A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with a friend and he asked me, “What’s missing from your life?” I thought for a second and replied, “Humor”. As a soon to be divorcee I realized that I don’t spend a lot of time laughing. I’m kinda high strung folks. I live by a schedule and have been known to overbook. I am really into time management or I’m a control freak. Not sure which yet. Maybe a little bit of both. How does one get more humor into her life when you’re already overbooked? You guessed it. Technology. On-line dating specifically.
So, in an effort to figure out how to meet people, I decided to try on-line dating. Now, let’s be clear…I’m not looking for a relationship. Just friends with casual dating. Bowling, movies or wine tastings. No romance. Now, as a newbie to the on-line dating world, I tried hard to figure out what I would say on my profile. Um, I am a Jesus loving control freak? Too scary. I’m a woman who lives by her calendar and doesn’t like change? Too crazy. So, here’s what I said:
Profile of a Newbie
I’m a God-fearing, intellectual soon to be divorced single mother of one. I like reading everything, blogging, kids, church, family and friends. I enjoy travelling, trying new restaurants and hanging out with my friends. I love my job and what I do. I love to laugh. Charm and chivalry are great qualities. In my spare time, I volunteer my time and talents with various organizations. I love all types of music: rock, r&b, hip-hop, gospel, jazz and country. I am happy.
Can someone please tell me what about that profile screams “Hey crazy dude stalking me! Let’s get it on and popping?” Nothing! But, I digress. I have met some of the weirdest men in the last 8 days that my profile has been active and I am at the verge of removing it. See, I don’t think a high strung control freak is cut out for the cut throat world of on-line dating or the creeps that troll that site. So, in an effort to humor you, let’s laugh at some of the responses I’ve received:
- Hey sexy! You’re sexy as hell
- Hey you’re sexy for a 39 year old woman!
- (WTH? What does that mean? Haven’t you heard that black don’t crack?)
- Hey I want to get to know you both internally and spiritually so we can bear fruit together?
- (WTH? You sound like you’re trying to either penetrate or impregnate me and both are a negative)
- I want a drama free chick that loves to be romanced
- (Why call her a chick then call yourself a romantic? Doesn’t work)
- I’m 50 and I’m looking to marry and have children
- (Dude, I said casual dating and no more children will ever come from my womb. What are you missing?)
- I’m sexually uninhibited. I will do whatever it takes to put a smile on my woman’s face except swing from the ceilings.
- (Yep, I just fell out laughing too)
- Want to go to Myrtle Beach with me this weekend?
- (Um no, I decided to take a roofie and see how date rape will work out)
- Why are you so uptight?
- (It’s my panties. They get tighter every time I hear BS)
Now you see what I am dealing with right? I think I should just try to meet people the old-fashioned way…run over them with my car. No for real, in this age of dating I think it is important for both men and women to have standards, but I can pay my own way. I am not interested in a friends with benefits relationship and I put my relationship with my son before anyone except God. That being said…If you’re somewhat attractive, easy going with a sense of humor, please call me and invite me to the gun range for an afternoon of lead bliss! LOL!
My niece is one of the most beautiful and phenomenal young women I know. I know I’m kind of biased, but let me tell you why I think she’s phenomenal. Princess #1 (her nickname) is almost 16. She’s smart, funny and talented. It’s in her genes.
One of the things I love most about my princess is her beautiful chocolate skin color. It’s the color of a molten lava cake. Beautiful and dark. She is my chocolate kiss. As a woman I try to instill racial pride in my nieces and nephews. Loving the skin you’re in. You see it is hard out for our young black women and men. Your color is the first thing people notice about you. It’s the thing that makes some folks cringe or cross the other side of the street when you walk by. Sometimes, it is the one thing that we try to change. But, how can you change something so beautifully inherited by your parents?
There are too many young women who are walking around with their self-esteem damaged. Many of those same women have felt the pressure to fit into society’s ideal of beauty. To be a size two with a 42 inch waist. However, is that really realistic? Nope. In an Instagram age where everyone is a model based off the number of followers and likes on their page or photos, it’s no wonder our young ladies feel the pressure to fit in. But, at what cost are they trying to change who they are?
We need to teach our young ladies that they are perfect just the way they are. I love the fact that New York City became the first major city in the nation to tackle the issue of self-esteem in young girls. They want young girls to see that their value comes from character not your appearance. This is something that we’ve tried to do with Princess since she was a little girl. We wanted her to recognize that you are beautiful because you exist, but your character is what really determines your worth. Character. That is what I want her to have. Good character. You’re already beautiful outside, why not work on the inside?
So, in light of one of my literary heroes (Maya Angelou) that passed away yesterday, I submit this poem to my niece and all the young women out there who may not know this… You are beautiful just the way you are. You are phenomenal!
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
This is me and Princess #1 – I love me some her! Phenomenally!
Today I was saddened to hear the news of Maya Angelou’s untimely death. She was an incredible poet, author and entertainer. She was simply a strong woman. A strong black woman. She helped me love and appreciate the curves in my hips when I read “Phenomenal Woman”. She helped me see that the pain that I held when I couldn’t forgive folks kept me caged like a bird and she taught me that the best revenge is simply to rise and be heard. To stand up and show the world that they aren’t hurting me. To move past the pain.
She told me in her poem that haters will hate, but still I rise. She taught me to not let them see me being down trodden. Rise. She taught me that just because I’m a woman and poor doesn’t mean that I can’t reinvent myself. She did and accomplished so many things in her life that it is a shame that some will never know how deep her footprints in the sand of life really are. Incredible. Talented. Phenomenal. Strong. Able. Those are just some of the words that I would use to describe her.
The poem “Still I Rise” was the defining moment in my life that I truly learned to love and appreciate the blackness of my skin. I learned to appreciate and love being a woman and I learned to move past the injustices that were done to me. You see it wasn’t Amiri Baraka with his words of rage that had me raising my fist in solidarity of my people, but it was in the love of the words that spoke to someone who got up and got over the heartaches of this world.
There are very few people that have influenced my life in such a profound way that I have not personally met. Few people that have helped lay the foundation and appreciation for my racial pride. She was one of the reasons that I became an English major. Her writing inspired and awakened me in the rooms of my college dorm and in the classroom where I found my literary voice. A voice each day that I’m learning to use.
So, for folks who don’t know this poem, “Still I Rise”, I’ve shared it below.
Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my livin’ room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meetings of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I’ve always loved that quote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I don’t know why it’s one of my favorite quotes. I think it has to do with the fact that I grew up poor and my Momma could make a meal out of anything. I mean anything. Have you ever had a taco salad with Doritos and French Dressing? Yum.
I was nine years old when my parents split up. That was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn…responsibility. I had to be responsible for the management of my household while my mother worked swing shifts in the military. She cooked meals and left instructions for me on how to warm them up in the oven and feed my siblings. She was serving our country and was serving dinner. The roles had shifted in my family and I had to step up to the plate and learn responsibility. But, I didn’t want to.
I was nine and while I understood that there was no one but me to do it, I wanted to be a kid. I never told my mom. I did what any well behaved child with a crazy black momma would do. I stepped up to the plate. I became responsible. I picked my sister up from school, walked her home and picked up my brother from the babysitter on my way in the house. I warmed up dinner while helping my sister with her homework and playing with my little brother. He was one. I fed the kids, bathed them and put them to bed. I sat down and did my homework, cleaned the kitchen, bathed and went to bed. I did this for a little less than three years until my mother decided to not re-enlist. We relocated from Texas to Maryland and my life never was the same.
Life had given me lemons and I had to make lemonade. I had to go to a new school, meet new people in a new state where I knew nothing about. I hadn’t visited Maryland. What is this state like? I hated it. I didn’t like change. I wanted to stay in my house in Texas with my friends and make it work. My mom wanted more. More time with us and more opportunities for us. But, I couldn’t see this.
Of all of the things that happened in my past I realized that this statement about making lemonade out of lemons is my theme. I’ve learned how to start over with nothing. I’ve learned that life is not fair, but you keep pushing forward. I’ve learned that the only shame one should ever feel is if they stop trying to make a better life for their family. That’s what my mom did. She made a way out of a no way and when there was no money, she made miracles. She was in God’s favor and he continually blessed us.
The most important lesson I learned came from my momma: She said as a parent you wish that you could wipe every tear that falls from your child’s face. But, when I can’t I need you to go to God in prayer. He will fix it. She was right. So, when life gives me lemonade, this is what I do now:
I have an announcement to make: My son loves “My Little Pony”. He watches it religiously on Netflix. He loves ponies. He loves horses too. He loves all animals. That being said, I want to let the world know that I don’t have to defend my son’s love of a show, animals or magical creatures to you or anyone. You see, when he was born we promised to allow him the freedom to grow and discover new things. We said we would support him. We said we would encourage him. We said we would love him just the way he is. So, why does him loving “My Little Pony” bother some folks?
Case in point, last month, McDonald’s had “My Little Pony” toys as part of their happy meals. We stopped by McDonald’s on a Monday night after soccer practice and he asked for a nugget happy meal with milk. He wanted the nuggets in the purple package. What? He meant the mighty kids meal (6 piece nuggets). He then said, “Mommy, I want a pony.” I said, “Okay, love.” I went up to the register and told the cashier my order. When I said that I wanted the pony toy instead of the other toy, she replied loudly, “So, you want a girl’s toy while looking down at my son?” I replied firmly, “Yes”. She yelled to her runner (the person fixing my order), get the girl toy.
What kind of foolishness was this? Why did she have to get loud as though I didn’t understand my own request? Why would she think that I as his mother would not get him the toy he wants? I wasn’t embarrassed. I was angry. My son shouldn’t have to hear this foolishness. He’s impressionable. I never tell him what is a girl’s toy or what is a boy’s toy. He can play with whatever he likes. And he did. He was ecstatic to get the purple pony and happily sat down to eat his dinner and play with his pony. People stared. I stared back at them. My son was happy. I was frustrated and disgusted that people thought it weird that my son wanted a “girl toy” instead of the “boy toy”. If you know what the show is about, gender doesn’t really matter. Why can’t boys play with dolls or ponies? What is the big deal? Why can’t we view ponies as gender neutral? Aren’t there boy ponies?
So, I did some research and wanted to learn everything that I could about “My Little Pony”. After searching on the web I found some disturbing news regarding boys being bullied for liking “My Little Pony”. How could that be? Isn’t this a child like fantasy world where ponies are based on the six elements of harmony; loyalty, honesty, generosity, laughter, kindness and magic? Wow, they teach how to live harmoniously. They focus on friendship. Minus magic, I think I talk to Brennan everyday about these different elements as a basis of principles for how he should behave.
What is happening that where boys can’t like toys that are based on sound principles that are non-threatening and educational? Our society has to get better. Just this year, all kinds of stories about boys liking “My Little Pony”. Some were horror stories. Like this one little boy attempting suicide earlier this year. Can a boy like a show that is fun and encouraging without being bullied? Maybe not, after all this little boy was told by his school to ditch his “My Little Pony” book bag because it is a trigger for bullying. Really now?
I pray that my son will grow up knowing that he is loved and that it is okay for you to play with any and all toys. Toys don’t determine his sexuality. He can play with dolls, trucks, ponies or anything that is not dangerous and parent approved. His kindergarten teacher told me “I love the fact that Brennan has an imagination. So many children entering kindergarten having lost their innocence and Brennan is still pure and innocent.” I smiled and thanked her and ran to call his dad to share the praise.
My son has an imaginary friend and a love for the color purple. How can I tell him that there is no such thing as magic when I’m trying to teach him about faith. His imaginary friend plays with him, protects him and plays with him. I accept that. You see, I love him just they way he is and I refuse to stifle his spirit by pushing society’s pre-conceived notions of what my boy should play with on him. He is mine. He was divinely created, grown in a broken vessel and given to God. Let him keep his innocence.
FYI – This is Twilight Sparkle from “My Little Pony”. She represents the element of magic. This is the one he received in his happy meal.
Sharing that my husband and I are divorcing in a prior post was hard for me. Not because I was embarrassed, but I wondered what happens now? Everyone of my Facebook friends (I have a lot) who didn’t know will now see this. It’s out in cyber world. Never to fully disappear. But, I had to put my “big girl panties on” and breathe. It’s not the end of the world. I am learning and this path that I’m travelling has given me new experiences to share with you.
The latest experience is single motherhood. Now, I have to tell you that Lee absolutely abhors when I say that I’m a single parent. He says, “No, you’re not. I’m still in the picture.” He’s right, but we’re not together. We are learning how to co-parent and not destroy our one and only child. We are still family. So, I wanted to share what I’ve learned as a somewhat single parent.
I’ve been doing this somewhat single parenting thing for over a year now. It’s hard at times because in the midst of the separation and pending divorce, our son has had to get used to having two separate homes with two separate set of rules. This was happening as he was turning five, graduating from daycare and starting kindergarten. Not much pressure huh?
We didn’t intend for our relationship to crumble at such huge milestones and we opted to put him first in making sure that he knew that he was our number one priority. It hasn’t been easy. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve argued. I’ve cried. Our son has cried. We shared birthday parties. Family dinners and holidays. We still try to keep a united front. He is our son and he deserves the best of both of us. That being said, I’ve had to learn and in some cases re-learn things as a somewhat single parent.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- I can’t take for granted that my son has two parents with two separate household rules. I can’t control what goes on at dad’s house anymore than he can control what goes on at my house. I have learned to breathe and let him run his house how he sees fit. He’s a great dad and just like me, he will make mistakes, but he will correct as he sees fit because he loves our son more than his own life.
- I can’t do everything as though I’m married. Lee taught me this. He said, “You can’t make decisions for Brennan as though we were married. I have a right to not want him to do something.” Wow! No truer words. I had to learn to let go and let flow. So what if I can’t sign him up for another sport because his dad doesn’t want it to infringe on his quality time? I need to suck it up. They need their time.
- I need a network. I have a core group of friends that know when I call them in distress, I may need them to grab my son. My mom taught me this. When I was growing up there were many times that my mom couldn’t attend a financial aid workshop, college preparatory program or school performance because she was working. I understood. Her network of friends stepped up and stepped in. They were the village and we were better because of it. Someone was always there and that made us feel special.
- Be present in the moment. I can’t change the circumstances of our lives now, but I can be present in the moment. When Brennan is with me, his time is valuable. Our time is valuable. I am picking him up from school, taking him to soccer practice, going to church and teaching him how to read. I give him the best of me because that is what he deserves. He is my priority. Focus on making sure he is adjusting as well as can be expected.
- Be grateful for the down time. This was hard for me because my son has only lived in a house with me since his birth. I went from kissing and seeing him everyday to following a schedule. How do you do that? What do you do with the silence? What about not cooking dinner or story time? How was this supposed to work? I cried the first night he spent away from home, but I learned to be grateful and just stand. Stand in the silence and figure out what I want to do. I learned I like watching reality TV. I reconnected with old friends. I’m writing more. I was even asked to be the Assistant Editor of my girlfriend’s magazine that is coming out later this year. (More on that later)
I learned to be grateful for time because I don’t have a man at home to do what I’ve taken for granted. But, I can do them. I have to kill spiders without passing out and screaming at the top of my lungs. I have to wash my car, get the maintenance on it and carry out my own trash. I learned to appreciate all the wonderful years that I had as a wife. I am learning to be his friend. Many things that I’ve learned you may find insignificant, but being single again after the last 14 years is a new experience. I’m scared, but I’m thankful that even though I’m a somewhat single parent, my son has an incredible father that wants to be in his life. It’s not easy. We’re both strong personalities, but we’re trying. We have too because Brennan is depending on us.
By now, many of you have heard about that horrible elevator scene between Solange (Beyonce’s sister) and Jay-Z. This video which was released by TMZ is disturbing in its entirety because it shows an assault on a man. Now, I know many of you may be saying, “We don’t know what Jay said to her prior to the elevator attack.” Does it matter? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt. Isn’t this what we teach our children?
Violence is never the answer. We have to stop thinking that putting your hands on someone else will result in a positive outcome. What have we learned from the elevator scene? That the parties involved will be embarrassed by this outcome for their rest of their lives? That a woman can put her hands on a man and not be charged? That a woman won’t defend her husband? Too many more to add, but the fact of the matter is that as a woman raising a son, I don’t condone violence. I will never support my son hitting a woman and I will never allow a woman to put her hands on my son without the full law behind me to destroy every fabric of her being. #breathe #woosaw
and I digress…
I am outraged that as a country we would applaud, laugh or indulge in the fact that Solange had a right to hit Jay-Z. No one has a right to put their hands on you. The question I would ask is had he hit her back would we have blamed him? Does a man have a right to defend himself when attacked? No. But, what do you tell your sons when you know that 40% of men are victims of domestic violence from women? Keep holding her back? Don’t hit back? Restrain her but you’re stronger? Yes, but when will we teach our young women to stop raising their hands? When will we teach them that violence begets violence?
Solange is a mother to a son. What if a woman had attacked her son, Daniel, liked she attacked Jay-Z? Would she defend the woman’s rights to put her hands on her son? Would she cry out for charges to be pressed? Argue that we need reform against men who are victims of domestic violence? Possibly.
At the least, she needs to acknowledge her negative behavior and publicly apologize to those of us who thought of her as a beautiful role model to young women. We should expect nothing less because we would expect a man to do the same. There is no shame in admitting that what you did was wrong. You have to teach children, that violence never solves anything and I am incredibly remorseful for my actions.
Let’s not let the video be the last word for her character. She is better than that.
And in case you’ve been living under a rock and hadn’t seen the video, it is posted here: