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 Continue reading Get Rid of 100 Things: Chapter 1
Category Archives: village
Single Mom, Child Support and other dirty words
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”
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
This 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.
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.
What 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.
So 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
This 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
So 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.
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 😉
And for your enjoyment….a little impersonation of the Late great Macho Man. You made our childhood better ❤
Fresh Hell : The Pre-Teen Years
I’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.
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.
My 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.
The date from a sub basement of Hell
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.
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.)
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?
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.
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.
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!
Summer Hiatus- Fall is upon us
So I suck. I haven’t posted on here in a couple of months because, well, life happens. It happens at full force or at warped speeds and then you get caught up in the whirlwind of it all. I had some highs and lows and honestly like all people just didn’t feel like chatting it up.
So whats happened? Ended a friendship that was near and dear to my heart. No drama, that’s not who I am but it was just time to realize that it wasn’t helping me grow, in fact when i assessed it i realized i had been sitting in stagnate water for quite some time. So I wished it well and set it off in the wind. Then my amazing sweet wonderful boy started 6th grade! A stressful time for both mom and kid as we ventured into uncharted territory. I’m happy to say that this year so far has been very positive. Last year we were dealing with racial issues at the school and bus bullies. This year hes rating it a solid 8 out of 10. Hes playing chess, playing basketball, started to learn the Tuba and trying to get into the robotics club as we speak. Oh and he’s embraced his heritage finally- and is learning to speak Spanish at school. Kid for the win!
I think in life we get so caught up n the day to day activities and stress and before you know it another month has gone by, I’m sitting here 1 week away from my 37th birthday. Or as i am now going to refer to it Leveling up. It makes it sound like Ive accomplished something rather than turning a year older. I finished level 36! I’m leveling up to 37! BAM! Denise for the win- Cue the Mario music with the flagpole!
For a moment though i was a little discouraged. i had initially started this blog as an adventure to myself and the gift was to complete 36 new things. I gave it a good try and at first i thought i failed because -i maybe got to 15 at best. When i challenged myself to this i didn’t take into account money or life emergencies or motivation into consideration. In this year alone i have had things break in the house a few times, a surgery, a few kid and pet emergencies and just the realization that I am a single mom with a limited expendable income and a wild imagination. But when i really started to look at it- i will consider this a success. I went in with an open heart. I learned that sometimes it just takes a tiny push to do something new. Even though i still didn’t make it to have a date – i did learn that I’m OK with being by myself and getting my life in order and that there are so many adventures to be had that do not include a mate. I learned how to make new friends and start conversations with strangers. I learned that i really do like hiking – my son does not. In fact as we were on our most recent hike he said he was trying to figure out how to develop teleportation so we could see the waterfall and be done with it.Oh kids. lol
I learned that in a crisis I’m pretty great at handling things with finesse. I learned that i have the most beautiful support system. Friends from all over the world who genuinely cheer for me and Michael and will offer help to see us succeed. i learned that sometimes you have to just ask for help and people will help. I learned i don’t have to carry my burdens alone. In this year of self discovery- that i was focusing on the outside- meaning what can i do to make myself more interesting- i realized the real adventure was making the inside more interesting. I decided to no longer apologize for my existence or space or how i think. I decided that when i feel bad that if i serve others or volunteer i feel better and i like helping. I learned that my kid thinks i can handle anything and that hes rarely stressed because Mama has it covered – which honestly is a good feeling when your a single mom. I often wonder if the kid is giving me side-eye because i have no idea what I’m doing but learned that hes OK and that’s more than i can ask for.
So what I’m going to do in my last week of 36 is just be still. Just be quiet and take it all in. Listen to the breeze, smile at the sun and just enjoy being. I have another year to keep growing and that’s going to be the best adventure of them all.
Go out and be awesome ❤
Black Lives Matter, United we stand.
I keep seeing “ALL LIVES MATTER” on my feed and i wanted to just explain something- because i don’t think people truly are wanting to understand. When people say “Black Lives Matter” it does not mean that other lives do not matter. It does not mean that police lives do not matter or LGBT lives do not matter or that white lives do not matter. What it is is a cry for help, a reminder of a people that have been denied rights and freedom and have been oppressed since the inception of our country. It is a reminder to people that “Hey were here too and we need help” To say “All lives matter” is dismissive of the problem that is being brought to our collective attention. Its saying – hey yeah i get that your people are being incarcerated by the thousands and this year alone 153 unarmed black men/women were killed by police brutality—but what about my feelings? This movement, this statement is so much more than saying “I don’t see race or color” Some may offer a rebuttal and say “Blah, blah blah, Black on black crime” That is not an argument to be had at this moment. That is not the current issue. To use B.O.B Crime as an argument standpoint is dismissive, it is as if ISIS would be justified in bombing us because of American on American Crime- that just doesn’t make sense. Or saying that the people in Orlando deserved it because of Gay on Gay crime- is that even a thing??? You see, we/some never had to grow up like this, your children may not have to experience what black people have. My own son at the age of 4 learned what it was like to be called a Nigger. He has been called one ever since by kids at school and on the bus. He has been accused of doing something and when the truth came out it turned out he was singled out because of his race Its an eye opener and its heartbreaking and we should all care about this because in a blink of an eye they can come after us. I don’t say this to minimize the horrific tragedies that have happened as of late, we are all brothers and sisters, be it brown, black, white, yellow, LGBT, cis, disabled, religious, atheist etc. We need to find compassion and love and understand that an injustice towards one is an injustice towards all and we just cant be dismissive anymore. #standunited