Single Mother Here: These Kids Will NOT Be the Death of Me

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Excerpt From The Signature Movement, by Tonya D. Floyd:

Single Mama Saga Part 2

Marginalized, pushed to the side,
afterthought, forgotten often;
presence means nothing, ‘til somebody wants something.
symbol for oppression, her only mission
to impose restriction in her jurisdiction,
rebuke, reject, repel, veto, say no, can’t go,
can’t do what they want to,
So very rude; petty even.
Visions of leavin them alone,
no home, no ride, no protection, no guide,
no buffer, no mother, have to answer to no other.
Freedom costs; peace is lost.
What’s right aint always popular,
but be careful what you ask for.
Dishes, bathrooms, and a couple of floors
seems like a small price for keeping things nice.
Sacrifice—I’m no stranger to it;
whatever it takes, I do it.
Needs met, never let harm come to one;
sell me out for a jacket when Xmas comes.
Birthdays all it takes is a meal to seal the deal.
24/7/365 is my tour. I’ve endured
sheets and towels full of vomit and bowel,
sleepless nights, everyday fights,
suspensions, detentions,
counselors, therapy,
asthma, eczema, dialing 911 emergency,
pissy clothes, pussy woes,
57 hours of labor, disrespectful behavior,
noses bloody, daddies cruddy,
no remorse, no support,
ends not meeting, bammas cheating,
days feeling like the devil is defeating me.
Because I chose to accept responsibility
for these lives. Feels like knives
in my back when they act
like life with me is misery.
So I bless them and release them into the care
of anyone out there
who thinks he knows best.
No regrets.

I wrote this poem around the time I was involved in a custody dispute. I had been praying for the best, preparing for the worst–what if I lost my child? What???? You give birth to someone, raise them the best you know how, and then someone decides they’re ready to do something different, and you’re in court defending yourself and your parenting skills against allegations of neglect or what have you. I mean, they gotta throw you under the bus if they’re gonna appear superior to you; right? Of course they do. They have to make the court believe you’re terrible enough to force a change in this child’s life. Okay, he didn’t prove any of that in my case, but the child’s testimony won it for him. He said he wanted to go. And so he went.

It burned. The grief was real. I was reduced to something like he has a mother, and she’s around, but she doesn’t really count; I now have visitation three days a week, split holidays, and part of the summer. It’s crazy how many times in the last two years I’ve had to identify myself as his mother, because the person across from me assumed (or was led to believe) someone else was in fact his mother. Imagine that. Like I’m absentee, or trife. You talkin bout me?! I was his only active, responsible, doing the work parent for 14 years. You cannot be talking about me. Yeah, it gets old real quick. But I’m a lady, and I have not succumbed to the urge to nut out over the whole thing, to date.

True to my nature, writing out my feelings–and a couple of salty, murderous snippets for a novel I haven’t decided to release yet–really helped me put some things into perspective. That and a whole lot of prayer helped me calm down a great deal. I was eventually able to just let go and observe. I’ve learned a lot by simply watching and listening, not intervening unless and until an egregious error was made. I figure if everybody knows better than me, they can show me how wrong I really am. If nothing else, I’m a student of life, so let’s have it. Got popcorn?

Well, I’m not the only one who’s been learning. Some folks now know the implications of “be careful what you ask for.” It’s just interesting to me how I went into court and got nothing I asked for, but somehow I ended up with exactly what I needed. The judge said I was “struggling.” Now I’m not. Peace, be still. Thank God. He’s so good, you always get what you need. And when other people are learning lessons, sometimes he even lets you watch. 

I think one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned during this time is that being a mother does not mean you lose yourself completely for the sake of your kids. What do I mean by that, you say? Hear me out. We always think we must go to the grave protecting and defending them from everything. And that’s partly true. Outside influences will try and steal them from us, often. And we will protect and defend. People will try to bring harm to them, often. And we will protect and defend. However, they will at some point be old enough to make decisions, and use the information you’ve instilled in them all these years. At some point, our children will become the thing that tries to take themselves out. They become the threat. And it is at that point that you will need to step back, observe, and listen. They may even hit a brick wall on occasion. But don’t you run in there and pick them up right away.

You can’t just throw yourself head first into this problem, because there are so many moving parts, you need to be more strategic and gain perspective before you move. Then too, what about your other kids? Which will you forsake for a time in the name of “saving” this one? And what about you? Who’s keeping you on point while you’re all emotional and off-center? Yeah, you STILL have to balance everything else. Right. That pause, that step back, that observation period will probably be one of the hardest things in the world for a good mother to do, but it’s necessary to keep your eye on the ball and not let everything fall apart. As if you didn’t have enough to do already….

Past a certain age, our children will have learned to manipulate people and situations–especially if from broken homes. Our children will learn to withhold information, play parents against one another, lie, cry, or whatever to get what they want. They will play on your guilt and your sympathy. All the while, they’re dealing with feelings of anger or betrayal or frustration too, which they probably don’t know how to navigate alone. And if they’re mad at you for whatever reason, you can’t help them anyway. I’m a firm believer in seeking professional help for everybody involved, just like hiring a dentist for that root canal or that accountant for a tax problem.

You are somebody’s mother, but you’re not an expert in all things, no matter what you think. Sometimes you are not enough. Sometimes you have to be smart, rather than emotional. Sometimes you need to recharge before you re-engage. Sometimes you have to simply let go. Sometimes you have to be strong enough to say I need help. Then ask for it. Sometimes the decision will be made for you.

Regardless of how it goes down, you must find peace with it, and continue to be the dutiful, diligent, supportive, loving, giving, incredible mother you are. They’re still yours. And I know it may not look like it right now, but when it’s all said and done, your children will one day recognize all that you have done for them. Even if your kids don’t say it, SOMEBODY is paying attention, and will remind you that you’re one of the good ones. Take care of yourself. Sometimes we forget that part. But it’s so very important. Peace be with you.

From the Mind of:
Tonya D. Floyd, Author/Host


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