Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Example...

     I have often wondered if the fact that I was raised by a Single Mother and did not see an example of a relationship or marriage in my home had any affects on my actions in relationships as an adult. I have no point of reference on how a relationship or marriage should work and my preconceived notions based on what I have seen on television, heard in music and learned from the streets have not worked out very well for me.
     Growing up in the 80's and 90's, rap music was a very big influence in my life and I tried to mimic a lot of what I saw in the music videos and heard in songs.  Everyone wanted to be a "fly girl" in the 80's and date the guy who had the Nissan trucks with the sounds back then.  I went to an All Girls High School for my freshman year and your boyfriend needed to have a car to pick you up from school in.  Thus the notion of a guy having to have money came into play. Who wanted to date someone who couldn't buy you things like Turkish Earrings and chains from the Slauson Swapmet?  I laugh at the thought of that now, but then, you couldn't tell me anything!
     When Gangsta Music hit the scene it was all about dating the gangstas and the dealers. Again, the perception was that you had to have a guy who had money and status.  Although. I was not allowed to "date" until I was 16, what my mother didn't know, wouldn't hurt her was my theory.  I talked to older guys, the gangsters and dealers because those were the guys that had it "going on."  I don't ever really remember having a discussion with my mother about the type of guys that I should or should not date.  I am sure that she would say that we did have that discussion, but being a teenager, it probably went into one ear and out the other. I have to say that I was never been "mistreated" by the guys that I dated.  I have never been in a abusive relationship and learned very quickly to get what I could from them, because that was taught by the older girls in the neighborhood. Their examples stood out to me at the time and I took heed. I grew up fast and gained a lot of street knowledge from people that I shouldn't have even been associating with at that age.
     Let's fast forward to my 20's when I "really" began to have relationships and the guys that I choose were not always the best for me.  I may have dated them because of what they could do for me, what their status was, etc.  Again the music that I listened to influenced the way that I thought about men and relationships and that's where I took my examples from.  If you asked any of my friends, they would tell you that I don't take mess from any guy.  If you asked any of the guys that I dated during my 20's, they would probably say that I acted like the guy in the relationship.  Not meaning that I took care of them, but I pretty much ran everything. If things weren't what I thought they should be, I probably wouldn't leave based on what you were doing for me, but I most def would see if the grass was greener on the other side.
     Now that I am in my 30's, I still have a lot of preconceived notions about what the man in my life should be like and my older sisters are always tell me that I am "not going to find Jesus" AKA 'the perfect man." My laundry list is pretty long and I have tried to 'compromise" on some things but I still find it hard to know how to "be" in a relationship, now that I am at an age where I really want to be in one. 
    Growing up the way that I did and dating the guys that I dated could really be a book in and of itself of what not to do.  Sometimes you don't realize how something affects you until you are faced with certain situations and it is then that you may realize that you have absolutely no idea what to do because you don't have an example to draw from. Thus, you make all sorts of mistakes in an effort to do what you "think" is the right thing to do or by mimicking what you have learned from television and music.  At times, you may make it through those situations unscathed and other times, you may carry the baggage from those mistakes with you for a very long time.
     Being raised by a single mother, my example was to be a strong woman that took care of her children on her own by whatever means necessary.  My mother taught me to always handle business, so that I didn't have to depend on anyone else.  To make sure that you kept a roof over your head, utilities on and food on the table.  There were never men coming in and out of our house.  My mother didn't run the streets and party and she was home every night. I can imagine that there were times that my mother may have been lonely and may have wanted to talk to someone other than us kids, but she never voiced it.
     As a single mother now myself, I have followed the example of my mother in a lot of ways.  I am very independent and have never had to depend on a man for anything. My son is very well taken care of and I am pretty much a homebody. I don't bring men in and out of my house for several reasons:
1.  I respect myself and my son
2.  I don't want to set that kind of example for my son
3. I don't want my son to become attached to someone that I may not like for long.
     Like my mother, I don't hold my tongue and in relationships, that tongue has often been the straw that broke the camel's back.  I have often said things in moments of anger to hurt the other person and once those words were spoken, the relationship was basically at the point of no return.
     I am not afraid to be by myself. Sometimes, that can be a good thing and a bad thing because in a relationship, I don't want to be smothered.  I need my space and because I think like that my friends believe that I will never get married.  Something to think about, huh?
     Today, as a 38 year old woman, who has never been married, I have to wonder if the fact that I didn't have an example of what a relationship or a marriage should look like has affected my decisions in relationships and men.  I have to believe in some ways that it has.  It has affected me in that I have learned to be so independent that I find it hard to be able to depend on anyone else.  I think that it has also affected me because I have this belief that if things go wrong in a relationship, you can always walk out. I find it very hard to be able to discuss things when I am upset and often times say things that I really don't mean in the heat of the moment.  The concept of "talking things out" is a bit foreign to me but I am working on that.  I wonder if I had examples of what to do in a relationship when things got tough besides throwing up my hands and walking away or if I had learned to not use my tongue as a weapon in the heat of an argument, would my life be different today?  But are those things that are learned from actually "seeing" the dynamics of a relationship or are those personality traits that I just never developed?  I wonder....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

So Amazing

     This evening the lyrics to "So Amazing" by Luther Vandross are playing in my head and I have this overwhelming sense of purpose.  I feel like I am finally walking into my destiny.  I am finally using the gift that God gave me and I can't really explain how extremely grateful I feel right now.  I am grateful that God allowed me to live long enough to accept the gift that he gave me and to really begin to use it.
     Just a couple of weeks ago, I was telling a friend that I needed to start using my gift.  That I needed to start taking my writing seriously and start doing what I was put here for.  For many years my friends and family had been encouraging my to work on a book and I would always respond that I was "working on it." I would start writing and then stop, over and over again.  I would complain that I didn't have the time, that I was just too busy with work and raising my son, that I would get around to it and never did.
     It's funny how God works and even funnier how the Devil distracts you.  It's been almost a year since I have been off work and I have had more time on my hands now then I have had my entire adult life, yet I still didn't REALLY write.  I found everything else to do with my free time, i.e., fool around on Facebook, playing The Sims and the one thing that I spent hours  Sure, I would write a little every now and then and I would tell myself that "starting Monday" I would commit at least 2 hours a day to writing.  I can't tell you how many Mondays came and went and yet, I STILL wasn't writing.  God had given me all this time off, time that I probably would never have again and STILL I didn't write.
     It's a good thing that God isn't in the business of giving up on us, because had it been a mere mortal, they would have said, "She's a lost cause.  She will never use her gift the way that it was meant for her to use it.  She will never understand her purpose here on earth."
     I guess you can say that I started listening to what God and everyone else had been trying to tell me for years.  Lately, I have been coming up with all this subject matter to write about.  I have come up with ideas on how to use my writing to inspire and help others and it's crazy how once I decided to really accept my purpose, how my creative juices have been flowing.  But you know the Devil never wants you to do what God wants you do and he almost had me doubting myself through "an acquaintance." 
     I asked someone to read my blog and let me know what they thought and without reading the entire thing, part of their response was, "..I am just not big on these single sista blogs that are nothing but self righteous rants with no self reflection."  Now if you know me, you know that I don't take criticism very well (I'm working on that) and to say that I was pissed off would be an understatement, especially when you didn't read all my blogs.  You just went off the name off the blog and came to that assumption?  For a minute, just a QUICK minute, I was second guessing myself and was thinking that maybe this wasn't such a good idea.  However, I though about what my momma always said, "One monkey don't stop no show," so the show as you can see, kept going on.
     It's so amazing when you realize and start doing exactly what you were called to do.  This blog is only the beginning and since I started writing it, I have come to remember how much I really love to write.  How effortless it truly is.  I said it before and it is worth saying again,  It's a good thing that God isn't in the business of giving up on us because if he had I wouldn't be feeling so amazing right now. Thank you God!!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Thank You God For This Day I Had With My Mom"

    Every night when my son, TJ says his prayers, he always thanks God "for this day that I had with my mom."  Sweet, huh?  I think so too, but almost a year ago, he wasn't thanking God "for the day that he had with his mom" because his mom was always at work.  As I think back, he was probably silently thanking God for being able to "see" his mom.
     You see, I am a Retail Store Manager and quite obviously, don't have a typical Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5 job and being a single mom, who just happens to be sexy (toots my own horn. forgive me), I have had to depend on sitters a great deal to take care of my son while I was working.  My mom would always complain that "someone else was raising my son" and my reply to her would always be, "What else am I supposed to do? Not work?  Last time I checked, I don't have anyone helping me, so I gotta do, what I gotta do."
     And that's just what I did.  I worked nights, weekends and holidays.  I worked 10-12 hour days and if one of my managers called out and I couldn't cover it, I had to work from open to close (a 16 hour day).  I made my schedule a month in advance, so if I didn't know about a birthday party a month in advance and I wasn't off that weekend, then my son was unable to go.  After school activities, were a no go.  My schedule didn't permit them.  I cooked dinner, maybe twice a week (on a good week) and baking...who had time for that?
     I had always been blessed to have terrific sitters for my son (with the exception of one, but I'll save that for a different blog) and my son has always been well taken care of.  When I moved to a new area, I was in a panic to find a new sitter.  He was going into the first grade and I needed someone who had a family daycare that was open 24/7 or somewhere close to that. They needed to have a child, preferably a boy around the same age as my son.  They needed to be able to drop off and pick up from school, be available nights and some weekends and because I wanted to put him in football that fall, be able to take him to his practices.  I found the BEST sitter, who was able to meet all of my requirements and more.  During the holiday season, when store hours were extended, TJ would spend the night and she took him to school the next morning, instead of me picking him up after midnight, disturbing his sleep, trying to get him back to sleep when we got home and waking him up at 6 the next morning for school.  Sounds extreme, I know but what else could I do?
     Because I worked so much, I found myself trying to compensate for not being home by buying TJ stuff.  It would be a new video game or toy every week.  He had enough clothes to clothe a small army and more shoes than most women.  His 7th birthday party was a pool party, that ended up with about 35 kids (that was not in the plan). Lets not count all the adults (about another 25), a dj, a cake that I designed (didn't make of course) and a life guard. Thank the Lord, that he never got a "spoiled brat" persona.  You know, the kid who has a fit when they don't get what they want. Thinking back, I guess he never had to throw a fit because he always got what he wanted and so much more that he never asked for.  I was overcompensating to the fullest.
     About a year ago, I hurt my back at work.  I continued to work on modified duty for awhile, then I went completely off of work. Being able to take TJ to school everyday AND pick him up was something new for the both of us.  That would only happen on my days off.  Now there is time for pancakes in the morning, discussions about what happened in school on the drive home and home cooked dinners made by mommy.  I am home to do homework with TJ, instead of check what was done with the sitter. He now has a social calender and able to do after school activities.
     In this year, I have come to realize that even though I worked an awful lot, TJ didn't suffer.  He has always been a great student, he is respectful and is friendly.  At eight years old, he is very empathetic and loves God.  I used to worry that he was missing out on being a kid because of the schedule that I worked but I now know how resilient TJ is and although I know that I won't be able to be off of work forever, every night when TJ thanks God "for the day that he had with his mom," I smile and silently thank God too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Let Go (Written 10/6/2011)

About 3 weeks ago, I went to urgent care because I had been having chests pain for 5 days.  While there, the nurse administered an EKG.  Moments later, the doctor rushed in and explained that the EKG came back abnormal and ran down all this stuff that could be wrong.  By now, I am crying so hard, I can't even see the doctor anymore.  The next thing I know, a nurse is running in with nitroglycerin and aspirin.  I hear the doctor shouting to the nurse to get me a cardiologist appointment  "NOW!"  As I am sitting there, all types  of things are running through my head like, "Who will take care of my son if something happens to me, etc."  The nurse comes in with the info for the cardiologist and the doctor tell me, "Not to worry.  It's nothing that can't be fixed."  "Don't worry?  Really?
Before I went to the cardiologist, I called my mother hysterical and when I could finally get the words out, I said, "The doctor said...."  My mom shouted, "STOP!  Don't SAY anything!  There is NOTHING wrong with you.  Keep repeating to yourself, "By his stripes, I am healed." It's funny thinking back, how hearing those words calmed d me down immediately. All the way to the doctor, I kept repeating, "By his stripes, I am healed.  By his stripes, I am healed."  I said it over and over again as I waited in the waiting room and as I took another EKG.  The results were the same.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have taken all kinds tests.  I have had ultrasounds, some machine that looks like a MRI machine take pictures of my heart.  I have been injected with all kinds of stuff and have been stuck with more needles than one should see in their lifetime.  During this time, I have carried on like nothing was wrong.  I did not let the thought of those tests results consume me.  I was still having chest pains and through it all, my mantra became, "By his stripes, I am healed."  I went to church and had the preacher pray for me.  I put my offering envelope on the alter with "healing in my body" written on the back.  I started walking every morning with gospel music playing on Pandora radio and every time I wanted to give up and not walk, Dwayne Woods' song," Let Go" would come on and I mean EVERY time!  "...As soon as I stopped worrying, worrying how the story end... I let go and I let God, let God have his way and that's when things start happening..."
If you have talked to me during this time, some of you knew what was going on, but I never confessed out of my mouth what the doctor said was wrong with my heart.  I didn't stay locked in the house crying asking God, "Why me?"  I didn't skip a beat because I let go and let God.  I didn't worry.  I didn't stress.  I KNEW nothing was wrong with me.  I KNEW that the devil was a liar and that God was not going to let me go out like that.
True to his word, today the doctor called me today with the results and there is NOTHING wrong with my heart.  Thank you, Jesus!  The reason why I am sharing this is because I have several friends, many who I know will be reading this, who are going through  some things.  Some may be health issues, some financial issues, relationship issues or they may be tired of their job and want to quit.  You have to let go and let God.  You have been trying to do it on your own.  You have seen doctor after doctor, seen counselors, put in have done all you can.  Now, you have to let go, let God and BELIEVE that he will do for you what you are asking.  I am not the a "holy holy" person, I don't go to church every Sunday.  I am not a saint BUT what I have always had was a belief in God and if you have that faith of a mustard seed, and believe in God, everything that you are going through WILL do a 360 degree turn and the victory will be yours.
Be blessed,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Disheveled Playwright

     Every now and then I subscribe to an on-line dating site called, "Black People Meet" (Don't judge me).  This go around, I met a couple of men and spoke to them on the phone.  One of these men seemed to be a little intriguing because he was a "playwright" and had written some plays that I had actually heard of and to my knowledge had done very well.  His conversation was pretty good and he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders.  We spoke a couple of times on the phone and at the time he was getting ready for a play that was running Mother's Day weekend.
     One weekend while I was in LA, I decided to send him a text letting him know that I would be in the city and if he had time, maybe we could finally meet.  He responded that that would be okay and to call him when I got to the city.  I had lunch with one of my friends and after lunch I suggested that she ride with me to meet this guy.  I gave him a call and he directed me to his house, which was NOT in the best of neighborhoods and then he told me to drive down the alley and park in front of the garage.  WHOA!!!  Alley....NOT!!!!  I informed him that he had to come to the front, that I would not be driving down nor parking in an alley.  We pulled up in front of a house that looked abandoned to say the least.  He lived in a back house that was over a garage.  WAIT!!  Maybe I shouldn't have called it a house, I guess that since it was over a garage it would be considered an apartment???
     "I guess being a playwright, isn't very profitable nowadays!  He most def was not Tyler Perry but I guess Tyler Perry had to start somewhere too," I thought to myself, as I waited for him to walk to the front.  By now my friend had received a phone call and was engrossed in a deep conversation.
     I look in my rear view mirror and I see this disheveled guy walking towards the car.  Now in my younger years, I would have put my foot on the gas and high tailed it out of there but...hell, I don't know why I didn't drive off.  So, this guy walks over to the drivers side window and the first thing that I notice is that his shirt is buttoned like a 2 year old tried to do it AND it is dirty.  My first impression is obviously, "WTF!  For real, you came out of the house dressed like this.  You knew I was coming for a couple of hours and this is the first impression that you give?'
    Anyway...he said hello and handed me fliers for his new play and invited my friend and I.  I took them and said thanks and still could not get over the fact that he came out the house like that.  By this time, my friend has ended her phone call and I am trying to discreetly elbow her.  While he is talking, I am staring at his mouth and notice that his teeth are fighting each other to get out of his mouth.  For those of you who don't know what I mean... what I am trying to say is that his teeth were a mess and they looked like he had a diet of coffee and nothing else!!!!
     This guy is talking about his play and that he was watching the game and had beat $300 on the it and I am slowly coming to the realization that maybe his plays did make money but he probably had a bad gambling habit, thus his living conditions.  (I know, a little judgemental.  I'm working in that) By this time, I am trying to cut the conversation short and ready to exit, Stage Right.  Ole boy, finally gets the hint and takes my hand to kiss it.  I am trying to pull back my hand, and he asks why am I pulling back.  My mind is screaming, "Your teeth!!  I don't want my hand anywhere near them!!!"  He kisses my hand and I am wondering how fast I can get some anti bac on them!
     Before he walks away he says that I am very beautiful and he would love to see me again and I am thinking, "I bet you do.  That ain't going to happen!" Instead I smile and bid him a good day.  So now my friend is like, "OMG!!  What the hell was that?"  She then asked if I had seen the big lump on his arm, in which I responded no, because I was so outdone by the dirty shirt that wasn't buttoned correctly.  We both agreed that he would be labeled, "HELL TO THE MF NO!!!"  I guess it's back to the drawing board.  Another one bites the dust!!!

Father's Day Dilemma

     TJ's school did a wonderful celebration for all the Mom's for Mother's Day.  It was a "Mother's Only" event and each Mom was treated to a breakfast of donuts, muffins and OJ served by their child in their classrooms.  Each child recited a poem that they wrote to their mother in front of the class.  TJ's poem was so sweet.  It feels good to be recognized by your child for all the things you do for them.  It especially feels good when that recognition is done in public.  Leaving TJ's school that morning, I began to worry about the up coming Father's Day Celebration and how TJ would be included in it since it was "father's only"and his father is absent in his life.  I thought about the one little boy in TJ's class whose mother did not make it for the celebration and how sad he looked.  Since his mother was not there, he recited his poem to all of us. By no means, did I want my child to feel like this for the Father's Day Celebration and I stressed about what I was going to do.  I decided that I would talk to TJ after school and get his thoughts on the situation.
     2 o'clock couldn't come fast enough and TJ wasn't even in his seat belt before I asked him, "TJ, what do you think about the upcoming Father's Day  Celebration?  How are you going to participate?"  Since I was driving, I couldn't look at his face when he responded but to my surprise he said, "I already talked to Mrs. B about that."  "Oh REALLY?"  I was surprised!! "Yeah!  She said that the assistant principal could come in and sit with me."  "Are you okay with that?" I asked him and he responded that he was.
     I sent TJ's teacher the following email to discuss TJ's and I's conversation and my thoughts: 
Good morning,
I hope that you had a wonderful Mother's Day and thank you so much for the Mother's Day Celebration.  It was beautiful!  I wanted to discuss with you the Father's Day Celebration that is planned.  I spoke to TJ on Friday to get his thoughts about participating in it.  I was surprised when he told me that he had already explained to you that his father is not involved in his life and that his uncle's and grandfather are out of state.  He said that you suggested that the assistant principal step in.  He said that he was okay with that.  I guess I was just more concerned about how he would feel not having his father there and what his participation level would be. I was just wondering if you knew what the children were going to do yet, since a poem or something similar probably wouldn't be the ideal thing for him to do given the situation.  I welcome any suggestions that you may have on how we can possibly include him in this celebration.
Thank you and have a wonderful day.
This is her response:

 You beat me to the punch by just a day or two. I did speak to TJ and have been working out details since then. It is my intention to be sure that someone is here for him. I have requested that no moms attend, otherwise I would have you come instead. Each year there are a few dads that are unable to attend, unlike the Mother's Day event where there was only one. I want TJ to feel included and comfortable. We will be having donuts and doing a "Lowe's Build & Grow" craft together. It is a little less sentimental than the moms event. :)
I will let you know what comes of this. I am still checking schedules and working out assistance. It is looking like Mr. Barnes will be the one sitting in.
Have a great rest of the day!!

     I was amazed at how a situation that I was so worried about, had already been taken care of by my 8 year old.  I was worried that he would feel left out and I had even debated not sending him to school that day and the two of us just hanging out.  He was able to foresee what may have been an obstacle and went about finding a solution to the problem.  I even asked him if he spoke to the teacher privately about his not having a dad and he said that when they were discussing it in class, he raised his hand and told Mrs. B in front of the whole class.  Needless to say, he is not self conscious or ashamed of the fact that his father is not in his life and I couldn't be prouder of him!  I am glad that my son and I have a relationship that we can talk about everything.  He has asked about his father and I explained to him that his father didn't want to be a dad but that doesn't make him any different from anyone else.  He is just as special.  Just recently he told me that he feels sad that his dad is not around but in the same breath he said, "But I have you, Mom," and yes he does!