Softball and Switchblades

Softball and Switchblades

I’ve had to say goodbye to a hefty number of family members in my life, but bidding farewell to my auntie (pronounced aint-tee) Rita Kaye Robinson Purvis has been almost surreal to me. I can’t really believe she’s gone. If I ever believed anyone was invincible, it was her. I still haven’t really fully accepted that she didn’t tase the heck out of cancer. She stood 4’11”, but she was one of the feistiest people I’ve ever known. She was fun to be around, but she didn’t take no mess either. She was the only girl smack dab in the middle of a bunch of boys (like me! I’m the only girl and middle child too 🙂 #youcare), and she was tough yet nurturing. She was one of those people you definitely wanted on your team. She was fiercely protective of anyone she loved.

I love these pics. Her smile tells you most of what you need to know about her.
I love these pics. Her smile tells you most of what you need to know about her.

As I was reading her obituary, I realized that even though I’ve always known she was a single mother, I never labeled her that. One line in her obituary caught my attention more than anything else: “She was proud to be a single mom to her four children.” I began to wonder why I’m so ashamed of my status when I’ve admired her all of my life. I still don’t have an answer. It never even crossed my mind that it was anything but natural for her to be my cousins’ solo parent and protector. As a matter of fact, as I’ve been navigating my way through this single motherhood thing, I didn’t even think about Rita as a role model of single motherhood. Isn’t that crazy? She’s definitely been a role model for motherhood–as are my mom, my cousins, and others. But when I think of single mothers, she just didn’t come to mind even though she’s never not been in my life–so how could I overlook that? Of course I was a child so I wasn’t privy to some things, but she never seemed upset about her “plight” or resentful or any of that. It’s kind of been a lightbulb never-ending moment since I read that line. I’ve been thinking about this almost nonstop. I think the biggest way I can honor my aunt now is to figure out how to start being completely proud of my journey as a mother. And maybe, as well, to be willing to share with my village, which includes her children, when I’m feeling overwhelmed the way she and my mom shared with each other. It’s really hard for me to show my hand and let people know when I’m feeling really down, but I know I need to start, as they reminded me this weekend. (I’m listening Shun and Chelle, I promise!)

When I think of Rita, I will always remember her coming down from the scorekeeper’s box to give me a hug when I arrived at the softball field to watch a game. As I noted in my blog post about my granddaddy, baseball and softball are a family tradition, and of course, she played, and when she stopped playing you could still find her at a game. Keeping score, socializing, making everyone around her feel special, and talking much smack.

Still at the ballpark
Still at the ballpark

And yes, that second part of this blog title is how I will remember her as well. My aunt never left home without a boxcutter, switchblade, taser, SOMEthing. She gave me my first taser after I started living by myself. And when my neighbor was effing with me, I’m sure Rita wished she were in Atlanta to stick up for me. I hope I made her proud when I decided to start walking my dog with my softball bat in my hand. That definitely solved my problem! I didn’t hear another threat once I showed I wasn’t taking any mess off of him! I can thank Rita Kaye for her feistiness when it came to protecting myself. She would say “I don’t care how much bigger they are, how much stronger they are, I got something for em.” And she always had a way of making you feel so much better and more optimistic about a situation after she finished with her pep talk and but-I’m serious-though jokes.

I will absolutely miss my aunt. I’m happy she’s no longer in pain. I know her mom and children and grandchildren and brothers and nieces and nephews will carry her in our hearts forever more. Rest in love and power and happiness, my firecracker aunt.

Lessons for a New Mother

Lessons for a New Mother

I had a Mother’s Day Weekend, complete with getting dolled up and going out on the town with my friends Friday night. Saturday, I didn’t go to the movies like I intended to, but I did get to go to a luncheon for my chapter’s mentoring program and was so pleased with how it turned out and got to take some leftovers home so I didn’t have to cook. 🙂 And I always get giddy when petit fours are involved. Lol! Yesterday was a great, relaxing day, and I truly needed it. As busy as a beaver as I can get, it’s nice to just lie around all day (and only get up for a massage and facial and to eat!). While I was lying around, I thought a lot about my first year of motherhood, which will be complete in just a month. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life. I appreciate my mom 1,000 times more than I ever have because now I understand first hand the magnanimity of her love for her children. And I’ve finally shed the majority of the shame I’ve felt for being a single mother. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve gained.

  1. As long as I am taking good care of Frederick, I will be taken care of. Help has come from unlikely places since I’ve become Frederick’s mom. I have not suffered. When various situations come up, I’ve had help from family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. I ended up having to go to the ER a couple of weeks ago, and a stranger saw me pulled over on the side of the road and called my neighbor for me. THEN she actually rode with my neighbor back to the house and brought her back so that she could drive my car. And my neighbor stayed with me until late because she cared. They say God takes care of babies and fools, but I’d like to add to that devoted mothers. My mom used to tell me often while I was preggo and uber depressed and worried that as long as I took “good care of that baby, God will take care of you.” And she was so right. Help may not come the way I expect it, but it will come.
  2. I can’t compare myself with others. Every once in awhile, I feel the urge to compare what someone is doing for me compared to what they’re doing for someone else. Or compare someone else’s parenting style with mine. Or compare Frederick’s milestones with someone else’s. And the list goes on and on. It seems there’s always an opportunity to find a reason to feel slighted or inferior or less fortunate or even superior and more blessed, but it’s unnecessary and inaccurate. What people do for us is voluntary so there’s no bar that I can use to be grateful–whatever they’ve done is more than what I had. Whatever someone else chooses in their parenting styles works for them and their households and I choose what works for mine. And Frederick is just a super baby, so no need to compare his little exceptional self to anyone else. 🙂
  3. Opinions are like assholes–everyone has one, and I don’t have to listen to them all. This has been a toughie. I never knew how much I actually cared about what others think until my pregnancy and after I had Frederick. Now this is different from your average experienced mother sharing some tips. I welcome those and file the ones that don’t apply away till later when they might. People love to tell me what they think about the various things I do for Frederick–from breastfeeding to how many layers of clothes he had on in the transitional months to my choice of making my own baby food for the first few months and now, only organic products when I don’t make it myself to whatever else is the topic. What I’ve realized is–with the exception of just a couple of people, not only do I not have to hold on to their opinion, I don’t have to defend my choices either. When we go home at night, no one is making sure we are secure. When Frederick cries, besides his daycare provider, I’m the one who makes it better. I am the parent, period. So I listen to what they’re saying and if I don’t agree, then so what? I don’t have to let them offend me or try to convince them to co-sign me. For what? After I finally realized that “grown woman status” covers this area of my life as well, things got a little easier. It actually reminds me of a time in the 6th grade that some kid tried to make fun of me for not wearing a certain kind of jeans or tennis shoes. I didn’t find it necessary to tell him that at the time the only tennis shoe that would fit me was Keds because they were available in narrow sizes and that I walked out of all the others I tried on because I wore a 4A back then. And I didn’t need to tell him that my mom didn’t see the point in purchasing jeans that cost more than $15 back then. What I did say, though, was that until he started buying my clothes and shoes, it really didn’t matter what he thought about them. If I was smart enough to get that in the 6th grade, why did it take me a minute to grasp the concept as a 31 year old grown woman with a child? I dunno, but I’ve come to my senses. 🙂
  4. I’m in control of my own happiness. I can choose where to focus my focus.  Sure, I could easily spend my time thinking about what the ideal situation looks like and how that’s not my reality. I did that for nearly 9 months. I beat myself up for spending my life trying to be stellar then becoming an unwed mother at 30. I punished myself for taking a chance on love despite a not-so-great track record. I battered myself for allowing myself, who has always been seen by others and by my own self as strong and above the fray, to be emotionally abused. And then with help from my mother, my pastor, and my therapist, my maternal instincts kicked in and made me snap out of it. I couldn’t be good for Frederick as long as I was waist-deep (maybe neck-deep!) in self-denigration. The world can beat you down, but I don’t think anyone can kick you while you’re down like you yourself can. When I stopped beating myself up and started choosing to focus on my blessings instead of my challenges, the sun came out again. When I started allowing myself to see the silver linings to the blackest clouds in my sky, I started becoming way more productive and hopeful and ready to accept more positivity in my life. When I stopped constantly wishing people understood my plight, my plight became a lighter load. And heck, when I started realizing that certain people are just too selfish to care about anyone but themselves, I stopped wasting my energy on them. I realized that I don’t have to answer every text message, email, or phone call. If you send me something negative, I don’t have to answer–it’s my choice to ignore it and keep it moving. For as many people have something negative to say, there are at least two who have something encouraging to say. And that’s who I choose to listen to now. It doesn’t matter who didn’t wish me a happy Mother’s Day–I was beyond ecstatic over the cards, Edible Arrangement, breakfast (and my coffee was sweet!), gifts, and super sweet text messages that I did receive. I’ve learned to fill as much space as possible focusing on the goodness in my life.

Life is a journey, and I still have a long way to go before I’m where I want to be spiritually and emotionally, but I thank God and all the heavens that I’m not where I was a year ago. Being a mother is the toughest job I’ve ever had, but it is by far the most rewarding. I never knew I could love someone as much as I love my son. I’ve always considered myself a loyal, protective, giving person, but nothing I’ve ever done for anyone compares to what I have done and will continue to do for my little one. And as much as I give to him, I receive back. I say at least once a week that Frederick has made me Wonder Woman. I get amazed every time I learn something new about my post-baby self–physical, emotional, etc. About a month ago, I went rock climbing for the first time and was able to climb 5 courses–I used to not be able to pick up my little TV/VCR combo without feeling super strained. Now I’m Spiderman Jr. And it wasn’t a fluke–last week, I went to hot yoga for the first time since I learned I was preggo.  Halfway through the second class, the instructor told us “we are about to practice handstands” and I looked at him like he had lost his mickeyfickey mind. Then he explained that it’s a process with steps and once you find which step makes you strain, you stop and that’s what you work on. So, okay cool–nowadays I’m willing to try. I got about halfway through the steps before I had to stop. Meaning I was able to prop my feet on the wall and extend my legs. I was very very surprised and proud of myself. The fact that I can put so much of my body weight onto my arms is fascinating to me. (But I guess that’s what happens when you constantly tote around a healthy, solid baby!) It also surprises me how easily I can let go of the small stuff now. I used to be a stickler for making things be how I think they should be, and now, it really has to be major to get a rise out of me. I like that about myself. Having Frederick has taught me the importance of reserving my energy for what is really important to me instead of wasting it on non-factors. Don’t get me wrong–I can still get crunk from time to time, but I’m definitely not fighting every little battle there ever was anymore.

So that’s that. I hope every mother had a wonderful, relaxing, loving Mother’s Day yesterday! We deserve it!

My Booski and He Mommy

Something to Get Off My Unhairy Chest

Something to Get Off My Unhairy Chest

So I know I’ve been ghost (being a single mother is consuming!) and I know I usually try to only publish positive posts, but I’ve got to share this:

What Is the Definition of Manhood?
What Is the Definition of Manhood?

I already think about this regularly since every now and then, I hear comments or see slick pictures about single mothers being their own reason for their plight. Let’s be clear. Yes, I made a mistake: thinking that the guy I cared for would care for me. But it’s not a woman’s fault if he makes a conscious decision to be a suck ass father, especially if she’s tried to bridge the co-parenting gap. People can say or think what they want about me being a single mom, but I’m slowly but surely learning that the only person I can control is Ranada. And my job is to make sure my son knows he is loved, secure, and taken care of. I sacrifice daily and nightly for him, and if people can’t understand that raising a child alone is not a cup of tea, so the freak what? The only people that matter are the people who care about and love me and my little family and support me, not try to tear me down. Ok, now moving on.  In the words of Beyonce, any questions?

This really hit home this week because the asswipe across the street has threatened me twice in a week. A grown ass “man” who doesn’t even know me bringing his ass outside to scream and curse at a single woman with a 20 lb dog. Am I supposed to respect this person who  is beating on his chest in front of someone who clearly couldn’t take him physically if I had to? But no worries, I’ve reported him to my HOA and I plan on filing a police report later today. It makes no sense that I can’t walk my damn dog without worrying if this lunatic is going to come outside acting crazy. After the first threat, I really was just pissed off. But after the second, I’m kind of alarmed because of stories like this. People are crazy!!!!! And with this guy, I feel like if you really think it’s okay to harass a single woman just because you think she doesn’t have anyone to back her up, YOU SUCK. And you’re not a man. You’re a punk ass bully.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, back to the regularly scheduled positive program. If you’re missing me, please like my Facebook page or follow my Twitter page–I post on there often. Just remember, the black community will NEVER be strong if men don’t cherish and respect women and vice versa. Women weren’t put here to be doormats–we were put here to complement our men and help build our communities up. So if all else fails, use the golden rule. Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. Happy Thursday!

BTW – the Hindu question in the picture means “Do you have any idea whose son I am?” (disclaimer: according to the internet!)