Menu

I woke up this morning to police sirens. They seemed to be three or four blocks from my home, maybe even closer. My husband and I looked at each other as we began to come out of our sleep.

"I wonder what's going on?" we asked each other as we sheepishly assumed to ourselves nothing major would really happen in our suburban town in New Jersey. Or, could it? With the recent racial events happening in the country anything is bound to happen—especially for Black people.

A few seconds later the sirens trailed off into the distance and we couldn't hear them anymore. I instantly thought to myself, thank God my husband doesn't have to venture outside our home. We are indeed safer under quarantine.

FEATURED VIDEO


My family and I have been indoors for the better part of the past two months. We go outside for food and doctor visits. And just like most Americans during this time, we do occasional birthday drive-bys and linger with the mailman a little longer than normal because we miss people.

At first, I couldn't stand it. I wanted to get out and be around the people in my life that mattered. I wanted to go to my favorite stores. I want to hug my friends again. But after a few soul-searching moments, I acquiesced. For me, the saying, "it is what it is," never rang truer.

In recent weeks I've accepted my new normal in a different light. Staying indoors inadvertently serves as a protection from the physical racism Black people face on a regular basis. While we're indoors I don't have to worry about teachers potentially mistreating my son or white people following me with their eyes while I shop in fancy stores.

I'm not naive enough to think that racism doesn't exist virtually. Of course it does. But not being out and about minimizes the chances of me or my loved ones dying on cement with an officer's knee on our throat.

I'm also not naive enough to think that quarantining does not protect Black people from the long-lasting trauma of seeing someone gunned down while jogging, or having the police called on them for birdwatching in Central Park. I will never ever ever forget the sound of George Floyd crying out to his mother while slowly dying.

And through it all, all I can think about is when the world will one day see my sweet 3-year-old boy as a threat to society. Knowing white America will see my baby boy as a thug, causes me relentless pain. I constantly dread the day I'll have to tell him he can't do certain things because he's a Black boy and the world sees him differently than his family.

There may not be any more movies and shows to stream, ice cream to eat or banana breads to bake almost three months into a pandemic, but at least my Black husband, dad, son and uncles are safe. For now.

When the world completely opens up again, I'll have a better appreciation for my Black family. They're all I have in a society that refuses to treat us like human beings.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

FEATURED VIDEO

The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

FEATURED VIDEO

Keep reading Show less
Life