A few years ago, while visiting the home of a friend, I noticed a book on her kitchen counter about raising kids without a sense of entitlement.
It made sense to me that this friend would have such a book. She and her husband, both professionals, are doing well financially. I didn’t think to copy down the name of the book, because I didn’t think I’d ever find myself in their situation. I was still suffering the financial constraints of the newly divorced. “My kids know we operate on a budget,” I said to myself – and by budget, I meant we generally were living paycheck to paycheck. It never dawned on me that my kids would see our situation as anything other than a struggle.
Fast forward five years. My oldest child, my 14-year-old daughter, is now a teen. Like many teens, her tastes exceed my budget. She wants to wear designer jeans. Shopping is a hobby or a fun pastime. She also loves good food (no Mickey Ds for this kid), concerts and Broadway shows.
I’ll spare you the suspense: I think not. Now read on for the rest.
Here’s my position: I’ve never had an abortion. And I don’t think I ever will. I have friends and family who have. I am staunchly pro-choice. I was kind of pro-choice before having children. I am even more so after having children. It’s a responsibility only those who truly want to do it should take on. We don’t support parents in this country. And arguments about all the people who want unwanted kids are BS. Look at how long kids stay in foster care.
So here’s the deal. As I regularly troll the internets for stories about black children and black mothering, I came across this op-ed from Dennis Byrne, a columnist at the Chicago Tribune, commenting on the billboards across the country that try to shame black women into not having abortions. Although he is neither black nor a woman (his words), he thought it his (duty? calling?) prerogative to comment on the “high abortion rate among blacks.” Here’s the gist:
Political correctness and ideological dictates discourage discussion of the culture of some black communities as explanative of violence, ignorance, high rates of abortion and other dysfunctions. But for those communities, culture is described by the growth of a matriarchy, as displayed by the many grandmothers raising their daughters’ children. By the absence of men in child rearing. By men who prey on young women who have never learned what to expect from decent, caring and responsible men. By the collapse of the family and the destruction of men’s and women’s traditional, balanced roles in making children strong enough to resist the challenges of today’s broader culture of irresponsibility, casual sex, substance abuse and other plagues.
In this op-ed, Byrne rehashes an old, but reborn, theory: that there is something intrinsic to black “culture,” independent of any outside factors, that accounts for the disproportionate numbers of abortions in black communities.
This makes my blood boil. One, because as a scholar who studies culture, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
First: on culture. Byrnes defines culture as “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic or age group.” Um, not quite, homie. Where do these beliefs and behaviors come from? They don’t just spring forth from the middle of the earth, waiting for people to adopt them. Culture is not “created” nor does not exist in a vacuum. Culture is both responsive to and part of shaping structure; many sociologists, such as myself, explain culture as the opposite side of the coin to social structure. The growth of a matriarchy (which is largely a myth, I believe to demonize black women) and the dearth of men available to actually father their children are events, happenings; they are not culture. Nor did not happen outside of the influences of social structure. Many factors colluded to affect that outcome: collapse of manufacturing industry; subsequent high rates of black male unemployment; mass incarceration; felon disenfranchisement; the crack cocaine epidemic.
Culture reflects options available within a given social structure. Yes, people make choices, and they have agency. But agency is not what we think it is as total free will, ability to choose anything and everything. Culture reflects what one BELIEVES to be their options, what one can do with what one is given. So black “culture” can never be defined as one thing, one way of being, one way of behaving. Because we live in a myriad of structural positions, and some of us have options that are not available to others and vice versa. And among the options, some of us choose #1 and others choose #4 and so on.
The “collapse” of the family structure is less to do with any possible independent effects of culture than with the structural effects of class. As I’ve discussed here before, a class structure that allowed for families of any configuration to make a decent living would have more time for child rearing. A school system that did not grossly and blatantly favor wealthier children over less wealthy children would be one in which all women could be educated enough to take care of themselves, and not fall “prey” to vicious and violent men.
If you want to change how people behave, you need to change their options. You need to change what is available to them. You need to change their structural reality.
And two, if the pro-choice side is the “right” side, why should we care about disproportionality?
Making arguments about cultures connection to disproportionality makes clear that true intentions are to get rid of the option to abort altogether. For if you are pro-choice, do you even care about disproportionality? Or rather, should you? If you believe that anytime a woman gets pregnant but for some reason – any reason – does not want to go forward with that pregnancy, she should have the right to choose to end the pregnancy, then every abortion should look the same to you. Regardless of the race of the woman. Disproportionality then appears to be that black women are having more unwanted or mistimed pregnancies, but are also using this option, the option to terminate, more than other women.
This can be interpreted multiple ways, but I’ll offer two that I find the most liberating. First is that black women are more aware of their reproductive rights, are more in tune with what they do and do not want, and are more willing to choose to abort. If you are pro-choice, this doesn’t seem to be a problem – black women are, in not the best language, taking advantage of exactly the right Roe v. Wade stood for – the right to make a decision about your body without anyone else second-guessing you or interfering. Calling these numbers a problem feeds into the idea that black women are not capable, or are somehow ignorant (or culturally deficient), of making this decision for themselves.
Second, this can be interpreted as other women – white, Latino, Asian – are not as gender liberated as black women. Bryne in the article above – as do many men – lament the “matriarchy” in the black community as a disruption of “balanced” gender roles. Who said gender roles had to be balanced? Instead of considering that black women are having too many abortions, maybe women of other races are having too few. In other words, women of other races are less willing to have abortions when they actually would choose to under different structural circumstances. Again, with culture as the flip side of structure, women of other races may feel as though their options (culture) are limited, despite Roe v. Wade, given their structural position.
This is not to say that black women do not experience and live under patriarchy. They absolutely do. But the facts are that black women are less likely to marry than other groups. Not being legally bound to your oppressor is sure to make a difference.
Spoken from a sociologist who studies culture: If you want black women to stop having abortions, if that is your true goal, you need to change their world. You need to make it so that there are no reasons for why a pregnancy would be unwanted or mistimed.
A billboard does not change the world. It just pisses people off.
Sarah Ferguson Academy is one of the only schools in the country that educates pregnant teens and teen moms. This schools raises its own money through its agriculture program – a farm, in the middle of Detroit. 90% of its students go to college – any college, somewhere, anywhere, and get money to go there. This school makes sure that these children – because they are still children – are getting an education, learning how to be parents, making a better life for themselves and their kids.
But now that Michigan state has taken over Detroit – yes, they’ve taken over the entire city – a “dictator” has decided to close a bunch of schools, including this one, unless a charter organization agrees to take it on. And the charter can do with it whatever it wants, which means either way, this school will probably close. But these girls value their education SO MUCH that over Spring Break they organized a sit-in, and occupied their school to protest the dictator’s decision.
And what does the state do? Arrest them. (Please watch the video here. Watch the police officers manhandle pregnant teens and turn on their sirens to drown out their shouts.)
It’s not only in the schools. A state senator, in order to save money, recently introduced a proposal to restrict foster children in their apparel choices. For their clothing allowances, which nationally are only about $200 a YEAR, Sen. Bruce Casswell would propose that this money could only be spent in thrift stores.
Yes, you read that correctly. Foster children would only be allowed to purchase used clothing. Apparently since this Senator never had anything new as a child, neither should children who are not living with their biological parents and are in a limbo state of extremely stressful uncertainty.
Update: After the story went viral, the good Senator amended the proposal to say that the children could buy new clothes, but wanted to make sure the gift cards they received would only be used for clothing and shoes. Because of course, foster kids can’t be trusted to only by clothes. They might spend it on candy and soda.
I’m sorry, but Michigan is coming off like a state that hates children. Poor and/or black children to be specific. And it pisses me off. What about you?
It seems we mothers spend a lot of time – and ink – talking about how hard it is to be a mother.
Numerous books, parenting blogs and websites are devoted to the topic. On playgrounds and playdates, mothers huddle together and talk about how incredibly difficult this motherhood game really is.
And yet the voices of some of us mothers mostly remain unheard.
The point of this post is not to compare notes to see which moms have it worst. Mothering is hard. It’s hard whether you’re single or married, whether you’re successfully co-parenting with a cooperative ex, or doing it all by yourself, whether you have the help of a village or only the help you are able to pay for.
But I want to talk about the special hardships faced by single mothers who are doing it alone. Really alone. Without the help of a reliable spouse, co-parent, or a network of friends or family members who pitch in whenever possible.
For several years after my divorce, I sacrificed having a personal life for the sake of my kids. Weekends were consumed by soccer, gymnastics, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, ice skating – you name an activity, we probably tried it. Dating? Hah! I wasn’t ready. Focusing on the kids was a great way to avoid thinking about how badly I’d flubbed the whole “picking the right partner” thing.
I didn’t become SuperMom because I wanted to. I did it because I lacked an alternative. I live in New York City. My family is in Michigan. My ex-husband was – and is -absent and uninvolved.
I had the help I was willing to pay for. I paid full-time rates for part-time babysitters to ensure I had someone to pick the kids up from school and care for them on half-days and school holidays. The extra expense killed my budget, but my work schedule was too demanding to enable me to rely on afterschool programs.
Recently, I tried co-parenting with my ex-husband, an experiment that now seems short-lived. His last overnight visit with the kids was New Year’s weekend. He is too unreliable to keep a regular visiting schedule, and I don’t have the energy to deal with the litany of excuses.
Although single parenting would be tough even if I worked at home, my demanding executive job makes the juggling even more difficult. Plus, in addition to my day job, I do speaking enagements and lectures. I write, for this blog and others, on my own time.
I even finally started dating again.
The writing, the dating, the lecturing, and some occasional exercise are things I do for myself. But they take away from the time I spend with my kids. I can no longer devote every weekend to their activities. And I feel incredibly guilty about it.
For example: my son is a natural baseball talent. Yet I don’t have time to take him to a baseball coach to work on his skills. I don’t have time – or a good enough pitching/throwing arm – to take him to the park and help him work on his catching, fielding and hitting. I haven’t found time to have him try out for a travel team – and even if he did, I’m not sure I would be able to haul him around from game to game.
His father, who played baseball in high school, takes no interest in his son’s baseball development. I get angry about this sometimes, and then I realize being angry is futile.
Well-meaning friends tell me to stop beating up on myself. They tell me to focus on the fact that, all by myself, I have raised smart, independent thinkers who are thriving in some of New York City’s most competitive schools.
I do acknowledge my blessings. But still, I’m tired. So please forgive me for indulging in a bit of whining.
Mothering is hard for all mothers. It is especially hard for us single women who are parenting completely by ourselves. And because we’re so used to doing everything all by ourselves, we don’t ask for help easily. Or always know how to accept it graciously, without constantly thanking the person who agreed to step in for us. Or apologizing for being burdensome.
So if you know a single mom who parents by herself, maybe you can offer her a little help. If your kids are friends, maybe you can offer to pick her kid up from school and host a playdate at your house. Or you can invite her kid to a weekend playdate or sleepover. Let her be the last parent to pick up her child from the birthday party. Because whether she says it or not, she values every single moment she gets to spend by herself. But she may not feel she has the right to ask for that time.
And try not to get too annoyed when she keeps saying “thank you.”
After years of black motherhood being equated with abandonment and neglect, it was pure joy to see the Obamas walk across that stage to accept the nomination and then the results of the election. Those nights – and those ever since – have been an affirmation for those of us who were what they are: A strong, loving, playful, and spirit filled African American family. The Obamas, of course, are not the first nor will they will be the last, but they are in the here and now, tangible and concrete. It is important to note the Obamas – including Marion Robinson, First Lady Obama’s mother who has been hailed by both of them as being instrumental in the development of their daughters – deserve every bit of praise. It is clear that they not only are extremely devoted to their children but also to their own relationship. If there were to be a soundtrack for the Obama family, it would be Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me off My Feet”.
They are the flip side to the many single black women – grandmothers, aunties, sisters, and every other in between – who are indeed mothering under siege. These examples seem to be the only dots on the spectrum. For those of us who seem to embody the Obama model it can be a lonely, isolating and conflicting experience.
I am a 34 year old mixed race woman – Puerto Rican father and African American / Cherokee mother – who identifies herself culturally as an African American- who mothers 2 amazing little girls: my daughter, 8, and my niece, 9. I have been married to an awesome guy for 10 years and on our second wedding anniversary our daughter was born. I work in pharmacy, a profession where there are more women than men. Because of this, I would find myself in conversations with the pharmacist- sometimes white but frequently themselves or their families hailing from the Middle East or South East Asia – about parenting. There was almost always a look of surprise and wonderment when I would talk about the regular every day struggles of mothering. I could almost see the thought bubble: “Oh my God she is just like me!” Usually at some point in time they would admit to being pleasantly surprised at how devoted I and my husband were to our girls. I was different, you know, unlike “those other” parents. Meaning “regular” black people. I would insist that every mother regardless of race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, socioeconomic or marital status wants the best for her child whether they have the resources or not, and I was not, in fact, an anomaly.
But I admit that I do feel invisible. There are very few mediums where black mothering is normalized. Normalized brings to mind for many a two parent, heterosexual, often Christian family. That is not what I am talking about. I mean I want to see black and brown mothers in advertisements for safety systems, breastfeeding campaigns, and educational enrichment pitches. I want to see sensitive portrayals of black and brown women as being nurturing, caring, responsible, patient and concerned about their children. I would no longer have to endure a picture of a black child automatically followed by these or any combination of words: challenge, crisis, chaos, dangers, death, neglect, and dysfunctional.
To black and white people I did right. I got married then had children. “You are a good mother” they nod approvingly. It’s like because I married when I married that I automatically get 500 points on the SAT’s of parenting. Why should that be? There is so much discussion concerning the ills of out of wedlock mothering in spiritual, economic, and emotional terms. Single mothers have their actions shredded apart. People feel it is justified by pointing to the high incarceration rates, poverty, violence etc. but is it any more right for a married woman to have a baby to save a relationship? Is it right for a married couple to bring a child into a household where the father is emotionally distant or even cruel because of their own unresolved demons? There might be a temptation to point out that society “pays” for out of wedlock children but don’t we “pay” when children are conceived under the matrimonial fairy tales that don’t work out. But there are a whole lot of ways to pay for a baby.
There seems to be a concerted lack of nuance in the discourse in both white and black spaces. If white spaces don’t acknowledge my presence black spaces insist only on the respectable. In a way I can’t say that I blame them. Slavery did not allow for slaves to be recognized as humans much less families. Even if an enlightened slave master allowed for slaves to be married, it was never legally binding. At any time these two people, who chose each other despite the pure hell of slavery, could be separated and sold along with any of their children or told to mate with another salve who had their own family or did not and simply had no desire to breed. When freedom was won the majority of slaves legalized their marriages. They may not have had much but they had each other. Literally.
So against that backdrop it is no wonder when pastors look out into the pews of their church and see the couple sitting next to each other, an arm draped across their partners back, maybe with a child or two on either side, maybe in between, they are not necessarily seeing patriarchy and submission. What they see is a stone in the eye of the naysayers who use charts, polls, and studies to prove that these people sitting in church on a Sunday morning don’t exist. There is no doubt that something pulls at you when you see a couple married for 40 plus years helping each other put their coats on. It is pride, love, joy, hope, an abundance of every bit of positive energy in the world. It is also tempting to stay rooted in that energy. It is so warm and wonderful. It makes me believe that I too will be in that number. To believe that this is the right way, the only way, the best way. But I can’t and I won’t.
Poor mothers do not automatically equate poor mothering. The No Wedding, No Womb and Marry Your Baby Daddy/Mama movements although conceived with good intentions have left so many important threads blowing in the wind and it seems like few are interested in catching, examining and then tying them together. Lack of comprehensive, fact based sexual education, the denial of mental health services (both in idea that it is needed and actual services), the lack of safe spaces or even language for men and boys to discuss their own feelings that are not steeped in patriarchy and the sustained unwillingness to deal with the effects of physical, mental, sexual and emotional abuse and how that affects interpersonal relationships all impact both parents and children alike.
The first step to correct this is the insistence that black women take back their own maternal narrative. Take it back from whoever is mishandling it, whether the person is wearing a three-piece suit, a black dress with pearls, pastoral robes or jeans and t shirt. This is your story. You and your child’s. There will be laughter and tears. There will be slammed doors and cuddles on the couch. There will be fear and certainty. There will be clarity and bewilderment. These things will happen at different times or maybe all at once. Doesn’t matter really. When you tell your story I will sit down and make myself comfortable, ready to listen to you.
It ain’t easy being the parent without primary housing responsibilities. I won’t use terms like “custody” or “custodial” because we have not settled all of that officially.
But, it has its issues. One issue is finances. We argue over finances, tax claims, purchasing responsibilities, etc. We make agreements, one person renegs, and things fall apart. We were doing well before, but I think changes happened because of decisions I have made in my personal life that he does not agree with. He seems to be taking a more adversarial approach with me.
Another issue is time. When your child isn’t with you daily, it becomes easier to disconnect from parental obligations. When you only see your child on weekends, it is often like the child is temporarily stepping into your life, so you don’t make a lot of changes. I realized that in my new house, nothing indicates that I have a child. There are no toys scattered, no child’s bed, no pictures even save one magnet on my fridge. It isn’t a kid-friendly home by any means.
A final issue is missed opportunities. I miss everything. Part of it is because his father fails to inform me of when things happen. He claims he doesn’t want to interfere or intrude in my life. What? This is my son we’re talking about. How is telling me about a school event or development intrusion? It’s like he shuts me out intentionally. I resent that. And recognize that it makes me feel even more disconnected than I felt when he was around all of the time.
I realized things were becoming a grave issue when 4 days passed and I hadn’t spoken to him once. I’d asked his father to get him into the habit of calling me and not relying on me to call him. This isnt to say I have a problem with calling him, but I want him to begin to get used to the idea that whenever he wants to talk to me, he can pick up the phone and call me. His father agreed. I asked him this over a month ago and he has only called me twice. I got so caught up in my day-to-day life that days passed without me speaking to him and I hadn’t even really been impacted by it. I’d called a few times but either his father didn’t answer or he was in the bath or he was asleep.
I’m not feeling this at all.
He tells me that he has every intention of keeping him at least through the 4th grade. 5 more years of this? I don’t know man… what will it do to our relationship? And why do I feel more and more comfortable with that idea?
I don’t know if that makes me a bad parent or just indicates that maybe I recognize what is best for my son in the long run.
In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for text-messaged pictures of what he is doing.
I had to ask if that was me, or daddy’s new girlfriend…
One year ago, January 2, 2010, I started this blog. A week or so before, I’d put out a clarion call on facebook for mothers of color to start a group blog about being, well, mothers of color, because I was appalled by the lack of brown mommy representation on the 2009 annual list of the best mommy blogs.
I’m looking through this list again, for 2010, and sadly, not much has changed.
But CocoaMamas definitely made a splash amongst our own – we were nominated and in the running for a Black Weblog Award in the Parenting/Family category this year – a huge honor for a blog as young as ours. And although we didn’t win, we made a name for ourselves as a well-written, highly timely, blog-to-know-and-read. For our first year, I think that’s fabulous.
So what have we talked about this year? Our most popular post was from just a few weeks ago, written by Carolyn in “Can Fathers Just Walk Away?” , a story about a father who is struggling to maintain a relationship with a son that seems to not want the same. Another post that generated a lot of discussion, written by ORJ in “Too School for HomeSchool”, focused on black parents and the homeschooling option in the face of failing public schools. I wrote, in “Dude, You’re a Fag” about the tragedy that is occurring in the country when children are taking their lives because of bullying for being who they are, which is gay. Benee wrote a provocative piece, in “Father’s Day is For Fathers. Period.” in which she spoke out against single mothers who claimed father’s day as their day. Salina wrote, in “First Day of School Blues” about how she still, in 2010, has to coach her son about the realities of racism as he attends his predominately white and Asian high school. And Tanji brought us to tears in “The Architecture of Violence” with the devastating story of baby Dalaysia, her second cousin, who was brutally raped and murdered this past summer.
But we’re just getting started, folks.
Continue to follow us, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. If I have my way, we WILL not only win a Black Weblog Award, we WILL also make our way onto one of those best mommy blog lists. You must conceive it to achieve it.
Peace and Blessings in this new year, this new decade,
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but people (read: Hollywood) seem to be embracing single motherhood these days. I know, I know… it seems impossible, right?
Well, it is only possible if you are White, or at least non-Black.
In recent years, there have been a number of movies about White women having babies in unconventional ways. Knocked Up, Baby Mama, The Back-Up Plan, and The Switch are all movies about White (or racially ambiguous, in the case of JLo’s movie) women become pregnant or seek to have babies in ways other than being married or in committed relationships. These are romantic comedies that usually involve the female falling in love during pregnancy or after having the child, so they all pretty much end up happily. Seems cool, right?
I have to ask then, as a Black single mother, where is MY positive, funny, romantic representation?
In 2009, CNN featured an article about out-of-wedlock births being at an all-time high.
Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers, according to data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics. The 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births, of 4.3 million total births, marked a more than 25 percent jump from five years before.
There are so many negative statitistics related to the likelihood of how these lives of these children will turn out. Oftentimes, these statistics are associated with people of color (Black, Non-White Latino). According to the article 72% of Black children are born out-of-wedlock, compared to 65% American Indian, 51% Latino, 28% White, and 17% Asian. White women have the second-lowest rate, yet Hollywood seeks to glamourize their plights and paint the picture that when White women have children outside of traditional marriages, it is because the women choose it, they are older, they just want to be happy with babies and don’t want to wait for men to come around. “Knocked Up” is the only movie that made it “accidental”, but the main character had a great career and a high paying job, so it was assumed that she would do just fine because she could handle it. She briefly considered abortion, but opted to keep the baby and prepared herself to raise it alone because the father was a less-than-responsible stranger. In the end, however, they fell in love through bonding over the pregnancy and it all worked out for the best.
This idea of choice is important. According to the article 50,000 of women delivering babies annually are single mothers by choice. It cites women getting older and dealing with biological clocks ticking as motivation and sperm banks as the answer. However, these methods are costly, so chances are that these women are financially capable of handling the expenses of raising a child alone.
What about Black women? Are we making the same choice? This article talks about the rise of single Black women adopting children, suggesting Black women too often encounter men who show little interest in being married, so they take it upon themselves to become mothers as their child-bearing window begins to close. According to this article, Black single women made up 55% of public adoptions in 2001. There are 330k+ Black women aged 35-44 who have never been married or had children, which the article suggests is the motivation for Black women seeking alternative means to become mothers.
Can we afford it? From the articles referenced above, we spend an average of $15,000 to adopt or go through in vitro fetilization or the use of sperm from sperm banks. But then, this article says that 38% of Black single mothers live at or below the poverty line. Economics is definitely a factor for women of any race, but it seems as though Black women are more likely to face economic challenges. But, many of us highly educated, career women are still spending money to become mothers.
So where is our movie?
I could comment on the lack of positive representation of Black women, Black love, and Black families in Hollywood in general, but that’s another idea. I’m wondering how something that was once a negative stereotype most commonly associated with Black women is now suddenly becoming the “in” thing among White women… and why is Hollywood now romanticizing it?
Where is the non-Tyler Perry written/directed/produced/acted/scored/distributed/animated movie about a successful single Black woman who CHOOSES to become a single mother, does so successfully, and falls in love in the process? Or maybe she doesn’t have to fall in love, but find some support. One of the earlier articles said that 80% of children born out-of-wedlock are born to romantically involved parents, so being unmarried doesn’t mean not being happily in love or in a good relationship.
So where is our movie?
Where is our TV show?
I’m pondering all of this as I find myself a divorcing single mom co-parenting a small child and finding myself ready to date again. I’m pondering this because of my concern that my being a single mom is a negative in terms of being found appealing as a mate. I’m pondering this because of the negative stigma still attached to Black single moms that I hope to debunk or at least avoid. I’m pondering this because I’m wondering about the likelihood of finding a mate who takes us as a package deal if so many single non-mothers are struggling to find mates. I’m just doing a lot of pondering and I’m wondering how you readers feel about this Hollywood trend and the lack of positive representation of Black single mothers in media.
I have been asking myself this question a lot lately.
I find myself wondering if I ask too much of people, if I set my standards too high. I always come back to the “No, your standards are right where they should be” response.
But then, I recognize how easy it is to settle. How it can be stress-free if you don’t put any real thought or emotion into it. Anyone can settle for less and in truth, most people do. I did that once, though, and it did not work. I simply could not endure it any longer. My self-esteem and self-worth are too high to settle the next time around.
Yet, by not settling, I find myself more often than not by myself. That is not so much a bad thing at this particular point in my life. I’m going through a transition, on the tail end of full recovery from an emotionally brutal marriage. So, I don’t exactly need someone right now, this very instant.
But… I always think about the future. I am a planner. I am organized. I have a son to think about so my future is his future. I have to be sure that if I do end up with someone, the person is someone I trust completely around my son and with his childrearing and upbringing. I’m not 100% calculated in my actions, but I do like to have a handle or understanding of what is to come. So maybe I’d like to begin laying the groundwork for something. It’s been a year since “we” ended. I have done a lot of introspective processing and I’ve come to know what I want, what I need, and what I expect from a partner.
Honesty, loyalty, respect, honor, love, dedication, companionship, these are standard things I think anyone seeks when they want a partner. That’s not asking too much, is it? Or maybe it is…
Particulars like age, race, height, socioeconomic status, education are somewhat negotiable, but not really lol But I think we’re entitled to preferences because those are what we want and so long as they are not too extreme, we should be able to have what we want.
I don’t think I’m too particular. I just think I’m anti-settling and what I view as settling, others might not agree.
Having “been there, done that”, I know it is impossible for me to ever be truly happy by settling for less. I just wish it were not so difficult, because I would love to have someone take me to the movies and buy me ice cream every now and then.
And truth be told… I don’t think I can do this mommy thing alone.
I felt for the first time, in a long time, I got to spread my wings and live a little. My son was cared for, safe with his father. I had money in my pocket. I had few cares in the world and it felt great.
I’ve always been the party girl type. In my younger days, I loved going to parties, drinking, dancing, having carefree fun with my friends. I looked forward to the weekends when I could unwind, either from a long week of classes or a long week of work. Some nightss I would get totally wasted, some nights, I wouldn’t drink at all. But, each night I had FUN!
Fast forward 6-10 years and I find myself not engaging in that kind of behavior very often. In fact, it is so rare, I’m convinced that maybe my party days of old were a figment of my imagination and I never really did anything like that. Oh but I did… and there are pictures and video and a hole the size you my butt in a wall somewhere lol
I went out this past weekend with my friends. For three straight nights, I stayed out late and didn’t go to bed until around 4 am. It was simply AMAZING!!! I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my friends as is, given busy grown up schedules, distance issues, etc. So the opportunity to reconnect and have a great time was warmly welcomed. I also don’t have a lot of free time, being a mom who spends weekends with her son. When I do get a free weekend, which is about once per month, I try to spend it one of two ways: laid out in bed on the couch regrouping and resting; or having a fun, exciting time with people I don’t get to see too often.
Lessons learned this weekend:
It doesnt matter how long you’ve known someone or how they came into your life, you know deep down who your true friends are and it is important to cherish those people.
Being a mom means having a child-set body alarm clock. Although I went to bed at 4 am three nights in a row, two of those mornings I was up and wide awake by 8 am. The third morning, I slept in until 10 am.
Try as you might to escape being a mom, somewhere along the line, at some point in some evening, you WILL bring your kid(s) up. You can’t help it. It happens. More than likely, you will also show pictures. And maybe even video.
You envy you childless friends in some ways and they envy you in some ways.
You can’t mix alcohol like you used to. It’s just not something your old body can handle. Hennessy + Jose Cuervo + Bacardi gold + Sangria + Wine Coolers = Asking yourself 18 times the next morning, “What the f**k was I thinking???”
You’re old. At least one point during the night, you think to yourself, “I’m too old for this s**t” and you shake your head at yourself a few times. You look around and see all the young folks in their carefree early 20s behaving wrecklessly and you feel REALLY old.
But, I felt good this weekend. I felt for the first time, in a long time, I got to spread my wings and live a little. My son was cared for, safe with his father. I had money in my pocket. I had few cares in the world and it felt great. I never imagined being one of those mothers who felt tied down to that role. And yes, sometimes one can feel “tied down”. I’ve been criticized for this, and questioned why I even bothered becoming a mother if I’m still going to hang out and go partying and such. My answer is that being a mother is part of who I am, but if I lose the rest of who Michelle is, what good am I to my child? If I end up resenting my life because I don’t feel like I’m fully enjoying it, what good will I be to anyone?
It’s ok to go out with your friends and indulge in activities totally unrelated to being a mom or having children around. It’s ok to blow money every now and then on things you can’t see or touch the next day. It’s ok to dress like you did before you became a role model. It’s ok to knock back a few shots and dance the night away. If that is a part of you, live it.
I plan to and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Not as long as these old bones keep creaking.