Why I March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdenisejruiz%2Fvideos%2F10207902167049206%2F&show_text=1&width=560

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

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

The Plague of the Single Mother

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

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

overflow

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cats In The Cradle

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 ❤