Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author. (Courtesy Photo)

By Andi Pyatt

“The Well” is a recurring column to remind us of the power we possess in mind, body and spirit.

Since March 2020 there are a few staple food items that I keep in the house. These items are frozen cheese pizza, organic salad greens (in the large container), and fruit.  Why these items? My children have never turned down pizza. and, in my head, the salad greens offset the processed ingredients. Pair the two with fruit for dessert and you have a balanced meal that feels like a mom win. Prior to March pizza was a weekend meal. Now, it has been the meal of any given evening in my home. How could I give my children pizza multiple times a week? They need a home cooked balanced meal each evening, right? I recall the family meals my grandmother prepared for the entire weekend and throughout the week. I have challenges just making one home cooked meal each week. At times I feel as if I need to “get it together” as a mom. Other times I feel great. This judgement stems from family, other parents, “experts,”and even myself. I juggle a single parent household, the administration of a school, multiple business ventures, a romantic partnership, and a host of important, yet challenging, familial relationships. Despite not wanting to make a four-course meal at the end of the day, when I put everything into perspective, my children are happy and healthy and that is most important. 

This week I had multiple conversations with friends who are feeling drained by the judgment and scrutiny of others as their mothering skills are constantly placed under the preverbal microscope during these unique times. Society has an unfortunate habit of dismissing the humanity of women once we become mothers. This is particularly problematic as Black mothers are expected to neglect their needs not only for their children, but also for members of the entire family, an unrealistic expectation in the best of circumstances. In these times when radical self-care is encouraged, women of color are often made to feel guilty for putting their well-being before anyone else. It is in these moments that I am reminded of the hypocrisy of our world. When traveling on a plane, in the event of an emergency, we are told to access your personal oxygen supply before supporting the children directly next to us, however when on the ground, we are told to hold our breath until everyone is breathing without struggle. What happens when the very person supporting everyone else passes out from suffocation? The result is the trauma we see passed from generation to generation. The current times have heightened the shame and blame placed on many mothers of color as they are caring for and educating multiple children while working from home. As we labor to maintain balance for ourselves and our children during a time of physical, mental, and physical unrest we must remember a few important truths:

You need and deserve a break. Far too often we are made to believe that more is better. We perpetuate this belief in numerous aspects of life, particularly as it relates to educating and raising children. However, rest is just as important, if not more so than action. Release the guilt of not being able to hold the expectations of others. These ideals were never yours to hold. Lay them down, take a deep breath, breathe and be still.

Your life is yours. We are grateful and appreciative of our loved ones. However, our life is not their life to live. We are each born into this world with beautiful innate gifts and talents which connect perfectly into the mosaic of universal energy. Attempting to constantly satisfy others over our own needs leads to imbalance, resentment, and sadness. These feelings are often expressed through anger. Live in truth and love understanding that you don’t have to sacrifice yourself for others to love you.

You are important. All too often we place a hierarchy on our needs, especially as mothers. We are natural protectors and very easily place who we are, at our core, to the back burner for the sake of our children.  Society has implicitly and explicitly told women that we must sacrifice ourselves to be a good mother. A false belief. We can exist harmoniously with the understanding that all our needs are important. In all actuality, it is an important lesson to teach our children. When we care for ourselves, we teach our children to care for themselves.  

You are enough. Parenting is a relationship and relationships are reciprocal. It does not have to be perfect because there is no such ideal. Listen to and trust yourself. Listen to and trust your child. You both have what the other needs completely unique from anyone else in this world. 

The beauty of living through challenges are the lessons we encounter. We are forced to face ourselves by clearing the mirror and accepting the reflection. This year has been a time of immense clarity and acceptance. While my way of mothering is different from those around me or even the matriarch of my family, my way is exactly what is needed for my family. The most important aspect of mothering is our intention.  My intention is to nurture and provide a healthy balance for my children. Pizza makes them happy and salad keeps them healthy. Not worrying about the judging eyes and words of others allows me to show up in truth and honestly to those I love breaking the bonds of generational trauma allowing for the next generation of free black babies and it doesn’t require being in the kitchen 6 days a week. 

Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author (Julia Belle) of the new children’s book, Sunflower’s Breath.  She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology/Neuroscience from Williams College and a graduate degree in Health Science from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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