The Past and The Present With Sonnet James.

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The Past and The Present with Sonnet James

posted on: June 27, 2017

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. 
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 show 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)


  1. Lovely glimpse into your motherhood journey as usual.

  2. 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.