Category Archives: single dad

Help me Tom Cruise,  Oprah and Baby Jesus 

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I just burst out in tears, not my proudest moments as a parent but we all have these moments sometimes where we just fall apart.  I dare any parent to tell me otherwise. Recently I  have entered the wonderful world teenage years.  This is the area where your baby starts to define who they are,  they test boundaries,  they grow,  they dont need you,  but still need you so much.  To me it’s like revisiting the toddler years but with testosterone and lots of eye rolling and back talk and a tiny mustache. This is also the part of your life where as you’re wading in fresh attitude hell,  you apologize to the heavens and your parents for being so awful. I put my parents through pure hell and on a few occasions they both lost their patience with me.  I get it.  Payback is a beyoch and I’m in the throes of it.  

My son is gifted academically and this month alone hes been sought out to be in leadership groups,  invited to take his SATs in the 7th grade and to participate in a 5 year program for kids which will eventually lead to scholarships (I’m a single mom struggling so this is HUGE) hes had to apply to this program by today and write an essay to get in,  get letters of recommendation etc.  He puts it off until this morning. I wake him up, I’m sitting here trying to help and in fussing at him because lately he just has an “I don’t care attitude” and honestly I just want to throw in the towel on this whole parenting thing.  Im stretched thin.  His grades lately have dropped for no other reason than “school is stupid” and well my baby is sullen,  ornery,  and wants to play basketball or video games all day.  This is normal.  This is expected.  There comes a day where you are no longer the favorite human,  the best friend and more of a bother.  I’ve prepared for this,  but what I didn’t expect was the attitude. 

  Going back to this essay that he’s writing,  I ask him “why he didn’t care ” and he says “cuz I don’t,  I’m doing this for you.  You want me to do this,  you said it was for scholarships” 

  So I just was crushed,  because yes he’s 13 he doesn’t realize the opportunities that he has that I never did and how this will help his future.  No 13 year old sees that.  

 

 So then I go into a speech about how I wish my parents had helped me in school, not because they wouldn’t,  but because they didn’t know of these opportunities or how smart I really was and well in the 90s, I didn’t know how to ask for help either. They instilled a strong work ethic in me, so that’s all I knew.  Work hard,  make an effort and it will work out. (Great lessons. Mom and Dad don’t feel bad) i explained to him how I wish I didn’t have to work two jobs to pay for college that I had to drop out of because I couldn’t afford it, (I’m still paying for college loans with a high school education and no degree)  that if I had a chance at an education I wouldn’t be working at a hotel for 20 years and not following my dreams.  That I wanted a different life and if I had the chances hes been given I’d be a success.  Then I realize ive said this crying. And maybe I am projecting my failures on him and I’m trying to keep him from growing up to be me.  

He looks at me blankly.  This is what parenting a teenager is. 

This parenting thing is so hard and all i think most of us want is for them to be better than us. To be happy and healthy and good kind people.  I know he will be,  I have faith that this will all work out.  He’s too awesome and I just have to remind myself to be gentle and loving and patient because this won’t last forever.  

  Hugs to everyone parenting a teenager….. lord knows I ain’t seen nothing yet.  

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Single Mom, Child Support and other dirty words

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meeting-michael I am not exactly sure when the negative stigma of being a single mother started. It seems to me that the only honorable way to go through this unscathed is to be a widow. I look at examples in the bible, women were married off, stories in history where women were bashed, I read comments from keyboard warriors and articles about how we are the demise of society. If you become a single mother from some type of tragic accident, you become strong and people feel compassion for you. Otherwise you are a careless, Jezebel, harlot with no morals or values and we get painted as husband stealing, half assing, horrible people. Someone literally has to die for me to be OK as a single mother. Let that sink in. I remember being young and watching something on the news about Dan Quayle slamming a character on TV named Murphy Brown because she had chosen to become a single mother and I couldn’t understand why people were so upset. I was about 8 or 9 so, there wasn’t much to understand honestly. My own mother had become pregnant with me at 17 and her and my father were hastily married a month later. Granted they just celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary yesterday, but in 1979 had she chosen to go it alone, i imagine that she would have been branded with a Scarlet letter across her chest. In 2004, when i became pregnant, i also received side-eye glances and was shunned by people i thought where my friends. Some people at church wouldn’t speak to me and it baffled me then. I was still the same person they liked yesterday. I was still kind and smart and loving. I wasn’t damaged. But religiously it showed that i was weak, that I gave into the flesh. I thought that was the most absurd thing to hear. I could have easily gotten an abortion and they would have never known. They could have continued to love me being none the wiser. But it was when i decided to carry this amazing life into this world that i received the most backlash from strangers and people. Meanwhile, there were revered people in the church beating their wives, having affairs, snorting cocaine before a sermon, but no one was talking about that, because that “sin” was in secret, mine was on the outside, growing stronger and healthier by the minute. I refused to be shamed or hang my head low. I made my choice and i moved on, leaving behind toxic people who i realized at that moment were never my friends to begin with.

Fast forward to 12 years later and as you know my kid is my world, my everything. I work, sleep, eat and breath to make anything possible for him. Our life is full of love and wonder and magic at times. People still look at me crazy, wondering what I’m up to and why I haven’t gotten married yet. As women we are summed up by the value of a man in our lives. It’s no wonder we suffer from self-esteem issues and feel worthless at times. We get reminded daily that we have “baggage” that we are “baggage”. There aren’t many men who want to step up and help raise another mans child. Those that do are saints. They should be elevated to sainthood, because you looked past the stigma and you saw love and a family and you wanted that so badly for yourself. Kudos to you.

It’s no secret that my ex and I have had our shares of major downs with a few ups sprinkled in between. For those that aren’t familiar ill summarize: Gas-lighting, emotional verbally abusive person who would try to break me down daily until i finally left.

Its been almost 4 years now, in that time I managed to buy my son and I a house, i paid off my car, i moved him to an excellent school district. He plays sports, plays in the band at school, he has sleepovers, we have a dog and a cat, friends and family who love us and life for the most part is good. The area that is lacking to be perfectly honest is that his father, although living just 5 miles away is mainly absent by choice. Only showing up when its convenient, often going “missing” for weeks at a time. It has taken a toll on our son emotionally and is one of the causes of his depression. It is something i cannot fix. All these years i have been solely responsible for him financially and physically. His father at times has helped, but only if i begged and pleaded. So sometimes we went without because i didn’t have it in me to humiliate myself again. My parents and friends have stepped in to help with groceries or bills or lunch money when i was in dire straits. I have applied for scholarships for him to play sports and gotten creative with couponing and grocery shopping etc. I have made payment plans with doctors and schools just so he doesn’t have to feel like “the kid of a single mom”  I don’t qualify for financial assistance because apparently the government thinks I’m rich, and that’s OK. He has no idea, my son that financial sacrifices that are made and i don’t want him to feel bad about it. The home i bought us sits in a multi million dollar neighborhood, i bought it at a foreclosure for $150,000. So he plays with wealthy children and gets that great education and he doesn’t know that if not for that wonderful fortune of events, we could never afford a house so nice in a nice neighborhood.

A couple of years ago after struggling to pay for after care at school and stressed about having to send my son to my parents for the summer because I couldn’t afford summer babysitting, I finally applied for child support. I was nervous and drove almost an hour to the office with all the information i might possibly need in a neat little binder. My stomach was in knots and a friend came along with me. I hated that i had to do this because i knew the repercussions i was about to face when he realized i put in an order. After a couple of weeks, i was given a court date and i waited and waited for that dreaded call from him. It never came of course because they couldn’t serve him, so court dates were pushed back and rescheduled at least 5 times. It has been two years and i still have not been to court to even begin the process. In the interim, i have begged his father for help only to have $26 dollars thrown my way or to beg for new shoes and clothing. Sometimes he would help, but more often than not I was ignored. My mother would be the one who bought his shoes, clothes and Christmas presents this past year. And I paid her back in installments and in gift cards that people had given to me as gifts, i went to several taste tests where they paid you and promptly turned that over to her. It was like handing someone a bag of pennies you collected and hoped that they understood you were trying. And she does and she did and words can’t express how grateful i am for that support. She even came to stay with me over winter break for a month to help take care of him while he was out of school so he wouldn’t have to be alone while i worked since i couldn’t afford for him to be in a camp or anything.

This Saturday, I finally got the call. I had fallen asleep on the couch and my phone buzzed me awake. I sleepily answered and his father was on the other line.

“I got the papers” he said, in a low voice

“What papers?” I sleepily asked

“I got the papers. The child support papers”

“Oh…..” I sat in silence for what seemed and eternity but was probably just a few seconds, bracing myself for impact. Trying to remind myself to be strong, that I knew he was about o be awful to me but any of the words that came out of his mouth were not true. That I wasn’t awful for asking for help, that it was his job as a parent to want his son to succeed.

“You need to withdraw this” he said

“Um..No” I said quietly, then asserted myself “No”

“You really want to put him through this? You want him to go through a paternity test? You need to withdraw”

“Uh, he’s not going to go through anything, he’s not going to court this is child support. I filed this 2 years ago, when you refused to help me with day care and I had to send him off. This is because he needs shoes and underwear and clothes and I shouldn’t have to beg you and plead to help him”

“You need to withdraw this”….. and then there were other exchanges that are not really important to this narrative. But the jist of it is he tried to get me to cancel the order. He gave me reasons why this wasn’t a good idea and tried to play on my insecurities and I held firm. I hung up the phone and sat in silence for a few minutes. Not really knowing what fresh hell I was about to open with this. My stomach ached, I was nauseous. Because what you don’t realize is even getting away from your abuser, your never really free and sometimes the sound of their voice or a disagreement gives you flashbacks of the worst of times.

About a half an hour later, he calls back. I answer the phone with a “hello…” followed by silence.

“Are you going to put him through this?” he says more forcefully this time. “Have you looked at Michael?, have you looked at him?”

Knowing where this was going I responded with “Uh yes, I know what my son looks like, i only gave birth to him and i see him everyday”

“Oh YOUR son” he said.  I thought to myself, oh boy here we go. “Because he doesn’t look anything like me. Do you think he looks like me?” he said angrily. “He looks nothing like me”

Cheese and Rice on a fucking stick. Are you serious?! Was all I could think. I didn’t even get to respond before he said “Because they are going to put him through a paternity test and you need to withdraw, because he doesn’t look like me and you’re going to put him through this”

So this is where he is mentally now. He’s upset that he has been ordered to pay child support and now after 12 years he’s trying to attack my integrity by implying that there is a possibility that our son is not his. He is. There is no doubt.

I answer back with “Look I know you’re sitting there with hopes and dreams of a Maury Povich situation where you get off the hook on a technicality, but he’s your son. Don’t you ever question me again about that. You raised him, you were there when he was born, he has your mannerisms, you and your fathers eyes among other things. Besides, he’s a bi-racial child, guess what genius? he’s not gonna look like anyone, (Even though the kid is my doppelgänger honestly, which is OK because UM I’M HIS MOM)

Then he responded with what he does best, the big bow on the gift of insulting “Oh you think I don’t want him to be my son? why would you say that?” And ladies and gents that is called gas-lighting. Bringing up something, creating a fuss and then turning it around on the other party as if they created the issue and thus they begin to replay and question their sanity. Realizing this i ended the conversation immediately and decided that i needed to have a talk with our son . He’s twelve. if there is a court order that involves a paternity test (which is normal in cases where you file for child support and were never married, this isn’t because my morality is in question or because its assumed i passed my vagina around like an hor de oeuvres plate, its standard procedure in my state. )

I decided to go upstairs and see my sweet boy who was playing video games and none the wiser. “Hey Buddy” I said “Do you have a second? I have to talk to you about something that’s kinda hard”

“Sure” he replied

“Buddy…” and I took a deep breath, a minute or so passed before I could muster up the words to start this awful conversation, but my son and I have that type of relationship. Were very open and honest, you have to be when your running a house like ours. It has to run like a well oiled machine. “Buddy, um, do you know what child support is?”

“Not really, No” he said

“um, well child support is when one parent asks for help financially from the other parent. To help them buy clothes and food and things that the kid needs. Sometimes, child support has to be done in the courts because of the way its set up”

My son, who is half wise but also half sarcastic, a trait he definitely got from me says “So you’re suing daddy?”

“No dude, I’m not suing Daddy. I filed for help a few years ago and they finally sent him the paperwork and we have to go figure some things out. But I’m telling you this because of the way it works, you have to go to a lab and they have to swab your cheek. Its to establish paternity. They do that to protect the dad because there are some not so nice people out there who lie and say that the father is one person when it really isn’t so they make everyone do this”

He laughs and goes into a Maury Povich “you are not the father!” dialogue. I give him side eye and say “Sorry bud, that’s not the case here. Your mother remembers well when you were conceived and there is no doubt in my mind, that’s your daddy”

My son in a moment of clarity and knowing his father says “Let me guess, Daddy’s mad and acting like I might not be his”

“Well, he’s  a little surprised by the order and asked me to cancel it, but I said that i wouldn’t because it’s not fair. You have things that you need and i try my best to provide them, but i need a little help. I hate that i even have to ask, but i had to, and I’m so sorry buddy, that you have to be part of this. You wont have to go to court, we wont fight,He sill loves you, he’s your Daddy. i just had to tell you because of the swab thingy” and then i hung my head in shame and started to tear up.

My son, the best thing to ever come out of our genes, said “Mommy, don’t feel bad. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. You have already shown that you can do it and if you need help that OK. Adults always tell kids to ask for help but forget to do it when you become and adult and if you have tried all you could and exhausted all your options, then this is what you have to do”

I look up at this amazing soul and say “how did you get so wise?” and he gives me a sly grin and a mischievous look and then yells out again “You are NOT the father!” because Maury Povich to him is funny and he’s 12 and a stinker. I laugh and give him a hug, call him a bum and ask him if he has any questions. We talk about the stigma of unwed mothers, the baby mama title, the feeling that people think we are out here getting our nails done and at the club spending child support money while our kids sit at home hungry and in filth. I tell him its unfair and that most of the time the money people get is only a little so it’s not even what the main provider spends in a month. That this wasn’t a “Mommy is mad at dad” thing and that anything i received we would put into his bank account and use for his needs. He seemed to handle it well. however, after i walked downstairs about an hour later, he said “I’ve tried calling Daddy twice and now he’s not answering”

Sigh.

Hold your head high little one, we will get through this. This isnt the life i wanted for us, but ill figure out a way to make it a life your proud of.

Five Little Things

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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.

The not so powerful Oz

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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

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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 ❤

Cats In The Cradle

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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

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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.

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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 😉

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

Fresh Hell : The Pre-Teen Years

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freshhellI’m not even a full month into this hellish, hormonal, angst part of parenting. My sweet, precious baby lamb only just turned 12 last month, and almost as if a light switch magically turned on (or off) I was thrust into no mans land overnight. I had heard stories from friends with daughters that it was hard, I understood and could relate to that I was an emotional 12-year-old once and I’m sure I was a thorn in my mother’s side. Honestly, having a boy i didn’t think it would be so bad, plus he’s always been a fairly easy, obedient child so I figured it may be a few outbursts here and there, nothing too crazy. I mentally prepared (or so i thought) I’ve been doing my stretches and workouts in case he gets a bout of “testosterone” and tries to one up me i can remind him that even at 5’4 I’m still Mama.   But no one can really prepare you for this. This piping hot steamy pile of shit that just gets handed to you one day and you have to figure out how to navigate it with your own pile of hormones as you approach 40. Life’s cruel this way. Life’s a sordid, twisted little bugger.

danger  Already, in the 28 days of 12 (yes, I’ve counted) he has developed and practically mastered the art of eye rolling, the smacking of the lips, the smart ass tone, the whatever attitude. It’s as if he went to the science lab in school and accidentally got into the toxic goo and instead of developing super human powers I got Super Melodramatic Angst Man-Boy. I though I was the queen of sarcasm and acerbic wit but i have to bow down to the development speed here. Either the student has been studying the Master or were dealing with a whole new level of fresh hell here folks!

And y’all, between us this is totally above my pay grade! I’m not trained in this. Do you know that this past weekend we went on a Halloween Tour and I was so excited to have a great time and before we had even gotten there he had brought out, Cranky, Sullen, Sleepy, Hungry and Indifferent. That was just on the 30 minute ride. When we got there he hung out with Tired, Whatever, Kinda Stupid. When the tour started he invoked the spirits of I Don’t Get It, Why are We Here?, Kinda Cool, This Is Fun and Can We Go Home Yet? By the time we took all the pictures he noticed a raunchy Donald Trump sticker and then it was Gross Joke time and Silliness for 15 solid minutes. Then when we got home he snuggled up on the couch and we watched scary movies and he decided to let Sweetness and Tenderness hang out for the rest of the evening. It was a maniacal roller coaster and the bad thing guys…is when I bring it up to him I get the universal blank stare, your crazy mom look.

help-himMy sweet, talented gifted boy is currently sitting across from me as I type this. I just received an email from his teacher that he is not participating in class or turning in his work. Guys he’s a straight A student for the most part but this last report card he brought home some B’s. His response, I can pass the tests, the homework is dumb. Uh…..dude unless your ass got invited to join MENSA and forgot to tell me, i suggest you get with the program. Now he’s doing his homework that his teacher so graciously has allowed him to make up, which i told him was the only time i would allow it as a first offense. The next time he will suffer the consequences of a zero or an F. I refuse to celebrate mediocrity. He is banned from TV, video games and the phone. A punishment I’m sure will hurt me in the long run. And so what is he doing to show his disapproval of my discipline? Sniffing his nose loudly, breathing with a heavy sigh, writing hard and crumbling papers….

Help him Tom Cruse, help him Oprah, may he gather protection from his Abuelitas prayers. I also need help at this point I’m invoking all the power of Castle Greyskull, all the Care Bear stares and a Sam’s Club size pitcher of pre mixed Margarita mix to get me through these pre teen years. I also will start to forage and hoard the tears of a thousand angels for strength to guide me through what is yet to come…..Teenager. da da duummm. Solidarity y’all. So much effing solidarity!

Why I Seem Bitter – A misunderstanding and the art of how Ive mastered RBF

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     vivien_leigh_gone_wind_restaured  Since becoming a single mother and leaving behind the days of my youth I have lost that youthful joyful smile that used to stay plastered on my face. Fast forward to the future and due to life and a general disposition of “F@#$ that s#!t” I have developed what some may call RBF or Resting B!@#$ Face. I feel like its an unfair description though because it makes me feel that women have to have a cheery disposition and that our resting face causes people to react so negatively. Men don’t have a term for their normal face and we certainly are not here to entertain you or are obligated to “look more pleasant” for your comfort. My face is my face -eff that noise!

  Which brings me to my next point, I’m bitter. No, I’m not really bitter but it has been a word tossed my way lately by people who have been on the receiving end of my truth. Now I’m usually really good at taking a long hard look at myself and tweaking things if needed. You can at anytime tell me that Ive been cranky or hangry and need to tone it down and its usually followed with a  positive reaction. “I’m so sorry, it was the hunger talking, lets get tacos!”  or “Man, yeah your right i didn’t get any sleep and Ive been on edge, thanks! Ill go take a nap” Sometimes i don’t agree and i use the “Well lets agree to disagree and i still want to go get tacos” line and all is restored to its normal order. But I can honestly say is that I don’t feel bitter is a word used to describe me. What I am is tired. Tired of everything and the older i get the shorter my attention span for B.S gets. Like Ive developed this super-human power of spotting B.S before it hits me.  So i ninja kick it in the face before the full sentence leaves someone mouth. In other words I aint got time for that.

   Ive also grown to appreciate peoples honesty with me. If my breath smells like 3 day old hot garbage dipped in piping shit- please tell me so i can go fix it. Did i say something that hurt your feelings? oh my gawd please tell me so i can make it right. Did my kid say something crappy and you think it should be address? By all means let me know- cuz Mama is not trying to raise a serial killer! These are things that I am willing and able to fix- but my apparent RBF I will not and let me tell you why.

wednesdayMy face permanently sits like this on any given day. What you see is that I act slightly dead inside that I’m itching for a fight. But in fact my RBF means I am weary. I am worn out. I am tired. I’m am stretched thin. I am exhausted. So exhausted that the effort to smile hurts my body. That I work in hospitality and I’m “on” all day giving and giving to people at the hotel. That I have a child who needs a healthy mother so i put on a show for him as well- because he doesn’t deserve the sad, tired face. That I’m always on. Whether its at work, for my child, for my friends etc. Everyday I’m tasked with fixing, helping, comforting, cooking, cleaning, managing and leading. I’m not any more special than all of you, i know you too may wear these hats. But understand, that If something breaks i fix it. There is no one at my home or knocking at my door asking me if i need help. Or if I’m hungry. No one rubs my feet or my back and tells me that even though today was hard tomorrow will be better. No one holds my hand and squeezes it to let me know that its OK to be nervous. When my kid is sick- i get to agonize over whether to call off work or leave him at home with a phone and soup. I get to decide by myself if we can afford normal groceries or if he eats the last piece of chicken and I eat yogurt for the 3rd time this week.  When i have days that feel like a fresh hell springing up from the claws of Hades himself- i alone have to deal with it. Now please i do not write this so i can play the victim. Far from it. I write this so that those who mistakenly call me “bitter” understand that I just have too much going on to stop and smile all the time. That when I get upset that my sons father hasn’t called for weeks or refuses to help financially – its not that I’m one of “those baby mamas” that society likes to vilify. Its that I’m tired of choosing which bill to pay so he has lunch money and that Ive creatively figured out a way to pay for basketball or band or robotics that is not immoral or illegal. That when i genuinely get upset about not being helped with our son- I’m not stating that “all men are deadbeats” or that “Men aint shit” or “That i wish i had child support so i could  buy a Fendi bag” that’s so far from the truth its not even funny. What bothers me is that if a single mother complains, people assume – based on the FB posts Ive seen or the memes that she isn’t taking care of her kids. That she has an ulterior motive, that shes money hungry. And that’s an unfair generalization. Its as unfair as assuming that all single fathers don’t take care of their kids. We have it hard enough without the side eye and judgment from so called keyboard warriors. Trust me, i get it at school because we have different last names, i get it when people look down and don’t see a ring on my finger. I get it when we don’t get invited to dinners and peoples houses because it seems like a complicated situation. People avoid single mothers like the plague in general.

So given all that information, its understandable that when people come to me with fresh “fuckery” i shut it down. I have no time for pleasantries if you do not bring joy to my life. If you are not here to enhance- then please you and the horse you rode in on can go away. Guess what? I ran out of f@#*s to give around 2004 and I’m not in the market to purchase more. landscape-1448340963-rihannasideeye.jpg

So let me explain. Describing me as Bitter is not a good go to word. All it tells me is that you do not posses a thesaurus to think of a more creative way to describe me. So let me help you. Badass, Badass extraordinaire, Amazing, Awesome, Intelligent, Bright, Smart, Creative, Resourceful, Inventive, Innovative,  Truth Teller, Boss Lady, Strong, Resilient, Powerful and i reject any other negative word that you feel the need to reduce me to. So here’s a shout out to anyone else with this “affliction” You are perfect the way you are- keep on keepin on! ❤

The date from a sub basement of Hell

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How i feel the Universe is looking at me

So remember how in my last post I said I hadn’t got to cross  a date from my adventure list before my birthday? Well be careful what you put out to the Universe guys- she has a funny sense of humor and a swift kick to the nuts coming when I get to meet her. I will pepper this post with gifs of Liz Lemon to drive it home- because its needed.

So as Universal humor would have it- i decided to give the POF app one more go around and lo and behold- someone who didn’t start off their intro with “Hey Gorgeous or some lewd comment- happened to catch my interest. This guy is funny and seemed smart and his intro to me led into some pretty cool conversations. So after a few days as it goes, it progressed to hey can i get your number and then texts follows. Now looking back maybe the fact that he wouldn’t call was a red flag- but at the time i figured it added to the anticipation of it all. So eventually he asked me to a date. My son – who is supportive and awesome said “Mom give him a  chance! Go on a date! You need a life outside of me!” Thanks soon to be 12 year old with the wisdom of Morgan Freeman’s version of God, i will go with your blessing. So of course the planning takes place- “what kind of food do you like? ” he asks. I say Nachos- because that day that was what i wanted and well i figure you might as well let people know your not a salad girl up front. And then he goes to say that there are lots of events going on around the city and mentions, music, festivals, plays etc. I quickly jump on the play idea – because two of my friends had just told me of Lin Manuels play In the Heights playing downtown Atlanta. We agree to a that idea, a lunch date and the matinee showing of the play.

Fast forward to Saturday, the crew has been notified of the date, my son is hanging out with his father and I am at the mall trying on outfits to find the perfect first date dress- one that says i didn’t try too hard but i care and was still pretty and ready for a lunch date on a Sunday afternoon. After texting 5 girlfriends (because this is what you do) an outfit was selected and home i went. Excited for a new adventure and hopefully meeting a nice person.

Cue Sunday morning- the sky has opened up and the rain is monsoon level. Mind you, it hasn’t rained this hard in Atlanta in months. I should have taken it as a subtle not so subtle foreshadowing of the literal shit storm that was about to happen. I had spent Saturday night straightening my hair and due to the storm i knew it would frizz so i had to wash it out to wear it curly. I really wanted to make a good impression and frizzy hair was the least of my worries. I brushed my teeth twice, put on my nice dress, painted my nails, shaved my legs, texted all the girls to let them know my status and then got ready to leave. Now pay attention because this goes to shit real fast from this point on. Go ahead and stop here, grab a snack, a drink go potty and return after this commercial break. Ill wait………

Good and comfy? Strap yourself in here we go. So i look outside and it is torrential down pour. I check the GPS and see that it will take me 35 minutes to get to Little 5 Points (a artsy part of Atlanta where they have cool shops and restaurants) We had agreed to meet a Junkmans daughter which is a cool landmark and walk around before the play which is just 3 miles away from Little 5. I send him a  quick text to let him know I’m on the way to the meeting spot and he texts back that he “should have figured out the timing on the train before the rain” Hmmm. The train? as in MARTA? now i have no issue with public transportation and i have my own car so I just shrug it off as maybe traffic sucks and he decided to train it. (Red flag #2) I drive over to the ATM and get some cash in case i need it – because I’m polite and figure its OK to pitch in on something for the first date since he taking me to a play and that’s expensive. Then i have a moment where i go “Waaaaaait a minute, the train doesn’t go to Little 5 points. and its raining- maybe hes gonna Uber it” I text him to ask. He responds with Im taking the train to Five Points- and we can walk from there – i say well i thought we were meeting in Little 5 ? He says “Aren’t they the same thing? and i respond with “Ummmmm no. One is an artsy part of Atlanta with murals and stuff the other one is where you go to buy bootleg purses and get robbed” (red flag #3) So my mistake, I assumed we were meeting at Little 5 not the latter – when in fact we were meeting at the place where people go to get shanked.

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Traffic is bad so i decide- eff it- since I’m headed that way ill even the playing field and hop on the train myself and we can walk to the theater. I’m down for this adventure. This may turn out fun. I hope on the train and get to the Five points station and he calls and tells me that he sees me and to stay put. He comes around the corner and the first thing i hear out of his mouth is “oh you dressed fancy” (RF #4) I turn around to a handsome young man with a nice smile who decided to wear  beat up shoes, faded jeans with the pockets ripped (not ironically) a stretched out polo, a handful of chest hair peeking out, a cap and scruff on the face.Not exactly what I would consider first date dressing to a theater date. But fuck it. I say YOLO in my head and greet him with a smile and a hug. He says thank you for meeting him and that he was happy to see me. I smile and say the same and thank him for inviting me out on the date. He mentions how dressed up i am and i start to feel insecure- because I’m overdressed or hes under dressed either way i feel funny. He immediately asks me what i want to eat (RF #5) and I say i don’t know because i had a few ideas when i thought we were meeting at Little 5 and i don’t know whats around here. He suggests we walk in the direction of the theater and see whats en route. I look at my suede wedges and say OK sure. We walk up the street, now i need to remind you that this is a seedy part of Atlanta. Before we hit the first corner we have been offered the opportunity to buy kush and had a few guys size me up. I’m a tough girl so i just kind of keep walking. We walk up near a few restaurants and he says “Well, how about Arby’s or Moes” and I’m kinda like ummmm well no, lets keep walking. And then i think to myself- well maybe he spent a lot of money on the tickets – I’m cool with cheap lunch. So we walk 0ver to this tiny hole in the wall pizza place and I order a slice of pizza and a water. I’m trying to be mindful. We sit down and he immediately starts to talk. like A LOT. I chalk it up to nerves and smile, every now and then i try to ask a question, but he keeps talking. He mentions his time in the Coast Guard and i interject “Oh cool my Dad was in the Air Force…” and before i could finish my sentence  he says “Oh you mean the CHAIR FORCE”   (RF #6 OH.NO.YOU.DIDN’T.)

Shut-It-Down-That-Is-a-Dealbreaker-For-Liz-Lemon-On-30-Rock.gif Anyone who knows m knows i come from a strong military family and my dad served 26 years making fun of his branch is not cool. I mention my history he awkwardly laughs repeats the joke and I move on. I notice that the area has a lot of homeless people and i say to him that they have plans to redo the neighborhood and because of gentrification they will most likely push them out of the area. And i go into how my son and I volunteer with the homeless etc. He goes into making a joke about the homeless (Not cool and at this point I’m just going to stop counting red flags because it gets worse) I tell him that “We are all just one really bad day from being homeless and it could turn on the dime” he scoffs.  So we finish our meal and decide to walk towards the theater. I get excited because its closing day and i really want to see this play. We walk up and hes turned around and doesn’t know where to go, so i suggest the box office. I’m assuming he has the tickets at will call. We walk up and he hangs back behind me. So by then i kinda figured out that he didn’t get the tickets. No biggie. I can buy my own. I walk up to the table and find out they are sold out. I immediately deflate. He looks at me and says “Oh they are sold out? oh i didn’t think people would want to come see a play” Now in my head I’m like “Duuuuuude WTF? like i could have bought my ticket last week when we planned this, its closing night- of course they are sold out. So i give a gracious smile and walk out of the theater. (Also i need to let you know that in all instances i waited by the door for him to open it for me – because I’m all about chivalry but this is something hes not used to doing so it was awkward but more on manners in a sec.

We get outside and he says “Well what do you want to do?” and I stare blankly and then say “well we can still have a nice time, I’m always indoors, lets stroll through the city and chat” trying to hide my disappointment.  He makes a half hearted joke about hating to walk around and suggests we go to Starbucks. We literally ate like 15 minutes prior. I am too full to drink coffee- because of my surgery) I smile and say “No thank you that I’m full” hes hell bent on getting coffee so i say OK.

As we are leaving, two very enthusiastic college kids come up to us and ask if we are registered to vote. I get a little excited because I love when younger people are involved. i smile and say Yes and then go to ask them how they got involved – because i love meeting new people. He interrupts and says “So you guys are helping elect two geriatrics?!” and some other shit the kids walk off and he yells out after them “So are you guys voting for Trump?!” the girl turns around and says “We cant disclose who we are voting for we are just trying to get people registered” and he yells out the geriatrics thing again. He then laughs and says “I don’t even know if I’m registered to vote” I look at him and say “You were in the coast guard and you don’t know if your registered to vote?” he replies with “Ive never voted” a big hmmmm crosses my lips. I mean fine, vote don’t vote, but how can you enlist in the military and not care who your boss is? Liz-Lemon-Bites-Her-Tongue-In-Restraint-On-30-Rock.gif

So i keep walking – now one of the things that i have become accustomed to because Mama’s and Papas have raised nice men is that when you are walking in the company of a lady- Men usually walk on the outside and the women walk on the inside- away from the street. This guy kept walking on the inside and when i would try to move to the inside- he would somehow find his way there. I even manged to graciously think- well maybe he just was never taught basic manners. My son even knows this. As we are walking a homeless man walks up to us and says excuse me. I smile and say hello and he asks for 25 cents. I don’t have any change, but my date reaches into his pocket for a quarter and just as i think maybe hes about to redeem himself he decides to toss the quarter to the man rather than hand it to him. The quarter falls on the ground the homeless guy looks at him like “WTF really dude? its bad enough i have to ask for a quarter but now i have to crawl on the ground to get it” My mouth drops open and i say “I’m so sorry sir” I’m about to die from shame and I didn’t even do it. My date laughs and says “That made me look like an asshole huh?” i respond with “Total Asshole behavior” he then says “But if he would have caught it it would have been cool” and i respond dryly with “So its his fault he totally ruined your Pespi moment?” We keep walking- towards the train because at this point Ive decided I need to go home- i just haven’t said it. He suggests we walk into the Underground Shopping center in search of coffee.  I respond with “Fine, because god forbid you don’t get into air conditioning and get coffee since you have been complaining about walking for the last 1/4 mile” meanwhile Ive not complained and I’m in heels. So we go to the damn mall no coffee we leave. I decide to sit for a second because my feet are starting to hurt and there is a woman playing the piano outside. I think, wow this sounds beautiful and i take in the air and listen to her play. He decides to make fun of the piano player. Sigh. A girl who looks lost walks up to us and asks if she could use our phone to call because she lost her group. He looks at her like she has 3 heads.I reach into my purse and hand the girl my phone. Really, this isn’t the neighborhood to be lost or walking around as a female by yourself. She makes her call and I ask her if she found them and if shes going to be OK. She nervously smiles and says yes and walks away. My date looks at me and says why don’t we get on the train and go north towards where you are and see whats going on over there. I’m all like “Whatever gets me to this fucking train- in my head” I smile and say sure. Now about two stops in he decides we should get off the train and go get coffee. Yes again with the fucking coffee. We get off in an even seedier neighborhood and hes walking around with his face buried in the GPS and i realize all kinds of people are looking at us. We look out of place and I’m overdressed. I start to walk away as this man is yelling at us and approaching us very quickly. He says “So your just walking off?” and i say very discreetly- do yo not see that man approaching us yelling angrily? I’m not trying to get robbed and you look like a mark. Like everything about you says- go ahead and rob my ass” So he realizes the coffee shop isn’t around the corner and is in fact an 11 minute walk away. There are so many fucking nopes at this time and a text S.O.S goes out to my homegirl Annie- who quickly calls to make sure I’m OK. I then turn to the date and said “I’m not walking 11 minutes in these shoes for coffee” he then makes fun of my shoes – like i knew they were going to hurt. And i say, well i wasn’t prepared for all this trapeezing up and down Atlanta i thought we were going to lunch and play” so i start to head down the stairs to the train station- because I’m over this fucking MARTA date. He follows me down. We sit and i see that the train in 20 minutes away and i say nicely that i appreciate lunch but i need to head back now. He starts talking about the differences between Ju-Jitsu and Judo. I plaster my face with a beauty queen smile and my brain shuts down. On occasion i say Oh, or Ah or really- because I don’t want to be completely rude. Someone elses lack of  manners should not make me lose mine. The train pulls up and he rides  with me my stop. I say OK and thank you.

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Thanks for the save call Annie!

Now the train is at capacity because of festivals and we sit down beside this woman who is laughing and talking to herself and anyone that will look at her and shes eating candy. Like she has a giant purse full of all kinds of candy. This is public transportation- so you never know who you will run into and its kinda fun under the right situation. Now this man gets on the train and his hands are full and the only seat available is next to the candy lady, hes dressed in a nice suit, has a nice watch. Candy lady is wearing scrubs and looks like she just got off of work. He decides to stand even though his hands are full. The candy lady yells out to the man “Sweetheart or something, come sit next to me ” and she pats the seat, she says his hands are full and he should sit. The man smiles says thank you and he sits down. She rubs his back and asks him if he would like some candy.He says yes and they have a warm moment. It was like one of those FB videos that make you feel warm inside because no matter where we’ve been in life- a little kindness goes a long way. If i could i would have “liked” that moment all over the place. I look over at my date and he starts to make fun of the candy lady and i say “Did you miss what happened? That was so kind and sweet” and he makes another joke about “situational” comedy. My ride comes to an end and I say “thank you for lunch and for meeting me” he stands up. Goes in for a hug and i say “fuck it Ive gone this far- and hug him back. I wave goodbye and high tail it down the stairs out of the train station. But before I’m at the bottom of the stairs my phone buzzes and i look and he has texted me the smiley face emoji with the heart eyes. I’m sorry- what? was he on the same fucking date? I haul ass out to the car and send the mass text to the girls that I am alive and the date is over. He also send me a Hey smiley face emoji late last night.Liz-Lemon-Cries-All-Alone-As-Usual.gif

Guys, i wish i could say this is just a creative writing experience. That this was inspired by the Emmy’s last night. But alas it was not. My first official “date” since 2003 and my first “official date” since i left my ex. i don’t count Mr. Big as date because he never really took me anywhere- it was situationship. And with that I am taking a break. I don’t want to do this for a while. My son asked as soon as i walked into the door and the look of astonishment on his face was priceless. We had a good laugh- and even though i may not be lucky in love- please know that i have trained my son to be chivalrous and his wife will appreciate it.

Here’s to the rest of birthday week. Salud!

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