How I’m Managing Toddler Meltdowns With Mindfulness


The Terrible Twos with Little Magician have definitely had their moments of terribleness. She’s impatient sometimes, but headstrong and independent all the time – so tantrums and meltdowns have become an expected part of life with a toddler.

I’ve been on my own anxiety and stress management journey for a couple of years now, actively working on making meditation and mindfulness regular practice. Ever since Little Magician could listen and take direction, I’ve been working on the same with her. Mindfulness for her looks like stopping everything, sitting still, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly – we sit together and I guide her through the process whenever she’s frustrated, too wound up, or on the verge of a meltdown – and it really works for her.

It looks like we might be on to something. In this Upworthy article, Baltimore’s Robert W. Coleman Elementary School is featured as a case study in what happens when you replace detention with meditation and mindfulness – and the results are positive.

Instead of punishing disruptive kids or sending them to the principal’s office, the Baltimore school has something called the Mindful Moment Room instead. The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room. Instead, it’s filled with lamps, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them calm down and re-center. They are also asked to talk through what happened.

In addition to the meditation room, the school also offers mindfulness techniques and yoga in after-school programs for kids from pre-K through grade 5.

The school has reported zero suspensions in the current school year and last school year, and other schools have started to implement mindfulness strategies, with similarly positive outcomes.

For me, this is a sign to continue along the journey of teaching meditation and mindfulness to Little Magician.  Benefits include stress reduction, better focus, improved memory, and higher emotional intelligence, so why wouldn’t I want to instill that in my child? And hopefully, she’ll be able to absorb this as a natural practice since we’re starting so early. Mindfulness and meditation can be difficult for me because it’s hard to turn my brain off – but hopefully I can start to normalize the practice for her now, before she has more stressors and responsibilities battling for room in her mental space.

The fact that schools are now starting to look at mindfulness as a positive approach and intervention for children is a good sign. Compared to the U.S. and the UK, Canada hardly collects or makes race-based statistics public, but a 2006-7 report from the Toronto District School Board showed that Black students were 3 times more likely to be suspended than White students. Black students made up 12% of the high school population, but accounted for more than 31% of all suspensions (comparatively, White students made up about 33% of the high school population, but accounted for 29% of suspensions). In the 2011-12 TDSB report, it showed that suspension rates have dropped across the board, but Black students are still disproportionately suspended – in grades 9-12, 8.2% of suspended students were Black compared to 2.9% being White.

Curbing these skewed suspension rates requires a multi-pronged approach, but as Robert W. Coleman has shown, meditation and mindfulness may be among those possibilities. Teaching students to be more attuned to their emotions and more mindful of their behaviours helps to re-centre their locus of control – and giving our children tools in their arsenal is part of what parenting and educating is all about. Best believe I’ll be tucking this info away in case I need to introduce this concept at Little Magician’s future school.

Wondering how to introduce your little one to mindfulness? Check out the Breathe, Think, Do Sesame Street app on iTunes and Google Play, aimed at teaching children problem solving skills, resilience, stress management, and emotional intelligence.

YouTube Preview Image

So while I work on my own practice of mindfulness, I’ll keep involving Little Magician in the journey. Tantrum management now, possibly improved school outcomes later, plus a host of other benefits? Mindfulness is more than worth it to me.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

The Mama Who Ran Out Of F*cks To Give

I don't give a f-ck.

Maybe it was after the wind blew my skirt up around my waist, exposing blue panties and brown booty cheeks in the middle of a busy intersection. Or maybe it was after I picked up my miserable, teary-eyed, runny-nosed, diarrhea-stricken ball of toddler from daycare, accepting the fact that she was banned for the next 24 hours. Maybe it was when I tried to pay for groceries (with an unhappy baby in the cart) and my debit card chip decided to malfunction. Or maybe it was when I finally stepped in my house – squeezing through a narrow doorway while cussing at the pile of shoes blocking my full access, and wondering where I was going to find time to clean up.

It doesn’t really matter which moment it was – all I know is, by the time I flopped down on my couch, I became completely aware of the fact that I’m a mama with no fucks to give.

Through a combination of crossing that threshold into the 30s where you apparently stop caring so much about what others think, and being in a phase of motherhood where your toddler ensures there’s little room in your brain for nonsense, I – somewhat blissfully – don’t give much of a damn anymore. And it’s a blessing in two ways.

For one, this new fucklessness has helped me to dull the nerve endings that made me super-sensitive to what people thought of me. I have a tendency to take things personally at times, and used to spend a lot of time and energy asking if people liked me/why didn’t people like me/what did I do to make people not like me/etc. Now? There’s not much room in my mental or emotional space to consider that as much as I used to. My blood pressure used to shoot up when I heard that someone said something shady about me to someone else – how was I going to address it? What would I do the next time I ran into this person? I used to practice cuss-outs to keep in my back pocket just in case – because there’s nothing like having a confrontation with someone, walking away, then thinking of all the soul-crushing things you could have said.

That was a tiring existence. Without actively trying to embody the saying “What other people think of me is none of my business” (which I always had a hard time understanding), that concern has been eroded by the simple fact that I don’t have the time. If someone has an issue but doesn’t raise it directly, it doesn’t exist to me. I don’t second-guess myself as much anymore – when I have an opinion, I state it without trying to overthink it. I used to criticize myself so much – especially what I looked like – and I don’t have time for that shit anymore. I honestly think I’ve shed some of my self-consciousness and embraced confidence by seeing Little Magician move through the world with such self-assurance and fearlessness. I never want her to lose those traits, so why have I let mine go?

The other benefit that fucklessness has brought me is the fact that I am even more empathetic to the idea that life is not one size fits all. In most cases, especially for personal, innocuous matters that don’t affect me directly, I have stopped giving a fuck when giving a fuck looks like filtering someone’s life through my own biases and judgments. Everyone doesn’t do things like I do, but if the way you’re doing things works for you and isn’t putting  anyone in danger, go ‘head! I am much more cognizant of giving people the space to live their lives as they see fit, leaving my well-intentioned advice to the wayside if I recognize I’m offering more judgment, less perspective. Every move you make as a mother is picked apart, criticized, and measured against someone else – I am well aware of how that feels and recoil at the thought of doing that to anybody else.

Finding your way to fucklessness isn’t a cake walk – there may be bare buttcheeks, failed transactions, diarrhea-having babies, and messy houses along the way, as I’ve learned. But I’ll tell you what – once I sat down, chuckled at my peep show, thanked God for my credit card, changed Little Magician’s diaper, and put one dirty spoon in the sink (hey – baby steps), I realized that removing my fucks from spaces where they were wasted, and directing them to areas where they were needed, felt like freedom.

The freedom of fucklessness. It’s a movement. Let me know if you’re down.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

Celebrating The ‘Modern Day Dad’ Through Word & Film


When it comes to marriage and long-term relationships, you can sometimes fall into a trap of believing that you know everything about your partner. You feel you know their choices and can predict their actions with ease – then they turn around and do something that shakes up your view and makes you truly say, “Wow – I didn’t see that one coming.”

I am fully aware that this can happen in both positive and negative contexts, but for those of you reading, I hope more of the happy surprises come your way than the alternative. This recently happened to me, when HomieLuva told me “I have an idea to do a film,” then a few weeks later showed me an actual trailer for the completed piece.

YouTube Preview Image

Modern Day Dad gives an inside view to fatherhood – particularly Black fatherhood – in today’s society. Fathers of all kinds (new dads, single dads, dads who have great relationships with their dads and ones who never knew their dad, etc.) use this space to talk about what they experience in this identity, and their stories are rounded out by featured children, partners, and professionals of various backgrounds. It’s an important conversation, and I’m so proud of HomieLuva and his team for pulling it off. Though I’m not featured in the film, I wrote a piece for him on For Harriet this time last year that spoke (and still speaks) to how I feel about him as a father:

Dear J,

On June 21, 2014, life as we knew it shifted, ballooned, and took on new shape. Our daughter burst into the world accompanied by the summer solstice sunrise, bringing with her the gift of new identities for the two of us. Taking on the roles of mother and father, we were immediately thrust into on-the-job training with this beautiful brown baby as our only guide.

Growing into motherhood has been incredible, but a hidden corner of my heart has been filled by watching you step into your being as a father. On one hand, I’m not surprised. If I ever wavered in my faith that you would be an excellent dad, we wouldn’t be here right now. The unexpected part of it all has been bearing witness to just how you’ve taken the baton of fatherhood and ran with it. Those before you stumbled and succeeded in their own ways, but this is your race to run, at your pace, with your unique stride.

You’re an “all in” kind of dad, and hesitation is not part of your process. Save for labour, delivery, and breastfeeding, I’d be hard-pressed to find any other act of parenting that you haven’t been able to do. Your fatherhood is more than presence—it is deliberate action and intentional love; a fertile soil where our daughter can take root and thrive.

You’ve become equal parts provider and nurturer. Building her crib is as important as smothering her with kisses in it each morning. You’ve taught her the wonders of soca music, and you’ve learned that detangling her hair is much easier with a wide-tooth comb when wet. From doctor’s appointments to daddy-daughter dates and everything in between, you’re in this 100%.

You spent six months as a stay-at-home dad. I’ve never seen you smile more, never heard you laugh more, never felt more appreciated once you understood the work required at that level of caregiving. Was it easy? No. Was it soul-fulfilling? You remind me everyday that it was. The proof is in the bond between you and her: the inside jokes you share, the way she settles instinctively into the crook of your arm and nuzzles into your neck, the way you look at her, then look at me and smile.

Here we are—June 21, 2015. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, which is fitting. No other day is better equipped to encompass the momentous celebration of our daughter’s first birthday and your first Father’s Day. While we rejoice and mark her first turn around the sun, I cheer for you, too. I was the daughter who wished for more from her father at times. I am the woman who hoped for a team player in this parenting game. Every day you give our daughter the love she needs, and you give me the partnership I desire.

Happy Father’s Day. It’s been a blessing watching you bloom.

Modern Day Dad premieres on Father’s Day, June 19th 2016 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto, and you can get all the details and tickets here:

Happy (early) Father’s Day to all the real ones, the hold-it-down ones, the I-learned-from-my-mistakes ones. I’ll be celebrating with some of the best dads I know at the Modern Day Dad screening, and I hope you’ll join us too.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

Marriage Is Like A Glass Of Lemonade


“I’m not trying to be that kind of wife.”

These are words I’ve uttered to my husband, not once, not twice, but possibly a few times in our almost 5 years of marriage. Some notable moments have played into how I’ve crafted my identity as a wife – the purposeful word choices in our wedding vows, becoming a mother, absorbing research that shows marriage is much more beneficial for the husband than the wife, and encountering some of the rocky moments that have come our way since August 1st, 2011. With each and every life experience, I’ve consciously and subconsciously shaped the framework of what kind of wife I want to be – what she accepts, what she doesn’t. What she gives, what she requires. What she sacrifices, what she deserves.

Watching  Beyoncé’s Lemonade film and listening to the full album the night of its release forced me to revisit the nooks and crannies of my own marriage. Though Lemonade encompasses so much more than just fodder for deconstructing the possibility of infidelity in the Carter relationship, the complex themes within the evolution of a relationship – and the people in it  – hit me hard.

There is a LOT that differs between Beyoncé and I – my bank account is chuckling right now – but being a Black woman in my early 30s, a new mom, and married to a man I’ve loved for years, I’ve felt a new kinship with her especially since her self-titled album back in 2013. Back then I related to both the bliss of “Drunk In Love” and the “I’m not feeling like myself since the baby/Are we gonna even make it?” line in “Mine.” I didn’t expect her to delve as deeply into the vulnerability of love, loss, and hope as she did in Lemonade, but I am so glad she went there.


Marriage ain’t easy. In my experience, it’s a set of consistent and deliberate decisions to stand together day after day. Some days, that decision is the easiest one to make. Other days, you have to dig deep and remind yourself that the moment may be difficult, but trouble don’t last always. I’ve experienced unimaginable highs in my marriage, but have also been through lows that made me question everything I thought I believed about love, my partner, and myself. I’ve screamed “Who the fuck do you think I is?” I’ve walked out of arguments and straight into the club with my girls. I’ve been hurt and done some hurting myself, knowingly and unknowingly. I’ve reconciled. I’ve fallen deeper in love. I’ve learned that betrayal can come in many forms, but so can forgiveness. I’ve remembered why I said “I do” and made the decision, again and again, to keep standing together.

Lemonade gave me a soundtrack to the growth I’ve gone through as my husband’s wife and as my own woman – and though reliving some of that growth was painful, it was cleansing, too. Being a wife is an identity that carries particular responsibility and emotion; one that I’ve defined by myself, for myself, and for my relationship. Lemonade put the sweet and sharp moments of this identity into musical form, and reinforced how powerful hard truths and unrelenting vulnerability can be. So, from one wife to another – thank you, Beyoncé.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

A Model/Mom’s Thoughts On The “Modern Black Family” In Media


My fake families never really look like mine.

I do a fair bit of commercial/lifestyle modeling, booked either on my own or as the wife and mom of a nuclear family. Though it’s a positive development to be booked as a natural-haired Black woman, it’s always interesting to see how clients and casting agents create the look of my “family.”

You’ll have me – a Black woman with curly hair (kinks and tighter curls don’t get me work, but looser curls do). Then you’ll have my husband – a clean cut, handsome Black man. Our fake kids are always beautifully adorable, but in my mind they never look like they could possibly come from the combination of my “husband” and I. The children I’m cast with are always biracial, with light complexions and big, loose natural curls – and while my science-loving mind knows that genes can do all kinds of interesting things, this feels more like an attempt to create the perfect visual for a “modern family.”

“Modern family” has become synonymous with “Black family” on many of the sets I’ve been on. Agents and photographers smile encouragingly to ensure that I feel excited about portraying something “modern” even though Black people and Black families have been around for eternity. Seeing us is still new in Canadian media, I guess – so it’s par for the course for set staff to feel self-congratulatory over their forward-thinking booking.

At one of my last shoots, everyone cooed incessantly over how adorable my “kids” were, and it was right on the mark – those children were absolutely gorgeous. However, the remarks about their hair and skin tone from the all-White staff started to feel like they were fetishizing the children, and I got a funny feeling in my stomach. That unease was for both those kids and my own daughter who, with her brown skin and kinky hair, existed on an opposing end of the spectrum.

Many consumers comment positively about the fact that we’re seeing more diversity in media. More people of colour, more Black women with natural hair – but having this kind of intimate view of the industry makes me pause on the celebration. Sure, my very presence on some of these sets means we’re making some headway – but when my deep brown eyes and brown skin and tightly curled hair consistently gets erased from my generation to the next – there’s a direct message there. My nuclear family shoots often feel like casting agents want to fast forward to National Geographic’s view of what Americans will look like in 2050, but a piece of me leaves feeling like I have to hold up my own daughter as proof of resistance. Similarly to how my hair is more accepted in the industry when it’s a specific kind of natural texture, Black children seem to be more acceptable when their look is more ambiguous. Where my darker-skinned child has been called for bookings for charities dedicated to poverty in Africa, lighter-skinned children are consistently the ones booked to work with me on mainstream shoots. It seems that the next best thing to being colourblind is believing that the one true path to seeing everyone as beautiful is to blend us all into one big melting pot. If the beauty in all racial, ethnic, and cultural expressions and combinations therein was authentically validated and represented, it wouldn’t feel so much like casting agents were treating Black families like a lab assignment, picking and choosing the “right” looks at random.

It’s not lost on me that the majority of creative staff I work with are White, so these views on what a “modern family” and what a marketable Black lifestyle and aesthetic look like are through those eyes. As I always say, more diversity behind the camera is needed to help increase diversity in front of it. We’re on the way to a more inclusive representation of our society in media, but I don’t feel like we’re there just yet.

After my last shoot, I felt compelled to go home, lift my daughter into my arms, and tell her how beautiful she was. While I’m cognizant of not solely complimenting my daughter on her looks, days like that one reminded me why it felt important for me to do so. There is so much more room for a wider representation of society in today’s media, and while I’m happy to be taking up the space that I am, I’m working to make sure that my daughter feels beautiful and self-assured in her space too.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

Motherhood, Empathy, & The Scary Side Of Sensitivity

BSMsensitivityThere are so many mysteries in motherhood, mostly made up of the way it connects the mind, body, and soul like almost nothing else. From stories of mothers flexing superhuman strength to lift cars off of their children to the science of microchimerism linking mother and child on a cellular level, I remain fascinated by the layers of this life.

I can’t count all of the changes I’ve undergone since becoming a mom, but there’s one aspect that I didn’t expect and never thought would last: my empathy muscle has grown exponentially, and I’m still coming to terms with this new side of myself.

I’ve always been someone who was concerned about others – just never extremely emotional save for the kind of Taurean anger that simmers below the surface before bubbling and boiling over. Seeing other people sick, in pain, or struggling would have me posted up in my feelings for a bit, but for the most part I could compartmentalize and eventually move past things.

But now? Things done changed.

For the longest time, I chalked things up to the surge and swirl of postpartum hormones. However, it’s been 18 months since I had Little Magician, and I’m not sure how long the validity of that argument holds.

The level of sensitivity I feel towards others and their plights is scary at times. Sometimes I almost feel like I can sense what someone else is going through, even if it’s a physical or emotional pain I’ve never experienced. My ability to shake uncomfortable things like I used to is all but gone – things never seem to leave me, and when the memories return weeks or months later, they barely lose any of their strength.

Positive emotions affect me too, though those are more welcome weights to carry. I feel a heightened sense of excitement for the good news of friends and family, and celebrate their wins as if they were mine. Interestingly enough, this has helped to minimize my habit of comparing my success to that of others. It’s in those moments that I think, maybe this isn’t so bad…

Overall, it’s an exhausting existence to feel like a magnet for other people’s stuff – positive or negative. Motherhood widened my capacity to care for others, and while I thought that was only in relation to my child, I feel like that expansion has created room for way more than I bargained for.

I’m learning where my new boundaries are and when I need to pull away or disconnect. I’m also learning to view this new level of sensitivity as a strength instead of a weakness. Will it fade away at some point? Is this all still the result of residual hormones flowing through my system? Time will tell, but for now, I’ll just ride this wave and see where – for all its highs and lows – it takes me.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough, And Other Thoughts On Struggling As A Working Mom

The Brown Suga Mama -NYC HOPECan I be honest for a moment?

I’m really sucking at this working mom/side-hustler/work-life balance seeker thing. Really sucking.

Watching this week’s episode of Being Mary Jane and its focus on Kara – a driven TV producer, divorcee, and mother – was like a huge exhale for my soul. The episode shone a spotlight on how work, motherhood, and love all collide in her world, and there were a number of times that Kara said something that left me like

One of those things was when she told her friend and co-worker, Mary Jane, that “I just feel like I’ve been an A-student all my life, and I’m just a freaking C-student in everything in my life right now and I just hate it.” Actress Lisa Vidal’s delivery in that whole scene – the whole episode to be exact – had me on the flo’. I felt it. I feel it. I get it.

I’m trying to be a good mother and be good at my job. I’m trying to grow as a good writer and develop my side hustles and be a good wife. I’m trying to be a good friend/sister/daughter, and I’m trying to find time for myself through it all. I can’t give any of this up. My job pays my bills. My family is my heart. My writing and passion projects are part of me. I can’t give any of this up and I want to do it all well, but I feel like I’m not doing a good job with any of it.

Maybe it’s not that I’m not doing a good job. I’m doing the best I can, but do you know how frustrating it is when your best isn’t good enough for you? Whether it’s getting to work by the skin of my teeth, skipping out on reading a book to Little Magician before bed to save time, neglecting laundry that needed to be done yesterday, or staying up late to finish writing (which will undoubtedly make the next morning hellacious), I more often than not finish my day just hoping that I’ll do better the next.

I want to be an A-student again. I want to feel like I’m doing a good job in all the roles and identities I carry. I know that I can’t have it all, and I know that “balance” is more of a fluid equilibrium than a perfectly weighted scale. The lesson life is giving me right now is to figure out what MY all is, and how to make it work in a way that leaves me feeling happy, capable, and whole.

Constantly feeling guilty, dissatisfied, and inadequate isn’t healthy – so what am I doing to fix this?

I’m in the midst of a self-imposed break, being very careful with my time and saying “No” more than “Yes.”

I’m using my time to map out life and to figure out what I want it to look like.

I’m getting better at asking for help when and where I need it.

I’m celebrating my wins where I get them.

I’m promising to be kinder to myself.

That last point is probably the most important. When your best isn’t good enough for you, it can be all too easy to employ abusive self-talk that you’d never utter to anyone else. Before I can make anything better, I have to promise to be kinder to myself throughout the process.

Here’s to being kind to myself and honest about life. Here’s to getting back to A-student status sooner rather than later. Here’s to hope and faith and the belief that things can and will get better.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

Motherhood in colour. Motherhood with flavour.