Father of the teen

I am so grateful for my late night bouts with insomnia. There is this world that has yet to be discovered that only reaches the light of day in the most deepest and darkest of nights. During the day I am a myriad of thoughts and emotions, which are rarely expressed in their totality. We are too busy to reflect and feel so as a result I find myself in darkness facing the ceiling with my back against the mattress sifting through years of thought through dark passages at night. I get paid to work & have to be super mom. . .it is in those moments that I forget the small stuff.
But here I am, sweating the small stuff because I realize in just a moments notice they can all be gone. These small wonderful things that we take for granted are not promised.
I am a mother. . .a single mother by technicality because I have never been wed, however I am also the other half of a parental duo. My life would be so different if I had not met the one other person responsible for me becoming a mother; my son’s father.
I look at my son and he is the age I was when I met his dad and it’s crazy. I wonder if Jonathan has met someone at this young age who will eventually change his life completely? I guess I will not know until I know. 
Father’s Day is here and while I pride myself in being an excellent mother, I wouldn’t be that if not because of the shared responsibility of my son’s father. There have been moments where being an ok mom had to be good enough. There are times when we are so clouded with responsibility that we can’t realize we can do better, and that is where no one has failed me. Jon’s dad is one of those parents that rolls with the punches, he’s taken a couple of south paws from me and I of him. We keep each other on our toes. Somewhere from inception to present day we have devised a friendship that is unbreakable. We are not perfect people, but we are perfectly constructed parents for Jonathan. We are human but most importantly we are friends. Father’s Day is so important to me. Jon’s dad and I did not come from a nuclear family. We had mom, kid(s), and grandpa(ma). The dad in our family portrait was not present and yet I sit in awe because of how we turned out. I admire him for who he is because of his journey and I am forever thankful for his presence in Jonathan’s life. 
I hear horror stories, child support stories, jealousy stories and every other story in between. There is no jealousy. The only child support we require is the emotional support of one another to our son. The horror in the story for me is when people ask the monetary questions and the divisive questions that quite frankly are none of their business. “How much does he give you?” Well to be clear. . .My sons relationship with his father is not dictated by monetary compensation. It is strictly determined by my sons need to be with his incredibly involved and loving father, and vice versa. We share a child, not own him. I realize that our life and arrangements are unrealistic however I wish more people were like us. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, as to suggest that we have it all figured out, however the proof is in our son’s eyes.
My son does not see his parents fight and rip each other to shreds. Instead when in the same room he sees his parents joke and get along. He sees us sitting side by side in conference night agreeing on how we should discipline him, teach him and guide him as he turns into the young man we wish he’d be. We do not have to be in a relationship to have a normal friendship or relationship after our couple life collapsed. We collaborate and sincerely wish the best for one another because if as individuals we attain the best then as parents the sky is the limit. Happy parents happy kid. . .it. Is. That. Simple.
If you’ve gotten this far you’re probably wondering why. . .why am I dwelling on this?
Today I had the privilege of helping out in the community. It’s been a little over two years since I left social work and because of that I do not have the opportunity to reflect as much as I used to about the things that go on in the world. There are so many negative things happening lately and they all circle around race and indifference. I’m not blind to realize it but I do refuse to look directly at the sun because it’s going to burn. However today reminded me of how much I have. I wish I could do more, sincerely, but the truth of the matter is that I struggle to make a difference in my own circle. It’s hard to find the time or to spare the money it takes to help others, so I pay with my greatest contribution, which is in raising my son properly and giving society another wonderful human being. 
I wish him to be kind and understanding, to never look down on others and to always see the bright side in everything. I hope that no matter how dark the path may be that he is guided by the light and love his father and I have shed upon him. I want nothing more than for him to reflect in his darkest hours about how life can be bright so long as you continue to shed light on the world. I do not raise him to believe any profession, sexual orientation, gender, or race is any worse than the other but I do raise him to believe he is better than that. . .”that” in which people assume he will become. He is no statistic. He is not a Latino kid from a broken home. He is not this socially deemed underdog with the odds stacked against him. He is a person.
Every day I see the fruits of our labor. This little person who now has a heart of gold and who makes our lives so full. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be this little persons mom but most importantly I am thankful for his dad. Thanks for checking in even when it is not your week, for never disappearing, for always returning calls, for cleaning up messy diapers, for teasing him, for making him smile, for making him laugh, for teaching him how to own up to his mistakes and for showing him how to do the things I can’t. Thank you for having many jobs but making sure this one is your best! Thank you for being his father. 

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For those of us starting over. . .

There is this crippling certainty of what we don’t want. We spent over a decade in a relationship knowing what it’s like being attached to the hip to someone. The very same someone who once knew us better than anyone else and yet never seemed to remember after countless conversations that, “no thank you, I don’t like peanut butter.”

The peanut butter wasn’t that much of a big deal it’s just the little things.

Day after day you found yourself taking the same route home, dropping your keys in the same spot and unwinding in a way that can only be done in a place called home. . .but little by little home dismantled itself and it was no longer your happy place.

So you let go, you live and you claim the type of independence that only comes after years of captivity. This is me now! This is how we spread our wings! We kindly decline any offers from others to assist because we have this innate desire to take care of ourselves. No I’m fine, I can get my own check, nope I am capable. I can, I will and I don’t need you!

I don’t know if it is because we left ourselves as precious cargo in the arms of someone who dropped us countless times. Maybe it is a post traumatic relationship disorder. . .I haven’t a clue.

But. . .I realize that independence can be found in a group, in a pair and even in a solitary walk to the park. Independence is the freedom to choose and be who you want regardless of what others say. Independence is knowing that you can change your own tire but you can choose to allow someone to do it for you because they simply want to help. Help is not weakness, it is not ulterior motives. . .it is what it is. . .it is, “I know you can do this but let me make it easier for you.”

There are men and women out there determined and willing to make another persons life easier and more pleasant but we are always so willing to say, “no thank you.”

We’ve been given such a big dose of reality that we fail to realize the fact that our once now past reality is just that. . .it is in the past. Not everyone is out to take advantage. There are people who offer to hold the door for you and place their hand in the right place and walk side by side with you, not because you’re their trophy but because they can see you. They see a potential equal. These guys don’t look at you like you’re only a woman and one to be desired but more of a worthy companion, someone who elevates them and also someone who is worth standing side by side with because we complete them. We are capable of fulfillment if we allow it but first we have to stop saying no and start accepting the offer to potentially be someone worth taking a walk with. Someone whose silence speaks volumes and whose embrace means the world.

I admit it, I don’t know how to let the reigns go but I want to. I can’t be the only single person who wishes they had a companion to share the laughs with but who also is afraid of giving up another moment to someone who may be just wasting their time.

Happy Father’s Day

I have a paper and two quizzes due by midnight tonight, so I decided to bring myself to Starbucks to focus. If I were at home I would inevitably take a nap that turned into hours. Sure, I would wake up with just enough time to get my work done but it would be less than likely my best.

This plan to focus has backfired on me and here I am sitting in the coffee shop looking at everyone walking in and out the place and I wonder what their story is. I drift off into thought and wonder and assume where their father is. Who is he, why are you here alone? Maybe their father passed away, maybe he was never known or maybe the name father lies within a man that did not father them but merely raised them. Then there are those blessed few who walk in with their dads, dressed in their Sunday best to get a coffee with the man who set the example of manhood for them, or the man who gloriously failed at pigtails. Maybe he was the man who walked hand in hand with you on Halloween in your princess costume because you thought you were a princess all while he new deep down inside you would always be his princess.

Fathers Day has always been one of my least favorite holidays because unlike St. Patrick’s day where green is the only requirement to celebrate, on fathers day, you are required to have a man to celebrate. I can’t pick and choose like Valentines day and unlike Thanksgiving day it is hard to find other things to be thankful for. Today I am reminded that my father left my life by choice but by some stroke of luck I was then granted a guardian angel who was much more than a father. He was my best friend, my confidant and the melody to my day. My grandfather shielded me from any harm that came my way. I loved him with all my heart and he has been gone now for longer than he was in my life and undoubtedly he will always have an impact in my life. My worse was always good enough for him and now that he’s not here my best is all I ever try for him.

So this is my story, for those of you walking in and out of the coffee shop taking a glance at me. Who am I ? Why am I alone? Where is my father? Well here goes. . .The man who fathered me is only 15 minutes away from me. I don’t know him from Adam. He went to jail when I was 4/5 years old and despite having forgiven him for what he did so that I may live peacefully without resentment, I cannot help but still hate the things I do not have because of his absence. I had no other alternative than to look up to my grandfather, who was more than willing to look after the little girl he left behind. I love my grandfather beyond measure and I am grateful that I was raised by him. . .but. . .I wish I had both. I wish to always have love for Spanish guitar because I spent many days on grandpa’s lap as he played. I still wish to love Christmas because it was my last holiday with grandpa but I too wish that my dad had been present during that last holiday rather than living out his last few years in the correctional facility. I wish that now that grandpa is gone, dad could tell me all about grandpa before I was born. I wish to know all the silly things and sad things that made him the most incredible man in the world. I only have 14 years of actions to prove to me who he was but those 14 years do not account for the woman I am.

I look like my father. I act like my father. I am smart like my father. . .but I don’t know my father. I have this birthmark right over my nose. . .just like my father. My eyes close when I smile really big, just like my father. I know this because I have been told by my mother. Those few and far in between moments when mom had nothing bad to say and decided to share little tidbits of who I am because I would otherwise never know.

My curly tangled hair, sun kissed skin and smile are unlike anyone in my home. My mother is a fair skinned beautiful woman who barely smiles, just like my sister. They both hide from the sun and live their lives in the shadow out of fear of being exposed. I throw myself out there while pushing back the crippling fear of being completely exposed and burned. I smile through the pain of never knowing and wondering why I have such the need to know the man who broke my mother and my family into a million shreds. I want to understand who he is because there is a possibility I may understand why I am the way I am.

I sit here and maybe I go unnoticed or maybe people do see me for who I am. I smile politely as they walk in for their coffee and I may be nothing more than a stranger they saw today at Starbucks but I know I am that fatherless daughter wishing he had never screwed up.

Why

When I was a little girl, my father made decisions that would alter my life forever. His choices ultimately left me a fatherless daughter. That was a void that almost no one could fill. I don’t remember it all but I remember minor details prior to his departure. I was a daddy’s girl. I resembled him in spirit and in my appearance. There is no denying I am my fathers daughter if you’d have looked at us but he was up and away before he could leave a lasting impression. At 14 months of age my grandfather Felix became an integral part of my life. As the time went on I became a grandpa’s girl and the semblance of my father in my smile was all that remained of my father.

Over the years I convinced myself that I did not need my father because my grandfather Felix was the only man I felt I needed. Grandpa raised a good girl, a tough girl and helped heal a very broken little girl. I wish I could repay grandpa for everything he has done for me but I know all too well that if he were around he wouldn’t take as much as a moment away from me.

There are so many things that I didn’t learn from my father Jose that I was able to learn from grandpa Felix however there are so many things that shall remain unlearned and undone.

Last week I went to a wedding, it was beautiful and filled me with so much joy. I witnessed two wonderful people joining their lives and I felt honored to be in their presence. Yet, not everything was happy tears. There are those moments when you realize you are not as okay as you’d like to be with the hand you’ve been dealt. I am in the habit of recognizing the positives but once in a while I do think about the things I will never have, by no doing of my own of course. . .those very things stripped of me because of other peoples decisions.

I have always thought of the day I will get married, who will give me away, what my dress will look like, how my hair will be, the list goes on and on. As a little girl I always imagined that my grandfather would give me away, not realizing that he was going to leave me before he’d be given the opportunity. He passed away when I was 13 and after that my idea of a wedding changed a bit. I have some wonderful brothers whom I know would be elated to give me away and I actually look forward to that.

I take everything as it comes and while I made adjustments in my mind about what I picture for my perfect day, there is a moment I over looked. I sat at my friends wedding and soon after being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time, they began to dance as a newly married couple. I stood there with tears in my eyes as they sang to one another. It was incredibly sweet and then the groom passed the bride to his father for the father daughter dance. See, I do not know why her dad wasn’t there but at that moment I realized I wasn’t alone.

I didn’t sign up for a fatherless life but still on my wedding day I will be at a loss; I will not dance with my father and it crushed me that night when I realized it. The whole wedding is supposed to be special and the thought of not having my father dance with me at my wedding (whenever that may be) brought me to more than tears that night.

I cannot control everything that happens but I can try to make sure that history does not repeat itself. I have a responsibility to raised a good man. Everyday I instill morals and values into my son. I teach him to never lie, cheat or steal and to always be a boy of his word, until he grows up and becomes a man of his word. He is kind, he is compassionate and even though I know he cannot be perfect I am doing my best to make sure that he knows how wonderful it feels to be his mother. I do everything I do, all in the hopes that one day no one in his care will have to alter their life because of his deliberate absence.

I know how much it hurt to self sooth, I know what it is like to raise yourself and I feel I am a stronger person for it, but honestly sometimes I wish I had a parent to turn to. After all we are always going to be someone’s child and what child doesn’t need guidance from their parent?