Challenge: Raising kids is stressful. Let’s share ways to make it less so.Putting myself First
I died many times in my life, and so when I was revived, I cherished every moment of my life. Some of you have died a thousand times or you are on life support. You ignore those headaches, those backaches, those numbness in your fingertips and the hair loss.You accept trials and tribulations and you put aside your dreams and aspirations because you are afraid to take one leap of faith. Even if you fail. Some of you work like a mule. You keep going and going and going like that energizer bunny, because no one told you that it is okay to just say HELL NO.
My story is no different than yours. Maybe a little bit rougher, maybe not. I began my adult life at 18. Always seeming to attract the money guys, I had me a sugar daddy. He was about 16 years older than I. Learning about life at an early age prepared me for the world. Had it not been for those snakeskin shoes, those exotic nights in lavish hotels down town and New Jersey, and those get away trips out of the country, I would have been a regular teenager growing up in Harlem.
I had three apartments before I was 21. I worked for the City of New York, at Sydenham Hospital, in the Personnel Department until I transferred to the Radiological Department. When the hospital was forced to close I transferred to Gouveneur Hospital in Chinatown. I worked as a unit clerk in the Skilled Nursing Facility attending to the needs of geriatrics. It was there at that hospital, that I received a better understanding of the elderly. Through my administrative experience I was shown first hand how your life can mean nothing to many when you are unable to do for yourself. After a year I transferred to the Department of Environmental Protection moving up administratively via civil service exams, while simultaneously attempting a modeling and music career. By 1985 I attended Borough of Manhattan Community College at night and on my lunch hour. While on vacation I obtained a sales position at Paragon Cable. While there I became involved with tv production and had an opportunity to produce then host a music video talk show. That was an experience and I was the only female doing it at the time. Paragon Cable is now Time Warner Cable. I obtained an AAS in Business Management, and thus was determined to create my own production company. I had no money, maybe two or three partners (family and one friend) but a whole lot of goals and dreams and starving artists. I then attended City College of New York and became engrossed in the politics of the school.
I received my Bachelors degree in Communication film and video. While trying to maintain a relationship and getting over the fact that my mom died from pancreatic cancer. I fought the music industry that did not respect the writing talents and singing talents of myself and my artists. I had to fight constantly to get revenues. Why some artists are not fighting for their royalties is strange to me, but this Harlem born quiet warrior was not going to let anyone get the best of me.
As time went on I became extremely bored. I wanted more with my life and decided to quit my City job and commit full time to being a producer. Whether this was a good idea or not, I had to do it. In the process of me trying to end a romantic relationship that I felt was going no where, I became pregnant with twins. Did this put a halt in my dreams, no but it did limit my life as my pregnancy became extremely hard to bare. I was constantly ill, weary, depressed, anxious and felt alone. Although my childrenʼs father was one hundred percent in their lives once they came into the world, he was the worst person to me. If you are pregnant, you must be treated with respect, with care or else the unborn child will suffer. I had my twins when I was only 6 1/2 months. They were one pound eight ounces and 2 pounds. Of course they were in the neonatal ward for months. During this time I was working, going to college, managing recording artists, writing songs with the Get Fresh Crew Producer/DJ Barry B, working with Mary J Bligeʼs manager Kurt Woodley, and promoting cast parties with my partner Milkman Tod Montero (actor from the movie the Super starring Joe Pesci).
When my partner Tod was murdered I became extremely withdrawn from the entertainment industry. I removed myself from it and began working again as a word processing operator in corporate America. Never did I have maternity leave, never was I ever recommended therapy, and no one told me that depression was a symptom that should be monitored. I went on my life as if nothing was wrong.
Like many of you out there with goals and dreams and aspirations, you overlook problematic symptoms of depression, because society tells you that Black women are strong.
Romance was out of the question, because I spent so much time helping artists and being the perfect mother, that a mate never got the chance to prove their love to me. Yes I dated, but when your standards are high, you see through a lot of the debris that is out here. And unfortunately, an educated Black women, attractive with multiple children is not always on the most wanted love list. So there I was, dating but not in any relationship that made me complete.
As time went on, my twins became popular and grew to become great people with their own agenda. But of course as a mother you are constantly worrying and so I did. When society said do not discipline your child I paid society no mind. I was not going to have teens that ran the streets, no no, education was a priority. They are now in college and have become successful in their endeavors and I wish them the best. However, as a woman, I look back and ask, why didnʼt I put myself first? Why did I think only of otherʼs careers? Now I realize that everyone needed me, but I needed me more. The father of my twins is in their life and have traveled with them and has done wonders with them. They tend to depend on him more now than they do me. This showed me that mothers are useful when children are young, but when they grow up, the fathers tend to be more important because the fathers seem to have the time and energy to spend. We as mothers work more and harder, especially single mothers. But no one takes the time to say, “mom, sit down, I will cook for you, I will clean for you, I will rub your feet”. We are always the ones nurturing.
Today, I am exhausted, but I put myself first now. I waited a long time to say “No”, but I say it now. My advice to you. When you are tired sit down, because your body will let you know. Some of us ignore the signs and end up in hospitals with tumors, with depression, without anyone in their life.
It took being in two car accidents 10 months apart, three years ago, while working as an Urban Park Ranger, for me to realize that I had to put myself first. While recuperating I was bored, depressed, in pain and feeling like no one cared. I sat down for the first time and did nothing. But of course doing nothing is not in my blood so I decided to write some books. I had a lot on my mind and I got it out. Then by chance I discovered online broadcasting and was blessed to get a radio show. Now, seven books later, I am here to tell you that it was all worth it. Had it not been for those car accidents, my kids leaving for college, and those ungrateful recording artists, I would not have this wealth of information to give. Yes I have done it all, worked for the City of New York, did temp jobs at BMG, RCA, Warner Chappell Publishing, ING, Volunteers of America, Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, New York Mets. I even worked in the real estate industry, which in my opinion, will eat you up alive if you are not focused and strong.
Through it all, the trials and tribulations, the breakups, the ups and downs of maintaining a lifestyle in New York, I realize that I make a difference. It just took me a few decades to put myself first.
To view tv shows by Darlene Lewis visit www.futurenetworkproductions.com
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Hello, I am a multifaceted individual. I am the mother of premature twins, they were one pound eight ounces and 2 lbs at birth. I am a writer/poet/lyricist and I produce anti violence Public Service Announcements. I am a mentor to troubled youth. www.futurenetworkproductions.com