Five Little Things

 

Everyone has a list. Big or small, private or taped to the fridge, most of us have a list of some sort that we go back and forth to. Some of them are for groceries, some are honey-do lists some even take form in a dream board. It gives us a sense of order to have these and to tic off the items as we complete them and gives us a feeling of accomplishment. At some point, some of us mave have even created a list that we wouldn’t dare share with others because its so personal.  Something like what we want in a mate or in a relationship. We can try to fake like we don’t, because admitting it would mean we think about it too much and that would make us seem vulnerable and gasp…human. So I thought I would share one of mine, id love if you all would share some back so I feel a little more human and less “out there”

Five Little Things to Win My Heart


Kindness. At the top of all my list be it romantic or friendship, one thing that I value above all is kindness. Kindness to strangers, to animals, to children, to yourself and yes kindness to me. Ive been on the receiveing end of some pretty unkind happenings so this hands down is non-negotiable.

Humor. I laugh at myself on a daily basis. I laugh at my own jokes, corny as they may be. I laugh at my mistakes and my goofs. I make the cheesy equivalent to dad jokes for my son to perfect the art of rolling eyes and getting that facepalm just right. I love to hear the sound of belly laughs. I love when someone is relaxed enough to just let go and find the humor in life. Laughter is everything.
Intelligence. Now I’m not talking degree intelligence. Hell I only have a high school diploma with a smidgen of Art college under my belt. I’m attracted to brains. The type who never stop learning, who always look for a way to improve. Who aren’t afraind of asking the questions and then tinkering away to get the answer. I love people who read, who have a thirst for knowledge. Those on a neverending quest for growth.
Family. Oh this is a tricky one, because we all have different dynamics when it comes to family. We have traditions and breaking points and stories upon stories to tell. But you know what I love? Family. I love when people love their parents and their cousins and siblings, like I love mine. I love that closeness that keeps you grounded. I speak to my mother and sister every day, my brother and father a few times a month because, um their boys and don’t want to be on the phone everyday. I spend weekends going home to Florida to see my family, my family comes to see us for a week or so at a time. I send my son down there for summer break etc. We are so very close and if you are in my life, you have probably been adopted by my family. You are an honorary kid. So I like to see that in my friends and relationships. Closeness. Showing me you love your family shows me you can love mine.

Contentment. Joy. Happiness. Peace. Whatever you call it, I’m describing that feeling that you have when you feel that inspite of all the obstacles, you have a sense of gratitude for your journey. One where you are content with your growth or your projection. Does that mean having a fancy car or big house or being recognized? Nah. Sure those things are great, but my question is. When you look in the mirror are you proud of the person staring back? ugly scars, war stories and all? Are you doing things in your life today so that when you come back tomorrow and look in that mirror, youll think, yeah….im alright with this and smile that big beautiful toothy grin? I love that type of mindset. That happiness that radiates from your soul and infects the lives of others. This is a character trait. Not a situational thing, we all have moments of sadness and depression and anger, but this is like sunlight beaming from your soul. This is love.

And that’s pretty much it. As simple and as complicated as it can be. That is my secret list. The one I think about when people ask me what I’m looking for and this is how I try to answer. It may seem widly broad or oddly specific depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a partner with these qualities but i will say that so far ive found them in my friends who are kinda my soulmates already so, in that, I’m winning.

♡ Denise.

P.s go out and be awesome.

Microwave cooking for One

​So today at the grocery store i was in line behind an elderly man who was telling the cashier it was his birthday and he had special plans.  I smiled.  When i looked to put the divider down between our groceries i saw that his last item was a box of Trojan condoms.  78 years old.  How awesome.  And I’m sitting here eating a microwave meal while the cat stares at me.  Not gonna lie for like 30 seconds i seriously considered Anna-Nicole-Smith-ing his ass. #alltimelow 😉 ♡ 😂

The Nobodies

hello-i-amI’ve been laying here in bed for the past few hours staring at the walls. The house is completely silent, except for the sound of snoring coming from under my bed where the old beagle sleeps. I’ve counted the little dips in the popcorn ceiling, I’ve scrolled endlessly through Facebook. I’ve clicked on my Instagram and wondered about other peoples lives. I cant watch TV. Tonight, like many nights I just need the silence. However, lately the silence is more like the screaming, deafening shouting coming from my head.

I have tried to explain this feeling to a couple of my friends, I’ve talked about it into thin air, hoping by some miracle I would get an answer back in the wind. I have wished at 11:11, 1:11. I have thrown pennies into wishing wells, I have blown out candles, I have prayed. I have been patient and hopeful and now all of that feels fruitless. I am incredibly lonely.

I am missing that experience, that joy that people have when they find love. I celebrate with genuine happiness when another of my friends gets plucked from the field. I help plan weddings, help pick out gifts, wish and hope and send good vibes as if it were for me. Yet this one thing in life alludes me. Love. It may as well be the loch ness monster in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever known it, at least it was never presented to me in that way.

I spoke to my very best friend today about this. She single like me, a mother like me and we tried to dissect where it all went wrong. We went as far back as 7th grade and carefully combed through memories like private investigators. We would bounce back ideas and realized that we were just clueless. Why? Why not us? Why not me? Why never me? We looked at Facebook friends ( and yes I know most FB isn’t real) but we had friends who always seemed to have a good person in their lives or were always being lavished with nice gifts or just in general being supported. We couldn’t find a common denominator because there isn’t one. We saw tall, thin and beautiful, we saw different shapes and sizes, different levels of education, we saw plump, we saw many children, we saw some who didn’t have any. We saw men leave wives for “downgrades” or “upgrades” the whole messy gambit and that never answers the question. Why am I so utterly alone at 37 years old. Why do I continuously find myself alone? What is it about me that makes me so unforgettable?

You turn on the TV and see the RomComs, the magazines have beautiful people in them and we are bombarded with images that say, if you do xyz or look like xyz you will find love. Move over to real life and you see that, that is not true. Men love who they love, be it tiny, big, smart, dumb. There heart is attracted to whomever it is. I have tried coloring my hair, wearing lipstick, never leaving the house unkempt, I have lost weight, I have gained weight, I have left the house natural. I have been the opposite of me and I have been the truest form of me and yet no bites.

The earlier exercise brings me back to high school. I wasn’t exactly the first pick for girlfriend. I had many guys say they were interested, but when it came time for chivalry or grand romantic gestures, it was the other girls that got it. I was the one nominated for homecoming court but had no date. Who only went to the dances with friends boyfriends because I was safe and they didn’t want to go, so it was “Ask Denise” I loved a couple of boys back then and they just didn’t feel the same about me. When I went to college, it was the same, people flirted but nothing went further than that. When I moved to Atlanta, I even joined a church and they would double dates with no strings attached and I spent many nights alone waiting for my roommates to come home and tell me about the great times they had. After a few years of being emotionally starved I met my sons father and it moved so fast that I suddenly found myself pregnant. He didn’t love me either, in fact he would remind me of that everyday for almost 9 years. I stayed for so many reasons, but mainly because it was better to deal with that then to be utterly alone. Until it wasn’t and the tables flipped and I decided that id rather be alone than subject myself to that abuse. And so here I am 4 years later. As single as I was 17 years ago when I moved to Atlanta. A string of unrequited loves behind me and me sitting here baring my soul to the internet to keep from going insane. And I ask myself, if looks don’t matter, then its a personality thing that people are attracted to, and if that’s the case I must be broken. I must be an unlovable, a nobody.

I mean sure before you freak out, I know I’m smart and kind and loving. I do like myself. My self esteem is pretty hearty. But its just not the type that draws people in. That makes people want to stay. I carefully study out people on a daily basis. I’m fascinated with people. I watch, I listen, I see gestures, I hear tones, I listen genuinely. Or maybe because I’m trying to figure out what I am missing.

I have friends throw the same lame excuses out: Your not trying hard enough, get out more, He’s coming just wait, You’re too good for what’s out there, Your not wanting it bad enough, try online dating, try going out without your son, go places with your son you may meet a single dad, did you try the other dating website? You’re not picky…I don’t get it. I just don’t get why your single. Maybe you want it too badly, when you stop looking it will happen. You don’t care enough, maybe you need to try xyz. I’ve heard it all and yes in some scenarios I could see where that would work, but do you understand I’ve been waiting my entire life? And guys I think there is just something wrong with me.

I feel like that one random item in the store that nobody buys, so they move it around hoping it will garner interest, then it goes on sale, then it goes on deeper sale, then its in the BOGO section, until it just gets lost in the shuffle and ends up in a dusty cabinet. And soon everyone forgets about it. Even the people who carefully rooted for it and tried to mark it down so it would be a perceived value. Even those friends eventually stop calling. It becomes the nothing. The nobody. My biggest fear. Well, I take that back. My biggest fear is that my son who is very much like me in personality will suffer the same fate. I pray more for him than I do for myself and I see him having a hard time making friends and I die inside. I pray that he finds someone who loves him so deeply and they go on to have a family and he is surrounded by so much love he can’t imagine it being any other way. And I hope he grows up to be nothing like me in this sense. I pray he’s not 37 typing on a computer, hoping to connect with someone out there on some level, any level to keep him from going insane. In 37 years I do not know what it is to be loved, to be cared for. I couldn’t tell you a wonderful gesture aside from a stranger opening the door for me. The bar is so low it’s practically burying itself in the ground lol

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This isn’t a cry for help. I still lead a full and active life. I still enjoy the sun rises and the wind blowing in my face. My favorite part of the day is looking up to the clear sky, not a cloud in sight and thinking it was made just for me. I love watching love. I love hearing laughter, it brings me joy to help others and I feel most myself when I am in servitude. I still dress up, but only because it makes me feel nice. I still believe i still hope. But id be lying if I said it didn’t sting a little and wasn’t maddening at times.

So this, here is for you. The nobodies out there. I get it. You in all your badassery are as stumped as I. But I’m hoping you know you’re not alone, not damaged. There is no algorithm to figuring out why some are loved more than others. Or maybe there is. Either way, tonight I wish you peace and quietness as you try to go to sleep and I hope, if there are any nobodies out there that you wish me the same. Goodnight ❤

P.S I plan on slapping on some red lipstick on in the morning and pretending I never wrote this 😉 so if you made it this far, thank you, from the bottom of my warped heart.

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Why I March

march-1For those of you who have been hiding under a rock or simply turned off the news this past Saturday there was a movement in this country. A call to action, a unification of people from all walks of life to come together for Equality, for human rights for social justice and for change. It was amazing. It was empowering and eye opening. I turn on the news and hear people say that we were dumb, that marching didn’t solve anything, that we were a bunch of whiny people upset over the election.  That women who were born here in the US had nothing to complain about compared to third world countries. And so, to the people not understanding why “privileged women born in the USA would protest” I offer my story.

I was 25 years old when I gave birth to my son. It was a Monday in September and I six days past my due date went to the hospital to be induced. I had a pretty easy pregnancy, only complaint was I couldn’t fit my shoes and my legs were literally trunkles. No lie. I ended up laboring for 24 hours, pushing for two and a half and when my son and I were in distress, labor was not progressing and we were prepared for an emergency Cesarean Section. He was born on the most beautiful Tuesday in the history of the world, weighing in at 9 lbs 10 oz and 22 inches long. Yes, apparently I make demi-gods.

Up until his birth I  worked hard at my hotel and tried to save every penny. I had saved up my vacation to supplement the lost wages during my recovery and hoped for the best. I planned on pumping my breast milk to save on money. Of course as all mothers will tell you, sometimes our birth-plan doesn’t go the way we imagined.

Having an emergency c-section meant that it would take up to 12 weeks for my body to heal from having my abdomen sliced open and a human body pulled from it. I soon learned that my vacation that I had saved up was swallowed up to pay for my insurance premiums and that I did not have the little cushion that I thought I had saved for.  At around 5 1/2 weeks I had to convince my OBGYN to allow me to return to work and beg my managers to put me on the schedule because we just couldn’t afford it. At 5 1/2 weeks I resumed my hotel desk job-a  half a week before a vaginal birth is allowed and several weeks before a Cesarean is cleared. But I had to put food on the table and bills to pay and  doctors visits and co-pays to pay for, I had applied for WIC to help and also for government assistance and I made 10 cents more than I was allowed to make at the time to qualify for any additional temporary welfare assistance. So off to work I went with an open wound. And Guess what happened? My stomach opened up. Literally opened up. Blood, liquids, stuff that should have never come out did (and I had a desk job so it’s not like I was doing strenuous work) being that it opened up I also had an infection that could have killed me. My sons father had to learn in the doctor’s office how to pack the gaping 2 inch hole and change my dressings so it would not get worse, but even through that I would wake up get dressed , partially take my pain medications (If it wasn’t higher than an 8 on a 10 point scale I would go without because I found out that it made me loopy and thus unsafe to drive)  and I went to work, occasionally going home on my lunch break so I could change the dressing and re-pack the wounds.

It would have been nice to have paid maternity leave. It would have been a great help, it would have allowed me time to not only heal but bond with my newborn son. As a first time mother it would have allowed me time to learn the things I needed to learn, to just keep a child alive.  I sadly had to stop breast-feeding/pumping because of the infection and medication and it was all so overwhelming. Looking back I know now that I wasn’t educated or confident or coherent  enough to ask for help and  support for myself a breastfeeding mom, so I had to put him on formula Which you guessed it cost a lot of money and additional stress. However I was lucky to have a job, I am well aware of that.

I do remember something that will stay with me forever, I was asked to help train a gentleman (who to this day is a near and dear friend). He was an older man who had no hotel experience and I was the one who was lucky enough to get to show him the ropes. One day, I had to go talk to our accounting department and happened to see the pay sheets pulled up on the computer and noticed it listed everyone’s wages. To add insult to injury, literally, I realized was training a co-worker, a man,  and guess who was getting paid $1 more an hour with no experience? Yep the man. My guts were falling out, I was a great employee (I am now a Director with the same company, so no, I’m not just saying that) and I was training him with 5 years of experience and I was still getting paid a dollar less. So this friends is why I marched. And even though my baby factory is most likely to be closed forever, I did it for my sisters out there who may or may not have it worse than I did. I do it in solidarity for women’s rights, for equality, for human rights. For dignity. I marched for my Black brothers and sisters, for my LGTBQ friends, for the disabled for the voiceless. I wanted the world to know that until my dying breath, in me you will always have an ally. And I won’t stop here, you will see me in letter writing campaigns signing petitions, calling my local representatives and standing in line in November and every election my body will allow me to attend after that. Because you matter to me and together we are stronger than alone.

For a fun video of the Atlanta March please click here :

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EDITED TO ADD: *For the record I believe in paid parental leave for the birth of a child. I feel that a father’s place in the home is just as important and that it is not fair for men in the USA to be punished for wanting to be fathers. I believe both roles are important in the upbringing of a child.

Go out and be awesome, not matter where your walk in life leads you! ❤

Merry Christmas from Us

It’s a major award! I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do.  He’s such a good sport, though slightly embarrassed he’s great to put up with my shenanigans and paying homage to my favorite holiday movie A Christmas Story

Happy holidays with love, 

Denise & Michael 

The not so powerful Oz

It’s 3:37 a.m and I’m wide awake because I crashed on the couch last night after a long physically and emotionally draining week . I was president of everything yesterday and then I had to come home and cook dinner. Like many times I contemplated ordering out or picking up pre made food at the grocery store.  As I sat at the traffic light i checked my bank account, knowing it would be slim as payday is tomorrow. When i logged in i saw that i was negative again.  Fuck. not an unfamiliar site, but i was hoping a few bills would clear tomorrow, not last night merely hours before my direct deposit hit.  i had to buy Michael some last-minute stuff for school and he lost his glasses. …..again.

As I walk through the door im greeted by “Hi mommy.  I’m starving” a normal thing these days with a growing 12-year-old boy. “Hi baby, I know.  I had to work late today so I’m sorry I’ll fix something in a few.  let me take off my shoes and change” i drag myself up the stairs and sit on the toilet to just breath.

He has no idea that today was particularly hard. I had a VIP meeting at the hotel where our owners attended and had to make sure it went well.  Then the same owners had a cocktail reception an hour and a half after their meeting .  Which meant at work , it was an all hands on deck situation. Not only was I the sales person in charge, but I spent the better half of my day in the kitchen preparing trays of food. Our hotel is small and not prepared to handle a tight turn around so we were all wearing different hats. I was running around so much and trying to figure out how we were going to turn a meeting into a reception with food with limited help in less than an hour and a half and still make it look good.  It was such a chaotic day, I hadn’t eaten breakfast and had to be reminded to eat a sandwich at lunch.  When it was time for me to eat i made myself a grilled cheese and sat down with my friends at work  resting my aching feet for the first time all morning. Then the phone rang. It was Michael’s vice principal,  she was responding to an email I had hastily sent that morning requesting a meeting with her.  Michael had been complaining about a teacher at school who had been telling him and certain children that “They would never amount to anything” or that “They wouldn’t go far in life” and the same teacher had kicked him off the robotics team but didn’t tell him.  When I spoke to the teacher the day prior he actually said he “hated teaching this class”. Michael had tried to handle it himself by talking to administrators but it had gotten out of hand so mom had to step in.  After missing about half my lunch and talking to her, she explained what was going to be done and would follow-up next week. I walked back to the lunch table to finish up my now cold grilled cheese and my engineer, with his thick Jamaican accent  says”Denise, you need to stop stressin’ it’s no good .” I had caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror on my way back to the table and saw that face was red and chest was blotchy.  “I wish i could bud” was all I could say.

After lunch it was a go-go go again up until it was time to flip the room for the banquet.  I have amazing co workers so it went off without a hitch and finally after a 10 hour day I could go home. My dress was dirty from food prep, my hair in a messy ponytail and my feet throbbing . I couldn’t wait to get home and just sit-except i had to make dinner.

So as I’m sitting in my bathroom peeling off my sweaty clothes I let out a deep sigh .  I’m  so tired of working so hard to just barely live paycheck to paycheck.  I had just gotten to a decent place when i had to take out the loan for surgery and now here i am struggling .  As I’m sitting there trying to figure out what i could feed my sweet boy, it dawned on me that I had completely forgotten to refill Michael’s cafeteria account last paycheck and I made a mental note to fill it the next morning when i got paid.  I pulled up the app to see if he had money left or if i would need to find change for him to eat. and to my motherly horror i realize that his account was at zero and there werent any lunch purchases for the entire week! i jump up and run downstairs and yell out to my son “buddy did you eat today?!”         He replies “no.” My heart sinks.                                                                                                                 “Oh My God Michael! I’m so sorry i didn’t realize your account was empty ”                            he says “that’s ok, one of my friends gave me a few chips ”

I die a little inside. I ask him if he ate yesterday and he replies that he hasn’t really eaten all week but that one day the lunch lady leant him a dollar so he could eat and that he had to pay her back.

I exclaim “a week! I had no idea, i didn’t get the notification. why didn’t you tell me that you haven’t been eating?!”

He responded with ” I’ve just been reading books, I know that you didn’t have any money and i didn’t want to worry you”

and guys if you ever want to know what it feels like to utterly fail your kid and him be completely aware, this is that moment.  He sweetly says “its ok mommy, I just didn’t want to worry you” I died a thousand deaths.

I walk out of the room and pop out his dinner. Making sure he gets a double helping.  I’ll just eat popcorn and I tell him that tonight he can eat in his bedroom watching TV.  He happily runs upstairs. I then stare at the negative account and think to myself  “shit. maybe my mom can let me borrow $10 for his lunch account and how i need to write a thank you note to the lunch lady for using her own money to feed him that day” I know it’s a long shot but i decide to call his father first.  I’m not bashing him today, but in the past it has been like pulling teeth to get financial help from him and I brace myself for the worse. he picks up the phone and I immediately start with “Michael hasn’t been eating this week, i have no money, can you please put money in his lunch account?” let me tell you that this is also a horrible conversation to have, because it is admitting to the other parent that you are not doing as well as you would like them to believe .  He asks for my log in information and puts  $25 in his lunch account. I do the math in my head and realize that is 62 lunches or 31 breakfast and 31 lunches.  that’s a sweet relief for the moment.  i tell him thank you, hang up and tell Michael that his daddy put money in his account. Then i scramble in search of a dollar to pay back the lunch lady .

To say I feel like complete and utter shit is an understatement. I call my mom to explain my shit parenting and she says to tell Michael to let her know if that happens again, that if he doesn’t want to worry me that she will put money into his account.  I have amazing parents but i still feel like utter shit. I should be able to do this at 37. I had just asked her to buy him some sneakers a couple of weeks back with a hopeful promise that i could pay her in instalments. In my heart of all hearts I will but in small increments. She never reminds me or asks for the money and sometimes it’s months before i can even begin to pay. But I’m grateful to have them.  i feel like a failure though as you can imagine.

And so after an emotional and physical day I passed out on the couch.  Food still in my hair and now I’m up with insomnia .  I’m thinking about how to creatively pay bills.  How I’m going to pay my mom back for Christmas because she’s letting me use her as lay away for Michaels gift.  How I’m barely above water.  How i have a broken tooth that needs to be pulled but i can’t do it now.  How i thought the whole time i was fooling Michael into thinking i had it together.  He doesn’t know that for weeks I’ve been working with the YMCA for a basketball scholarship or how the amazing Mom’s at OBM helped me out so he could play.  he doesn’t know what it takes to run the house and family and this week he peaked behind the curtain and saw that the all-powerful Oz was just a tiny human behind the curtain .

Humility is a hard pill to swallow y’all. and now I have to force myself to sleep because we have to be up for school and work in an hour and a half.  please excuse my typos it’s now 4:28 a.m

The Plague of the Single Mother

lucha It was the end of a rather chaotic day. My son and his friends had accidentally broken a neighborhood basketball goal and we had to scramble to replace it. A few friends had come to assess the situation and someone very special to me showed up, tools in hand and ready to put in the hard work. There was no way I could have done this by myself. There was gratitude and love pouring from my heart as i watched my son and this person put together a goal. They laughed and semi bonded as much as you can bond with a twelve-year-old boy and the stress of my day-to-day life was relieved but for  a short moment.   As the evening progressed we got into rather deep conversations, as we are known for and started talking about the future and things that we wanted. I felt safe and secure and open. I voiced my opinions about a few things and laughed and drank a Margarita. I thanked him and sent him little tiny love hearts from my soul to his. The brief history is he is my Mr Big. A friendship that has spanned more than a decade. A quiet love, an understanding. But like two ship crossing in the night, it never seems to workout. Timing and Life just never seem to allow us to meet where I would want us to. It tortures me sometimes and yet i show up with a smile and an open heart, one that thinks that maybe after kissing all these frogs, eventually i will get my turn. I will find my Prince.  Now I’ve walked away from this “love” many times. Were not the type to fight or say mean things. He’s one of the kindest souls Ive ever met. Beautifully tortured and weathered by life. His personality mirroring Tristan from Legends of the Fall, which sounds romantic until i realize that I am Susanna – the one who loves the unconquerable, free roaming spirit that is Tristan. Nothing good will ever come of this, I know how this story ends.The thing about loving an unconquerable soul and it’s not for the weak, is understanding that sometimes the unpredictable happens and i suppose that’s exciting, the other part of that is that often times its accompanied by a bit of torture and when that soul goes deep sometimes things are said that there is no recovering from.

legendsIn my case, last night, it came in the form of “I can’t be with someone who has a child from another man…..” followed by reasons and run on sentences. He sat there staring at the ceiling not even realizing what he said. It wasn’t said in malice, just not thought through. I dropped my needle and thread (i was stitching a hole in a bag) and said to him “That was the most unkind thing you have ever said to me.” He immediately opened his mouth, eyes widened and realized in horror what he had said. He tried to explain and I calmly said to him “From the Overflow of the Heart the Mouth Speaks, and your mouth is speaking loudly” He grew silent. I tried to recover, gain my composure, tried to pretend it didn’t feel like a thousand daggers in my heart. But the damage was done. In that moment the tiny light of what was left, my humanity, felt snuffed out. I wasn’t angry. I told him that, one should never apologize for their truth and that although not the answer i would ever want to hear, it was pointless to try to convince him otherwise. I knew at that moment, the story of me and my Mr. Big would have to end. That my “Tristan” would ultimately be my demise.

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Which brings me to a restless night and thinking. What is it about some men that are bothered or threatened or put off by a single mother? On dating sites, sometimes we are avoided like the plague. Like we are part of a leper colony. Some men have no issues. I have yet to meet one, but i know they exist because my friends who were in similar situations have met men who love them and their children. I can’t get mad at people who don’t want to be involved with a single mother, it is definitely not for the weak. In my situation, my son is my top priority. I work to provide us a beautiful home, I drive us around in an old Dodge, we have activities, i do homework, i cook, clean, sing, dance and provide single-handed;y for us. In my situation, I’m not looking for a savior. Someone to pay my bills or support my son. He’s 12, there’s not much to do at this point except guidance and reaping the rewards of a decades worth of hard work. So why does this life scare some? Why do some men run from us like we are gearing up to unleash the apocalypse? Maybe its the media portrayal? Maybe its the bad apples spoiling it for some of us. Maybe Ive only met a certain type of men. Maybe its just me. Who knows.

I’ve read several articles and opinions on this to gain a better understanding and my “friend” had his own explanation. These are a few gems that I have run across my deep dark walk through the Internet

  • From Reddit: let’s say that you weren’t married when you got pregnant, for the sake of this discussion. What does the man already know about you? First, that you make poor, selfish decisions about your kids. You see, having children outside of marriage is bad for the kids – it has been proved over and over again.
  • From a Blog: Single moms though have obviously already been through their share of relationships along with all the experiences of being a parent too.  If I wanted to get seriously involved with a single mom, I’d have to forgo the dream of having a wife where we spend time together before kids, then slowly grow together as parents from the very beginning.  Instead, I’d have to hit the ground running and learn how to be a fatherly image to kids that are not mine, despite having absolutely no experience whatsoever of being a dad.  Kids, who more likely than not would resent me and my presence for not being their real dad.
  • And just to add insult to injury, a lot of single moms don’t want to have more children, so I don’t even get the benefit of fathering kids of my own.  So I’m tasked with caring and draining my financial resources for a family that I have no blood ties with, with a wife who would likely have no time for me because she has her kids to think about.  My whole life would revolve around the fruit of another man’s loins.  Errr, no thanks.
  • Comments on Threads: Single moms are truly the epitome of why other nations hate the West. They create these matriarchal fiefdoms all backed, paid for, and legislated by the government(either through welfare or by child support/alimony). They are greedy, narcissistic, shallow, vapid, manipulative, unafraid to annihilate and ruin you using the law and are a severe blight on any industrialized nation. The kids grow up, being an accessory and a pawn to the mother’s life. She values herself 100x more than her kids. The cycle often repeats, where the daughters engage in the same slutty, poor behavior. And the sons either become thugs or become omegas. Repeat ad nauseum.
  • Pity be upon those who get ensnared by these leeches

Pretty grim, pretty dark and if I was in a weak state of mind, i would allow this to mold my thoughts about how I am viewed by the world.Who knows. Am I going to sit here and pretend that it is an ideal situation? No. Does it get messy at times? Yep. Is this the most rewarding yet most difficult situation i have been in my entire life yes and yes. But let me tell you what i have learned being a single mother:

  • There is nothing I can’t face. Juggling work, after school programs, dinner, broken plumbing and a project on the economy and a dog and cat to tend to? I got this shit.
  • Only $25 left to last two weeks? watch me make some pretty fancy gourmet meals out of this. The skills I possess would put MacGuyver to shame.
  • I can wiggle my way to the front row of every performance, award ceremony and recital that makes the Flash look like a tortoise. After all, its my face in the crowd he looks for and I need to get pictures and its my voice he hears above everyone else cheering his name.
  • vascoI’m creative. What you need a Vasco De Gama costume or to be George Washington in 3 hours because you forgot to tell Mom? Sure thing! I live for this. Let me grab the sheets of the bed and some paint and needle and thread and Ive seen enough Project Runway unconventional challenges to make this work!
  • I give the best cuddles, hugs, kisses and support.
  • I’m really strong. insanely strong for being 5″4. With no one to help move couches, lift boxes or open pipes I’ve had to do it on my own. I’m like Xena The Princess Warrior over here
  • I can fix anything. Well almost. Thanks to Google i feel like i can do almost anything.
  • I’m resourceful.
  • I’m braver. Nothing intimidates me or scares me anymore. I’ll stand up and talk to a 6 ft man like a chihuahua does to a pit bull lolmeme

And I know that life has handed me a challenging situation but i honestly feel like this experience has helped me grow as a human. To evolve as a woman. And if someone can’t see that awesomeness and how my skill set can clearly enhance their life, than Sayanora Suckers! Me and mine will be just fine and I wouldn’t trade this adventure for all the Prince Charming kisses in the world. And if you have any doubt to how awesome our life is, please enjoy below ❤

Shatter the Glass Ceiling

suff 1.jpgThis isn’t another political post. This is a love letter to all the amazing women out here who are doing their part to make the world a better place everyday. To the women who raise their babies at home, i salute you. The the women who work to support their families, I salute you. To the women who wake up everyday and go into an office full of men and kill it on a daily basis, this is for you. To the future daughters and dreamers and leaders you are stronger than you know.

Our time is now. I remember being in the 4th grade. I was an Air Force Brat living in Clovis, New Mexico and we had to stand up in the front of the class and tell each other what we wanted to be when I grew up. I remember at the time i wanted to be two things, an actress or the first female president of the United States. I had told my mother this and she would tell me that I indeed was going to be the president. When Mrs. Norfolk called my name i stood up, proud and held my head high and proclaimed that I, Denise was going to be the first Puerto Rican president of the United States. After all, this was the land of hopes and dreams and anything was possible. It was only a few seconds after i declared this, that I heard Mrs. Norfolk say “You can’t be president if your from Puerto Rico or a woman” And i instantly deflated. I had never heard before that my dream was impossible. I had never heard that because of where i was born or because I was a woman, something was out of reach. I couldn’t understand that. My parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be and here a teacher, a smart person just told me that my possible dream was IMPOSSIBLE.

jenny.jpg I remember going home and telling my mother. She was 26 years old and a mother of 3 children. She was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico. A woman who didn’t have the best education but was hands over fist smarter than most. A true survivor. A woman who didn’t understand taking “No” for an answer, who would make small miracles out of a sewing needle, thread and a vision. This woman who didn’t speak English very well, would sit next to me as I learned and would learn the language with me watching Sesame Street. She also enhanced it with Police Academy, Coming To America movies and her favorite show The Price is Right. Her vocabulary was very interesting! I saw this woman, raise 3 kids on her own when my father was out serving our country. She learned how to drive a stick shift in one night while we sat in a pizza parlor so she could get a job. She operated an in-home daycare. She handmade our costumes, she made curtains and decorated our home. She worked outside the home. She learned and everyday she got better. She went to community college, she worked for herself, everyday this woman pushes herself towards greatness so you have to understand, to be told I couldn’t do something was foreign because I was raised to know that i could do the impossible and i had a living, breathing person living in my home, walking the walk and talking the talk. When i told my mother what Mrs. Norfolk said, she was enraged. Shes a fiery soul and I know that she went to the school. I don’t know what she said, but I know when she came back she was pissed and cursed and said that I wasnt going to listen to her and that i could still be President.

However that mustard seed of doubt had been planted and little did I know that from time to time I would hear Mrs. Norfolk’s voice and the self-doubt would creep in. All it took was that one moment to alter my beliefs and thinking. I’m sure she wasnt malicious and maybe she was a product of that small-minded thinking. Who knows.

suff2.jpgWhat I have become is a champion for women. I am the girl who fights for women’s rights. Who befriends the drunk girl in the bathroom and tells her shes beautiful. I’m the one who will let a stranger borrow my phone and wait with her until her friends show up. Im the one who will come over and talk to a woman if she looks scared or is being harassed by men at a party. I am the one who will be your designated driver and make sure you are safe if you want to let loose. I am a believe of the Sister code. I am the one who will train you to take my job someday. I am the one to support you in whatever dream you have because i believe in the sisterhood and it is something i do not take lightly.

votemeSo you have to understand that today, for me is an emotional day. Regardless of your political views, this is monumental. This is HISTORY, or rather HERSTORY. The fact that in my 37 years I got to vote for the first black president and now for the hopeful future Madame President is beyond words. This is the impossible becoming possible. Today when i woke up, i put on a white dress with a purple cardigan and gold jewelry. It was my nod to the Suffragettes who fought for my right to vote, who catapulted us to this very moment. A moment, just 30 years ago i thought would never come.

So now, sisters, its our turn. We get to shatter this glass ceiling. We do not have to offer apologies for existing or simply being born this gender. We are mighty and strong and an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. This is our time.

To the sisterhood, I salute you. ❤

Cats In The Cradle

catsThis is a hard one to write. Today was my son’s well check up at his pediatrician. We’ve been with her since he was born 12 years ago and the visit seemed normal enough. He’s grown 5 inches since she last saw him and we just have to keep an eye on his snacking habits. Usual stuff. Now that he’s older they do have a moment where they ask Mom to leave the room so the doctor can ask him some private questions and get honest answers. Things like, are you doing drugs,drinking, having sex etc. I know the drill so I walked outside and leaned on the wall smiling as newborn babies were being carried by new mama’s in the hallway. I looked at them and thought that it was not long ago my boy was in my arms and now hes 12 and 5”2. By the end of the year he may be taller than me.

After a few minutes the doctor called me back in and said, “Everything is great Mom, you know that the answers he gave me are confidential but you can talk to him about that. However, I wanted to talk to you about how he’s feeling. He said he was sad and feeling depressed daily, and that he tried to reach out to the guidance counselor at school. He feels sad about the situation with his father and that he feels like he has no friends at school” I remember putting my arm around his shoulder and rubbing his back, i know exactly how he was feeling and I remember thinking that he was brave for mentioning it to the doctor. She gave me a few suggestions for a plan to help him and left the room to get someone to draw is blood for his routine bloodwork.

As she closed the door I reached over to him and gave him a big hug. I asked him if he felt like it was getting worse?- his sadness. He said yes. I then asked if he had a pie chart, could he tell me based on the slices what his biggest concerns are. (For those that do not know my son, he is a mathematical thinker so we often speak on percentages and sliding scales) he thought for a second and said its an “80/20  split”.

And i said ok so just 2 problems that make you said daily?”

Yes, he said.

“So tell me what is the 80/20?”. He replied with “80% my dad not calling me back or answering my calls and 20% are the kids at school being mean.”

And i sat there silent, seething, rage boiling in my stomach. After all what could i do about either situation? My instinct was to protect and my visceral reaction was to go for blood. He noticed the color in my face and asked if i was angry and I told him that No, not at him, just at the situation. He made a joke in his usual fashion and we laughed for a brief moment. The doc came back in and gave us an action plan and we left.

As we got into the car. I said to him “Buddy, I’m really proud of you. It’s hard for a 40-year-old to be honest and you are doing it at 12. How else can I help you?” He mentioned talking to the counselor and then in a very grown up way said “There’s nothing you can do, this is not your fault and Im used to it by now, I didn’t want you to worry”

I will admit it was at this moment that i felt a pang in my heart. A pain that I imagine is reserved for parents in  way that is indescribable. A hopeless feeling. A moment of overwhelming stress. We are his parents we are here to protect him, to nurture him, and I can do nothing about this pain. It is something neither of us asked for, deserved or anticipated. I cannot force his father to show up. I cannot force him to answer his phone. I cannot force him to be consistent. All i could say to my child, who was hurting was that “Im sorry. And I know your father loves you, but right now he just cant be his best and its ok to be mad” We were at a stoplight and the car was silent, when i looked at him and said “I’ll tell you what. How about for the car ride home you can pretend im your dad and you can say anything you want to say. Ill even give you permission to cuss, yell, scream and get angry. You can cry, you can say nice things. And i wont say anything at all. And you wont get grounded because this is a safe place. And when you are done and want Mommy back. Just tap me on my hand.”

He hesitated and said something then tapped me on my hand. I said, well that was quick, do you feel better? do you have anymore to say? And he did. Boy did he ever. He finished by saying that he didn’t want to cuss (he didnt) but that if he could say these things to his face he would.

I ended up pulling over to take him to dinner at a restaurant. The kid deserved it. I took him to the grocery store and bought him a slice of lemon cake. We can work on the snacking part tomorrow. Today calls for comfort. We walked in the house and i turned on the NBA game for him and he’s smiling. Before he got settled in i said to him “Buddy, I know i cant make it stop hurting but I will make you a promise. I will be there for you and love you until my last breath. I will always be here and to if you need more, just tell me. Let me know if im not living up to it. Because you need a constant in your life and if i have to do the job of 2 people I will. Now im gonna fail sometimes, just so you know, im human. But i promise this” and i held out my pinky and we pinky promised. And i don’t know what tomorrow will bring but i know we will do this together. He and I.

And his father may never see this but this is all I have to say:

……I’ve long since retired, and my son’s moved away

I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you.”
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, son?” “I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then, dad
We’re gonna have a good time then.”

 

Go Big or Go Home

machoSo I’m here at work, trying to pry my eyes open and make it through the day. I’ve only been here an hour. What did i do last night? Well it was Halloween Duh and in my house that means its bigger than Christmas. I left work 2 hours early just to prep, was dressed before my kid even made it home from school and then it was go time. We train for this night all year. Teaching ourselves to handle the sugary goodness by training and eating small amounts of candy leading up to the big day. Watching our steps on the FitBit to make sure we push a little harder because come this amazing night- its go time. This is not time for amateur hour at the Ruiz house. My son had about 22,000 steps on his last night. It’s enough to make a mother proud.

Keeping in tradition with our themed costumes, this year he chose WWE wrestlers for us. He wanted to go as Kane but with the outfit from 1999 Attitude Era days. Totally up for the challenge i scoured the internet and found articles of clothing worthy of such a feat and then spent an entire Sunday hand painting his costume. After he was all set and done, it was time for mine. I decided to pay homage to a childhood favorite fo mine and my brother Macho Man Randy Savage. I must say that im quite pleased with the outcome and all night – dads around my age kept shouting out their approval. Even though i was robbed in the neighborhood costume contest– it was clearly a popularity contest- i still feel like i left that night the victor.

mic-and-macho

Now my body hurts and i think i need coffee intravenously pumped through my veins as all the magic was poured into last night. It is the one thing i live for all year, and the reason why is this: Halloween is the one holiday where you can let go and pretend. You can be anything you want and no judgment is passed. You don’t have to spend money on presents or feel left out if someone didn’t get you anything. We are all brought together by the common bond of candy and fun. There are no political or racial differences behind the mask and for one night we all join in for fun and laughter.

And as if the Halloween gods nodded in approval this morning i was given a teeny tiny little high-five from the Universe- in the form of a tweet. I saw that The Mindy Project was following me on Twitter. Why is that a big deal? Well she’s only an amazing writer and comedian and bad ass woman which frankly we need to celebrate more. But that was pretty cool and for today, I fully intend on acting like im better than anyone else here at work, because after all, I’m kind of a big deal 😉

big hat derby hat the mindy project mindy kaling mindy lahiri

And for your enjoyment….a little impersonation of the Late great Macho Man. You made our childhood better ❤