression?

Without the pain of rejection and the fight to be seen for the work we do would migrants continue to create great works in London, ‘the melting pot of creativity’?

This week’s London Fashion Week has shown a great deal of fashion created through struggle. Whether that be the struggle of acceptance in the mixture of Western meets West Africa (Labrum SS 21 ‘The Cotten Tree) or those who champion fashion design for social change (Tolu Choker).

Labrum
Getty/Tristan Fewings
Labrum
Getty/Tristan Fewings

The offering this year, in these unprecedented times has been bold and exciting. From collections that get you thinking about what you would do if you knew these moments were your last (IA ‘Hour Glass’) to the fun vibrant crystal jewellery collections. We have surely been spoilt for choice.

IA London Women’s Fall 2021

What have been your highlights of fashion week so far? Last week I touched on New York Fashion Week. Do you excel in pain or triumph in happiness? Let me know.

How To Show Up For New York Fashion Week

Fashion season is about to be lit! With all of us biting at the bit to get out of our homes and on holiday, we’ll be watching the fashion world for the next new thing to jump off the runway and straight into our holiday suitcases.

I know what you’re thinking, did I watch the latest broadcast from our very own poor excuse for a prime minister? The one who effed up by not listening to any of the early lockdown advice and landed us up shit creek without a paddle? Well yes, I listened to him attempt to make us lose all hope in a summer back on the beaches, enjoying a swim with our loved ones. As I listened, I thought, and this may be very selfish of me, I’m a Barbadian national, so I’m going home!

With that said, how are we going to see all the latest on the runway for Fall? Don’t panic E! has you covered. There will be live broadcasts of all the wonderful new trends beginning on Valentines day, so if you’re stuck for a date, it’s ok I’ll be virtually sat next to you taking front row to watch Jason Wu’s collection at 10pm UK time.

How I’m Showing up fir NY Fashion Week

Being that February is also Black History Month in the US, they will have special offerings during the month to showcase the black fashion icons who have been trailblazers and changemakers in the fashion industry. I, for one, am looking forward to finding out all the inside secrets of what goes into styling Beyoncé, being that I consider my alter ego a bit of a Sasha Fierce.

Alter Ego

So here’s to a month filled with a dollop of love, a sprinkling of fashion and a whole lot of fierce.

Are computers taking over our lives?

What a week. 

For the most part I spent it in PJs with cups of coffee and lots of junk food, staring at a laptop for what seemed like an eternity.

Normally, my laptop and I are great friends.  We watch movies, write bog posts and stories and generally have a whale of a time but there is something about being forced to stare at her glossy screen and do my actual day job that has made my fingers tingle with thoughts of her untimely death as she plummets to the ground from my bedroom window.  I know none of us signed up for this but I REALLY didn’t sign up for this, in fact I ran away from every job that smelled like there was the prospect of being on a computer all day. 

Jumpsuit: boohoo

I like interacting with my school babies, where I can see their expressions, make jokes and get an actual reaction from them.  You can tell I’m a teacher as most of my jokes are aimed at those under 11 so when I test them out on adults I’m met with raised eyebrows and concerned side glances.  Oh how I miss laughter!

This week, after the 9 to eternity job, I’ve spend some time writing on paper.  Call me a weirdo but there’s something quite erotic about holding a pen and watching it slide across the page caressing it with poetry and art.  As well as keeping an eye on my kickstarter campaign, I’ve been working on a lot of poetry, mostly focusing on the complexities of love. 

Bodysuit: Primark

A funny old thing is love.  Apparently we learn it from our parents, therefore, I’m doomed (I joke) but that’s a story for another day.  I did manage to get up and put on an outfit or two, so you lucky lot don’t have to be forced to see me slob out and instead get to look at me acting as though I actually have somewhere to go.

Jumper dress: boohoo

With valentine’s day coming, I’m definitely considering dressing up for the occasion, celebrating the fact that I love myself enough that valentine or not I’m going to celebrate me.  I know it can be a time where some single people feel lonely and unloved, I’ve been in that position myself at times but trust me, doing something special for yourself or even for a friend, will help you feel so much better.  Besides it’s one day out of the whole year and I can almost guarantee you will have many other times when people will show you how much they love you.  Just in case you don’t, know that I have love for you just because you stopped by and took the time to read my post to the end.

Leave me a comment and visit my Instagram (mummagz), I love to connect. Have a great week.

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

It’s now that time of year where the shops have swept out the last of their Christmas goods with January sales and are stocking their shelves (all be it virtual at this point) with chocolate roses, stuffed teddies, drinking mugs with affirmations of love plastered all over them and fluffy socks, just in case your partner has cold feet.

Now, I’m going to start off here being very cliché and letting you know that the best gift you can give is the gift of love. I can almost hear you cringing but hear me out…

We are in the middle of a pandemic and Covid is killing off loved ones and ripping away the finances of many. It has been attributed to the rise in domestic violence and some studies suggest a rise in suicide rates. Now, I’m no expert in those areas but what I do know is that the mental health of our nation has been hampered by the lack of available services.

Reaching out to people, especially those who you know live alone, is even more so important in times like this when popping to the local community centre and having a chat with those around, is no longer an option.

It’s evident, even when I take the dog out for a stroll, that people are hankering for human connection. The amount of people who have stood at a distance and attempted to strike up conversation is above and beyond what I’m used to. It’s no longer just a smile for the dog and a nod in my direction, it’s people telling me where they’ve walked from that day, how many days a week they work from home, what they do for a living and whether or not they’re bothering to cook their solitary Sunday roast.

I must say, having my 2 children at home with me is an absolute God send. My 20 year old, the socially conscientious child of my two, struck up conversation about the number of cancer patients that have died, likely due to the cancelling of their treatments because of the pandemic. Not only does this sadden me but it makes me feel truly grateful for the current state of my health. So the next gift I would put on my list is gratitude. Let someone know that you are grateful they exist, let them know you are thankful you can call and hear their voice. We aren’t going to be here forever so let’s make our moments really count.

You get the gist here, the gifts I’m suggesting are more acts of service over physical items however that’s not to say physical items can’t play their role in our humanitarian efforts. I was gifted this great little bracelet from Refocus Bands.

At first glance it’s just like any other wrist band but when you flip it over, there is a reminder on the other side.

They come with many options of messages and there is even the option to create your own message. It’s an affirmation on your wrist and a cute, meaningful alternative to the generic box of chocolates and single stemmed roses (though if you buy me a rose I’ll be beaming).

Now to the more traditional gifts, this one is traditional with a twist. Me, just like a lot of people, love a sweet treat and my girl Nikita over at Kitaskakes has so many offerings for the valentines season. For example this beauty of a cookie, the promo version features my ugly mug but don’t worry, you don’t have to scare your loved ones off with my face, if you get your orders in on time the choice of face they eat is entirely yours.

If all else fails order in a takeaway grab a bottle of wine from the supermarket and Netflix and chill the night away.

If you have a product or service you’d like me to share, ask away, I don’t bite but I usually charge a fee, after all, how am I going to pay for the takeaway?

Is Clubhouse as good as they say?

Fresh new week and after the Sunday snow, there is sunshine.  There is nothing like a sunny day to bring a smile to my face and a dance to my feet.

Last week for me was all about Clubhouse and getting to grips with the app famed to be the next best thing in virtual communication. As a bit of a social introvert, who isn’t the most confident in a room full of adults, the prospect of speaking on a platform full of strangers was not something that appealed to me. However, I went in to network and see what golden nuggets I could pick up from the goods and greats of society.

One thing I’ve noticed so far is that in my corridor there seem to be a lot of people on club house talking about, clubhouse…

Boring.

Those are the rooms that I started off in, as obviously when you get onto the app you want to know how to use it but a couple of weeks in, when the same people are in the same rooms speaking about the same nonsense, it gets tedious. I’ve now found myself in the other rooms in my corridor where business and property are the focus. I have to say that it’s a great space to be in if you really want to learn but it’s also a great space to be in to speak if you know you have something of value to offer.

Club house is a space where, if you want to you can gain tips and tricks from the business world, you can philosophise with brilliant minds and you can pitch to investors. It’s full of creatives, educators, marketing gurus and the like but is also a place where you can bump into sharks if you don’t know which waters to swim in.

Where would little old me land in a room with Keisha Cole and 21 savage? Only in clubhouse. What did being in that room show me? It showed me that these people, at the top of their game industry wise, are just as damaged as the next person and the scary thing is, some of them aren’t dealing with their issues and are living walking time bombs waiting to explode. I won’t repeat some of the things I heard, masked as jokes, but I’ll just say this, revenge is a dangerous game.

So would I recommend Clubhouse? In short yes. It may not be all flowers and roses but it is a space where you can grow in confidence and learn from the best of the best. Don’t go in looking at yourself as an underdog as I’ve heard some people refer to themselves, you have as much to offer as the next person. Our lived experiences give us insite and you never know who can benefit from what you have to say.

And what to wear when you’re there? It doesn’t really matter, they can’t see you. 😉