Barbara Vernéus (36) and Glorious-Zoelle Shaddai (3)
Brooklyn, NY | Photographed in Austin, TX
Barbara shares -
"Here I was having to call and tell the man I knew for 14 years that I was pregnant with his child. Instead of support, I was met with emotional abuse. Our relationship became a series of empty promises and absences at prenatal appointments. I have experienced rejection during my pregnancy. My father's daughter left us when he found I was pregnant with his baby. I am not sharing my experience with my daughter's father for you to hate him. Instead, I hope that you can see that his actions came from an immature child mind-state and from never dealing with his own issues emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
He came from a broken home as well, meeting his father for the first time at the age of twenty-two. He didn’t have a healthy upbringing. I’m not making excuses for him. But I do believe that we must take a special inventory of the state we are in individually when we enter relationships. Our family's composition may not be considered "normal" but we are still able to create a safe space for the adults and children in it. This is possible as long we are willing to take responsibility for our actions and to put in the work towards our own healing and toward creating healthy families. After all, what is a "normal" family nowadays? I also learned that we cannot think we can go into relationships thinking we can save someone; we must see circumstances and people for what and who they are and not what we want them to be. Two sick people cannot know how to love one another.
As nurturers, women have a natural tendency to nurture the best out of a person, but what if that person is not ready for that vision you see for them? Will you continue to live off a delusion or accept the situation for what it truly is and being honest with yourself? Will you continue to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually abused?
You see, I knew my daughter's father since the age of 18. I did not realize he was emotionally abusive until I discovered that I was pregnant. Abuse of any form is never okay. Growing up I watched my mother being physically abused for 7 years by her boyfriend and vowed that would never happen to me. Little did I know that I was allowing myself to be abused emotionally for so many years. I ignored the signs because I wanted to believe that he would change in order for us to be together, but that never happened.
So, in the Fall of 2013 we decided to part ways, but two weeks later I found out that I was pregnant. There were endless days of arguments, verbal disrespect, blaming me everything, crying myself to sleep and even drinking during my pregnancy as a result of the abuse. I was deeply depressed and had irregular eating. I would go through the process of grieving everything I felt I was losing because of "my mistake."
The skin of motherhood will have you questioning your entire existence. I didn't realize how vain I was until I was pregnant with no ass, lol! I prided myself on my petit curves, thick ass and tones. I breastfed my daughter a little over two years and my breast have lost their perk. And I suffer from a slight form of distasis recti of the abdomen. Our bodies endure a lot to carry and maintain life during and after pregnancy. There was a lot of adjusting and accepting of my body I had to do. I felt undone and a stranger to myself. It was as if I was learning myself again along with this little I had to raise. And I still am.
Once I became a mother loving myself morphed into something else. It's like once I became a mother every ideology I believed was challenged and/or confirmed while new ones were discovered. How you live your life is etched in our children's DNA from birth and will be passed down to future generations. Becoming a mother is the closest thing to being God and a holy temple at the same time. So now when I look at my body I see God. I see my Power. Strength. I see the vulnerability I was scared to share. I see the softness under this tough exterior. I see Love. Compassion. Nurturer. Grace. A Beloved Celestial Queen Being. I see the world etched in every part of my skin. A spell caster with my words. I see the Mother of Civilization. I see an embodiment of polytheistic TRUTH. A forever refining mind and heart. So I am still learning of myself as a mother along with the many roles I posses. When we truly and fully know and understand that truth is when as women we tap into our God given power. Women are the cornerstone to a powerful nation.
I truly believe the state of a nation can rise no higher than its women and holding the precious family in high regard. Where you find family, you find community, and where you find community you find culture, and where you find culture you find prosperity which is needed in the Black community. But as simple as that sounds its not for the systematic web of obstacles that stands before us. One of the reason why I advocate for midwifery so hard, especially for the need for more Black midwives as I aspire to be one, is because we can become part of the solution.
Parenthood is sanctifying. Allow it to do the work in you and through you.
I feel most alive when I share my experiences, serve my community and/or a cause; as well as expressing myself in an artistic and expressive way. And this project embodies both things that I love.