i know, i know…it’s been awhile. or more like five years.
thing is, i had almost forgotten about this space until a friend called me days ago and asked me to help set-up a blog for her. she said she had been by my old spot (this thing here) and noticed i hadn’t posted since 2014. and well, what can i say? shit happens. i couldn’t even remember the daggone password.
i remember after dutch was born my grandmother said, “you need to keep a journal about your baby, write everything down. make sure you take notes of all the stuff he does or else you’ll forget.” i started this blog in august 2007 to start my journey as a mama blogger. my son was a month shy of turning two.
how it all began
when myspace was poppin’ it gave me my first dip into html. that’s where a lot of us who do web-by things as a career first got experience. we are the ones who took ridiculous amounts of time trying to customize the html on our pages to make them stand out and look all fly. (and did you know that code editing capability ultimately created huge security vulnerabilities which led to the demise of myspace? yeah. anyway…) so when blogs really became a popular thing i knew i had to be all over it, especially since i had this new mini skill under my belt.
it also helped that when i decided to blog mama blogs were the whole shit at the time. so off i went to google and learn everything i could about setting up a blog and i landed here on wordpress with mama’s got moxie. truth be told, i ain’t always feel like i had moxie when i created the name, but i damn sure knew i had it in me somewhere.
i needed this space. you know how singers gotta sing? or dancers gotta dance? it’s the same for me. this blog was the creative space i craved after leaving my job as an editor at an entertainment magazine. i needed a place to write whatever i wanted, whenever i wanted, and my growing baby boy was the perfect subject.
so instead of keeping a journal about my son, i decided to blog about him. i created the “dutch files” and blogged about all the funny stuff he said and did, and there was plenty because my kid has always been hilarious. i also started posting about other stuff i liked, music i loved, and after reigniting my passion for photography with a digital photography class i took, i started to post some pics i took too. i followed other bloggers, made virtual blog friends (some who i am still connected with on instagram), and discovered a whole community of like-minded women who loved to write. it was pretty cool.
oh, i can get a full-time gig with this? bet!
when i first jumped on wordpress i googled html and css code to learn everything i could about how to customize my blog. i taught myself how to use photoshop so i could create cool (read: sometimes corny) banners. i learned about keywords, and tags, and how to set-up categories. learned about how to keep my pageviews up. i bought my domain name and learned how to set-up my own self-hosted blog. i took part in writing challenges, covered a couple events, interviewed some folk, set-up other people’s blogs… i took my experience as a writer and whatever other creativity i could conjure up and i ran with it.
my reward for all my hard work here in this little space was an opportunity based off of everything i taught myself how to do. in 2008, i landed a whole full-time job managing a web community of mamas for a dc area news station. i led conversations around mamahood, hosted mama events throughout the dc area, and wrote scripts about the site for a station personality to read on-air. i started feeling a lil’ more moxie-ish.
welp, there went that
then i was laid off from my shiny job at the news station in october of 2011. and i ain’t gon’ lie, it was a whole daggone pinprick to my balloon, man. my first corporate gig and then that ish happened.
i was nervous, but not nervous nervous, you know, because i just knew that i would land another opportunity quickly. my severance package would last through the new year and i had all this writing/editing/web experience, right? the kicker was nobody was looking to hire throughout the holiday season so while i sent out resumes right after i was laid off, i planned to hit the job sites really hard the first of january.
but one thing i hadn’t considered was that my experience was soooo specific. i mean, i knew who jay-z’s publicist was, and where mamas could take their kids to eat for free on tuesdays, and yeah, i knew how to operate a few cms platforms and was quickly learning about twitter and instagram (when insta was all abt photography, you know, before it became a marketing machine), but most of the full-time jobs i found were for technical writers which i was not.
there were tons of admin positions available too but i literally had no admin experience. none. i hadn’t made travel arrangements, or did whatever people do for other people’s calendars, or answered phones for a company. i barely answered my own phone on the job. in fact, when i worked at the news station the only person who ever called me was my manager because he worked on a different floor. it also didn’t help that i now had two defunct pieces of media on my daggone resume. “oh, you want proof? check out these lovely screenshots and tear sheets.”
after my severance ran out i collected unemployment for a good solid year – from january 2012 to january 2013- and while money was super tight things were ticking. (or so i thought.) i sent resumes everydaggonewhere everydaggoneday to everydaggonebody and nothing. absolutely nothing came through for your girl.
do you know what it feels like to not only be jobless, but have zero job leads? none? nobody interested in hiring you for nothing at all? it not only sucks, but it plays on your self-esteem in a major way.
if i’m being completely honest here, this was a totally new experience for me. i had never been in a position where i felt so daggone low. i had never felt that i wasn’t good enough, or that i wasn’t employable before. that i couldn’t take care of myself. and here i was a whole wife and mama and couldn’t contribute to my own well-being, much less stay on top of all the household/child care/credit card bills that were adding up. i had help from my folks to keep things afloat, but still. it sucked.
to keep myself busy during this time (and to keep my spirits up), i started making jewelry, and i also started delving a bit more into photography because creativity is my shit and in order to keep my sanity i have to be creating…something. i’d take my camera out for the day or create little photoshoots in the house. so in 2012 i made an invite in photoshop, sent it to all my friends and family, and threw a jewelry party at my house to sell my jewelry.
i had to do something to make niki feel good about niki, you know? i had to be productive. me being creative helped to give my days focus. i would get up, take my son to school and come home, apply for jobs, and work on my jewelry like it was my job. i even gave myself a lunch break until it was time to pick dutch back up. it gave my days some kind of meaning. i’d listen to my mp3 player or put on records and get busy.
i’m a realist, but a high-key optimist, as well. i’ve never felt that whatever my current situation was just my ultimate destination. never. i’m not a woe-is-me person at all. i’mma, “oh, so going left didn’t work? lemme go right and zigzag-y and turn all about and see what happens” kinda person. it’s just the way i’m built. i don’t give up.
oh, so e’erythang just gon’ fall apart on me? ok
then 2013 came and shit hit the fan. i was still jobless and if things couldn’t get any worse my marriage fell all the damn way apart. as bad as things already were and as much i was purposefully keeping myself in a good space mentally, now things were bad bad. like, really bad ’cause ain’t nothing like a lil’ heartbreak peppered over your unemployment, ya know?
i don’t wanna be all langston hughes, “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” but yeah, nothing, and i mean, absolutely nothing was buttery smooth during that time. in fact, 2013 was the worst year of my life ever up until that point. i left my husband…twice. long story but that’s what happened.
after moving myself and dutch to my father’s home i worked a couple part-time jobs that helped bring in some income. i made a few dollars but i was beyond stressed like i had never been stressed before. most days i literally survived by eating a couple boiled eggs and smoothies with avocado. i lost a ton of weight and weighed 125lbs on a good day. i’m a tall chick. it wasn’t cute. even a then eight-year-old dutch started asking if i had eaten.
so, ummm, who am i again?
by the end of 2013 and for all of 2014 i barely even recognized the woman i had become. and not just because of the weight loss. i was making decisions that were so out of my character. i was putting my own needs so far back on the backburner i couldn’t even see them anymore. and i was putting others’ needs squarely on my shoulders as constant reminders of what i needed to be doing in order to get a speck of love and respect that i never ended up getting anyway.
my life was spinning spinning spinning out-of-control and i couldn’t stop it.
when you were a kid you probably used to blow bubbles, right? remember how you’d try to catch them? some would fly away out of your reach, some would pop? it’s impossible to catch all the damn bubbles. that was my life. i could not catch all the damn bubbles and what’s worse is i looked like an absolute crazy person for even trying to in the first place.
i wish there had been a trailer put out for the bs i was about to encounter. a good ol’ *COMING SOON* to niki’s life would’ve helped a sista out a lot. but nope, no warning at all for all the many twists and turns and itty bitty highs and a bunch a damn lows and bullshit i never thought i’d have to deal with that was heading smack dab to my face like a snowball with a rock in the middle.
2014 ended with a nasty boom and early 2015 was pretty much the same. then 2015 went into this twilight zone kinda time period where my then husband and i started dating and reconciling and all that. everything was feeling all brand new, and lovey dovey and like 1997 all over again so by 2016 we were looking to buy a house. 2017 we bought one. 2017 he left.
then came the non-stop whirlwind of drama drama drama. as a nice thick creamy icing to the drama cake i had a job, got a new, better, closer job, lost the job and got a new one again. still doing web work. thanks, myspace!
when i look back i can’t even believe all this was my life. like, for real, for real.
in fact, roll that back…please. was that really niki’s life?
indeed it was. it’s amazing that i have a lick of sanity left.
but…i have learned a lot about people over the past six years. most of this shit i ain’t even need to know. or maybe i did. i’m sure that it will all be helpful sometime in the future. i mean, i have stacks on stacks of experience on bullshit and fuckery that you just can’t learn by jollying through life and that’s gotta be worth something, right?
2019 – divorce.
look, sometimes divorce is amicable and peace and flowers and well wishes and a handshake or friendly hug to your former spouse at the courthouse complete with nice to know ya’s and have a nice life’s. but then sometimes it ain’t. it’s just ugly and volatile and vile and turbulent and just a drama-filled mess. that’s what mine was. i mean, even the word “peasant” was tossed out there and who even says that?!?! like, c’mon…what in the shakespearean times is going on here?!?!
after 15 years (almost to the date), it ain’t even have to be that way.
or maybe it did.
i’m leaning towards the thought that sometimes you can pray and pray and pray for something and because God has granted us free will to make our own choices in this life we’ve been given and if it feels good for awhile we choose to call it a blessing. deon cole spoke about this in “cole hearted” stand-up special. you know, just ’cause you found some weed or feel lucky enough to have five girlfriends don’t make you blessed. God had nothing to do with that.
we feel like our prayers have been answered and it’s a blessing because it’s what we want. but nah. it ain’t what God wants for you. He allows it to happen because there’s a lesson in it for you. you went through it to learn a thing. and you’ll continue to repeat the same exact cycle and patterns until you’ve learned it.
the lesson for me is that for half my life i was believing something that just never was. it was all just a figment of my graaaaannnnd imagination blended with my romanticized version of events. love will do that to you. but it was really like some matrix bs and i obviously took the red pill when i should’ve taken the blue, or maybe just turned the whole damn movie off from the jump.
the lesson was for me to start believing what i was actually experiencing, not what i wanted the experience to be. so my bad. i had it all wrong, all along.
life is indeed like a box of chocolates
my life is a little different from when i first started this blog. i’m a single mama of a teen now. i’m older. wiser.
i’m steadily tapping back into things i used to love before i became a mama. before i was ever somebody’s wife. that woman who just enjoyed life. and loved to write and paint everything in the house, curtains and all. when i played all my favorite music loud while burning nag champa and patchouli incense, and lit candles everywhere. and wore what i wanted and didn’t give a damn about what somebody thought. the days when i got cute and hung out with my friends and laughed at dumb shit till my cheeks burned.
i’m reconnecting with that niki and mixing her with this grown ass niki of now. the one who doesn’t feel obligated to do anything i don’t wanna do just because somebody else wants me to do it. i no longer feel the need to respond to every negative comment thrown my way.
i relax when i need to and if i wanna stay in bed all day and do nothing then that’s what i’m gonna do. i still blast my music most of the time, but oddly enough, i enjoy the quiet just as much. never again will i put myself in a position where i have to check off a list of someone’s wants in order to earn the love and respect that i deserve as a woman, partner and mama. and, i wear big ass drawls when i feel like it because they’re comfortable dammit and when i feel like i want to thong it out for the day i do that too.
mama’s still got moxie
can i just say i was so damn on point when i named this blog? for real, for real, i always had moxie, whether i felt like it every day or not.
i have always believed in me.
i have always held true to my values and morals and never wavered.
i have always stood up for myself, and i don’t back down for nobody. never have. have i had weak moments? absolutely. in fact, i have had absolute cringe-y, pathetic moments. i’m human. and as a human i look back like, “damn, nik, did you really do that?” moments. yep, i did. and guess what? i’ve reconciled all them shits with me and i’m okay with it. it happened. whatev.
my life has been and will always be about learning and growing. it’s about getting knocked down a bunch of times, but standing up hella more times. i’m gonna always show up for me you can bet on that.
it’s about being the best daggone mama i can be to grow this child of mine into a respectable, God fearing man. that’s my prayer.
it’s about embracing my imperfections. slow walking and taking it all in. the past couple of years have been about healing and dealing. i have had to just sit with me and my thoughts. my dreams. my wants. my aspirations. in fact, i’m afraid of folk who can’t just take time to sit with themselves. if they’re scared to be by themselves then i’m scared to be with them. how i’mma feel safe with you if you’re scared of you? just a thought.
i love the ones who love me, and i close the door on those who don’t. periodt.
basically, my life is about maintaining this moxie of mine.