Financial Advice

Financial Friday: Angela, The Novice Wealthbuilder

The #debtfreecommunity on Instagram is rapidly growing and so many millennials are becoming debt free. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m on a journey to becoming debt free. Through this community, I’ve sesrched for, found, and still searching for single black moms who are either debt free or working towards becoming debt free. Our guest on the blog is one of these moms who has recently become debt free, and here is our interview.

1.    First, tell me a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, what you do, number of kids, all that you would like to share.

I’m in my mid-thirties, mother to a pre-teen girl and reside in California. I work at a major tv network assisting with developing entertaining and educational tv concepts and programming. I’m currently at the low end of totem pole but rapidly working my way up the ladder!

2.    How did you accrue your debt? (Credit cards, student loans, personal loans, car loans, etc.)

My debt came from the usual suspects. Credit card, car payment and student loans. When I began my journey in 2014 the breakdown looked like this;

• Credit Card- $4,000

• Car Loan- $26, 315

• Student Loan- $27,465

            I decided to follow the snowball method and tackle the smallest debt first.

3.    What was your final straw to make you start tackling your debt, and what kept you motivated on the journey?

I was making decent money, for me, at the time. About 50k a year, yet I didn’t have anything to show for it. Yes, I had nice clothes, nails and hair done, and I was just learning about building wealth. I was contributing 10% to my 401k and additional funds to my HSA. The lightbulb hit when I started reading getting interested in purchasing real estate, specifically a multi-family unit. After tons of reading and research I learned that purchasing something of that caliber as a single woman and mother with no substantial savings and a ton of debt would be extremely risky, that it was a risk I was not willing to take. So, I decided to become debt free, build my emergency fund and then save for my property. I want my purchase to be a blessing and not a curse.

4.    What are some things that you stopped doing or deprived yourself of on the journey?

EVERYTHING! One thing that stands out the most was the decision to stay in my one-bedroom apartment. Once things financially started to pick up, I wanted to move into a bigger place so my daughter could have her own bedroom and we can live more comfortably. To keep my debt payoff momentum going I decided to stay. Housing is one of your biggest expenses so keeping that at a bare minimum is what allowed me to progress during my journey. Now that I’m debt free I have no desire to move, and I’m able to tackle my other financial goals rapidly as consequence to that.  To be completely transparent most of the deprivation came from simply not having any money. Over the course of my 4-year debt payoff journey I was laid off 3 times. I went from making 50k a year to 30k to 15k a year. Thankfully I was diligent with paying off my debts (credit card and car at that time) that I only needed to pay for basic living expenses which included rent, internet, cell phone, tuition and food.  When my income finally did increase it was easy to forgo birthday parties, events, concerts, spa days, hair appointments, restaurants, shoes, and weekend getaways.  I saw how easy it was to go broke and I was determined more than ever to finish off my student loans and save.

5.    What are some things you did to assist in paying off your debts?

I worked and sacrificed. I didn’t side hustle because that was time and energy that prevented me from performing exceptionally well at my place of employment and would prevent elevation. I did work overtime whenever I was able. I would dabble in focus groups but that wasn’t very lucrative. I made a budget, cooked at home, started an Instagram account to share my journey with like-minded individuals since I had no one in real life I could relate to. I also started my account to document my journey so that when things are at a halt or I get discouraged I could look back and see the ground I’ve covered and muster up the motivation to continue.

6.    Did you have a support system and how did people around you react when you said you were starting this journey? Did anyone understand?

My boyfriend at the time was a huge support to me. Mainly because he was getting out of debt as well. My friends were supportive by being offended when I turned down invites. Some even offered to find free to stuff to do and at times would treat me. My mother respected what I was doing and was amazed at the numbers I was throwing towards debt each month. When I explained to people why I was putting myself through such drastic measures it made sense and people understood. However, it’s very difficult to put into action. Lastly, my baby girl was my support system. She understood why she couldn’t do certain activities, why we couldn’t get hot lunch anymore or why we ate the same foods over and over. She would remind me that we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the house when I wanted to stop and get food on the way home.

7.    Are there people in your inner circle who you have inspired to do the same?

I inspired mother to be more aggressive with paying off her credit cards. She’s not gazelle intense but she’s moving. She’s also been thinking about paying her house off in 7 years instead of 15 so she can be debt free when she retires. Other than my mom, I’ve helped a few friends complete a budget to at least see where their money is going and how they can cut back and save.

8.    What was your feeling when you pressed the submit button on that final payment?

Words can’t describe the feeling. There were times when I wanted to give up and stop, especially after the layoffs. I had to take on jobs that paid practically nothing and rely on government support to get by, which I’m so grateful the option was there. Once the day finally came, that I would be making my final debt payment, an unexpected tear came down my face ( I know it sounds a bit melodramatic) but it came from a sense of relief and actual peace. I didn’t expect to be emotional. It’s probably one of my greatest accomplishments, and for my daughter to not only see but experience the ups and downs and then witness the end was just amazing. 

9.    Now that you’re debt free, what are your money goals? Will you still budget? Will you invest? Save?

I still budget and track my expenses. Now that I’ve gotten a raise so to speak, it’s even more important to assign each penny a job. I’m finally able to put into action what motivated me to get out of debt. I’m currently on month 3 of my 6-month emergency fund. I’m contributing 6% of my income into my Roth 401K, and in April I will save for 2 months to pay for a Disney Cruise  that my daughter and I will be taking in September (Our 1st out of state vacation together). Once my emergency fund is complete, I will up my retirement contributions to 15% and will begin saving for my investment property, which I hope to buy in 2021.

10.  Thinking into the future, how will you help your child(ren) when it comes to managing money and not taking on debt?

I’m placing a big emphasis on school and education right now, so that she can obtain scholarships to attend college. Whenever she gets money some goes to savings, giving and she can spend. I also have her plan out her month with events and activities she wants to attend, and she’ll budget and spend money according to what she has left in her spending pouch. I’m proud to say this experience has taught her a ton about not only budgeting but the dangers of debt and the rewards of building wealth.

11.  What are some last encouraging words that you have for other single moms out there who are embarking on this journey to living a stress-free, debt-free life?

JUST DO IT!  It’s so fulfilling and worth it.  Although my daughters father financially supports her there are many times when I wished that I didn’t NEED his support. Now, that I’m debt free, so much money has been freed up to continue offering her a great quality of life.

 Best,

“Angela” 

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Confessions of a Single Mom #13: I’m Going to Therapy

Saturday was a tough day, a day that made me take the plunge and seek a therapist. On my way to visitation with Khai’s dad, I felt an anxiety attack coming on. I was able to make it through visitation (only lasted 45 minutes), and head home to practice yoga. The one time I really needed Malakhai to sleep so I could at least get 45 minutes in, he did. He slept two hours.

After yoga, I just sat in silence. It was deadly silent. I let my thoughts float away. I drank some ginger tea and ate some grapes, continuing to sit in silence. I felt renewed and my blood pressure started to come down. I felt like me again. It’s that very reason why my mental health needs to be taken care of, as well as my physical health.

I feel like they both go hand in hand. There’s so many ways that mental and physical health support your wellbeing. I’ve gotten back into yoga and I’m sticking with it this time, I have to. Yoga is the only exercise that makes me feel good and can ease whatever feelings I’m feeling that aren’t positive.

I went online through my insurance and found the perfect therapist that can cater to all of my mental health needs. She’s black, my age, has experience, has hours that fit my schedule, and I can afford her.

Have you been to a therapist? Did it help and if so, how? If you haven’t, how do you take care of your mental health?

Vegan Mommy Things

MyGym @ Atascocita

Saturday, Malakhai and I went to a class at MyGym. It’s a little gym for our tiny humans. There were about six other little tykes there. We began with some warm ups then stretches with out minis. Afterwards, we had free time to roam around the gym and enjoy all that they had. There were slides, a ball pit, a parachute ride down a ramp, swings and so much more. Towards the end, there’s what’s called separation time where the parents leave the kids in the circle to play with toys and each other. Malakhai did so well!

I’m going to see if I can work MyGym into my budget. It’s only $82 a month which is awesome and we would be going every week. It’s worth the investment. I bonded with two other moms there and it’s a great way for Malakhai to meet other kiddos outside of daycare. If you have a MyGym near you, I highly suggest it. The first class is always free.

Playing in the circus!
Doing a flip on the bar. Of course he cried.
He didn’t too much like the ball pit.
He seemed to like one of the teachers.
Clearly he loved the swing.
He did not like the parachute ride lol.
Separation time.
He did amazingly well!
Just chillin!
Vegan Mommy Things

Will He Hate Me?

This thought has run through my head time and time again, sometimes all day. When Malakhai gets older, will he hate me?

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that Khai’s dad and I don’t have the best relationship. In fact, we don’t have a relationship at all. We don’t coparent. I won’t get into all of the reasons why, but I always wonder of when Khai becomes old enough to understand, will he blame me for the lack of coparentship his father and I have.

Granted I will tell him the truth of everything, but will he forgive me? Will his father and his father’s wife say things about me to make it hard for him to believe me?

I always think about these things because if Khai ever resented me, I don’t think I could handle that. Granted as I grew older, I came to my own conclusion about my biological father and I’m hoping to do the same with Khai, let him see for himself.

If you are in a similar situation with your child’s other parent, how are you coping? Are your kids old enough to understand? How are they handling it?

Vegan Mommy Things

Narcissism

Dealing with a narcissist is probably one of the hardest things to do if you don’t know how to handle them. My son’s father is a narcissist. He’s very controlling and demanding. He wants everything to go his way or no way. Well, the thing is, he has yet to control me.

Sometimes dealing with him aggravated me, but I have to take a deep breath and then react in a way that he least expects. Narcissistic people tend to want to get you riled up. It fuels their behavior. The best way to deal with them is to react the opposite of what they want.

I’ll give you some examples. My son’s father, let’s call him Tyrone (I know right?). Tyrone likes to give me a deadline of when something needs to be done and usually he wants whatever it is done that day. Me being the petty person I am, depending on level of importance, I’ll do it a day, or two, or three, hell even a week later. I’m a grown ass woman. Nobody demands anything from me aside from my son. He can make demands from his wife and our son, but not from me. I bow down to no one.

Another example is when he gives me ultimatums. First of all, if you know me, you know I don’t take well to being required to make a choice. He gives me a choice of A or B and I take F. This is how our “relationship” has been for quite some time.

Narcissistic people get gratification from everything being centered around them and everyone doing what they want, how they want, and when they want. I can’t see myself letting someone try to belittle me that way.

Always meet narcissism with pettiness. That’s the only way to combat it. I could just not deal with him at all, but that would be me hurting my son and I’m not willing to do that. Yeah, my son is young, but I’m just not willing to start a habit that continues on to when he does understand and then I’m the bad guy.

Have you dealt with a narcissistic person? If so, how did you handle them?

My Life, Vegan Mommy Things

Daycare

Today my son started daycare. He was supposed tos tart awhile ago, but I wasn’t ready. I never wanted him to go to daycare, but he needs social skills now that he’s getting older. He’s becoming more mobile and talkative (baby talk that is). Luckily, his daycare is owned by a friend of the family (it’s a long story but there’s much history).

My mom drops him off and picks him up since I work late and have to be at work early. I also work clear across town, so her doing that for me helps a ton.

He had a good time and I received a great report. He refused to eat his baby food, only drank the breast milk. He just doesn’t like food which is fine by me. He gets all he needs from me anyway.

Today was only the first day so I’m not exactly sire how to feel just yet. Of course, I was a nervous wreck all day, but he adjusted fairly quickly. Actually, there weren’t any adjustments for him. He took to the daycare owner very well.

How did you feel about your child(ren) attending daycare for the first time? Any tips to combat this “mommy worry?”

My Life, Vegan Mommy Things

Don’t Complain if You aren’t Doing Anything to Change

It’s thanksgiving break and all I can think about ishow happy I am to be at home and not at work. The only thing I’m happy about in my life right now is being a mom to my son. 

I don’t hate my job. I love my job, but it doesn’t make me happy. I’m tired of living in this apartment, throwing money away towards something I’ll never own ($1000 a month). 

I’m not happy that I haven’t been writing another novel, or finishing one I’ve already started. It’s just maddening how quickly I’ve lost motivation to continue writing novels. My last novel was published in 2016: two years ago! I’ve started several since then, but I haven’t even made it halfway through one. 

I thought of writing a novel based on my life, but have I sat down to write it? No. 

I’m unhappy with my postpartum body, and I go back and forth between loving it and not even wanting to look in the mirror.

I think about all of these things that I’m not happy about and how I’ve not done a single thing to change my circumstances. So how can I even complain?

My point is, and I should take this advice myself, don’t complain about your circumstances and not being happy if you aren’t doing anything about them. 

Don’t be like me and say I’m going to start making changes tomorrow or the next day, or the next day. Do it today. Do what makes you happy, but first, find happiness from within.

My Life, Vegan Mommy Things

Before Work Routine

  1. Wake up @ 4:30 am.
  2. Take a shower.
  3. Brush my teeth.
  4. Get dressed.
  5. Put coconut milk on to boil for my oatmeal.
  6. Pack up everything in my wagon.
  7. Put oatmeal in the pot.
  8. Fill up gallon water bottle.
  9. Pour oatmeal and toppings in a bowl.
  10. Wake up Malakhai.
  11. Change his diaper.
  12. Lotion him up.
  13. Nurse him.
  14. Bundle him up (weather is crazy cold right now)
  15. Strap him to me in his carrier.
  16. Turn alarm off and then back on.
  17. Load the car. 
  18. Head to my mom’s house to drop off Malakhai. 
  19. Head to work.
  20. Pump before school starts.
My Life, Vegan Mommy Things

Bitter Baby Mama

There’s this notion that all single mom’s are bitter. This stems from people assuming we are mad because we can’t be with the father of our child(ren) or we are made that they don’t want us. Speaking for me and me only, both are false.

I am in no way bitter about anything, but me wanting my son and his father to have a relationship and me being passionate about it, comes off as being bitter. I didn’t, and still don’t, have a relationship with my father and I don’t want that for my son.

I think, and don’t quote me on this, most men who are on child support, are on child support because they aren’t financially helping the mother of their child(ren) take care of their child(ren). Because women are mainly the ones giving care to the child, men don’t see how expensive it can be to do it alone. They want to say we just want to take their money or we are trying to live off of them, when that it most certainly not the case.

Can I financially take care of my child on my own? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean I should have to, being that I didn’t get pregnant by myself.

My son is breastfed so in order for him to eat, I have to eat. I wash his clothes everyday since he has to be in cloth diapers. That’s water and electricity being used every single day. He has to bathe, right? That’s water again. Then, I have to be able to get him to my moms house and be able to get to work to afford a rough over our heads. That’s gas. He also has to have his booty wiped, his skin cleaned and conditioned, and his hair done. Then there’s toys and clothes.

See how that can get expensive? Then you have a man who doesn’t want to help financially, and thinks that all that’s important and being a good father is sololey just spending time with a child. No, dead wrong. A child needs emotional, physical, mental, and financial support.

As mothers, we want what is best for our children. We are natural born nurturers, whereas men, they just aren’t. I will spend my last dollar on my child for whatever he needs and wants, but I shouldn’t have to.

Next time you want to call the mother of your child(ren) bitter, don’t. Ask her what she needs and how you can help. Make her life easier, not harder. I can guarantee a myriad of men wouldn’t be on child support if they took the time out to sit down with the mother and laid out all expenses to see where he can contribute. All it takes is a conversation.

Now the flipside is there are many women who are bitter and vindictive towards the father, and do file child support to get back at him. What this does is make other women who file for financial reasons only, look like they’re bitter and vindictive.

Mamas, if he doesn’t want you, he doesn’t want you. Let that man and those feelings go. Worry about your child(ren) and your child(ren) only. You can’t be worrying about this man who not only doesn’t want you, but doesn’t want to be a father. Don’t battle with him. There’s a man out there who is going to love you and your child(ren) like his own. I’ve witnessed it numerous times.

What are your thoughts on the term “bitter baby mama?”

My Life, Vegan Mommy Things

“I Ain’t Ever Scared…”

Of course about 5 months ago I didn’t have this mindset. I was scared shitless. I had spent two months at my mom’s house  after having my son, and I had had so much help between my mom and my stepdad. It was then finally time for me to go home. I was petrified at the thought of it just being me and Malakhai,

I wonder if I could do everything I was doing on my own, without the safety net of having someone there 24/7. Granted, they only live five minutes away, but I would be home…alone…with my child. How could I not be scared? What if something had happened? What if I messed up? What if he didn’t like me anymore because he was so (and still very much is) attached to my mom?

As you can see, a lot was going through my head back then. Now here we are, striving and thriving. We’ve settled in to a routine, I’ve become accustomed to it not just being me, and motherhood is suiting me well might I add. We play, he naps, I clean, he messes up a diaper, he nurses, we play, I clean, and it just continues, but I must say, it’s never boring. With Malakhai, there’s never a dull moment.

Sometimes I wonder how I could I be so scared of someone so precious and small that my body knew how to create? This little human loves me, he wants to always be around me and on me. How could I be scared of him? Not only that, I love him to pieces, a love that I never knew existed until I felt him kick, and then saw his face.

I say all of this to say mamas, it gets better, easier and less terrifying. What was/is something you are/were scared of when it came/comes to your child(ren)?

My Life, Vegan Mommy Things

Bedtime with Khai

Each night, I make it my mission to ensure Khai gets an excellent night’s slumber. I give him a bath in his new tub. He’s in a big boy tub now (cue the water works). I bathe him, wash his hair, let the water out and then fill it with clean water up to his waist. I let him play with his toys and I stand back and admire how much he has grown in the past six months.

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When we’re all done, I pat him dry. His hair is so curly and silky, that I have to make sure it stays healthy, as well as his scalp. I use either mineral oil or grapeseed oil in his hair. I rake it through with my fingers and then comb small sections at a time. Next, I lotion him up and put his footie pjs on. He either sleeps in a silk bonnet or one of his hats so his pores can close.

 

Now is my favorite part: bedtime stories. He loves for me to read to him, especially The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I think he likes all of the colors and my animated voices.

By story’s end, he’s sleepy. I lay him down to nurse until he falls asleep. Once he’s sound asleep, it’s me time. I tend to clean up from his bath time and clean whatever else I need to. I also spend this time writing and scheduling blogs, journaling, meditating, taking long baths, or reading. Bedtime for Khai is usually around 7 o’clock, so I start getting him ready for a bath around 6 or 6:30. During the time from when I get off work until bath time, we are playing, watching Puppy Dog Pals, or singing.

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What is your night time routine with your little one(s)?

xoxo Moniqua LaShae and Malakhai Lee

My Life

Birthday Blues

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday and I have no idea what I’m going to do. Earlier in the year I had planned to go to Mexico and even got Boo’s passport once he was born. Now, I’m not so sure. It’s too late to plan a trip, though I could take a day trip to Austin.

I’ve always thought about what I would do for my 30th birthday day, and now that it is here, nothing. I am going out to eat a restaurant, but aside from that, I’m not so sure. I’ve never been the one to celebrate birthdays unless it was a special one, and this is a special one.

It doesn’t even feel like I’m turning 30, just like another birthday. I see people who have these huge celebrations for their 30th, but I’m not a party person. Haven’t been since college. Now that I’m a mom, I’m even more so not a party person. Do people really have parties anymore at my age?

What did you do for your 30th celebration?

Vegan Mommy Things

No Days Off

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Today was a student holiday so the kids didn’t have to go to school. Today was supposed to be a PD day however, we too got the day off. And low and behold, yours truly gets sick. Not sure if it’s due to allergies, getting wet in the rain and then entering into the cold of my apartment and not changing clothes immediately. Who knows? All I know is I keep sneezing, I had a sore throat (it’s gone now), and I’ve been blowing my brains out (I wonder if you can pop a blood vessel from blowing your nose too hard).

Even though I had today off from work, I didn’t have today off from being a mother. As a parent, there are no days off, even if your kids are with relatives. You still worry if they’re  okay and anxiously waiting to be reunited. I knew this is true for me.

It’s hard being sick and having a four month old who still needs you to take care of them. My son wants to play with me and laugh and have fun, and all I want to do is sleep. However, I had to push through. Sure I could’ve dropped him off at my parents, but they keep him everyday while I’m at work. I know they need a break too (though they’ll never admit it).

Along side of needing to take care of my son, I had to do laundry, meal prep, speak with the people to get my Child Safety Kit, sign up for life insurance and re-enroll for health insurance. Today has been quite busy, as have been the last two days.

All in all, I perservered through the day and now it’s finally time to go to sleep. I’m hopping this ginger tea and the humidifier will knock whatever this is out.

Fun fact: when a breastfeeding mother is sick, she should still nurse her child. The antibodies that are fighting her illness will pass to the child through her milk to build up their immune system and antibodies.

How do you handle being sick and being a mother/parent?

Boss Lady

Boss Lady: Amber Richbook from For the Love of Millennials Podcast and A. Richbook Coaching

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I met Amber through Instagram and I’m not sure who followed who first, but she’s such an inspiration. She’s dedicated to her girls and also empowering millennials. She has just this vibrant spirit about her that’s hard to come by. If you need inspiration, she’s the one to follow.

Let’s start by you telling me a little about yourself. Where you’re from, what you do, just whatever you want to share?

I am a single mother of three currently residing in Durham, NC.  I have a Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting and one in management.  Fun Fact: I am a licensed cosmetologist in three states.  I host the podcast For The Love of Millennials, a podcast created to empower and uplift the melanin millennial. 

I learned that no matter what job position I am in, I find myself making connections to the people that I meet and learning about them in the unconscious effort to inspire and empower them to be the best of themselves.  

My favorite past times include writing poetry and searching for amazing vacation spots.

Now I know you have a podcast, For the Love of Millennials. Tell me a little about how you started with that. (Came up with the name, what made you decide to do a podcast as opposed to YouTube, what it’s about and what do you want people to get from it.)

For the LOVE of Millennials Podcast.  is a platform created to inspire, empower, and uplift  melanin-enriched millennials to be the best of themselves. There are many podcasts that are published and have audiences that are targeted to the melanin enriched millennial.  Many discuss what’s popular today.  What sets this podcast aside from other millennial podcasts? While the podcast may discuss topics and events that are current, we aim to provide  information that has a long term benefit.  So if a listener tunes in months from the episode, they can still find value in the episode. 

For the LOVE of Millennials Podcast will not have a limited scope as to music/politics/fashion-beauty/or simply gender related topics, each topic, carefully chosen to provide value to listeners, will thrive with the intention to fulfill the podcast’s purpose to empower melanin-enriched millennials to live their best lives. For specific episodes that will feature a guest, it is important to me to have melanin-enriched millennial expert(s) as a guest(s).

For the LOVE of Millennials Podcast. supports and encourages the well-rounded development of melanin-enriched millennials in addition to inspiring and empowering US to live our best lives, whether as professionals (intrapreneurs) or entrepreneurs.  Who are millennials? There isn’t a clear timeline for the rise and end of millennial era, however most sources identify millennials as persons born in the early 1980s to the mid 1990s [approx ages 23 to 36].

I decided to do a podcast because I wanted the audience to be able to tune in whenever and whereever and not be so much distracted by the visuals.  However, at some point the podcast will introduce video. 

The name? For the Love of Millennials was a name I had for over a year. I wanted to have a YouTube with interviews to focus on regular degular successful millennials of color because there was starting to be a gap of  ‘successful”—I use quotations because success is different for everyone—people of color, from age groups to even careers/professions.  You can be successful as a technician just like you can be successful in music, or you can be successful in the arts just like someone can be successful in a professional sport.  I just wanted to reach the US that needed to hear some empathetic empowering conversation.  

You are now a single mom of three beautiful girls. How are you managing single motherhood on top of everything else you’re doing?

LOADED QUESTION. Lol. First and foremost as a solo parent you realize and understand that the well-being, welfare and security of your children rests in your lap.  SUCH a HUGE responsibility.  I remind myself daily that they chose me to be their mother, hence I say, “I get to” instead of “I have to.”  Being a mother is a choice in all actuality.  I get to be their mother doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes, but what it does mean is I am owning every aspect of parenting.  

I keep a schedule in addition to keeping myself and my children in a routine.  It provides the structure and balance that we all need.  It’s not rigid as it provides flexibility for us to do other things.  One thing that’s certain is their 8:00PM bedtime.  No matter what by 8:00 they are ready for bed. And then they wake up between 6:30AM and 8:30AM it all depends.  

I make sure to schedule my life via my calendar on my phone and using the reminders.  I’m working on implementing a consistent self care routine because I do realize that’s so important.  BUT I PLAN PLAN PLAN. If my plan gets thrown off I go with it and PLAN again. 

What do you want to teach your girls or what do you want them to learn from what you’re doing?

I want my girls to understand endurance through adversity is necessary for the journey.  To understand that failure is needed to appreciate success.  To see the I’m Possible when the world says “impossible”.  To know the sun is shining, on a cloudy day and even while the night falls.  I want my daughters to learn through my actions that they are enough, whole, balanced and filled with everything they need to accomplish their wildest dreams.  I allow them to explore their creativity, their ideas and encourage the imagination.  I teach them to understand culture and diversity and to love themselves as they are magical.  All in all, I teach them that they are valuable and loved.  As a person of value people have the responsibility to treat us well just as we have the responsibility to treat others well.  

What projects, if any, are you working on now? (If you want to disclose any)

As of right now I am working on curating  spaces for healing and growth conversation.  Something like a group coaching experience.  In addition to sharing my story with others via speaking, For the Love of Millennials Podcast and my A.RichBook/aRichLife Coaching is my primary focus.    

What else do you do aside from the podcast and being a mom?

Aside from the podcast and being a mom,  I provide one-to-one and group empowerment coaching.  I find that I attract the fulfillment of my purpose on a daily basis.  

What is your ultimate goal as far as the podcast and your other projects? 

My ultimate goal for the podcast and any project that I associate with is that it empowers and inspires those targeted to receive the project’s message, and brings about change and transformation.  I want to see more people win, grow and blossom.  

Where can people find you?

People can connect with me on instagram @A.RichBook

Or visit my site arichbook.com

Vegan Mommy Things

Back to work…

Today was my first day back to work and I thought it would be a disaster since I’d be leaving Khai for longer than I ever have before. I expected tears, withdrawals, constant fidgeting and lack of focus. I experienced all of that minus the tears.

Luckily, I’m still decorating my classroom so my mom brought him up there. I got to play with him and my coworkers got to see him. It was perfect. Now tomorrow on the other hand will be a different story since my mom is not coming.

I did end up pumping two full bottles because I missed him so much and thought about him constantly. I thought it would be hard to pump but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

I think I’m going to survive this year. For my mamas who went back to work after having your first child, what was your experience like?

confessions, Vegan Mommy Things

Confessions of a Single Mom #10: I Finally Took a Bath

 

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Yes, you read that right. I finally took a bath. I haven’t taken a bath since before I was pregnant. I know many of you are probably wondering, “WTF? She doesn’t take baths?!” I know many people who use bath and shower synonymously, however, I’m specifically talking about taking a bath. Ya know, running water, adding bubbles, sitting in the tub,  soaking for 30 min.

I cant blame Boo for me not taking a bath. It’s my own fault really. I’m always trying to be so quiet when he’s napping since my apartment is so small. Then since he takes cat naps, I try to shower and be out before he wakes up, but not today. I turned the water on and added the bubbles and while it ran, I rocked him to sleep. Once asleep, I quickly undressed and hopped in the tub. It was so refreshing and much needed. I definiently need to do that more often.

What is something that you rarely get a chance to do for yourself due to having kids?

My Life

Fat, Ugly, and Single

 

 

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Well, I’m not really ugly, but being fat makes me feel that way. Now before anyone comes for me, yes, I know I just had a baby 3 months ago and it does take a while to drop the pudge, however, I lost all my baby weight and gained some back, and still gaining. Mother eff!!!!

I’ve been single for a number of years (I won’t disclose the number because it’s embarrassing). Many of those years were by choice because I was going through depression, self loathing, and financial hardships. Basically, ya girl was a hot ass mess. Still somewhat am a mess but not like before. Now with my postpartum body, I’m feeling depressed. Is this considered PPD?

Anyway, I currently lack motivation to consistently workout. I’ll go for 3 days and then stop for a week. Then do it again. It’s like a never ending cycle. I want to lose the weight before school starts and it’s doable. I have a whole 5 weeks before school starts and would love to lose 20 lbs. Is that doable? Beats me. I’ve never been on a weight lose journey and stuck to it so who knows?

Being single has its ups and downs. Some days I want someone to go out with and take my son  and be a family. Other days I’m good with just Khai and me. It flip flops. Do I get lonely? No, but I do miss male attention and affection.

I always feel inferior to these women on social media who have the kind of body I want. They’re not necessarily skinny but their bodies are my body goals, just I want my body to be on a bit of a larger scale. Basically I want everything to stay the same but have the tummy of these women. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to these women and that a man will love me the way I am, however, I’m not wanting this for a man. I want it for me. I want to feel good based off of looking good.

I’ve always had body issues and then I evenetually got over them. Now that I have a child, I’m back to those same insecurities and I know this weight is due to growing a mini me, but it’s also due to stress eating. My diet is the other part. Yes, I’m vegan but you can be a fat vegan and unhealthy. I eat all the processed foods that I shouldn’t eat and I don’t cook like I used to. However, I need to get back to doing that before school starts or I’m shit out of luck.

Going back to work and doing all that walking will help shed the weight, but I have to have the diet to match. Starting tomorrow, no soy, severely limited vegan alternatives (less processed and soy free), lots more veggies and fruits, more smoothies, more exercise (yoga especially), and more getting my body right for myself and to be around for Khai.

As for the single part, I used to think that if I looked like these women on social media, I’d no longer be single. But hell majority of the women I want to look like are single. These gorgeous, beautiful women are living their best life and single and they’re all in their early 30s like me (well I’m not actually in my 30s but I will be in October).

Before you say, “Oh you’re still young, take your time, don’t rush,” that’s all cool and I actually agree with you. I’m barely 30 and have a lot of living to do. Why should I let the longing for a relationship overpower what all I want to do? I want to show Khai the world and be an awesome mom and have my dream career. Now granted, yes I know you can do all of that and be in a relationship, but I want it to just be me and Khai for right now.

Will the feeling of wanting to be in a relationship go away? Not likely, but I’m learning to be okay with it. Will I look like those women on social media? Not likely, but I’ll continue working on falling in love with myself and wanting to look like myself. Do I consider myself drop dead gorgeous? On a good day, yes, but most times no. I do believe I’m beautiful in my own way and I know there’s a man who will love me just for that.

Do you have insecurities in your singleness? If so, what are they and how do you plan to overcome them?

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Series: Too Good for Formula

So I am leaving my family reunion and I really don’t know what it is with the older generations and that damn formula. This is a conversation between me and a family member.
FM: *gives me some clothes for my son* I know they’re big but once he gets on formula, he’ll blow up and get into them.
Me: *gives her the look and y’all know the look, like how the hell you figure he hon be on formula? look* Oh he won’t be on formula.
FM: Whaaaaaatttttt? (The long drawn out “what”). What you mean he ain’t gonna be on formula.
Me: he’s breastfed, he doesn’t need formula.
Cousin: *walks away with a disgusted look on her face*

Then this happened when another family member came to us at the table and my mom was holding him.
FM: y’all doing all that holding and you nursing him, he won’t be able to stay with anybody.
Mama: that’s why I’m the babysitter.
FM: yeah but he won’t be able to go to anybody.
Mama: he don’t need to go to anybody anyway.

Let me tell y’all, when it comes to my mama and her grand baby and me nursing him, she does not play. Idk what it is with the older generation thinking all babies need to be on formula and breastfeeding ain’t enough. My son’s pediatrician is impressed that he’s surpassing all milestones as far as his weight and size, just from breast milk.

One thing I know for sure is that children who aren’t held or cuddled as babies, tend to grow up with emotional issues and a disconnect emotionally and physically from others. I’ve seen this too often.

Mad my child is only 2 months old and cannot walk or crawl, what is he supposed to do if I’m not holding him? And just because I nurse him, doesn’t mean he won’t go to anybody else. Like his mother, he is choosy with who he wants to be around. Babies know. They can sense BS and ill intentions.

So what if my son only wants me. I’m his mother, why wouldn’t he? And I’m not the “cry it out” type. That kind of emotional deprivation is detrimental to a child’s emotional growth. That makes them feel unwanted and alone.

What are your thoughts on older generations and them imposing their thoughts on your parenting skills?

confessions

Confessions of a Single Mom #9: Co-sleeping

I know from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I was going to co-sleep, no if’s, ands, or but’s about it. Due to the fact that I knew I was going to breastfeed, it only made sense.

After Boo was first born, we stayed with my mom. He did sleep in his bed that she has at her house in the beginning, however, when he stopped wanting to be swaddled, I knew that sleeping in his bed was over. My mom really pressed the fact of him sleeping in his own bed. The thing is, parenting styles have changed since I was born (30 years ago) and many Millennial moms co-sleep just like many breastfeed. It’s funny how my generation, in many ways, is reverting back to a time when my parenting style was natural.

Co-sleeping, just like breastfeeding, is a taboo subject. Many people, mainly the older generation, don’t agree with it because it causes the baby to be spoiled, attached, not wanting to go with anyone, not wanting to sleep in a baby bed, etc., which is all not true. Boo is friendly and will go to anyone. He sleeps whenever and wherever. As for the attachment part, he is very attached to me, when I am around. If he can’t smell me nearby, he’s fine.

Much if what the older generation believes is due to what their moms told them, and what their moms moms told them. It’s really just a way of controlling how a woman raises her kids and getting her to do what the woman’s mom did. Many older women feel, in my experience, slighted because of the bond is younger women have with our children due to breastfeeding, baby wearing and co-sleeping.

It’s always said that it’ll be hard to get the baby out of my bed when he gets older and I personally don’t care. He’s my baby and he can sleep with me as long as he wants. As his mother, I know what’s best for the both of us and co-sleeping is it. I love having him near me and he loves being near me. I can check to see if he’s breathing (oh how he hates being touched when he’s sleeping), and when he’s hungry, I can roll him over, pop my boob in his mouth, and when he’s done, roll him back over (he’s a tummy sleeper and burps on his own).

Co-sleeping along with breastfeeding creates this close bond between a child and their mother. The closeness is as close as they’ll get to when the child was in the womb. Many days I miss him being in my womb where he was safe and I could take him everywhere (I still can take him everywhere now but I have to carry/wear him).

Do/did you co-sleep? If so, for how long? If not, what was your reasoning?

confessions

Confessions of a Single Mom #8: Single Mom Friends

*Disclaimer: This post is to piggy back off of Confession #4.

I can’t stress how important it is is to have single mom friends as a single mom. I used to trip off having single friends because most of my friends are either married or in a relationship, and then there were those who had kids, so we couldn’t really relate in life. It’s funny that I’m having an easier time finding single mom friends than I did finding single friends. Strange, right?

As a single mom, hanging around married moms or moms who are in relationships is not conducive to a relationship because they don’t know your struggle. Their kids have both of their parents in the same household, they aren’t searching for a man to potentially be a stepfather, they don’t have to deal with their child’s father’s girlfriend or wife, unless they were once together and now they are with other people, they have in-house help, they are a two-income household (majority anyway). They don’t have to go through what us single moms do so how can we relate other than both being moms?

I have a group of single mom friends and I’m thankful for them. We don’t get to hangout all the time but when we do, it’s so much fun. Having play dates and chatting it up about motherhood, our kids’s father’s, dating, sex, you name it, is relaxing and makes me feel sane. Sometimes I need adult interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to my baby, but he doesn’t understand a word I’m saying and vice versa.

Not having single mom friends can make single motherhood stressful and seriously boring and lonely. If you’re in Houston, well technically anywhere, follow @singleblackmotherhood on Instagram and join the Facebook group. I will be posting an interview with the founder, Kim Williams during my Boss Lady series.

Breastfeeding, mommy must haves, Vegan Mommy Things

Breastfeeding Series: Stop Wasting Breast Milk!! (Mommy Must Have #2)

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Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pumps Milk Pump Suction with Lid,Breast Milk Saving Made Easy,Flexible & Lightweight ,Pack of 2

 

 

If I tell y’all, every time I nurse Boo, I waste so much breast milk. How, you might ask? Well, the let down of the milk when he’s feeding on one side, leaks out the other. I legit waste 2 oz of milk every feeding. My breasts were not created equal. At any given time, I can pump a full bottle from my left breast but my right breast, I get 2 oz at best.

At my last group prenatal, one lady had a version of Haakaa, which is a manual breast pump but is like a suction cup to catch the milk from the side you’re not feeding on. Mind was blown so of course I went to Amazon to buy one. Works like an effing charm and now, I can stop wasting breast milk.

*DISCLAIMER: I may earn a small commission for any link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you real information about motherhood, health, writing and all things lifestyle.

confessions

Confessions of a Single Mom #7: I Could Never Love Another

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More so I don’t want to love another. As much as I love my son, I don’t think I could ever love another child like a love him and I don’t want to. He is my entire heart and my entire world. Honestly, having another child is just out of the question and I know women have multiple children all the time. But I always wonder if moms who have multiple children, love them all the same. I’ve heard some moms favor a certain child over the other(s), and I don’t want to end up doing that. I feel like I would love Malakhai more since he’s my first born.

So I’m wondering, for the mamas reading this who have multiple children, did you find yourself loving or favoring one child over the other(s)? If not, is your love the same for all of them?

For moms of only one child, can you see yourself being able to love another child like that one? Do you plan to have more children?

My Life

Closure

Closure is the closing of one chapter and beginning of another. Close one door, another opens. However, don’t mistake closure as burning bridges because it is not, well, depending upon how you go about getting closure.

Closure is more than just relationships. You can get closure from a job, career, friendship, a car, partnership, college, you name it. It’s not just for one specific thing. It can even be closure from a fight or situation. It’s basically you saying that you’re ready to move on from something or someone: letting them/it go.

Closure is single handedly how I’ve come to be where I am. It’s really therapeutic and saves on going to therapy. I see closure as being the final “hoorah” in a sense.

I wrote a letter to my biological father, who is in every sense of the word, a deadbeat black father. I won’t get into details of the letter but I want to talk about how I felt after writing it and sending it to him.

The letter was sent through FB Messenger, only because I don’t have his number or any other way to contact him. I saw that he read the letter but he didn’t respond, and that’s totally okay. See, closure for me is getting everything off my chest: saying what I need to say and being done. Getting everything out in the open is freeing to me, whether the other person responds back or not.

Now, do I think he’ll ever respond? Probably not, but I put it out there for him to should he decided to do so. Am I open to building a relationship? Absolutely not. He’s had 30 years to build one and numerous opportunities to take with me trying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to build a relationship with him and writing that letter to let him know that I’m done trying and not willing to try in the future, was the closure I needed.

I don’t want to keep hanging on to hoping that one day he’ll come around. I have a son now who has an amazing father. I don’t want to harp on the past or have any resentment. I don’t want Boo to see that. I want him to see the relationship I have with my stepfather and know that mommy has a father figure.

Hatred is something that requires a lot of energy, energy that I am not willing to give anyone. It’s also negative energy. I have never hated him, mainly because I don’t even know him. I don’t know his age, birthday, favorite color, choice of music, nothing. The one thing I do know is he wants nothing to do with me. In essence, he’s not worth any of my energy anymore.

It’s always said to write someone a letter expressing your feelings, but never give it to them. Burn it or keep it and revisit it later and see if you still feel the same. I call horse shit. Write that letter, and as my mother said, “Push the got damn button!” What’s the purpose of writing a letter, expressing your feelings and never letting the person know? What does that solve? Not a damn thing. You can’t have closure by just washing your hands of someone without a word. You’ll then always think about what you should’ve said or what you wanted to say.

I have no regrets in writing nor sending that letter. I felt like he needed to know how I’ve felt over the years and what I’ve dealt with with him being absent. I swore to myself that from this day forward, I won’t let his absence ruin my present and future when it comes to relationships and when it comes to my son and his father. I really pushed for his father to be around and he’s come through every single time. I hope and pray that it stays that way.

Was your father absent in your life? How did it make you feel? Have you let him know? Gotten closure? If it wasn’t your father, but your mother, same questions. Let’s get the conversation going.

 

All Black Everything, confessions, Vegan Mommy Things

Confessions of a Single Mom #6: The Talk

And I’m not talking about the sex talk either. As a black mother to a black boy, we have to have a talk that our white counterparts don’t: being a black boy in a society that sees him as dangerous and a threat because of the color of his skin. It’s a shame that I have to even have this talk with him and to say that I’m terrified of it is an understatement.

Why do I have to tell my son that because of the color of his skin and he’s a male, he was born with a target on his back? Why do I have to tell him about obeying the police no matter what and not to run even if you’re innocent or they will shoot you down? Why do I have to tell him that no matter what the cop says, don’t become defensive or combative, just cooperate? Why do I have to tell him that if he’s hanging with his white friends and cops come around, he’ll be the one they look at while his friends get to go free, or that he’s the reason for there being any trouble?

Why do I have to explain to him that in school if he seems to be smarter than the rest and he isn’t properly accommodated, his acting out will automatically have him labeled ADD or ADHD or even SPED, when in reality he is just smart and ahead for his age? Why do I have to explain to him that he won’t be able to do everything his white friends do because his skin doesn’t allow him that privilege? Why do I have to explain to him that he will be stereotyped until the day he dies with people assuming he’s a ball player, can run fast and has a big penis?

Why do I have to explain to him that some, not all, white women will go after him for his penis or his money if he decides to play ball? Why do I have to explain to him that he will be fetishized by white women and gay white men? Why do I have to explain to him that there is a certain way he has to act around white people just to make it in this world?

But you know what? Why do I have to explain anything aforementioned to my black son? Because that’s the world we live in and if he’s not careful, he’ll find himself at the barrel end of a gun. I’m not even looking forward to having to have this conversation with his father about when we should talk about these things with him. I know that someone will say why is race always involved. If you live in America and anywhere that black people, especially black boys and men, are shot down for no reason, you’ll understand. Coming from a black mother, our worry about our babies is ten times worse than those of any other race, including those of biracial children.

Vegan Mommy Things

Exercising for fitness postpartum

Since giving birth to my son, working or has been the hardest to get back into. I lack the motivation to do so. I was stoked that I got back down to my prepregnancy weight, however, I have put on about 5 lbs since then and I am not happy about that. It’s weird because I exercised my entire second and third trimester to prepare for birth and now that I’m no longer pregnant, I find it a struggle to workout.

Beginning last Thursday, I started back doing yoga and I’ve also been taking Boo on my walks. When it comes to yoga and walking, for whatever reason they both don’t seem like exercise to me. I see them both as ways to relax, keep calm, selfcare and bonding time with Boo.

This past weekend, I went to Baby and ame yoga (pics soon to come, will probably be in a separate post giving a review of the yoga class). It made me want to start incorporating him more in my home practice of yoga. Though he slept most of the class, it was nice having him there, comforting in a way.

I ended up having to purchase a new carrier to wear him due to me being top heavy and he was adding extra weight with dangling from the previous one (will give details in another post). So now with this carrier, it’s less stress in my back. I can go for long walks when I don’t feel like fooling with the stroller.

Another way I exercise is by strapping him to me and doing house work: laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, dusting, etc. Having to squat with him is like squatting with dumbbells: gives that extra weight to make you work harder and use your muscles as well as building them.

Once I am completely healed, I’ll be getting back into kickboxing, but right now, I am just keeping it low impact and easing back into my workout routine. What motivates me is the fact that I have a son and they tend to be more rambunctious than girls, as well as adventurous and require more endurance and strength.

What are some ways you workout as a mom after having your kid(s)?

confessions, Vegan Mommy Things

Confessions of a Single Mom #4: Loneliness and Meltdowns

Being a single mom from conception is hard as fuck. I won’t even sugarcoat it. Being a single mom period is hard as fuck. There are good days and there are bad days and the bad days make it seem like they outnumber the good. The past couple of days have been trying.

With the transition back home, I’ve felt a sense of loneliness, even when Boo’s dad comes to see him, which has been almost everyday. At times when Boo doesn’t stop crying, I feel helpless and like I have no one to turn to.

There are times when he’s awake for hours at a time and it’s exhausting to the point of severe frustration. I had a complete meltdown today because he was just fussy. He wasn’t wet or hungry and he didn’t want to play: just screaming and crying. It’s hard because he can’t tell me what’s wrong and I have to do my best and try everything.

I found that 9 times out of 10, he’s fighting his sleep. Even though I can call my mom, I still feel lonely with no one here. It’s funny because I live in the same city as my entire family and all of my friends, yet I still feel isolated and secluded.

Mad I had this meltdown while rocking Boo, he just stared at me and smiled as if to say, “It’s okay mommy, we’re both learning.” I cried even harder. It’s moments like that when he just looks at me and smiles, let’s me know I’m going to be okay; we’re going to be okay.

Motherhood can be lonely sometimes, whether you’re single or married, doesn’t matter. You’re the mother and no one else can replace you. What I’m learning is I need to reach out to my mom friends and meet up with the kiddos. Today, I am going to Mommy and Baby yoga and I cannot wait.

One of the best things to combat loneliness is to get out of the house and surround yourself with people. Being around other people can break some of that loneliness, even if you are an introvert and don’t tend to interact with other adults.

Do you ever feel lonely as a mother, despite having a support system? Do you lack a support system and the loneliness is unbearable?

confessions, Vegan Mommy Things

Confessions of a Single Mom #3: Dancing Fish, Talking Dogs & Loud Houses

I didn’t believe that when you became a mom, what you watch on television changes. I don’t have cable, but I do have a fire stick (best thing ever invented in my opinion). While staying at my parents’ house, I spent a lot of time watching Bubble Guppies, Paw Patrol and The Loud House. Needless to say, now that I am home, that has not changed.

What’s funny is I now know the them song to each show and actually dance with Boo when they come on. I also want to give a shoutout to YouTube for making these shows available and the networks that they’re on (I was able to purchase the entire series of Bubble Guppies on YT for $5, talk about a win!).

So now, I have to watch my shows and YT videos during me time, which is after 9 PM, but I don’t mind. Fascinating thing is Boo actually watched the shows when I put him in front of the television. He’s content at max for 30 min, which is sometimes all I need.

What is something that you find yourself doing as a mother that you never thought you’d do?

confessions, Vegan Mommy Things

Confessions of a Single Mom #2: Home, Sweet Home and Closing the Door

Yesterday Boo and I finally went home from my parents’ house. We had been staying with them for the past 7 weeks. We had adjusted to him being out of the womb and I was getting used to my parents helping out and watching him while I sleep, as well as doing a bunch of other things for me.

Scared was not even the word to describe how I felt about leaving my parents’ house and doing this on my own. Granted they live literally 3 miles away, they are currently out of town. My son’s father helped me to move all of our stuff back into my apartment. He then left right after for an emergency. I was left alone with Boo. That’s when the crying began. He would not let me put him down so I could begin unpacking. At one point I left him in the room and closed the door. I felt a panic attack coming on. Then all of a sudden, the crying stopped, so did my heart. I went back in and he a was laying there with a string of snot coming out of his nose. He looked up at me and my heart broke.

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I picked him up, wiped his nose and cuddled in the bed. I nursed him and he fell asleep. As soon as I got out of the bed, the crying started again. I put him in his vibrating chair and let him watch cartoons on YouTube. I cleaned up a bit until my mom came. She stayed for a little while and he was completely calm. After she left, he cried on and off for the next five hours.

Around 10:30, I called my mom. I put her on speaker so he could hear her voice.  He was calm again. After we got off the phone, I nursed him and he went to sleep. He slept the entire night until I woke him up at 5 to change his diaper and to nurse. He quickly went back to sleep.

I still feel bad about leaving him in the room to cry. I feel like a terrible parent for doing that.

If there are any tips or trick to soothe a crying baby that is not hungry, wet, or sick, please leave them in the comment section. Being a single parent living on my own is hard as fuck.