I can successfully say, "Yes, I am a single mom." So I can shed some light into the world of parenting alone. I bring this up because several years ago, when I graduated with my bachelors, a friend came up to me and congratulated me for my success. He said, "I'm really proud of you. You were able to take care of your girls and finish school all by yourself. That must have been extremely hard." "Thank you," I said. I really meant it. I really appreciated his kind words but I didn't feel like my experience was much different than other moms. Yes, I'm raising my kids on my own but I really think being a parent whether you're single or not comes with a whole set of challenges we all experience. However, I did miss having a partner help shuttle my kids around. Now that they're older and self-sufficient, that's not really a challenge anymore.
I can only share with you my experience of which mom has it harder and honestly, I think it's pretty fair ground. Like I said, parenting in general can be challenging. And yes, people are right when they say its all so worth it because it really is.
The hardest thing for me as a single parent was not being able to share my kids accomplishments or milestones in life with a partner. Those moments are meant to be shared. I had to improvise and would share them with my friends but it's really not the same as sharing it with a partner. Another challenge I found difficult as a single mom were moments when I needed support through hard times and needed to vent. In those moments, I ran to my friends but even then I didn't feel they could support me emotionally like a partner could. And let's talk about raising my girls on a single income. There were times it became super stressful. Trying to feed three mouths and keep the lights on was not an easy task. However, I must credit those experiences to pushing myself harder to earn more.
One night, my sprinkler pipe broke around 10 at night in the middle of winter. My water was running for a good 2 hours until I noticed. I went to the front of the house and water was spraying everywhere. I tried my best to shut it off only to get drenched in ice cold water in the 40 degree weather. I was so cold, I literally lost my breath. I ran back in the house put on some daisy dukes, a tank, and some boots. I figured the less clothes to get drenched the less cold I would be. Wrong. However, I was determined to shut the water off. I probably looked like a mad woman trying to dodge the intrusive water works I was experiencing in front of my house. My whole front lawn was flooded. But to no avail, I could not find the valve to shut off the water. So I had to call the emergency after hour line to the water company and have them come out to shut it off. As I waited, I thought about how expensive it would be to have someone come so late in the night. I tried to find the shut off valve one last time. Finally, after my third water attack, I was able to shut off the front water system. I went to bed at 2am and needed to wake up at 4:30am for work. That night, I laid in bed and cried. I rarely feel that way, sorry for myself but that night was something else. I thought, "if I had a man, I bet I wouldn't have to deal with such matters."
The next morning, coming into work two hours late, I vented to my co-worker and gave her the whole damsel in distress story without the knight in shining armor. She informed me that having a man doesn't necessarily guarantee he would have taken care of the situation properly. She later explained that although she's married, her husband would rather fix things himself verses getting a professional. She had a similar experience to mine and her husband tried fixing their pipes which resulted in him making things worse. He ended up shutting off the main water system and leaving her the next day on a business trip. She was without water for a whole week. My other close girlfriend told me her fiance always waits on her to handle things around the house. Unlike my coworker's husband, he expects my friend to make calls to professionals and deal with scheduling for estimates etc. I stopped feeling sorry for myself.
Another coworker of mine who also has three kids, tells me about how tired she is all the time. I can relate. The only difference is, when I go home and feed the kids, I am able to do what I please with my time. This can range from picking up the house to taking a bath, talking to my kids or writing in my journal. When it's time for me to hit the sack, I find pleasure in knowing I get to fall into a deep uninterrupted sleep. My coworker, not so much or my dear friend I mentioned earlier. They confide in me that although they love their partner, there are just days when they are not in the "mood". As a wife (as my coworker mentions), she feels she still has an obligation to satisfy her husband's needs. Of course, she doesn't serve him hand and foot. She's a smart independent woman. But she still has to pay him the attention that he needs as a husband. Sometimes I hear that having a partner can feel like having another kid. I am sure this is not the case for a lot of healthy relationships but I do get it. I've had long term relationships before and it takes a lot of work, along with raising kids. But at the end of the day, when I am beyond tired, all I have to do is sleep without a second thought or care in the world. There are certain challenges partnered moms face which single moms don't have to experience and vice versa.
Don't get me wrong, I am not against relationships at all. In fact, if I meet the right partner, I would be all for being in a committed relationship. But my point is, we all have our difficulties/challenges whether we're single or not. Being a parent in general is just a challenge and it really depends on your outlook on life. As a single mom, I am in love with my life. I am very proud and thankful for my girls and our family structure. This is the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. Just don't look at me because of my relationship status and think that I have it worse off or that I am getting the short end of the stick because really I have it pretty good for being a "single mom".
I never realized how stressful buying a car could be, and I'm so glad it's over! I wanted to share my experience for other ladies out there who are interested in buying a used car.
First, I researched the car I wanted which was a Mazda 3 hatchback. I didn't want anything older than a 2012 (I liked the body shape for that year and up). Next, I checked on Kelley Blue Book to see what they usually go for. I also went to different dealerships (online and in-person) to get pricing. Another thing I did was talk which was key to my success. I let everyone know I was interested in buying a car, friends, coworkers, strangers, and family. I solicited advise from a lot of my friends and it so happened that one of my friends works with insurance companies. He was able to get me original pricing that the insurance companies would pay for the car. I just needed to supply him with the vin number. With that price in mind, it gave me more power to negotiate.
It took me more than a month to look, but when you're buying something of such high value that will hopefully be with you for the long run, its beneficial to stay patient. You want to feel good about the price and the product. That's what I kept telling myself every time I left a dealership. This process should not be rushed.
Now lets talk about the dealership. The least favorite part of this process for me. I've met really nice dealers but the bottom line is they want to make money from you. So keep that in mind. I knew how to negotiate small things that average a couple bucks or even hundreds in savings. But this would be a couple thousands or more which I was a complete novice to. Negotiating is not always easy because for me in the past I would feel bad for my imposition. I know some women can relate but honestly, we just need to get over it and in this moment we have to be selfish. It's our hard earned money we're exchanging for value. It should be reasonable and make you feel good coming out of it. Plus, you'll be proud of yourself.
Before I went to the dealerships, I researched how to negotiate. We are so blessed with a wealth of resources. I literally Googled "How to negotiate buying a car". I came across a couple websites with great advise. Like do not offer a price first, let the dealer offer up a price. Another one was, if the dealer starts talking monthly payments before offering a price, tell them you're not ready to discuss that until you have a bottom number. Do your research. It's available to you and it behooves you to study before stepping into a dealership.
Several months prior, I went to a dealership to test drive and "negotiate". My intentions weren't to buy a car at that time but more so to practice. Here's another thing I learned, dealerships are required to ask their manager a total of 3 times to lower the price. If you think you're getting a good deal the first time around, go ahead and ask for a lower price again. That's exactly what happened this day I went to harness my negotiating skills. He literally went back 3 times to lower the price I requested, and they honored it each time. After the third time, they no longer negotiated with me, and I walked out. Again, I wasn't planning on buying that day. Of course there's an exchange of numbers and the dealership, as predicted, called me right after. I probably could've negotiated more.
Another thing you need to know is that not only can you negotiate the price of the car but you can also negotiate the finance rate of your loan. I had no clue! And the better your credit is and down payment the better leverage you have. But don't let your credit discourage you if it's not that great because you can still negotiate it to a better rate for you. I had no idea this was something that was negotiable. I always thought whatever you were approved for is what you're stuck with. So false!
Remember, I said I talked to a lot of people about my interest in buying a car? One day after work, I wanted to check out a car so I got a Lyft car. When I was in the Lyft car, I was just so tired of negotiating prices. I talked to the Lyft driver about my experience and how I've been going at it alone. He asked if I needed his help. He actually use to buy auction cars and sell them. Let alone, buy plenty of cars for himself. Of course I accepted his invitation to help me out. There's no shame in needing help especially if someone is kind enough to offer it. He's the one who also assisted me in negotiating my finance rate which I had no clue I could do. We were able to drop my rate by 3 points!
I must warn you, prior to me going to the dealership, I would receive offers from my bank regarding car loans. I applied before even finding a car. I wanted to get the loan process started. In minutes, I was approved and was emailed a certificate. I waited a week to go back and get the car I looked at w/ the Lyft driver. I told the dealership I was pre-approved with my bank. I showed the certificate of approval, and they took it back to their finance department. Within minutes they came out with their bank offer and said my loan wasn't valid because it was only for certain dealerships not including theirs. Bummer I thought. Thankfully my Lyft driver said, "No, no, no. Go back and get her a better rate if you can't accept her loan." In my head, I was thinking "what the hell is he doing?" They just said they couldn't accept my loan and they're kind enough to find another bank I could use. I didn't get it. But the dealer went back and minutes later, came back with 3 more options plus my bank with lower rates. I was so confused. I remember thinking just minutes ago they told me, they couldn't use my pre-approved loan.
The negotiation process was pretty lengthy, and we sent the dealer back three more times until I felt good about my rate. I even called my bank to discuss the rate the dealer just offered me. My bank informed me I could get a lower finance rate just by lowering my repayment contract from 72 to 60 months which the dealership told me wasn't an option! I'm glad I made that call in front of them. If they already lied to me about not being able to use my bank loan, I was sure they lied about other details. We even had them repair some dings on the car before I came back to pick it up. All in all, I'm very happy about my purchase and the fact that I didn't go in there blindly. I have an enormous amount of gratitude for my Lyft driver, Gerard. Without him, I would've gotten ripped off with my finance rate.
But the universe always has my back and prior to meeting Gerard, I had a little talk with the universe about how I was tired of negotiating alone and how nice support would be. Then I let that little thought go. The next thing you know, seconds before entering the dealership, Gerard offered his assistance and expertise. I am so very thankful!! I thought the treatment I was getting at dealerships was because I was a woman but when I saw the interaction between Gerard and the dealer, I am able to say, "Nope, it's not because I'm a woman. Dealerships hustle everyone."
Here's another tip when negotiating: When you try to discuss pricing, be sure to determine if what you and the dealer are negotiating is either out the door (OTD) pricing or pricing pre-tax and other fees. If they say OTD, this means your bottom line number which is supposed to include taxes and fees like registration, smog, license, etc. I usually negotiate the OTD because it's just easier to remember and keep consistent. However, you may not always be able to do this. But try.
That was the first mistake I made going into a car dealership for the first time by myself. Actually, it was an auto broker (which I highly suggest people use) I visited for my first time. It's less intimidating. I had to get my feet wet. When I test drove the car, the dealer and I got to know one another. He's from the Middle East and a graduate of UC Santa Cruz. His brother, a graduate of UC Berkeley. He took over his dad's business after working in the Financial District. He told me that although there are two graduates in the family, he makes just enough to take care of the family. Ugh, why did he say that? When you negotiate, you need to remove all emotional factors. So I had a quick thought of sending him and his family some love and light and removed my sentimental motherly side from it. I too had a story, caring for my three girls on one income. So who wins? We both do.
Auto brokers have less inventory than dealerships. They turn over inventory quickly. They offer cars at better prices too. He was doing well for a young man, I can tell. He was smart and had great professional knowledge in his industry. I didn't need to feel bad for him and he knows that. My point is, when we negotiate do not feel sorry for these dealers, no matter what they say. If you do, than it's too late you already lost your negotiating power. I was still able to negotiate with him even though he didn't want to budge. I usually just start with, "What's the best you can do for me? I want to feel good about this transaction." They should understand because they too want to feel the same way. You don't want to low ball them because that's disrespecting their knowledge in the profession. If the roles were reversed, you wouldn't want them to disrespect you after all your research on a car.
This dealer agreed to take off several hundreds. I was ecstatic because I also read Yelp reviews before hand to learn his negotiating style and knew going in, most of the reviews didn't get discounts. If they did, it was also only for several hundreds. See ladies...do your homework. It can really save time and stress. I thought the hard part was over. I was done, and we just negotiated OTD. But we weren't! He said, "Okay, now let me calculate how much tax and fees will cost." What?! I thought we just negotiated the final price, that it was OTD. Nope, he said a lot of people make that mistake. I asked myself how can I get this lower? So when he gave me the final price which was something like $11,628, I asked him if he could make it an even number. An even number meaning just a clean number like $11,500. That was my last chance to negotiate and he honored it. However, I had to walk away because I needed to get keys which were another $300 that he failed to tell me about until the end. He sold the car the next day. But I don't regret it at all.
Other items to look at when negotiating a used car:
-How many miles? The lower the mile the more value the car is worth depending on the year. My car is 2012 with 19k miles. That's an average of about 5k miles driven per year. Average miles per year for "normal" driving is 10-12k.
-How many owners? Again, the less owners, the more value. When you have too many hands touching one car, there's more risk of wear and tear and damage to the car.
-Is the title clean or salvage? If salvage title, the value can be about 30% less than a clean title.
-Always get the CarFax from dealership. You shouldn't be the one to buy it. Unless, it's a private sale.
-Dealerships should also allow you to take your car in and get it checked by a mechanic. My mechanic charges around $100 but since I have a cool relationship with him he charges me $50. Your mechanic work is also negotiable.
I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day! I for one definitely appreciated spending time with my family. But then again, I always appreciate each day I get to celebrate with my children. But I must be honest about how I'd rather spend Mother's Day. I'd rather spend it alone. Now don't get me wrong, I love my kids with every being of my soul. They are my world, my life. They have given me the gift of love which I will forever be thankful for. However, if Mother's Day is really a celebration for mom's then why are most of us always expected to spend it with our family? There's always that expected brunch or lunch, that expected family outing. You know what? I'd rather not do any of those things on a day that is supposed to celebrate me. You know why? Because I do these things all the time with my family.
My kids don't like staying home every weekend. So I, as their mother (single parent here), must come up with ideas most weekends to keep them from getting cabin fever. One weekend it might be the museum, another, a friend's bbq, or maybe even the movies. And if it's not cabin fever I'm trying to avoid, I have errands to run or a home to clean on the weekends. Which yes, I always try to bring my daughter along when running errands so she doesn't get bored at home.
I'm not a bad mom. NO. It's not because I don't care about my kids. NO. Or that I don't love them. Nope. It's just, well, maybe because I'm just tired or could it be because I just need some quality alone time? YES. I just need time to rejuvenate. I just need time to rest. Rest without interruption and rest without worry about what needs to be done next. I was telling my friend the only alone time I really have is during my commute but that still isn't quality alone time is it? I'm trapped on a busy subway during rush hour for 2 hours one way. Other than that alone time on the subway, most alone time for me are few and far between.
Sure I could've had my alone time on Saturday. But as a single working mom, Saturday is the only day which allows me to run errands on things which wouldn't be possible on Sunday because they're closed, like visits to my mechanic or my cobblers, dry cleaners, etc. So when Saturday is full of catching up on errands or cleaning, I wish for one Sunday of sleeping in without any responsibilities. I will admit, like with most years when Mother's Day creeps up, I experience this low dread in the pit of my belly. And it's not because I don't enjoy spending time with my children, like I said I love them. But with each year on Mother's Day there is always this expectation to go out and "do" something to celebrate. When in all honesty, my version of celebrating is just to be a couch potato. Really, I JUST WANT TO SLEEP!
This Mother's Day is one that I am very thankful for like all the rest. But this Sunday was spent taking my daughter to Haight and Ashbury in the city to look for a specific 80's windbreaker jacket for an 80's day at her school. With all the errands and crap that I needed to do on Saturday, Sunday was the only day to assist with her school activities. And of course, she told me about it that Friday.
I had a great time with my daughter, and I really got into the search for this specific jacket but another part me kept thinking about how much I longed for one day of rejuvenation (sleep really) so I could be refreshed for my Monday back at work and for my 4 hour round trip commute to and from work. But I kept plugging along. Not one complaint peeped out of my mouth about wanting to go home. I was adamant about helping my daughter find this jacket she imagined in her mind. That's how determined I was in helping her get what she wanted. So much so that she actually tired out after the 7th + shop we visited before I did. We never found her jacket but she did pick up some cute items which made her happy and in return made me happy.
One of these days though, I'd love to have one full day to myself without the guilt and worry of wanting to be left alone. Just for ONE day though. I don't want or need it for many days but one day of alone time would be very nice. As much as my Mother's Day has been a blessing and beautiful, one day of alone time without expectation or responsibility would be the fucking shit! Now that would be a real "Mother's Day".
And to all you moms out there, thank you for your time, love, and patience. The world needs more of your unconditional love and a mother's touch. But please be sure to take care of yourself first. Tomorrow after work, I'm going to get a massage before I come home to make dinner. Do something for yourself too even if it's just for an hour. It'll make you a better mom, friend, lover, and overall human being. Plus, you'll teach your kids about self-care.
Ciao and have a lovely night!
In my blog Enough is enough, I briefly write about throwing my aunt and mom a surprise birthday party. What I didn't mention is how my aunt treated me during the party. Like I said in that blog, as we got older, we became more distant. I had to separate myself from her because she was draining me of my energy. Her toxic attitude towards me doesn't take away the love I have for her, just my energy.
We were super close. We lived together when I was younger and acted more like sisters rather than aunt and niece. We always hung out together. I looked up to her. She protected me from the beat down I received that one day my grandma swatted me off the toilet. Well, more like she intervened and yelled at my grandma to stop hitting me with the broomstick. I love my aunt very much, and she was the sister I never had.
Once she started going to high school and becoming a young adult, that's when our relationship changed. She went boy crazy and was barely home. I always tried maintaining my relationship with my aunt. Inviting her to the girls' birthday parties and school events. She only attended two birthday parties since the life of all three of my girls. At one point, I got so upset at her for never showing up, I told her I would never invite her to anything anymore because she never made effort to come. The only time I got to see my aunt was in passing. When I hit my late twenties, my aunt started to come around my kids and I more often. It was a treat to see her once every two to three months if that. I didn't care, I just wanted to enjoy the times I did have with her. She even came on a family vacation with us three years ago and has been joining ever since.
Okay, so at the party the first thing she did when she was surprised was complain about the the lack of her friends that were in attendance. She only has 3 and when she mentioned their names, I told her I did invite them but they didn't come (only one of her friends showed up). My aunt got a little tipsy and started talking shit about me. Not to me but about me. She started telling people in the kitchen how fake of a person I am. That I'm just so phony, blah blah blah. Her best friend who she hasn't seen in 8 years (I requested the universe to find a way to locate and invite her. In which the universe obliged and as fate would have it, I happened to bump into her the week of the party) tried to disagree with my aunt but was overshadowed by my aunt's continuous berating of my character. I was walking into the kitchen when this happened. My first thought was to defend my name, and my second thought was that these bitches were a little faded (my cousin was in the kitchen also encouraging my aunt's dumbass behavior). There's no use in speaking because they wouldn't be able to comprehend a damn thing. So all I said was, "I may be fake but at least I get shit done" and walked out.
The next couple of days, I kept thinking about what my aunt said. It kind of bothered me and it kind of didn't. I was leaning more on the not bothered verses bothered. Here's why...what my aunt said is not a reflection of who I am. It's a reflection of who she is. All I see from her is hurt and a need for attention or validation of some sort. I've been where's she's been. Trying to hurt others (not even consciously realizing it) because of the pain I held inside.
All I can do is offer her my compassion, understanding, and kindness. How she treats me doesn't change who I am. It doesn't change the love I have for her or the understanding and empathy I feel towards her. I can be a bitch towards her also but what will that really solve? That is not my true self, and I don't give a shit if my ego thinks I'm allowing her to step all over me because I'm being kind. No, by me being patient and understanding is a reflection of my unconditional love I have for her. However, I do limit my time with her because I am careful about my energy. But even when I'm not around her I still wish her well and have pleasant thoughts with faith that she will evolve into a more positive person when the timing is right for her. I am more at peace with myself when I'm this way verses the old me when I'd fuck a bitch up for staring at me the wrong way. Lol oh the old me...how draining.
People get so fixated on karma taking its course on others who "deserve it" or the need to teach people a lesson because of how they've been treated. But why? So they won't do it again and be rude or awful to others? Okay, I get that but why don't we focus on ourselves first. This way when hurt happens again whether by them or someone new, we'll have enough love and patience within us to strengthen and heal ourselves. I'm not saying to ignore the hurt someone is causing. Yes, stand up for yourself and tell them to stop. What I'm talking about is cleaning up the residue they left behind.
Example, if you were cheated on, try your best to move on. Who cares if he'll get what he "deserves". Don't even think about that. Focus on creating a beautiful life inside and out for yourself, that you have no energy left to think about his story. Start creating a new chapter of your own. Richard hurt me, like I mentioned in a previous blog. His mixed signals and lack of commitment really hurt. But instead of blaming him for the hurt I feel, I'd rather focus my energy on healing myself. Because of his actions, he lost my trust but he hasn't lost my compassion or kindness. I still respect him as a human being and will continue to be his friend. But my trust in him romantically is gone and that's okay. People hurt us and guess what?! It's not the end of the world. And you're not being a pussy by not reacting or demanding retribution. You are conserving your energy for more important matters, more beautiful matters. At the same time, you're learning how to live with more compassion and kindness both for yourself and towards others. This world needs more of that. Love is how we all started. So lead with that, with love, not with fear and ego. Fear and ego are false. It does not need to be satiated. It needs to be recognized, acknowledged, and let go.
What is it about relationships that scare people away? It seems the norm now is for people to bail vs try. I know in my last blog, I vented about being sick and tired of dealing with a certain man. My feelings haven't changed due to his lack of effort for me. But what I'm talking about is the fight or flight syndrome that seems to be going around during this time of dating.
I've always been old school and felt that of course my loyalty towards myself was first and foremost. But with the people I love my loyalty also runs deep and rarely wavers. Even towards people who have done me dirty, I'd drop everything just to make sure they are safe. However, I am mindful about not spreading myself too thin. Okay, I digress. So...this fight or flight syndrome that is going around seems to be such a common thing now a days. People meet people and start relationships professing their love only to find out in a few months they can't take it anymore because "...our lives don't mix well. I have to accept all these things to be w/ him but at the end, I'm not happy." I say this because today I get that text from my girl who has been in a committed relationship for several months now.
I didn't know what to say to her when she told me she wanted to bail on the relationship. A little part of me wanted to be selfish and say, "yes, do it!" This way I would have my partner in crime back. But as the selfless fucking person that I am, I say something between these lines..."Idk girl. If that's how you feel, that's how you feel. Relationships are all about compromise and effort and if it doesn't feel right then do what you gotta do. Nothing is ever smooth sailing. It's just what you choose to put up with and only you know that answer. Whatever you decide, I support you." But honestly, even though a slight part of me wanted to be selfish, another part of me wanted her to fight for her relationship. I don't know what she's decided yet. But it really made me question how easily people throw in the towel these days.
I'm by far the last person to give relationship advice but I understand how hard it is to make a connection with someone on a romantic level. And when that connection is there then I feel it's worth a fight. Some may not feel the same, and I've had that rejection recently. But it will be ok. It just means that that person wasn't meant for you, and with all your strength you just need to move on. You need someone to match your stride. If you're a fighter, you need a fighter (and I don't mean in terms of drama and causing arguments). If you meet someone that will go through the ends of the world for you as you will for him, and those romantic feelings are mutual, fight for it. But if you have romantic feelings for someone who doesn't appreciate your worth and doesn't want to make effort for your love. Then my dear, you need to fly.
But think long and hard about your true feelings and if you're honoring your true self. My girl above kind of likes to fly every time the going gets tough. Maybe she needs some sort of validation that she gets from flying away and having her man catch her or she's just not ready for a relationship yet. Who knows? Only she does. If it's the latter, maybe she'll build enough strength to understand that some people are worth fighting for, and maybe he'll be the one she'll learn how to fight for.
My girl and I had a really hard friendship at one point. I kept fighting to keep our friendship alive even after she went to dinner with my then boyfriend. Yea, I valued her friendship more than I valued my relationship with that guy. But there came a point when enough was enough and after several years of trying with her, I had to cut it off.
However, a couple years later, I see her at a wedding and I tried my best to be cordial and ignore her, she started fighting her way back into my life. She changed, and after I saw her efforts and her fight for my attention, we have been inseparable ever since. Our relationship is the strongest it's ever been, and I am so thankful she didn't give up on us when I had no more fight left in me towards our relationship. That's what it takes to be in a relationship: strength and perseverance, through thick and thin, and in sickness and in health. Sometimes you'll just meet people you have to fight for and sometimes you'll meet people that will make it easy to be with. I have the best of both worlds when it comes to my friends.
But I'll tell you what, my relationship with my girl who fought her way back into my life is the most open and honest relationship I have ever had. I know I can tell her ANYTHING and she wouldn't bat an eye. It's a mutual relationship because God knows she tells me shit I really didn't need to know but that's ok because I would move mountains for my girl, and I know she would do the same.
Some people come into your life to teach you how to fight and some people come into your life to teach you how to fly. And that's the thing, determine how much you are willing to fight for them (without losing yourself in the process) and if the efforts are returned then keep fighting for it. But if not returned (and your self worth is being questioned), then baby girl, you need to set yourself free and fly!
I'm laying in bed with the covers off reading a new book I just purchased (Gilead by Marilynn Robinson). My daughter's in the next room listening to her favorite band, It's Time by Imagine Dragons. It's a warm spring night with the smell of freshly bloomed lilies I spoiled myself with. I am in love with the moment, and my heart flutters with so much peace and joy. It's a brief moment of nirvana which soon dissipates. I want to hold on to this moment forever but my mind doesn't allow this. Instead, I catch myself thinking about the moment when this will all end. My moment has now been replaced with fear.
In a couple of Springs, my daughter will (if everything works out as she plans) be off to college. Discovering more about herself and identity. Leaving me to also discover more about myself and my identity. My mind is now filled with the thought of "next time". The next time I'm laying in bed reading, I'll probably be alone spending it in silence and it worries me.
A lot of things scare me. I try not to let it overwhelm me though. And I think I do a pretty good job at it. Last summer, I said to my family I don't like horror movies or bugs because they scare me. My aunt responded with "I thought nothing scares you." My friends have also said the same. Their comments made me question how I present myself. For the most part, I am strong. I've been through enough to develop this strength but being strong doesn't mean not having fears. And yes, although I am scared of the tangible things I mentioned above, I do most certainly have fears in abstract areas too. Like all of my daughters leaving me behind to begin their journey of independence. That scares the shit out of me, not being needed or wanted anymore. I have brief thoughts of the loneliness I will experience once my youngest is gone and my heart gasps.
My girlfriend (who never had kids) once told me when she gets off of work, she goes home to nothing. That's why she's never home. I never got to experience that (well, the only time is when the girls go to Hawaii for vacation). My life since the age of 16 has always been filled with my daughters. I have never been alone and if I dwell too much on that thought, it will overwhelm and frighten the shit out of me. For my girlfriend, it's emptiness. For me, it's empty nest. Everyone has their own version of difficult.
However, I must choose to look at the bright side to keep my sanity. I choose to look at the fact that I no longer will have to worry about dinner every. single. night. If I'm not hungry, guess what? I don't have to worry about dinner. If I want to take a bath instead, I will. I'm also looking forward to going to Bikram again. My daughter doesn't like staying home alone at night. Before when her sisters were home, she didn't mind if I was gone for 2 hrs. Plus, my commute now only offers me 3 hrs of quality time with her before I have to go to bed. I also look forward to TRAVELING! Currently, if I wanted to travel, it would take a lot of coordination and planning filled with guilt for leaving her behind.
Every time I think about that day of sending my last kid off, I get scared and sad. But in order for me to appreciate my moment and enjoy it for what it is (and the little time I have left with her), I really have to let go of my fear-based thoughts of the unknown. I have to...need to place my trust in the Universe and know that my new journey in life will be, once again, fulfilling and perfect for me in every way at that very moment. Namaste.
Today, I almost got into an argument with my 15 year old, Tavie. When I came home, she had the music blaring while doing her homework. I sat down next to her and just couldn't understand how she could concentrate on her math homework. She actually is not doing that well in math but I associated it with her love of writing. She's more of an artistic personality verses science type of person. I'm sure there are those who enjoy both but Tavie doesn't. She loves to write, loathes figuring out math formulas, kind of like me. There was only one point in my life when I loved math and that was in 8th grade (around the same age as Tavie). I was the only one who got an A+ in my class, and I was so proud of it. I was actually cool in Junior High. So it was unexpected that I did so well. It was actually the only class where the teacher really cared about teaching his students.
My math teacher was this tall stern looking black man. He was super strict and a no bullshit type of man. All of the kids respected him and never got out of line. He knew his shit and he knew how to handle his shit. I mean he was dealing with rough kids. 1994 in Oakland was a very tough time. But somehow, he was able to get all of his kids respect and attention.
Anyway, one time in class, he wanted us to create patterns using blocks similar to Tetris. But he wanted to pair us with our "match" to compete against each other. Each pair was given a card face down with a particular shape on it. Then we were given various shaped blocks to create this shape. When we flipped the card over to reveal the shape whoever created this shape first, won. Sounds easy right? Well maybe for some but there is a lot of fast thinking and strategy to this game. By creating the shape with the least amount of blocks and moves would be the best strategy, I figured. The problem was, since I was the only one with an A+ in that class, my teacher couldn't pair me with anyone. So what did he do? He paired me with someone who had the same intelligence as me. He paired me with the notorious drug dealer at school.
When my teacher did this, I did't know if he did it to teach me a valuable life lesson of never judging a book by its cover and seeing that although this student may be a "thug" he was smart as hell? I don't know. But what I do know, is that I already knew this motherfucker was smart. So smart to the point it was scary. I'm not an ignorant or gullible person like some people like to label me as (for whatever assumptions they have about me). Maybe my teacher thought that about me, that I was just book smart. But I grew up in the hood too and knew all about the hustle. Or maybe he wanted to humble me and make me understand that a grade is not who I am. I don't know. All I knew, is that as soon as he paired me with my classmate, I knew this guy was all about strategy and would kick my ass. And sure enough he did.
My teacher tried to make it more interesting and added another rule to the game after I got my ass kicked 3 times in a row. This time he wanted us to make a particular shape with the least amount of moves. I lost again. I wasn't frustrated, mad, or upset. No, I still wanted to play. Play to win, right? I wanted to challenge my mind and learn from him. I had fun and it was a cool experience. I was too young to articulate my appreciation for getting my ass kicked and learning from him but I still remember that exact moment until this day. However, I always think if I didn't predict my outcome so negatively could I have kicked his ass? I don't know because I didn't give myself a chance to win. I predicted my own defeat unfortunately.
Oh, so going back to my daughter (sorry guys), today we almost got into an argument because I tried to suggest what works for me when I need to concentrate, and she got really upset. I told her sometimes it's difficult to understand anything when your music is blaring (you could hear her music outside on our porch). She told me it actually helps her concentrate better, and she made sure to say this to me with a fucking typical 15 year old attitude. I had to literally tell myself not to take offense. Because my initial reaction was to get upset and ask her why the attitude. Instead, I decided to offer her understanding, and that I offered my suggestion as just an idea. She may not like my idea and if so, don't take it into consideration. That's all. I told her that in life, people will always offer their ideas, she should be respectful of them and hear them out but she doesn't need to listen to it. I also said that sometimes we are given so many ideas it can actually inspire us. So don't ever discriminate an idea. Just take the ones that sound good to you and fits for you. When I calmly presented this to her, she actually took it into consideration and stopped being such a little asshole to me =) I forgot how difficult this age was. I went through this stage twice with the two oldest. Sometimes I beat myself up for not being more patient with them but again, I have to remind myself, we did it and it turned out all good.
Before I end this blog, there was something else I learned about my job today that I wanted to share. This week was particularly tough because I am overwhelmingly busy. I have to do a lot of patient assessments which means a lot of writing from a nursing and social work point of view. For example, one of my assessments would say something like...91 y/o English speaking widowed male, who lives alone in senior residential community...dx of DM2, HTN, HLD. Mbr is an ESRD pt and attends CBAS MWF. Some boring shit to that effect. Anyways, I was struggling and my direct manager is no joke. She's a smart Type A woman. She knows her shit, and she knows she knows her shit. She is very direct and to some may be intimidating. I appreciate her because she cuts to the chase which saves me time. But she's also hard.
Before I'd enter my assessments into our shared electronic system, she wanted to edit my assessments first. Fine, I thought. I'm a good writer, this should be cake. But nope! Nothing is ever as we expect it. All of my assessments came back with numerous edits. My assessments came back with so many marks, I had to completely rewrite them. I remember coming in to work and just wanting to give up and fall down this spiral thought of negativity. Instead, I constantly reminded myself that there's a valuable lesson in this. Yes, she's hard but she'll make me into a better writer. I appreciate that. Yes, it's not the style of writing I like but it exposes me to diversity. There are so many forms of writing, it can only benefit me even if it's technical. It's more knowledge I'm gaining is how I see it. And guess what?! I came into work today expecting another assessment that I turned in yesterday, to be marked up and it wasn't! She actually drew stars on my assessment lol. She said I'm getting better. I realized whenever we learn something new, there's always this challenge we need to get through before we become better. But once we do, it's smooth sailing (well kind of) from there.
Good night friends, and have a beautiful evening.
Today was my ex's 100 day ceremony. It was supposed to be at the Buddhist temple but unfortunately, the temple was burned down a few weeks ago. His ashes were there but were saved. Prayers are lead by monks chanting and there's a shrine to respect those who pass and offerings are made basically. I felt like I should've went but I just really didn't want to. I'll show him respect in my prayer tonight and continuously in my thoughts.
I've noticed in these past few months, there has been a lot of deaths, in my own life, those around me, and even in entertainment. It just seemed like every where I turned, there was mourning. It kind of frightened me how fragile (although I already knew this) life is. I started thinking about the people I love and how much longer I still had with them. I began to worry and feel myself go down this thought process of grief. But someway somehow, I noticed something else. Actually, I know what the someway and somehow was. It was my attention to this negative energy.
Once I caught sight of what I was thinking, I immediately focused on gratitude. I focused on giving thanks for the very exact moment I was in. I gave thanks at random moments for a few days. That's when my vision and my focus started to change. I started to notice a lot of life. I mean a whole fucking lot of life. Everyone around me was either pregnant or having babies. I mean everyone! Two of my closest girlfriends were pregnant, and one actually had her daughter on my exes birthday. Even NYC guy (yes, I'm still dating him) his ex wife and sister just gave birth to their first.
When I was feeling dark with all the deaths I've noticed, I knew I didn't want it to lead me into fear. When I made the switch to give thanks (because sometimes we tend to forget with our busy lives) for my moment and my abundance, my life started to be filled with so much more life, literally. I'm thankful I learned (and still learning) how to continuously be patient with myself and that I understand being kind with my thoughts is an on-going process. Heaven and hell, life and death. There is always beauty to be found. It just depends on what we choose to focus on.
In my last blog, I wrote about the loss of my daughters' dad. I want to take a moment to write about my relationship with him. I met him when I was 16. He was 5 years older than me, and I really looked up to him. We both grew up in the hood but meeting him, I felt we both had the same beliefs of wanting more for ourselves than what the ghetto had to offer us. I remember specifically talking about drugs when we were learning about one another and how we both didn't agree with them and the violence associated with it. In the ghetto, drug and violence came as a pair. They were the deadly duo. I just remember having deep conversations with him of how we deserved more in our lives than the environment around us.
Like I said, I was 16 when I met him and my first daughter, Saveina, was barely one. Levee was a really kind man. He treated my first like she was his own. Up until his death, he still claimed her as his own. I've been blessed in that way, meeting men who have been wonderful to my girls and Levee was one of them. Fast forward, to a few years later and two more daughters along the way, we were able to buy our first home. By this time, I was 19 and managed to work through the paperwork to finalize financial obligation of becoming a homeowner. I did the research, Levee made the payments. My American dream with my little family started to come into fruition. At this time, I was going to school and working part-time while Levee worked a full-time job. He made enough to support us, and we both came to the decision that I would stop working and focus more on the girls. Things were starting to fall into place.
Back then, there was this underground lotto system. Basically, you'd find a dealer who would accept your money (a dollar being the minimum and the max was at the dealer's discretion) and you'd pick three numbers. You would then play your three numbers based on the California Daily Three Lottery. For each dollar you bet, I believe the return was around $650? So if you bet $2, you'd win $1300 if you matched the daily three numbers for that day. Long story short, Levee bet around $50 and his return was over 30 grand. Along with his run of luck, Levee's long time friend who was in prison was being released. That's when everything changed.
I don't want to get into the nitty gritty details of what transpired in the course of our relationship at that time but what I will say is that when the money came in and the friend got out, drugs and violence crept into our relationship. I had no clue about the drugs but when I was pregnant with my third daughter, I was fully aware of the violence. It wasn't until after I gave birth when I realized drugs were a possible factor to the destruction of my family. I had to take my kids and leave that situation. In my family history, the deadly duo were definitely involved. One of my uncles came home so high one night, told his kids they were going to play a game of hide and seek, and once my cousins (around 4 and 2 yrs old) started hiding, my uncle began seeking...he was looking for his wife. That night, he ended up shooting her in the head along with himself. She survived. He died. And my cousins were hiding behind the couch. I did not want to live a life playing hide and seek with drugs and violence.
The kids and I moved back in with my grandmother. At this point, I had nothing. No job, no education, nor money. I had quit working to take care of my girls and Levee was the breadwinner of the family. Here's another turning point in my life. I reached out to Levee a couple of weeks after leaving him, asking him to buy food and diapers for the girls since I didn't have any money coming in yet. I figured if I asked him to buy the things the girls needed, he'd trust where his money went verses him thinking it was for me. Here is what he said to me, "If you don't want to be with me, you and the girls can all starve." That bruised and hurt me deeper than any of his kicks and punches ever could. I held on to that comment with every bitter ounce I had in me. I made a promise to myself that day, I would never depend on ANYONE again nor would I ever forgive him.
BUT it is because of that statement, I am where I am supposed to be today. I am strong and successful spiritually and mentally. After our separation, Levee soon checked into rehab and cleaned himself up. I never really forgave him but he always tried his best to be super kind and sweet to me. I knew the guilt of how he treated me ate him up inside. I knew this but instead of letting go and forgiving him, I held on. I held on with every bitter ounce of my soul. Even when I was in a healthy relationship with a man who helped me raise my kids for eight years. Even when I was moving on successfully in the world. I never allowed myself to drop my guard and forgive him. Even when Levee was trying his hardest to gain my trust and respect again. I never let go. I was so hurt by everything he did, I wanted to punish him. I knew what he wanted most from me was my forgiveness. After almost two decades, I held on to that wound as tightly as I could. I didn't talk shit about him to my girls or keep them away from him. I always felt that relationship he had with his kids were just that...with his kids. My relationship with him was separate. It was just between me and him, and I made sure to make that relationship between us as unpleasant as possible. I was even nicer to his current girlfriend than I was to him. Even when Levee extended a warm welcome to my then boyfriend, I despised him.
His sisters and mom would always tell me how much Levee still loved me. But I could not stand him. I didn't care to hear his sisters tell me how he admired my strength and role as a mom. I just didn't care. He could've said a million "I'm sorry" at the top of his lungs and it would've fell on deaf ears. My eyes were blind, my ears were deaf, and my heart was cold when it came to Levee. I was mean. Some of you may be saying that with all the crap he put me through, he deserved it. I, for one, never believed in that eye for an eye BS. I always felt people made mistakes small and large, and it is in our loving duty to forgive. I've had lots of fucked up shit (worse shit) happen to me but I was always able to find forgiveness in my heart towards them. Levee was just a different story. Perhaps because his words at that time affected my kids? Who knows.
It wasn't until Levee's death, I felt an overwhelming sense of regret for not forgiving him when he still walked this earth. It has been almost two decades since those words came out of his mouth, and I held on to them. I made his words linger regardless of his efforts towards peace between us. I always knew after rehab, Levee was a changed man. He went back to being a goofy good guy I once knew him as. Even though I knew this, I didn't want to accept it. It was easier for me to continue believing he was a monster until that fateful day he became an angel in heaven. It took me a few weeks to cry and pray. I know not to blame myself and live in regret. It's not easy to forgive people who have hurt us down to our soul. I understand. But I also understand, that if we want to grow and learn to lead with love, then we must come full circle and learn to let go of what hurt us. People can always change. I believe that. Levee has and I have. I will always continue to change, if I know what's best for me. I didn't forgive him when he was here but I forgive him now. I admit, I took his life for granted and for that I am so sorry. But I also know to let go of the regret of not saying it sooner and that's just how simple it is. No need to beat myself up over lost time. No need to regret what should've, could've, would've happened if he were still here. I know he hears me, and I know we both tried our best. And with that, I will end this blog with an apology, forgiveness, and gratitude. Levee has taught me the act of forgiveness and that an apology will never expire and for that I will forever be grateful to him. Buddha bless.
Hi guys. I know it's been a very long while since I've written. I made an obligation to myself to write at least one blog a week to stay consistent and connected. I did not honor that obligation. This blog will most likely be a very long one since a lot has happened since the last time I wrote, both good and very tragic. I want to put more thought into this post and really share with you all what has been happening.
I wanted to write in chronological order. So I left off with Thanksgiving, and if you read before, I introduced the guy I was dating to my family. Well, long story short, we both agreed we were not compatible and went our separate ways. I haven't talked to him since, and I'm fine with it. We really weren't compatible but I think I may have tried to force the situation out of fear of losing out on a good guy despite my true feelings of having no chemistry for him. I wish him a lot of peace, love, and success.
Now on to other areas of my life. Before Thanksgiving holiday, I didn't tell you guys (out of fear of jinxing my chances--stupid, I know). But I was interviewing for a nurse case manager position for a bigger and much better company. My first interview was over the phone and my second interview was in front of a panel of four. I was a nervous wreck but felt like I answered all the questions successfully. As confident as I felt about my second interview, there was still uncertainty if I got the job or not. So I took a deeeeeep breath and let go. I said, "What is meant to be will be." I did my part in taking initiative by researching the company etc. so I could be more prepared for the interview. Guess what guys?! I got the job...not only did I get the job but I also had the confidence to negotiate for a $20,000 increase in salary on top of free benefits! I am so so grateful! Now that I'm making more, I really want to continue being mindful in how I spend money. I really want to achieve my goal of financial freedom. Right before Thanksgiving, I submitted my three week notice (requested by my supervisor), gave thanks to my old company for giving me such a great opportunity in gaining my experience, and said "Sayonara!" I was so ecstatic about my new journey, and having the confidence in negotiating my worth. I couldn't wait to start!
Fast forward to Sunday, December 13, 2015. I woke up around 9am to the sounds of heavy rain and strong winds. If I was driving, everything happening outside would have freaked the fuck out of me. But thankfully, I was snug in my bed surrounded by the warmth of my blanket. Instead of feeling frightful as my initial reaction waking up to the sounds, I knew I was ok. However, I had this low dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just couldn't figure out why it was there. So I tried shaking it off associating the feeling with NYC guy since I haven't heard from him in weeks. Yes, I still have feelings for him but I can thankfully say, I'm not attached to him (meaning I'm fine not having him in my life. My show must go on and a happy show it will be).
That day started off as an easy Sunday morning. I rose slowly and got ready without urgency. The girls and I ate breakfast and talked about errands we'd run. As I was getting ready, I get a call. Usually, I don't pick up numbers that are not familiar to me. But in this one instance, something prompted me to pick up. The lady on the other end introduced herself as a social worker for the county hospital. I was a bit annoyed because my first thought was that it was work related. At my previous job as a nurse case manager, I had a work cell that I needed to pick up even when I was technically off. I was considered on-call at all times. As a case manager, sometimes I work hand in hand with social workers to make sure my patients are safely discharging and the social worker is giving them appropriate resources for a safe discharge. I thought this was work related. Then I realized she called my private number and that I handed my work cell over to my previous employer that Friday. I would be starting my new job Monday, December 14...the very next day. When I made this realization, I started to pay more attention, so I asked her how I could help her. She told me she needed to get in touch with my ex's relatives, and that his son and step daughter were going to be transferred to another hospital. She needed to inform the family. I said I had my ex's number and could give it to her. She said she did not want any parents' numbers but a family member instead. I found that totally odd because a parent should be the first point of contact. But I obliged and gave her two of their aunt's numbers. I asked what happened, and she said she wasn't allowed to discuss it. I also asked how she got my number, and she said she found it in the phone. I found this completely strange because my ex's son and I don't communicate. I had no idea how old my ex's son was because I knew my ex had two boys after our relationship but never kept track of which age belonged to which name. The social worker graciously thanked me and told me I have been tremendous help. I also found that odd, since her gratitude felt so sincere and zealous for just an exchange of numbers. After I got off the phone with the social worker, I immediately text both of my ex's sisters to give me a call. I wanted to find out what was going on.
I spoke to my middle, Destiny (since this ex is the father to my two youngest), about the call, and we both made up scenarios as to why they didn't want to contact my ex. I know that children have rights in what they want their parents to know and not know (but my experience and main patient demographic are geriatric patients). I thought this may have been the case. I assumed his son got into some trouble or a situation, he just didn't want his dad to know about. Destiny reminded me that her half-brother, the one getting transferred to another hospital, was only five. Then I dared to question Destiny if she thinks her dad harmed her half-brother. She definitely did not think so (my ex, Levee and I had a tumultuous relationship. There was physical abuse but their was also drugs I didn't know about. After we separated, Levee went to rehab and cleaned himself up. He knew his mistakes and corrected them. He's had healthy relationships with other women after me). I agreed with her and felt bad for even asking. But I was just so stumped as to why they didn't want to talk to him. Whatever, I let it go. I had to. The kids and I had errands to run but in between every stop, we couldn't stop contemplating about that phone call.
My ex's current girlfriend and I actually get along. She's the first to befriend me out of all of Levee's exes, and I am so thankful for our friendship. It's important for me to get along with her since she's a part of my girls' lives. Let me give you an example of the type of woman she is. Remember me writing earlier in September about Destiny's graduation/going away party? Well Levee and his girlfriend Sophia threw the party. Of course I was invited, and I happily attended. As soon as Sophia saw me, she walked up to me, kissed me on my cheek, grabbed my hand, and asked me to introduce her to my mom who also was present. I was happy to do so. I love women who can get over the bullshit past and accept the present for what it is. She was an exceptional woman. Was...
I get another call later that evening after we finished running errands. My daughter was refueling her car before heading home. I pick up again to an unfamiliar number and it's my ex's cousin (I spoke to Levee's sisters through out the day, and they too weren't sure what was going on. They were trying to reach Levee). Levee's cousin and I haven't talked in a year. I kind of severed my friendship with her when I felt it was getting toxic. When I picked up, her number nor her voice was familiar, so I asked who it was. She told me, and immediately, I was agitated and asked her what she wanted. That's when she said, "My cousin died." "Cousin?" What cousin was she talking about? I didn't know any of her other cousins. So I asked her, "Who? What are you talking about?" She said, "Levee. Levee died in a car accident...and Sophia. They both died and their kids were in the back seat." As soon as she said that, I looked up glimpsing out to see Destiny put the gas nozzle back. My youngest daughter, Tavie was sitting in the back seat. I told Levee's cousin, I'd call her back and hung up. Destiny got into the car and looked over at me and asked what was wrong. I told her to drive home (we were only 5 minutes away) as tears streamed my face. I was in shock. That 5 minute drive was spent in silence. I was racking my brain as to how I would tell my girls such terrible news. How do you tell your daughters their dad passed? How do you articulate such a sentence?
When we got home, the girls and I brought in the groceries, and I was thinking should I ask them to sit down or put away the groceries? I wasn't thinking logically so I didn't ask anything. Destiny and Tavie just started putting the groceries away. I, however, had to take a seat and just think. What do I say? How do I say it? I didn't know. So I just said it..."Girls, I have something awful to tell you. You're dad passed away in a car accident." We all started crying and hugged one another. It was the worse conversation I have ever had with my kids. Writing this now is very difficult for me. But my job wasn't quite over yet. I had to phone my oldest, Saveina, and bare the bad news. I was debating if I should have waited for her return home for the holidays or call her immediately. I opted for the latter. Good thing I did because their death was all over social media and the news. They got in a single car accident due to weather. Their car hydroplaned into an embankment and rolled over three times. They both died instantly. The kids got away with minor injuries. Levee's son is five. Sophia's daughter is six.
A little about me...
I'm learning how to look at everything with love, even if it seems impossible, like rush hour traffic. I want to share my journey of self-love so that others may want to emulate and pass it on into the universe. Ohh...and sometimes people call me Suzie.