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It takes a village

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I am so excited to celebrate women’s history month featuring a couple of the amazing women in my village! I have been extremely blessed to have always had a large village and to be surrounded with love. This week’s #SundaysWithTot features my Mom’s baby sister, my Auntie Crissy! My Auntie Crissy has always been hilarious! She was the Aunt that would teach me the latest dances for my school dance to letting me crash at her place to cry over my first heartbreak. We have been through it all! Just like with every relationship we have had some tough moments, but love continues to TRUMP all in our family. I am thankful to stand on the shoulders of some AMAZINGLY strong women who I still pull from to this day. I invited her to share her perspective on what it means to be a village for her nieces and nephews in a cool Q & A. Reading her answers had me in tears, I am thankful to have this opportunity. Read along….warning, you may need some Kleenex!

 Here’s we go…..Enjoy!

What’s something that amazes you?

Unconditional love is AMAZING to me. It’s a rare find that someone can love and support you with all of your imperfections. Unconditional love is the biggest gift I can receive. To encounter people who love you “in spite of” means that all other concerns can be conquered. Jesus, our Lord and Savior was and is the BEST example known to man.

What do you think about more than anything else?

The future of my children. As a parent, you want to raise good people. God-fearing, genuine hearted, hard-working people.

Who has had the greatest impact on your life and Why?

My mother has had the greatest impact on my life. She was a woman who took pride in being a good wife, a loving Mother of six children with very different personalities, an Aunt to a host of nieces and nephews and a mentor to many friends and loved ones. I think the character that made people gravitate to my Mom was her ability to be open. My Mother grew up in a very strict household and in turn raised her children in a very strict household. But she was very open to other people’s journeys.  She had a rare ability to encourage other people to be better while never making them feel looked down upon. She took time to encourage people to have a relationship with God while never judging their prior decisions and choices. That for me is that unconditional love that I find so amazing! No one is perfect but if you can have that type of character while remaining a relationship with God…. is so POWERFUL. I just want to embrace that every day. That is one of the biggest tools that you can have while working in a village.       

What is the latest lesson you have learned?

The most recent lesson I’ve learned was to TRUST GOD! The last half of 2016 was not kind to me, but having made it through, regardless of the bumps and bruises, I know that it was God that will continue to see me through. I was put in some of the most vulnerable situations in the shortest period of time so that I could be so overwhelmed that I could only rely on Him. I feel like God strategically let so many people “let me down” to make sure I knew it was ALL Him in my journey of restoration.

We always here “It takes a village to raise a child” what does that saying mean to you?

“It takes a village to raise a child” has been a familiar term to me since I was little girl.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I understood the meaning as I saw it transform in front of my eyes. Every child is different. There is not one mold that fits every child, which is what makes any form of progress in a child’s life a success for a parent. As a parent, you have to understand the needs of each child. The only way to understand the need of a child or person for that matter, is to care for that person.

Every approach and method of delivery must match that child’s learning style. What works for one child does not always work for another child. If a parent has a challenge with communicating with their child or helping their children understand certain decisions, you can recruit your village to help deliver your message. When you have surrounded yourself with God-fearing people who want the best for you and your family then you do not have to wonder when they reach out to you, cousin Tati, what they will walk away with. They will be met with a sound, productive, and intelligent response, which is totally needed for them to open up. When you have people that you know have your back and the mindset that you want to instill in your children then you don’t have to worry about them succumbing to the evils of this world, that do exist. So, it is imperative to have that village to help raise your child. Every day it is my objective to be a useful tool within my village to help raise the children around me. This is so HUGE for me.

Who was in your village growing up? What did you learn from them?

In my village, it was my Mom’s sisters! My wonderful Aunts. They were always very supportive to my Mom and her children. Even though they were out of state, there was always a strong connection. They spoke weekly if not more than that, on long distance calls, back when the cost was extra to talk long distance. Lol! They would listen to my Mom as she would complain and share the ups and downs of Mommy life. They would reassure her that they too were experiencing challenges with their children. They let her know that she wasn’t alone. They were there to rally and embrace her. As a parent, I now understand how important it is to have that outlet. If you don’t have that outlet that my Aunts gave to my Mom, it can be very difficult to be whole and be what other people may need you to be.  They always encouraged and supported us and showed us so much, love. I specifically, remember something so special that my Aunt Faye told all of us. She was transitioning and ill and she told us to NEVER EVER SETTLE! That has gone a long way with me. Every day I remind myself, at home, at work, and in life, that I do not have to SETTLE; because my Aunt Faye told me that.

There was also a family neighbor Jessie Black, affectionately known as Granny. She embraced my Mom and Dad and our family because they knew that all of our family was back in Mississippi. She helped any way that she could, from fixing us snacks to seeing us home from school safely. We learned some valuable lessons from Granny from crossing the alley to teaching us how to eat an ice cream cone without making a mess because she knew my Mom hated us to be dirty. I just appreciate those people so much for the support they showed my Mother and our family. It means a lot.

When did you decide that I was your favorite niece? Lol!!!

Hahahahah!! I knew you were special honestly from the moment your Mom told me she was pregnant. I think I was one of the first people that she told because I was the youngest. I remember being totally, TOTALLY (no pun intended) amazed that she was carrying a child.  Connie was a very temperamental during her pregnancy and I was only good for going to get her snacks which included cashew s and Hawaiian punch drinks. I couldn’t be too mean to her because she was having a baby and I was going to have another niece or nephew. We found out you were a girl later on down the line. Once you were born, you had the richest chocolate skin and all of this black curly hair cute as ever and from that day you have always melted my heart. I am so proud of you.  

What is the most difficult part being a part of your nieces’ and nephews’ villages?

The most difficult part is those rare moments when I am not being the “cool, agreeing, on my side Auntie Crissy.” It’s so hard because I always want them to know that I love them, support them, and I have their backs! But, because I do love them, I want to see them in the right direction doing the right thing. I can’t always go against what my sisters and brothers are saying when it’s right. I have to stand with what I feel is right for you because if I don’t then that means I don’t really love you. I never want to be the “not cool” Aunt, I mean you have Cynthia and Connie, my sisters, for that! HA! The largest challenge would truly be you guys thinking that I am against you and not for you when I am always going to love you with all of my heart!

What is the most rewarding part being a part of your nieces’ and nephews’ villages?

The rewarding part is truly a no brainer! It’s the random calls or texts saying, hey Auntie Crissy I am just thinking about you! Also, it is truly rewarding hearing how productive my nieces and nephews are! Getting those invitations to their events, like 40 under 40 for Tot, or being approached by coworkers saying hey, I follow your niece’s blog and seeing how productive and strong my nieces and nephews are growing to be. Seeing our legacy live on is so empowering to me. To finally get to see some of the fruits of our labor and to know that you guys are going to go on and be so much bigger and so much greater as time goes on is totally what’s up!!

What advice would you give to others who are considered to be the village for young people?

I would say to people who are a part of a village is to pray daily. Pray for the right words to say and pray for the right delivery. We don’t always get things to young people the way we may intend to. Most times, we wish that they could just learn from us and not make the same mistakes that we made. We wish they could just go straight for the goal every time, but it just doesn’t happen that way. Make it a point to listen, I am learning that listening is sometimes more powerful than giving advice. The fact that you take the time to listen to a young person means that you care and for that reason when you speak they are open to hearing you because you cared enough to just listen. 

Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or unleash the potential of others? Why?

I am going to give this a shot! I am a person who would build my own empire. I believe that it is important to understand that people grow in their own time. You don’t want to find yourself forcing someone who can’t quite see themselves as you see them. I believe that it’s vital for people to be comfortable where they are. When I build my empire, I know what it is that Crissy does and if someone wants to add to that I love it! It is just not healthy to force people because it can take longer for them to blossom.  I would call on the people that God lead me to call on for certain things. Often, without me even knowing I was unleashing their potential with no stress. 

What in your life has brought or given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment? Looking back, what would you have done differently? 

The thing in my life that has given me the most fulfillment was spending my Mother’s last days with her. To be able to give back to a person who gave so freely of herself was MAJOR for me and my siblings. Just being there. The compassion that I learned during that time changed my life. The things that she once did for me, I was able to do for her and that was exceptionally fulfilling. That has made my grieving process just a little easier to get through because we had our time. I just felt like I had given my all and done the best that I could for her. I was able to deal with losing her just a bit better if that is at all possible.

The thing that I would have done differently is I would have spent a lot more time asking a lot more questions to some people that are no longer with me. The time that I had and the few questions that I asked was just not enough. Every day I just wish I could get an hour with so many different people depending on life’s circumstances. I often have moment’s thinking, I wish I could talk to my Aunt Modenner and ask her this or ask my Big Daddy about building this house and etc!!! It’s so many people that I would have spent more time with if I knew I would have the life that I have today.  Just daily things that I encounter and I know those people would have answers to some of those burning questions for me. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would spend more time asking questions. 

 Looking back over your life, what would you do again?

 The thing I would do again is have my kids! Maybe a different timing, and a few other different circumstances but being a Mother is one of the most rewarding gifts. There are days when you are on your knees before God like HELP! But, there are basic moments that are so special. A simple call or a text puts you back in a frame of mind as to why you have gone through it all. It is well worth it and I look forward to what the years will bring! My 3 kids, I would do again in a heartbeat! I really would!!

Auntie Crissy and her children, my amazing cousins!

WOWZERS!!! Great answers!!

I am so thankful to have learned so much about my Aunt with her insightful answers. Often times the village is overlooked for their contributions to the health and well-being of people.  It takes a village to do everything that we do and I am forever thankful for my village!!

More pics of my family below!!

My Mother in the center and my 2 Aunts!

Auntie Crissy and I

My Mother and Aunts and Uncles

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