A letter to the father of my son

Dear Bd,

I wish that you could understand my place in all this. That no matter how mad you get or how often you take me to court, I will still by my son’s mother. There is no woman on this earth that can be his mother. I wasn’t put here to to put the importance of a good upbringing on the back burner because you say so–I was born to raise my son to be a successful man. He was given to me and I was given to him so that we both can bring out the best in each other.

I don’t have to explain to you why I am a good mother, I am, and you know that. Truthfully, this child can not be raised without me. He can not learn to love, or to use his heart before his hands without me. He can not learn to value the lives of other human beings from you. Sure, you have done your visits the way you are supposed to, but visiting and parenting are two different things. I can let you know the rules I have set for him, then watch you break them. It took two months for you to even put him in pull ups like I asked. You see, what you don’t understand is that doing things to hurt me (like allowing others to disrespect me, not paying child support because you don’t want to help me etc) affects my son. He hears you talking, and sees the contempt of your actions. If there comes a day that he decides he doesn’t want to see you anymore because of it, you’ll have yourself to blame and I will not force him to come. 

It’s fairly obvious you can not raise him without me, but honestly I can not raise him without you. You are here to show me my own strength, and to help me learn my worth among other things–for him? That lesson is still to be determined. It doesn’t matter how well you treat your wife, the way you treat me is the example he will see for how he treats women. You can either be there to teach him to be a man in a positive way or a negative way. For some reason I know my son will be the person to finally see you without your mask. Children know more than you think. If he hasn’t already, he will realize you use him as a trophy. As a cute little figurehead for your “World’s Best Dad” social media campaign, while in real life you complain that he exists and talk about how he has burdened you and your youth. 

There is one thing I will not allow from you; teaching him that love is fleeting and based upon what you can get from someone. I will not allow you to teach him that everything is a scheme and love should only be used to get what you want. I will not allow you to show my son that affection is for everyone. His love is sacred and it shouldn’t be passed around to any and every human. My son is amazing and special and if you can not see that, you don’t deserve his affection. The love of a child for his parent is inherent. That doesn’t mean you’re the world’s greatest. He’s still young and there’s still a chance to cut the shit-I’m not going to push you out because no matter what lesson you choose to teach I will be here. I will love and support my son until the day I die, through every up and down, through every fight and every happy moment. There is nothing you can do, no one you can marry and no word you can say that will stop me from being a mother to my son. Coming from experience, the best way to lose the respect of your child is to disrespect their mother. 

Being a parent doesn’t leave the option of selfishness. Learn it now, or learn it the hard way.

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What I Learned from a Custody Battle at 21

The day I turned 21, I received a packet of papers in the mail stating I neglect my son and interfere in his relationship with the boy. Now that I’m two months from turning 23, I’m not bitter like I thought–I’m empowered.

I used to think that having a custody order meant I had failed my family. That I didn’t work hard enough to make them happy or that I didn’t deserve to be a mother. I genuinely believe that if you put your family before yourself, there’s nothing that can come between you. Later I added for the right man to the end of that, but you get my point. I’m not a failure, and neither are you. no matter what age you are, having someone you think you love telling you that you’re not worthy of raising your child (or watching them think your child isn’t worthy, which also happened to me) is the most heartbreaking thing in the world.

it’s not your fault. there is genuinely no reason to blame yourself for the choices of another human being. There’s nothing you can do to change someone especially in a time of the greatest change of all. Having a child changes people. Sometimes it’s for the best and other times it’s for the worst, but people change with age at no fault of anyone but themselves. If you know you have made sure they know the door is open, know that it’s not on you.

your child will not blame you for what happened. as a product of divorce, I know first hand that your kid is never going to come to you and say “you kept my dad away” I mean. Unless you did. Anyway, don’t beat yourself up over something that will be normal to your child by the time they get old enough anyway. They’re going to know who’s there and who’s not, and they may have questions ( ex. why does everyone have a Dad and I don’t) but for the most part they will accept it as their normal. Having two houses is basically the American dream for kids these days, anyway.

there is no one on this planet that can take your place. if you are hesitant to leave a crap relationship because you don’t want another woman around your child, consider this–what would you like your child to see as the standard of love? Two (or one) people that “stayed together for the kids” but argue every day, are uncomfortable to be around, or seeing you standing strong and happy on your own? When I considered making things work with my sons father it was mainly for this reason. I could not fathom ever being okay with another woman coming in attempting to come for my spot, but here’s the catch–it’s almost always harder for them. Of course the kid is going to pull that “you’re not my mom” line (the petty part of me hopes so), then there’s the fact that the man you love has to always consider another woman and child before you. You can’t really just pack up and move (and if you’re dating my sons dad you better think twice about every calling my son your own) there are so many things you can’t do on top of the fact that whether you like the child’s mother or not (btw we don’t care) you still have to deal with her for the rest of you life. If you are truly a mother, no woman will ever be able to replace you. Trust me.

it will make you feel “old”. in June I’ll be 23, but I always say I feel 32. Almost like I’m damaged goods now. I don’t really relate with people my age because I’ve been through things they haven’t. I’ve had to mature for my son, and for his father too (that’s why I haven’t hit him yet). My standard of fun is different, and the way I live/view life is greatly different from other women my age.

Once you come out on the other side? it’ll show you that you can endure anything. as a woman, the most painful thing is to have to depend your place in your child’s life. But guess what? You can not give up, and then you take that into every other part of your life. I know how hard it is to want to quit, to want to go back and undo some things or make different choices so you don’t have to out up with someone being mean. I remember crying myself to sleep at night (sometimes I still do) wondering why it had to be me and not someone else. Here’s what I’ve learned; it had to me (and you) to teach you not to doubt yourself. To prove to you that no matter how many times you tell yourself you can’t take anymore or when you beg God to let up on you that you will make it. And you will.

The most important thing I’ve learned from all of this is my own strength. The only power others have over you is what you give them. And there are some that will take as much as they can and try to crush you with it. I’m not a pushover anymore, people work to earn my affection and my trust instead of trying to see the best or push someone to be their best I take them at face value. For those of you that tell me you wish you could be as strong as I have been through all of this look in the mirror, or reflect on your day when you go to school or work or both and hustle until you can afford a home on your own. Watch the way your child loves you or how much trust they out in you because you are perfect to them. You were given this life for a reason–because you are strong enough to live it. Have faith in yourself, and trust that one day this will all be a distant memory.

Much love, SSM

The best thing I never had.

Yesterday made a year since the last time BD and I tried to reconcile and be a family and it (plus a low alcohol tolerance and one Mike’s Lite lemonade) caused me to do a lot of thinking this weekend. The one thing I wanted most in the world–to NOT be a single mother–didn’t happen. And it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. 

I never thought that I could be happy in a situation like this, I thought that having the nuclear family was what would make me happy. But once I really thought about it, I don’t know if I could say I would be happy right now if things had worked out. This time last year I couldn’t ever believe that I would smile again, or that I would feel like a whole woman because I had “failed” at making my family work. But I didn’t and I still haven’t. I do just as much for my family, it’s just one person short. 

What I’ve learned over the past year is that not getting the “American Dream” I had in mind of having my family together and not having to share custody is the best damn thing that’s ever happened to me. Let Beyonce tell you:

 

 

xoxo SSM

Not black enough?

 When I watch the news, it’s very rare to see the good things that African Americans do, or really have done (outside of black history month). Now, I am a proud black woman, don’t ever get that confused, but when I see other young black women/girls on social media shaking their asses in their underwear or fighting I am saddened and a little ashamed that this is what people think of us. When I think of certain black single mothers and see the stereotype that I tried my hardest to stay away from, I am ashamed. Why? Because that’s what society thinks of when they see all of us. It doesn’t matter that I am not you and you are not me, it matters that we all check the black box on our applications. There are hundreds of successful black men and women, but those that stay in the spotlight are those that can barely string a sentence together without cussing or fighting or saying the n word. 

I have not ever been the type to want a prize or a cookie based solely on the fact that my skin is a fabulous dark brown, but in a world where we constantly cry out for the ability to be equals, there sure are a lot of “us” holding us back. When you post yourself all on the internet that way, that stays the image in people’s minds as every black person. When I was younger, my mother taught me not to see color at all, but she also told me that anything I was I would have to be 20 times better simply because I am female and black. I did not (and still do not) speak slang, instead of going to parties with the other children in my all black neighborhood I studied and worked and instead of seeing that as me choosing to have a different life than them they said I wanted to be white. Most of the teasing I’ve experienced came from other black people. Because instead of looking up to Nicki Minaj and calling myself a barbie or a bad bitch, I look up to Michelle Obama and call myself a strong, educated black woman. 

When I was younger, I really couldn’t understand why it was so hard for my peers to see that you don’t have to be a drug dealer just because you’re black, and that adhering to stereotypes just makes them ignorant and not more black than me. Living in WV, its difficult to deal with the racial issues that come with traveling to certain places but also dealing with them from my own race. My own race, that tried to have a party to “turn up” for MLK because that is what he stood for; because he and so many others died so that we can coin phrases like “turn up” and “thot” and kill each other instead of going to school or voting or capitalizing on our rights that were fought for and earned. 

The first thing people notice about me is that I am black–it’s not a secret–and let me tell you how proud I was to walk across the stage and graduate from high school black. To go to the senior awards ceremony and accept 15 total scholarships and awards for academic achievement alone; to be offered the highest scholarship amount possible as a black cheerleader at a private university and then have a baby and walk my black ass across the stage to accept my bachelor’s degree. Or how about when I made history at my high school as part of the first set of black cheerleading captains and then I took my black ass back and became the first black head cheerleading coach at my school? What people don’t understand is that you don’t have to scream about being black to be black. Maybe I should be offended by the thought that I hate myself because I choose not to be a stereotype, or because my mother wanted better for me and I want better for my son. 

Everything I have done in my life and will continue to do will be to make it possible for me (and my son) to go places and achieve without the first thought being “she’s black” and letting all the images of little girls jerking their half naked bodies around and calling themselves “barbie” while fighting each other in the street over their “nigga” or who is the baddest bitch. Not that I have to explain myself to anyone, but my favorite thing about myself is my skin and my body. The way I look healthy when I am dark chocolate and curvy like I have been my whole life. I love my big lips, hips, and thighs. I may not be your definition of black, but I am mine. To you I am “pretty for a black girl” or “wanna be white” but to me? I am at my most beautiful at my darkest, with my nappy hair and attitude. 

It is and always will be difficult for anyone to understand what it feels like to be black, and that includes those of us that are. I spent this weekend watching the Martin Luther King Jr celebration on BET and in those movies the men were respectful and the women hard working–they most certainly were not twerking or calling each other hos and bitches on the internet. My idea of being black is making myself better in spite of my skin color so that those that come after me will see me as an example and do the same while accepting everyone around me as who they are inside because that is how I want to be treated. I’ve read so many blogs and tweets about Scandal and Being Mary Jane and how they don’t accurately represent black women, but the real question should be how do you represent yourself? We are all part of the bigger picture, part of the dream that MLK died fighting for–not just those that constantly judge others that choose live a life different than theirs, not “redbones” or light skins or dark skins, everyone. It doesn’t mean they think they’re better than you (sometimes) it means we want to do and be better for the sake of our families.

But if you know the answer, please tweet or comment the answer to “How black do you have to be to be considered black enough?” I’m dying to know.

❤ SSM

The perfect mom still doesn’t exist

When I was pregnant there was this girl on my facebook that acted like every single day of parenthood was the best and happiest ever. Of course I had that same expectation, and of course I was wrong. 

Every day of parenthood isn’t fun, and if you say it is you’re a liar. You don’t get a gold star for pretending your child never makes you want to rip your hair out and it doesn’t make you a bad parent to say so. That girl made me believe that calm babies that don’t shit on your favorite (and only clean pair of) pants right before you walk out the house are anything more than a myth. For a while, I was so disappointed in myself because I just wasn’t as overjoyed about motherhood like she was, I actually thought I wasn’t a good mom because of it. I was happy, yeah, but I wasn’t like “every day with you is the best day of my life” because sometimes it was rough, and looking back it was an amazing experience but every day was not good.

Yesterday I tweeted about how the greatest sacrifice parents make is their sanity, and it’s true. Kids are crazy. They are rough unrefined little lumps of coal we’re expected to turn into diamonds–not only is that a big job, but they don’t make it easy. Instead they swing from the chandeliers and break things (mostly your self esteem) and wipe their dirty little hands and mouths all over your belongings but cry when theirs are missing or broken. And they are the greatest things on this green earth. There is nothing like seeing your child happy, even if it’s at your own expense. So we dance in public and sing the dumbest songs, watch the dumbest shows and become a completely different person when they’re around because they are the light of the world. 

But every day your child is not your favorite. That’s why so many of us drink wine at night. It’s why I haven’t slept since about the 4th month of pregnancy. Even when they’re asleep you stay up to watch adult shows or have adult conversations (sometimes with people on twitter), it’s what bonds us as parents! Everyone that has reared a child always looks so happy when they see my son running through a store or trying to break dance in the floor because one day we will miss this. And I, personally don’t want to miss something I tried to make seem better than it is. I want to miss the real experience, when I look back at my facebook statuses and see that I posted about my son drawing pictures on the wall with my foundation, or seeing the pictures of his standing in the living room after he tore it up like a small tornado. 

Motherhood really isn’t a competition, so why do we all (I’m looking at you, twitter) try so hard to compete? Why lie about your baby’s milestones or make someone feel badly about when their child reaches one? Why can’t we just be happy that we all made it through one more day laughing about how our children almost killed us today but didn’t succeed? There will always be someone that parents differently than you, that has different beliefs and that’s okay. It’s okay to admit that today was a rough day because trust me, we understand. We are all going through the same thing, though some of us are single or married or waiting on a ring, being a mom is still hard as hell.

Let’s stop pretending to be the perfect parent and learn from each other and have some wine (unless you’re underage, grape juice for you). Seriously. 

What I learned from having a child with a jerk

For a really long time, I was just plain mad. I’m not even sure I knew why anymore, and I definitely was not about to admit that I was. In all honesty, I’m still unsure BUT here’s what I do know–I’m over it. When I used to look back and see everything I had gone through with my son’s dad, I was pissed and sad and hurt but now I look back to remember what I learned from it. Every experience with him has given me the right experience to deal with other things and other people and I actually am thankful for that. As much as I want to punch him, I learned my biggest lesson so far from thinking I loved him and that he loved me.

Even when its over, love does not do the things either of us did to each other. If we loved each other, first our “relationship” wouldn’t have been as tumultuous as it was, and it wouldn’t be as negative as it is now. I know now that I can’t ever learn to love another human by hating him because what I feel for him (mostly cartoon-like murderous thoughts–like that coyote and roadrunner) radiates from my body. Instead of looking happy and beautiful I looked miserable and sad, there was a dark cloud over me that I couldn’t get rid of because no matter how “healed” I was, I was still mad as hell. Now, I’m not saying that I’m not still a little pissed, because I am, but that feeling is few and far between because I’ve come to terms with the fact that he is a complete a-hole to me.

I know that I can not speak to people that make me feel badly about myself, because after a while I start to believe it–so instead, I surround myself with people that radiate love. The people I follow on twitter aren’t just single moms because I can stand to learn from many other people. The wives, fiances, married moms, single moms that have married, single dads, married dads, stay at home moms and dads, businesswomen, authors, bloggers, anons, personals, all people that I have created a network for myself with so that I can learn from people where I want to be, relate to those where I am, and understand people I have never come across before. Instead of the typical chick-lit I used to read that causes us to believe every crappy situation will end in a fairy tale if you stick with it, I started reading the classics–anything to put me back in the real world. I used to think that life just is what it is, you get what you’re handed and you deal with it, but life really is what you make it.

Something I have learned about myself over the past year is that I am an alpha female, but I learned to be otherwise because I didn’t trust in myself enough to voice my opinion and run my own life. I remember in high school when people used to tell me that I was intimidating and I didn’t understand why, and in college I lost that. My journey to where I was didn’t just start with having a child–I opened the door to the things bd brought in my life when I lost my confidence and self respect in college. In high school, people knew not to attempt casual sex with me, they knew not to ask me to get drunk or high because I didn’t do those things and it was obvious. When I got to college that all changed; I was used to being on top, and I couldn’t quite find myself once I was at the bottom again. Many of the negative things that come into your life are things you allowed or invited in. I let sorority girls laugh at me and call me things like “pathetic” because they saw weakness and that’s what girls do when they are actually insecure themselves.

That brings me to another point–the difference between a girl and a woman. Those that talk about you and are constantly trying to make you feel badly about your life or yourself are not women. I remember so many girls at school and where I live used to comment on me and my situation all the time when they had no idea what went on in reality (most of them are now single moms as well), a girl sees a guy with a cute baby posting statuses and tweeting and automatically assumes he’s being honest when he says he’s “not allowed” to see his child. A woman knows that a true man doesn’t ever let his child go without no matter how he feels about the mother of his child. There were girls that heard the things bd said to me about our son, about how he didn’t have to help and wasn’t going to, about how he was too busy to see him, and they didn’t care. But flash forward to this year when bd’s girlfriend was posting on her ig calling my son her boy and all that and so many people came to me and apologized for the way they acted. So many women recognized the way they would feel if someone did that to them, and men recognized the way they would feel if someone did that to their mother and actually came to me and said they were praying for us. Women don’t put other women down–they uplift them.

Instead of just trying to find friends, I cut off anyone that still respected bd after all that, I cut off people that don’t act like adults, I cut off people that make me feel like I can’t be who I am. Those that are intimidated and want to bring you down to their level? There is absolutely no place for them in a happy life. So what’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from procreating with a jerk? You can not change someone that doesn’t want to change. No matter how much you love them or show them you appreciate them, they will always be a jerk until they see it in themselves and decide to change it. In most cases, the jerk/deadbeat you had a child with already was one before you had a child with them. Now I am more selective and careful about who I entertain, whether it’s a friend or a love interest, because there is no room for any more jerks in my bubble.

xoxo, SSM

The parent trophy

Everyone knows how annoyed I get with the way my sons dad handles parenthood, but in reality it’s society making him think he has the right to praise and worship for just doing the bare minimum.

Sometimes as a mother I just need to be told I’m doing a good job. Not for glory, but to know someone appreciates it. But genuinely my mother and I do everything for my son and his dad gleefully takes all the glory–“you’re doing a great job raising him” “so proud to see what you do for your family” but the thing they forget is this: girlfriend or not I am THE family. At the end of the day it will always be the three of us linked. Only I know what he actually does for his “family”. And I sacrifice, and I cry and struggle and worry whether or not my son is breathing at night. I taught him to say please and thank you, I stay up and cry with him when he’s sick, I pray with him and for him every day, and I do fucking not ever ask for sympathy or back pats for doing so because that is my job. Its what you’re SUPPOSED to do for your child, not a favor to humanity or all the men in the world that need to “see your example”. That’s bullshit.

There are also mothers in the world that don’t care about their kids. Deadbeat mothers are real too. But usually the mark of someone not doing much is bragging about all the things they do. I can not and do not know any parent that actually takes parenting seriously that can sit and list out all the shit they do for their child. It’s impossible. So why on earth do we take so much time patting people on the back for what they should do. That’s like giving out awards for people breathing. “You’re doing a great job breathing, Timmy congrats on your accomplishment.”

I mean come on. Parenting isn’t a competition or a challenge that should merit a trophy every time you do something for the “greater good” of your child. If you post it and glow with excitement when people give you stickers for being outstanding at doing the same shit people have been doing for centuries, you’re doing it for glorification. I can not remember the last time someone snapped a “candid” photo of me walking beside my son or watching tv with my son. Then magically it shows up in my phone for Instagram? Um no.

The technology age is so ignorant, in my opinion. Look at all the people (mothers, even) on twitter trying to one up each other to be the best mom. Since when did the actual measure of a persons worth come from people you barely know on the internet? What does it say about people that genuinely garner self worth from how many likes they get on a “candid” photograph of them and their child? My point here is that you can’t tell if someone is a good parent based on the pictures and statuses they post or the things they say to you. My sons dad posts about missing my son almost every day on Instagram and twitter where he can get likes and retweets but he never asked about him during the polar vortex. Never calls him and never shows an interest in him that he can’t chronicle online. If people didn’t like it, or if they didn’t enjoy the show he puts on online, I can bet my whole life savings and anything I will ever make that he wouldn’t do it.

That’s not parenting. And it’s honestly why I stopped putting things about my son and my relationship with him on my twitter. I don’t need the approval of a bunch of people I don’t know to feel like a good mother, but you can bet your ass no one that knows me has ever called me a bad one. The moments I have with my son that some like to use as photo ops are private to me. I don’t want to exploit his love for me or mine for him. And honestly, I don’t believe anyone else should either. Kids aren’t accessories to brag on when you have them out or to tout how much you spend on them, they’re humans. That will probably turn out to be an asshole if you’re not careful. People steal children. There are seriously sick people in the world trolling the internet for photos of children naked or vulnerable. People that can come up to your child that still doesn’t know better and call them by name so your child thinks they know him/her. It’s not all sunshine and roses and to me, it’s not worth having to use the internet to beg a kidnapper to release my child or to have those pictures in my phone or on Facebook or on Instagram be all I have left.

The approval of the public should never actually come before the well-being of your child. It should never be more important to look like a better parent than to actually be a good parent. It may make me seem weird, and it may make my son weird, but I refuse to raise him to need other peoples opinion to validate his self worth. Let your baby be a baby, and stop trying to make them Instagram famous.

SSM