The Best Date of My Life

At fifty years of age, you might say I’ve been on a few dates in my life.  Some were good dates, and some….well let’s just say I wasn’t eagerly waiting by the phone.  I can’t say that I remember having a really bad date; or for that matter, a really great date.  In fact, most of them escape my memory.  That is, until the day my five year old son, Jaren, asked me if he and I could go on a date together.

I wish I could remember how exactly Jaren asked me.

At first, I didn’t take Jaren seriously.  I thought the idea would fade but surprisingly, it didn’t.  It seemed like this was very important to him.  How could I refuse such a lovely offer to go on a special date with my son?  I couldn’t. So Jaren and I began to discuss how and where we could have our special date.  Jaren has always had a strong personality and likes to be in charge.  I put on my thinking cap.  I mean, he was only five.  We decided to have our date at our condo later in the week.  I allowed Jaren to plan most of the evening.

The morning of our “special date night”, we got ready for school and work.  Jaren reminded me, “Don’t forget about our date tonight, Momma?”  I assured him that I wouldn’t.

Later that evening, I helped Jaren get dinner ready and set the table.  We got out the good dishes, along with wine glasses and my cloth embroidered napkins, all at the request of my son.  We also set a candle on the table.  On the menu was Tyson chicken nuggets and french fries.  Since Jaren insisted on preparing our meal, I needed to make it as safe and easy as possible, with my supervision, of course.

Jaren also insisted on picking out my outfit for our date.  He had a dress code in mind.  It had to be fancy!   I waited downstairs while Jaren picked out my clothes and then laid them on my bed.  As Jaren strolled down to his bedroom to get ready, I put on my long silver shimmery skirt, an elegant blouse and high heel shoes.  I fixed my hair and make-up and waited at my bedroom door.   Jaren arrived a few moments later wearing his black dress slacks, a white long sleeve collar shirt and a red clip-on tie.  I told him how handsome he looked.  He smiled, returned a compliment, took my hand and escorted me downstairs to the dining room.

We gathered our food and the Kool-Aid (we’ll just pretend it is wine for now), and sat down.  I lit the candle.  Jaren turned on some soft music and then…we prayed.  For the first time, my son was not a five year old boy.  He was a mature, engaging young man.  He ate his food with such grace and etiquette.  I thought, “This is not my child.”

After we finished our meal, Jaren asked me to dance.  We slowed danced and he carefully dipped me at the end.  Afterwards, Jaren escorted me to my room and I thanked him for a lovely evening as I kissed him on his cheek.

My son is fifteen years old now and we have not gone on any dates since then.  But I will always remember our special date.  That night, my son showed me how a woman should be treated on a date, the kind of respect a woman deserves and the kind of love a woman deserves.   I felt beholden to Jaren.  That truly was the best date of my life.

Thrift Store

You know times have changed when a song about shopping at a thrift store (Thrift Shop, by Macklemore) wins Billboard’s rap song of the year 2013.

I am a big fan of thrift stores.  I don’t get embarrassed to shop there.  And after becoming a single parent, I have shopped there whether I could financially afford to shop elsewhere or not.  My first memory of a thrift store was when I was a kid.  My mother, a single mom of three at that time, didn’t have a lot of extra money.  I remember one winter, us kids wanted to go ice skating.  Mom took us to the Goodwill Store to shop for ice skates.  They had a black pair that fit my brother but had only one other pair that my sister and I could fit into.  Mom said that my sister and I would have to take turns.  No problem.  We were just happy to be able to go ice skating.

My mother continued to shop at thrift stores all my years in school and still shops at them to this day, although she surely does not need to shop there.  She loves a good bargain.  I’ll admit there were times when I was in high school I was a little embarrassed for someone to see my mother shopping at the Salvation Army.  After all, my mother had remarried and although my parents weren’t rich, they weren’t poor enough to necessitate shopping for second-hand merchandise.  What would people think?  Teenagers are so self-centered.  Well, some of us.

Earlier this year, my son wanted to go to the Lady Gaga concert.  I had treated him to the Nicki Minaj concert six months prior and informed him that I wasn’t able to afford another set of concert tickets.  One concert ticket purchase per year was more than fair.  His response, “Then I will try to win them.”  He just knew he was going to win those tickets somehow.  I love his optimism!

The weekend before the concert, I went online to search the local radio stations so I could verify if and when they were having Lady Gaga concert ticket promotions or contest giveaways.  Most of the radio stations were doing the usual “10th caller” contest.  My son listened all weekend, calling every time the DJ announced, “Tenth caller wins Lady Gaga concert tickets,” with no luck.

One station did their contest a little different.  They were having a drag queen contest.  The contestants entered online and described to the radio station how they would dress up in their best drag queen costume.  I submitted my idea:  mobster pin-striped suit, a gangster hat and high heel shoes.

One day before the concert I got a call from the radio station.

I answered, “Hello.”

“Hi, this is Nick from i93.”

He told me they liked my idea and invited me to come down dressed in my drag queen outfit for a chance to win the Lady Gaga concert tickets.  I was overjoyed.  However, there was just one small problem; I didn’t have a pinned stripped suit hanging in my closet.  I also didn’t have the money to go out and buy a new one.  I mean heck, if I could’ve bought a pinned stripped suit, then I could’ve bought the concert tickets in the first place.

Luckily we have a local thrift store that I have visited many times over the past few years.  I prayed to God that they would have the item I needed on one of their racks.  It seemed like it was a lot to ask.  I mean, really.  I needed a suit, a pin-striped suit, a suit that would fit my size, and be priced reasonably.  But I was faithful.

I walked into the store and went right to the men’s section.  I figured I would have a better chance of finding the suit I needed in the men’s section than in the women’s section. Since this was more for a theatrical costume rather than for an evening out on the town, I didn’t need it to fit exact or perfect. A little big and roomy was fine.  Actually that was the style I was going for anyway.

Thanks be to God, I found the perfect pin-striped suit for $5.00. But wait, then I get up to the register and they inform me that the suit is on sale and was marked down. What? You are kidding me! How wonderful is that?

Not only did Nick from i93 hand me two Lady Gaga concert tickets for the first level, the DJ’s even interviewed me on live air for my unique drag queen costume.   All the while, my son had a look of amazement and an endless smile on his face.

As parents, we don’t get opportunities like this often.  At that moment, I felt like a great mom.  I’m reminded of that old credit card commercial:

Pinned striped suit, $3.00

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Gansta Hat, $12.00

Lada Gaga concert tickets, Free

 

Look on my son’s face, Priceless!

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Choose Your Battles Wisely

“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go.” ― C. JoyBell C.

The other day, my son and I were driving in the car and he asked me what a martyr was?  He had heard the word used in several rap/hip hop songs and was curious as to the meaning.  Now first let me say that my son is very advance in his vocabulary.  He is an avid reader and has a greater knowledge of vocabulary words than I do.  I have on many occasions gone to him and asked him what a word means.  So I was a little surprised when he didn’t know the meaning of this word but at the same time, I was delighted to use this as a teaching opportunity.

I explained to my son that a martyr believes in a cause, is willing to go to war, to fight a battle and says, “I will die for my cause.”  Example:  Joan of Arc declared herself as a martyr, fault many battles to further her cause, and was willing to die for the cause.  A martyr believes that justice is needed and they will fight and die to see justice prevail.

I have a book that I’ve been reading off and on called, Reading Judas, by authors, Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King.  One of the interesting talking points of this book speaks about the martyrs’ that arose after the death of Jesus.  One theory is that those who witnessed the crucifixion began feeling guilty; as if they should have done more to stop the senseless killing of their friend and teacher and felt they needed to become martyrs to show their devotion to Jesus; while on the other hand, the new followers may have misunderstood the crucifixion and began sacrificing themselves as martyrs to further their cause for Christianity, or “to be like Jesus.”

Some people believe Jesus was a martyr.  I agree that Jesus did not run away from his belief.  And he surely did not avoid antagonism.  But…he also did not enter the cities with swords and armor.  Jesus went where he was welcome.  When Jesus came upon a city or villagers who opposed his message, he led his followers elsewhere.  Whether Jesus had foreseen his crucifixion as a prophecy is a mystery to me.  But one thing I’m almost certain about, Jesus did not go into the city as a martyr with a revolution trying to defend his philosophies or create a new religion.  Jesus had no intention on leading his followers into battle to fight for a cause when they entered into the city of Jerusalem for Passover.  Jesus was going into the city to celebrate his heritage and traditions, as he more than likely had done many times before in honor of peace, love, brotherhood and most of all, God.

In his final hours, Jesus instructed his followers to not fight on his behalf.  At that point, he is saying to his followers, there is no need for you to fight or die for my sake.  With every strike, Jesus does not resist or strike back.  This still amazes me today.  Can you imagine someone hitting you repeatedly?  Can you imagine not defending yourself or fighting back?  Jesus does exactly that.  He surrenders and allows this experience to occur, not out of fear, not as a martyr but to instill his message.  He carries out his final lesson to his followers, peacefully showing non-resistance.  And the ultimate message; he bestows forgiveness.  That to me is not a martyr.  That to me is the opposite of a martyr.

What do you think?  Was Jesus a martyr or not?Image

Adoption in the Perfect World

English: Globe icon.

English: Globe icon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read some blogs from a birth mother site. I was surprised to say the least for so many reasons. Birth mothers, who were hurting and very angry, were attacking adoptive families. Adoptive families were backlashing with ridicule towards the birth mothers. One adoptive mother even said she was sparing her child from telling him that he came from “bad stock”. Really? Have we come to this? Or maybe I have just been shielded and naïve to this birth/adoptive community. No loving parent would ever want to bad mouth or say derogatory things about a child’s family; loving being the operative word here.

I was born out of wedlock in 1963. My mother chose to keep me and parent me as a single mother. She already had two mouths to feed, my older brother and sister from her first marriage. Four years down the road, my father went to prison for murder. She never told me that I came from “bad stock”. She actually allowed me to maintain contact through letters and an occasional phone call with my imprisoned father. At times, I felt like a second class citizens for being born out of wedlock, for not having my father in my life and then finding out later about his crime and prison sentence. If I had been told I was from “bad stock” or was made to feel guilty for something my parents had done, it would have made me feel horrible and like less of a human being.

The only reason a person would choose to portray someone as “bad stock” is if one person wants to make another person look bad so they can make themselves look better. So in essence, it has nothing to do with the birth parent or birth child but in fact with the voice who is speaking the hate and judgment.  Isn’t that called bullying?

My mother told me that she decided not to tell me anything derogatory about my father because one day I would grow up and I could decide for myself what kind of man he was. She said if she tried to make me hate him, I would end up hating her; smart woman.

I agree that too often, expecting pre-birth mothers don’t have the resources to consider their other options, like single parenting. And many times, post birth mothers were forced, coerced or convinced that placing her child for adoption was the best choice. But one thing that really bothers me is all this blame going back and forth between (what appears to me) birth mothers and adoptive mothers. Let us not forget that most of these women (birth mothers) had consensual sex. The real reason this child is made available is because too many men are shirking their responsibility and the expecting mother is alone many times without any support of family and friends. So yes, her choice is made in a desperate state. Once she hands over her child (if she was allowed to do so) to the adoptive parents, her grief begins.

It does seem like at times, that some of our society would like a perfect world. But remember, in a perfect world, no pregnant woman would be left to fend for herself without the contributing male donor that helped her conceive “their” expecting child. Couples who are unable to conceive biological children would remain childless. In a perfect world, no woman would be raped by a man but decide to carry her child nine months to be placed for adoption. In a perfect world, no father would molest his daughter. And the daughter would not be shamed again and judged by an adoption agency, a nun, a hospital nurse, or a society claiming “the birth mother” was easy and a slut. IN A PERFECT WORLD!!!

I am a single mother and a birth mother. My first born, I am parenting and my second born I chose to place for adoption. I have an open relationship with my son’s family. And although we have hit bumps in the road, we have worked through them for which I am most grateful.

We may not live in a perfect world and I may not have a perfect solution. This is God’s world and I believe He guides us so we may all work together in a loving way to support each other; to respect each other; to find common ground for the good of our children and for all humanity. I live in the real world.

NYC publicly blaming Teen Moms for unplanned teen pregnancies.

Shame on you NYC for blaming Teen Moms!  I’m pretty sure Teen Moms didn’t go to a sperm donor shop and have them implant her just so she could become a Teen Mom.  Oh, well….. maybe she just magically created the baby with her magic wand so she could have a baby?  The truth is, some male, probably a Teen Dad, eagerly participated in the making of the baby.  Look, if you truly feel that a child is doomed for failure in life because he/she had a teen, single-parent, which is a strong, far-reaching stereotype, than the least you could do is add Teen Dads to this poster, too.  Stop blaming and shaming females for unplanned pregnancies.  Maybe you should create a poster for THAT concept.  Then maybe, just maybe… we may begin to see change in this country.

Unexpected Mother

 
We shared our love so gingerly
As many times before
With smooth strokes and soft kisses
A heart beats for more.
 
My eggs were patiently waiting
They had a hungry need
You generously left your legacy
You deposited your seed.
 
I waited and I waited
For that special time to come
Until I finally realized
The deed had been done.
 
I called you and told you
We conceived our first child
The words that came out your mouth
Were now words of denial.
 
You loved me so generously
So many times before
How could you not love me
When God has provided us more?
 
I now have a choice to make
God, what should I do
This man that you created
I’ve learned is untrue.
 
He denies me his love
He denies his own child
What kind of life can I create
God looked at me and smiled.
 
Dear child, do not worry
About the one who refuses
For my love is greater
Then any man who bruises.
 
This child you have conceived
This child is My creation
This child you have given life
This child is a new generation.

1998 Jaren's birth

__ Written by, Karen Whitaker