BOBBI ELLE: BROWN SKIN GIRL…BLACK GIRL MAGIC

Brown skin girl
Your skin just like pearls
The best thing in the world
Never trade you for anybody else
Singin’ brown skin girl
Your skin just like pearls
The best thing in the world
I never trade you for anybody else, singin’…


This song has been on repeat in my home since Beyoncé dropped her album for The Lion King. Hearing the lyrics drives me to tears and makes me happy all at once. Watching my daughter, Bobbi Elle dance around the house while belting the lyrics of the song, brings me joy. The other day I asked her if she knew what the song meant.  “Yes mommy…it means my brown skin is beautiful.”

At 2 years and 3 years old, Bobbi would come home asking for her hair to be straight and long like her pre-school friends. She would ask why she couldn’t be “vanilla.” She would play with her white Barbies and call her black dolls “dirty.” Crazy part is…I used to hear other moms talk about this – but never expected to hear those words from my own child…and at such a young age.

I knew that she was in a pre-school where she was one of one. While she developed the best relationships and friendships that she still has til this day – it clearly affected her to not see other girls like her. She just wanted to be…what she saw.

By the time she was 4 years old, I knew we needed to balance out what she was seeing on a daily basis…and since she loved to dance – I found an African-American ballet studio near where we lived, Be Dance Studios.   I took her by to get her registered – and she looked at the roster of girls and said…“wow…they’re all chocolate.”

Her first few weeks into the program…I would watch her watch the other girls getting ready for ballet class…in awe. Her face told me that this was something new and she was intrigued by it all. I’ll never forget her looking at the girls – all different shades of chocolate…in amazement. It was a pretty telling moment for me.  And I knew we had made the right move.

In her first few weeks in kindergarten – she came home with a school project where she had to write her bio…”About Me.” Her dad had been doing morning affirmations telling her to repeat…“I am smart…My skin is beautiful….I am Kind…I am Special.” So it was only right when she had to fill out “I am special because….” She wrote…

“My skin.”

When I read that…I was so happy…and then I cringed.

This “About Me” bio was going to be put up in the walls of the classroom in time for Back to School Night. What would the other parents think? If I read a white child’s bio that stated they were special because of their skin…I would feel a certain kind of way and that child AND parent would get the side eye from me.

I started to erase her answer that I helped her write…and then…I stopped myself.

I thought about all the times she came home wishing she was “vanilla.” Asking why her hair could not be long and straight like her friends. I thought of the times she called her black dolls dirty.

And I pushed her bio away…looked at her and said…”what do you mean you’re special because of your skin?”

“Because my skin is brown…and its beautiful.”

That was all I needed to hear.

All I could say was “I love that answer, Bobbi” and watched her color in that section of her box…brown.

Everything we said and did in the past year to help her embrace her skin color, her hair and who she was – had kicked in.  And I was not about to unravel that.  She had pride…She was confident.  And she had no shame owning it.  And so should I. We fought too hard and too long to be in 2019 fearful or worried about how others will view of us…for loving ourselves…and loving the skin we are in.  And if we’re honest – we’re still fighting.  But that’s another blog post for another day.

Bobbi Elle: Brown skin girl..Black Girl Magic..One Balanced Mama blog

Black Girl Magic Photo Shoot

When Bobbi turned 6….as its our tradion…it was time to do our annual birthday photo shoot. I wanted it to be something that celebrated her and who she was at that moment in time…Black Girl Magic….A Warrior Princess. The Bantu Knots was her idea. She went from wanting “vanilla” to all black everything! I called my friend and hairdresser, Jade Davis…and she went to work. Between Jade and Toni Lowe who styled her and Erica Melissa behind the lens…we captured who she is….BLACK GIRL MAGIC…

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FAMILY MATTERS: OUR HOLIDAY PHOTO SHOOT 2017

Our holiday season usually kicks off with our annual family photo shoot. Its always a fun time for us – and this year was pretty special. We rented a cabin at Oleta River Park for a change of scenery and pretended we were somewhere warm and cozy – although it was 80 degrees outside!

These sessions for us are a time to capture fun times with quality photos that will last a lifetime. As we gear up for our 2018 shoot – I’m looking back at some of my favorite shots taken by Erica Melissa.
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A BOY AND HIS TOYS…..AJ TURNS FOUR!

So AJ turned 4 in August…we were coming off of our family cruise and his birthday was right around the corner. In the past – I’ve partnered with my fave photographer who has shot AJ since birth...and we’ll come up with great ideas and places to shoot their annual photo shoot. But this time – I was tired and out of ideas…and tired. So I called Erica and decided we would shoot AJ in his element….at home…in his playroom…and with his toys. He had 7-day old pool hair, but I didn’t care…I had a tradition of capturing my kids turning a year older – and this was as real as it was going to get. And I loved everything about this session. We pulled out his favorite car, grabbed his Lightning McQueen jacket and he went to work.

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Of course Bobbi would want in – so she went and dressed herself to get photos with her little brother in their favorite part of the house – their playroom.

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I loved that we used our home setting…there will be some point where there is no playroom because they will be all grown up. So capturing what their environment looks like at this age is just as important as capturing them. We used our garage for the shots of him and his dinosaurs….and the front of our home for his race car scene.

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AJ at 4 is your typical active little boy. His growth from toddler boy to big boy is pretty awesome to see. He loves all things Paw Patrol, obsessed with Hot Wheels…and loves animals. As someone who is fearful of dogs – it makes me happy to see how comfortable he is with animals. I did not want him to take that part of me! He’s in his last year of pre-school and although he’s the youngest in the class – he is holding his own. I love that he still shows that he needs me and wants hugs – just not kisses. When I kiss him on the lips – he wipes it off…and gives his head – not even his cheek. Who wants to kiss hair??

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My baby boy is no longer a baby….so I am soaking in EVERY minute. I’m enjoying this stage of growing pains, occasional temper tantrums, picky eating, and innocent fun. This is Amarii Joseph Metelus…my son!

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NO! IT’S NOT “JUST” A PRE-SCHOOL GRADUATION!!!

Post-pre-school graduation.  I could not stop the tears from flowing that night….and I was confused by the overwhelming emotions that came over me.  I wasn’t sure where it was coming from.  I woke up the next morning – tears still streaming down my face.  At this point – I’m getting frustrated because I’m not sure why it won’t stop.  Reflecting on the conversation with my husband the night before – it hit me.  This is life…this is changeand in a way – I am mourning this stage that I am leaving behind.

“But it’s only pre-school” my husband nonchalantly said the night before.  That was his attempt at consoling me.  Well, that just set me off even more…more tears rushing…my throat feels swollen – I can barely muster words.  Because there’s no such thing as ONLY when it comes to my children.  Looking at myself in the mirror early the next morning, as I’m rushing to get on a flight – I realized then – that’s what was bothering me.  We, humans, tend to marginalize emotions or moments simply because we don’t think that THAT moment is big enough to warrant an emotional response.  And while I understood Bob’s failed attempt to make me realize that there would be “bigger” moments with our daughter to come…what he didn’t realize was –  this was a big enough moment for me.

It’s the loss of pre-school innocence and walking into a world of older kids, responsibilities, possible bullying and teasing and everything kids face nowadays in school.

It’s the loss of community that we experienced in her pre-school, where families actually like each other – group chats are constantly poppin’ and the sense of family, that often gets lost as your child travels from grade to grade.  The kids in her pre-school had mainly been together since she started the program at 16 months old.

Ahhhh….16 months old…that’s how she entered pre-school…already knowing her ABC’s but also still toting her pacifier and walking around with a diaper butt.  At five years old – she walked away even more confident and smarter than I could have ever hoped for.  I watched her develop strong relationships with other girls and hold her own with the boys.  I saw how her teachers all loved on her and shed tears knowing that she will be missed.  That was worth some of my own tears.

Her brother’s keeper.  It was her that he seeked out when he first started school at 18 months.  And it was her that he continued to look for throughout the day, even when he was acclimated with his own class and had his own friends.  She was his go-to.  She was the big sister.  His own day could not start unless he walked her to class.  They checked on each other on the playground.  Knowing that he would miss her at school, warranted my tears.

There’s something weird about watching your child grow…its bittersweet.  I will never have those toddler years with her again.  I will never not have to worry about all the things that come with putting her in a school with 1,700 other kids.  That is worth my tears.

Having that revelation,  I stopped getting frustrated with my overflow of emotions.  Yes…maybe it was a bit much, even for me – but THAT’S OK.  I realized then that I wanted to wallow in my feelings – if but for a moment.  Because I don’t want to look up and say…where did the time go??  I want to be in that moment of time acknowledging that we are entering a whole new world *in my Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle voice.”  Moments are not “just moments”.  Its life happening. It’s shedding the old and entering new.  And that can be emotional.

Now here I am…on the eve before the first day of kindergarten – I’m calm.  Her book bag is packed – I’ve checked her school list over and over.  I am giddy as if I am the one starting my first day.  I prayed with her tonight and rubbed her head as she fell asleep.  I took time out to note that this was the night before another major milestone – and life will not be the same.  There is a transition taking place whether I’m ready for it or not.  That was important for me to do.  To be in that moment.  And now I feel ready for tomorrow.

I’m excited about her future.  I can’t wait to hear every day about what’s happening in her class.  I plan on cherishing every moment as it zips on by. I even took a moment to recognize that tomorrow is AJ’s last first day of pre-school.  I’m grateful to be part of these moment with them.  And even in my moments of excitement and gratitude – that doesn’t mean a few tears won’t roll down my face in the process.

So, no Bob and world…it’s not “just pre-school” ….and no…. I won’t wait until high school to give myself permission to cry about my children growing up.  I am giving myself permission to do it now.  And to cry all over again….when it’s AJ’s turn.

(My husband begrudgingly approves this message 🙂

Sharing a snapshot thru the years…

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Bobbi Elle’s 1st day of pre-school
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I was that peering stalker mom, watching to see how she was going to be while I was gone. I did that up until the last day.
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From snotty-nose baby with paci to a confident beautiful girl. I’ve watched her flourish and grow during these years…a beautiful transition.
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One of my favorite things was watching her develop so many amazing relationships over the years…and while I know she will make many new friends – my hope is that she will still connect with her day ones for years to come. Her and her bestie – Serena.
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They’ve been rolling thru school together for 2.5 years strong. Another reason for the tears. AJ is going to miss his big sister – they are inseparable. Plus now I have two different school pick up times, activities, schedules, uggghhh…selfish tears warranted!
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We celebrated many milestones with the same crew; including her 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th birthdays. Those were always fun parties that she shared with her school friends.
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The teachers!!! Some of her favorites….after graduation – she cried for a long time because she was already missing her teachers.
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Post-Graduation festivities at home.
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The Proud Parents
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Class of 2018 at KLA Aventura!!
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Bobbi’s Village showed up and showed out at her graduation.
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The graduate!
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Me…looking forward to doing it all over again with my favorite guy!