Why does Father’s Day make me feel sadder and lonelier than Mother’s Day does when I clearly have a shit ton of mommy issues and a father who at least tries to be there for me now as an adult more than he was when I was a child? Maybe because it’s the loss of my children’s father that I mourn more than anything still. He’s alive and they will even get to see him this week, but what’s gone goes beyond the physical. And social media testimonials from loving wives to their stellar husbands/children’s fathers reminds me of what my family lost when my husband of 16 years had his second massive manic episode.

Ten years ago I thought I had the dream. I was married to my college sweetheart with two amazing children. We were the first of our crew to marry and have children, winging it all the way. Sure, we were broke all the time and I was busy ignoring increasingly larger red flags waving more and more frantically, but I was “secure” with a man who, while I trusted his judgement less and less, I loved beyond reason and just knew was a father my kids could count on. When he had that manic break, we all lost that illusion.

The man who had once been our children’s primary playmate, the get-down-on-the-floor-and-play guy, became the one who drove cars scarily speeding down the road with them in it, who got into confrontations with security while our children were present, and who cursed me out to our children on their visits.

I’ve hesitated writing about what his journey did to me because it’s his journey. His pain. He has his own view of how things went down and his own demons to battle. And it’s my children’s lives too, ones that I didn’t want to be labeled by their father’s actions. But it affected me too and I can finally acknowledge that losing that partner wounded me in a way that I didn’t immediately realize and so I hadn’t really treated it. 

While divorce was a real possibly, I thought I could at least have had a parenting partner. I know he loves them. This was never in doubt. But his mental illness, whatever the diagnosis is these days, robbed him of his ability to moderate himself and be steady enough not to frighten or endanger our beloveds. I won’t pretend I’ve been a model parent, especially since I took it on solo. I’ve done a million things wrong, sometimes mired in self doubt and the cesspool of my own childhood issues. But I’ve put them before myself more times than not and remain committed to raising them with values and as many options as possible for a good future.

It’s a staggering weight. One that it seems so many other women bear with much more ease than I do. I know that’s an illusion but the struggle to be that “strong Black woman” is real. And while I have the most amazing network of friends and loved ones, it’s my weight to carry. I’ve shared it with my God. And to be clear, whatever I’ve accomplished to date has been because of His grace and love. But He also knows my heart and that I want a partner. A short while ago I thought I’d found that with someone new but it wasn’t meant to be. The time is nearing when these children will be considered adults and no longer my charges. But they’ll need my support and guidance for many years to come. I pray for their father’s health, in body, soul, and mind because it would mean the world to them. But in general, it would be such a boon to them to have someone else to be a steady loving presence for them… and for me.

I wrote this post a few years ago on Facebook and it truly still stands, so I’m reposting it here, where I’m going to go back to owning my own words.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, mother figures and all those who hope to be a mother (because I believe your child is waiting for you).

I read a post from Ann Lamott on the fact that she doesn’t believe in Mother’s Day because it imbues mothers (parents) with some sort of special allotment of love and caring traits, when there are plenty of mothers who don’t measure up to that and plenty of non-mothers/childless-by-choice folks who have it in spades. It stuck with me and yes, there is truth to that. But whether or not you are a “good” mom or just a human one who wants to be your best self for/with your children, one who no doubt experiences plenty of fails there, it is a special thing to have the responsibility of caring for a tiny human from as early as whenever they enter your life, loving these wonderful beings fiercely in spite of themselves and their horridness sometimes, and then allowing/helping them to become functioning adults outside of you. (Yes, fathers do that too, and that’s why they have their own day.)

I woke up today to news that a friend’s wife passed away yesterday and his young daughter lost her mother. He is such a good man and I know he will be amazing to this sweet girl and with their extended family she will be lovingly embraced in the years to come. But my heart breaks for her and the ache she will have. I can’t explain that mother/child connection. It just is. Whether your mother has passed away or you have a contentious or broken relationship with her, there’s often an awareness of what’s missing that’s akin to phantom limb syndrome. (If you’re one of those who has beat that, share the secret.) Days like today, with everyone taking pics as they fete their awesome moms or as they’re treated by their darling kids, will only exacerbate that feeling. And for those going through that I have always prayed for peace and comfort. And as we get older we can better understand and forgive (or work toward forgiving) those “bad” mothers for their choices as we accept their humanity.

And while one day to celebrate mothers may seem trite or like a Hallmark/flowers/chocolate cartel holiday, and the appreciation should also stretch through the other 364 days of the year, can it be so wrong to single out this one unique relationship for a little attention? And then maybe extend that loving spirit to everyone around us?

–Feeling sappy

Sometimes I wonder, what if I’d been older when I had my kids? If I’d worked through my hella long list of issues before I became their everything? Would I have handled a marriage ending and the dizzying onslaught of solo parenting better? Would they be better off? Or are we exactly where we need to be for the journeys we’re meant to take with the specific strengths we’ll need along the way? 

I wish I could say it’s easy to stop looking back and to have faith that you’re where you’re meant to be at the moment while acknowledging you’re not where you’ll end up. But it isn’t always easy. It takes work. Daily reminders that the now, your present circumstances, is not all there is. And even when the now sucks, there’s joy to be had, optimism to find, and the you you wish to be can shine through. 

For many if us that requires a combo of faith, prayer, and mindfulness. I’m wishing you success at it today and every day, even as I work at it myself. #faithwalk 

I hit my first 10-pound loss. Actually, it’s 10.5 pounds. I’m so excited!  I keep thinking about how much further there is to go but this success in 6 weeks makes me believe I’m on the right path and I just need to keep doing it.  And 9-11 months from now I will be at my goal weight.

I’m grateful for friends who are supportive, whether that’s cheering me on or going on evening run/walks with me — and pushing me to do more running than walking. I’m grateful for this Fitbit Charge HR I have now and all the data it’s giving me that hopefully will help me be more efficient about this weight loss journey.

And I’m grateful for my God and this life He’s given me because it’s so full of great opportunities and potential for good.

I had my best time today! 12:48 average. 2.36 miles in 30 minutes. I will get back to 10 minutes in the next few months, people. Yes!

Today makes a month since I decided I needed a new way of life. One that was active, lighter and physically fulfilling. I’ve lost 8 pounds and got my speed down to 13:44 mile. I’ve set reasonable goals and really believe that sticking to my calorie count and activity level will be doable, with variety worked in. I even took a Zumba class tonight, one of a few classes I will incorporate into rest day schedules.
But I’m trying not to be discouraged because how I look doesn’t match how great I feel. I mean, it makes sense. Eight pounds lost is great but it’s only 10% of what I have to lose. It’ll take another 10 pounds to really start to see a difference. I have to be patient… And that’s never been my strong suit.

But just as I am changing my habits, I have to change that mindset and stay focused on the long game. Along with inspirational quotes and articles and blog posts, setting new challenges help.

My next bench mark is two weeks from now. I hope to lose another four by then, at the very least breaking the barrier to the next lower tens. And I hope to be running two miles straight. And then run an official 5k with the NYRR, one that counts toward the 9+1 (nine official races and one volunteer session for entry to the NY marathon). And with that I’m putting the 2017 marathon on the table. Yep. I said it. I will be at least 50 pounds lighter and cruising.

That’s all I’ve got folks. Up at 5 am for the next run. Happy as a clam.

Full parking lot at the track at 6:40am on a Saturday when it’s already 80 degrees. Get it, get it.

I read recently that choices are diet killers. I get it. If you can waffle on healthy choice over unhealthy (but yummy or otherwise pleasurable) choice, things can get complicated. 

So for me, once I’ve made the decision to reach this goal, I can’t have a choice. It’s now what I do. It has to be who I am. 

I exercise every day. For now that means run/walking 2.5 miles every day until I can run better again, when I can bring that down to five days with 3+ miles per day. I’m also doing body weight exercises:squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks. And some weights. I will build that back up but focusing on cardio now because it’s the weight around my middle I need off the fastest. 

Sticking to 1400 calories a day is actually not as challenging as I originally thought it would be. I try to keep every meal to 350 and know it means trade off elsewhere if I don’t. I try to leave wiggle room for (a small portion of) something tasty as a snack.

That’s me for today. Time to head out. Have a great one!

Day 11. I stuck to my calorie count today. I did not eat into my burned exercise calories, even though I was ravenous when I got off the train home because I worked a little late and didn’t have an afternoon snack today. 

I was thisclose to picking up takeout – yummy, delicious, saucy 1,000-calorie takeout. But no, I went home, made some quickie marinade and grilled my chicken tenders. Topping off my 1,400-calorie day with the last bit of protein I needed. And with a glass of rosé, of course.

So I got myself some new workout clothes instead of more food or dessert. I have made do with my five-years-old, two-sizes-ago gear but I’m hitting the point where I need a little more motivation. And I can’t keep tugging back down the hem of the only sleeveless running top I had as it repeatedly rolled up my expanded tummy.

I accepted the size on the new clothes because I know it’s more about being comfortable than those numbers, even as I believe I won’t be in them for long. Bought them on the cheap at Marshalls. And they all fit (though I’m not ready to run in the shorts yet). 

I’m gonna be so cute in the morning. 


Today a photo from one of my favorite days ever popped up in Facebook’s memories tool: the wedding day of one of my nearest and dearest friends. And I didn’t/still haven’t allowed it on my timeline, even though my friend looks amazing, in all her Audrey Hepburn glory, and even though I remember how happy that day was for us all.

I didn’t share it because I was huge. It was eight months after I had my daughter and I’d put on a lot of weight with that pregnancy. It’s still hard to see. Even harder because I’m just as big now.

A week and a half ago I hit my personal wall and found my resolve. I’ve come to terms with the lifestyle changes necessary and I’m not trying to do them–I’m doing them. There is no try. Only do. I’m down 5 lbs. already. I have 80 to go.

I just put that in writing. For the world to see. Because it’s happening. Because for the first time in 20 years, even though I have never lost a sense of my attractiveness, I can finally acknowledge that I want to be skinny again (like in that picture above), and much of that is in my control.

Run. Every day. Stick to the daily calorie count/nutritional goals. Every day. Retrain my tastebuds. Rewrite my mindset. Every day.

I wasn’t going to do a big declaration thing but here I am. I’ve been athletic in the past (half marathon six years ago, plenty of gym time with a great trainer) and I love feeling strong but I’ve never been as fully committed to my health (eating habits included) as I am now. I’ve let difficulties and stress lead to emotional eating and lack of movement. But that’s over. Because guess what…there will always be stress! So oxygen mask on myself if I want to live the life I’ve envisioned. And I can use all the help and encouragement you can share, fam.

Y’all think I’m cute now? Wait til you see me in the coming months and year. I’m gonna be stuntin’ on errybody.


© Gsphotography | Dreamstime.com

I had never planned on being a single mother to two kids but I’ve been doing it for seven years, ever since my 16-year marriage went south and the man I wed at 20 was for all intents and purposes out of the picture. And in less than three months, my firstborn, the boy who still makes me smile at the mere thought of him, will graduate high school. And I’m a mess.

I’m a mess because it’s been a long ass road. Being a parent means sifting through all your baggage and issues to make the best decisions for your offspring, and creating a life with meaning, purpose and potential for them. And I have a lot of baggage. A sexually abused girl who married young, was disconnected from her mother and then had a husband with his own mental health issues which came to bore on one truly traumatic day. After which I had to be the sole breadwinner, cheerleader, disciplinarian, and guardian of all that was important for my two little loves. I did not do it perfectly. Some days I did it downright poorly. But I showed up for them every day and kept the lights on (okay there was that one time…), food on the table, conversations going, doctor visits happening, parent/teacher conversations in swing, homework checked and now he is graduating and going to college. I didn’t do this alone–my village is strong. But I did this. And while it’s not really the finish line, I’m ugly crying across the mile marker.

I’m a mess because the idea of him starting a new chapter, of semi adulthood settling in is both utterly thrilling and utterly terrifying. I know he is a good person, with good values and a good, mostly sensible, head on his shoulders (he chose a small SUNY college for accounting after weighing cost, grades and earning potential–who is this kid??). But he is a teenager, and they are all subject  to stupid decisions. I have had many a conversations (too many for his taste) about decisions about sex, drinking, and drugs. And associations and friendships. And personal responsibility and morality and society. And he is also a Black man, with all the prejudices and problematic situations that may mean for him. His beautiful thoughtful mind, affable nature and articulate speech are certainly wonderful gifts that can help him go far but they are not enough to shield him from someone else’s preconceived notion or a series of actions that can end up hurting him. And while I’ve come to terms with that while he’s navigating around our town, the thought of sending him into the wider world snatches a bit of my breath away sometimes.

But I’ve decided I’m going to own this entire emotional experience. Because at some point this moment will pass and become just a memory. Like when he first learned to walk. Or talk. Or started school. Or learned to drive. All those milestone moments that consumed my world but then got left in the rear-view as we sped on to the next thing. I will revel in all these emotions and be on the lookout for which of the moments in this experience I will get to snapshot in my mind. Which of these moments will come back to me when I’m holding his firstborn or when I’m aged and infirmed. Which will make the catalog of memories, joining the likes of the first day I sat in a ray of sunlight with him in the rocker in his room and snuggled his head tucked under my chin. Or how he used to mispronounce the word ¨flowers.¨ Or his many wild goofy boy moments. Or the way he now bends down to kiss my forehead and hug me. Sure, I will go through it with my daughter and her experience will have its own unique qualities, as the complicated mother daughter relationship would. I will revel in all that because it too will pass.

But give me this moment to be in full mom-ness. I’ve earned it.

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