Be the Man You Want to See

I was listening to the radio yesterday and the morning show host was talking about how 40% of women are leading single parent homes and how he got into a discussion with a gentleman that said that women can’t teach boys how to be men and that they coddle them. The gentleman said in particular, black women coddle their sons and don’t raise them. Can we have a frank discussion on this issue?

Do I have your attention? Good.

So, let me state the facts. I’m a black mother raising my son on a shared custody agreement. He is being raised 50% of the time in a single parent home. Now, I’m not going to argue logistics because yes my son’s father is in his life, but I’m still single. That means on my time, it is imperative that I cultivate an environment where I am both nurturer and disciplinarian. Where I am leader, mother, teacher, spiritual advisor, nurse, etc. Oh, and if that’s not enough I need to make sure that I’m giving him the best opportunities to be successful.

Seven days at a time. Seven days to make sure that I’m doing all that and then some. I cook breakfast each morning, fix a hearty lunch, review homework and enroll him in engaging and beneficial activities. I take him for Mommy/son dates, pay for field trips, camps and make sure that he’s getting sufficient exercise. Exhausted yet?

But, I don’t complain. I love my Munch and I want him to grow up and be a faithful, dependable, kind man who remembers his faith in God and has great moral character. It’s a lot but I am thankful for this opportunity and I don’t take it lightly. Now, here’s my issue…

Where are all the men?

Many men who make these comments about women not being able to raise a son are not stepping up to help them out. They complain about an issue when in fact they are part of the problem. How is it a woman’s fault when they are doing the best they can under the circumstances? Do you think women want to be single parents? Some do, but many don’t. Where is the man’s responsibility in this picture? How do you know the man in question knows what it means to be a man? Did he have a man who was a good man teaching him to navigate manhood?

I’m exhausted from hearing that women (especially black women) are the main issue with many of society’s problems. We aren’t. We are the backbones and many times bread winner in a two parent home. We get tired. We need help. What are you doing to help? Are you a mentor? Are you volunteering your time to young men without fathers? Are you spending time with your women friend’s male offspring? Showing up at little Timmy’s baseball game or Max’s lacrosse game? What about Jonathan’s spelling bee? Were you there?

My truth

I’ve been separated from my ex for five years. In that five year time, not one of my male friends has EVER stepped up and spent one on one time with Munch. EVER. NEVER EVER. Why not? Why is it that I have some of the most educated, kind hearted and morally correct male friends and they don’t seem to think about standing in and being a role model for Munch? I don’t know. Maybe it’s simply because they don’t think about how I can’t teach a boy how to be a man. Maybe it’s out of sight out of mind. They don’t think about Munch. They see me busting my butt to attend every school meeting, PTA meeting, volunteering in the classroom or on field trips or at the school, paying for tutoring, coordinating play dates, paying for private flute lessons, swim lessons and boxing and think I have it all under control.

I do.

But, my son could always benefit from positive male influence. Be the sane person when his parents are stressing him out. Be the one that shows up and encourages him for his event. Be the man that he calls when he wants to take about things. Be the man that gives him true and direct advice to life’s problems or concerns.

But they don’t. We are invisible. We are invisible to many until Munch grows up and leads a less than desirable life. Then it will be my fault.

I’m not giving up on my son. I know that I’m not alone. I will pour everything that I have and more into helping him navigating boyhood to manhood. I will enroll him in mentoring programs and give him opportunities to have positive male influence.

I am not alone. I am one of many women. I am raising a son. I nurture. I coddle. I discipline. Our children need mentors. Stop complaining and get to work. You know what it takes to be a man. So, be a man and give unselfishly of yourself. You might just see how your presence makes a difference.

 

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/.

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Your Shoes are Fake

I sat there stunned thinking about all the times that I’ve heard the saying that “women can’t raise boys because they can’t teach boys how to be men”. Today I wondered was there any truth to it. I mean Munch and I are really close and I know he’s still innocent, but would I be able to navigate him through the trials of life when he comes to me with a situation? I honestly felt inadequate at that moment.

I thanked God for the opportunity to love and raise this little boy and for all the men in my life that I call friends to help me navigate unknown territory because it was them that I called on for advice. So, here’s what happened…Munch’s feet are growing like crazy. He’s gone from a kids size 7 shoe into a men’s 9 shoe in one years time. Honestly, he only has a little room in the 9 and he’ll be off into a 9 1/2 shoe probably by the end of summer. I wasn’t ready.

He’s 10. He hasn’t gone through puberty yet. Do you know how much men’s shoes cost? I have always believed that my son should have nice clothes and shoes. It was something that I felt was required because he should always be presentable. That said he will always have name brand tennis shoes. I prefer Nike, but will buy a nice running shoe as he’s hard on his tennis shoes as evident in his daily playground time.

We went to the store last weekend and I had him try on tennis shoes to find the ones he liked. Munch hates tying his shoe laces and so we found a great pair of Jordan’s with no laces. Perfect for the remainder of school and through the summer. He hated shoe shopping and we wrapped it up and headed home.

He was excited to wear his new shoes to school on Monday and off he went. But, on Tuesday when I picked him up he asked me “Mommy, are my shoes fake?” I was stunned. Munch knows nothing of name brand shoes. I had gotten his shoes on sale at Foot Locker and stores don’t sell fake shoes. I responded “No baby, why would you ask me that?” He began to tell me how a girl at school had told him that his shoes are fake and that they aren’t real. He said that she told another little boy and they were saying the same thing. He said she told me to take off my shoes so she can see them.

I was livid. I calmed myself and explained this one rule…never take off your shoes. That’s how someone can steal your shoes. I told him to ignore her. To tell her that your mom doesn’t buy you fake stuff and to mind her business. But, I wondered was it enough? Was I equipping my son with the sharp witted skills required to respond to ignorance?

I called three male friends who are parents and asked for their advice. I needed help. What am I supposed to do to encourage my Munch?

-To Be Continued-

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 @mskeeinmd.

A to Z for April Theme Reveal

I announced last week that I would be participating in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April and that you could sign up to participate from now until April 1st. This is my first time participating and I’m excited to announce my theme. My theme for the month of April will be:

Mothering While Black

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I will be writing it in a journal theme and trying to share with you thoughts about mothering while black.  I hope you like it. As stated, I will try to keep my posts to once a day as to not overwhelm your inbox.

Sign-up for the challenge and let me know. I would love to follow your posts as well. See you on Sunday.

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/

Today Parenting Team

As if I don’t have a lot going on already, one of my goals is to really get my name out there and grow my blog. One of the ways that I’m looking to do it is by publishing on different sites with hundreds of thousands of readers. I decided to share what I’ve learned whether from dating, relationships or parenting with others. Check out my cool new badge.

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Check out my latest post and let me know what you think in the comments. You can also vote for my post to be featured on the Today show.

You Lead and They’ll Follow

 

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/.

Parenting Lesson: I Will Not Chase You

Munch is the best thing that ever happened to me. But, sometimes I really feel like I’m sucking at this parenting thing. Not that I’m mean, but sometimes I have to teach him a lesson and I wonder if my teaching those lessons are having an adverse effect on him.

Last month we were working on homework and then we were going to review his oral presentation. He had to memorize a poem. He chose “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. It was awesome, but he wasn’t in the mood. When he’s not in the mood to do anything, he pretty much shuts down. He acts like he’s bored and it’s really like time consuming and emotionally draining.

That being said I decided to push forward and chastise and ignore his negative attitude. I wanted to record him saying his poem. He was nonchalant and had no emotion. He was literally just acting like I’m forcing him to plow the field. It was draining. I had enough. I said “I love you Munch, but I’m done. I’m reclaiming my peace and you’re going to bed. Go upstairs and get your shower so you can get in the bed.” He was upset. “What about TV time?” I said “It’s not going to happen. You’ve tried my patience this evening with your behavior so TV is a reward that you don’t deserve this evening.” He cried.

Cried in the shower. Cried when he went to bed and then cried himself to sleep. Even when I tried to tuck him in bed and give him his kiss good night he cried louder and turned away from me. No problem. “I love you and goodnight” was all that I said.

I spoke to Mr. C and he listened and then commented how our parenting styles are different. I know. He’s told me before. I’m used to getting spanked as a child if I cried for no reason, but I left him to cry it out.

The next morning I did what I always do…cook his breakfast, pack his lunch, lay out his clothes and make up his bed. He then comes upstairs and criticizes me for all that I’ve done. “You’re not letting me do anything by myself. My daddy says that I need to do things on my own” he stated in frustration. I smiled sweetly and said “Love, you know what?” I don’t have to fix your breakfast each morning. I can sleep later and you can get up and fix yourself a bowl of cereal. It has always been important for me to send you to school with a hot breakfast each morning, but you want more responsibility so tomorrow, you got it. You can make your own bed and pick out your own clothes and fix your own lunch. I’m fine with it all. Now get dressed please.”

I was peeved. I couldn’t believe this child being defiant and first thing in the morning. I asked God for strength and we exited out the house headed for school. Munch didn’t speak to me at all. Ignored me on the whole car ride. I blasted gospel music to shift my mind and hopefully his too.

We exit and go into the school and as I’m signing him in for Before Care he doesn’t speak to the teachers when they say good morning. He walks away from me and is still ignoring me. I sigh. I said “Good morning” to the teachers, signed him and left. Five minutes later my phone rings and it is the Director of the Before and After Care program. She says how Munch had a breakdown and started crying because I just left.

She said that Munch said “She didn’t kiss me goodbye and she didn’t tell me that she loves me and to have a good day.” She said that they couldn’t console him. She asked could I speak to him. “Yes” I responded. He gets on the phone crying “Mommy, you didn’t tell me you love me. You didn’t kiss me goodbye.” I said “Munch, I realized that you were frustrated when you complained first thing this morning, I realized that you were still angry when you didn’t speak to me in the car ride over. I knew you weren’t over it when you walked away from me and ignored the teachers this morning. I accepted that. I love you so much but I will never chase anyone including you. My love is always given freely but I won’t chase someone to force it on them and this includes you. I love you more than life itself and will always love you. I love you more than you’ll ever know so have a great day.” He said “Okay, I love you too mommy.”  We got off the phone.

This parenting thing is hard. I struggle some days and find peace with my choices on most. But, in the end I’m still a work in progress learning and loving this beautiful boy that I’ve been blessed with.

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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/.

Day 1: My Munch

In my #23DaysofThankfulness Post, I wanted to share what I am thankful most for. My son. My Munch. Being his Mommy is by far the greatest blessing than I could have ever imagined. Each day I learn how much my heart can grow just by hearing his words “I love you Mommy” and “I miss you Mommy”.

The day it was confirmed that I was carrying this little boy and every day after I feel the presence and awesomeness of God’s love. I am thankful for him. I am thankful for his life. His love. His spirit.

I never imagined motherhood would make me mushy, but it has. He is the perfect child for me. Not a perfect child, but the perfect child for me. God blessed me with the perfect child for my temperament. Even when he was a baby and I loved to sleep, Munch started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks old.  Wasn’t that awesome?

I’m a homebody and some days I don’t want to do anything but lie in the bed and don’t get dressed. I want to watch television, eat and just enjoy being lazy. Munch has my temperament. He enjoys that too. He actually prefers to stay in his pajamas all day. Munch loves pizza just as much as I do. His favorite is pepperoni and bacon. He loves traveling and seeing new places. He loves parties and family. He’s pretty dang amazing.

Day One – I’m thankful for 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/.

 

 

Parenting: Munch’s Art

Munch just finished two weeks at Art Camp last Friday and I couldn’t be more proud. He asked to attend and he learned so much. He learned about different textures, mediums and artists. He had a blast.

I think the best part of the camp experience for me was listening to my son explain his art work. The camp had an art show for the finale and the kids were super excited to showcase their work.

These last two weeks were memorable for him. He was excited and learned a lot. It was definitely worth the investment.

Since he transferred to his new school last September he actually got straight A’s in art all four quarters. This was a change from his last art teacher who I firmly believed pulled grades out her butt. When I questioned his grades changing from a B to A, she had no answer and couldn’t produce graded work that showed a B.

I explained that my son loves to draw and will often spend hours drawing out these great characters. He’s talented. He loves art. She didn’t listen.

Oh well.

Change happened and he’s excelling in his new school so we are blessed. It is as it should be. Art camp was awesome and he was winding down summer on a positive note. Here are some photos of his work.

 

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/.

A Shoe Tying Miracle

When Munch was about 6, I instructed his dad to teach him how to tie his shoes. I told him that I would take over the task of teaching him how to read. I couldn’t do both. I was working full-time and a single mom. I had accepted that we were living in two separate homes and we needed to divide and conquer things when it comes to parenting.

Well, Munch never really learned how to tie his shoes. Thankfully he knows how to read. When I asked him why he can’t tie his shoes when his dad said he could, he said “I can’t Mommy, it’s too hard. It never stays tied.” I sighed. I couldn’t believe that my son couldn’t tie his shoes and actually preferred velcro shoes.

Alas was life. I struggled to show him how to tie his shoes. He just wasn’t getting it. It was frustrating. I gave up. I watched him literally destroy brand new tennis shoes because he couldn’t tie his laces and he would walk around stepping on them all day.  Many people tried to help including the summer camp counselor last year. Munch just couldn’t get it.

A friend of mine recommended this book Red Lace, Yellow Lace and told me that it is a God send because he needed it with his son. He said “I couldn’t teach him to tie his shoe to save his life and when I bought this book, he got it.” “Umm, yeah” I said. I had tried everything so I felt that it was hopeless, but the book was cheap so I thought it wouldn’t be a bad investment. I had a niece and nephew who were 4 and 3 who would be learning soon.

I bought the book last week while Munch was with his dad. I’m happy to say that it worked. I love this book. Munch read it and practiced on the laces on the book and then with his own shoes all that night.

Guess what? He’s been tying them right ever since. In one freaking day.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get the book. The best part was when Munch said “Mommy, since I read the book, I don’t have any problems tying my shoes. They stay tied all day.” I smiled.

It was a good week. My work is done. He can tie his shoes and he can read. Better late than never.

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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/.

Life’s Not Fair

I had an amazing weekend. Busy, but I got everything I wanted to do done. LOL. You like that right? Everything that I wanted to do. Not everything that I should have done, etc. But, it was perfect.

However, I wanted to tell you what happened when I picked up Munch from after care at school on Friday.  I missed the heck out of that little boy.  It was like my world was set right laying eyes on that beautiful kid of mine. He smiled this big grin and gave me a hug, but I knew something was wrong the minute he hugged me. What’s wrong I asked? “Nothing” he replied. I said, “Munch, I know something is bothering you baby. What is it? What is wrong?” He then told me how he got in trouble today in after care. He said that they were lining up for snack time and a young boy (in kindergarten) yelled out that he wanted to be second in line, but Munch beat him to be second in line. The little boy said to Munch, “Hey, that’s not fair. I wanted to be second.” Munch replied “Life’s not fair”. He said that the little boy was upset and then told the director. Munch said that he didn’t yell at the little boy. He said “I said it matter of fact mommy. I wasn’t mean or yelling” but the director told me that I shouldn’t have said it.

His little eyes were wide with fear. Fear that I would be mad at him. I said “Munch, you did nothing wrong. You were right. Life is not fair and as long as you weren’t mean to him, then you are giving him a dose of reality.” Was I wrong? I don’t think so.

Munch is very sensitive and feels for everyone, but I’m trying to toughen up his exterior to know that not everything will work out for you. You can try your best and still fail and you know what? That’s okay. Life’s not about being fair. Life is about doing the best you can and being a good human being. No one is going to give you anything.

But, could Munch have just given him the spot? Sure, but should he have too? The child wasn’t going to not get a snack. He just wasn’t second in line. I know that some people make think it harsh that I support what he said, but it’s cool. I believe that we should be good people, but we shouldn’t deny ourselves if we choose not too.

I would have been more hurt had the child not gotten a snack and Munch didn’t offer to share his. The reality is that I’m raising a black boy in a “post racial society” where many people think racism is dead. It’s not. He may get pulled over for being black and even though it may not be fair, you need to know how to act. He may be unfairly judged in the classroom or on the streets and it’s not fair, but it is the way it is. I’m teaching him how to survive when life’s not fair, because that’s all you can do.

What are your thoughts?

 

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/.

Letter to My Son

Dear Munch,

Today is Mother’s Day. It’s one of the happiest days of my life. Much like your birthday, I’m reminded that God chose me to be your mom. It is an amazing opportunity and I couldn’t be happier. I thank Him each day for you.

Life is an adventure. I never imagined all the things I’ve been through could have happened, but my life is destined by God. I try to teach you the importance of prayer and faith and how we are called to lay it in the Master’s hands and I hope you remember. Remember that God always hears.

Some days in life will be good and some not so good, but I promise you that I will never stop loving or believing in you. I will always be there for you. If you feel like you need me or want to hear my voice, please call. No matter what. Our bond is unbreakable.

You continue to amaze me each day with your strength and love for yourself and others. You are both kind and sensitive to the needs of others. That’s one of the many things that I love about you. Never stop caring for others. It is your gift.

I watch you grow and adapt to the things that have happened in your life and I am in awe. You take the good and bad and keep on moving. You worry so much about others that I fear that you will be consumed with the problems of others and lack the ability to care for yourself. Please don’t. Remember to save time for you.

You inspire me to continue to strive for greater opportunities that allow me to mother and mentor you in a way I never saw possible. To work in your classroom or volunteer in your school while holding down a full-time job. You make me want to show the world that I am blessed to be able to have it all. And I do…because I have you.

Munch, each day is Mother’s Day for me because I get to say that I’m raising this incredible little boy who feels me with so much joy. I love you more than you could ever imagine and I want you to remember what I tell you “There is no greater bond baby because my heartbeat was the first sound you ever heard.”

Love Mommy

 

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/.