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We Are At The End of The Road

What I am writing may very well be my last long form post on MakesMeWannaHoller.com. This doesn’t mean I won't pick up roots and start blogging again or creating again somewhere else but this I believe is the curtain call for this blog. Certain experts in the field say it's good to end a blog. Many in life say all things come to pass.

The History Lesson
When I first began this blog I was confused. Confused and without much direction in life. The original name of the blog was Manchild In the Promised Land, after the famous book. My intention was to write about how disconnected I felt from life and this world I was born into. It was going to be about the struggles of a youngish, up and coming black man trying to find purpose in a world, and a city - New York City at that, where it constantly eluded him.

My reason for doing this? To become a published author. I wanted to write fiction and tell fantastic stories about the underdog - me - but with more panache, drama and power. An old girl friend told me I’d never be satisfied with life because I lived it much larger in my mind that in reality. To this day, I ponder this and I hope she wasn’t right.

But then something unexpected happened along the way, I wrote about one of my kids climbing into my bed in the middle of the night and beating me as I tried to get a good night’s rest. Some people liked the post. They told me I should write more like that. And write is exactly what I did to the tune of 1,000 posts about fatherhood, marriage and everything in between. I became transparent about my life and then I scaled back a bit to become more inspirational/advisory. But you folks who read me you knew the deal. You knew when I had arguments and you know what I was arguing about. You knew my oldest kid’s struggles and you even knew my desire to make him “officially” mine. Which I did and always quietly told myself would mark the end of this blog. Other than their names, all of them beautiful, I didn’t keep much else secret.

And blogging has brought me unexpected “fame” - a few random television appearances, many advertising and influencer opportunities, a handful of trips in the US and outside and a number of speaking engagements. The job I have now as an ad agency dude has a lot to do with what I bring to the table as a blogger. I have connections I can call friends and experiences that have truly shaped and molded me into the man I am: somewhat outspoken, positive more than negative, and innovative.

But there was something else going on in the background that you, the readers, and I, the writer, wasn’t exactly aware of. It was how I was neglecting my wife even though I was writing about how central a role she played in my life. See, I was trying to create income, create notoriety, create a platform in the name of doing for my family. But in not sharing these motivations with her, because as I guy, I thought she would get this because, well, why wouldn’t she - I left her out of all this. She was the subject of many stories, the butt of some jokes, the focal point of my literary ire (which I point out is way stronger than my face to face ire) and much of it was without her permission or without buy-in from her. I knew that I was doing what I was doing so that when the job opportunities came along or the book deal popped up I could say, “Here, look at my body of work, all served up on a digital platter for you.” But without communicating that intention, and when I did, doing so poorly and sometimes angrily, my efforts were judged as being far less simple, and even less so noble. So for me my blog is my platform. For my wife, it was a thing that came between us and to a certain extent remains between us thanks to the many years of fallout it has caused.

You are seeing this post today because this is the day I published it, but the first few sentences were written as a draft on July 25, 2014. It was something that I knew I needed to do to address the inadvertent hurt I’ve caused. Because sometimes you do have to prove to others you care about, how much they matter. It was what I knew I needed to do because I don’t want anything real or imagined, that I can control, coming between me and any of my family members, especially my wife. It is what I’ve known I needed to do for a long time because sometimes when you have a conviction to do something, you don’t really even need an explanation or a reason that makes sense to others. 

It’s been a good run, but I never really had any intention of writing here for another eight to nine years as my daughter ages up and out of my house. Unless there's something truly compelling happens that I need to share from a dad-daughters or girls’ empowerment perspective. Besides, I’m sure most of it will be a repeat of what I went through with my son, except this time it will be wrapped in pink bows, zebra and leopard prints and a beautiful smile versus a junky room and big feet. If this is your first time here or you are relatively knew, feel free to scroll through the 1,000+ existing posts. This place is a time suck if there ever was one. Ultimately, it is my love letter to my kids, a place that they can come once they are a little older and understand how confused and human Daddy was and maybe not make the same mistakes I have. It's also the safe space I created for myself, a man of color, to be me whether it was right or wrong at times, in a world that doesn't really allow for or even want men of color to be vulnerable or authentic.

Shuttering the Doors
Ultimately, my family’s well being matters way more to me than any material thing. And what my wife believes and how she feels and most importantly how she feels she is being regarded means the world to me though I’ve stumbled plenty in this department. If shuttering the doors on this project which has brought some confusion and some pain behind the scenes heals just one of her wounds well then this action was well worth it. Life is too short and love is too precious to hold on to things. This is not a goodbye, but rather me putting an endpoint on a story that no longer needs to continue publicly. I look forward to living life without feeling I'm not doing something right if I don't share (unless I'm really in the mood). I’m glad and blessed and honored and privileged to have been able to evolve this experience into one that has allowed me to inspire others, both men and women. And with my wife’s permission, I may pop in from time to time to wax poetic here and there or make an announcement about something, but it’s time to move on to the next thing. If I could have my way in a perfect world I would hand the reigns over to another to pick up where I am leaving, so if you’re reading and interested in becoming a contributor let me know in the comments and let’s get connected. I've been wanting to do this for the past two years, actually, but it's hard to get someone to blog for you when everyone has their own blog. 

One simple request, if you’re feeling like applauding me for this, please do not. I do this somberly. Accolades are something I do not want. I’m doing this solely for the purpose of righting past wrongs. I don't do this out of duress. I do it because it is long overdue.

Thank you for the experience, my beloved blog. I’ve become a better writer and a better thinker thanks to you. Thank you, to my contributing writers over the years. I also need to thank my wife for enduring me on the not so good days and being as understanding as possible about something I never truly explained to her. Thanks to all the brands that have trusted me to review their products. Thank you for reading, my beloved readers. Thank you for allowing me to share a little (or a lot) of my life with you and I am nothing but honored by the respect you’ve shown me over the years. 

Until the next experience (maybe/probably) stay tuned… 

And my fondest farewell.

photo credit: Tom Rydquist via photopin cc

Meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father.

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Allow Children To Be Exactly What They Are: Children

Parents give your kids the time and space they need to be children. It's easy for us as adults to be totally blinded by the frenetic pace of our lives, always being on, always having something more to do, never having enough time to do any of it. Understand that kids aren't able to move as fast as us (especially if they have to because you're behind schedule) nor should they have to. They have the rest of their lives to be stressed based on their own actions. Do your best not to stress them out because of yours. For example, if they take "too long" getting ready for school, maybe you need to get up a little earlier in order to get them up early enough so you don't lose your mind and your patience trying to get them out of the house. Lord knows I do. This doesn't let them off the hook for everything, but it does when you are the one at fault.

Meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father..

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Girls Can Play Sports, Too. And Play Them Well.

Last week, my daughter asked me why mostly boys wore Nike. So we spent this past Sunday afternoon watching the Nike Women and Under Armor YouTube Channels. The ensuing conversation developed into one that included following your dreams, sports, ethnicity, exercise and fitness and having an honest conversation around feminine physicality.

Now, she knows the names of multiple female athletes, across a range of sports and is much more empowered to believe she can do what she wants to through dedication, hard work and opportunity.

Meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father.

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#BackToSchool - College Style

My big boy is Back to School and halfway through his first week of classes. I'm not talking about bright shining faces and new backpacks back-to-school. Rather, rented minivan filled with boxes and clothes and hundreds of dollars in textbooks back-to-school. Not to mention that pesky tuition bill I'm paying via the grace of God and starting a 529 Plan for him nine years ago. 

With everything that's currently going on in our nation, but even if we lived in a utopia, I couldn't be a prouder dad.

Meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father.

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It's A Boy!

In the same vein of my cousin by love and the best man at my wedding (won't tag you and infiltrate your feed, but you know who you are), I'm proud to announce that on July 28th I became the proud father of a 200 pound, six-feet, three-inch tall baby boy. Son is doing well, currently sleeping late, working part time and playing Xbox until his sophomore year in college begins in a couple weeks.

In all seriousness (the above is a joke), my adoption of the boy went through a couple weeks back and although I've always envisioned it being some spectacular moment for me it actually just came and went and brought a quick smile to my face. I think the process took as long as it did (it defies logic how long it took and was confounded with hurdles) so God could burn the braggadocio out of me in order for me to see the bigger picture. That picture is that my son (who no one can no longer hint or wink at me and whisper, "Well, he's not really your son..." - without seriously getting cursed out) who has always known he is loved now knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, he is claimed. Hopefully, this will serve him well as continues his journey into manhood and EVENTUALLY parenthood.

Before you go, please meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father..
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This Video Will Leave You Smiling From Ear To Ear #wedoexist

The video contained in this post was a rush job. There are no ifs ands and buts about it. I had been trying to schedule Scott for a shoot all week and when he was finally available, my time was not my own. But I committed myself to making it happen.

What I didn't anticipate was Scott's nervousness. We've discussed fatherhood in the past and also in the days leading up to my taping him. He's a fun-loving bear of a man who speaks with so much pride and passion about being a father I was caught off guard by his jitters about saying the right thing. Or worse, saying the wrong thing.

I knew that if we had to do multiple takes, this guy was going to start overthinking and making mechanical something that comes very naturally to him. So we did this in two takes, albeit with some camera shake, the Sun imposing it's will on us and my overlooking some tiny gaffes in the name of getting the most authentic and raw footage possible.

Unbeknownst to him at the time, Scott gave me some of the purest gold I've ever had the pleasure to watch. I literally have grinned from ear to ear while watching. Especially 2:55 into the video.

I hope you will agree. Fatherhood in Black: Because We Do Exist

Happy Father's Day to you and yours.

Before you go, meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father.

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The Top 5 VERY Last-Minute Gifts For Dad

So it's Saturday and you know you are knee deep in a huge mistake. You were busy all week. I know. I was too. You don't know what to get "for the man who has everything." To which I'm sure he would laugh, or simply not respond at all. Or, maybe you just plain forgot, which I genuinely understand. Father's Day is almost five days early compared to previous years. I was pretty psyched myself when I discovered this last week. This will be the first time my son's birthday, which falls a day or two before or after Father's Day, won't be the factor that typically preempts my ability to singularly enjoy the day. Hopefully, this year, I won't find out there are other factors.

The point remains that you're currently empty-handed and idealess on what to get Dear Old Dad and you actually believe socks, grocery store cologne, shaving cream under $35 and a tie of any price is insulting. And because the day is tomorrow there is no amount of money you can pay Amazon to get a gift to you by Sunday. Fret not! I've got some VERY last minute suggestions for you that won't bust your wallet (or even if they do, it's worth it) and are as far as your local Target and as close as your laptop.