If You Want To Be Mentored You Must Show Up

People can be transparent if you’re willing to look hard enough.  Several months ago I was contacted by a young lady to be her mentor.  As a single mother who survived raising my daughter, I reach out and try to help other single mothers on how they can be successful too.  I can relate to being a teen mom, getting married, divorced, and left to raise my daughter and fend for myself.  I don’t post about my mentoring sessions on Mother 2 Mother, because of privacy reasons.  It’s personal for me and personal for the person being mentored, but I do post on my experiences because moving forward is hard work and not for the faint at heart. If I can pull someone else up or help move them forward, it does my heart good.   

Being raised in a dysfunctional/alcoholic home, teen mom and divorced category was enough for me. I knew I had to break the cycle, and so I did. Breaking out of these categories requires a willingness to listen, accept where we come from, and hard work to get out of it.     

Before I accept a position as a mentor for young ladies and not so young I have a test that I give. It lets me know if the person who is requesting to be mentored is serious about growing and moving forward, if they’re willing to do the necessary work to survive as a single mother, and allows me to see where their head is.  I ask 4 questions and I require a written response.  I like for it to be in writing so they can reference it during the course of their journey and it serves as a reminder of where they started when they arrive finally at their destination. Here’s the questions:  

  1. Tell me about your life and how you ended up where you.
  2. Tell me about your children and your relationship with your ex.   
  3. Where do you want to be in 5 years?
  4. Are you willing to work to educate and better yourself?  If so, list 5 goals.    
I never heard from the young lady again.  She must have thought I had a magic wand and all that was required was me waving it in front of her.  If only life was that easy. I saw right through her when I didn’t receive a response.  She wanted an easy way out, unfortunately there is no easy way out.  Ladies, this is why we need to make wise decisions in our life.  People who look for a easy way out don’t realize they are transparent.  I see you!  She really didn’t want a mentor, she just wanted me to give her a solution.  Excuses and why you can’t do this or that will not take you down the road of success.  Excuses are a way for you to stay where you are.  My response, more power to you. If you don’t think that you can do better why should I. If  you can’t answer basic questions, you’re not willing to do the work and you’re not going anywhere anyway.  

Reminds me of this single mom who choose to stay at home with her child, but was asking others for thousands of dollars to help pay her bills.  If you can’t pay your bills, maybe you’re not in a position to be a stay at home mom, hello. Thousands of single mothers go to work everyday, so they can pay bills and their children turn out just fine. Just as important, if you want someone to mentor you, show up and be prepared to do the work. What I’m saying doesn’t have anything to do with me thinking I’m better or not having empathy for another’s position or situation, but sometimes we just need to get real, take a good look at ourselves in the mirror, and realize that we’re where we are because of decisions that we make. If it’s not improving your life and moving your forward, why stay in the situation and continue doing the same things over and over. You must be willing to open your eyes, and take a good look at why you’re where you are. True, there are many who have fallen on hard times or have ended up in a bad situation, but you don’t have to stay there. It’s a choice.  

Over the course of the years I realized that I don’t have to see things your way and you don’t have to see things my way.  That’s the beauty of living in this great country, but this is my blog so I’m writing from the way I see things.  I know that we don’t all have the same situations nor are our experiences the same, but some things are universal.  When you get real, stop making excuses for yourself and what you don’t want to do, you’ll put yourself in a position to do what you need to do.  

Image courtesy of clipart101.net. 

A Heartfelt Recognition of a Single Mother

Did you see Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma Thunder’s acceptance speech for the NBA MVP award?  If you didn’t, you should.  I’m not a big NBA fan, but I am familiar with most of the players as I come from a family of sports addicts.  Yes, I called them sports addicts.  ESPN is their friend and if I want to be around my family I have to endure.  My grandson wanted these shoes, KDs as he calls them, so I purchased a pair for him.  I’m glad I did, Kevin Durant is a man of true character and a great role model for our youth.  



I watched Kevin Durant’s speech while getting dressed yesterday and it had me in tears.  It had me in tears for several reasons:  1) I was watching a man who came from nothing to be one of the most successful players in the NBA accept the MVP award and 2) He contributed his success to his teammates, family, but most importantly his single mother.  

It affected me in several ways, but I think the biggest was the fact that his success was another example of a son raised by a single mom who went on to do great things both on the court and in his community.  It also affected me because it was another example for single mothers to use as inspiration to keep moving forward because you can successfully raise your children too.  


During the speech he recalled watching his mother struggle to put a roof over his and his brother’s heads.  He talked about how she went to bed hungry because she made sure they got enough.  He recalled their first apartment that had no beds or furniture, but they were happy because they had each other.  He recalled his mom making him do push ups, run up hills and yell at him from the sidelines during his sporting events.  Most importantly, he considered her to be the real MVP for the sacrifices that she made raising him.      


I was literally in tears as I watched his mother fight back tears while he was speaking to her during his acceptance.  It was one of the most heartfelt speeches that I have ever witnessed.  I understand the struggle of a single mother trying to do the best for her children and sacrificing so they can have enough and at times the best.  I know how difficult it is to have to work, educate them, keep them off the streets and build a strong foundation for them so they can have a future.  I have seen a lot of athletes or people for that matter recognize their mother, but I have to say that it’s far and few that recognize mom in the manner that he did.  What a great Mother’s Day gift.  


Your children will follow your lead.  Wanda Pratt, Kevin’s mother, talked abut how her mother told her that it was time for her to move out of her house and make it on her own.  It was tough love, but it made her determined to raise her children on her own and give them a good life.  Single mothers, this is what I’m talking about, you must set priorities, become independent and be an example for your children.  Nobody owes you anything, you must make your mark in the world. Becoming educated and independent is empowering.  With hard work and dedication, you too can raise your children successfully.     

You Are Not The Father

You are not the father!  You are not the father! I lost count of the number of times that I heard this statement while watching daytime TV today.  I know that it was more times than I heard You are the father.  I know I should have been spending my time more productively, but I just didn’t feel like it.  Do you ever have those days that you just want to do nothing?  I’ve been having quite a few lately.  


I digressed back to the show.  One lady had been on the show 14 times for a DNA test, 14 times.  Now I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be all innocent.  I’m not, and I have problems with people who can’t be real and be truthful about who they.  I’ve had a good time throughout the years, but I do wonder how a woman would not know who her baby’s daddy is.    


I watched these young ladies state they are 150% sure they know who the father is, but the DNA test proved otherwise.  Not only were they told the young man who stood accused was not the father, they endured being called out of their name by the young men.  There were young ladies who slept with brothers, fathers and sons, and some who didn’t know who they slept with because they were in a drunken stupor.  Now the party is over, and reality is hitting them hard.  Rather this show is real or not, incidents like this occur everyday.  


I decided to switch channels and found myself in a court room watching a judge determine if the men standing before them were the fathers of children being displayed on a screen.  There were more DNA tests, but there were slight differences from the other show.  Some of the people in the court room were married couples and the wife strayed.  There were men and women some who had hooked up years ago, but never married and the child was now seeking the truth about paternity.  

Between the two shows, I started thinking about all that these young ladies would have to endure as a single mother and all that they would endure through their parenting journey.  I started thinking about the young people who had gone through a part of their life not knowing the truth about who their father really was because of their mother’s poor judgement.  I also started thinking about how important DNA tests had become in today’s society to determine paternity. Have we made a wrong turn in society to the point that we need a test to determine who our children’s fathers are? 

Are we not teaching our children about birth control or waiting until they are married?  I understand women have found a new awakening, and they don’t have a problem getting their freak on. This includes young ladies who aren’t really responsible enough to take on such a huge responsibility.  I can relate to being a single parent and all the struggles as a young mother.  For this reason, I stressed the importance of protecting herself and not becoming a single parent to my daughter.  As mothers, we want support emotionally, financially, and physically, but if a man is not your husband they can’t be depended on to help provide those things for us.   


One thing that I noticed was although the young ladies had sex with these young men, nobody was calling the young men out of their names.  Some things never change, it’s the women who are looked down on.  I also understand why young men want DNA tests, it seems that young ladies give themselves so freely and they do so without thinking of the repercussions.  There’s enough blame to go around.  As a parent, I didn’t preach absenteeism to my daughter.  The chances of your child remaining a virgin until marriage are slim to none.  If you’re successful in achieving that goal, my hat is off to you.  I did preach about the struggle of being a single parent and the importance of protecting herself from disease and an unplanned pregnancy.  I stressed the importance of educating herself, traveling and achieving her goals before she took on the responsibility of parenting.  Having these conversations with you child is so important.  You can’t just have them in passing, it must be a constant so it can take hold in your child’s mind.  


Are you discussing sex with your child?  How are you approaching it or how do you plan to approach it?    


Note:  Photo courtesy of stockvault.net.  




                                                                          



10 Tips for Single Parents

parenting tips, single parenting
Raising children as a single parent, whether you’re a mother or father, can be exhausting.  It takes focus, strength and determination to succeed, but it can be done.  If we accept that each and every one of us are where we are because of decisions that we’ve made, we will be more willing to make better decisions.  Life doesn’t have an eraser, and as long as we continue to make bad choices we will come up short. Life is not perfect, we will all fail from time to time.  Don’t let poor decision making n’t be what’s driving you if you change your attitude and perspective.  

When you decide to change courses, drive will be what takes you from Point A to Point B and beyond.  If you don’t have any drive get some.  You must be willing to dig deep inside of yourself when you feel you can’t go on and you must be willing to make sacrifices.  Life isn’t easy, and the world doesn’t owe you anything because of you’re a single parent.     

I have educated myself, went up the Corporate Ladder, purchased a home, have a savings, take several vacations a year, college educated my daughter, and I’ve done it all as a single mother. This is not a boast, it is a fact.  You have to decide how you want to live and want kind of life style you want to offer your child.  I decided that I would not have others pay for my choices and whoa me would not become a part of my mind set or vocabulary. I wanted to set a great example for my daughter.  I wanted her to have every opportunity available to her in this great country, and I didn’t ever want the words “I didn’t have an opportunity because my mom is a single parent” to come out of her mouth.       

Most importantly, I was determined to not allow my judgement in a relationship to define who I was as a person or as a mother.  I refused to allow myself to fall into the stereotypes that society has set aside for single mothers. Have you noticed that single dads are praised for their endeavors, but women are looked at differently?  Unfair maybe, but it is indeed a fact. I refused to depend on the system to take care of me or my child.  I have no regrets about my decision!  I believe the system should be a stepping stone if it’s going to be used.  Many may disagree, but that is my belief and I’m sticking to it.  

Here  my tips to help you succeed as a single parent: 

  • Start with you.  Decide that you’re going to make it and nothing will stop you. You have to be focused and determined. 
  • When the going gets tough, dig deep within and find the strength.  Know the strength is there and your child or children need you to plow on. 
  • Listen to your intuition.  It is usually right.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I looked the other way when I should have been paying attention to that little voice inside.  
  • Decide that you’re going to be a good example for your children.  –  Become the person that you would like them to be.  (Think about the characteristics that are important to you, honesty, reliable, etc.)  
  • Remember the world doesn’t owe you anything. – You need to make your mark and become self sufficient. You’ll feel much better about yourself.  
  • Come up with a plan –  You must plan in order to be successful.  Decide what you want to do and what you need to do to accomplish your goals.      
  • Find support either on-line or in your community.   – You’re not alone.   
  • Always make your children a priority.   – You can balance a job and your home.  Women do it every day.  If you need to enhance your skills before seeking a job, get in a program where you can get assistance.  Finding balance is key.  
  • Don’t neglect yourself.  – You need to feel good about yourself.  When you feel good about yourself you’ll achieve more.  
  • Find a higher power or church. – It’s important that you believe in someone or something other than you.  You will be calling on them for strength and support along your journey.     
Please share some of your struggles and how you’ve overcome them as a single mother.  There may be someone who can relate and build on your tips.  

 

When Mom’s the Bread Winner

single mothers, single parenting, money management

Are you the bread winner in your family and feeling guilty because you’re not a stay at home mom?  If you’re a single mother, your chances of being a stay at home mom are slim unless you hit the jackpot with child support payments.  I felt guilty leaving my daughter when I headed to work., but someone had to bring income into the home so bills can be paid.   

Unfortunately, being a single mother is not easy. However, you must get over your guilt if you’re feeling any.  I missed my daughter’s first step and her first time being successful using the potty because I was working. I finally had to make peace with my situation and accept the fact that I had to provide for us.  After all,  the child support I was receiving barely paid for her child care let alone pay the other bills.  

I wondered how me working outside the home would affect her. I wondered if she would grow up thinking that moms who stayed at home or who had husbands who provided was abnormal.  I wondered if not having her dad in the home as a role model would affect her.  So many things went through my mind.  When I growing up my mother took care of the home while my father worked. You know the traditional woman versus man duties.  Mom cooks, cleans, does laundry and dad works, mows the lawn, fixes the pipes.    

I soon realized that times had changed.  The work force was full of women who had husbands and children, and still managed to run their homes.  The work force was also full of divorced or single mothers who also ran their homes, had children in school who were doing well and some had gone on to become lawyers, doctors and whatever else they choose.  I realized that the household that I grew up in was no longer the norm in society.  Women had moved up and on.  They had become multitasking moms and no longer fell into that traditional stay at home role.  

I also decided that I would never be my mother!  I love her for everything she did when I was growing up, I learned a lot.  She thought my sister and I going into the work force and becoming non-traditional mothers was strange.  Now she sees that it’s the new normal.  

As my daughter got older, we had several discussions about her father and me having to work to provide. She soon realized that she too was better off without him in her life, and stands by her decision to this day. He’s now on the outside looking in, and wishing he had a relationship with her and his grandchildren.  She understood that I wasn’t the only single mother in the world.  She had friends who had single mothers too. I continued to provide and she continued to excel because she had all the love and the necessities that she needed without a father in the home.  Here are a few lessons that she learned:

  • A mother’s love is the strongest love on this earth
  • She had a strong mother who taught her to be a strong woman and mother
  • Welfare and other public assistance is not an option when you’re able to work
  • Always work to better yourself and don’t blame others for you decisions
  • We don’t live in a perfect world
  • Break circles when you need to  
  • There are children who have fathers in the home who are drunks, drug addicts or who just don’t contribute and live off their wife or girlfriend

If you’re the bread winner and sole provider for your child or children, you’re doing your job as a mother.  You will find that it gives you a sense of purpose, and they will respect you for everything you’ve done for them.  Single mothers raised these leaders and celebrities:    

  • Judge Greg Mathis
  • President Obama
  • President Clinton
  • Mary J Blige
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Tom Cruise
  • Al Pacino
  • Barbara Streisand
  • Mariah Carey 
  • Halle Berry
Our children may not grow up to be presidents and celebrities, but we don’t have to feel guilty as single mothers and neither do our children.  Stand proud, stay strong and earn that bread!