“Ain’t I a woman?” (c) Sojourner Truth

While feeding my Twitter addiction, I came across this article, discussing Strong Black Woman Syndrome (“SBWS”).  In short, the author portrayed SWBS, particularly as it relates to single parents, downright detrimental to the mentality of our children, and the family structure as we know it.  On its face, it sounds very neat and tidy:  Your kids must know that having an absentee father is not cool.  They must realize this is not how things should be, and therefore, this will prevent them from perpetuating the cycle.  And to that, I have one question:  Word?

Certainly, transitioning to a man-basher following a break-up or abandonment is not a good look.  I know more than a few women that take up the “I don’t EEEEEEVEN need a man” mantle as a defense mechanism.  However, the large majority of the single mothers that I know are still actively dating, or at least waiting for the right opportunity.  Still others, when dating doesn’t work for them, still occasionally deal with the individual who rejected the cow but enjoys sampling the milk.  In the end, you’re looking at a woman with very human wants and desires on one hand, the seeming lack of options to meet those wants and desires on the other, and her world on her shoulders.  The most important part of that world is her responsibility as a parent.

At best, Ms. Seals Allers assertion is misguided, at worst, unfair.  Yes, I agree that Pops bouncing out, or acting the fool and ergo, forcing Moms Duke to bounce is by no means acceptable.  I agree that our families are in grave need of healing, guidance and counseling.  The topic of selecting a suitable and compatible partner is a discussion and/or post in its own rite.  Additionally, not all SBW are single…or mothers.  What of them?  It’s an oversimplification of a rather complex issue.

More often than not, donning the SBW cape is born of necessity rather than bravado.  I once read somewhere that the more you allow yourself to fall apart, the easier it becomes.  There is so much that you sacrifice as a single parent; I don’t see where it is helpful to anyone that dignity be among those things. Children depend on their parents to have things in control.  In a two income family, my parents went through hard times on a regular basis, yet, I didn’t realize how much so until I was an adult.  As parents, we’re the pilots; tell your passengers of every single struggle, they’re going to lose confidence in your airline.  Sure, passengers have responsibilities, but it’s our job to make the ride smooth.

There have been occasions where my kids have seen my cry or lose my cool, and it would leave them anxious and disjointed.  THEY don’t need a big world crash course because MY mate selection was poor.  When I recently had to drive to and from New Orleans on my covert ops mission, we hit a terrible rainstorm.  I was agitated, nervous and frustrated, and it was evident.  The kids had nothing to do with this, and yet, when they saw how the drive was weighing on me, THEY began to apologize for “making you come and get us.”  (Author’s note:  If you want me to wish for your slow and agonizing demise, create your own screw up and then have my kids apologize for wanting to escape your big bag of manure.)  Losing my caca in front of them to let them know that it’s not “easy?”  No thanks.

As a good parent, I share with them the importance of being responsible, choosing a spouse wisely, and forming a UNIT, rather than a temporary arrangement, with their spouse.  I stress the importance of cooperation, single parent or not, in the family unit, as well as the unnecessary difficulties that can be caused by a lack of cooperation.  They know that I budget.  We don’t go to the movies or out to dinner as much as any of us would like.  We have to wait to make purchases.  But what family doesn’t?  Just because this is not optimal, I am not going to beat my kids over the head with that fact.  I’m not going to tell my son that every study shows that he has a greater chance of going to prison than college.  I’m not going to tell my child that studies say that she’s got a greater chance of being struck by lightening than getting married.  I’d much rather spend my time buying him books on astronomy and encouraging her in her desire to be a veterinarian.

We exist in a world of participation awards and A’s for effort.  What world is this that you are criticized for displaying strength?  Yes, I want a lot of the same things women the world over want, but I can’t rock in the corner until I get those things. I don’t break down because I want them to be contenders and champions, rather than bench-warmers and by-standers. I’m determined to show them what guts, hard work and determination can yield, even when you feel like life has handed you a shit sandwich.

So, in all of that, “ain’t I a woman?”

Damn straight.

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Matchless

Me:  Hi Wind, meet Caution! [Hurtles Caution headlong and with all my might.]

I’ve always been the girl that allows relationships to develop organically.  There have been a few instances where chemistry was instant and I began dating a person almost off the bat, but that’s more of the exception.  I’ve always lived by the “friends first” creed.  At the end of the day, I want to like you if we’re ever broke.  I want to like you during the times where your soldier doesn’t salute.  I want to like you when your mother pisses me off.  In turn, I would like to establish a rapport that would afford me these same opportunities.

In my past, I’ve dated and even fallen in love with a few friends.  There’s a certain comfort that comes with a relationship like that, and I’m not so sure it can be duplicated with a person that you are sort of making yourself like.  I won’t say that these situations all ended on an ugly note, but there is a certain ugliness that comes with “the end.”  At that point, I gave up on dating good friends.  The “friendship zone” exists for a reason, and I’m more ready to accept that.  But now, I find myself in the foriegn position of actually having a problem getting a date.

So, somewhere around the middle of summer, I decided to join match.com.  There’s that saying, “If you do what you always done, you get what you always got.”  Keeping that in mind, I made the decision to take a proactive (I’ve always had issues with that word, because it sounds like made-up bandwagon-speak) approach to dating. You gotsta pose to be chose, right?  There couldn’t be any harm in testing the waters and seeing what’s out there.  Folks, “out there” sucks.

You ever walked into a party and as soon as you got there, you said, “This is not my scene.”  That was me on Match.  It felt like the Last Chance Highway of love – forced and jaded.   The people were either too happy to be there, too snarky, or too persistent (read: belligerent – I saw you winks.  I saw your emails.  All of them.  You’re already showing yourself to be a bugaboo and it’s only 48 hours.) The one brother who winked at me in my target range (I selected 31-42) was all sorts of the business that would catch my eye…if I lived in Akron.  Brother, what am I gonna do with you in Akron?

Everyone else was much older, multiple marriages, smacked of desperation,  unsure if they wanted children (how is this a match for me?)…you get the picture.  It got to the point where I would heave a sigh when I saw my daily “matches.”  What am I supposed to do with a 375 lb. Hawaiian man looking for his third wife?  iCan’t.  At the end of the day, I was putting myself in an environment that I wasn’t digging to, uh, meet someone that I would dig? Hmmm.  So I had to let go of the notion of finding a match — at least through Match.  I’ve had friends recommend other sites: blackpeoplemeet.com, eharmony.com, even onlinebootycall.com, but at the end, I’m still online with the specific purpose of looking for a date, and there’s something about that that just doesn’t jibe with me.   So, I guess the big question is, what now?

Nothing.  Not really.  I live near Washington, DC.  Why do I have to go online to meet BLACK PEOPLE?  I don’t want to be electronically harmonious with you.  I definitely don’t want someone to call for my booty online.* I want…hmmm…

I want a brother so smart, I have to look up the stuff he talks about.

I want a brother so steady, I can set my watch by him.

I want a brother so delicious, I lick my fingers after I’ve finished holding hands with him.

I want a brother that takes his mama to lunch and his daddy to football games.

I want a brother that enjoys my mind and gives consideration to my opinions.

I want a brother who knows how to tell me to check my mouth (because anything can be done when it’s done properly).

I want a man who finds me sexy.

I want a man who can tell me when I need to improve.

I want a brother to communicate when times are rough.

I want a brother that will see my family as his family.

I want a brother that likes, respects and appreciates the man that he is.

I want a brother with the capacity to visualize the man he will be.

I want a brother as wondrous as he is flawed.

I want a brother to think that none of the above is crazy, unreasonable or unfathomable.

That shouldn’t be too hard.

Right?

* I hear tell that Online Booty Call is attempting to morph into a legitimate dating site.  That’s all well and good, but you are the company you keep.  I’m not going to the crack house to look for a solid brother; I’m not going to OBC to look for the type of person I would be interested in dating.

“I don’t give a f*** about you or ya weak crew, whatcha gonna do when [Black Mamba] come for you?”

My views of motherhood can be summed up in the statements made in the movie “Role Models.”

I am a lioness.  A black sheba.  I am a lioness, and this is my cub.  If you mess with my cub, I will claw your ass up until you shit sideways.”

That goes for you.  And you.  And anyone you bring with you. I’m not the perfect mother.  I’m sure if they walked into the crib and cookies were baking and I had apple slices on the table, AFTER they came to, they would probably call the Men in Black.  But I look out for those guys.  I want the best for them, and sometimes, I have to ask the hard question, is the best actually with me?

My place is small, I struggle financially (partially due to the fact that I can’t budget my way out of a wet paper bag/partially due to the fact that I’m sort of on my own), I’m burned out, I cuss and cry in front of my kids, and all those other things Claire Huxtable didn’t do.  When I had a conversation with their father this summer regarding them staying in New Orleans, however, I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea.  He’s generally unstable, the schools aren’t up to par, and I’m not exactly crazy about the ass backward corrupt political environment there.  He concurred, and actually said he was considering moving to be closer to them – to Maryland perhaps.

Imagine my surprise when, as the summer drew to a close, he became cagey in all conversations pertaining to their return.  There were times when he was arrogant (“Didn’t I tell you I would buy their ticket?”), befuddled (“I…I’m gonna make it work some kind of way”), and downright belligerent (“I’ll get the tickets when I get the tickets” is what he told our eight-year-old).  He stopped answering my phone calls, and when either his wife or the kids would answer, he was either asleep or “he just left.”

Finally, when the time showed that missing school was an inevitability, I spoke to Finge for the 411:

Um…he’s asleep.

It’s 7:30 at night.  He’s asleep every time I call [Finge]?

[Brief pause, then a whisper] No.  He tells us to tell you that.  He doesn’t want to talk to you.  Look, why don’t you just come get us.

That was Monday night.  Flying was not at all financially feasible, so Tuesday, I went in to work to give my peeps the heads up, and get some last minute advice, made the necessary preparations, and on Wednesday morning, I hit the road.  I napped in Tennessee, and was in New Orleans by 10:30 PM.  I do not play when it comes to kids in general. That goes double for any I brought into the world.

Since he didn’t seem to be concerned with talking to me, I cut all communication with him.  There was no ringing his phone like a bugaboo. There was no customary razor tongued voice mail messages.  I prayed for direction, gathered some records and documents that I felt would be helpful, and ultimately had a friend reach out to a friend who is a member of New Orleans’ finest.  One of the attorneys at my job cautioned me, “Do not bring a weapon.”  I figured my tire iron didn’t count.

When I called him, of course, he was “sleeping.”  I was insistent, and told him to bring them to his mother’s house at 1:00.  He had them there at 12:52.  I think my reaction, or lack thereof, had him concerned, and I think I like that.

However, I don’t think we’ll experience that concern again, because that was their last visit.  I had to get in my car and drive 18 hours because you don’t give enough of a fuck about your kids well being (because they were confused as fuck, and he was not even interacting with them), or their education (they missed a week of school), OR my time (because had he answered the phone, I could have bought their plane tickets and flown them home my damn self).  So the chapter of my concern for his relationship with them ended.  They’re not going back. I’m certain he will not call my phone.  My son is not allowed to talk to him on his cell phone without my presence.

Quite frankly, I don’t want his money.  I want his ass gone.  Disappeared.  No more here today gone tomorrow.  To quote Christian Bale, “We’re fucking done professionally.”  I can’t think of one thing that an erratic, irresponsible, IGNORANT fool such as him can add to their lives.  The Bug was calling me in tears on a regular basis.  Finge, though too cool for tears, could not hide his anger and confusion.  He actually had the gall to tell Finge NOT to talk to me on the phone.  Fortunately, I have a child with GOOD sense and he saw that for the bullshit that it was.  When he discovered that he was still talking to me, he stopped talking to him.  Yes.  He stopped talking to a 10 year old for calling his mother.

So yah pumpkins.  That’s been my story of the last few weeks, and why I have been MIA.  But, I’m back, and I’m ready to hit you with some more realness.

So apparently, the answer the the question posed at the outset is, make yourself scarce as possible, because when I hit the field, I’m not looking to play reindeer games.  I’m playing to win.