Stepping Into Independence

Independence. Everyone has to go through it sometime or another. Now, it’s kiddo’s turn. And I’m petrified! Kiddo’s a pre-teen who will be 12 in a couple of months. He’s been asking for more independence – to walk to school alone, a cell phone and an alarm clock.

So far, I think I’ve done pretty well with the adjustment. Err, maybe not. We’ve been working on this since last May. Kiddo’s still not walking to school alone, though we’ve got it to 60% alone. At first, it meant dropping him off at the corner closest to the school and watching him cross. Then it was the corner before that (which was a straight shot to the school so I could still watch him). Slowly, we ended up around the corner.

The school sits at an intersection and from our house, it is a zig-zag pattern. And we live in the South Bronx. Don’t get me wrong – it has improved a great deal and there’s a bigger police presence than ever. But, I’m realistic. I know where I live.

With guidelines on how to walk on his own, plus using it as a way to modify his behavior positively (ie if he screws up, I walk him all the way to school; devastating to a pre-teen), I’ve been a big girl mature mom and let him go. Independence is a PITA, but it’s a part of growing up. Only I’m the one feeling the growing pains. Sigh. On to the alarm clock.

Raising a Book Critic: Advice to Writers

Happy first Tuesday in January readers!  Today’s bit of advice to writers comes from kiddo. Kiddo’s full of surprises this morning. One was his critique of a kid’s book. As I’m sitting at my home computer desk, trying to keep my eyes open (yes, I know it’s 8:30am), I’m reflecting on his critique without naming the book here out of respect for the writer.

Add raising a book critic to my resume. I’ve been encouraging kiddo to read more (indeed, my tweeps know all about that). And since he was up and dressed early this morning, I egged him on to read before school. Except, I chose a book that he didn’t like after 20 pages. I asked him what he thought was going on with the book. Here is his advice to writers.

Get to the point. With a great cover that had me interested in reading the book, I thought kiddo would go for it. I was wrong. He told me it was the 7th book in a series. Kiddo was bored with the recap of the previous books. He was waiting for the book to get interesting. He kept trying to read it and now he won’t look at it.

Keep it simple. Kiddo didn’t understand the point of the story because he was too busy being annoyed by the backstory. He didn’t like all the previous history. Yes, it might important for the writer’s vision for the book, but without writing for the readers, especially kids, it’s very hard to reel them into the story.

Improve your writing or else. The writing didn’t work for him. Kiddo said he wouldn’t finish the book. And he’s not. It doesn’t matter how much I sweet talk him, cajole him or threaten to Gangnam Style at his school – he’s not having it. And I’m pretty sure that if he saw another book by the author, he wouldn’t think twice about rejecting it.

Writing is a tough gig. Being critiqued is even harder. You spend so much of your time making it perfect only to have a pipsqueak (like kiddo) tell you it’s not good enough. And it will sting. But, it will also help you become a better writer. I’m not saying that bending over backwards is necessary, but knowing who your target reader is important when you’re writing for that reader. If you follow the steps above, you’ll have a dedicated reader sharing his favorite books with his pals. Have a great Tuesday!

 

 

 

Proud Mommy Moments

Just had to share that my son ROCKS! This year has been full of challenges, but also many amazing moments. As mother to a child with ADHD and a smartypants to boot, I’ve been challenged to step up and be a better mom. And while I’ve felt like the world’s worst mom sometimes, my son shows me how amazing he is and how truly blessed I am just to be his mom.

For the first time he received second honors in school with a 90 average.  He earned a ribbon also for “Most Improvement.” See how proud he is? I’m so very proud of him.

Even more awesome is his generous heart. Last Thursday, he won his class spelling bee and won two tickets to tonight’s Yankee game. And what did he do with them? He took his father to the game for a Father’s Day gift. And no, I’m not jealous that he didn’t take me. It’d be nice to go to a game with him someday, but I’m happy with knowing my son is a sweet, persevering kid who just doesn’t quit.

Mommy loves you kiddo!

Tribute to Mi Papi

This is weird for me, but it’s the first time I’ve thought to do a tribute to my father. Now before calling me a horrible daughter, let me share about this father-daughter relationship.
My father and I weren’t very close during my childhood. He worked many hours as a truck driver and only came home to have dinner and then sleep. We (my younger brother and I) tip-toed around the apartment to avoid getting into trouble (from both parents) for disturbing him. Summers were great because we took family trips to Lake Welch (NYS) and had a great time. Or we’d plop on the living room floor to have a crab picnic.
I spent even less time with him as a teen. With my parents arguing often, avoidance was my defense mechanism. My father left during my freshman year at college. Really, there was no relationship.
And there wasn’t one until after I had my son AND my mom died. Something happened inside of him when she passed away. A nurturing instinct kicked in. He began calling me, looking for me, coming to visit. WTF? I’d forgiven Papi years before and made peace with the fact that this was the father I’d been given. I didn’t expect him to change. He told me, “I need to watch over you because you’re the only girl and your mother’s not here.” At first, it was weird. I didn’t know how to react. It took me awhile to start calling him and visiting him more. I didn’t know how to feel. For years I didn’t even know HOW I felt about Papi. He had surgery for blood clots in his left leg six years ago. When I saw him unconscious in the hospital bed, I realized that I loved him.
And I do. Now that I’ve been single for over 2 years, he’s even more of a presence in my life and my son’s life. Over the nearly 10 years since Mami’s been gone, he’s slowly wiggled his way in my heart and redeemed himself for my youth. The fact that I had already forgiven him was what helped me see that I do love him SO very much and am blessed to have him in my life. So happy Father’s Day, Papi. This ones for you. From your negrita. 🙂

Avengers – Review

Hiya readers! I’m back to share my thoughts on the Avengers movie. I LOVED it!

I’ve never been a fan of comic books and so don’t read them at all. I do love anything superhero-related. Growing up, I was a fan of “He-Man” and “She-Ra” as well as Wonder Woman and Superman.

As a kid with low self-esteem, I use to dream often of having superpowers. Those superpowers came from watching my favorite superheroes. Fast-forward to today being a grown woman and mom of a son, I get my superhero fix more often. The Avengers was a huge fix for me. I hadn’t seen a superhero movie in a long time and was so glad to see this one. I was not disappointed.

I had several doses of hot superheroes (except the Black Widow – sorry Scarlett) and a bit of jealousy with Scarlett’s bodysuit. Yes, I’d love to have a body like that, but I digress.

Each of the superheroes with their unique talents kicked butt. Although Chris Hemsworth only had to speak to knock me out (I’m partial to a man with an accent. lol). Not to mention all the eye-candy. Each character brings great flavor to the film and now I’ve got a goal of catching up with all of them. I still need to watch Captain America, Thor and Iron Man – Part 2. The Avengers was so good that I’ve been inspired to see them all.

So even though this is something for kids, teens and boys in general – this girl DEFINITELY had a fabulous time with the Avengers. So go see it and tap into your superhero! (And when you do, stay through until the final credits for some extras.) Can’t wait until The Avengers comes out on DVD!

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3 Single Mom Lessons from the Avengers

A few days ago, kiddo and I took in a matinee of The Avengers (check out my review). And we loved every minute of it! Watching it though left me feeling like a superhero and I noticed three things that could help single moms.

Avenger Lesson #1 – Know your worth. Each character had a specific and useful skill set. The Black Widow kicked butt. Hawk shot his bow and arrow with amazing accuracy. Hulk smashed. Dr. Banner calculated. Captain America was strong and tough with his shield. Thor knocked the wind out of his enemies. And Iron Man was techno savvy and inventive. Each superhero had their gifts and weren’t coy about being confident in themselves. Single moms, know that you ARE worthy and you are a blessing. Period.

Avenger Lesson #2 – Life is tough. The Avengers dealt with a tough situation. Being a single parent is tough. No doubt about it. Everyday will have its challenges and every day there will be something to deal with. This isn’t just a single parent issue, but life as it is. And know that while life is tough, you are tough also.

Avenger Lesson #3 – Get with your crew. The Avengers were brought together to fight a common enemy. Enemies that single parents can face are depression, isolation or loneliness.  You can fight back by having a support system in place. Build up your crew of people who back you up no matter what. I’ve got my team of fellow single moms (some not) and friends who love and cherish me. They remind me of how strong I really am and call me on my crap when I need it. They are my blindspot; that place in my life that I just can’t see because of my own hangups. The Avengers worked together to make things work and your crew can do the same for you.

I was reminded of these things throughout the course of the movie. It gave me such great energy and I was so inspired. Guess that’s why I’m going to get The Avengers on dvd as soon as it comes out. Hope these lessons help you single moms out there to remember your greatness!

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Yes, I AM Mom Enough!

Yesterday’s release of the Time magazine article incited outrage and comments from moms all over. Some moms were upset because of picture itself of a mom breastfeeding a toddler (who is standing on a chair to reach his mother’s breast). Others were upset because it showed a woman breastfeeding in public. It was all over my Twitter feed. Neither of those things upset me.

What DID upset me? The title. “Are you Mom Enough?” I could care less about what other moms do – breastfeeding in public (or not), breastfeeding a toddler (or not) or attachment parenting. I know what works for me doesn’t have to work for anyone else. Or vice versa.

But, the idea that I’m NOT mom enough because I’m not breastfeeding a toddler did spark my outrage. The title of this article is yet ANOTHER way that words have hurt the community of moms. Stay-at-home, Work-at-home or Work-outside-home, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding – these are all words that have caused divisiveness in the Mom community.

Rather than helping moms unite as a force to be reckoned with, this choice of words for the cover article title only serves as a way for us to pick at one another for our parenting styles. This mom wants to breastfeed her toddler? So what? She wants the world to know about it? Fine by me. Her choices do not mean that she is “more mom” than I am. Not at all.

I’m a single mom living in New York City. Not many women would freely choose to be a single mom. I got out of a relationship and am co-parenting my son with his father. Yes, a single mom I am, but it doesn’t make me any “more mom” than the moms featured in the article. This is just my experience. It does not make me braver than anyone else. It doesn’t make me stronger than anyone else. It just makes me – me.

So yes, I AM mom enough! Next!

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The Highs & Lows of Solo Parenting

Now that Mother’s Day is upon us, I’ve been thinking about my life as a single mom. For the most part, I’m happy. I’ve got a great kid who has been a blessing in my life, my education and a great home.

A couple of weeks ago, kiddo scored second honors (90 average)  at school for the first time ever. I cried, I was so happy and proud of him. Hugging him tightly I told him how much I love him and how proud I was. I also thought of all of the work it took to get him to earning second honors.

I thought of the hours of work to earn money for  tuition, uniforms, after-school. I also thought of the time and money spent on therapy, evaluations and finally medication to address his ADHD, which was severely hampering his ability to focus on his schoolwork. Even with very little support from family (who disagree with my parenting style/decisions), but great support from my friends, I kept going.

There have been many times I’ve wanted to quit, run away or stop the world from happening because things were so bad for me. And before my son, I did. I went from college to work to college to work and had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I had no direction and indeed not much love for myself.

And the voices of people who doubted me became my truth. Until kiddo showed up. I was a young mom, very naive and unprepared. And even though I was legally an adult, I was VERY immature. I’ll be the first to admit that. But, I learned. And learned and learned. I’m STILL learning. Every single day. I learned my own strength is very powerful. My love endless and boundless. And my son, precious.

One family member (an old-school person with old-school parenting ideas) told me that he wished I had kiddo later on in life. I was 22 when I found out I was pregnant. My reply: I’m glad I had kiddo when I did. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today.

Here I am without a full time job, bills to pay and a child to raise – and yet, I KNOW I will be just fine. Kiddo’s being taken care of, I’ve got the resources to pay my bills (haven’t fallen behind) and I’m happy. No, life isn’t perfect, but being a mom, and now a single mom for two years, I’m happy.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. And Happy Mother’s Day to me, because dammit! I deserve to give myself a huge pat on the back.

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