Brown Sugar’s Mom Lesson #317

As a single mom, I try to be sure I spend alone time with each of my children. I always want them to feel special with and without their sibling present.

So this past weekend, I took my son to breakfast. Just the kid and me. We played Rock, Paper, Scissors. We played Heads Up. We sang songs. We danced to the soothing warmth of our hot chocolate (mine may have had a tinge of Kahlua) caressing our throats on that snowy day.

I noticed a male friend (let’s call him Daniel) had come in and the second my son saw him, he immediately invited Daniel to eat with us. No harm, no foul, right? We ate, laughed, and played games.

As sudden as the ice storm of 1997 covered the Mid-South, my son blurted out to Daniel, “I wish you were my dad.” It was so innocent. I was so embarrassed. If this #melaninmagic had been a few shades lighter everyone would have noticed that my face had grown hot. Although Daniel thought it was funny, I was mortified! After we left the restaurant I took a moment to calm down so I could talk with my son rather than fuss at him.

So I asked probing questions. I asked him why he said what he said to Daniel when he has a dad. My son sat in the back seat of my car starring at me fearfully through the rearview mirror.

Me: “When your dad asked you if you were coming over this weekend, you told him no. Why didn’t you want to go?” My son replied, “Because the only thing I do over there is play the game and watch TV.”

I knew that, but I thought that was just the way those two bonded… #NOT

Me: “Well baby you have a daddy, so why did you tell Daniel that?”

My son replied, “Well Daniel talked to me. Daddy doesn’t. When I try to talk to him, he’s either playing his game, on the phone, or on Facebook.”

So I asked him if he had ever told his dad that (because this kid is pretty outspoken), and he replied no. Then asked if I could tell him. #ThinkingFace

So then I asked why he was always so angry, and he didn’t reply. So I said, “Well baby you’ve gotta tell mommy something because you’re always angry with your friends and your sister. What’s going on?”

That beautiful little brown boy dropped his head and burst into tears. I could feel my heart breaking… no shattering, by the second.

He eventually choked out, “I just don’t feel respected. Daddy never talks to me, my sisters only want to talk to each other, and they’re mean to me whenever I try to come in and talk to them, no one listens to me! I know you’ll listen mommy, but I just want my daddy to listen to me too!”

Now this blog is not meant to bash my ex. I would hope that he talks to our son, but I’ve known him since we were 12, so it’s highly unlikely, but I am aware that he’s not much of a talker. My son, in a sense had given up on his own father being able to openly communicate with him, and decided to try to latch onto another male who provided him with what he so desperately longed for……. #scary

With tears brimming my eyes, I swerved into a Target parking lot, and reached back for my son. I told him to come sit with me, and I let him cry it out. I hugged him. I listened. I had no words. All I could do was what most mothers would do. I silently prayed over my son. Just as soon as the silent Amen floated from my lips to God’s ears, my son perked up. We hopped out of the car and somehow got sucked into the black hole that is Target.

When I was there, he wanted to hop his heavy 88 lbs self on the front of the basket and talk to me about how Power Rangers was a thing again, and how bacon couldn’t be real food, and how cool boys wear blue jean shirt, and how science was really cool, and how he wasn’t sure if he could still go to Christian Brothers University because he didn’t know anyone who was drafted from CBU. I realized that maneuvering the basket with him on it was much harder than it used to be, which meant he was bigger than the last time we did this, so I decided to get him more socks, t-shirts, and underwear (this will play a part in this story momentarily). He enjoyed that moment so much!

My mom would always tell my sister and me, “don’t have kids, cause once you have ’em, they’re yours.” So, I’ve embraced the fact that I’m a single parent. It’s March, and my ex hadn’t given me any money to support the kids since January. I don’t call. I don’t ask. I leave him be. I had an event yesterday, and asked my ex to keep the kids. I could’ve gotten a sitter, but considering he hadn’t seen them in two weeks, I figured #YOLO, right? He agreed, and came to pick them up. I stood in the door and watched them get to the car safely.

My son comes running back up to the door with a slip of paper. I got the paper along with a quick peck on the cheek, and my son was off. I looked at the money order my son I given me from my ex that was dated 2/10/17 (well over a month ago) in the amount of $19. I promise you, if his name and mine weren’t on it, I would attach a photo of it to this blog.

All I could do in that moment was laugh. He doesn’t see them. He rarely calls them. He actually spent money to give me a $19 money order that he’d held for over a month that couldn’t even cover the amount I spent on socks, underwear, and t-shirts (told you it was coming back up)! He got $30K from his mother’s life insurance policy, and I received a whopping $19 to take care of the kids? Turn up! Bottles for everybody! Shots on me! Ok… My bad ya’ll. I may have gone a little overboard with the sarcasm. 🙂

What I did realize was this: for the first time, in awhile, I wasn’t angry by his actions. I’ve been blessed enough to care for my children without his support. By no means has it been easy. I’m grateful for my best friend, family, and others who have helped along the way for being my village. Mom lesson #317 brought an increase in growth and a decrease in pettiness!

Brown Sugar’s Sandstorm

“Like sand in the hour glass, these are the days of our lives….”

Each fallen granule is evidence of yet another non renewable experience that has shaped who we are.

Some particles, more than others, dedicate more time, effort, and mass to certain seasons in our lives.

See there’s the finer sand like friends, our interests, our free will.

Then there’s the more course type like politics, religion, love.

That final coarse granule (love) doesn’t seem to slip through the womb of the hour glass as easily as the others though does it?

It’s forced like a predator aggressively raping a victim.

It bites like your very first shot of cheap liquor.

It burns like the hot scorching oil that leapt out of the skillet and scalded your skin the first time you fried chicken on your own.

That love granule is a course one. Course enough to cut you.

It’s the kind your mother told you not to get in your hair when you played in the sand box.

It’s the kind you carry with you days after leaving the beach.

It hurts and it lasts.

“Like sand in the hour glass, these are the days of our lives….”

My first love sandstorm started so quietly that I didn’t see it coming, you know how these storms are.

Then it picked up speed that was so forceful, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t think.

I could only feel.

Fear and pain.

I left that sandstorm in high school only to willingly walk into another similar sandstorm in college.

This one was more intense because it followed a thunderstorm.

This wind velocity was increased.

I struggled to breathe in this storm, but there’s a Chinese proverb that says mothers are stronger than any other woman.

I had to survive that storm. There was someone else depending on me to survive.

Or so I thought.

Years later, I went back to where my first sandstorm happened.

I revisited that season.

For some reason I couldn’t remember the pain it caused.

So I stayed.

A sandstorm couldn’t hit in the same place twice right?

Or was that lightening?

This love granule was so coarse that it cut every inch of me.

I stood there bleeding and wounded and exposed

And at the worst possible moment, without warning, the worst sandstorm of the century ensued

It engulfed me and left me for dead

I lied there coughing up blood from the brutal attack of this storm

When the next two granules that slipped through the hour glass and landed next to me were my children…

The two sweetest, finest, most unique granules sat atop the mound of my mistakes, successes, wins, and losses starring me in the face

Needing me. Depending on me. Shaping their own life experiences after me.

So, I picked myself up.

I nursed my wounds

I healed

I prevailed

“Like sand in the hour glass, these are the days of our lives….”

That sand granule is unavoidable.

This last love sandstorm came dressed in a nice beard. An extensive vocabulary. A charming exterior.

This sandstorm slithered like the snake it was into my space

It graciously took down the quartz walls I had built around my heart

What felt like the smooth colorful glass that protected me and kept each granule contained in a beautifully shaped piece of art.

This sandstorm convinced me that this art was in fact a cage.

This last granule came in and annihilated me once and for all from the inside out.

When I regained consciousness

I was left lying there

Unable to move

Gasping for life

Lying on my back looking up at the swirling vortex of my life’s experiences

Grasping at the memories that brought joy

Grasping at the memories that brought pain

Grasping at all that makes me… me

“Like sand in the hour glass, these are the days of our lives….”

Brown Sugar’s Journey – Finding Answers in my Son.

I am celebrating my eleventh year in education! Honestly, I didn’t realize that I’ve been in this profession as long as I have until I calculated it for this particular blog. For six years, I taught all male students. As my curiosity grew about how to best teach boys, I fervently chased after learning more about gender strategies. The more I taught boys, and the less I taught girls, I was completely sold on brain-based learning. Because boys and girls are wired differently, the delivery has to be tailored in order for each gender to be taught effectively.

As an educator, I’ve had one constant question that has nagged me about adolescent boys. What happens, whether physiologically, physically, emotionally, or mentally, that causes a male African American teen (around the ages of 12-14) to become so angry and rebellious? So many of the Black boys I taught were indeed products of an impoverished single parent home, but that couldn’t be the cause, because I had seen other teen boys on TV with different backgrounds, but the same issue. Well, fortunately for me, a conversation with my own son gave me a peek into the answer I so desperately sought after for so long.

My son is the product of a single parent home, and he’s being raised by a single Black mother. He’s angry. All. The. Time. I know some of this is the result of the divorce. Although my ex-husband was rarely ever home because of his work schedule, or exercise schedule, or “extracurricular” schedule, the fact remains that he knew his dad lived there. Now, he doesn’t. So, he’s angry. Yesterday, my son yelled at his sister about something that was actually his fault. I responded to him with, “what did I tell you about yelling at my daughter?”

With pleading eyes, that looked like they would have been accompanied with a hand caught in the cookie jar, my son responded, “You told me not to.”

“Have you ever heard a man yell at mommy?”

“No. Well yes. Daddy does all the time.”

Because I didn’t anticipate that response (it caught me off guard), it literally took my breath away. But I was in the midst of teaching a lesson here, so I had to keep it rolling.

“Well, how does that make you feel?”

My son balled up his fist (like the Arthur meme), and his eyebrows furrowed in deep thought, then he spat, “It makes me want to punch him for being a jerk to you.”

In that split second. I got it. My son is angry at the person responsible for teaching him how to become a man. My son is angry at the one person who has shaken up his security. My son is angry that his dad is no longer in the home. He’s angry, and I can’t help him.

I listened to my son that day. He poured his heart out about what makes him angry: Why is daddy bringing his new girlfriend around whenever it’s MY time with him? Why can’t you and daddy just forgive each other so we could be a family again? That’s what you tell us (referring to his sister and him) to do. So, I was honest with him. PG, but honest. I never want my words to lose their credibility because I chose to hold back the truth. So, when he asks questions, I answer as clearly and as honestly as possible. Even though all of the answers he has right now are biased because he only gets my side of the story, he deserves the very best I can possibly give him as a mom.

Our sons are angry ya’ll, and we aren’t noticing it until it’s nearly too late. We notice when drugs, gangs, failing grades, and decisions that are so often labeled as typical boy behavior are awry in our son’s lives. I need my prayers to cover him so that when what he believes and what he sees doesn’t align, he’s capable of making wise decisions. I need my son to know that nothing he does or ever will do can stop me from loving him. I need him to find comfort in God’s timing and reasoning. The conversation I had with him let me know that he needs his mom to go to war for his heart, his emotions, his peace of mind, his future as a father, husband, and citizen, his healing. He’s my son, and he’s worth it.

I wish I could have these conversations with his father. If even for just five minutes he could step out of his self-absorbed bubble to think about someone other than himself, then he could hear the cries of his son reaching out for him. Or maybe he hears them, but the cry for a father’s love is so familiar that he runs because his cries were never answered. If I could give him one message to help him see the damage he’s causing his son, it would be, “Pay attention to the seeds you’re sowing. You still hate your father for abusing your mother, for never being there with you, for never telling you that you had so many siblings (that you’re still meeting) and for being a rolling stone. Don’t ask for mercy you won’t give.

Brown Sugar’s Verbal Clarity

James 1:23-25 (New International Version)

23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

We all know a person who talks a good game, but doesn’t carry the weight of the actions along with it. I have a close friend, we’ll call him Braxton, who is insulted by a comment his mother made. She actually told him that his twin sons would amount to nothing because of the lack of parental involvement both he and his children’s mother play in the kids lives. Ouch!
We all know oh too well how opinionated our parents can be… Especially when no one wants their opinions in the first place. Now I’m the type of person that jumps to react when someone says I “can’t” do something. I do not understand how he could hear his mother say something so demeaning, yet do nothing to improve his interactions with his twin boys. The interactions are distant, vacant, and pretty much none existent. His paternal extinct tells him that being in the same room with the boys is fathering. How/when does a man, not only become a man, but also learn how to father his children???

Brown Sugar’s Inquiry

Suspicious or unduly suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival;
Lacking self-confidence or assurance
These two definitions describe a common characteristic of a certain person I know. The question is how do I possibly maintain a calm mind while tolerating someone of this caliber? These features, in my opinion, make people stagnant & unpleasant. “If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t dare change to be someone you’re not.”