Monday, September 6, 2010

heavy on my mind

This was supposed to be my free weekend.  This was supposed to be a carefree 3 days.  But I can't think of anyone but him and all of the things I want to say to him.  And by him, I mean CAB...the cowardly ass bastard that fathered my child. 
You see, he's taken the back seat in all things related to the Bear.  He threw his hands up and walked away.  He's tried in every way possible to wash his hands of ME...and that's resulted in his not knowing how to be a part of our son's life.  But then he realized that we are surviving with out him.  And now he wants to pull a 180.
He asked to take my son.  I mean, he's our son.  But it's really difficult not to think of him as my son.  I've been here all day, every day since the day he was born.  And I WANT him to know his father.  I've always wanted that.  I volunteered to let him spend the summers with his dad.  CAB says that he can't afford that now.  I told him when he moved that it would be hard to be a part of his son's life.  CAB said that he didn't have a choice and the only way for him to find work was to move 5 hours away.  I begged, and I mean begged, him to call his son and interact.  Show him that he thinks about him.  CAB has only called 3 times in the last 11 months.  And he's only seen the Bear twice in the same amount of time. 
So I enrolled my son in the Big Brother program.  I wanted him to know that men could be consistant.  I wanted him to have a man to turn to.  CAB's solution?  I should send my son to live 5 hours away with him.  He's the only man that should teach my son what it is to be a man. 
I barely contained myself enough to not blurt out that he hasn't demonstrated being a man yet.  Not as far as the Bear is concerned.
I cried.  I felt guilty.  I talked to friends.  Mothers and non-mothers alike.  I called and sobbed on the phone to my dad.
Am I selfish to keep my son away from his dad?  Am I keeping him here just for me?  Is staying here the best course of action for my son?  Am I doing him a disservice to not send him to live there?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Possibly.
It all changed when a friend (a non mother) said, "Well, it's not like you'll never see him again."  I'm not positive what it was about that statement, but the nonchalance with which she said it just bothered me.  She's right, I'll see him.  But I don't want to see him.  I want to be in his life.  I want to RAISE him.  That's the choice that I made when I had him.  I've been his mother first and foremost since the day I realized I was pregnant.
That is not the choice that CAB made.  He half assed it.  He let me do the heavy lifting while he continued to live for himself.  He got married and had another child and made his life in a city separate from his first born son.  He made no attempt to keep contact.  He ignored every attempt that I made to keep him in contact.  Now he wants me to take a back seat. He wants me to agree to miss all of those moments that he just gave up.
I do think my son should get to see his dad and have a relationship with him.  The tentative schedule is that I'll revisit the idea when he's heading to Jr High School in 2 years.  That way I can watch CAB and see if he's really making an effort and not just continuing to parent at his own convenience.  And I'll have the chance to mentally prepare and gauge how much my son needs it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

little victories...

It feels like forever ago that I applied to go back to school.  I'm sure it was in the beginning of this year.  But it feels like I've been thinking and talking about this forever.  As it so happens, I'm taking everything one tiny step at a time.  Today I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere.  I have been accepted to continue at Mizzou in their Distance and Independent Study program.  I've done the FAFSA and been offered financial aid.  I've made arrangements with the cashiers office to lift the 10 year old hold on my account.  And this morning I e-mailed my academic advisor to ask questions about which classes I should be looking into.  I've reviewed the prerequesites and required tasks for the classes that I hope to take and I'm prepared (once I've got my degree plan from my advisor) to register.  After that, I'll be back in school.  I'm terrified.  But tears keep coming to my eyes when it hits me that I'm actually going to do this.  I'm actually going to graduate from college.  I'm even going to graduate from the college that I chose so many years ago. 
I think I'm ready for this ride.  In fact, I know I am.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Am I enough??

This summer has brought new challenges to me and the Bear.  He hasn't seen his father since spring break in March and despite my offers, he's not choosing to write or call him.  He's never gone this long without speaking to his father.  While I personally don't mind not talking to CAB, I don't know how I feel about the Bear losing all contact.  CAB has only called a few times despite my asking him to try harder to let our son know that he thinks about him. 
I know it's rather traditional of me, but I just think that a boy his age needs a man in his life.  I'm completely unwilling to bring the men in my life around him.  (Despite my consistant rantings about being single, there's always someone hanging around.)  I don't let men meet him if they aren't making a commitment to stick around.  I just feel like he needs that bond and it's one thing that I can't give him. 
I signed him up for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and we are currently waiting to be matched.  He honestly wasn't all that enthused about it when I brought it up.  I asked him to please try it and he eventually warmed to the idea.  At an orientation meeting they asked for a one year commitment, so I had to broach the subject with him again.  He said he was willing to try for a year.  I think he's actually looking forward to it.  It scares me to think that he's already given up on the idea that his dad will be in his life.  And simultaneously it pisses me of that the CAB would think that it's okay to just disappear after 10 years of being there from whatever distance.  I mean, what does that say to our son?  How do I assure him that I'm never going anywhere if his dad can just walk out that easily?
I hope that he gets matched soon and I pray that this will be a good experience for him.  I want him to have that "guy time".  He's even mentioned to me that he's ready for a step-dad.  He's told me in the past that he didn't like the idea of me dating.
I saw pictures of a friend with her husband and son a few days ago and while I cooed over how cute they were, I realized that my son doesn't have one picture of us as a family.  It was so disjointed when it existed and over so soon after he was born that we don't have one picture of us all together.  That's what I want to give him.  I want him to have the family like everyone else's.  I know in this day and age family comes in all different forms, but on this, I want tradition.  A mom, a dad and some kids. (Or even just the one.)  In this I don't feel I can give him enough.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

so long gone...

I try not to be a flake and I hate excuses.  I simply got too lazy to post.  I didn't want to read my own whining.  I didn't think what I wanted to say was relevant.  But now, I need to put this down.  I need to vent this...
About 2 and a half years ago, I made the decision to stop relaxing my hair.  I don't know when I had this big "Ah-ha!" moment, but I'm sure it was one of the times I pulled out a clump of my own hair while rinsing out relaxer, or when I was cleaning up the many split ends and broken hairs that had fallen on the bathroom counter.  Maybe it was one of the mornings that I spent 30 minutes flat ironing my hair only to walk out into humidity or wind or rain and had it hanging limply on my head for the rest of the day.  Whatever the reason, I made the conscious decision to stop straigtening my hair.  I dealt with the frustration of growing it out while all of the relaxed hair screamed for it's chemical fix and broke off.  I fought with new growth that laughed at the heat of the flat iron that left burns on my scalp but did NOT straighten my roots. I finally chopped of the relaxed hair in August 2008.  I cried in the parking lot of the salon because I'd never seen my own natural hair on my head before.  It was foreign to me.  I looked alien and boyish.  I ran out and bought eyeliner and big earrings.  I took nauseatingly strong vitamins to help it grow.  In the last two years I've learned a new love for my hair.  I've revelled in not running from rain or backing out of pool party invitations.  I skip happily out of my bathroom after 5 minutes of spraying and fluffing to make my fro stand up and shine.  I love touching my tiny little curls and playing with all of the different textures while I'm sitting at a stop light or watching tv.
I don't want to go back to relaxing and flat ironing and paying googobs of money for a wash and set.

But others are not so content with my decision.  My boss has been making comments since the day I cut it off.  "What do you plan to do with it?"  "I liked your long hair."
I had a Black co-worker tell me that I'd never get ahead if I try to "stand out".  She told me it would be okay if we were in the music industry or on the east coast, but it's not acceptable in the office that we're in.  She actually told me that I was far too intelligent and talented to waste my potential because I won't conform. (She didn't use those exact words, but that was the jist of it.) 

Yesterday, while standing in my boss' office, she looked at me and said point blank, "I've decided it's time that you do something with your hair.  You need to put it back the way that it was.  Make it pretty again."

This is not an issue of vanity for me anymore.  I know that I'm beautiful.  This is now just offensive.  It pisses me off that she feels that:
1. She has the right to tell me what I need to do with my hair.  As long as it's washed and sufficiently combed and doesn't show signs of neglect, she doesn't get a say.
2. It's appropriate to make a comment like that to me.  Like somehow, I'm just performing a social experiment and have now proven my point.
3. That the implication that straight hair is the only pretty hair would not strike me as offensive.

I told her in no uncertain terms that I had no intention of straightening my hair again.  I will not damage for the sake of fitting into some sort of social norm with which I don't even agree.  But the statement still hit me wrong.  All wrong. 
I understand the concept of what India Arie was saying.  But in this instance, I do feel like I am my hair.  I'm not going to damage my own self image because they can't get over their gentrified bullshit.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh...what a Monday...

I was informed at my monthly stat review that I took 54 hours of sick time in the month of March.  (I had a lot of dental work that I was tired of putting off and at my job, we aren't allowed any time off between mid-April and early August.) So when I woke up yesterday feeling a little under the weather, I decided to tough it out and come to work anyway.  I got up, brushed my teeth, got dressed all before my second alarm went off to signal that it was time to wake the Bear.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself because it was looking like we were going to be early for school/work instead of running around like mad people trying to get everything together.  I woke the Bear and guided him to the bathroom and continued my routine.  I was just about to make his lunch when I heard a meek little, "Mooooom."  Sigh.  I know that sound. 
"Yes baby."
"I don't feel good."  He stumbled in and laid his head on my chest.
"What feels bad?" He's not one to fake sick to get out of school, but I need to know if we just have to go to the doctor right this instant.
"My tummy aches and I feel dizzy.  Oh...and my pooh was soft."
We talk about pooh a lot in my house.  The Bear has an aversion to going to the restroom in public, so we normally have to deal with his constipation.  Soft pooh almost always means something is wrong with him.
Sigh.  "Lay back down babe.  I'll call in for us."
But it was 6:45 at this point and no one would answer.  So I started cleaning house (as I wasn't feeling so bad anymore), when suddenly, I realized I was wheezing. My stupid allergies were clogging my sinuses. And my throat felt raw and sore.  Antihistamine, here I come. 
By now it was 7:05, so I could call the school.  The lady in the office heard stomach ache and said, "Oh. That's been going around.  Get a bucket."  GREAT...what  a monday.
7:15 am.  *yawn* My boss won't be in for another 45 minutes.  Can't just leave a message. *yawn* Have to *yawn* speak to her directly. *yawn*  Stupid antihistamine.
7:30 am. I don't even want to play Facebook apps. I just want to crawl into bed.
Call Boss. "G'morning T.  I hate to do this, but the Bear isn't feeling well, so I have to stay home today.  I'll call back to speak to you directly."
8:15 am. Cell phone ringing. Sorority sister.  "I saw on Facebook that you don't feel well.  Just calling to check on you.  BTW, you sound like shit."  Thanks...really. 
8:30 am.  (Because apparently me sounding like shit doesn't stop her from talking for another 15 minutes.) Call boss. "G'morning T."
"Oh. You sound horrible."  Really people??
"I got your message.  I was going to let you off for a half day anyway.  So just count this as 4 hours sick time. Hope you both feel better."  I don't think I've mentioned before how much I love my boss. 
Jump forward to 10:45 am.  I wake up and realize that I've also started.  This day can't get any better can it?  Wait, I don't hear anything.  Walk into the Bear's room to check on him.  He's still sleeping.  Wow, he really doesn't feel well, he never sleeps past 8.  I can't resist putting my hand on his back to feel for breathing.  I'm paranoid like that.  I'm satisfied.  And still sleepy.  Back to bed.
12:30 pm.  "Mooom. I'm hungry."
"I can make malt-o-meal."  Face screws up.  "Soup?" Face screws up more.
"What do you want?"
"Sausage biscuit."  Wait, what?
"I thought you didn't feel well."
"I feel better now. Can we get food?"
I stand to find I have that bubble headed drugged up feeling...and I can't breath again.
We go to the grocery store, because I don't have breakfast foods since he eats breakfast at school.  He's skipping around and playing with the cart.  I'm shuffling aimlessly and wiping my nose with the tissue in my pocket, trying not to cough on anyone.  I get him sausage biscuits.  Then I get soup, juice, couple of dinners worth of frozen entrees (gasp all you want, don't feel like cooking), and some stuff for my lunch as I can see, I'll be back at work for the rest of the week.  I also grab a bottle of ginger ale in case he's misdiagnosing his, "Feeling better".
1:30 We get home and microwave his sausage biscuit.  I climb back into bed.
1:40 "Mom, I'm going to make another one."
"Are you sure?  You're stomach is okay?"
"Yeah, just hungry."
1:50 I can barely breathe.  Crap more stupid antihistamine.
4:00 pm "Mooom.  You okay?  Did I get you sick?"
"No babe.  I'm sure it's just allergies."
Hands me a fresh box of tissues.  "Do you want some juice?"
*smile* "I'm okay babe. But I'm probably going to go back to sleep.  Is that going to bother you?"
"No.  I'll just watch cartoons."  I could have sworn that I only stayed home today to take care of him.
6:45 pm Cell phone rings. Daddy. "Hey Daddy."
Barely a whisper, "Hey baby, I don't feel so great today."
"Me either Dad."
6:47 pm (Because that's how long you keep people on the phone when they sound sick.) "Mooom.  I'm hungry. Could you make the pizza?"
Bake Pizza.  Set timer.  Play on Facebook.
"Bear.  Pizza's ready."  No answer.  What tha?!?  He was passed out on the couch.  Guess he wasn't at 100%.
Moral of the story...what gives him the sniffles, will lay my ass out flat.

I'm feeling much better today though.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

out of my zone...

This is going to be a long one.  I've been working on it for like a week and just never got it finished. goes.
Last year, for various reasons that I won't get into at this point, I fell into a really deep depression.  I was in a relationship with a man that didn't deserve or value me.  I stopped valuing myself.  I was miserable.  All, and I mean ALL, of my friends started these promising new relationships with wonderful people around that time.  I just disappeared.  I retreated and slept for days on end.  Eventually I ran into a friend that saw I wasn't going to pull out of it on my own.  She helped me find a therapist.  It's been almost a year and it's been awesome.  I've really gotten a whole new perspective on my reality as it stands at the moment.  I feel like myself again.  I feel myself falling now and again, but I take a step back and take a breath.  I handle what I can and hand everything else over to God, Yaweh, Mana, Allah or whatever deity you align yourself with.  I'm getting out again and doing things that I wouldn't have ever done before. 
This past weekend, I pushed the limits of my comfort zone a little more.  I was invited by a few friends to go to a benefit for the San Antonio AIDS Foundation.  WEBB Party 2010 was an amazing experience.  I wasn't going to go, but a friend offered to cover the ticket for me.  So I got a sitter and dusted off my makeup case and went out.  It was really great.  28 local restaurants had tasting tables with amazing food.  Several of the local bars donated bartenders and liquor for the event.  My friend's girlfriend was the emcee for the event and there was even an awesome drag show.  I met lots of new people, laughed, danced and had a fantastic time. I couldn't help but think that this time last year, I wouldn't have wanted to go.  Or I'd have gone and spent the entire night checking my phone to see if my "boyfriend" was going to call.  I wouldn't have felt comfortable talking to people.  Friday night was freeing.  I'm back.  I'm happy.  I'm all sorts of fexi. (FEXI = fat and sexy, because let's face it, people don't realize that it can come in the same package) It was really great.
Then I slipped.  While hanging out at a bar after the event, I got it in my head that I the interest of not being crass, I'll say, "physical therapy".  I texted a friend.  He's a guy that I've always found attractive. I've known him for years and I know he'd never date me.  He's alluded to the fact that he found me attractive, but I don't fit the "image" of a girl he'd be seen with. (Another non-believer of the Fexiness)  I knew it wasn't a great idea, but after a great night and a few drinks I just wanted...more.  Well it went worse than originally expected and I felt horrid by the end of the night.  I mean, I've bounced back, but it's still just embarrassing to some extent.  I went back to another man that doesn't see my value and basically asked for validation.  I don't get why I do that.  I don't understand my idiotic obsession with frustrating myself.  I just shouldn't have.
But I'm going to try to remember all of the good stuff and only the lessons learned from the bad.
We'll see if it works.  Someone out there sees me, or will, for everything I have to offer.  Good and bad.  I just have to stop settling for the frogs I know don't want to change.
Anyhow, I spent the day with the Bear and we enjoyed ourselves.  We went to a BBQ plate sale a friend was having for the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure.  (Notice how all of my charitable contributions involve food or drink?)  That was an adventure since it was on the other side of town and there's been torrential downpour in the area for the last 2 days.  It was good.  I saw friends and had great food.  And I didn't even THINK about any of the bad stuff that had been on my mind.

I also got a call from CAB.  He says he can't take the Bear for the summer.  He can't afford it and pay child support as well.  My first reaction was guilt. (Am I asking too much?  Am I keeping my son from his father?)  My next reaction was anger.  But as I thought about it, I realized I could rise to this setback too.  I called CAB back and told him I want my son to know his father and his little sister.  I told him that I can do a lot but I can't be his father.  I offered to give back $300 from the child support and he can have the Bear for the month of July.  Deep inside I don't think it should have come to that.  But right up top, I can't watch my baby's heart break any more.  He'll see his dad for a month and I'll pay back a portion of the support to make it happen. CAB agreed to this.  I didn't ask for help on this one.  I know what my friends would say.  I just made the offer.  My plan had been to get a second job while the Bear was gone for the summer.  I wanted to put away some cash.  But I guess plans change.  I can do it...I can make it happen.  I've said it before, I'll say it again.  Atlas was a punk. The world's not that damned heavy.

I have a couple of pics from the event.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Independent Black Woman Debate

A friend posted a status on Facebook that has brought me back to a debate that I've been having with my male friends for years.  A debate that I have had specifically with Black men.  His post said basically that women that wear their independence like a badge of honor are doomed to be alone.  The only way to get and keep a man is to "submit" to him.  Now don't get me wrong, I see merit in what he's saying.  Most women that I know, especially single mothers, have learned not to trust.  We do it all ourselves with the assumption that if we don't do it, it will never get done.  We get so used to living this way that when someone comes along and says they can help, we tend to not believe them.  "Get out of my way.  I'll do it myself."  We wonder what they want in return.  The common experience is that men aren't reliable and if they happen to show up, it's because they are working an angle. That's why there's this push to be I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T.  We write songs about our independence.  We celebrate being single.  We tell the world we can do it all on our own with no man.  And truthfully, when push comes to shove, we can.  The question is, do we want to?

I've spoken to friends that fall on all sides of the spectrum on this topic.  The particular friend that posted the Facebook status went with the argument that we are not meant to be alone.  He said that women do need men.  It's our independence that keeps us single.  Our pride that is ripping apart the foundation of Black families. (I'm paraphrasing. I don't have access to his quote.)  I've worked hard for the last 10 years to raise my son alone.  Yes, he has a father, but he doesn't have a constant male role model in his life.  If I'm generous, I'd say the Bear sees his dad for 75 days out of the year.  The rest is up to me.  The argument could be made that I chose this life.  I could have just stayed with his father.  And I could have acquiesced and stayed.  It's not as though he ever left me, but he was never really there either.  When we started dating, he just basically started hanging out at my house with me and my room mates.  The only difference between me and them was that I was sleeping with CAB.  When I moved into my own place, he just started leaving his stuff there and sleeping over every night.  There was no talk about moving in together.  There was no decision made.  When I got pregnant, he wanted to bolt.  He had a job interview scheduled out of state on the day that our son was due.  I told him to go.  I told him I'd move with him.  Or if he wanted to leave, he should tell me.  Rather than just say he didn't want me with him, he stayed.  He treated our child like something I'd DONE to him.  He resented working while I stayed home with our son.  He resented that I started caring for another child to make money and help with the household expenses.  He resented when I left so he wouldn't have to pay for us any more.  He resented that when he decided he wanted to grace me with his company while I was living with my mother, I was busy working two jobs so that I could care for our son.  When I decided to move to Texas, he followed.  He resented living in San Antonio too.  "You brought me here to a city that I don't even like."  Truth be told, I didn't even invite him to come with me.  He didn't make one single decision.  He just sat back and whined about all of the decisions that I made.  How does one submit to a man that doesn't take the leadership role?  How can I follow him when he doesn't know where he's going?  Why should I hold on to a man that doesn't want to hold on to me?  On paper he was a good man.  He's educated.  He has a job.  He pays his child support. And he never raised a hand to me.  He also never just stood up and acted like the man.  So am I to be blamed that I stood up to make the decisions for my son and myself?

I had another male friend tell me that Black men don't step up because we make it too easy for them not to do so.  Black women have taken the reigns over the course of the years.  We've taken the strong leadership role.  But is that what makes our men simply stop trying?  Is the solution for us to just drop the basket and hope they'll be there to pick it up?  I mean, how are we supposed to back down if they are unwilling to take over.  I've taken a hard line that I will not support any man that doesn't share at least half of my DNA.  Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but I've seen too many women take that road to look up and realize that not only were they still supporting their family alone, but he, by sheer virtue of being the "Man of the House" still wants to run the household and make decisions.  (There are, of course, exceptions once the marriage is in place. For richer or for poorer, so on and so forth.)  Again, I can't submit to a man that doesn't want to take a man's role.

I've heard the argument that women, especially Black women, want too much.  I've even had it aimed specifically at me. I don't deny that my bullshit meter is very sensitive.  But I'm not exempt from having put up with my fair share of crap.  I have things that I want from a relationship.  I want a partner.  I want a role model from my son.  I want to be attracted to him.  I want financial stability.  And everything I ask for, I strive for on my own.  It doesn't make sense to me that I should lower what I feel are basic standards for a potential mate.  Eliminate any one of those requirements that I listed and the odds of a successful relationship are slim.

I'm guilty of turning away good men.  But if I'm not attracted to him, no matter how good he looks on paper, isn't it only fair that I leave him out there for the girl that will be gaga over him?  Haven't we all seen a really good man that we could fall for instantly be dragged around by a woman that only keeps him around because they can?  I didn't like the prospect of trying to set up a life with a man that I wasn't happy to come home to.

I personally do want to find a partner.  I want to find someone to whom I feel comfortable handing the reigns.  There just seems that there are so many excuses being made not to love us.  I wonder how people expect us to show vulnerability in the face of such distaste.  How are we expected to submit to a man, if they seem so unwilling to let us?