What this Single Mom Learned from Father’s Day.

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My relationship with my dad wasn’t ideal, but thankfully we had the opportunity to work through our issues before he passed away. As an adult who is now a single parent, I had to come to several gut-wrenching realizations, that were further solidified by the barrage of social media posts disrespecting the intention behind the celebration of Father’s Day. I’ve always had the position that children need both parents to aid in their development into well-rounded individuals, but I now have the challenge of walking the talk as a single parent who is required to have a parenting relationship with someone with whom I had an unsuccessful romantic relationship.

So what did Father’s Day 2014 teach me?

1. Some of you are carrying the burdens of your mother.

It’s taboo in our culture to even suggest that a woman isn’t a good mother and equally acceptable to almost assume a man can be a bad father. Not all relationships that didn’t work out is because of the man. It’s entirely possible that your dad wasn’t around because your mom made it almost impossible for him to have a peaceful relationship with you because she needed additional validation that he was a bad man. Had he had a great relationship with you, despite the bad relationship he had with your mother; your mother would have had proof that daddy the wasn’t a monster. Many women can’t run the risk of looking like she picked the wrong guy to inseminate her ovaries. Planned pregnancy or not, she chose your father. At one point he was suitable to lay with and give her most previous gift to in moments of intense passion. At one point he was good enough for her to imagine a life with him. At one point she was the happiest she’d ever been with him. Then the point came when the relationship became undeniably toxic and the baby or babies were already born. Suddenly he’s the most horrible person on the planet (even though she continued to have babies with him).

Not all men walk away. Some are pushed away because the woman couldn’t admit that she ignored the red flags in the beginning and needs to save face now. Your daddy didn’t suddenly start bouncing from woman to woman when your mom met him. She knew who he was, but she thought she could change him. She thought she could love him enough, cook enough, sex him enough to make him commit. When he continued to be who he’d always been, it was easier for her ego and pain for him to stay away than it was to admit that the man who cheated on her could actually be a good father.

So, she busts her ass to provide for and take care of you, and she did a damn good job. So much so that she’s convinced you that she was your mother and your father. You never even stood a chance to learn of a different kind of love. The kind only your daddy could give you and because your mom is a phenomenal mother, you subconsciously conspired with her in denying half of who you are as a person, aiding in the carrying of the load of her bad decision making and burdens.

You both need to heal this warped view of dual gender-ship that your mother is carrying. Those who are walking in truth can see from several miles away that this stance is rooted in pain. What you may not know is that your mother lied to you when she said she was your mother and your father and her mother probably lied to her.

How can you deny the importance of your father, yet grow up wanting to experience the same kind of love? You desire love and marriage, but how do you go about picking that love? Sure, some are able to acquire unconditional love and have children who receive the fatherly love they didn’t get, but that’s no substitute for the void that exists within you. Your husband is not your daddy. Your children’s father is not YOUR daddy, it’s theirs. It’s hypocritical to concurrently deny the significance of what the role (or lack there of) of your father in your life is while striving for that kind of love for your offspring. If it’s important for your children to have it, it’s important for you to have it as well, which [by your own actions] means your mom can’t fill both roles.

Healing won’t occur until the lies, distortions and blame cease to exist and personal responsibility and truth engulfs your family.

2. The general population has misinterpreted the statement “a child needs a mother and a father.”

If we’re speaking strict biology: a sperm fertilizing an egg is the only way to conceive a fetus. Science hasn’t consistently proved otherwise. Regardless of the type of relationship you are involved in, if you want to reproduce you need what the other sex has in order for that to happen.

So what makes us think that one parent can do the work of two? The countless success stories of single parents worldwide, that’s what, and I’m not going to dispute that today, however what I will do is submit to you that when it’s said both parents are needed; that statement stems from the fiber of the difference that exist between men and women. Men can’t fully figure out women and women don’t get what makes a man a man. Those who are successful in relationships have learned how to best work together and understand the vital role each play.

Rearing children is no different. Even if a mother and father completes the same activity with their child, it is received differently by that child and metaphorically communicates a varied brick in the foundation of your child’s sense of self. I’ve witnessed it with my toddler and am amazed at how her dad can do or say the same exact thing as I with a totally different response from my daughter.

A man’s presence is unlike a woman’s, therefore a single parent can absolutely rear a great child who grows up to be a successful adult, but unless that parent infuses other role models or mentors of the opposite sex into that child’s life; there will always be a void and many faulty decisions will subconsciously stem from that void. No parent truly does it alone. Teachers, guidance counselors, preachers, community leaders and mentors come in and aid in the growth and development of our children, so let’s stop blowing out of proportion the statement “it takes a mother and a father” to rear a child.

Sidebar: while surrogates who fill the gap are necessary they don’t replace biological parents, so there will always come a day of reckoning during which the custodial parent must have an honest conversation with their children about the absentee parent.

3. Men need to fight harder for their children.

So what, she’s nagging and annoying. You have every right to have a relationship with your children. As a man, you owe it to them to step up and be a force in their lives even though the relationship with their mom didn’t work out. Do what you need to do to be in your children’s lives, even if it means going to court and receiving an order for visitation.

You can’t take the easy way out and not fight (not physically) that woman to see your children. In the long term, you’ll not only become a better man for doing so, but you will instill the worth into your children they need to withstand the world’s obstacles. Stop making excuses about your child’s mother, her family or the court system. Stop letting society label you a dead beat. Prove them all wrong and stand up for your offspring.

Your children don’t deserve to question their value because you decided this wasn’t what you signed up for anyway. Get your ducks in a row and fight for your legacy. Love yourself enough to stop playing the field, planting facades and get your shit together. Your dad wasn’t there for you but you now have the opportunity to give your seeds an alternate experience so they can grow up knowing they are worthy of unconditional love, the kind you fight for.

No excuses are allowed.

My single parent experience brought to the forefront some things I needed to confront and work on so that the decisions I made for my daughter weren’t rooted in pain from the past. Whenever I put her first, independent of my subconscious thoughts and behaviors, I make the right choice for her. I constantly check myself, so that she can have the relationship with her daddy that she deserves because I know I can’t be, nor was it designed for me to be both.

I pray that you can be healed from the disappointments of your past and thrust forward in healthy relationships, first with yourself, then with your children and in relationships with other adults.

Infinitely,
Shanika

Disclaimer: this post is for those who want to be in their children’s life, but are met with roadblocks, not for those who never made the effort. Please note: just because he doesn’t do it the way you want him to doesn’t mean he isn’t trying.

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Striving for the Top Position

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Today’s television shows will have one to believe that mediocrity and ignorance is to be lauded. I’m guilty of viewing mindless television, but even I was taken aback by a script I read outlining a speech given by the lead character on the “Being Mary Jane” scripted television show on BET.

While I didn’t watch the show, my inner nerd was satisfied with reading the various articles and reviews of what occurred last night. In essence, the lead character gave a speech at a women’s luncheon lamenting that it’s acceptable to play the #2 position because it allow one to receive the benefits of the #1 spot without all of the pressures associated with maintaining the top position. She stated that while girls are taught to go after the highest marks in life, second best is acceptable.

On the surface, this perspective may seem realistic, as from a business standpoint, there is typically only one CEO, but being Vice President of the company isn’t too shabby either. If one were to delve a bit deeper, it would be apparent that winning and achieving in life is about striving for the top. We give our best because we deserve the best. I’m fortunate to have had a boss early in my career who trained me with the mindset that I should be trying to take his job. It wasn’t about me wanting his job, but he was speaking to the level of excellence that was to be demonstrated through my work ethic, as that is what would become my professional reputation.

The same is true in romantic relationships: strive to be number one in a person’s life because that is what you deserve and that will be your personal reputation, your character. With relationships it’s somewhat different because much of the work one puts in is with themselves. Becoming the best person you can possibly be, loving yourself unconditionally, and treating yourself with the utmost respect is the prototype for how others will treat you. The number two position isn’t for those who learn from and capitalize on the mistakes of number one, as Miss Mary Jane presumes; the second string player is typically the one who enters the game when there’s an obvious blowout and the win has been secured or if the star player is injured and they must resort to the next best thing. The second string doesn’t start the game because they aren’t considered the premier pick and when a win occurs, it’s usually the first string who will still receive the majority of attention. Why? Because we need the best to get back on his or her feet so that we can continue our winning streak. The best is who we count on to be that clutch player, the one with the highest salaries, the big endorsement deals, and the public recognition.

So while television will mislead one into believing that second best is okay, please recognize that accepting a lower ranking position with the mindset of being better than the top person, means that subconsciously you know that you are the lesser than striving for the top spot. More poignantly, if you do secure that top spot, you will then have the luxury of experiencing an opening in your position. Further, and this is for my younger followers: know that these celebrities and people who appear to have it all have paid a price for that appearance. The highest price is usually peace of mind. They may have big bank accounts, houses, fancy clothing and shoes, but what you don’t see is them numbing themselves with drugs and alcohol because they didn’t find the happiness they’re still longing for in these material possessions. They don’t post on social media the loneliness they feel due to not have genuine, authentic relationships. Remember: all that glitters isn’t gold, so don’t be fooled by facades.

If true love and happiness is your aim, start by loving, respecting and honoring yourself enough to know you deserve only the best life has to offer. When you build up yourself with the best, you will be strong enough to push away anything and anyone who isn’t able to meet you where you are, accepting those things and people who are willing to match and/or exceed your efforts.

Sincerely,
Shanika

Feeling Forsaken?

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I know you think that God has forsaken you. Why else would he allow such terrible things to happen? While you’ve made some mistakes, overall you’re a good person, right? So, why does it seem like your prayers are falling on deaf ears?…God doesn’t always answer prayers in one big, ginormous, earth-shattering blessing. Therefore, gratefulness in the little things that occur daily, partnered with positive thoughts & affirmations, seasoned with forgiveness of yourself and those who have dishonored you, rooted in the extending of love to all who cross your path, will exponentially bless you in a way you haven’t fathomed in your prayers.

Focus on what is going right in your life, instead of on what’s going wrong. You may not have the job you want, but you have a job. You may not have the relationship you want, but you have genuine, loyal friendships. You may not live in the house you want, but you have a roof over your head. You may not fit into that smaller size in your closet, but you have the ability to move your limbs. You may not have the baby you want, but you have a faithful husband who thinks the world of you. You may not have that wife you want, but you have a career that’s allowing you to lay a foundation for your future family so that you can live a life of quality that is debt free. You may not have that husband you want, but you have the wisdom to know you need to use this time to work on your emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental self so that you will be free of baggage when the right man presents himself. Focus on what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. Remember: there are those who would give their lives to have yours. They are praying desperately for the things and people you take for granted.

Be encouraged to greatness! God will never leave or forsake you.

Sincerely,
Shanika

Love is Inconvenient.

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True love is inconvenient.

It isn’t something I can give only when I’m in the mood. I can’t go into my room, shielding myself from the world because I don’t want to be bothered, showing up only when it suits me. No, I can’t hide: I am required to give love even when I have other things on my long agenda. I must give love when I’m tired. I must give love even when you’re annoying the hell out of me. I must give love, not to make a point or to prove I’m a good person, much better than the next; but I must give love to show you how to love.

To show you what true love feels like. My love is the prototype for how you should be loved. The expression of my love in the most inconvenient times communicates your value, your worth, your priceless posture. The priceless treasure who dared to love me, even when it was inconvenient for you.

Loving you isn’t always easy, but loving you is all I can do.

Inconveniently Yours,
Shanika

#infinitefortitude #infiniteinspiration

I’m the Grinch

My paternal grandparents had 3 children: my dad (the eldest) and 2 girls. Growing up, I spent holidays with my paternals and as a result, those experiences shaped my definition of “the holidays,” which included gigantic family dinners (that I helped prepared when I became old enough and had permission to enter my grandmother’s kitchen), lots of love, laughter, and life!

This time of year was something I always looked forward to as a child.

Life changed and God decided to take the youngest girl in 2007, my dad in 2008, and my grandmother in 2009. As you can probably imagine, things are much different, and as a result; I am not in a festive mood this year. But it’s 2013, right???

For reasons I won’t list publicly, this holiday season is one of the toughest I’ve experienced since 2009 to the point where I really just want to go to sleep and not awake until January 2, 2014.

Yes, I have my daughter, the light of my life, but as far as she’s concerned; all of her days are filled with love, laughter, and life, as she is oblivious to what Christmas is because she experiences blessings daily. Children as young as she have Christmas everyday! 🙂

I’ve been pretty emotional today and just wanted to post to say: those damn presents do not matter. I’m not speaking to what you can or can’t afford. I’m speaking to the true spirit and meaning of Christmas: the giving of unconditional love, the traditions, the joke telling, sitting around watching the parades and games, spending time with the people who you love the most.

Those of us engrossed in the the grieving process (which lasts a lifetime) would return every gift to have our loved ones back.

Those who have family members who are deployed would give up those stupid, cheesy decked halls to be in the presence of their loved ones.

Those who are unable to travel home because of work and/or obligations would love to take for granted the feast that’s prepared. And to be able to eat it with their family.

Those who are homeless don’t really care about having the latest gadgets that will soon be forgotten next month when the next new thing comes out.

Think about that when you’re consumed with consumerism. Materials don’t matter, but moments do.

While I am a self-proclaimed grinch (and rightfully so, in my opinion); I’m thankful I still remember the reason for the season.

Sending my prayers, love, and hugs to everyone out there who can relate.

 

Shanika

thegrinch

The First Delta I’ve Ever Loved

22 Founders of Delta Sigma Theta taken in 1913

22 Founders of Delta Sigma Theta taken in 1913 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course my earliest memory of you is in your kitchen, the place where many of our insightful conversations took place. The place where you told me it was great to be intelligent, but I also needed to know how to cook. The place where I trained and became a chef in my own right. The place where love and nurturing took place for all who passed through the threshold of your home.

Shaped to its Purpose, a fifty year history of...

Shaped to its Purpose, a fifty year history of Delta Sigma Theta by Mary Elizabeth Vroman published in 1965. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Words aren’t adequate enough to express how much I miss you and wish you had lived long enough to see me produce your namesake, however as we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the founding of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; I can’t help but to reminisce about you.

As I remember the countless times I helped you deliver food to the elderly through the Meals on Wheels program, the countless clothing drives I assisted with at the church, or the times when you proudly strutted up to the voting booths; I never realized you were showing me the prototype of a woman of Delta and for what she stood and represented. I definitely can’t forget the times I would become angry at you when those women came to the house and I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen while you all did what I called the A E O (pronounced phonetically) work. I didn’t know what the heck that funny looking A E O meant, couldn’t figure out who would incorrectly write the alphabet and why they would do something like that, and didn’t even realized the letters weren’t A, E, or O; but I knew I wanted to become one, as these were the women I always saw doing the work in the community.

As I became older, I noticed many of my teachers were A, E, Os. Even a principal who paddled me often was one (back then we were given discipline in schools). I remember seeing a program for an event and learned the name was Delta Sigma Theta (I still couldn’t put together where the letters A E O came from–lol) and listed on the program were names I recognized from various schools, churches, and other businesses. WOW! This was an amazing group of women!

You never answered any of my questions about this group and now I understand why. You showed me who a Delta woman was through your work in the church, home, community, and through your work as a special education teacher. Thank you for letting me visit your classroom and teaching me that all children were beautiful, despite what the world thought of them. Even when the school placed you and the children in the basement because they didn’t think much would come of those children; you created an environment that not only incited learning, but it was a warm, nurturing and exciting place to be–I’ve never seen children so happy to be in a basement! I even wished I had class down there! You taught me creative ways to teach others. Amazing how that all works out.

Thank you for teaching me about Christ. Lord knows there are countless times throughout my life I wouldn’t have made it through without Him.

I feel so honored to have ever been in your presence because you taught through example. As few as they may have been, your words were always powerful, however soft. They also were cryptic, as you wanted me to seek knowledge instead of it being handed to me. You had a quiet passion that could erupt if provoked that let the entire room know you meant business!!! Thanks for showing me the many facets of womanhood. You didn’t let the times in which you grew up hinder you from becoming what God intended for you to be and while Delta was only one part of your life; I appreciate having an example that the mission is bigger than the aesthetic and fun privileges of the organization.

As we celebrate 100 years of Sisterhood, Scholarship, and Service; it is most appropriate I send up a shout out to the first Delta I’ve ever loved!

Thank you for being you!

 

thefirstdeltaieverloved