Walk with Me

There are a lot of duties and responsibilities that go along with raising children. As parents or guardians we try to impart our wisdom, morals, values, knowledge, culture, beliefs, political views, financial knowledge etc. It is an extensive list. 

One of the things I’m imparting to my kids is to walk with me. That sounds strange but let me tell you why.

I walk a lot. I walk for exercise. I walk to get vitamin D. I walk to relieve stress. I walk to commune with nature. I walk to get out of the office or house. I walk to contemplate. I walk to pray. Some walks are long. Others are intense. Then there are the times I walk with my children. 

We walk as a group to enjoy family time. Sometimes I walk with them individually. It’s during the solo times that I’m able to connect with them on a personal more intimate level as well as discuss my future expectations for them in regards to me. 

I’m not old but I’m not young. I’m at a good point in my life but the truth is I’m getting older. I’d rather face the facts rather than hide from them or deny them. I like having a plan or two in place. I don’t have anything written down but I do verbally share my expectations of how I want to be cared for, when I’m struggling to care for myself, with my children. 

The walks are a key component of that plan. Let me say this, they are typical kids and don’t always want to go on a walk with their mom. They moan and groan and ask, “why me?!” (Because you are the chosen one, now let’s go.) I have pre-walking negotiation meetings with them to determine which route? How far? How fast? Can I listen to music, ride my scooter run, bring some water? After we settle on the terms we head out. 

Back to the purpose and plan of the walk. When I’m older I want them to visit me and walk with me. “Walk with me when I’m old” is my request. Spend some time with me. Bring music I like to listen to now. I want to recreate fond memories of one of the things I love to do with the people I love being with. As we walk today I’m storing away memories that I hope to unlock in the future with something as simple as a walk. 

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The Unprotected

There is a portion of the population that feels unprotected

There are people out there who have decided to molest them

Molest use be defined as to bother, pester or harass 

Molest is now known as an assault or abuse of the sexual kind

The presumed statistics of occurrence are high

The chances of being traumatized are higher

Nightmares, fear, loneliness or worse

Not feeling worthy or capable of giving or receiving love

The victim feels victimized most often to young to process it

The perpetrator? Most likely a close friend or family member

What gives them the right?

We don’t make it wrong 

It becomes the family secret

Don’t tell, don’t think, become numb to it all

Guilt and shame with nobody to blame

Close your eyes squeeze them tight

Focus on today not those horrible days or nights

No justice, no peace

Many nights with no sleep

No trial no time served

Nobody gets what they deserve

The perp walks away

The victim has to stay 

Don’t cause a scene at the family functions

Yes, you have to attend

Aren’t you already on the mend?

Smile, be polite everything is alright

It happened once or twice 

You can still be nice

To many times to count?

Your mind won’t let you see the true amount?

It’s okay

You’ll be fine

 Just give it some time

Let’s never speak of this again

Even if it was a family friend 

Your brother

My father

The uncle on your dad’s side

The aunt we all love

The coach 

The teacher

The priest

The big sister

No matter the title

The feeling is the same

Unworthy, not cared for or scared

Not shielded or acknowledged 

Unprotected

Unprotected

I Am My Mother’s Child

There is nothing that brings you to the reality of your life like a court ordered social study. If you read March 5, 2014 then you know that the ex husband decided to have me served. Somewhere along the way he decided he wanted 50/50 custody of the kids. 

He remarried about three years ago. He moved into her house with her and her two children. No big deal right? Her house is 23 miles away from my house. The same house I intentionally selected because it was less than 7 miles from his door to my door. My goals in selecting a house were a good school district, a sense of community and not far from their dad. I never wanted him to feel like his children were to far away. But then he moved. Our youngest were attending a charter school that was in another city  about five miles from my house. I made the decision to move them to the zoned school in our district. He was not happy about my choice and he said I was moving them further from him so he hired an attorney and I was served. 

Back to the social study. After several months of court dates, attorney’s fees and tension between us the judge ordered a social study as requested by the ex. 

A social study is conducted by a social worker. They have you fill out pages and pages of documents listing everything that has happened in your life. It’s your autobiography. This document is scrutinized and judged by the social worker. They come to your house and interview everybody who lives there. They walk through your home taking notes on everything from the items on your refrigerator, safety of the neighborhood and overall opinion of your home. The social worker also interviews friend, doctors, teachers and family members. 

The document… Geez… The document. It took me several days to fill out the document. For me, it was the equivalent of standing naked in front of strangers who had magnifying glasses and were intent on viewing every flaw. It was hard. As I said it was an autobiography of my life. The questions were invasive and at times difficult for me to answer. You see, I am like many of you, I have tucked the disappointments and heartaches of my childhood away in a place that I don’t like to visit. But here in this document I was asked about things I don’t like to discuss with close friends let alone a stranger.  But I answered honestly. 

After a few weeks I received the results of the social study. This was the document she would present to the judge. The judge would use this document to assist with his final ruling. As I read her report I cried. I cried because here was a stranger summarizing my life in a 15-20 page document. 

My life  started out as a potentially tragic story. I was born the youngest of three. My mother was about 21 when I was born and had birthed a total of three children in less than four years. She was the true definition of a single mom. My father was around but he wasn’t present. My mother worked very hard to provide for us but she wasn’t home with us. I was molested as a child. I started drinking as a teenager and drugs, although I did not partake, were readily available. 

I continued to cry as I read the document. My ex husband’s life looks wonderful on paper. He grew up in a two parent household. He has one brother and they had a dog. His mom stayed home for the most part and his father was an engineer. He was raised in a Christian home. He and his new wife both had stellar up bringing. They are the ideal American family when you read about them. As I continued to read and cry, I was sure I had lost. How and why would anybody in their right mind select me over them? As I reached the last couple of pages I realized I had been holding my breathe. There were about ten numbered items. These were the things the judge wanted to know. This was her final assessment. This was decision. 

Why is this article titled as it is? Because after reading her summary of my life I went back and rewrote my life story. I needed to add in the side notes and I needed to understand my life from the view point of a young twenty something raising three kids on her own. I needed perspective. I needed to understand that the social worker’s summary was not the final say on my life. Through tears and fears I read my life story to three friends of mine. I felt the need to say the words out loud. I’m front of people who love me. We are often judged by our past. We judge others based upon their past. But I realized that I’m more than my childhood. Like my mother, I am an overcomer. Our stories don’t read the same but the common thread is do the best you can and overcome obstacles. 

The social worker’s assessment was in my favor. My children are still with me the majority of the time and I changed their schools. I don’t hold a grudge with the ex.  

Write your own story. Statistics and opinions do not have the final say. Write your own story and release  hope. I rewrote mine and am confidant when I say I’m an overcomer and my mother’s child. 

Five Years Ago

Five years ago this month I moved out of the house I selected and we purchased in 2001. I remember being pregnant with my Honeygirl and she was born in 2002. She will be 13 this year. The divorce, that drug on for two years, was final in March but I was given 60 days to move out. Yes, we lived together for most of that time. 

The search

I have always been very budget conscience. I knew how much I could afford to pay in rent and I was determined not to pay more. Finding a place, in a decent neighborhood, zoned for good schools, that was relatively close to my job (less than a 30 minute commute) and near a good daycare was definitely a challenge. It doesn’t sound difficult but believe me it was. I wanted three bedrooms but had seriously considered a two bedroom apartment. 

That’s when I met this guy. He was tall, dark, handsome, single, he worked out, ate healthy, he was driven, determined and best of all he was a real estate agent. If you’re going to spend hours at a time looking at houses with someone it doesn’t hurt if they’re attractive. He told me I had too many children to even think about living in a two bedroom apartment and took on the challenge of finding a place for us. We had a very limited amount of time so we looked almost every night. I was running out of time. It was May. Then one day we were driving around and I saw some townhouses I had been interested in but could not afford. One of them was for lease. We walked in to look around but another agent and client were there and they were on the phone with the leasing agent making plans. My agent looked at me, as we walked out and said, “maybe there’s another one.” I told him, “no, this one is mine.” You see, when we pulled up I took note of the name of the leasing agent’s name that was on the sign in the yard, Mary Ann Turner. That name may not mean anything to you but to me it meant the townhouse was mine. My family and her family had been friends for years. I had dinned at her table. I had attended celebrations at her house. Her niece had been my best friend during high school. I got Mary Ann’s personal phone number from my mother and I called her. After explaining my situation and how quickly I needed to move she put everything in warp speed. I moved out before that agreed upon date. 

The move

I did what most of us do when it’s time to move. I rented a truck and recruited some people to help. When it came time to move the recruits were avoiding my phone call. I put out an SOS to some friends of mine on a moms group that I participate in online. These moms and I had seen each other through lots of moments in time. Besides, if you need something handled who do you call? A mom of course. After a couple of phone conversations and a few hours later my new moving crew was on the scene. My eyes still water up when I think back on that day. There were several families that showed up later that day to help me move. It was a beautiful thing. My good friend from high school came with her mom who had an oxygen tank. She moved things like pillows and supervised the little children when she was resting on the sofa. (We miss you!) By the end of the day I was moved, beds setup, kitchen unpacked and settled in to our new home. 4moms rock!!

Summer visitation

Five year ago my children were ten, seven, four and three. I had been a stay at home mom until two years before when I started working a part-time job on the second shift. February of 2010 I began working my current job. All of that was to say, I had never been away from my children for a significant amount of time. I remember spending one weekend with Yvonne in Missouri. But that’s it. The way summer visitation works for us is the ex has the option of splitting up his visitation into two time periods that equal 30 days or he can have 30 days in July. He selected 30 days in July. Oh. My. Gosh. Thirty days without my babies. Thirty days without their momma. So many tears were shed during those 30 days. He would not allow me to talk to them or see them during that time frame. I had to get creative. I went to their church. My sister in law went with me as my backup and support. I had never seen my babies look so lost and dejected. When they saw me they were timid. The younger two cried as they hugged me. The pastor’s wife told me they missed me and were struggling. I broke down. This was the hardest time of my life. Another time I cut up a watermelon and showed up at his house while he was gone. His girlfriend let the kids come outside while she watched me through the window of the house I had picked out. During that month, I was allowed to have the kids for a weekend. I selected Little Dude’s fifth birthday weekend. I invited some friends over and we partied in the pool. A few days later they came home and we sat on the sofa and cried together. They were tears of relief. Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. Tears upon tears upon tears. My babies were home. 

Today

That was the first and last summer of him taking them for 30 days. School is about to end and summer visitation is about to begin. We no longer cry. Their summers are filled with volunteering summer camps and vacation bible school. I can’t say they look forward to the extended visits but they no longer dread them. This has been a tough year for me. I have to admit I’m looking forward to the silence and the reduction in my grocery bill. We’ve come a long way. 

What is a mom?

The answer to the question depends on who you ask. The answer is created in the mind and woven in the heart and is based upon perception, experience, comparisons, actions and words. When we hear the word mom some want to bow down and worship and others begin to cry for the heartache the word envokes. 

What is a mom? It could be the person who birthed you or it could be the person who paid thousands of dollars, jumped through legal hoops, answered the social study questions correctly and attended parenting classes before bringing you home. It could also be the one who agreed to take you when you were abandoned and had no place to go. 

A mom is not defined by activities such as homemade cookies, homeschooler, biggest fan, protector, supporter, chef, chauffeur, admirer, worshiper, or spoiler.

So, what is a mom? She’s you, she’s me, she’s a coworker, she’s a friend, she’s your neighbor, a teacher, a bus driver, a clerk, an addict, a CEO, a homeless person, broken, healed, she’s any female and she’s imperfect. 

She shaped you and molded you in action or lack thereof. She’s a person not a goddess. She’s real not imagined. She has hurts and challenges. She has triumphs and victories. 

Well, what is a mom? She the person you choose to honor one day a year. 

Lost and Found

There is nothing like digging through other peoples’ property. In case you had not noticed we all have our own distinct smell. Image a small space cramped full of coats, shoes, socks, shirts, shorts, lunch bags, and even some underwear. Yes, you read that right…underwear. Ugh!!! The smells emanating from all of that stuff makes my stomach turn. Yet, at least once a month I find myself in this room looking for a jacket, lunchbox or book. It’s not my stuff. Nope. It belongs to my third born. The one I lovingly refer to as Little Dude. 

He’s absent minded or completely distracted. Last year he lost three jackets, two lunch boxes and a couple of books. I recently learned he lost about $40-50 on a field trip. He took the money just in case he wanted to buy something nice. We were at a fast food restaurant not long ago and he left his wallet near the condiments. I walked up behind him and picked it up. 

What do I do? I get frustrated. I talk to him about being responsible. I try to get him to develop a routine. It hasn’t worked yet. Do kids grow out of losing stuff? In the mean time I continue to enter the lost and found to dig through all that stuff to locate his missing items. He has a jacket missing right now. Off to the little cramped room we go to search through the piles of odorous things in search of Little Dude’s jacket. 

March 5, 2014

It had been a regular day. I woke up early. Prepared breakfast for the kids. I got everybody off to school and I put in my time at work. I don’t remember anything exciting occurring. Like I said, it had been a regular day. 

I was preparing dinner. The Fan4 were completing homework. That’s when I heard the knock on the door. I looked out the window beside the door and saw a short unassuming man. I thought he was another salesman attempting to get me to change electric companies. I remember thinking it’s a little late in the evening for door to door sales. 

I spoke to him through the screen door. “How may I help you?” He told me I needed to sign for something. I asked, “what is it?” By this time the Fan4, who are always excited when someone knocks on the door, were behind me watching and listening. 

Let me take you back a few months to December 2013  kids and I were talking about some of the things we wanted to do for 2014. I want to play soccer, I want to attend a basketball camp. Can I go to a summer camp? I told them I wanted to take a trip to Virginia. Due to the cost, we would not have birthday parties in 2014. What can I say? We live on a budget. Everybody agreed on the trip. 

I opened the front door to sign the papers. The gentleman told me I had ten days to respond and needed to get an attorney as soon as possible. I had been served. My heart was racing and so was my mind. What! Who? I walked through the crowd of people, four kids does feel like a throng of people at times. As I stood in my kitchen I opened the packet and realized my ex was taking me to court. 

I don’t know what I did next or who I called first. 

I picked up my cell phone at some point and walked into my room closing the door behind me. I walked into my closet and closed that door as well. My closet is my inner sanctuary at times. It’s where I go to have private conversations and get a couple of minutes alone. It’s the only place I can go in the house without a Fan following. 

I remember the shock. I remember the heartbreak. I also remember being overwhelmed and afraid. I knew that a court battle could obliterate my finances. I also knew that depending on the outcome our lives would change forever.