Get Rid of 100 Things: Chapter 1

Happy New Year everyone!! Its been a while since I’ve written and it’s simply or rather not simply been because the latter half of 2017 was whirlwind. It happens. I helped plan our high schools 20th reunion this past September, Kiddo was struggling with turning in his work on time and grades were suffering because 13 year olds…amirite? And then the holidays of course. I ended up having emergency surgery in December to remove the LapBand that I only had for 18 months. The good thing was I had lost 100 lbs, the sad thing was it almost killed me by slipping, and even worse I still owe $7,000 on that surgery and lord knows what the bill for this will be. I didn’t eat for 10 days and well the icing on the cake was a tree hit my house on New Years Eve. Clearly in  a past life i angered the gods and apparently their time to shine was fourth quarter of 2017. It wasn’t all bad here’s a trip down memory lane for the year before i get to the reason for my post.

 

So now that that is out-of-the-way onto the Getting Rid of 100 Things. When I saw my friend on Facebook post it, i had to pause and i thought hmm how would i do this. The woman who posted it is full of wisdom and always inspires me to think so i knew not to take this lightly. Sure we can look at it physically throw away 100 items. Easy. But I thought I could mix it up to just try to improve my life in general. Yes, there will be a physical purge at some point but i thought it only right that my first thing to “Get Ride Of” is UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.

It’s a new year. If you haven’t been constantly reminded of it by all the New Year New Me posts on Facebook then you’re lucky. I don’t normally make resolutions because I have a hard time committing to anything. Hell, I’m surprised me and my shadow still hang out. But I bit into the hype as one does and mixed in with having my LapBand removed and the fear of gaining weight i decided to sign up for a Women’s Half Marathon in November and that I was going to go on a low carb diet to get these last chunk of lbs off. I figured that i would lose 23 lbs in a month (WTF) AND RUN. Can I tell you that a week in  I was sticking to the diet, worked out but jumped on the scale and i was 15 lbs heavier. Now before you oooh and gasp I need to remind you that prior to this I had emergency surgery, had not eaten for 10 days and then was on a liquid diet for a week so in that time I lost 25 lbs. Its only natural to gain it back for the health of your body as nourishment comes back to sustain you.

But I wasn’t reminding myself of that. I had failed. I gained weight back (which after weight loss surgery, it becomes your biggest fear) i had jumped into bad habits of thinking negatively, I stopped telling myself nice things in the mirror, I criticized my body who really did work very hard this year. I ate sad high protein food and punished myself when I didn’t lose 5 lbs overnight. I found myself crying and depressed and basically had resigned myself to dying alone, undiscovered for years on my couch. Yes I have a flair for the dramatic and it gets the best of me from time to time.

When I saw my friend post the #GetRidOf100Things i sat and thought and came to the idea that my first trash out for the new year was to get rid of the negativity. And that meant, for me. to Get Rid of Unrealistic Expectations. Not only as it pertained to my health, but overall when interacting with people. So ill break it down in the areas where I think this could benefit.

      1. UNREALISTIC BODY EXPECTATIONS: Yes run that half marathon, do it for fun for camaraderie, do it for the adventure. Do not get mad if you don’t finish by a certain time, half to walk a little or are the last one to finish. Do not feed yourself sad food that makes you feel even sadder. Yes make better food choices, portion control, but if you want a piece of pie eat the damn pie. There’s no such thing as bad food enjoy the moment in moderation. Understand that a 23 lbs weight loss in a month isn’t healthy. When I had the LapBand I lost up to 1-1 1/2 lbs a week and i was ok with that. Eventually it got me to a 100 lbs weight loss (OK 85 now that I’m eating again) but if I was happy with a lb then, why all of a sudden is anything less than 7 lbs a week unacceptable?! Who wants to live like that. Stop setting myself up for failure of the heart and mind, I’m not going to win Miss Hawaiian Tropic and I’m OK with that.

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      UNREALISTIC RELATIONSHIPS: Honey if he’s just not that into you, there is nothing you can do to salvage that. This year I held onto, clawed and grabbed and tried to feed an unhealthy relationship because we had been friends for 15 years. I figured if the moon aligned right, i won the lottery, dressed pretty, was agreeable and the moon rose over Capricorn (whatever the eff that means) that it would just come together and guess what? all the sweetness in the world couldn’t make that work. In the end this person couldn’t even call me on my birthday and refused to sit with me in the hospital while i was waiting emergency surgery. Lesson here: You can’t get blood from a turnip. And I’m done trying to sell myself the story that i can. Next time ill read the room early and leave in time to enjoy the day.

 

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    1. UNREALISTIC TIME CONSTRAINTS: If I can do it I will, if i cant oh well. It is what it is

 

 

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      1. UNREALISTIC FUTURES: I have a vivid imagination. Oftentimes it gets the best of me and I go dark. Like real dark. I tend to think about the things that i don’t have and spiral down from there. Well circle back to me dying on the couch. In this scenario, I’m 38 years old, I’m unmarried and a single mom of one child, a dog and a cat. Often i think about how my son is almost a grown adult and will be going away soon to college or start his life. I imagine he wont call or come home often (even though he’s been raised better) and my married friends and family are all far away. I’m too old to date (nonsense) and I’m going to end up old and alone and no one is going to hold my hand as i leave this good earth. What the actual macabre shit brain!? So I’m going to try my best to not doom and gloom myself to the point of insanity. The next time I’m home on a Saturday watching TV and the cat is in my lap and my kid is upstairs ignoring me it’s just what it is. It’s not an indicator of what is to come and i will not in fact die on the recliner alone with the cat eating my face……you see what i did there? this ones gonna take work 😉

diamonds lyric video i choose to be happy GIF by Rihanna

      UNREALISTIC COMPARISONS: I will refuse to compare my journey with others. I will not look at Facebook pictures and get sad because my life isn’t like XYZ or that I cant buy a car like XYZ or that i wish i could buy those expensive xyz like XYZ. Not gonna do it. Its poison and leads to ungratefulness.

 

And that’s it. For my first throw away I am going to choose better health and get rid of Unrealistic expectations. What 100 things can you get rid of? I’d love to hear!

 

Single Mom, Child Support and other dirty words

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.

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 ❤

Fresh Hell : The Pre-Teen Years

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!

There’s no such thing as Superman

Today started out seemingly normal.  Dropped kiddo off at school for early basketball practice and i drove off to work.  Then i get a call a little later from my son who is in the nurses office and is having trouble breathing.  He tripped and fell and another child accidentally fell on him.  So i rushed out of work early to go get him. I call the pediatrician because we had a “Well visit” scheduled for that afternoon and wanted to see if she could see him earlier.  The nice lady on the phone tells me that she can get us in but that the well visit becomes a sick visit and i have to pay $40 to be seen.  I say fine and as I’m waiting at the red light i check my bank account this is what i see

A slight panic comes over me and payday is a couple of days away and i figure i can ask his pediatrician if she can combine his well visit with this so that i won’t have to pay, we’ve been visiting her for 12 years maybe she will understand.  As I’m waiting at the light, i guess life feels like i haven’t been kicked enough i hear a ding come from the dashboard…i have less than a 1/4 tank of gas and 24 miles to drive to see his doctor.  The light turns green and i had towards the school i hear a second “ding” and look at the tire light come on.  I let out a frustrated scream and hit my fists on the steering wheel.

I promise you i couldn’t make this up if i tried.  I pick up my son and we head towards the pediatricians office. I plead my case to the accounting office and they say no, that it is now a sick visit and they will just bill me. I hold back tears as I’m explaining to them that they will have to do a payment arrangement for me and i walk back to the waiting room defeated. I’ve texted a few friends and family members for emotional support and I’ll tell you that i am surrounded by pure love.  There is so much solidarity in the crap storm I’m surrounded by.

After examination by the doctor she decides that he probably would be better served at the Emergency Room and that he might need X Rays and a scope.  I hold back the tears and i hope this doesn’t sound callous but start to count the bill in my head.  We had out to the ER.I look at my gas tank and remember i have $6 in my purse that can buy us a couple of gallons to get home if needed.

Once I’m here we go through all the same things, the questions etc and they assign us to a room.  The nurses poke around and tell us a doctor will see us soon.  Then the humbling begins.  The financial people wheel their little carts around and take your info.  All in front of your children.  The person sees that i still owe money from our last ER visit that I’m trying to pay down and says to me that my co-pay is $250. I tell him that i don’t have it right now and he then asks if i can pay anything towards it.  I forgot for a second my son was there and i say to him “my bank account is negative $71, I’m so sorry i can’t” I’m holding back tears from embarrassment and shame.  I realize I’m holding a school issued iPad and wonder if he thinks I’m one of those people who spend money on expensive things and can’t pay my bills. I want to go and explain that my purse is a gift and that my cell phone is from work and that i really can’t afford it but i don’t.  And the silent judgement whether real or imagined hurts my heart.  When he leaves my son says to me “I’m sorry, i shouldn’t have said anything because now you’re worried about money” i feel an inch tall.  I feel like I’ve let him down, like the one thing I’m supposed to be doing in failing at miserably. I calm him down and give him a blanket and explain that it’s not his fault and that we’ll be OK.

But here’s the thing, i don’t know what OK is.  I know that when i leave here with him and he’s healthy that is all that will matter.  I will breath a quick sigh of relief until i remember that i just added another medical bill to my bills.  That this will sit on top of my $10,000 loan in paying back for my surgery that insurance wouldn’t cover.  That i live paycheck to paycheck and like many of us out there get creative will bills and dinner and food and just when you think you have a quick breath life comes in with a sucker punch.

I was telling my friend that i didn’t know how i could call this living.  That it feels like all we do is fight to breathe and to climb out of this hole that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. That I’ve put steps into action so my son hopefully will never have to do this.  That my plan is when it is time to go to college i will sell my house and give him any proceeds so that he won’t start life out with debt.  I only have one child so once he leaves there’s no need for a big house.  I just don’t want him to feel what I’m feeling right now.  Which is hopeless and helpless and drowning in life.

I find myself praying less and less over the years because I’ve come to the realization that life is just what it is. Science is science.  Things happen.  Good things happen to bad people and bad things sometimes happen to good people.  Life isn’t the movies, there’s no superman waiting in the wings, no long lost rich relative who’s bazillion dollars so i can help me and my entire family out. There’s no winning lottery ticket with a lucky number there’s no lost painting in the attic worth thousands.  So we do what we can.  We make the best of what we have we celebrate the little things in life and find gratitude in these  breaths even though the relief is brief.

Right now they are doing X-rays and an EKG on my guy.  He’s being such a trooper and I’m trying not to be the worst mom in the world by worrying about money.

I hope he’s OK.  He needs to be OK because he’s my baby.  I will find a way, there will always be a way and i share this, not for the woe is me aspect, shit we all have problems, mine are no bigger than yours, but i share it so maybe someone out there won’t feel alone, because even though i am surrounded by love this is the loneliest place to be.

UPDATE: kid has bruised ribs and injury to his chest wall.  He’s to stay home today and tomorrow.  So i tell my boss and guess what? I still need to come in tomorrow because we are short staffed and sold out….so that means I’m Skype parenting from work for a few hours.  This is the very real and un-glamorous life of single parents – having to choose to work or care for a sick kid.  Somethings gotta give.