I just burst out in tears, not my proudest moments as a parent but we all have these moments sometimes where we just fall apart. I dare any parent to tell me otherwise. Recently I have entered the wonderful world teenage years. This is the area where your baby starts to define who they are, they test boundaries, they grow, they dont need you, but still need you so much. To me it’s like revisiting the toddler years but with testosterone and lots of eye rolling and back talk and a tiny mustache. This is also the part of your life where as you’re wading in fresh attitude hell, you apologize to the heavens and your parents for being so awful. I put my parents through pure hell and on a few occasions they both lost their patience with me. I get it. Payback is a beyoch and I’m in the throes of it.
My son is gifted academically and this month alone hes been sought out to be in leadership groups, invited to take his SATs in the 7th grade and to participate in a 5 year program for kids which will eventually lead to scholarships (I’m a single mom struggling so this is HUGE) hes had to apply to this program by today and write an essay to get in, get letters of recommendation etc. He puts it off until this morning. I wake him up, I’m sitting here trying to help and in fussing at him because lately he just has an “I don’t care attitude” and honestly I just want to throw in the towel on this whole parenting thing. Im stretched thin. His grades lately have dropped for no other reason than “school is stupid” and well my baby is sullen, ornery, and wants to play basketball or video games all day. This is normal. This is expected. There comes a day where you are no longer the favorite human, the best friend and more of a bother. I’ve prepared for this, but what I didn’t expect was the attitude.
Going back to this essay that he’s writing, I ask him “why he didn’t care ” and he says “cuz I don’t, I’m doing this for you. You want me to do this, you said it was for scholarships”
So I just was crushed, because yes he’s 13 he doesn’t realize the opportunities that he has that I never did and how this will help his future. No 13 year old sees that.
So then I go into a speech about how I wish my parents had helped me in school, not because they wouldn’t, but because they didn’t know of these opportunities or how smart I really was and well in the 90s, I didn’t know how to ask for help either. They instilled a strong work ethic in me, so that’s all I knew. Work hard, make an effort and it will work out. (Great lessons. Mom and Dad don’t feel bad) i explained to him how I wish I didn’t have to work two jobs to pay for college that I had to drop out of because I couldn’t afford it, (I’m still paying for college loans with a high school education and no degree) that if I had a chance at an education I wouldn’t be working at a hotel for 20 years and not following my dreams. That I wanted a different life and if I had the chances hes been given I’d be a success. Then I realize ive said this crying. And maybe I am projecting my failures on him and I’m trying to keep him from growing up to be me.
He looks at me blankly. This is what parenting a teenager is.
This parenting thing is so hard and all i think most of us want is for them to be better than us. To be happy and healthy and good kind people. I know he will be, I have faith that this will all work out. He’s too awesome and I just have to remind myself to be gentle and loving and patient because this won’t last forever.
Hugs to everyone parenting a teenager….. lord knows I ain’t seen nothing yet.
It’s a major award! I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do. He’s such a good sport, though slightly embarrassed he’s great to put up with my shenanigans and paying homage to my favorite holiday movie A Christmas Story
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.
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.
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
Packing lunches for the kids who dont have food during the summer
Raven Cliff Falls
A definite #Treatyoself
How could i not buy this shirt! #sirmixalot #babygotback
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.
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
I know its been about a month since Ive last posted and the last time you all heard from me I was out of surgery. It has been an interesting month. I’ll cut to the chase and answer what I’m sure many of you want to know.As of today I have lost 22 lbs. It wasn’t easy and it downright sucked. To take years of bad habits and turn them around literally overnight and detox from sodas and sugars is straight up torture. Add to that the fact that you are also recovering from surgery and having your stomach look like dead Jon Snows chest- it all equals a recipe for F-U-N.
There have been times when I have attempted to communicate with the dog and the cat to have them go fetch me a steak, alas a Lassie I do not have. I just have the type of pets who sit on your chest while your recovering and try to smother you while you gasp for air. My mother has been a tremendous help and my son has stepped up to help with household stuff when needed.
The rough part really came when I had to return to work a week after surgery. My doctor had recommended 2-3 weeks. But in the real world, I had used up my sick and vacation days to take care of my son when he was sick so there weren’t that many left. I showed up to work with a bag full of prescribed drugs, a heating pad and a prayer. Now i work in a hotel and for those of you that know hospitality it is rare that you just get to sit there and not do anything. My amazing co-workers helped when they could when it came to lifting or anything I couldn’t handle. Id have good days and bad days and then really bad days where I had to go home early and just sleep. And as the pain got better- i got hit with a new pain. Somehow i developed a pinched nerve in my butt. It showed up a week ago and I’m literally sitting here in searing pain because it now has traveled to my hips and my thighs. Dr. Google says it may be my sciatica. Which means I need to go see the doctor. But here’s the reality of it all. I had to take out a loan for my surgery because my insurance doesn’t cover it, which added an extra $470 bill to my already stretched budget. Whenever I go see this doctor I have a $200 co-pay so I’m trying to budget that in, then as Murphy’s Law would have it, my car battery died and I had to borrow $154 from my Mom to pay for it. Now add in this new pain and I’m looking at needing to go to the Chiropractor which is going to be another bill that I frankly do not have the money for. So I’m taking Tylenol and researching stretches all In hopes something fixes it- but we all know that in reality I need to go to the doctor. Last night I was in tears on the couch because the nerve pain was so bad and my mother and son had to help me up the stairs and into bed. I didn’t sleep and then had to hold onto walls this morning to make it into the shower to get ready for work. The last place I want to be. My sweet son asked why I couldn’t call off of work and I had to tell him that I didn’t have any sick days or vacation days. The truth is (and it was not conveyed to him) that if I don’t work we don’t eat. Its as simple as that. So he gets on the bus and I wave him off and start the car to get to work, at the same time I’m crying my eyes out. One for the pain and two because the burden of this all is just too hard.
One thing that people don’t understand and I hate to be on this Single Mom soapbox. But it is really hard. Really really hard. I don’t say this to minimize any ones journey. I’m not up here saying that it is THE hardest or that others cant relate but from my perspective it is the hardest thing I have ever done. To be perfectly frank – on paper I make a decent living, I do not currently receive any child support and asking my son’s father for help is like getting blood from a rock. I literally have to beg and then be put through a waiting period before I get any scraps thrown our way. There have been times I have had to ask my parents for money for groceries. I do not qualify for any government assistance because on paper I look good. Over 3/4 of my income go to my mortgage and health insurance and house bills. I do not drive a fancy car, get my nails done, go out to fancy restaurants or have new clothes or even a savings account. I work paycheck to paycheck. I work for us to survive. And honestly the weight of that sits on my shoulders everyday. This morning I cried because I do not have relief from this even for a day. I do not have someone to share this load with and Its getting heavier and heavier by the day and so i cry. I cry because I cant just come home and say “Help me, I’m tired” I cling onto my mother who has been with me for over a month because she will leave next week and then who will help me when I cant get off the couch or I’m too exhausted to cook or even exist. The fact that I have her is a luxury and I would be lying if I said next week when she leaves I will have a giant void to fill and then its back to my normal life of doing it alone.
My son asked me this morning why I couldn’t just find a husband to help me. As if it were that easy. As if me being exhausted to do basic stuff could afford me the energy to go out and date. Let alone to convince someone that I am amazing and fully capable of adulting even though inside I’m falling apart.
And that my friends is the ugly, unglamorous truth. This is what I deal with and this is what you will probably in normal conversation never hear me say. I don’t like to be a burden to others and I don’t want people to think I cant do this because I can and I will. So today I’m back on the saddle so to speak, I will wipe away the tears cried this morning, put on fresh lipstick, smile and when I see my son this afternoon I will hug him with the heartiest hug ever mustered. I will make sure he feels safe and is fed and he is ready for school tomorrow. He will be none the wiser and I will feel better to have Mommed up. Nothing has changed and I don’t expect it to. I’m a realist that way. After he goes to be I will be up trying to think of how to squeeze in a second job without leaving my kid alone – which wont happen. I will think of things I can sell- which isn’t much since we don’t have expensive jewelry or anything worth value. I will get upset because I filed for child support over a year ago and have yet to receive a court date and I know that if i ever do it still wont be enough to help. I will consider getting a roommate, I will consider renting out a room on Air BnB. I will cut back on the A/C and things like that to make it another month. I will make it work and none will be the wiser. And I wont get a badge or a job well done after all this is a thankless job. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but again I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the most exhausting thing. I like to think that I will emerge a warrior of sorts or that my son will grow up to be a well adjusted, kind and magnificent man and then this will all have been worth it. I just want him to be happy- he deserves that.
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. ❤
So being a single mom, woman etc there are often times when opportunities arise and you have to do many things by yourself that normally you could buck off to a husband, boyfriend, father, brother etc. I bought my son and I my first home about 3 years ago- it was the steal of the century a 4 bedroom /3 bath foreclosure in a really awesome neighborhood. However awesome that was though it also came with the responsibilities of owning a home and me being the main person to tackle all these tasks. My family lives in Florida so i must admit i have had to rely on Skype sessions with my dad, Google University, YouTube tutorials and the kind people at Home Depot who walk me through my projects, I also cannot forget to mention the awesome friends who have come to my aide or listened to my tear induced phone calls and rage about how “If one more thing breaks, i swear to gawd i will burn the damn house down!”
The cool thing about becoming a DIY fixer upper person is that I have been able to show my son how to fix a few things and to also show him how much of a bad ass i am. Actually, i say it. Yes, i say to my son, see kid? Your mothers a bad ass- you remember that. Poor kid has had that mantra shoved into his brain forever, though now that i admit to it, i can say I’m probably saying it to myself more than I’m trying to convince him that i could rule the fricken world. I want him to be proud of me on some level, i want to be the Mom mentioned in the speeches when he collects his Nobel Peace Prize or something like that. Ill settle for nice stories to my future grand babies. I’m sure ill step in and say “When i was younger i hunted wild boars and built my house out of bamboo while making sure your father went to school and is the man he is today” My son will undoubtedly roll his beautiful, big brown eyes.
I write all this not as a high five to me, but more so to encourage you out there to go ahead and try it. If the lamp is broken try to figure out how to fix it, if you need to install a ceiling fan, go ahead and do it. We are lucky enough to be in a day and age where we can google and look up everything. I fixed my vacuum yesterday in fact. Most of these things that were once deemed stuff handymen do or men really aren’t that scary at all. And i promise you that when you do it, even if its not perfect you will totally feel like a bad ass and you can brag about it to people. I now look at stuff like- pssssht, i can totally do that, watch this. I do have to add a caveat. My own mother is a bad ass and my father is the Chuck Norris of bad-asses so they did teach me a thing or to about tools.
Fought a million gazillion wasps and infiltrated their kingdom. -just kidding i sprayed i screamed and ran really fast- but if you find a wasp nests in your yard, you can use this instead of spending $200 for pest control- Also if you get stung or die, or think you are gonna sue my broke ass – I’m not telling you to do this, I’m just telling you how i did it. Oh and this handy dandy can of Raid shoots a really strong stream. http://www.raidkillsbugs.com/en-us/products/raid-wasp-and-hornet-killer-33
I also fought the Scorpion King and am ruler of their domain. OK not really, there was one on my bookshelf i panicked, sat frozen in place, got on FB asked for help and then used the above Raid Hornet killer to kill said scorpion. It worked!
I painted my front door red. A task that may seem easy but I promise you red is not a beginner color. That almost drove me insane!
Installed, although crooked, my own screen door on the patio. That was really tricky as I’m only 5’4 and i cussed with the strength of Samuel L Jackson during that whole project
Installing a Screen Door
Cleared a yard with a Bush Hog. This literally took two of us girls to push this machine, it weighed the same a 400 elephants no lying. OK maybe a little exaggeration. I particularly proud of this one because they were quoting me $300 to do this and my handy dandy people at Home Depot were telling me i could rent the machine for $54 and it only took me 30 minutes! BAM!
Bribed my son and his buddies to blow, mow and rake my yard. Pizza and ice cream.
Trained for a Zombie Apocalypse – after binge watching too much walking dead. I mean we have to be realistic here right? 😉
Taught my son with the help of my Dad how to fix the really expensive treadmill that i begged for and hardly ever use because I’m a lazy ass.
So you see, mamas or women reading this or guys that haven’t been taught, its not that scary, all you need is a dollar and a dream 😉 and you too can be like Tim the tool man Taylor. I believe in you and in the words of Rob Schneider from one of my favorite movies :
Hey everyone! Did you know we actually get a day? Not me! I guess it hasn’t caught on yet that we have our own day, so I want to be one of the first to wish you a Happy Single Parents Day. I know its not as cool as mothers day or fathers day. Were not showered by flowers or candies or specially made cards telling you how awesome you are. So I’m gonna go ahead and toot that horn for us. Cheer’s to you Mama’s and Papas out there- you are killing it!
Cheers to you oh parenting champion:
for having bath time down to an art form while also mastering kung fu like skills to keep the dog from jumping in
for having the patience to cook yet another mac n cheese dish only to have you child say they no longer like mac n cheese
for juggling work and calls from the school nurse to come get your child
for wanting so badly to be normal that you stretch yourself thin to be room parent/team mom/coach even though you already have your plate full
for rushing home after work to drive the kids to dance/sports practice and figuring out which drive thru to tackle for dinner
for being the coupon clipping master so you can stretch out that last dollar
for being the go to cuddles, boo boo kissing person who makes it all better
for being so stealth when hiding in the closet eating that last cookie that you swore to your child didn’t exist.
for smiling through gritted teeth when your child thinks the other parent hung the moon – even though you know they wouldn’t be bothered to show up
for working tow jobs or selling items on Etsy, Ebay or the consignment store so your little one wouldn’t know what its like to not have something
for not knowing what it’s like to date
for taking a giant leap and dating
for having the best nose to sniff through shirts your kid stuffed into the drawers to see if they were clean
for drying up tears when they want to see the other parent but they cant
for doing it without child support- even though you need it
for doing it with $50 worth of child support for 3 kids or more
for holding back tears when you just want to scream but push through
for sitting through Daniel the Tiger, Calliou or some other cartoon that you have seen a million times.
for making last minute Halloween costumes or art projects or science fair projects
for having to YouTube math lessons so you can understand your child’s homework
for not losing it in public when you just want to walk around the store in peace
for not having a bed to yourself in years
for getting dressed today
for not forgetting to pack a lunch today
for defrosting the chicken before your realized it was too late
for having all the take out menus on hand because you cant cook today
for loving these children and wanting them to be great
for not realizing you’ve been watching cartoons long after your child is asleep
for staying up late to watch that show you like but is not kid appropraite
for getting creative when something breaks
for asking for help
for doing it by yourself
for being the first and last hug/kiss of the day
for stepping up to the plate
for being proud
for understanding that even though you half assed it today, your kids are healthy, fed and clean
for not being perfect
for being strong
for teaching your children independence and compassion and unconditional love.
for sacrificing your hair, shoes, nails, steak so your little ones can have what they need
for throwing the budget out the window this once to just have fun
for praying, not praying, wishing and hoping
for being present
saving for college $50 at a time
for showing the world you can do it
for being the best person to tuck in wiggly wormy bodies to bed and reading in the best big bad wolf voice
for making it today even when you thought you wouldn’t
for being amazing and trying your best
for simply being you
So even though you may not be recognized today, know that in solidarity i stand with you, and i celebrate us. Happy Single Parents day!