The Past and The Present with Sonnet James

This post is sponsored by Sonnet James. Shot in a playground I spent my childhood summers in.


                One of my favorite quotes circulating Instagram lately comes from Nayyirah Waheed.

I smell my parents
on my words.
and I weep.”

I find this quote is beautiful, painful, and tragically true. Every so often, when I am with the kids, whether it be a moment of joy or in the midst of a tantrum, when anger and frustration is at a level so thick you can slice it, this poem swims into my gut. In those moments, it’s like I am battling my mother and my father-–the good and the difficult in both relationships. What I find more poignant than anything else, is how so much of my childhood past drips itself into my adulthood, the present and, possibly, the future. 

Wearing the PlaySuit in Dot and Brother Vellies sandals

Now, as a mother, why is it still so? And why do I still feel this internal, this sometimes external, push and pull with my own parents?

In my quest to be honest about this, I’ve found deep, soulful connection with other mothers feeling the same. For a while, it seemed that if I wasn’t willing to discuss dumping poop out of the small potty into the big toilet at 2 a.m. half asleep, we had nothing left to discuss. But behind the literal shit, when I was honest, was the truth, waiting to be shared.

When I met Whitney of Sonnet James, that same truth was all over her. I had recently given birth to Oak, and during that hot summer day, with big hair and a tired body, excited to participate in her collection, we connected in that truth—the past, the present, the future, the good and the difficult in all of it….

It has been two years since we shot the last collection, but this connection holds true, maybe even more now than before. River is going into first grade and Oak has one more year of pre-school; we are still in the same neighborhood, two apartments later, and back on the same exact street. 

Wearing the Brielle Floral and Brother Vellies Martian Boots

Part of my adulthood struggle is navigating through the pain of my adolescence. And while I love New York with every morsel of my soul, I am often face that old reality, that old struggle. There are beautiful and painful memories scattered and hidden on corners like little eggs on Easter. Part of my mission, not only as a mother, but as a woman, is to not let those little eggs become bombs that blow my footing away. I owe it to myself to peel the shell off, reveal what’s underneath, and use it as a tool to not only become a better version of me, but a more qualified version of their mother. Call it, therapeutic, intentional mothering. 

 Shot in-front of the apartment I lived in when I found out I was pregnant with River. Wearing the Joy dress

Sonnet James’ mission has always struck a chord in me. While I am all for fostering independent play for my children, my ideal position in motherhood is being present, with and without them. Part of being present is discovering all of those little eggs around Brooklyn that evoke a memory for me. Peeling them away in front of my children, exposed and often raw, oozing in the middle. And, in the end, cooking up magic from every part of it, while also being really honest with it all. Even the ever-present, unresolved pain—the pain that kind of shakes you in the middle of the night and sticks with you during the day, while you plaster a smiling face and get down and scoot along an uneven Brooklyn sidewalk. 

Wearing the Isla Dot and puma sneakers.

All of it makes all of me, and, in turn, creates this painful, joyful, and magical childhood for my children, that I am thankfully able to be honest and present in. 

If nothing else, I really did try. And I wore a comfortable and beautiful dresses while doing so. 

P.S if you’d like to shop any of the dresses I’m wearing use the code: latonya20 at check out. 

(This post is sponsored by Sonnet James, in collaboration with Heather Moore and Maia Harms (video/coming soon)

13 thoughts on “The Past and The Present with Sonnet James

  • Reply Jenissa June 29, 2017 at 4:04 am

    Lovely glimpse into your motherhood journey as usual.

  • Reply LaTonya Yvette June 29, 2017 at 4:25 am

    Thank you so much, Jenissa!

  • Reply Johnna LaFaith July 7, 2017 at 1:03 am

    I wrote you earlier, on Instagram, asying I loved you… ya know, even though it was "weird". Honestly, I hadn't been to your blog in a while because your words speak to me, and some days you just can't cry. I mean that in the best way, of course. Motherhood has been a journey. I got pregnant, in a terrifying way, when I was 19. My daughter is almost 13 now, and she has a 9 year old sister and a 10 year old brother that also came under similar circumstances. I married a man to appease my parents that didn't love me and couldn't – really – love anyone. And almost 8 years ago, I left. Up to that point I had been a good mother, loving and patient, but all of us had been to scared to grow and become, you know. But fast forward all those years later and even though I raise my voice some days, and I cry – a lot – and it's just the 4 of us, I can say "I really did try". For me, much like you have so eloquently said, I had to unpack everything that brought me here. We didn't go to therapy, we bathed in it, every day. We soaked up each other and were ALL present. It created magic. My teenager tells me everything. We don't have that horrible block that I had with my mother. We love and delight in each other and function as a team. My mother forgot how to be a child… I have tried so hard to hold on to it… and I see it in you and I hear it. Your children are lucky, and when they are 13 they will tell you their secrets because you have loved them, presently, and given them the footing everyone deserves. Well done. And hugs to you.

  • Reply OliviaK July 28, 2017 at 11:53 am

    I just followed a link posted on A beautiful mess and I have to say your pictures and family are so inspiring! Glad I found your blog!

  • Reply Gina M. July 28, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Hi Latonya! I love the quote you shared at the beginning of this post. My Long Island-born Mother passed away in 2010 and whenever I say something she used to say or I remember something I had forgotten about my life with her, it stops me in my tracks. Thanks for sharing it and giving us a peek into your journey as a Mom.

  • Reply Jessica July 28, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Thank you for this post. I'm not a mom (yet) but my main prayer for when I become one is that I can live with the tension of having scars and pain, while at the same time giving my kids the knowledge that they are deeply loved through my actions. Thanks for giving me an example of how it can be done. Often I hope that I can give my kids a childhood without pain, because mine was very painful. But I think I would like to give them an example of how to process pain instead, since it's not realistic to live without it. Thanks for putting this into words- when others honestly describe their personal journeys, it helps me to describe my own.

  • Reply BMC Photography July 28, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Made me cry. I hung on every single word. I find myself at times trying to mask the struggles of my upbringing, instead of facing them head on, and working through them. The few times I did address them, I found peace. FREEDOM!! Vulnerability is something I struggle with, but it's something that my children need to know is ok. Thank you for sharing your layers with us.

  • Reply camille July 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

    "Part of my mission, not only as a mother, but as a woman, is to not let those little eggs become bombs that blow my footing away." So good. You are so young but SO WISE. Keep shining!

  • Reply LaTonya Yvette July 28, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Hey Olivia!

    Love the ladies at ABM, thank you so much for hoping on over!

  • Reply LaTonya Yvette July 28, 2017 at 11:57 am

    So sweet Gina. Isn't that so powerful? Thank you for reading and your support.


  • Reply LaTonya Yvette July 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Johnna! I loved what you wrote, and I totally understand, promise!

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story, it has truly inspired me more than you know. And your nugget at the end, I hope so, and comments like these make me feel confident in that future.


  • Reply LaTonya Yvette July 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you so much Camille!

  • Reply LaTonya Yvette July 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    There are SO many layers in us all. Addressing vulnerability is such a huge factor in raising the next generation.

    You are doing great.


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