Deprogramming the “Marriage” expectation

Deprogramming The Marriage Expectation | Sedruola Maruska

I lived in the East Village of NYC with my Sister and a roommate for almost two years. What an amazing gift it was. We worked, played, partied (cause we lived next door to a club that let us in for free, you know . . . noise) and loved life! It was a dream come true cause every kid growing up in the boroughs of NYC wants to live in “The City”.

Thanks to my sister, I did. I’m 7 years older than my sister which means my crowd at that time was younger. The crowd I’d been hanging with before had all moved on to a different life.

Deprogramming The Marriage Expectation | Sedruola Maruska

So, in the late Winter / early Spring of 2001 I made two life-altering decisions.

I’ve heard that worry is a product of not making a decision. Once you make a decision, no more worry. It works, I do it all the time. . . but I digress. . . because I’m opening up and I don’t know you yet.

It’s like on a first date where you can’t tell all. . . then you drink a bit and all comes out. . . I have that story too, but not for now. . .

Anyway, the first decision was to buy my first apartment, the story of which will be in another post one day I’m sure. The second decision was to date anyone that had nerve enough to asked me out.

Let me clarify something. I’m a New Yorker for life. I’ve moved a lot in my time, but New York City is home. That means, I’ve grown up with diverse people around me all my life. But when it came to dating someone to potentially marry, in my mind he was always black.

Now, let’s go back to living in NYC with my sister and why I made my decisions.

I was tired. Tired of dating, tired of hoping and mostly tired of feeling like I was waiting for something, anything to happen so my life could start.

Ladies, PLEASE stop making your girls feel like they have to find someone to be somebody or do something.

I was 32 years old.

All. . . yes, ALL my friends were married. I was making new younger friends And in constant dialogue with myself to counter messages I’d been getting since my 20’s.

Questions:

– When are you going to get married?
– You’re not married yet?
– Why aren’t you married yet?
– Why aren’t you giving those boys a chance?

On and on and on and on. . . .

Heaven help little girls that keep getting the message that being married is an accomplishment and if it doesn’t happen something’s wrong. It’s a beautiful thing, but too many girls feel it’s the “holy grail” and when they find realities on the other side, well, 50% divorce rate right. . . ?!

Answers (to others):

– When I find the right guy
– No, I haven’t found the right person yet
– Well, I just haven’t found the right guy
– *smile politely* I do, just hasn’t been the right one yet

I was tired of making excuses for useless, inane questions that should never have been hurled at me in the first place. Why are women expected to get married and men expected to get jobs? We’re expected to work UNTIL we’re married then we stay home and raise kids.

Please don’t misunderstand I’m a wife & mother. I fought hard to stay home with my babies when they were  young. It’s a REALLY hard job I get it. I also get that it’s not for everyone. To thrust that expectation on everyone is insensitive. To make it the “holy grail” of a girls life is cruel.

Answers (to myself)

– I’m going to get married when I find a man that I’m truly excited to say I’m going to marry. . . not before.
– I’m not married yet and that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that or with me. I will not marry just any guy that smiles at me
– I’m not married yet because I want to marry for life, not so I can say I was married, but so I can say I AM married and that’s where I want to be
– If they can’t treat me the way I know I should be treated, they don’t deserve to be with me. Jumping through hoops for the rest of my life is not an option

I had that dialogue with myself more than I care to recall. Over and over again I had to deprogram my thinking, my feelings and counter the insensitive questions that came my way.

So I made two decisions in the early Spring/ late Winter of 2001.

The first was to buy my own place because I’m a grown woman with a job and waiting or a man to provide me with a mortgage was stupid. I started looking, found a place I fell in love with in Brooklyn and my sister and I bought it. . . not that quickly (another story) but we did that year.

The second was to date anyone that asked me out. Why did that have to be a decision? Because up till then, marriage potential men were always black in my mind.

So, out loud I said: “I’d rather be in love than alone. So, I will date, with an open mind and heart, anyone who ventures to ask me out.” An intelligent black woman is intimidating to some. I was her. So if a man asked me out, he was at least worth a drink.

I must have done a good job of deprogramming because about two weeks later I went on a pseudo-date (that’s what I called it) with a 6’3 white guy that I’d worked with for a year. We had a great time and we now have a house, two babies and a minivan.

Deprogramming is a bitch. There are so many messages we get along the way that we have to question over an over again so we can get to the person we are truly meant to be.

When I talk to my kids I don’t put expectations on them of what they’ll do in life. I simply expect them to be great humans. Message delivery is so important when shaping young minds. . . so love your girls, allow them to be exactly who they are going to be without the expectation that they need to have a man to be anything.

What’s your deprogramming story? I’m here to listen. . . comment below. 🙂


My worst mother daughter conversation to date

My worst mother daughter conversation to date | Sedruola Maruska

My daughter is five. She’s a bright, inquisitive and observant child, which sometimes leaves my husband and me at a loss for words.

Which is why this mother daughter conversation was a bitch.

It was the afternoon of November 9, 2016 and I was picking my kids up from my mom’s house after a long day at work. They were ready to go home and I was ready to be home, but I stopped in to say hello to my parents and thank them for their help.

My worst mother daughter conversation to date | Sedruola MaruskaWhen I went to greet my mother, we went through the regular niceties then she told me about a conversation she had with my daughter. Now, my mom is extremely proud of my baby girl. She recognizes her “genius” and always tells me stories from the home front. This time was different.

The TV was on and of course the news was streaming that a new person had been elected President. My children were familiar with  and emotional about what was happening.

Now, before you shut down or leave because you think you know where this is going, give me a moment, it’s not going where you may think…

My mom said that she asked my daughter if she knew what was happening. My daughter answered yes.

Grandma: Do you know we have a new president?
Granddaughter: Yes.
Grandma: Do you know who it is?
Granddaughter: Yes, Donald Trump.
Grandma: What do you think about that?
Granddaughter: I don’t like him.
Grandma: Why not?
Granddaughter: He’s not nice, he says mean things, he’s black.
Grandma: Oh, you don’t like black?
Granddaughter: No.
Grandma: You know that your mom is black. I’m black & Papa is black?
Granddaughter: No you’re not, you’re like me.

Pause…sigh

My mom, needless to say, was concerned over this exchange. This is a smart girl and she doesn’t know that her mom and family members are black? She doesn’t know that the newly elected President is not black? Say it ain’t so…

After getting that information on what had already been a trying day, I didn’t have the presence of mind to give a good response to my mom. I also didn’t have the thoughts or words to bring this forth with my daughter. But, it was there, in the background like a song that you really wish you’d never heard, nagging at me.

Forward a few weeks and my daughter and I are in the bathroom styling her hair for school. This was my chance. I was going to explain to my five year old that we’re black and that she should know this for future reference. She needed to know this information because, so many people that made up her genetic code were black. It was my job as her mother and as a black woman to make sure she knew she was black.

So in I went.

Mom: Baby, you know that mommy is black?
Daughter: Really?
Mom: Yes, and Grandma and Papa too?
Daughter: Am I black?
Mom: Yes, you’re my daughter so you’re black.
Pause
Daughter: Mommy, what is black?

Pause…sigh

At that moment I had no answers. At that moment I realized there was something bigger here. At that moment I realized that my daughter was right, in her understanding and programming of what black is, about Donald Trump. He is black.

In her mind black wasn’t about race, it was about character. In her five year old mind, she doesn’t look at, shy away from or love people because of race but because of character. So when my mom had that conversation with her, they were speaking two different languages.

When I had my conversation with her, we were speaking two different languages. Somehow, in her five years, the subliminal societal messages had gotten through that “black” = “bad”. It would be up to her, and those of us who love her, to then counter those messages with “black is beautiful”.

But here’s my question…what is black? When did we decide we were black? Did we decide we were black or was the “label” thrust upon us?

Was the label black placed on us because the world had already started using “black” for “bad” things and since our brown skin was closer to black, and we were “different = bad” we were called black?

It’s one of those random questions that comes up when talking to a five year old and not having the faintest idea of what the answer is. There are a few things I did learn with this conversation: 1) The messages that are getting through are not “favorable” toward black; 2) We spend a lot of our black lives countering the messages that get through early on.

The conversation with my daughter (and son) is beginning, am I ready? Am I ready to not explain the “black race” but to work on fostering the “black pride” the “black strength” that I’ve learned to embrace over the years?

If I’m not, I’ll make myself ready because my five year old thinks a person of flawed character is “black”. When it’s time to reconcile in her mind that she’s black, I’m hoping her 5 year old ideas of black will have been completely overshadowed by the truth.


Happy new year! Let’s do this!

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Sedruolamaruska.com is born | Sedruola Maruska

“I’ve been a loyal follower for a long time, but if you’re going to choose to believe the mainstream media lies I’m unfollowing you.”

That was the catalyst for my change, my truth.

It was Nov. 9th and I’d posted simply that I was sad & I wasn’t going to pretend otherwise. She doesn’t know, but her response woke something in me that can no longer stay dormant.

For a long time I’ve been hiding behind crochet as a crutch. Sure I love the art, but I’ve quieted my “real voice” many times to stay in the safety lane of yarn. You don’t have to talk about real life if you can distract with a free pattern.

What I realized on that day was: 1) I didn’t want to hide… I wasn’t sure why I was hiding in the first place; 2) My truth was mine and worthy of light no matter how you may receive, perceive, interpret or misinterpret it.

So this year, 2017, is my year to explore all that I am and what that means for those around me. . . I’m inviting you on my journey because it is my sincere wish to make you mad, make you cry, make you laugh, but mostly I hope to make us friends. I want to teach, love and support all women #forourdaughters

It’s just underway so please join my list to be informed of the progress…everything starts somewhere, I’m starting here. I’d also love to see you on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook!