Depression can really keep you away from the things you love. I’ve been “away” from this blog for exactly one year. Its crazy. To me it had just felt like a mere few months, but that’s how it works. It robs you of your time and if you don’t get a hold of it will take away your joy. Continue reading If It Doesn’t Bring You Joy
Tag Archives: #dad
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 Continue reading Get Rid of 100 Things: Chapter 1
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.
Five Little Things
Everyone has a list. Big or small, private or taped to the fridge, most of us have a list of some sort that we go back and forth to. Some of them are for groceries, some are honey-do lists some even take form in a dream board. It gives us a sense of order to have these and to tic off the items as we complete them and gives us a feeling of accomplishment. At some point, some of us mave have even created a list that we wouldn’t dare share with others because its so personal. Something like what we want in a mate or in a relationship. We can try to fake like we don’t, because admitting it would mean we think about it too much and that would make us seem vulnerable and gasp…human. So I thought I would share one of mine, id love if you all would share some back so I feel a little more human and less “out there”
Five Little Things to Win My Heart
Kindness. At the top of all my list be it romantic or friendship, one thing that I value above all is kindness. Kindness to strangers, to animals, to children, to yourself and yes kindness to me. Ive been on the receiveing end of some pretty unkind happenings so this hands down is non-negotiable.
Humor. I laugh at myself on a daily basis. I laugh at my own jokes, corny as they may be. I laugh at my mistakes and my goofs. I make the cheesy equivalent to dad jokes for my son to perfect the art of rolling eyes and getting that facepalm just right. I love to hear the sound of belly laughs. I love when someone is relaxed enough to just let go and find the humor in life. Laughter is everything.
Intelligence. Now I’m not talking degree intelligence. Hell I only have a high school diploma with a smidgen of Art college under my belt. I’m attracted to brains. The type who never stop learning, who always look for a way to improve. Who aren’t afraind of asking the questions and then tinkering away to get the answer. I love people who read, who have a thirst for knowledge. Those on a neverending quest for growth.
Family. Oh this is a tricky one, because we all have different dynamics when it comes to family. We have traditions and breaking points and stories upon stories to tell. But you know what I love? Family. I love when people love their parents and their cousins and siblings, like I love mine. I love that closeness that keeps you grounded. I speak to my mother and sister every day, my brother and father a few times a month because, um their boys and don’t want to be on the phone everyday. I spend weekends going home to Florida to see my family, my family comes to see us for a week or so at a time. I send my son down there for summer break etc. We are so very close and if you are in my life, you have probably been adopted by my family. You are an honorary kid. So I like to see that in my friends and relationships. Closeness. Showing me you love your family shows me you can love mine.
Contentment. Joy. Happiness. Peace. Whatever you call it, I’m describing that feeling that you have when you feel that inspite of all the obstacles, you have a sense of gratitude for your journey. One where you are content with your growth or your projection. Does that mean having a fancy car or big house or being recognized? Nah. Sure those things are great, but my question is. When you look in the mirror are you proud of the person staring back? ugly scars, war stories and all? Are you doing things in your life today so that when you come back tomorrow and look in that mirror, youll think, yeah….im alright with this and smile that big beautiful toothy grin? I love that type of mindset. That happiness that radiates from your soul and infects the lives of others. This is a character trait. Not a situational thing, we all have moments of sadness and depression and anger, but this is like sunlight beaming from your soul. This is love.
And that’s pretty much it. As simple and as complicated as it can be. That is my secret list. The one I think about when people ask me what I’m looking for and this is how I try to answer. It may seem widly broad or oddly specific depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a partner with these qualities but i will say that so far ive found them in my friends who are kinda my soulmates already so, in that, I’m winning.
P.s go out and be awesome.
The Plague of the Single Mother
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.
In 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.
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.
- I’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 lol
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
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 ❤
My Big Fat Puerto Rican Life
Growing up in our family and much like many other families was something that needed to be experienced not simply described. Describing it would make you think that we were seriously over exaggerating our very colorful, loving up bringing. That there was no way in the world that we actually had a mother who would show up to school in Madonna-esque bustiers that she made herself, or spiky spray colored hair. That she had six ear piercings and would wait for me at the bus stop to fill me in on the latest scandalous MTV music video. That we never really ate out because she cooked us amazing food every night and to this day- my father and I practically refuse to eat anyone’s chicken and rice or arroz con gandules and habichuelas – because if it my mother didn’t make it why waste your time. Explaining that growing up my mother didn’t speak English so she would try to learn from us when we got home from school or that she had the best catch phrases from The Price is Right, Police Academy movies and Coming to America. That when she said “beach” it sounded like “bitch”- we always got a good laugh at that. And now 32 years later she has learned to speak perfectly – yet its somehow a mystery that her accent gets thicker by the day.
We often spoke by yelling – not that we were mad – that’s just how we talked. A fact that upset my very American born son who for the first years of his life thought we were just mad when in fact it was the opposite. Ive explained to him that we talk super loud as to make sure you understood that you were loved lol. He now at 11 has no volume whatsoever.
My father like many Puerto Rican men is simple and quiet – and that’s not because he wants to be but he really cant get a word in edgewise in a room full of 3 Puerto Rican women. My brother has also gone mute. He proudly and faithfully served the United States Air Force for 26+ years and is the reason we all have amazing, productive lives and a million friends, we are open minded, kind, loving, resilient, peaceful and trustworthy an example he taught us from early on. On top of growing up Puerto Rican we were also Military BRATS. Which is a different experience altogether, we were used to moving with short notice, we knew how to make friends fast and easily leave. We adapted to our surroundings fairly quickly and did our part to hold onto the honor that was my fathers life. Supporting him meant supporting our country. So you can say we had pride and passion running through our veins from our roots to our nation. We love hard, fight hard and dream big. We honored the red, white and blue of both our flags and wore them both with great pride.
Wherver we moved we took our traditions with us. The flag and several flag emblazoned items were prominently displayed in the house. There was no secret where we came from and if you forgot we would remind you. My mother taught me the history of Puerto Rico and even bought me my own set of Puerto Rican Encyclopedias. I was taught and can still sing the national anthem of the island “Oh tierra de Borinquen, donde nacido yoooooooo”
Our friends were always welcome. A warm hug and kiss from both my parents are what greet you when you enter our home. We adopted EVERYBODY. No one has ever been turned away and a belly has never left our home hungry. You were also yelled at and disciplined because once you set foot into our house, you became one of us. My parents didn’t see a difference between birthed and non birthed children. Everyone was their child. I remember my father coming home from deployment and the doorbell ringing and the neighborhood kids asking if Big Dennis could come out to play. Myself, my brother Tito and my sister Nana would yell out “Dad! its for you” and he would go outside and play with all the kids. By the way this wasn’t creepy, we lived on a military base so oftentimes everyone’s dad were gone on deployments so we just took care of our own. It was understood living on base that you were taken care of by the entire community. Sometimes kids didn’t have either parent at home and its hard. My dad grew up an Army BRAT so he understood and he stepped up to the plate and played neighborhood dad with everyone. My mom would let them spend the night or let the mothers know that their kids had eaten or whatever was needed. We had that house. All were welcome, none where turned away.
Now having this type of family also meant we partied hard and food was a barter. My mom would cook her famous chicken and rice,pack it up in Tupperware and my best friends mom would trade her collard greens and corn bread. Its still like this 20 years later.
Again this is pretty hard to explain and sometimes downright unbelievable. So when the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was released we died laughing at the similarities. It was our family on screen but in Greek! It literally went by the book in our life so much so that the scene where Gus introduces his family as “Nick, Nick, Nicky, Maria, Maria” is where my family goes “Dennis, Denise, Dennis, Jenny and Jennifer” No lie, hand to God! The movie perfectly shows how we are so much so that i own a copy and I show everyone who has not seen it as preparation for my family.
We recently had our very own first wedding in our immediate family. My brother Tito (real name Dennis) was married last week. I wanted to share pictures of the REHEARSAL DINNER – I wont post photos of the wedding as my brother and sister in law paid for really great pictures and that would be in poor taste for me to put those up without permission. However feast your eyes on this 🙂
She had requested beforehand that people dress in traditional Puerto Rican dress and I have to say that everyone was a great sport about it. It really turned out nice. Much like Toula in MBFGW i snickered at the thought but had to eat my words with a side of arroz con pollo as it really did turn out very nice.
I really am fortunate to have them as my family. And much like Toula realizes in the movie, that there just is no better way than growing up Greek, i will say that I have been blessed to grow up Puerto Rican. To know my family is to love them, embrace them and know that instantly you become one of us. Cheers to the ones that started it all. This is my love letter to you. ❤