“All of the stars, you make them shine like they were ours…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…You and I…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…- You & I (Nobody In The World), John Legend

This song doesn’t go with this post. At all.  It’s been a very tough go recently (writing and awesome friends have helped) and this song is quite meaningful to me and for a person who’s world was shattered a couple of weeks ago. Love you. Always.



A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook that sparked some interesting discussion amongst her FB friends AND made me reflect on my experiences.  The article is called “The Question Light-Skinned Black Women Say They’re Always Asked” and here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/16/light-girls-what-are-you_n_6490038.html.

If you don’t have time to read it or watch the video (yikes), I’ll summarize it (a bit) for you.  The piece features several light-skinned women who “share the common experience of being questioned about their race.”  Apparently, this is a preview of a new documentary called “Light Girls” (http://www.oprah.com/app/light-girls.html).

Now.  I’m not light-skinned.  I’m brown-skinned.  My daughter, though, has light skin and light eyes.  Until the age of 5, her eyes were blue.  They’re greenish/grayish now.

So she’s clearly lighter than me, and from the time she was born, people have asked me if she’s biracial.  Or mixed.  Or my kid (gasp!).  Or something.  And now that she can answer for herself, they ask her directly…”What are you?”.

When she’s answers that she’s black, the next question is often about the race of her father (I’m generally with her or they may have met me so they see that I’m a brown-skinned lady…I was gonna type a brown skinned cutie but I don’t want y’all to think I’m completely full of myself…But I digress…).

“You must be mixed.”  “Is your dad white?”

So why do we do this?  Actress Tatyana Ali had this to say, “There’s a safety in being able to categorize you or categorize a person. ”You can assign all of your preconceived ideas about who this person is: the type of person they are, what kind of behavior you can expect from them — only if they know what you are.”

Is this the reason?  Are people more comfortable with folks who they can categorize?  And if you’re black and you’re skin is lighter does that somehow help you?  Does it matter? Does it somehow help to know whether or not my daughter’s father is white?   I don’t know.

From the article, “Soledad O’Brien, an award-winning journalist and news anchor, says she was shopping for a new coat when the sales person behind the register asked her: “What are you?” When O’Brien responded that she is black, she says the sales person refused to believe her. “She said, ‘No, no, you’re not black. Because black people are thieves. So, what are you?’”

Ummm. WOW.  Advantage #teamlightskinned?

Skin color has definitely always been a “thing” (ever heard of the brown paper bag test?).  Is it generally the first thing people focus on when they meet light skinned women (or men)?  No one asks me where I’m from before they get to know me…

Help me out world.  What’s the deal?  And be honest!


All of the stars, they don’t shine brighter than you are…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…You and I…You and I…

Nobody in the world tonight…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…

“They say it’s your birthday…It’s my birthday too, yeah…They say it’s your birthday…We’re gonna have a good time…I’m glad it’s your birthday…Happy birthday to you…”- Birthday, The Beatles

I was so tempted to post… “Go Shorty, it’s your birthday..We’re gonna party like it’s birthday…” by 50 Cent but this post is about my kid.  So no.  That doesn’t work.

And then I thought about posting some lyrics from Taylor Swift’s song “Fifteen” (I’m liking her lately…and it’s the correct age…) but I Googled the lyrics.  Whoa. And…no. Absolutely not good for this post about her.  Nope. (or as M says, “LMANo”)

Where do I start?!  Well, HAPPY BIRTHDAY M!!!!

(Bear with me.  I’m gonna brag just a little because I’m very proud of this girl.)

M, you are my superstar.

You started out as my little baby who didn’t want to cry (they forced you to use those lungs!) or eat (you must always give me props for feeding you with a syringe because you refused to open your mouth or latch or even drink from a bottle!) and who pooped on my arm two seconds after you were born.

You became my precocious toddler/preschooler who talked super early and walked super late (It’s a shame when you can say “please come over and pick me up” before you can walk…) and who potty trained herself (Thanks. I’ll give you credit. You made up for the feeding situation.) and who loved school (Go JBMS!) and Baby Born (that baby doll went everywhere) and nature (especially woodchips!) and pacifiers (which led to some really expensive braces) and giving other kids haircuts…that you charged money for!  And who disliked anything related to a swimming pool, clothing, and basketball, tennis, soccer, or any sport with a bat or ball. (Expensive lessons but we had to find your thing…)

Then there were the school years- elementary and middle.  You blossomed into a lovely, smart girl who still loved school (Except for gym.  And art.  I may be the only parent who had to have conferences with the elementary school gym and art teachers.)  We rocked through the middle school years (some drama! but not too bad.  Well, 7th grade was a little interesting..). You met some lifelong friends and fell in love with small boutiques, cheerleading, skinny jeans, certain cities, dogs, random kid fads (those ugly skater shoes!), helping others, smoothies, Instagram, winning awards/medals, and Uggs.  So many pairs of Uggs.

And now you are:

Still my early to bed and early to wake kid (I thought this would change when you became a teenager!  Please learn to sleep in!)

My math/science girl who is just trying to crank out very decent English papers (your words).

My sarcastic, witty funny girl who cracks jokes regularly. (My favorite of this year was when I asked you about the volleyball team you guys were playing.  I called them a powerhouse.  You said they are the….(drumrole)…mitochondria of volleyball).

My “I’m gonna go to a high school where I don’t know anyone and I’m gonna make it work (because I don’t quit) even when it’s tough to make friends” kid.  And now look.  Great job, M!

My (brand new) volleyball player, former (?) cheerleader, and current track star.  My actress and chorus lover.  Even though I sigh sometimes, I’m perfectly happy driving you all over the place! for your activities.  I love to watch you run, cheer, hit (spike?), sing, and act.

My homebody who would rather stay home and watch “Bones” than hang out.  (I’m enjoying that! I know it won’t last forever!)

My “sometimes I just say the first thing that comes to my mind and it gets me in trouble” girl.

My model (Sorry but I’m still not sure about this…)

My addicted to texting kid (“Please don’t take my communications tool away as punishment, Mom..”)

So like I always tell you, our lives are not perfect (and neither are we) and they never will be.  Try to make good decisions (or as I told you everyday you got out of the car at JBMS..”make good choices, M.  Choose challenging work. Don’t cut anyone’s hair or throw wood chips. Lol”), use good judgement, work hard so you can play hard, use your words, and have faith.

Thank you for being my kid.  You changed my life for the best.  It’s hard to be down or upset or sad when your beautiful face wakes me up (super early!) every morning.

You are smart, beautiful, kind, and helpful. (And as you know, I was saying that way before The Help came out…lol)

Happy, happy birthday.

Love you. Mom (And stop calling me Candace! And bae! And bruh!)

I would like you to dance (Birthday)…Take a cha-cha-cha-chance (Birthday)…I would like you to dance (Birthday)…Oh dance! Dance.

“So to you all the kids all across the land…Take it from me, parents just don’t understand”- Parents Just Don’t Understand, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

I actually cracked myself up thinking about a song for this next blog post.  Took me back at bit.  This song doesn’t exactly fit but it works.

Not sure that I’m going to write daily. In fact, I know I won’t.  I’m thinking weekly but I had a little time today and was thinking about the Congressional communications director (Elizabeth Lauten) who recently resigned after making some terribly inappropriate comments about the President’s teenaged daughters.

If somehow you’ve avoided being on the ‘net in the past week, click this link http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/congressional-staffer-resigns-disparaging-comments-obama-girls/story?id=27277995 and then let us how you avoided the internet for a week.  If I could do that, I’d be finished with the book I’m reading.  But I digress…

If you watch the video that likely prompted Ms. Lauten to comment, you’ll notice that the Obama girls appear to be a little bored and perhaps very embarrassed to participate in their father’s “turkey pardoning event”

What is that event about anyways?  Never really understood that one. Anyways..

Lauten writes, ”Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class… And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”

Ms. Lauten. Really?  Come on.

Now before you comment about me picking her post apart because of her political party, let me just say this… I won’t do that.  I’m gonna pick her post apart because she is clearly not the parent of a teenager or must have forgotten what those years are like.

Ms. Lauten, my fourteen year old makes about 17,983 different faces each day.  And most of these she captures but taking selfies on her cell phone.  I can unintentionally embarrass her at the drop of a hat. And if she was followed around by people with cameras or had every event that she attends with me recorded, people would think that she is the most miserable person on the planet.  No, the most miserable person in the solar system.  And she’s really a lovely kid.

I don’t know if you’ve forgotten what it is like to be a teen, Ms. Lauten (Lots of folks are ready to remind you though…http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/574596/20141202/resigned-elizabeth-lauten-misdemeanor-teen-shoplifting-white.htm#.VH81SL43dlI) but everything your parents do is embarrassing.

“Well, parents are the same no matter time nor place…

About a month ago, I stood up at a volleyball game and apparently clasped my hands together too loudly and got the look of death from my daughter as she entered the game.  I was clapping. For her.

And remember, Ms. Lauten, these are young adults.  They are still trying to figure out exactly who they are.

Back in September or October, I posted something on Facebook about our two (plus) week long search for an appropriate Homecoming dress.  I still see my daughter as my cute four year old in overalls and she’s trying to figure out exactly who she is as she navigates this “image is everything/shorter and tighter is better for girls” world we live in. We eventually agreed on a dress.  One that Ms. Lauten, may or may not have approved of.  But my daughter, M, probably much like the Obama girls, tried to wear something that commanded respect and made her feel pretty.  And I’m sure she (like many teen girls) did not think she looked like someone trying to get “a spot at a bar”.  She believed she looked good.

The other day, I dropped her off at school and when she got out of the car, I said, “Babe, love you. Have a great day.”  She grunted, picked up her backpack, and closed the door.  So I rolled down the window and said, “Have a great day” (Apparently, I don’t learn…)  She crossed her arms and said, “Mom, really?  That’s embarrassing. I gotta go.”

Thank goodness no one recorded that exchange.

Later (over a pizza, water (for her), and red wine (for me)), I asked her why she thought I was embarrassing her.  Her response?  “Mom, you just don’t understand.”

I get that a lot.  I just don’t understand.  Maybe I do/maybe I don’t!! and that’s ok.  Together, we are navigating these wonderful (not awful) teenage years and all that goes along with them: folded arms, boys with shaggy hair, sighing (lots of sighing), ugly shoes, clothing choices, and the constant juggling of academic, social, and athletic pressures.

AND we are enjoying chats in the car, hugs and smooches at night (when no one is looking), thank you’s, awesome clothes shopping adventures, traveling together, and the mini celebrations that come along with academic, social, and athletic success (You should have been at my house when her first high school report came a few weeks ago!).

My guess is that the President (and First Lady) are going through similar things with their girls.  And Ms. Lauten’s parents probably did as well.  Maybe (hopefully?) they even told her that after she consulted with them during this firestorm.  Yes, she called mom and dad.  Read her “statement”.

I’m no parenting expert but I think criticism of people’s underage kids, whether or not, they happen to be in the limelight, should be off limits.

I mean, really, there are plenty of other things out there to criticize.

And shhh…please don’t tell M that I posted this.  Did I tell you about the eye rolling?

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