The Act of Thankfulness

Today is Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for everything. Good, bad or indifferent. I realize that I am because of God. I have had an incredible year and can’t complain. My mom said we’re having a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal complete with pizza and wings. I said cool. My friend asked, “How do you feel about that?” I said, “I’m blessed regardless. I understand that some won’t even eat today or have family or friends that they can see. Whatever the meal, it is a blessing.” He smiled and said, “I love watching God’s favor over you.”

So, let’s remember that this day is more about the abundance of things that we should be thankful for. No matter what your situation, there is always someone in a worse situation than you. Be thankful for everything and know that I am thankful for you.

Made with Tagul
Made with Tagul
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Have a Baby By Me

The quest for motherhood is sometimes an arduous task. You know my story. It was difficult and we did IVF to get our little boy. Two rounds of painful injections and procedures produced a happy and healthy little baby. But, what happens when you want a baby and there is no man around?

I’m not going to sit here and proclaim that all women want children or that they want a man (if you’re a same sex couple), but I will say that the prospects of having a child without a man is still difficult for a heterosexual woman. The odds of finding good men that are dateable, relateable and ready for marriage when you are may have you feeling like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

As a woman who is almost 40 and entering the dating field again after more than 14 years, I can see the choices of eligible men are limited. Now, before you get all huffy, let me quantify the eligible men comment. I define eligible men to be the following: gainfully employed, somewhat attractive (no you don’t have to be Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba or Brad Pitt), divorced, widowed or single (no if you have a girlfriend you are not single), likes children (I have one) and wants a relationship (not 20 years from now – maybe 6-12 months from now).

Even if you get through one of those categories, it is still up in the air whether we can get to the point that you are dateable, relateable or ready for a relationship. What about chemistry? Isn’t that important? Whew! Women have it hard. So, what do you do when you want a baby and there is no man around? Find a donor.

Simple right? When I was in my early 20’s I realized that I would probably never get married. Why? Because marriage wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to get married nor did I dream about a big wedding. I didn’t trust the institution of marriage and thought it more like slavery than a relationship from God. I was happy being single. Single and successful. So, I started to think about my fertility. Mainly because I wondered if I didn’t have a child would I in fact be missing out on something special?

I asked a friend of mine who was 3 years older than me to be my “baby’s daddy, sperm donor or contributor to parenthood”. I told him that if I didn’t find anyone and he wasn’t attached by the time I was 27 we should have a baby together. I mean we liked each other. We had love for one another and we were both college educated upwardly mobile black folks. The agreement was made and I was virtually going to have a baby by him.

It was a sober deal. Made with explicit terms and a friendly agreement. It was easier to find someone to parent with that you actually liked than to accidentally get someone you couldn’t stand pregnant. He was an only child and I only wanted one so that worked out pretty well. He could have someone that would continue his dynasty well after he had left the earth.

Well, that didn’t sit right with some of my family. Why? Because I was actually planning on being a single parent without accidentally getting knocked up? What was wrong with putting the choice in my own hands and not playing the “oops I am pregnant card”? I mean we both wanted a baby and we both wanted to make sure that our child was being born in and raised in a healthy environment. Our choice. Not society’s standards but ours.

It didn’t happen though. I got married at 27 and had a baby at 33 so obviously God had other plans. But, what about my sisters who don’t have those options? Should they be forced to forego motherhood in hopes that they will someday land a man worthy and responsible enough to be a father? Should you ask a male friend to be a donor with no connection to the baby? Should you enter into a gentleman’s (and woman’s agreement) to parent without titles other than mom or dad? In my opinion, it’s your choice. Motherhood, your womb and your fertility is not up to society to decide what’s right. Only you can do that.

No More

No more please. No more killing of our black babies and offering up excuses. I’m tired. As a mother to a black boy, this is my deepest fear. A fear that he will not be here on this Earth all the days of my life because of senseless violence. I mean Michael Brown and Ferguson is still fresh in my mind and now we hear about Tamir Rice? How could this happen?

A boy. A baby. Not even a teenager. A child. He is six years older than my son. He is a black boy. He is someone’s son. He is not going to go on his first date. He will not go to his prom. He will not graduate high school. He will not go to college. He will not get married. He will not be a father. He is dead.

How does this happen? Why are our children being used as target practice. No more. I can’t take it. I have a son. I don’t let him play with guns. I don’t let him play video games. I don’t allow him to play alone any where. I organize play dates and I organize outings. Why? Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that he will be used as target practice and there is nothing no one will be able to tell me.

I’m crying. Literally writing this piece with tears rolling down my face. I’m scared. Scared of looking into the eyes of my son and knowing that because he is a black boy that no matter what I do to prepare him to not be viewed as a threat, he may be killed senselessly by law enforcement. This is heartbreaking to me.

To make matters worse, how the heck can someone like former Mayor of NYC Rudy Giuliani even justify cops killing blacks by saying that “White police officers wouldn’t be in black neighborhoods, killing black men, if you weren’t killing each other.” Are you kidding me? Why would you even say that? To say that our tax dollars don’t buy us the right to have officers serve and protect without killing us or using the stop-and-frisk method because of the color of our skin is of true offense.

Understand this…I mourn all deaths due to senseless violence. But let’s get real, if my son was murdered by someone who is not a law enforcement official we would hopefully see some sort of justice. If it is law enforcement that murders him then the odds that something will happen are slim to none. He will still be dead and his murderer will be free.

My plea is simple:  Please stop killing our children. Please stop murdering my brothers, fathers, cousins and uncles. Please stop protecting those that kill the innocent. Please prosecute those who kill our children. I will go home and be able to kiss my munch, listen to him tell me about his day at school, listen to him tell me how he can’t wait to go to his grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and listen to him tell me that he loves me tonight. I will get to put him asleep, kissing his forehead and sending prayers of thanks to God for another day with him. Tamir’s parents do not have that luxury. They will have to plan a funeral.

Tamir Rice
Tamir Rice

 

By Faith (Part Two)

So, I guess I’m pretty good at this short story thing? Huh? I don’t know. It’s so weird. I was honored when so many women said that they loved the story and could relate to it. They felt as though I was writing their situation. I was awed and overwhelmed.

As one friend said to me yesterday, “You have God’s favor all over you.” I was honored and humbled by that. That being said, so many women wanted to know what happened to Faith and Teddy in my story that I decided to make this my first novel. A short story where I will give you all the information about Faith and Teddy.

Here’s my first addition. The prequel to their story from Teddy’s point of view. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

You can find it here:  By Faith

Fat Jokes

So, last week I had the pleasure of going to drink at an establishment where my girlfriend was the bartender for the night. The bar was small, but nice. They had a comedy show whereby local comedians were featured. As I settled onto my bar stool with my drink I was immediately captivated by the talent of a black woman about my age and rocking a beautiful African head-wrap. Sister was funny. She was bringing the jokes and I was feeling the pain from laughing so hard.

But, she lost me. Why? She started to talk about how she’s 40 and never been married and doesn’t have kids. She remarked about how she is attractive and that she seems to be entering the dating field at the wrong time. For example, when skinny is in she’s considered too fat or when fat girls are in she’s considered too skinny. Apparently she had it rough (insert snarky smile). As she progressed through her routine she said that she was watching Discovery Health one day and it depressed the heck out of her. Why? Because she saw two women who were both married to attractive men with children.

The first woman had no legs and was pregnant. She mused, “I mean, why can’t I find an attractive husband and get pregnant. I have legs. What’s the problem?” She inquired. She said that a friend had told her that the legless woman can outperform her in the bedroom (too much for this post). Everyone laughed. Now disabled people are humorous? She then said there was a show about a 692 fat woman who was married to an attractive man and she couldn’t understand how she could get a husband and she can’t. What was up with that? Everyone laughed imagining this situation because the comedian couldn’t have weighed more than 160 pounds herself and was attractive.

She told a few more jokes and got off the stage. A few more comedians came up to do their act and I realized a theme forming in my brain…Fat jokes. Men and women both think that joking about fat women is funny (not even fat men). They all wondered how fat women can find attractive husbands, boyfriends or even date because we’re so busy being fat and eating.

Now, check it! I get that they were just jokes but as the only curvy sister in the establishment they were all looking at me and saying, “Not you sister” as I was giving them the side-eye that their jokes weren’t funny. I am a plus size princess, a curvy cutie and a full-figured feminist so how do the fat jokes don’t apply to me? Because I’m not big enough like the women you are referring too?

Man, kick rocks with that kind of backwards thinking. I asked my boy who was with me why did they do that? He said, “They’re just jokes. All fat women want to be skinny. Look at Monique.” Really? WTH! I was outraged at his insensitivity to the issues that big women face and I said, “Not all women want to be skinny and Monique didn’t. She wanted to be healthy and she’s not skinny.”

I guess I’m disappointed that we still can’t find humor about real-life things instead of picking on me and my plus sized sisters. I just wish that a true comedian would develop their craft by finding other topics. I mean fat girls like me like comedy shows and you just might have to spend your routine looking away when I give you the side eye when you make fat girl jokes. I’m not ashamed of my size and not everyone wants to be skinny. Just healthy.

My two cents…find other things to make us laugh such as politics, sex and religion. You would offend a lot more people instead of one group. I’m just saying.

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Woman to Woman

Let’s have a talk shall we? As I’ve stated in prior posts, I’m in a state of transition..that from married to single. It’s been a long time since I was single and my first time as a single parent trying to have a co-parenting relationship. I will always love my ex for it was he who gave me our son, but I have to say something… this crap gets hard sometimes!

Not that I’m looking to fix a flat tire or repair my marriage, but co-parenting when we can’t seem to act like adults is hard as hell. Yep, I said “we” purposely. I’m not going to sit here and let you believe that I’ve got this all figured out and I’m the best person when it comes to disengaging my personal animosities and trying to co-parent effectively. I don’t.

Most of the time it is trial and error. Many errors, some good things and a lot of okay things happen. I think letting go of old wounds from our marriage is what is contributing to the bad head space we can find ourselves in. Why? Because we’re both headstrong individuals who have to be right. We both want to have the last word. We both hope that we don’t screw up our son.

Our son lives with his dad 50% of the time and with me 50% of the time. His needs come first. Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we put his needs first. Yes, he is six and yes he is aware that his mommy and daddy will not live together anymore. But, more than that he realizes that the two people who gave him life love him more than we ever thought possible.

The reason why I am calling this post “Woman to Woman” is because I needed to get something off my chest. If you are a woman dating my ex and plan on being around there are some things you should know. A list of how to deal with me and my desire to raise an incredibly wonderful little boy in two separate homes. Here you go:

  1. Never, ever listen to us argue. You see if my ex should get reckless and try to prove to you that I’m crazy and hold a personal conversation on the phone with me while you are riding in his car, be woman enough to tell him that it’s not acceptable. What we argue about should never concern you in your preliminary role.
  2. Just because I don’t know you doesn’t mean that I don’t do my research. I’m a protective mama cub. I only have one child and he means more to me than anything in my life. That being said who you are (your first and last name) matter to me.
  3. I don’t want him back. Nope, I don’t. I love my ex because he and I were together so long. We made memories. Some good, some bad, but in the end the greatest thing we ever did was have our son. I’m not trying to do it again. No matter what you hear.
  4. Understand that no one will ever take my place. Not that I think you believe that, but my ex said that to me. He actually said, “No one can ever take your place as our son’s mother.” Dude, I know this. I still have the incision where he was taken from me five weeks early. There is never a replacement for the original. I’m his mommy.
  5. What happens in my home is my business and vice versa. Unless my son volunteers information, I will never, ever question him about what occurs at his father’s house. It’s none of my business unless it affects his well-being. That being said, very little will ever affect his well-being (because his dad adores him) so I don’t care what happens at daddy’s house as long as he is being loved, fed, clothed and nurtured in the best way possible.
  6. Being a part of his dad’s life long term will mean that you will have to meet me. Understand that I bear no ill will or animosity towards you. I am a mother. I am a woman and I believe in the unity of all women. I encourage us to be civil and make the transition for my child seamless and positive. But, understand that you will have to do your part…know and accept that I will always want to do what is in the best interest of my son. No one is more qualified to make important decisions than his dad and I. No one.

One of the greatest things his dad did after we split was rush over to my house because our son had a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop. It was almost 20 minutes of blood gushing and him screaming. His dad called and he screamed, “I want my daddy”. His dad was in a movie and left and said, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” You know what? He was. Not because of me, but because his son needed him. That was pretty awesome and it made me realize one thing…his dad will move mountains for him and for that I am eternally thankful.

I am new to this co-parenting thing and no I didn’t expect to have it figured out, but I’m trying. His dad and I make a lot of stupid mistakes (mainly because we’re pig-headed) but we are trying. We will someday get this right, but I want the temporary (or permanent) women to know that there is no reason to be less than a woman when attaching yourself to the foolishness that may be us. We love our son and we will get it right (hopefully sooner rather than later) someday.

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Women Rock!

Last week, I took my car into my local Tires Plus for my oil change and winter maintenance. What surprised me most about this visit was that they had women who worked in their maintenance shop. I’ve rarely seen women who work in the automotive field, but the few times that I have seen women, I’m always surprised by the look of the women who work with men all day. Pretty much they seem masculine.

Now, before you get all in a huff, I am a feminist and any woman working in a male dominated field is a great thing! I am all for women being treated equally. But, my automotive technician didn’t appear masculine in her dress or attitude. She wasn’t trying to hide her curves or fit in with the guys. She was just doing her job.

And you know what? She did a great job. She was very thorough with her recommended repairs and the maintenance. I was extremely impressed and told the manager that I would be back because they had women automotive technicians which shows that they are trying to diversify their staff. He smiled. So, I got back to the house and researched how many women actually work in the automotive field and you know what I discovered? That accordingly only 1.8% women were employed as automotive service technicians or mechanics in 2013.

Are you serious? I knew it was low, but this low? We have got to change that ladies! Let’s push our girls to explore more male dominated fields like automotive technicians and/or mechanics. There is always a demand for a great mechanic and it allows women to be taken more seriously as they climb in the management roles (should they choose to) because they have the hands on experience that makes men take a step back and take them seriously. There are many schools that offer an automotive technician program and if you are interested in going further, consider enrolling in mechanical engineering programs. I want to see more women mechanics when I take my car to get serviced. Even in the Goma (which is known as the rape capital of the world) in the Democratic Republic of Congo you have women that have carved out their own by becoming mechanics in a male dominated industry. Let’s do it locally too.

Girl power is awesome!
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My 3 Rules

I read a great post on the Huffington Post entitled “The 3 Rules of My House” and laughed because I thought the author and I must be kindred spirits because I have 3 rules too. I had Munch reciting my household rules a couple of weeks ago. Not for punishment, but memorization and application.

When talking to other parents and adults we are often angered by the state of our youth today. Not having any manners, their lack of respect for technology, a complete disrespect for privacy, their completed disregard or concern about their own health or their future plans. All these frustrated topics were discussed and dissected in great detail that the only thing we could agree on was the fact that the state of our young people scares us. What is happening to them?

A couple of Saturdays ago, Munch was waiting patiently in the nail salon while I got my bi-weekly maintenance. Normally, he wouldn’t be there because I go when I don’t have him, but his dad being out of town kind of threw a wrench into my plans, but such is life. We got up that morning and I asked him did he want to eat breakfast at home or I would stop by McDonald’s as a treat for him being a good boy. He opted for McDonald’s. I grabbed the I-pad his headphones and headed to the golden arches before going to get my nails done.

Once in the salon, he ate his breakfast and watched his movies. He waited the entire 2.5 hours while I got the works and never complained. All the women were complimentary about his patience and behavior. I smiled and said, “Yep, he’s a good kid.”

So, my mood changed when 20 minutes later a couple of young women (guessing their ages were between 16 and 20) walked in and yelled, “How long for a full set?” I cringed and looked at my nail technician and said, “Wow, no good morning? How about rephrasing and asking….Good morning, may I please inquire as to how long it will take for a full set?” She laughed and said, “T, that’s all day every day. Some of these young women just walk in her and start cursing up a storm that I have to remind them that this is a place of business and we don’t talk like that in this establishment.”

I was floored. Why are these young people being so disrespectful? Do they not have any home training? What do their parents think of their behavior? I said, “When I was growing up, my momma had many rules but only two ever stuck out: 1. Never, ever embarrass me and 2. A lady never gets drunk in public. She gets drunk in the privacy of her own home.” She laughed and said, “I know that’s right girl!” I said, even now I only have 3 rules for my house. I said, “Munch, come here please.” Munch walks over. I said, “Munch, what is the number one rule for mommy’s house?” He smiled and replied, “Don’t embarrass mommy.” I said, “Thank you love.” She said, “Wow, I like that.”

Reading the article prompted me to share the three rules of my house:

  1. Don’t embarrass mommy. This is an all-inclusive, mega statement that applies to everything you do from the minute you wake up to the day you die. Don’t embarrass mommy. I know that you will go through things that will make your choices seem difficult. Many questions such as:
  • Should I skip school?
  • Should I try drugs?
  • What about pre-marital sex?
  • What about cheating on a test?
  • My parents won’t know if I lie, that’s easier than telling the truth, what should I do?

I get it. You will have a lot of choices thrown at you, but remember that all your choices are designed with one thought in mind…not embarrassing mommy. Your choices should seem easier if you answer them with that thought at your fore-front. I know. I’ve been there. I can thankfully say that I have never embarrassed my mommy.

  1. Don’t run in traffic. Yes, it seems that this shouldn’t be a rule that will follow him until adulthood, but it will. It’s a continuation of rule number 1. When you’re young, I don’t want you letting go of your parent’s hands and running into traffic. Traffic is dangerous. We want you to hold our hands until you no longer feel the need to be led by us (which hopefully will be until you graduate from high school – but I know that may be weird for you). Traffic is dangerous and I want you to stay out of traffic. Traffic is where you go once you’ve been licensed by the state as a safe driver and can operate a vehicle that will hopefully protect you when you let go of my hand. Traffic is not to be played with and we don’t run in traffic.
  2. Give thanks. In all that you do, you need to give thanks. Have an attitude of gratitude. Things won’t go your way, such is life, but you should still give thanks. Thanks for being able to have a roof over your head and clothes on your back. Thanks that you have food to eat when you open the fridge and that if you want to buy lunch, your parents can afford to put money on your school lunch account. Thanks that you have two bedrooms, with two tv’s and two dvd players and a whole lot of Disney DVD’s. Thanks that you have parents that love and adore you more than their own lives. Thanks that we want you active and healthy which is why we put you in sports. Thanks that we try to enrich your life by teaching you French, taking you to museums, vacations and beaches. Thanks to your many aunts and uncles who adore you and listen to mommy blog about you all day long. The same aunts and uncles that love you as though you were their own. The same ones that sent you a beautiful children’s Bible from Paris in French so you could read it and translate it to your parents.  In all things give thanks. Never forget that.

Three rules. Simple and easy to remember. I want munch to have an attitude of gratitude and respect for human kind. I want him to open his mouth and say Good Morning and thank you sir to those who he comes in contact with. I want him to grow up the way most of us grew up. With respect and appreciation for everything.

I Like Control, But So What!

I mean doesn’t everyone like to take control of their life and plans and not just leave it to chance that they will be able to eat, live and have a career? I’ve been often told that I’m predictable. That I follow a set pattern when it comes to making plans and don’t tend to deviate from those said plans. Yep, and what’s the problem with that?

No, I’m not spontaneous. No, I don’t like surprises and no, I don’t tend to go somewhere on the whim. I am neurotic and my friends know and accept this about me (which they should because they are my friends) and they will let me know in advance of parties, play dates or drinks. I love that. If it’s not on my calendar, the likely hood of it happening are slim and none. Does it freak me out when I meet someone who doesn’t like to make plans? Absolutely.

But, I can’t change them. I want someone who will meet me halfway. Know that I like to plan and sometimes plan something or allow me to plan it. Yep, it sounds creepy and controlling, but it’s not. It’s just allowing me to feel comfortable about our plans. Heck, I just planned a getaway to NJ in January with my bestfriend to go to this restaurant that has over 30 different grilled cheese sandwiches. Yep, I’m a foodie who plans her food jaunts.

I probably should be in therapy about my need to feel in control, but I can save myself lots of money and time wasted because I know what the issue is…Lack of control happens when people don’t plan. Families break up. You go hungry. You can’t afford anything. You can’t afford doctor’s visits. You can’t afford extracurricular activities. You eat free and reduced lunch.

You grow up. You make great choices. You vowed to live each day better than the last. You control what you can around you. You control your life.

But, what happens when you lose control? What happens when things fall apart that you thought were supposed to work because you took the time, did the research, resolved and analyzed the outliers and it still fails?

You cry. You scream. You accept the inevitable.

You move forward. You grow. You make it through.

You create a new path. A new plan. You research, analyze and test your hypothesis knowing that it is all trial and error.

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