The “New” Working Mom

By: Roshanda Pratt

r8 bloomShe arises at 6 a.m. to get the children ready for school. By 8:30 a.m. she is back home, preparing for a meeting with a potential client and putting in a load of laundry.  This is a brief description of the “new” working mom.  She is known as a “mompreneur.” According to Biz Online, Ellen Parlapiano and Pat Cobe, two leading authorities on women-owned businesses, coined the term back in the late 1990’s.  Entreprenuer.com defines a mompreneur as a female business owner who’s actively balancing the roles of mother and entrepreneur. According to statistics, women make up the fastest-growing segment of small business owners today.  There are many reasons why women venture into the business world.  For some, it is an opportunity to provide a better service or product than is currently available, while others want to be their own boss. For most, it is the opportunity to make more money.

As a mompreneur, my reason for leaving the traditional workforce to work from home is solely to pursue my passion and to create a legacy for my children.  My husband and I want to give our children greater opportunities or a better start in life than we ever had.  What a blessing to pass on not only generational wealth, but a business idea in which our children could further expand.  Isn’t this what Sam Walton, Truett Cathy and Jerome Monroe Smucker did?  For too long, the business world has been left up to the men.  But there is an emergence of women who are not just staying at home, but making it profitable.

However, this “new” working mom requires a considerable amount of discipline, time management and support.  For example, I work up until 30 minutes before the children get home from school. This allows me to transition my thoughts from work mode to being plain old mom. Then comes homework, dinner (which is sometimes prepared by my husband), baths and preparation for school with some goofing off in the midst of it, and then it is back to the work grind until sometimes midnight. Since I have roles both as a business owner and a mom, I must work hard at not only one job, but two. In no way am I minimizing my friends who work outside the home, in particular single mothers. In fact, let’s take a moment right now to applaud our sisters who are working hard both outside and inside the home. We celebrate YOU!

Even though I have many roles, including acting as a referee in the disputes over toys, serving as a taxi driver, reviewing additional problems while returning client phone calls, and finishing up a project or blog post, I would not trade my “work” life.  It has been a juggling act between maintaining a family life and growing my media and marketing business, but the lessons I have learned and the legacy it will create for my children is priceless.  The other day, I asked my oldest daughter, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She told me a school teacher. I asked her, instead of being a teacher why not own the school?  My daughter may not have understood at the time, but I am putting an image in her that she does not need to work in a job that already exists; she can create one. Is this not what every woman wants; a chance to create her own thing?

What do you think? Is there a difference between mothers who work from home versus those who work outside of the home?

Ro 🙂

I Resolve Not To Make A Resolution

By: Roshanda Pratt

I hate resolutions. I feel like a broken record because I think I said the same thing last year. Honestly, the reason why I hate them is because I stink at them. You may know what I mean. You decide on the cusp of the New Year you will break a nasty habit like nail biting (which I am still working on) and then crash and burn by July. Experts say if you make it pass the end of this month you have a greater chance of keeping your resolution. Dictionary.com defines resolution as “a resolve or determination; the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc., the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.”

For several years now, I have boycotted the dreaded resolution. Instead, I have opted to make goals. Well, aren’t they the same thing? No, not really. Dictionary.com defines a goal as the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Personally, I have found that my good intentions of resolving to do this or resolving to do that had a lot of well-meaning determination but very little aim. Instead, I have decided to make goals to work toward. I try to make small changes every day that add up to real change. I try to make specific goals, since experts say they see more attainable than vague goals.

My 2012 Goal ListHere’s how it works: Most often by November, I know the goals I want to achieve in the New Year. Within the first week of the New Year, I sit down at my computer (before I used to write it out), and name all the things I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. The list will include family, personal, spiritual and professional items. It will also include goals that I may have come close to or did not fully happen from the previous year. I strongly believe that if a goal is attainable, you should not drop it just because the year has ended. Instead, you should keep putting it on the list until it happens. Then when it does happen, I put a check and the date. This also serves as encouragement to me through the year.

My 2013 Goal ListPutting it in list form keeps me focused on one thing at a time and holds me accountable to myself, as well as those who see my list. I actually post my list near the bed. I can see it first thing in the morning to continuously remind me of my expectations.
Some of the things on my 2013 Goal List include: getting passports for my husband, younger daughter and son, running a 5k, getting a Mac computer, giving more, and taking a few courses of study.

Whether you set goals or resolution I wish you much success on your journey to a better you in 2013. Remember these words by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Happy New Year!
Roshanda

Our 2012 Blogging Year in Review!

As we move into 2013, we thought it only appropriate to take a look back at 2012 and share with you some of the data from our year in blogging.  (If you click on any of the images below, you will get an enlarged view.)  Thanks to all of our readers for helping to make the Every Woman Blog a success!  And a special thanks to our amazing bloggers who truly bring this blog to life and share their lives with us!

We hope you enjoy taking a look back at 2012 with us 🙂

Your 2012 year in bloggingYour 2012 year in blogging-1Your 2012 year in blogging-2Your 2012 year in blogging-3Your 2012 year in blogging-4

Perks & Pitfalls of a Rewarded Life

By: Roshanda Pratt

Who doesn’t like getting a pat on the back or hearing a job well done?  As a mom, it seems like I spend a great deal of time applauding my children for their good deeds.  I do not mind because I firmly believe a child with a high self-esteem and self-worth translates into an adult who is a benefit to their friends, family and community. However, I have recently been wondering if we give too many “rewards” for the sake of making sure children feel appreciated? And is this practice really damaging?

Here is my case: I have a 2 year-old boy, a 5 year-old girl and a 6 year-old girl. All three attend school. Yes, even the 2 year-old goes three days a week.  All three are rewarded and recognized for “good” behavior at the end of the week. For example, when the 6 year-old keeps all her M&M’s at the end of the week she can make a trip to the treasure box.  I understand it is a way to teach the benefit of following the classroom rules and being a good citizen in school.  I believe that in those early years with our children we should teach them about both the good and bad consequences of their decisions. However, here is my quandary:  When are rewards just too much?  I have found lately that my children want a “treat,” as they call it, for everything.

Rewards“Mommy, I cleaned up my room. Can I get a treat?”

“Mommy, I kept all my M&M’s. Can I get a treat?”

“Mommy, I just shared with my brother. Can I get a treat?”

My husband has never been a huge fan of this practice because it creates an expectation that they MUST be rewarded or celebrated for everything they do, even if what they do should be expected. At first when the girls started school, I bought into this practice of rewarding their behavior for every activity. I can remember when it started.  It started with potty training.  We adopted the Dora the Explorer attitude.  “Yay, You Did It!” I encouraged with words of affirmation and gifts of celebration.  Now, fast forward to the present. After years of rewards, we are teaching our children that the best reward is the knowledge that you did the right thing.  As you can imagine this does not go over well with the 5 year-old who is particular to celebration.  I guess old habits die hard.

I really started thinking about this in terms to our world.  How many times this week did you receive a pat on the back? Or receive a “reward” for a job well done? My pastor recently said something that really resonated with me.  He said we are parenting mini adults.  What we set up now will be what they live out as an adult. That is a sobering thought.  Recently, while my 5 year-old practiced writing her letters, she started crying and really needed some reinforcement.  I encouraged her but I realized quickly she wanted me to say that if she did the work she would receive a reward.  My husband picked up on this too and told her she is not always going to be celebrated or given a reward to do what she needs to do.  Isn’t that life? Our job as parents is to prepare our children for life.  In life you may be picked last for the dodge ball game, in life you will get an “A” on a project but your teacher may not give you an additional reward, and in life, when you take care of responsibilities like cleaning the kitchen or paying your bills, you may not get a reward each and every time.

Here is the bottom line:  I have learned how to prioritize the reward system.  I have often reminded the girls that sometimes the best reward is being proud for making a good decision.  Rewards like candy, a little toy or gold stars are all good, but the best reward is when you know in your “knower” you have done the right thing and that is reward enough!

What do you think? Do you reward your children every time they do something well? Do you think the “rewards” system is setting our children up for failure?

Ro 🙂

A Fish Tale

By: Roshanda Pratt

Our family started our Thanksgiving off with the loss of another fish. Nemo or Ceelo (not really sure which one) went home to the big fish bowl in the sky.  Apparently, it is not enough just to feed the fish but you have to check the pump and make sure it is not clogged (deep sigh). I must take full responsibility for that one, oops! Unfortunately, this is not our first fish tale.  We lost Freddy the Fish about two years ago.  Here is his untimely story.

It all began with a class lesson in the letter “F”. My middle daughter was in 3K.  Her teacher sent each kid home with a fish named (you guessed it), Freddie: The Fish. I thought it was a clever idea. The week before, my parents had  purchased two goldfish, Nemo and Ceelo (not to be confused with the singer Cee-Lo Green). It seemed like a good idea at the time.  So Nemo, Ceelo and Freddie: The Fish were all living in one big happy fish tank. Freddie: The Fish, the smallest of the three, could not eat the same pellet fish food as the others, so we fed him the flaky fish food. We watched Freddie’s food intake until one day, when I noticed that Freddie was looking, well, not so fishy. He was moving rather slow and he looked quite seasick! I know, he’s a fish, and they live in water, but Freddie looked really, really sick!

The next day, we got up as usual and got the kids ready for school. That morning, while saying our prayers, our oldest (who was 5 at the time) thanked the Lord for Freddie. Well, sometime later that day, Freddie went belly up- literally. Thank God the kids didn’t notice. I believe that was the Lord’s grace for all of us. My husband took the kids to school and I had to fish- I mean scoop- poor Ol’ Freddie out of the tank. I put him in a Starbucks paper cup as we tried to figure out what to do.

When in doubt and in need of a good laugh, the best place to turn is, of course, Facebook. The following is my Facebook post the morning of the discovery (names are removed to protect the innocent):

My Post: Whelp, “Freddie the Fish” is belly up, literally. After prayer with the kids today, Jacobee and I discovered the lifeless body. Smh. Goldfish. Now I am preparing myself to get this thing out of the tank and talk to the kids. Smh. Now I know what Cliff Huxtuable felt like when Rudy’s gold fish died on the Cosby Show (sigh).

Comment: Oh…Freddie!!

Comment: Whattt??? I just met him yesterday. He didn’t look sick… When is the funeral?

Comment: Weeelll u could do what we did…take fish back and exchange it for one that looks like it. If the kids dont know its dead it wont matter….

Comment: Gotta stick to beta fish .. they last longer ..lol. hope the kids do ok with the news…

Comment: That was the best Cosby episode….I do find myself resorting to some of Cliff’s tacktics with my kids from time to time….lol So sorry about the fish

Comment: Is Jael going to put on a black leotard for the funeral? : ) (One of the best TV episodes ever…)

Comment: Ok see that’s why I like stuffed animals! Smh

Comment: RIP Freddy the fish

Comment: we had a beta fish to die about two years ago and for a while if you even mentioned the fish name, Spencer would cry. I made the mistake of getting rid of the fish while they were gone for the weekend. Grief and mourning for like a year. A funeral would be ummm….cute. lol!

As you can see the responses were pretty funny! My husband and I seriously thought about replacing Freddie before the girls got home from school. Then we thought that would be lying, the very thing we tell them not to do.

Well, the time came to tell the girls about Freddie The Fish. I started off with, “Girls, I have something to tell you.” This got their attention. But for some reason the younger child, the three-year-old, kept looking over at the fish tank.  “Girls, Freddie The Fish is dead.” (pause) In unison they both said “Awww, Freddie…” and then came the questions. The main question was about Freddie now? I told them he was in a paper cup. They wanted to see him and say their good-byes. I allowed them to do so and then little Freddie went floating with the fishes (again, I could not resist!). Basically, Daddy flushed Freddie down the toilet. The girls’ response: “He may get lost!”

So, here we are 2 years later dealing with another fish drama.  Instead of replacing the fish, I have decided to look for a pet with a longer life span.  Any suggestions?

Ro 🙂

American Made

By: Roshanda Pratt

My American tale actually begins across the waters in a beautiful Caribbean country. My parents, both native West Indians of Trinidad and Tobago, came to America in their twenties.  Both dreamed of better opportunities for their family back in T&T and the family they would soon create in America. I am, as the Trinidadians would say, the “salt-water Yankee” in the family.  I heard that saying often growing up.  It did not faze me and I always quipped, “I am part Yankee and Trinidadian.”  In my mind as a young child I believed I had dual citizenship.  At home we ate traditional West Indian foods like curry chicken and rice, and played Soca music while my father passionately debated with his other Caribbean friends about politics. At school, I was an American girl who loved hamburgers, hopscotch and Punky Bewester.

Through the years, there was one thing my father never let me forget: America is a land of opportunity and if you live in this country, you need to seize every chance you can.  My father came from a country where the have-nots far outweighed the haves. He has seen poverty, corrupt government, and what happens when people decide to revolt against their oppressor.  As a young child born in America you never really appreciate the freedoms you have been afforded.  I have learned those who come to America most often have a greater respect for what our forefathers fought and died for.

My parents officially became American citizens on December 19, 1997. I was 20 years old. I stood proudly as my parents joined dozens of others and recited our pledge of allegiance on the campus of USC Aiken. At the end of the day everyone received an American flag.  For the first time in my life, my American citizenship meant more than fireworks on the 4th of July or a barbecue on Memorial Day.  It meant that my freedom comes with a certain level of responsibility.  As I watched the ceremony that day, people surrendered their allegiance to their birth country and pledged it to ours. How could I continue living life the same? As a person born in America, I had a responsibility to adhere to the words of that pledge:

The Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all.

The pledge essentially says that you pledge to be true to the United States of America.  You pledge to make America better.  In the fourth grade my Father made me watch the news because he thought I should always know what was going on in my community.  How do you make America better? Volunteerism, activism and mentoring are a great start, but what about the simple liberty of voting.  The first time my parents were able to legally vote in an election was a milestone event in our household.  My aunt from Trinidad encouraged my parents to become citizens for the sole purpose of being able to vote in the country in which they now call “home.” My mother and father were so elated to stand in line, show their legal documents and go into a booth to vote.  This month, my parents went out and voted again. I realize that for some of you this year’s voting process was not so memorable. However, it is still part of our responsibility as American citizens, one that I take great joy in taking part.

I am grateful that more than 30 years ago my parents made the journey to the sweet land of liberty.

God bless America!

Ro 🙂

The Final Chapter: Bittersweet

By: Roshanda Pratt

Within three weeks, I have seen two friends bury their parents.  Death is never easy.  The final chapter in a life, even if it is one well lived, never comes as easy, even if you are “prepared.”  The first home-going service was for the mother, of my friend, who had been battling cancer for a while.  Her service lasted well over an hour, an indication of the type of life Mrs. Green lived.  She was the loving mother of ten, a wife of 50 years, a community servant, and a pastor at her local church.  As each person eulogized her, the theme was the same; Mrs. Green was a caring, loving, and no-nonsense woman who would give you her last if that meant you had the best.  Mrs. Green was a woman worth emulating.  Unfortunately, Ms. Green was diagnosed with cancer.  She outlived many of the doctors’ reports.  And even as she fought this disease she prepared her family for her journey home.  Even in death she was still thinking of others.

My other friend buried her father last week.  Mr. Charles was diagnosed 8 weeks ago with cancer.  According to doctor’s reports, Mr. Charles was given 6 months to live.  My friend uprooted her family, moved back home to spend the final 6 months with her Daddy.  Mr. Charles would subcome to cancer.  He did not make 6 months.  At his home-going service, I learned Mr. Charles was a family man, active in church, kind to strangers and loved by many.

Life is precious.  Life is fragile.  Life is a vapor.

I do not know what it is like to lose a parent.  How do you prepare?  I have asked myself this several times especially over the past few weeks.  I don’t have a profound answer; just a thought that time is a gift.  Time is what I heard my friend, who lost her father so quickly, stated she wanted more of it.  Time can be our most precious gift.

I was a 13 year-old volunteer candy striper at my local hospital in New York.  I would sit with patients, help nurses, and deliver flowers and a few smiles.  I really liked the job.  One day I was helping a patient, a woman hooked up to an oxygen machine.  I felt for that lady, even as a 13 year-old, my heart hurt for her.  The nurse came in and asked me to help change her bed sheets.  As we began the process, her breathing became more labored.  The nurse turned to me, motioned for me to stop and said, as if she were the judge, “She is dying.” I was shocked.  Here I am holding this lady in my arms listening to her fight with her last breathe, eyes wide open looking right into mine. I was stuck.  At 13 years old, I wanted to run away!  I wanted to just deliver flowers and smiles, and now death has ruined that.  The nurse ran out the room to get the doctor.  I continued to hold this lady as she took her last breath.  On the inside I felt like she did not need to be alone in that moment.  She died.  The nurses on the unit called my mom, who comforted me. I left the hospital early that day and my job as a candy striper was short lived.  I never met her family.  I did not know much about her. I often wondered if she had any children or if she was married. I wondered if she was “ready” to die.  Who is ever ready to die?  I wondered if she had regrets.

I decided long ago never to live in regrets with loved ones.  I think the mourning process becomes difficult many times because there are unspoken words, unforgiveness, regrets and time lost.  Even as I think about the fact that my parents will die someday, I can say I have been the best daughter to them (I have repented for the teenage years. Smile.).  The old adage goes, “Give people their flowers while they are still living.”  I talk to my parents often and when I do, I tell them how much I love and appreciate them.  My parents may not have done everything right, but I am thankful for them.  I make sure they know it.  I am discovering parenting does not come with an instructional manual, but through the grace of God and His wisdom you can raise children.

I want when my parents leave this earth for my heart to be at rest.  I will miss them.  I will cry.  However, I will know I gave them the best of me when they were living.

Both of my friends gave their best of themselves while their parents were living.  I saw my friend pack up her home within a week, giving away what she could not take, selling the rest, transferring her children from their school to move two hours back home to be with her father in his last moments.  I have seen my other friend travel back and forth to spend time with her mother at the hospital and through chemo treatments.  They both served their parents well.

As my husband and I sat through their parents’ final celebration of life, I thought how I never really got a chance to meet their parents.  However, I felt like I knew them through their daughters.  Every story, joke and personal testimony described my two friends.  What an indication of a life well lived.  That is legacy.  So, as my friends deal with the difficult part of the holidays without their loved ones, I hope they can find some peace in knowing they served their parents well, and even though mom and dad are gone, they are still part of their lives by how they live it.

This story is dedicated to Sharranda and Denise. Although we hate to see a good book come to an end, however, a good book well written always inspires those who read it. Remember that in the weeks and months ahead. (Matthew 25:23)