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.
I’ve been laying here in bed for the past few hours staring at the walls. The house is completely silent, except for the sound of snoring coming from under my bed where the old beagle sleeps. I’ve counted the little dips in the popcorn ceiling, I’ve scrolled endlessly through Facebook. I’ve clicked on my Instagram and wondered about other peoples lives. I cant watch TV. Tonight, like many nights I just need the silence. However, lately the silence is more like the screaming, deafening shouting coming from my head.
I have tried to explain this feeling to a couple of my friends, I’ve talked about it into thin air, hoping by some miracle I would get an answer back in the wind. I have wished at 11:11, 1:11. I have thrown pennies into wishing wells, I have blown out candles, I have prayed. I have been patient and hopeful and now all of that feels fruitless. I am incredibly lonely.
I am missing that experience, that joy that people have when they find love. I celebrate with genuine happiness when another of my friends gets plucked from the field. I help plan weddings, help pick out gifts, wish and hope and send good vibes as if it were for me. Yet this one thing in life alludes me. Love. It may as well be the loch ness monster in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever known it, at least it was never presented to me in that way.
I spoke to my very best friend today about this. She single like me, a mother like me and we tried to dissect where it all went wrong. We went as far back as 7th grade and carefully combed through memories like private investigators. We would bounce back ideas and realized that we were just clueless. Why? Why not us? Why not me? Why never me? We looked at Facebook friends ( and yes I know most FB isn’t real) but we had friends who always seemed to have a good person in their lives or were always being lavished with nice gifts or just in general being supported. We couldn’t find a common denominator because there isn’t one. We saw tall, thin and beautiful, we saw different shapes and sizes, different levels of education, we saw plump, we saw many children, we saw some who didn’t have any. We saw men leave wives for “downgrades” or “upgrades” the whole messy gambit and that never answers the question. Why am I so utterly alone at 37 years old. Why do I continuously find myself alone? What is it about me that makes me so unforgettable?
You turn on the TV and see the RomComs, the magazines have beautiful people in them and we are bombarded with images that say, if you do xyz or look like xyz you will find love. Move over to real life and you see that, that is not true. Men love who they love, be it tiny, big, smart, dumb. There heart is attracted to whomever it is. I have tried coloring my hair, wearing lipstick, never leaving the house unkempt, I have lost weight, I have gained weight, I have left the house natural. I have been the opposite of me and I have been the truest form of me and yet no bites.
The earlier exercise brings me back to high school. I wasn’t exactly the first pick for girlfriend. I had many guys say they were interested, but when it came time for chivalry or grand romantic gestures, it was the other girls that got it. I was the one nominated for homecoming court but had no date. Who only went to the dances with friends boyfriends because I was safe and they didn’t want to go, so it was “Ask Denise” I loved a couple of boys back then and they just didn’t feel the same about me. When I went to college, it was the same, people flirted but nothing went further than that. When I moved to Atlanta, I even joined a church and they would double dates with no strings attached and I spent many nights alone waiting for my roommates to come home and tell me about the great times they had. After a few years of being emotionally starved I met my sons father and it moved so fast that I suddenly found myself pregnant. He didn’t love me either, in fact he would remind me of that everyday for almost 9 years. I stayed for so many reasons, but mainly because it was better to deal with that then to be utterly alone. Until it wasn’t and the tables flipped and I decided that id rather be alone than subject myself to that abuse. And so here I am 4 years later. As single as I was 17 years ago when I moved to Atlanta. A string of unrequited loves behind me and me sitting here baring my soul to the internet to keep from going insane. And I ask myself, if looks don’t matter, then its a personality thing that people are attracted to, and if that’s the case I must be broken. I must be an unlovable, a nobody.
I mean sure before you freak out, I know I’m smart and kind and loving. I do like myself. My self esteem is pretty hearty. But its just not the type that draws people in. That makes people want to stay. I carefully study out people on a daily basis. I’m fascinated with people. I watch, I listen, I see gestures, I hear tones, I listen genuinely. Or maybe because I’m trying to figure out what I am missing.
I have friends throw the same lame excuses out: Your not trying hard enough, get out more, He’s coming just wait, You’re too good for what’s out there, Your not wanting it bad enough, try online dating, try going out without your son, go places with your son you may meet a single dad, did you try the other dating website? You’re not picky…I don’t get it. I just don’t get why your single. Maybe you want it too badly, when you stop looking it will happen. You don’t care enough, maybe you need to try xyz. I’ve heard it all and yes in some scenarios I could see where that would work, but do you understand I’ve been waiting my entire life? And guys I think there is just something wrong with me.
I feel like that one random item in the store that nobody buys, so they move it around hoping it will garner interest, then it goes on sale, then it goes on deeper sale, then its in the BOGO section, until it just gets lost in the shuffle and ends up in a dusty cabinet. And soon everyone forgets about it. Even the people who carefully rooted for it and tried to mark it down so it would be a perceived value. Even those friends eventually stop calling. It becomes the nothing. The nobody. My biggest fear. Well, I take that back. My biggest fear is that my son who is very much like me in personality will suffer the same fate. I pray more for him than I do for myself and I see him having a hard time making friends and I die inside. I pray that he finds someone who loves him so deeply and they go on to have a family and he is surrounded by so much love he can’t imagine it being any other way. And I hope he grows up to be nothing like me in this sense. I pray he’s not 37 typing on a computer, hoping to connect with someone out there on some level, any level to keep him from going insane. In 37 years I do not know what it is to be loved, to be cared for. I couldn’t tell you a wonderful gesture aside from a stranger opening the door for me. The bar is so low it’s practically burying itself in the ground lol
This isn’t a cry for help. I still lead a full and active life. I still enjoy the sun rises and the wind blowing in my face. My favorite part of the day is looking up to the clear sky, not a cloud in sight and thinking it was made just for me. I love watching love. I love hearing laughter, it brings me joy to help others and I feel most myself when I am in servitude. I still dress up, but only because it makes me feel nice. I still believe i still hope. But id be lying if I said it didn’t sting a little and wasn’t maddening at times.
So this, here is for you. The nobodies out there. I get it. You in all your badassery are as stumped as I. But I’m hoping you know you’re not alone, not damaged. There is no algorithm to figuring out why some are loved more than others. Or maybe there is. Either way, tonight I wish you peace and quietness as you try to go to sleep and I hope, if there are any nobodies out there that you wish me the same. Goodnight ❤
P.S I plan on slapping on some red lipstick on in the morning and pretending I never wrote this 😉 so if you made it this far, thank you, from the bottom of my warped heart.
For those of you who have been hiding under a rock or simply turned off the news this past Saturday there was a movement in this country. A call to action, a unification of people from all walks of life to come together for Equality, for human rights for social justice and for change. It was amazing. It was empowering and eye opening. I turn on the news and hear people say that we were dumb, that marching didn’t solve anything, that we were a bunch of whiny people upset over the election. That women who were born here in the US had nothing to complain about compared to third world countries. And so, to the people not understanding why “privileged women born in the USA would protest” I offer my story.
I was 25 years old when I gave birth to my son. It was a Monday in September and I six days past my due date went to the hospital to be induced. I had a pretty easy pregnancy, only complaint was I couldn’t fit my shoes and my legs were literally trunkles. No lie. I ended up laboring for 24 hours, pushing for two and a half and when my son and I were in distress, labor was not progressing and we were prepared for an emergency Cesarean Section. He was born on the most beautiful Tuesday in the history of the world, weighing in at 9 lbs 10 oz and 22 inches long. Yes, apparently I make demi-gods.
Up until his birth I worked hard at my hotel and tried to save every penny. I had saved up my vacation to supplement the lost wages during my recovery and hoped for the best. I planned on pumping my breast milk to save on money. Of course as all mothers will tell you, sometimes our birth-plan doesn’t go the way we imagined.
Having an emergency c-section meant that it would take up to 12 weeks for my body to heal from having my abdomen sliced open and a human body pulled from it. I soon learned that my vacation that I had saved up was swallowed up to pay for my insurance premiums and that I did not have the little cushion that I thought I had saved for. At around 5 1/2 weeks I had to convince my OBGYN to allow me to return to work and beg my managers to put me on the schedule because we just couldn’t afford it. At 5 1/2 weeks I resumed my hotel desk job-a half a week before a vaginal birth is allowed and several weeks before a Cesarean is cleared. But I had to put food on the table and bills to pay and doctors visits and co-pays to pay for, I had applied for WIC to help and also for government assistance and I made 10 cents more than I was allowed to make at the time to qualify for any additional temporary welfare assistance. So off to work I went with an open wound. And Guess what happened? My stomach opened up. Literally opened up. Blood, liquids, stuff that should have never come out did (and I had a desk job so it’s not like I was doing strenuous work) being that it opened up I also had an infection that could have killed me. My sons father had to learn in the doctor’s office how to pack the gaping 2 inch hole and change my dressings so it would not get worse, but even through that I would wake up get dressed , partially take my pain medications (If it wasn’t higher than an 8 on a 10 point scale I would go without because I found out that it made me loopy and thus unsafe to drive) and I went to work, occasionally going home on my lunch break so I could change the dressing and re-pack the wounds.
It would have been nice to have paid maternity leave. It would have been a great help, it would have allowed me time to not only heal but bond with my newborn son. As a first time mother it would have allowed me time to learn the things I needed to learn, to just keep a child alive. I sadly had to stop breast-feeding/pumping because of the infection and medication and it was all so overwhelming. Looking back I know now that I wasn’t educated or confident or coherent enough to ask for help and support for myself a breastfeeding mom, so I had to put him on formula Which you guessed it cost a lot of money and additional stress. However I was lucky to have a job, I am well aware of that.
I do remember something that will stay with me forever, I was asked to help train a gentleman (who to this day is a near and dear friend). He was an older man who had no hotel experience and I was the one who was lucky enough to get to show him the ropes. One day, I had to go talk to our accounting department and happened to see the pay sheets pulled up on the computer and noticed it listed everyone’s wages. To add insult to injury, literally, I realized was training a co-worker, a man, and guess who was getting paid $1 more an hour with no experience? Yep the man. My guts were falling out, I was a great employee (I am now a Director with the same company, so no, I’m not just saying that) and I was training him with 5 years of experience and I was still getting paid a dollar less. So this friends is why I marched. And even though my baby factory is most likely to be closed forever, I did it for my sisters out there who may or may not have it worse than I did. I do it in solidarity for women’s rights, for equality, for human rights. For dignity. I marched for my Black brothers and sisters, for my LGTBQ friends, for the disabled for the voiceless. I wanted the world to know that until my dying breath, in me you will always have an ally. And I won’t stop here, you will see me in letter writing campaigns signing petitions, calling my local representatives and standing in line in November and every election my body will allow me to attend after that. Because you matter to me and together we are stronger than alone.
For a fun video of the Atlanta March please click here :
EDITED TO ADD: *For the record I believe in paid parental leave for the birth of a child. I feel that a father’s place in the home is just as important and that it is not fair for men in the USA to be punished for wanting to be fathers. I believe both roles are important in the upbringing of a child.
Go out and be awesome, not matter where your walk in life leads you! ❤
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 ❤
This isn’t another political post. This is a love letter to all the amazing women out here who are doing their part to make the world a better place everyday. To the women who raise their babies at home, i salute you. The the women who work to support their families, I salute you. To the women who wake up everyday and go into an office full of men and kill it on a daily basis, this is for you. To the future daughters and dreamers and leaders you are stronger than you know.
Our time is now. I remember being in the 4th grade. I was an Air Force Brat living in Clovis, New Mexico and we had to stand up in the front of the class and tell each other what we wanted to be when I grew up. I remember at the time i wanted to be two things, an actress or the first female president of the United States. I had told my mother this and she would tell me that I indeed was going to be the president. When Mrs. Norfolk called my name i stood up, proud and held my head high and proclaimed that I, Denise was going to be the first Puerto Rican president of the United States. After all, this was the land of hopes and dreams and anything was possible. It was only a few seconds after i declared this, that I heard Mrs. Norfolk say “You can’t be president if your from Puerto Rico or a woman” And i instantly deflated. I had never heard before that my dream was impossible. I had never heard that because of where i was born or because I was a woman, something was out of reach. I couldn’t understand that. My parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be and here a teacher, a smart person just told me that my possible dream was IMPOSSIBLE.
I remember going home and telling my mother. She was 26 years old and a mother of 3 children. She was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico. A woman who didn’t have the best education but was hands over fist smarter than most. A true survivor. A woman who didn’t understand taking “No” for an answer, who would make small miracles out of a sewing needle, thread and a vision. This woman who didn’t speak English very well, would sit next to me as I learned and would learn the language with me watching Sesame Street. She also enhanced it with Police Academy, Coming To America movies and her favorite show The Price is Right. Her vocabulary was very interesting! I saw this woman, raise 3 kids on her own when my father was out serving our country. She learned how to drive a stick shift in one night while we sat in a pizza parlor so she could get a job. She operated an in-home daycare. She handmade our costumes, she made curtains and decorated our home. She worked outside the home. She learned and everyday she got better. She went to community college, she worked for herself, everyday this woman pushes herself towards greatness so you have to understand, to be told I couldn’t do something was foreign because I was raised to know that i could do the impossible and i had a living, breathing person living in my home, walking the walk and talking the talk. When i told my mother what Mrs. Norfolk said, she was enraged. Shes a fiery soul and I know that she went to the school. I don’t know what she said, but I know when she came back she was pissed and cursed and said that I wasnt going to listen to her and that i could still be President.
However that mustard seed of doubt had been planted and little did I know that from time to time I would hear Mrs. Norfolk’s voice and the self-doubt would creep in. All it took was that one moment to alter my beliefs and thinking. I’m sure she wasnt malicious and maybe she was a product of that small-minded thinking. Who knows.
What I have become is a champion for women. I am the girl who fights for women’s rights. Who befriends the drunk girl in the bathroom and tells her shes beautiful. I’m the one who will let a stranger borrow my phone and wait with her until her friends show up. Im the one who will come over and talk to a woman if she looks scared or is being harassed by men at a party. I am the one who will be your designated driver and make sure you are safe if you want to let loose. I am a believe of the Sister code. I am the one who will train you to take my job someday. I am the one to support you in whatever dream you have because i believe in the sisterhood and it is something i do not take lightly.
So you have to understand that today, for me is an emotional day. Regardless of your political views, this is monumental. This is HISTORY, or rather HERSTORY. The fact that in my 37 years I got to vote for the first black president and now for the hopeful future Madame President is beyond words. This is the impossible becoming possible. Today when i woke up, i put on a white dress with a purple cardigan and gold jewelry. It was my nod to the Suffragettes who fought for my right to vote, who catapulted us to this very moment. A moment, just 30 years ago i thought would never come.
So now, sisters, its our turn. We get to shatter this glass ceiling. We do not have to offer apologies for existing or simply being born this gender. We are mighty and strong and an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. This is our time.
To the sisterhood, I salute you. ❤
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.”
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 ❤
I’m not even a full month into this hellish, hormonal, angst part of parenting. My sweet, precious baby lamb only just turned 12 last month, and almost as if a light switch magically turned on (or off) I was thrust into no mans land overnight. I had heard stories from friends with daughters that it was hard, I understood and could relate to that I was an emotional 12-year-old once and I’m sure I was a thorn in my mother’s side. Honestly, having a boy i didn’t think it would be so bad, plus he’s always been a fairly easy, obedient child so I figured it may be a few outbursts here and there, nothing too crazy. I mentally prepared (or so i thought) I’ve been doing my stretches and workouts in case he gets a bout of “testosterone” and tries to one up me i can remind him that even at 5’4 I’m still Mama. But no one can really prepare you for this. This piping hot steamy pile of shit that just gets handed to you one day and you have to figure out how to navigate it with your own pile of hormones as you approach 40. Life’s cruel this way. Life’s a sordid, twisted little bugger.
Already, in the 28 days of 12 (yes, I’ve counted) he has developed and practically mastered the art of eye rolling, the smacking of the lips, the smart ass tone, the whatever attitude. It’s as if he went to the science lab in school and accidentally got into the toxic goo and instead of developing super human powers I got Super Melodramatic Angst Man-Boy. I though I was the queen of sarcasm and acerbic wit but i have to bow down to the development speed here. Either the student has been studying the Master or were dealing with a whole new level of fresh hell here folks!
And y’all, between us this is totally above my pay grade! I’m not trained in this. Do you know that this past weekend we went on a Halloween Tour and I was so excited to have a great time and before we had even gotten there he had brought out, Cranky, Sullen, Sleepy, Hungry and Indifferent. That was just on the 30 minute ride. When we got there he hung out with Tired, Whatever, Kinda Stupid. When the tour started he invoked the spirits of I Don’t Get It, Why are We Here?, Kinda Cool, This Is Fun and Can We Go Home Yet? By the time we took all the pictures he noticed a raunchy Donald Trump sticker and then it was Gross Joke time and Silliness for 15 solid minutes. Then when we got home he snuggled up on the couch and we watched scary movies and he decided to let Sweetness and Tenderness hang out for the rest of the evening. It was a maniacal roller coaster and the bad thing guys…is when I bring it up to him I get the universal blank stare, your crazy mom look.
My sweet, talented gifted boy is currently sitting across from me as I type this. I just received an email from his teacher that he is not participating in class or turning in his work. Guys he’s a straight A student for the most part but this last report card he brought home some B’s. His response, I can pass the tests, the homework is dumb. Uh…..dude unless your ass got invited to join MENSA and forgot to tell me, i suggest you get with the program. Now he’s doing his homework that his teacher so graciously has allowed him to make up, which i told him was the only time i would allow it as a first offense. The next time he will suffer the consequences of a zero or an F. I refuse to celebrate mediocrity. He is banned from TV, video games and the phone. A punishment I’m sure will hurt me in the long run. And so what is he doing to show his disapproval of my discipline? Sniffing his nose loudly, breathing with a heavy sigh, writing hard and crumbling papers….
Help him Tom Cruse, help him Oprah, may he gather protection from his Abuelitas prayers. I also need help at this point I’m invoking all the power of Castle Greyskull, all the Care Bear stares and a Sam’s Club size pitcher of pre mixed Margarita mix to get me through these pre teen years. I also will start to forage and hoard the tears of a thousand angels for strength to guide me through what is yet to come…..Teenager. da da duummm. Solidarity y’all. So much effing solidarity!
Since becoming a single mother and leaving behind the days of my youth I have lost that youthful joyful smile that used to stay plastered on my face. Fast forward to the future and due to life and a general disposition of “F@#$ that s#!t” I have developed what some may call RBF or Resting B!@#$ Face. I feel like its an unfair description though because it makes me feel that women have to have a cheery disposition and that our resting face causes people to react so negatively. Men don’t have a term for their normal face and we certainly are not here to entertain you or are obligated to “look more pleasant” for your comfort. My face is my face -eff that noise!
Which brings me to my next point, I’m bitter. No, I’m not really bitter but it has been a word tossed my way lately by people who have been on the receiving end of my truth. Now I’m usually really good at taking a long hard look at myself and tweaking things if needed. You can at anytime tell me that Ive been cranky or hangry and need to tone it down and its usually followed with a positive reaction. “I’m so sorry, it was the hunger talking, lets get tacos!” or “Man, yeah your right i didn’t get any sleep and Ive been on edge, thanks! Ill go take a nap” Sometimes i don’t agree and i use the “Well lets agree to disagree and i still want to go get tacos” line and all is restored to its normal order. But I can honestly say is that I don’t feel bitter is a word used to describe me. What I am is tired. Tired of everything and the older i get the shorter my attention span for B.S gets. Like Ive developed this super-human power of spotting B.S before it hits me. So i ninja kick it in the face before the full sentence leaves someone mouth. In other words I aint got time for that.
Ive also grown to appreciate peoples honesty with me. If my breath smells like 3 day old hot garbage dipped in piping shit- please tell me so i can go fix it. Did i say something that hurt your feelings? oh my gawd please tell me so i can make it right. Did my kid say something crappy and you think it should be address? By all means let me know- cuz Mama is not trying to raise a serial killer! These are things that I am willing and able to fix- but my apparent RBF I will not and let me tell you why.
My face permanently sits like this on any given day. What you see is that I act slightly dead inside that I’m itching for a fight. But in fact my RBF means I am weary. I am worn out. I am tired. I’m am stretched thin. I am exhausted. So exhausted that the effort to smile hurts my body. That I work in hospitality and I’m “on” all day giving and giving to people at the hotel. That I have a child who needs a healthy mother so i put on a show for him as well- because he doesn’t deserve the sad, tired face. That I’m always on. Whether its at work, for my child, for my friends etc. Everyday I’m tasked with fixing, helping, comforting, cooking, cleaning, managing and leading. I’m not any more special than all of you, i know you too may wear these hats. But understand, that If something breaks i fix it. There is no one at my home or knocking at my door asking me if i need help. Or if I’m hungry. No one rubs my feet or my back and tells me that even though today was hard tomorrow will be better. No one holds my hand and squeezes it to let me know that its OK to be nervous. When my kid is sick- i get to agonize over whether to call off work or leave him at home with a phone and soup. I get to decide by myself if we can afford normal groceries or if he eats the last piece of chicken and I eat yogurt for the 3rd time this week. When i have days that feel like a fresh hell springing up from the claws of Hades himself- i alone have to deal with it. Now please i do not write this so i can play the victim. Far from it. I write this so that those who mistakenly call me “bitter” understand that I just have too much going on to stop and smile all the time. That when I get upset that my sons father hasn’t called for weeks or refuses to help financially – its not that I’m one of “those baby mamas” that society likes to vilify. Its that I’m tired of choosing which bill to pay so he has lunch money and that Ive creatively figured out a way to pay for basketball or band or robotics that is not immoral or illegal. That when i genuinely get upset about not being helped with our son- I’m not stating that “all men are deadbeats” or that “Men aint shit” or “That i wish i had child support so i could buy a Fendi bag” that’s so far from the truth its not even funny. What bothers me is that if a single mother complains, people assume – based on the FB posts Ive seen or the memes that she isn’t taking care of her kids. That she has an ulterior motive, that shes money hungry. And that’s an unfair generalization. Its as unfair as assuming that all single fathers don’t take care of their kids. We have it hard enough without the side eye and judgment from so called keyboard warriors. Trust me, i get it at school because we have different last names, i get it when people look down and don’t see a ring on my finger. I get it when we don’t get invited to dinners and peoples houses because it seems like a complicated situation. People avoid single mothers like the plague in general.
So given all that information, its understandable that when people come to me with fresh “fuckery” i shut it down. I have no time for pleasantries if you do not bring joy to my life. If you are not here to enhance- then please you and the horse you rode in on can go away. Guess what? I ran out of f@#*s to give around 2004 and I’m not in the market to purchase more.
So let me explain. Describing me as Bitter is not a good go to word. All it tells me is that you do not posses a thesaurus to think of a more creative way to describe me. So let me help you. Badass, Badass extraordinaire, Amazing, Awesome, Intelligent, Bright, Smart, Creative, Resourceful, Inventive, Innovative, Truth Teller, Boss Lady, Strong, Resilient, Powerful and i reject any other negative word that you feel the need to reduce me to. So here’s a shout out to anyone else with this “affliction” You are perfect the way you are- keep on keepin on! ❤