WIN a free membership: SCBWI Caribbean South

The Caribbean South chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is giving away two free annual memberships.

All you have to do is submit an unpublished children’s manuscript from any of the islands listed below that speaks about your island’s folklore or draw your very own ‘Tanti Merle’ from Paul Keens Douglas “Tanti at the Oval.”

The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators is a professional information and networking society of over 19,000 authors, agents, editors and illustrators world wide. Based in Los Angeles, the SCBWI is the largest of its kind and has chapters in 200 regions. Our membership package is an invaluable tool for aspiring and professional writers and artists. It includes indispensable ‘how to’ articles and a directory of publishers in the field. One of the best things about SCBWI membership is the networking opportunity it presents to gain fruitful contacts the world over.

The Caribbean South chapter was launched in Trinidad in September 2005 and serves the following islands Anguilla, Saint Maarten, St Barbs, Saba, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Guyana, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Tortuga and Trinidad and Tobago (and everything in-between)

The competition is open to non-members and members alike, and all work submitted remain the property of the author or illustrator.

The deadline to submit is November 1, 2017. 

SCBWI-2017-Competition

For further information and membership details visit http://www.scbwi.org.

 

Marsha Gomes-Mckie, Regional Advisor , Caribbean South

info@marshagomes.com

 

The TV Wife

The TV Wife

553361-557560-man-holding-remote-control-and-watching-television

It’s about midnight and I overslept.

My daughter cradles next to me and I smile as I brush a curl from her face. It was not my intention to share my bed with my daughter, who has a room of her own across the corridor. Nevertheless, she’s seems so happy sleeping with me maybe he’s right, we’ll give her the time she needs to adjust. She needs me.

I long for his touch and ease out of the bed. I move a pillow close to her, she grips it and I hold my breath. “Please don’t wake up,” I whisper, “I need your father now.” She understands and cuddles the pillow and steadies her breathing.

I am off, feet barely touching the ground as I reach the living room and I jump on him. He’s dosing on a mattress in front of the television. I don’t care what he’s watching because I know he’s naked under that towel waiting for me. He laughs as I strip. I’m so hungry for his sweetness and I can barely wait to taste his manhood inside me. The television is turned off as we moan and listen for small cries but she doesn’t get up. Tomorrow is work but I don’t care, he’s so beautiful, I will feast on him until I’m done and I come in an amazing radiance and fall back to earth with a thud.

We lie quietly in each other’s arms and I listen to his heart beat but it doesn’t last. He eases out from under my grip and head to the bathroom. I do the same. I watch the bedroom, she’s sleeping soundly and I go to him again and rest my head on his chest. I want more than sex, I need a hug. Hold me my heart yearns let me lie with you, be more, gave me more.

“Let’s go to bed, there’s more than enough room,” I say.

“You know, I can’t,” he answered. “That bed is too soft for my back; you should go back to her.”

“I’ll stay here then,” I say with a sweet smile.

The television flips back on.

“You know I can’t sleep with the television on,” I groaned, “just a little while longer…”

He’s flipping through the channels and raises the volume. All I get is a dull stare. “Go back to her,” he moans.

My pride cannot ask again and my body shakes as I’m ignored. I move to get up and he pulls me in and kisses my lips. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he grins.

I stare at him; confused and annoyed, I walk away. The corridor seems longer now that I’m walking back and I hold my tears in as I climb into bed and move my face into the pillow. “Move over,” a voice says crossly a minute later.

“Go back to the TV,” I snap.

She jumps and I regret my outburst. He goes to her and holds her close and rocks her back to sleep. He’s a great father and a good man. I chide myself for being so selfish. The things some woman have to endure like smoking, drinking and violence was not my fate, he was just overly preoccupied with the television.

He kisses her gently as he puts her back in bed. I watch him as he moves towards me and kisses me softly once again. This time I kiss back. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he whispers and I nod in agreement and give a faint smile. He walks out of the door and I lay for the next hour watching our daughter and listening to the television. I ask myself over and over what will happen to my marriage when she grows up and out of my bed.

******

My daughter cradles next to me and I move her foot off of my stomach. She follows me around the bed, looking for the warmth. It’s getting to be uncomfortable sharing a bed with a little person who moves and kicks at random but she’s growing well and just started school. She well adjusted the teacher says and far happier than most children. That’s good to know, I guess she gets that from her father he is also far happier than most. He’s married but has his own room and sleeps in front of the television. She moves again and this time I get a hand in my face. I barricade her between three pillows and look for space on the bed to sleep where I wouldn’t wake her but could still dose off.

This master bedroom held so much promise when we first moved in. It was not my intention to share my bed with my daughter, who has a room of her own across the corridor. A room well suited for a child her age, I resolve to try to get her into her own bed once more, with or without her fathers’ help.

I hear footsteps in the corridor and hastily find a spot and close my eyes. My husband walks in and moved towards our daughter and kisses her goodnight. He frowns at the barricade and moves the pillows away. He’s watching me and I know it, but I don’t care, the whore is not on call tonight go screw your television.

In my haste, I’ve moved away from my daughter’s ear and he gets the opportunity to isolate me. He nibbles my ear and kisses my neck. “Come outside,” he whispered and turns me around. I pretend to awake from a deep sleep confused that he’s there and he smiles. Always oblivious to my resentment, could his world be so simple? TV, food, exercise, sex and he’s happy. He smiles as he walks away and I shrug, I should have never opened my eyes.

I walk to the bathroom and stay to long and then walk outside where he’s waiting. I no longer pounce on him with lustful intent; I wait for him to start. I sit quietly and pretend interest in the television. After a while he takes it off and hugs me. The sex is good I never really regret getting up but I leave as soon as we are done. “I’ll see you in the morning,” I say. My heart breaks every time I hear the TV turns back on as I walk away and morns at the thought of how life would have been if we had bonded. If I was able to hear his heart beat with mine all night and breathe with his rhythm. I kiss my daughters forehead as I climb back into bed. Sleep sweet child, I will hold on as long as I can.

******

My daughter cradles her pillow. She’s older now but she still doesn’t want to sleep in her own bed. I’m always stressed and I need to do something about this abhorrence festering in me. I feel like my life is there’s and they will both out live me. Why does being a good mother and wife mean losing me so completely? Look at my husband; he’s practically a bachelor still. He always out, walking, swimming, doing stuff in church and I have become the eternal, keeper of the child. Stueps.

I need to exercise more, to read more; I used to read so much. I wish I could fit into those jeans I brought last year. I don’t even invite friends over anymore. The mattress now resides in the living room and I don’t care to explain why. Life is passing by in this bubble and I morn for it. We don’t talk much at home anymore, just the necessary. We put up a good front when we go out though: the lady and the princess with that handsome man at their side. I am always surprised that even though we dress apart we usually color coordinate. It isn’t deliberate it more of a weird quirk, the universe’s wicked sense of humor saying that we belong when we don’t. We could win the award for the best family on the block, I am sure but when we get home where will we put the trophy? In my room, in my daughter’s room or in his room: there is no family room. Maybe there is no need because there is no family – an illusion of sorts for a woman who doesn’t know her worth.

I’m horny, really horny. I’ve tried cutting my husband off but he’s still in front of the television.  It’s so embarrassing to pick a fight with the TV and lose.

It’s not that late and I curse the clock as I alternate between the moving numbers and the ceiling. The sound of torture echoes into the room as he puts on a movie. It’s a movie I like and if we were on better terms I may have been inclined to go outside and watch it with him. Eat popcorn maybe.

I walk to my closest, so many dresses unworn, so many pieces no longer fit. I wish I had places to where these dresses; to dance with a man who looks deep in my eyes and sing “Mere Cherie Amore.” I start to wonder about the men I didn’t choose, what were they up to? Were they men who slept with their wives or in front of the television? Maybe I could start over; maybe I could explain to the child why daddy doesn’t live here anymore. Maybe I could find myself again. It wasn’t a maybe I had to, soon she would be moving to her room and what would be my excuse then. He isn’t going to sleep with me and I’m not sleeping in front of the TV all night, every night so it was time to prepare for the inevitable.

I take the sexy skinny jeans out of the closet and hang it on the door. It’s time to fit back into this. It is time to prepare to move on. I can’t sleep; the determination to ask for a divorce keeps me awake. When the house quiets I venture out into the corridor, my feet barely touching the ground.  I take the remote and lower the TV which is my nightly routine but today I stand there and I stare at him as he sleeps. I love him, he ignites a fire in me but I can’t understand him. I move to wake him wishing to kiss him, needing his touch. My eyes fall on his phone, and I pick it up quietly and run through the calls and texts. He been calling his exes and everyone but me. I read the texts as he sleeps not caring if he awakes, nothing incriminating, and nothing to warrant my decision. No proof, nothing to strengthen my accord. I place the phone gently back in place but my mind is already changed, I don’t wake him. We are too different, we always were and we will both survive the split.

******

I’m home. I walk through the door and I spot them in the living room watching a kiddy show both perched on that mattress. I’ve started back writing, joined a group and fit perfectly into these skinny jeans which I wore to my writers meeting tonight. I stayed back a little later than needed. I no longer rush out the door to go to church with them as I usually do and I walked idly with the group and accepted compliments as we waited for transportation.

“Your husband normally picks you up?” One questioned as I kept walking with the group. “True,” I replied, “but some days it just feels good to be alone,” I grinned.

I am taking back my life; father and daughter can take care of themselves. I pass them with a smile and reach the delight of my room. I take a bath and look for a book to read until she’s ready to sleep. My life is so busy now and even though I’ve changed around her room to suit her age, she’s still not budging but I’m not making it a problem. By the time I tuck her in and say goodnight, the TV is off and he’s praying.

He’s been praying more these days, and I’ve been praying less. Is it because I already got my answer? I’m not sure but I still say, “I’ll see you in the morning.”

******

My daughter cradles her pillow as I look at her sleeping in her own bed. Nine years, I’m both relieved and lonely.  The first month my sex life improved and it seemed as if I worried all those years for nothing. He held me close and I began to believe once again but after a month I woke to an empty bed.

Now he doesn’t wait until I’m asleep it’s servicing then return to the TV wife, I don’t know how to leave. I endure.

******

She’s no longer in that room. She’s grown and off to college.

I have a new job now, one that takes me out of the country every month and I’ve met someone. It’s someone we both know, even though he’s younger he’s already divorced and I’m ready to ask for one so why not. The sex isn’t as good as my husband, actually it’s rather horrible. I always close my eyes and think of my husband so that I can reach an orgasm but he holds me close after and we sleep together in each other’s arms until the sunrise rises.

It’s what I wanted but not with him. This isn’t the one and I have to figure out how to end this delicately. I can’t be seen to be the one at fault, I say, I need a clean break first and then we can try again. He’s looks taken aback but he nods in agreement and leaves quietly.

It’s like I’ve gone from bad to worse, I have no plans of ever calling him again.

I can’t help but have sex with my husband when I get back home. He does it so well, he stays tonight all night and I wish he had gone back to the TV because I need to cry.

When I get up he was gone. Sunday morning run as usual with his group. He’ll be back before I know it. Something is different, the TV is in the bedroom, it isn’t plugged in and the remote is wrapped in gift paper with my name on it.

I cry, to little to late. Did I even have the sanity to try this again? My heart wondered if I could find a way and I knew that we could.

I hear the car pull up and watch through the window. It was him he was parked outside the house waiting for my husband. I pulled back and peeped through the curtains. He was telling him. I could see my husband’s hand drop from the handshake as he stepped back and floored him. His face was in shock as he turned towards the house. The news pierced his heart; I could see it in his face and grew afraid. All those years in front of the blasted television and he was still surprised that his wife was unhappy with him, stunned that she had turned to his fool for comfort. He had an affair with the television, the running track and the ocean; always leaving to go to her.

I should have run, I should have hidden but I was tired. I didn’t even care to deny it. My entire life I thought too much and said to little.  I should have broken the TV into pieces years ago, hidden the remote, burnt the mattress but I waited until it was too much to take.

I stopped praying and endured what was not mine to endure. I used my daughter as an excuse and left no legacy of what a real relationship should look like. So I got back into bed, which is where I would have been when he returned and turned my back to the door.

When the door flung opened and he shouted, I said nothing.

When the TV crashed to the floor and he screamed, I didn’t move.

He packed his clothes and the car sped off an hour later and I lay quietly praying for my life.

He never came back.

I never brought another television.

There is nothing more to endure.

I have time to read my books.

THE END

This is a short story that I wrote this morning when I considered an alternate reality asking myself: What if I was this woman, how would things work out? or could it work out? Next week I’ll do another one. I hope.

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Parenting and Intimacy

I tend to always put my daughter’s needs over my husbands’ and I am sure he isn’t mad at me for it because he does the same. When it was just both of us in the house we had a wonderful sex life that explored and tested every piece of furniture in the house (big smile).
Now as a parent of a very clingy child, keeping the passion alive has become harder but not impossible. It’s no longer passion on impulse but it’s scheduled, which sounds horrible but it has the same end effect, so why fuss over it. The main point is that we maintain our intimacy, which drives the passion. One day our daughter will be gone and it will just be the two of us and if we don’t find a way to keep the passion alive during that transition we may even find ourselves divorced, before she grows up.
Parenting is very important but marriage is also important and so many times we choose one over the other because we have work and bills and school stuff… and the one most women choose is parenting. (Splitting with husband ‘is not a major worry for over-40s’).
I always say that of all the reasons to break up, lack of intimacy isn’t going to be on my list as it gives me a welcomed release to the day as much as it gives him. So I will love to find out ways in which parent’s keep the intimacy alive.
Cover - Copy
My Debut Novel Lightning Fire: The Blue Moon’s Calling (Book 1) is out and available on Amazon and Smashwords.

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Marsha
http://www.marshagomes.com/romance-novels.html
“Life is in the Living and the Giving”

The battle against the little ones

Do I want my daughter to be the type of person who questions limitations, who goes against the crowd, who tries out new things and doesn’t take no for an answer? Do I want her to dance when everyone else is sitting and sing when everyone else is reading? Do I want her to use her imagination and think out of the box?  The answer is yes, but not always now when I am trying to finish a job for a client, or when I’m rushing out the door in the morning, not when the alarm hasn’t yet rung and I am getting my final bliss of sleep. However life seldom works that way.

I looked up at five o’clock this morning and heard a voice, far too loud for the morning quiet announcing that she wanted something to drink. It was not really a request but a bold statement of fact. So I stayed still, and surveyed the little one with what I hoped was becoming my dreaded my mummy eyes. She did not falter, she announced that I had a hole in my jersey which led to an investigation of where the hole went – the hole nonetheless was the result of same said little being a few weeks ago whose memory conveniently comes and goes. She then began an impromptu song about being the last hero which ended in a soprano shriek in decibels that I could not decipher. I remained calm, knowing full well that my will was being tested. I too thought about a drink and was momentarily comforted that there are some things I didn’t have to share just yet.

I received a series of kisses and then I heard a short quiet breath of impatience which ended in a loud resonating, “Mayed(sic) I have something to drink please? I replied, as calm as the morning air, ‘Of course,  and headed towards the kitchen. We chatted about her sleep and her day ahead and I reminded her that she didn’t have to shout for me to hear her. Even though her eyes didn’t seem convinced of the fact she replied. ‘Yes mummy’.

I smiled, knowing full well that we would have this conversation again tomorrow.

We often forget that our little ones see the world through us; they test us to judge how other people will react to them. It’s not always because they are being rude but because we are a safe sounding board. If she tells me a joke and I don’t laugh, she may not be brave enough to tell anyone else that joke. For them we are the box that they are trying to think out of, we are people who are sitting so they have the urge to stand. Our home, our jobs, our perimeters are not their destination, it’s their starting point to move forward; to find their own.

If we are lucky, they’ll leave and realize our grass was green, and they will decide that their version of green will encompass what was important to us as well.

If you want your child to be the type of person that questions limitation, that goes against the crowd, who tries out new things and doesn’t take no for an answer? You need to understand that one day he/she will tell you no, he/she will question your limitations. That day will come, if you grew then strong enough, wise enough and brave enough, all you have to be concerned about is your reaction when it happens.

I have indicated to my daughter that I wouldn’t move unless she asked properly for something. She usually gets juice n the morning, sometimes without asking, but she’s developing a personality, she’s testing me. I am her world right now so I am also her ‘guinea-pig’ (as they say); she finds great joy in trying to wear me out, to see if I would break my resolve. There is mischievousness in her spirit, which is very much like her father, who makes me smile. I see it; I understand it even though she may not. In keeping my resolve I am teaching her a lesson, in letting her develop her spirit without shouting or condemnation I am also teaching her a lesson.

I am not concerned with her antics; she is a child, just as I was.

I am concerned with my response.

I ask her opinion openly about many things and other things are rules, for safety and my sanity. We will not always be together so I want to set the trend but allow her to be herself comfortably so that when she is alone it becomes second nature.

XXX

Who has the time and energy to be Mother Theresa, everyday?

donating-to-charity

How do we start to give? Will we be able to maintain the momentum? Are we really ready to open ourselves up to what giving entails?

Many people, including me, hesitate to give the homeless money because we don’t know what they’re going to do it (we ask ourselves why are they homeless, are they on drugs and why can’t they get a job). I would rather give money to a charity, or buy a ticket for a show or something impersonal that does not require forming an attachment to an individual. I’m a good person; I just don’t want to get too involved with goodness.

That’s the lie I’ve been telling myself for a while. I am the type of person whose mind goes into overdrive on approaching a homeless person or beggar and you see the dilemma on my face, take out my wallet or walk faster.  I’ve struggled with giving to strangers because I am afraid that they will follow me home, that they will remember me next time I pass and ask me directly for money or worst case become violent, if I start and then stop giving them. I want to give but I always hesitate.

I would like to become the power of one, to give without hesitation, I rather suspect that giving isn’t only about the people who we give to; it’s also about building our own character. Finding our own personal inner salvation, this isn’t about religion or redemption, but just good living.

Giving isn’t about sympathy, giving is about strength of heart and of mind. The strongest of us give everything they have to move our generation into new levels of thinking, of caring.

Giving has been glamorized over the years but I ask you today to take GIVING back to its rightful place, around the FAMILY TABLE.

You and your family should come together to give, you may be out of pocket of a few dollars but what you create is a life-long memory that your children will take with them, an indelible lesson that will attach itself to your child’s character, which will become a priceless souvenir that will help them understand the true meaning of life.

Making a difference no matter how small brings great returns to your family life. So sit with your family and find an avenue to give, whether it is a charity or a home or a needy family in the neighborhood. Let the entire family as a team volunteer once a year or more to prepare a meal for home, clean up a beach, do a charity walk, and let it be natural. If you like animals work in that area, if you like nature – do something to save the environment. There’s no right or wrong way to give as long as you make it a family effort.

A great charity to support is Charity Water and I have signed up to build a well or two, donate to my campaign today at http://mycharitywater.org/trinidadcarnival2013 and start giving.

The Secret to Girls

girls

Growing up, I was one of the few persons whose father and mother lived in the same house. However my mother for the most part stayed at home and my father worked, therefore my mother was in charge of the ‘child rearing’ or ‘children stuff’ or ‘children matters’. My father was always resting, or needed quiet time or was watching television or had friends over that the children shouldn’t be near. He always seemed to be protected in a sense, from the mannerisms that were his children.

Did I mention that he had four girls and one boy!

… and so it began the quest of sorts to figure out who this man was and why I couldn’t bother him the way I bothered my mother. Growing up I watched him constantly, waiting for an opportune moment to tackle him, to capture his attention with an odd dance or a drawing (when my mothers’ watchful eyes were not looking). As I grew older I resented him, I was silently angry that he didn’t notice my brilliance. I then grew silent and unconcerned, our conversations were merely “pass the remote, please”; do you know where the remote is; occasionally he would ask, and “where is your mother and I would answer? There was no deliberate socialization however even in my pretend silence I yearned to figure out who my father was, he seems a continent far away and it haunted me.

As I became a parent of my own, I began to understand what providing for us girls may have been like and I began to read books and theories and allowed different perspectives into my psyche. I began to see the merit in our relationship. The stability he brought to the family and I consciously decided to expand our conversation whenever we met.

I was pleasantly surprised to know that my father knew of my brilliance, he kept track of everything in my life. He was proud, but his generation didn’t speak it, you have to pry it out of them.

The book “You have what it takes” by John Eldredge says it well. Every little girl is asking one basic question just like your boys, but it is a different question. You observe it in everything she does. She is asking Am I lovely? Do you see it, can you confirm it? As she grows you notice it in the games she plays, the movies she watches, and the songs she likes. At the end of every princess movie, the prince realizes that the princess is lovely, he sings and shouts out loud that he delights in her, that she is the one and everyone else is in awe. Walt Disney’s storyline for its princess movies are specifically engineered to capture the imagination of little girls, it is not a coincidence, it is a science.

All through the years your daughter is spinning, dancing, dressing up and, trying to look beautiful; crying when she feels she isn’t and she is trying to capture your attention. She wants to know, Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for? She looks to the most important man in her life to answer it, her father. And the answer should always be YES!

A woman’s confidence is what gets her through life not her beauty or her talents. There is always someone who may be better than her, more talented, with more potential. However that never decides the race. Every princess has an inner dragon, a fire that burns to the depth of her being that says I will, I can and I will see you at the finish line.

Isn’t it wonderful that as a father you have been chosen to lay the foundation for the flame?

The truth is if you don’t answer the question, she will keep asking it until she gets an answer. Some of us are lucky to find God who answers our inner question and some of us are still asking the question, always getting the wrong answer.

Have you ever met a beautiful woman who had potential just pouring out of her but she was in an abusive relationship – no confidence, so far down the wrong road that you don’t know how to intervene. Psychologists say 9 out of 10 times they can track it back to her relationship with her father. If you don’t answer her questions another man will.

A mother shares everything with her daughter, she teaches her to be a woman yet there is room for more. My daughter looks to me to pick out her dresses and comb her hair and she is always interested in what I am doing. Every time my daughter dresses up, I sing Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t she lovely” and she blushes and dances and then without failing she turns around and goes to find her father to see if he is also blown away. She knows that if she was wrapped up in newspaper, I would still be singing. I often peak at her as she goes, as if walking down a runway, her eyes are focused on him and I can always tell her fathers reaction when she returns. You can see it plainly on her face she is either completely happy or furlong. Either way she seeks the validation.

In life a man’s greatest fear is failure, he wants to always be up to the challenge, to be worthy but a woman fear is abandonment. We want to be ever in your thoughts, and cemented in your hearts and that fear can cause a woman to compromise her beliefs.

As a father you have to let your daughters know that you will never abandon them, that come what may you will always be with them to pick up the pieces, because you believe in them, you see that they are lovely and brilliant. They will look for spouses who make them feel better than their father and if you set the bar at zero, then any man will do.

I pull one line from the book as I close, “identity, especially gender identity is bestowed by the father. A boy learns if he is a man, if he has what it takes and a girl learns if she is worth pursuing, if she is lovely.

Enjoy your relationship with your daughters, give them confidence and they will do the rest.

Article based on the book “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

Growing Up Boys

A few years ago I bought two books, they were more or less pocket books but I never regretted the purchase. The first was “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul’ and the second which would be focus of this week and next week is “You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs to Know”.

This simple book which takes less than a day to read was given to my husband before we even had children (hint maybe).

This week and next week we will look at Fatherhood, “GROWING UP BOYS” and ‘the SECRET TO GIRLS’.

Article based on the book “You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs to Know”.

dirtydog&boy

We use to sing a song in school: What are little boys made of? Frogs and snails, and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of.

It’s because boys and girls were always different and it’s not just socialization. I have one brother who is the youngest in our family and for as long as I can remember; he would disappear on our conversations and roll his eyes at our choices of movies. He has mastered the art of the blank stare and his prized possession is his room because it means he has an escape.

Some people may disagree but if you leave children to play unfettered by your suggestions, you will notice that boys gravitate to games that either maime the toys or dismount the toys. My husband came home one day and after glancing at our daughters toys, he asked “Abijah was here?” (my nephew), I replied “yes how did you know?” He open is hands to reveal a toy car which after a year with our daughter was still in prime condition, which was now missing a wheel, bumper broken and had remnants of biscuits and juice.

That was just exhibit A, there were more. Which my daughter gladly brought, one by one for her father to fix, she was thrilled that he would endeavour to fix them on her behalf.  So now, I have a list of toys to hide on play dates (especially the model cars, the fact that Barbie had less hair was a non-issue).

The book says that every little boy asks the same question, the one that his father alone can answer. Why, because psychologically he wants a man to answer it, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your mother is, she can’t give you firsthand experience about being a man. It doesn’t mean that a mother can’t answer life changing questions. A mother teaches unconditional love, and mercy. A mother is a child’s harbor, the safe place that they will always find no matter how old they get, so a mother’s role is essentially to love you so much that you would understand fully who God is. That is why I always say a mothers’ love is divine.

A father however provides a child with identity, “to know thy-self” (both girls and boys). In 2000 CNN ran a story entitled: “Father figures help tame rampaging young elephants”, it was later made into a documentary. The heart of the story was that in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa there was a particular herd of elephants with 17 orphaned males. These males hit musth or puberty as we would say – a state of heightened aggression and sexual excitement fueled by surges of testosterone that all elephants experience and killed more than 40 white rhinoceros, and was really wreaking havoc on the park.

The rangers decided to introduce older males into the herd and it worked, the killings stopped and the musth was shortened. South African animal experts noted that father figures had a calming effect on aggressive young males, and more particularly if they are bull elephants. They needed role models to form their identity.  (Biggest Big Brother programme)

Nature teaches us so much.

The voice of a father answers the question that every boy will ask in a thousand different ways over his lifetime. Do I have what it takes? Every father will get the opportunity to answer this in a thousand different ways and must always be ready to say. Yes, you have what it takes to be a man; there is no one more powerful than you; there is no one smarter than you; you were created in God’s image; you’re awesome; you can do it; you’re a machine go for it.

The author gives an example of a rock climbing event he went to with his sons, the noted that one of his sons was climbing and getting a little difficulty, so he pumped up his cheering to boost his confidence. He said, “Way to go Sam! You’re looking good. You’re a wild man!” His son finished the climb and he clip in his other son and started cheering again. The moment was out of his mind but he said his son Sam sidled up to him and asked in a quiet voice, “Dad … did you really think I was a wild man up there?”

What would have been your reaction? Miss the moment and you’ll miss his heart forever. Until a man knows he is a man, he will forever be trying to prove he is one, while hiding from anything that might reveal he is not. Most men live haunted by the question or debilitated by the answer they have been given. Boys grow into men and the sad truth is that no one may have answered your question as a child and today you have to answer it for your children.

The family was meant to answer our core questions, to give us that foundation. However, we have generation to generation, finding temporary identities in television characters, in music, in gangs, in money, in drugs and in sex.

I truly believe in the importance of fathers, as a woman I want to be the best mother I can be but I don’t want to be the voice of the father and the mother.

So fathers, please know that your voice is the most powerful voice in the world … because you have the ability to shape your children’s character. They look up to you; you amaze them; you represent power and approval. It doesn’t matter how old your children are they still want to hear it. They want to know what you think of them, their talents, their progress, their failures; they wonder at your silence and long for your validation.

Your belief in them, gives them strength to shine brighter because they feed off of your reality.

No one will have the impact on your sons that you have.

No one!

You are the man of the house, you have what it takes.

Are you the perfect parent?

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My daughter is my passion, there is a book entitled “I loved you before you were born’ and that describes my love for her. My husband and I aren’t young parents. Parenthood came in our thirties, at a time when we both were permanently employed, upstanding members of society. We are logical, mature and responsible and we both agreed that being a parent is extraordinary and trumps everything else.

Yet, I would have to say in my three years experience as a mother, I am definitely not in line to get the prize for mother of the year.

I came across a book of few days ago entitled “Sh*tty Moms” and I jumped. No one wants to be a sh*tty mom on purpose, against my indignation I read the description and realized that the name was really a pun of sorts. The book truthfully and openly shed light on the imperfection of the parenting experience, having not read the book myself; I refer you to quote by someone who has: The most inappropriate parenting book I’ve ever read. Loved it. The perfect book for any mother who wants to laugh instead of cry at those cringe-worthy moments and the universal indignities we experience on a daily basis.”

I spent the rest of the day thinking about my sh*tty mom moments which I will share with you. My daughter fell off the bed before she was one month old (and in her three years of life has hit the ground on a number of occasions); actually she fell off the banister just last week. I have used the Television to babysit and have a stash of $10 toys that I use for distraction and bribery, when all else fails Dora the Explorer does the job. I am horrible at discipline, (if it can’t maime her, I’ll probably let her try it). I will allow her to powder the entire house, if it means that I can get half an hour with a book.      

I remember leaving her with the powder one day and she skated straight into the kitchen cupboard (that was the end of the powder). Another day she was packing her tea-set into the oven (yes, the real oven in the kitchen) and somehow the stove fell over on her (that was also the end of playing in the oven).  

My husband has also had his sh*tty dad moment.

One day I was working late and I got a call which more or less went like this;

“Do you have the spare car key on you?”

My answer was yes. 

His reply was “Come now! I just locked Christiana in the car”.

I literally ran out the door. 

It took me 20 minutes to reach the grocery car-park, I was so angry but when I reached my husband was standing in the rain, leaning on the car window, reassuring my daughter that he was still there, trying to stop her from crying because she was safely buckled up in her car-seat. His face was morbid.

I didn’t say a word because I knew nothing I could say could make him feel worst.     

You must be saying by now, this poor child has lunatic parents. We don’t wake up in the morning with deliberate aspirations to screw up her life; I actually pray to be a good mother every single day and my husband prays even more than I do. I listen every morning for her to wake up and greet her with a smile to start the day; days are full of hugs and inhibitions and yet I have my sh*tty mom moments and cringe when I make a mistake.

Bill Cosby noted that “in spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck and, of course courage”.

My husband isn’t the type of man who waits for me to get anything done for our daughter, he cleans diapers, he gives baths, and he baby sits. In addition to that, he inspects, there has never been a scrap, a bounce or a mark on my daughter that has evaded his eyes which usually comes back to me with twenty questions. He isn’t rude about it but he asks. It is his responsibility to ask, his caution is so renowned that my mother usually says to my daughter “don’t do this to fall, for your father to come and ask questions.” 

That is why I cannot understand how a father living in the same house with the child would say he didn’t notice his child was being beaten. Even more heart wrenching is the fact that in the situation I am talking about, the child at age two, met her death at the hands of her own mother.

I have always been a fiercely independent person, very serious, very goal orientated. When I became pregnant my sister noted that it was the first time in all our years that she had ever seen me smile at nothing. As my body grew – my belly swelled and my feet grew a size – there was another kind of growing going on inside me, a deeper more determined growth. My heart was growing, my soul was finding humanity. I became more sympathetic to my co-workers, I started eating in the office kitchen at peak hours, I visited my parent more often, I called my siblings and I became a better wife.

The mere thought of this child brought unimagined joy, and it grew daily. When she was born I stayed awake for the next 48 hours (until I left the hospital), I was afraid that I would close my eyes and she just wouldn’t be there anymore. I love my husband, but this love was different it was fierce, protective, unrelenting, it was as if piece of my heart had walked out of my body into the world. It is only at that moment I truly understood how a man named Jesus could die on a cross for an undeserving world.

My daughter innocently ran out into the main road one evening and I was right behind her, I was perfectly aware that there may be oncoming traffic but I also resolved, in that split second that any traffic would have to hit me first. Motherhood is profound, the joy and sorrow of it is divine. Some of us are great mothers with natural ability, others like me are novices with all heart, who need to take it one day at a time and sad to say, some are so far off the path that the repercussions jolts society. I wish I would never hear about a child being beaten to death again which is the highest form of injustice because the victim has no defense.

I know that wishes without action or any plans usually bring no results. Our society is tearing apart at the level of the family. I would gladly pay more for gas, if it meant more family counselors and more family interventions. I would pay my own school fees if it meant a decrease in domestic violence and cruelty to children.

I don’t have much answers and I didn’t launch this Magazine because I am a guru on family matters but more so because I realized that I needed support and advice. There is so much that I don’t know, and if you know more than I do, then I will accept your help. Margaret Mead said that ‘nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we’ve put it in an impossible situation.’ As parents we need to ask for help. Pride continues to be breed and harvested, communities no longer get involved and this has become the norm.

I sometimes wonder how younger mothers make out, who haven’t really grown into their own, who are single, whose parents aren’t still alive. I have a friend who works in Port of Spain and lives in Siparia; she has two children and leaves home at 4:30 a.m. and returns home by 7:00 p.m. I ask myself daily, how are parents and children surviving in Trinidad and Tobago?

Pride and economy is overpowering our convictions.

As a nation, I would like to see more red-flags, more opportunities for reform more family interventions. I am not a perfect mom and for every sh*tty moment I have, I have 10 great ones to replace it.

As parents let us learn to ask for help.

Let us make sure that our family adds value and we are not called upon to account for our children, be it dead or alive.