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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The Hardest Chapter

The sky scraping mountains

that you turned into sand

No longer chains

Holding you back

 

These details that made you

A page turning success

The reason you view life

As if you were blessed

 

Because of the worse

You’ve been through is gone

No longer overcoming

Finally you belong

 

Yet the haunting story

Of this chapter did end

It has yet to see the light

So that you may fully mend

 

How do you expose

The truth you held close

That through the resilience

You have yet to be whole

 

You aged at a pace

Leaving behind all your friends

Grown woman decisions

Before schools end

 

This open book that you know

Ripped out pages from the past

But in order to move on

You must glue them back

 

A full circle story

For the world to understand

That the one god gave her

Was less than a man

 

This is my true story

With the last chapter in tow

Through clenched eyes and tears

Will be finally told

 

By: Me (Johanna Arroyo 6/5/2015)

I went on a date with my son

So I’ve been single all my life. Never married, not once made a Mrs. but I was in a relationship for so long I felt married. For the past five years I’ve been single (in every sense of the word) and dating occasionally.

I am very careful about who I date because I am a two pack deal. I have a 12 year old son who deserves the respect of the person I choose to date equally as much as he deserves the respect of my son. I’m not looking for anyone to do any raising but I take my career as a mother seriously and because of that my son has yet to meet any potential suitors. There was that one time things came close but the proximity of monogamy scared the day lights out of that one.

Every now and again my son brings up dating. His father has been dating for some time now and has three other children. I guess my son thinks it’s my turn now because more often than not he asks when I am going to go on a date.

I don’t know if it is fear or if I just don’t know how to give dating a serious chance but something keeps me from going all single twenty something date crazy (I’m hanging on to these last few months in my twenties).

I was typing away one evening on my laptop; a night much like tonight, and my son Jonathan asks, “mom, aren’t you lonely?” At the moment I wasn’t because I was in my magical writing world but in all truth and reality, yes sometimes I am lonely but I didn’t have the heart to be completely honest and I said, “no, I have you.” “Well mom, that’s not enough. You need somebody, when I’m with my dad you’re alone, I don’t want you to be alone. I think you should go on more dates.”

My sweet boy hasn’t learned the true value of quality over quantity but I guess he is right. Momma should go on more dates.

A couple of weeks later I picked my son up from school and headed home to get ready for a date. I don’t usually tell my son when I’m going on a date. I usually find a sitter or find time when he’s with his dad. This time I decided to tell my son, almost as if I needed to show him, “look kiddo mom isn’t going to die alone, I can book a date!” He was shocked because he hadn’t even heard of the mentioning of any guys. I guess he was expecting me to act like the other middle school girls who went to school with him. My days of gushing over the guy-tails are at a minimum. After the initial shock, I sent him to get ready as I got dressed.

I sat on the toilet applying my makeup and curling the last loose strands of hairs that hugged my face. I was almost ready. I could see a curious hazel eyed boy in my peripherals. He suddenly wasn’t trying to make a love connection. He looked like he wanted to be happy for me but he couldn’t help but be jealous. I called him over and asked what was up. He then started to ask a million questions. What’s he like? Does he like sports? What is his name? Where did you meet?

I didn’t spare him any details, “he’s really cute, oh my god he is so funny, he used to play soccer, oh and he loves watching wrestling.” Jonathan held his hands in his pockets and nodded and said, “he sounds nice,” then walked away. I found his disinterest both charming and funny.

I was finally ready to go, so I called my son, grabbed my bag and met him downstairs. When my son met me down stairs he smiled and said, “wow mommy, you look like a princess!” I smiled and kissed him on his forehead, like I always do, and we walked out the door.

In the car ride Jonathan and I laughed and talked about his day in school. His giggles have a way of melting my heart. We both lost track of time driving but we arrived at our first stop. I pulled in to the first parking spot I could find.

Jon suddenly looked up and realize we weren’t at my brother or sisters house. We were in front of Jonathan’s favorite restaurant. Soon after Jon asked, “mom what about your date?” I replied, “like I said, he’s really cute, oh my god he is so funny, he used to play soccer, oh and he loves watching wrestling. He is you!”

The look on his face was priceless.

I know he doesn’t want me to be lonely but there is no better feeling in the world then to sit across from your child as they look at you in complete awe. That night I was a princess in my sons eyes. He also felt like the most important person in the world. Sometimes while I’m busy working and trying to take care of him in other ways I fail to remind him. I know that night will be among many moments he and I will never forget.

Someday, To some lucky guy I may be the most beautiful woman in the world but for the time being, I love being just Jonathan’s mom.

Truth is

When your dream is to write, how do you get around to writing about things that aren’t related to writing? Sometimes I feel like I am not writing enough and lately my frustration and emotions have gotten the best of me.

Blogging has always been one of my favorite things to do and the amount of time I dedicate to it has dwindled down to nothing. I don’t write to be heard, I write to feel through every emotion, thought and frustration that lingers in my body. I no longer can tolerate keeping things in. Writing is a release and for some time now I have been confined to myself. I find that my writing and my life goes best when I am the most honest.

There is a common misconception about honesty, and that is that it has to hurt. I disagree, I believe the dishonesty packs a harder and more painful punch than the truth. . .with that being said, here goes.

2013 wasn’t a bad year, it just wasn’t the year I really set out for myself. For the first time in a long time I allowed myself to be lazy. However, lazy isn’t something I do well. I didn’t invest as much time in my health as I could. . .all because I invested my time in less than ideal things. I fed into people and their negativity. I found reasons to be lazy, I found reasons to be negative, I made exceptions and I met excuses with acceptance and dressed them up as reasons.

2014 is a huge year for me. I will be 30, which in all honesty is just a few candles on a cake, the aging doesn’t mean much to me. The milestone that will accompany my birthday month is what makes it all worth it. This is the year I become a first generation college graduate and it is an incredible and overwhelming feeling. 2013 was a stepping stone toward progress in this goal but the completion of it is going to feel like such a sweet victory for just and average “Jo,” from Tampa Florida.

Going to school and taking care of my son has never been more important to me. Every day that goes by I realize that my son grows an inch taller and years further away from the little boy born 12 years ago. I look at him and it amazes me how incredible he is. When I look at my son at times I wonder, “Did I do that?” We are by nature our own worse critics and even when things are marvelous the negatives burden us with the magnitude of their weight. Why is happiness so dense and sadness like the weight of the world? When things do not go as well as I would like, I question how well I have truly done.

A couple of months ago I faced some challenges. I allowed my personal life to affect my parenting all because I wanted to save face. I didn’t listen to my son and things turned out sour. That experience is behind us and even though I feel as though I lost a nice pair of friends, I believe it was ultimately for the best. I learned from that experience and I realized that I have to advocate more for my son. He does not have to toughen up, he does not have to be a man. I know I will not be around forever but while I am, I am going to make sure I am front and center when my son needs me.

In the past year my son has been bullied and treated terribly by not only peers, but by some members of his family. On occasion I have attempted to address the issues but I was met with resistance. I have no intentions of exploring the option of mediating among other parents and children. I cannot change people, but I can do my best to show my son what really matters; his perception of his self. I used to try to talk things through but I realized that sharing your child’s weaknesses sometimes harnesses the opportunities for people to use them to build a case against them. If a child lies once, some people stick to that and run with it. My son comes home sometimes crying because he has been called a faggot by someone who is supposed to be family. When asked if they are my son’s cousins, they reply with an eye roll. My son is noones puppet for popularity. Children lately use more profanity and vulgar language than I ever knew possible at their age. I hear children calling one another bitches and hoes, and faggots. I can’t believe the types of things coming out of their mouths. Children like this are the reason why my son cries on a weekly basis and I will not allow it. Perhaps this is my own vendetta because I didn’t feel heard as a child, but I will not allow my son to go on any further without a voice. Children need to learn that good grades mean nothing when you have a rotten spirit. You have to teach your kids to be good people as well as smart people. My son is my life, and I will no longer allow my life to be messed with.

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?