Co-Parenting: Bonus

Last week some friends and I were discussing Mr. C and I and why I’m not rushing down the aisle. LOL. Multiple reasons, but love isn’t one of them. I explained that I’m not ready and we’ve just created this great space and relationship and do things in our own time.

I started telling them about Mr. C’s son getting accepted into the school he wanted to go to and how he was heading to college in the fall and I’m super excited for him. Sad for my man because he’s going to miss the hell out of his son, but excited that they are embarking on this journey together. Mr. C calls me for advice about college and questions he should ask and I try to dole out tips, information and suggestions. I like it. I feel like I’m providing valuable input.

One of the things that I may not have mentioned is that Mr. C raised his son by himself. He is an excellent father and one of the things that I love about him is that no matter how busy he was providing, he was always there for his son. That speaks volumes for me. He and I definitely have different parenting styles, but he loves being a dad. It works for him.

So, knowing that we are dating for the purpose of marriage it comes as no surprise that I’m excited about his son’s next phase of his life. I love being a mom and although his son is 9 years older than Munch and headed to college this fall while Munch heads to fourth grade, it warms my heart to know that I will have a bonus son when we marry.

My friends were asking “Bonus son?” I said “Yep, he’s the unexpected bonus I receive when I marry his dad. I didn’t have to give birth to him, but my life is immeasurably better because he’s in it.” They smiled. “I like that” said my friend.

Just like Munch and I are a package deal, Mr. C and his son are one. We are going to be a blended family someday and I don’t expect everything to be perfect, but I expect that we’ll try. I will be the bonus mom that won’t quit. The best bonus mom ever! He may get tired of me sending care packages while he’s away, but I honestly can’t wait.

Bonuses are a blessing. Unexpected blessings that are extras and while I will gain a bonus son, he’ll gain a bonus mom and a bonus brother. We’re going to be one blessed family.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mother’s out there. This day is about you. You who love and labor without recognition. You who kiss and cuddle and make boo boos okay. You who help on homework, cook meals and give baths without ever having taken a break. You who clean messes, care for your sick and bake cookies. You who do none of those things but are a mother figure regardless – know that you are loved and appreciated.

This Mother’s Day, Munch and I will go to church and then grab a bite to eat. Nothing fancy. I don’t want to cook and my mom is out of town celebrating with her mother. Munch and I will cuddle on my bed and watch Disney movies and laugh. It is this memory that I will remember. He’ll make me a beautiful card and I will hang it in my office to remind me that I have the greatest son ever.

Whatever you’re doing today, I wish you peace and happiness. Whether you spend it with your families or doing what you want to do, know that it is about you today. We honor you and your commitment to your children. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Motherhood: What Matters Most?

What matters most to me when it comes to raising Munch? That’s simple. I want Munch to be a man of good character. I think about it constantly as he is 9 and I just hope that I’m doing right by him.  I want him to be a man of good character.

It’s hard today to really think about things that we take for granted. Be of good character or as my momma used to say to me “Don’t embarrass me”. I think that’s one of the fundamental lessons we have to teach our children. That your character matters because you matter.

We should never take for granted the things that we are called to do and we should always look at serving others as one our greatest priorities. No matter what. We can’t get too busy going through life that we are unable to see that there are others that are less fortunate than we are. Those that are struggling just to make ends meet. We must help.

Volunteering our time and sharing our talents are very important things to me. I also believe in charitable contributions. However, since Munch is an only child, I tend to do a lot of volunteering with him because I really want him to see the importance of serving others. I want him to see the benefits of service. But, sometimes he gets frustrated and doesn’t want to do it.

I get it. He’s 9. He doesn’t understand the importance of doing for others. Yet. He sees what he wants when he wants. Last year in December we participated in Wreaths Across America and even though I didn’t tell him about it until we got there he actually enjoyed it. I thought he would be scared, but he loved putting the wreaths on the soldier’s graves and he wished every headstone a Merry Christmas as he placed the wreath.

But, he’s fickle with his service as I experienced last month. I was assembling toiletries that my sorority sisters and I had collected for the homeless. We received an outpouring of support from people all over the community, including one local blogger Egypt who saw my flyer on Instagram and wanted to help. Well, all those toiletries had to be counted and sorted and assembled with like items to donate to the facility.

I asked Munch to help me with the sorting and he pitched a fit. He wanted to go back to playing in his room so he stomped, gave attitude and huffed and puffed while sorting. Feeling my patience running thin, I told him to forget it and I would do it on my own. He started to walk away. I then said “Munch, I teach you all the time that we are called to serve. Jesus came to serve at God’s request and are we to believe that we are too good to serve?” He looked at me. I then told him “I’m disappointed that you don’t want to help. I don’t want you to be selfish, but I want you to see the value in helping the homeless. These men and women don’t have a place to lay their head at night. No home means that they can’t go open the refrigerator and get food out. They need these supplies. We are helping them. I need you to understand how helping me helps them.”

He walked away and I continued to sort through the items on my own. Ten minutes later he comes down stairs with a tear streaked face asking to help. I smiled and said okay. He handed me a picture. I started to cry too.

He got it. He got the point of what I was saying. That fact made me smile. Even though we weren’t helping people with blood cancers as he stated in his drawing, it comforted me to know that my little boy was choosing to be of good character and the lesson that I was trying to teach was not going on deaf ears.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Summer Camp Struggles

Okay, the struggle is real. When you are a parent with a child too young to stay home alone during the summer, you really try to find quality child care that combines both fun times and educational learning opportunities. It’s hard. Because many of those programs are pricey. Overnight camp is so darn expensive that you would have to scrap any vacation plans for the summer to pay for one week at overnight camp. But, ya’ll know that I’m too protective and I probably wouldn’t let Munch attend anything prior to age 12. I’m just not feeling it.

That being said, I actually applied to a FREE STEM camp for the summer. Ugh, Munch didn’t get in. Why? We’re not poor enough. Economics. Munch’s grades and achievements would qualify, but because of my income he gets kicked out of FREE programs. Apparently, I have to be poor in order to send him to a FREE Camp.  Is it fair? Nope. Does it suck? Yep. But, I don’t want to lie. So, I don’t.

This year Munch asked to go to an art camp. See, Munch is this talented artist that can draw absolutely anything. He’s brilliant. I know it. I love it. I want to make it happen. He still needs to continue with swim as he needs to work on his endurance and rotary breathing. I’m hoping to let him go everyday for a week straight during the day for a couple of months. Hoping that his dad can take him during that time because he said he wants to join the swim team this fall. So, we need to help him get there by hook or by crook.

The school year ends June 9th and some summer camps aren’t starting until 2 weeks later, yep June 26th. I’m like WTH? Can I please catch a break? I’m hoping that Munch’s cousins are free to stay a week with me and keep him that week. I need childcare for 1 week. Oh, and the fact that most summer camps are starting at 9 am and ending at 3 pm blows. How am I supposed to work during those limited times?

I have all these color coded calendars printed out whereby I’m trying to figure this thing out. Ugh! How am I expected to get it all done? I have no idea.

I don’t know how I’m going to do it all, but I did book his art camp for the last two weeks before school starts. He’s going to love that.  We’re going to work on math all summer long, read a few books and take day trips to the beach and amusement park. I want him to have fun, but not forget what he’s learned this school year. He’s brilliant, but summer camp ain’t cheap. These are the real deal summer camp struggles of a single parent.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Still Walking

This Saturday, I’m doing my part by Marching for Babies with my sorority.  March of Dimes is doing this walk to fund exciting new research to prevent premature birth and fund services for families of preemies. Can you chip in a tax-deductible $25 donation to my March for Babies campaign right now to help babies? Click on this link: http://www.marchforbabies.org/tikeethathomas

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Munch was born premature. My niece was born premature. My friends had children born prematurely. We are all blessed to have happy and healthy children.  But, what about those that aren’t as blessed? Let’s help them.

I set a goal of $250. I’m currently at $71.00. No amount of donation is too small. Thank you to all those that have donated.  Your generosity is appreciated. But, I still need more. Will you help? Will you help me reach my goal? Will you help fund research?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Happy 9th Birthday Munch

It was 9 years ago today at 11:34 a.m. that I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He weighed 5 pounds, 15 ounces and I loved him more than I ever thought possible. I cried tears of joy when I heard him cry for the first time. I made his dad leave me and stay with him. I didn’t want him out of our sight. He was so tiny that I was worried that he would always be small. I was told that he was the perfect weight for a preemie.

I relaxed. I touched his hands. His face. His feet. I was in awe of this beautiful bundle of joy. Two eyes. Two ears. Ten fingers. Ten toes. I counted everything. I studied this little person vowing that I would never let anything happen to him. That I would fiercely protect his spirit and teach him to serve others.

With each passing year it becomes harder to watch him grow up and navigate his own life. I still want that chubby little boy that loved his bottle and binky. That little boy that looked at everything with an inquisitive yet unconcerned stare. This almost pre-teen is my greatest joy and gift.

So, today I celebrate God’s greatest gift to me. I want to let him know…

You are loved more than you could ever know. I wish you nothing but joy and happiness and laughter. I wish you peace and understanding that life sometimes brings challenges and changes, but you will get through it. I wish you lots of hugs and kisses in knowing that there is nothing in this world that could make me happier than being your mommy.

Happy Birthday Munch!

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Divorce and Dating

One of the hardest things to do is dating after divorce when you have kids. I know it’s hard and complicated because I’ve been there. You want to have a social life and date, but sometimes if you’re parenting full-time, your schedule doesn’t allow that. I get it.

My mom was a single parent. She and my dad separated when I was 9 and my siblings were 6 and 9 months respectively. It was hard. I swear, I don’t think she dated for the first 5 years. How could she?

She worked 3 jobs to support us and she didn’t have the time to focus on dating when she was busy paying bills and raising us. She went to school to complete her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate all while raising and putting us through college. She was quite busy.  Between her jobs, working on completing her education and raising us she really didn’t have time to date.

I think part of me wonders had she had the opportunity to really grow in a relationship with a man would she be a different person. I suppose she would, but I know that wasn’t in her cards. She sacrificed. She made us her priority. She never had random men around us. We only met 3 men in our entire lives. They never hung out at our house and they came and picked her up and left.

There was no string of men in and out of our lives. I’d like to believe that was absolutely beneficial for us. We never called her male friends “uncle so and so” or got attached to people who were not relationship possibilities.

Knowing how I grew up it seemed pretty standard for me in terms of dating after divorce.  I wasn’t going to introduce Munch to anyone that I was dating. I didn’t want him to see a string of men who could honestly just be friends hanging out with me. If you were special, he would know it.

Munch approached me about meeting Mr. C. His response was pretty cool for an 8 year old…“Mommy, why haven’t I met him? I know all your friends.” He was right. He did know them all, but part of me wanted to keep my relationship with Mr. C and my relationship with my son separate. I wasn’t ready.

I reflected on my childhood and the relationship that I had with Munch and then made the decision that they could meet each other. It was 9 months after dating him that there was an initial introduction and a year later before he was seeing us hanging out. I am careful to craft the boundaries of the relationship with the man that will most likely be helping me raise my son.

Last October when Munch and I were travelling to a wedding in Virginia. He asked me where Mr. C was. Mr. C had come over to spend some time with us prior to us heading out of town. I told him that he was at home. Munch asked “Did you take him home this morning?” “No, he went home last night” I said. I reminded him how I tucked him into bed and then went to sleep in my room.

He said “Oh”.

I’m careful of the narrative I craft for the young man that I love and adore. I never thought I would have to answer these questions, but I understand and respect his curiosity. So I explained that I love Mr. C and he loves me too. I told him that we have agreed that our love is amazingly special and we will not disrespect our children by playing house and not being married. I told him that he will never live in a home with a man that is not my husband.

I asked him “Do you understand?” He responded “Yes”. The funny part is that I don’t know if he understands. However, I know that dating with children is hard and it is a balancing act. Although I would never judge anyone’s choices I choose to make sure that Mr. C is going to lead my son like the man I know he is.

The thing is this…I was never good with setting or keeping boundaries. I am now. I have no choice. It’s not about me anymore. It’s also about Munch.  My boundaries require Mr. C and I to be married before living together. Why? Because I don’t want my son to see me playing house with a man that is not my husband. I want a man to know that if he loves me like he says then he’ll put a ring on it and a roof over our heads and we’ll be a legal family. I’m not rushing a marriage, but I’m not breaking my boundaries either.

Do you believe that you should live together prior to marriage if you have children? Have you ever lived with someone and either of you had children prior to marriage? Did you get married? How long after living together did you get married?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.