Michigan

Maybe I’m doing this wrong. Maybe instead of questions, I should be doing some else more proactive, like reviewing colleges and universities in the areas and even reviewing apartments. Perhaps, I should be diving into private school searches, instead of showcasing my hesitation. Maybe all he needs is to know that I trust his decision making and that I’m not so self-centered as to think that he is incapable of making a sound decision regarding our future. Maybe that’s where I have gone wrong with all of this.
Yesterday, my boyfriend asked me about moving to Michigan. He told me about a conversation he had with his sister regarding it being a more sound decision than having him move to NY or us relocate to Maryland and potentially find ourselves in the red trying to play catch up for the next couple of years. And it makes sense. Why should he be subjected to moving to NY, without the promise of a job, to try to figure out a way to navigate one of the most expensive states in the nation, while combatting the NY traffic that he has come to dread from the moment he stepped foot in the state. And why should I subject both of us to moving to Maryland with no guarantee of immediate employment for either of us and then having to navigate a new city we don’t know together. It makes sense to move to Michigan. The price of living is significantly cheaper. 
And maybe this hesitation has more to do with the fact that he’s running off of his sister’s suggestion than mine. I’ve brought up the notion of moving to Michigan more than once before in our relationship and he had asserted not having a desire for me to move there. So to know, or at least feel like, he trusts his sister’s call over mines is disheartening. At least the conversations about NY weren’t my parents. They had no direct input and no matter how many times my friends and them sided with me staying in NY because at least I would have support, I let none of their words factor into anything I wanted, if I were to stay. I was content with the idea of remaining in the state and moving almost an hour away from my family and friends. I was willing to even move upstate. 
For me, moving was never about having a safety net, but embarking on a journey and seeing if I could actually do it on my own. What’s the point of having your own family, if you are still reliant on your family to help you with everything? I want seeing my family to be a trip, something that has to be planned out, and can’t be an on whim decision. That if I’m visiting my family and friends that there are other things lined up on my agenda, and it can be a mini vacation. I want a degree of distance.
But even as we talk or rather argue about Michigan, I have no answers regarding proximity to anything. There have been no discussions of how close to his families and friends we should potentially be. I’m entirely dependent on him to help me navigate what would be considered better areas than others and commuting times. I’m reliant on the information he possesses about his home state to help me make an informed decision regarding potential schooling for my daughter and how far is too far to commute to work. And there are no answers. No indication that he has thought about it more than his sister bringing it up to him or his family not wanting him to move so far away.
But perhaps, I’m wrong in all of this. Perhaps, this has nothing to do with his sister’s suggestion, but his desire to know that I would be willing to forsake my home state and dreams of Maryland living to move and be with him. Maybe it’s him trying to see just how much I trust him when it comes to planning our future, and I shouldn’t get so analytical about it, trying to map out the logistics of the state and determining which areas host the most universities of colleges, in search of my qualifications. Or private schools that boast that if I enroll my daughter, not only will she adjust and do well, but they will unlock all her hidden potentials. 
Yet, we are on two very different pages with this, and as much as I want to say “yes, this a great idea, let’s do it,” I can’t. 
I don’t feel secure about it. Not because I would be leaving my family and friends behind, but because there is no apartment that I have fallen in love with yet. Or private school that I want to enroll my daughter in. There isn’t a neighborhood that I have stumbled across with the demographics that I approve of. Nor has a city or town been selected, for me to gather the intel I need to discover distances to universities and colleges I may be interested in. 
I was given a state and that was it. I wasn’t given the promise of a sparkling or bright future, but a state that feels convoluted with mixed messages of whether or not it would be an ideal home for me. 
But like I said earlier, maybe that’s not what I should be so focused on, as much as just trusting my boyfriend and his suggestion. I shouldn’t be upset because of who said the words that got him to consider it as a feasible idea. And I most certainly, shouldn’t display a distrust in his decision to put the state back on the table, after him taking it off the table multiple times. I just don’t want to resent him for the call he’s making and the way he’s making it.

Is It Time…

They say weddings do this thing to you, they make you either ready to jump the broom or dump the person you are with. I would like to think funerals have the same effect.

I am in no way declaring that I have broken up with my boyfriend or that I desire to, but I do think we have now reached a point in our relationship where a decision needs to be made in regards to how we precede from this point forward.

In thinking about my past relationships, the running motif that was apparent in them was that I never necessarily wanted to be with the guy I was dating. They had always had a desire for me and although I knew I didn’t really want more out of the relationship, I stuck it out. I figured, eventually, they would part ways with me. They would grow bored of my moods and I would be irritable to them. That they would find some reason to no longer desire to be with me. Yet, they always remained. They were even appalled when I ended things, in disbelief that I could not want to be with them.

Then I began to think about all the guys I used to talk to. Guys I had a sincere interest in that I was hoping would progress into a relationship, but never did. Generally, they had very little interest in dating because they still wanted the freedom to see other people and make a more informed decision regarding relationships, but as I was the impatient type, I ended up mourning the loss of a suitor and beginning the pursuit of another. It was a vicious cycle of me feeling heartbroken over a two week romance that didn’t leave the guy interested in being with me anymore than the conversations we had via text.

Naturally, I developed a complex. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I went from guys I had no interest in wanting to be with me and then acting as if I owed them and thus shouldn’t break up with them, to guys I had an interest in that just weren’t ready to commit the way I needed to.

And while I did wait several months before making things official with my boyfriend, it had more to do with my fear of him losing interest like all the other guys I had ever spoken to before coupled with the fact that any new guy in my life would eventually have to meet my daughter and I refused to bring around a guy that wouldn’t become a staple in her life.

When my boyfriend and I had made things official, you couldn’t tell me anything. He was forever. He felt like forever. I was honestly ready to propose to him. I had already picked out rings and considered the different ways in which I could do it. When our first anniversary arrived, I prepared myself for an engagement. Almost every visit he made afterwards or that I saw him, I prepared myself, in the only way I knew how to. And with each visit he made, I wondered if he had spoken to my parents, if he had asked for my hand, if their continued affection for him was because he was gearing up to propose to me. I mean, why else would my mother text me that when he visits he could stay at our house, although we would have to stay in different rooms.

Even up until recently, after my letter denying me admission to the doctorate program arrived, and our plans had gotten tossed up in the air, I considered buying a house. I had begun believing that in lieu of a ring, I could offer him our home to propose. That as I showed off the place that I just bought, I would hand him his keys and ask him to marry me, in what would be our first home with each other.

And now it feels like we are at a crossroads and a decision has to be made. And it’s scary. It’s scary to think that this where we are at right now, because I want him so much. I want the future we dreamt of together. I want it all. But I’m scared that I’m believing in a happily ever that doesn’t really exist. And it’s crazy to think that it’s possible that I could be this ready, and he might not be.

 

 

Kindergarten Assessment

“She’s too smart not to know…”
There was no greater, disheartening news, than those very words. I found myself sitting at lunch trying to hide the disappointment that I knew had coated my face and trying to remove it from my voice, so I could continue to sound upbeat. According to Ms. Graves, my daughter’s assessment proved that she didn’t have a clue about letters outside of singing them in the alphabet. 
Almost immediately, I wanted to protest. Maybe my daughter was being shy or unfocused and playing around. She’s able to identify the letters in her name, although we do have some issues with getting her to stop calling “I,” “T.” But outside of that, she knows that “S” is what her name starts with and she writes her name with ease nowadays. So how is she isn’t able to recognize letters or identify their sound?
I had to take an immediate step back and check the accusations that were running wild in my head.
Education has always been the centerfold of my family. Having found a school that actually prides itself on its educational value and creating young people who are much more advanced in their basic education than those attending other schools, I mean their kindergarteners are testing at a second grade level, I had jumped for joy. This was the ideal school for my daughter. It would push and encourage her to excel academically. It would have her learning at a pace that my parents had us working at, which was essentially getting us workbooks for a year ahead of us and making us work through it rather than spending hours watching TV.
I found myself suddenly having to grapple with the fact that my daughter wasn’t up to par. That she was no more smarter than her current peers and that she potentially might be less smarter than them. 
The only silver lining in the conversation yesterday was Ms. Graves informing me that my daughter is eager to learn and is unashamed to get an answer wrong, if it means she will eventually get the right answer. That determination was enough for me. My daughter could learn and I could teach her.
As I walked through the front door of my house, my mom immediately accosted me, asking me for my Paypal information because she wanted to get my daughter ABCMouse. I had watched the commercials for it, at least a thousand times, each time with no more irritation than the first time I viewed it. It was yet another promise of helping parents produce educated children without having to do so much as a lift a finger to do so. And while I can admit, I am one of those parents who runs off and buy educational toys in the hopes of my daughter figuring it out without having to sit down and do it with her, I’m a busy woman, that phone call reminded me that the only way to truly teach your kids the fundamentals is to not isolate them and subject them to learning it on their own.
If I want my daughter to learn her letters and the sounds, I have to roll my sleeves up and clear my schedule and teach her. While these programs and products are great, they can’t do what it is I can do if I just took the time to do it with her. Which is reinforce the concepts and lessons she has learned and encourage her to continue learning them. I mean, I haven’t exactly enforced her usage of reading with the Leapfrog Tag Reading system any more than I have with any of the numerous educational toys I’ve gotten her. I also haven’t sat down and engaged in them with her.
So I won’t be disheartened about my daughter’s less than stellar assessment. Instead, I’ll just work on doing my part and being active in teaching her what it is she needs to learn.

Kindergartens

 Last night, I attended an open house for a school my boyfriend has affectionately dubbed, “Black Excellence,” and no sooner had I been given the tour and spoken to the Director, I was sold on the school. Why wouldn’t I want to send my daughter to a school that prides itself on creating academically well-rounded students and pushing them to excel? Or a school that recognizes the failure of the education system and are actively working on fixing those issues within their own domain so that their students can stand apart from the rest? I mean, everything about this school is just perfect.
The only issue is, it’s expensive.
$7,500/year isn’t chump change. Especially when you have other expenses to take care of as well and a looming student loan debt reminding you that your deferment ends soon and it needs to be repaid. And more importantly, the expense of this MFA I am about to acquire.
It’s moments like these that I feel the urge to reach out to my ex and tell him he needs to help out. That he can’t expect me to continue to accommodate him and his lackluster efforts, and not help support the child he helped to create. But I know the mere mention of an expense sends him running in the opposite direction, asking me essentially postpone enrollment or find a cheaper option, cause he has bills that need to be paid. 
But at least I have my boyfriend, who although I’m not asking him to, has already discussed pricing with me and how we could possibly making it work. I also have a best friend who is also willing to help pitch in to get my daughter enrolled and attending a school she loved just as much as I did, during the open house. And I am forever grateful for this support system.
I just need to figure out, aside from them volunteering to help, how to make this work. My daughter has her assessment on Friday (which is Godsend, since she doesn’t have school that day and no one could get the day off to be with her) for the school. After that assessment, I will get a verdict regarding admissions (if they want her or if I should keep looking) and then given a contract that I will need to complete and return with the down deposit for her space in the school (enrollment fee, parent dues, general fee, and first month’s tuition). It’s a lot of money to hand off, right off the back, but it’s worth it.
I have attended private schools my entire life and when I discussed the tuition of this school with my mom, she didn’t even gasp at the price. She said she was paying a similar price for me to attend private schools. If my mom can make the sacrifice, than I can make the same sacrifices. I refuse to give my daughter less than what I had growing up, because a good parent gives their child everything they had and more. Plus, this school gives the kids Kindles and Ipads for homework, which they get to keep when they graduate from their respective programs. That’s more than I ever got going to school.
The school is just the perfect fit for her. And although there is one more school to look at, I feel like it just won’t compare to this one. I mean, this school essentially has the same educational philosophies I have. 
I just have to figure out how to make I work.

A Womanist Rant: Ms. Independence

I remember growing up, listening to my mom tell me that I needed to be an independent woman. I also remember, growing up and hearing about how successful women’s independence drove men away. 

Perhaps the reason I was the only girl that didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school or high school, was because I was so independent and not because I wasn’t attractive enough. I think boys were inherently intimidated by me, because they recognized that I wouldn’t settle on subpar male qualities just to have a guy in my life. I also think they recognized that if they were ever going to get a real chance with me, they’d have to shape up or be prepared to be whipped into shape by me. And in hindsight, I wish I was more steadfast in governing my independence instead of trying to dwindle it for the ego of a guy that couldn’t tell whether he was coming or going.

 

And maybe’s that my issue with the male population, they all want a woman to submit and depend on them, but they aren’t doing anything to prove that they can stand on their own two feet.

 

I don’t want to cater to bruised egos of men who aren’t constantly and consistently trying to better their situation. I’m tired of being the glimmer of light in an otherwise uninspired life. I’m tired of being treated as if my emotions are trivial and insubstantial because I’m not afraid to show off my continued ambitions. Honestly, I just want to tell some men to man up.

 

If the thought of a woman doing better in life scares you, then get up and do something about it. Stop settling on your situation and expecting a woman to come in and elevate you, when you can’t even get it together. I’m sorry, as nice as it is to have a guy that can do the domestic things in life, like cook and clean, it’s not applaud worthy. What else is he bringing to the table? Because I refuse to sit at a table where the only thing on it is my ambition and his complaints of not having else on it. I’m not here for falsified encouragement that immediately dissipates when I start to do what it is that I thought I was being encouraged to do.

 

Honestly, I’m just about sick and tired of being dragged by men for being female, when they don’t even have an inkling of what it means to be a man.

 

At the end of the day, I have no problem submitting to a man or following his lead. Just don’t leave me alone at the table because you haven’t thought that far enough ahead to actually come prepared to the table with something. And then don’t come at me when you realize you brought nothing to it and I’m asking you to supply something.

 

You knew what you were getting into when you got with me. The least you could do is come prepared.

I Hate My Ex

It has taken me just under four years to be able to finally say that- I hate my ex. And now that I’ve said it aloud, I can finally breathe a bit easier.

The reality is, not saying it was holding me back. I know it sounds hard to believe, but these past four years, I’ve been doing overtime trying to convince myself that I didn’t hate him. Every irritating phone call and text I received from him, I bit my tongue and tried to smile through it. Even with his irrelevant commentary about the way I have chosen to live my life, I’ve smiled through with gritted teeth.
My boyfriend will be the first to tell you that as soon as my ex comes up, my entire mood changes. It doesn’t even matter in what context he gets brought up in. My face sours as I try to force a smile. As a matter of fact, I think my boyfriend can vouch for my guard immediately shooting back up whenever my ex makes his presence known.
Of course the easiest way to avoid all of this would be to simply cut ties with my ex, change my number, move, and putting enough distance between us that he would never be a thought in my mind again. But, I can’t quite do that. The issue is I had a kid with him. *facepalm*
The mere idea of admitting or even saying out loud that I hated him just seemed like the first big “no-no” on a list of “no-no”s when you have a child with someone. And considering I had taken a stand during our break-up that I would not be one of those women that puts him on child support or gets the law involved *facepalm again* it seemed impossible to utter those words. I mean, I had decided, before knowing what he would look and act like post break-up, to be the bigger person.
Now, I wish I hadn’t talked myself into not getting the law involved or even saying those four little words. Neither benefited me.
My issue however was that I wanted to be that woman who doesn’t let her past phase her. The kind of carefree black woman who could care less about what people had to say about her, has no time to engage in the back and forth fights with her ex, and is happy. I mean, all I really wanted to be was happy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be. Not completely at least. My happiness was always tainted with the bitter aftertaste of my ex, who simply wouldn’t go away.
But it was more than him not going away, he became one of those guys that popped up whenever the mood suited him. My daughter and I would go months without hearing from him. He didn’t bother to financially support her. And whenever I brought up he needs to do better, he hit me with a woe is me story and reminded me that if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t be in this position. *Right before my daughter turned one, he moved to a different state that is a twenty-four hour drive away- and blames me for his decision to move because I told him I was contemplating moving there*
As much as I fought to not degrade him to a “deadbeat” or foster ill-will towards him, it seemed like he did was blame me for everything. His lack of a relationship with my daughter. My inconsideration of his daily and monthly expenses *cause I asked him if he would split the $50 monthly fee for dance classes for my daughter* And let’s not forget, I ruined “love” for him. It seemed like no matter what I did, it was never good enough for him and he found a reason to either fight with me about it or nitpick it to the point that I just stopped bringing it up to him.
And I still chose not to say those four words.
It took me going on a vacation and then meeting my boyfriend to finally find some semblance of peace and happiness. Finally, I had begun to believe that maybe, just maybe, I had done it. I was able to not only obtain happiness, but also not succumb to hating him in the process. I was wrong.
Like I said before, my happiness was always tainted with the bitter aftertaste of my ex. The reality is, my decision to not say I hate him, had more to do with me not wanting to have to deal with the hurt that I endured in our three year relationship, than it did with me wanting to be the bigger person. So for almost four years, I’ve harbored that hurt, storing it away deep inside of me, hoping that over time, I’d just forget about it. That happiness would eventually kick it out for taking up so much room and everything would be fine. But happiness doesn’t quite work like that.
So today, I’m finally saying I hate him. I’m saying it out loud and I’ll even shout it from rooftops if necessary. The hurt that I’ve been harboring can now be free to be dealt with and I finally get over the mess that was our breakup and deal with all those emotions and sentiments.
I mean, the only way to be happy and stay happy is to make room for happiness and I can’t do that, until I can let that hurt go.

Friendships

I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones that I do call my friends are very special to me. There is my friend from elementary school, a girl I can assert I grew up with. We’ve had our shares of ups and downs. Our closeness to each other even waivered throughout the years. I can still remember how incredibly jealous of her I was, but also how thankful I was for having her in my life. This was the girl that taught me everything I needed to know about owning myself. To be unapologetic in nature just because it makes someone else uncomfortable. She taught me how to be confident and hold my head up when all I wanted to do was hang it. And even though we aren’t nearly as close as we were in elementary school, we are still considerably close. She can come to me for advice and I can offer it to her. And every time we talk, I can just see how proud she is to call me her friend because I haven’t given up yet. Because I won’t apologize for being me just because it makes some people uncomfortable.Then there is my friend from high school. I can still remember the way I had begrudged her for her affairs with love. Her ability to draw the attention of a suitor without really having to go out of the way to do so. The way relationships seem to just fall in her lap. I’ve also learned from her and have much to thank her for. She was the one that showed me a relationship is what you make it. That love doesn’t always show up on a white stallion with a Prince on its back. That sometimes you have to take a risk or two to obtain the happiness you really desire. That regardless of how bleak the outlook may be, that happiness can never elude those that want to be happy. My optimism can only be credited to her. The one would go out on a limb for me and defend my happiness, even if she’d questioned it’s validity, because at least I was happy. Every time we get together I can also see the proud look on her face as she proudly proclaims me her best friend, because I refuse to allow anything to deter me from achieving happiness.
And there is my friend from college, who in the grand scheme of things I haven’t known nearly as long. Our contact is spotty now, but we still remain close. Catching up in never really catching up, as much as picking up where we left off. But she also faced my scrutiny like all my other friends did. The way she would leap into situations headfirst without questions. The way she was always so willing to give. The way she’d offer herself up to anyway without so much of a question of what she would get in return. It made me protective of her. But as protective of her as I became, I also learned from her. Life isn’t always about what you can get in return. Life isn’t life if you are hoarding all the good that you are and not sharing it with others. Life is much more about giving than it is about receiving. The few times I’ve seen her since graduation, we’ve both shared proud looks with each other. She’s finally found someone worth giving her all to and I’ve finally stopped validating everyone’s presence by what they can do for me.

I’d never say my friendships are perfect, but each of them are very special to me. And these are just the ones that are the most special. They were forged with people that many may look at and turn their noses up at because of their actions and attitudes, but without these people, I wouldn’t be nearly half the person I am today.

Yes, there are those ups and downs in which I want nothing to do with one or all of them. And yes, there are those days that they do things that make me groan because they should have known better. And yes, there will always be that tinge of hurt from time to time because a line was crossed that shouldn’t have been, and now there is no going back. But at the end of the day, they are my good friends and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

And while I can honestly appreciate my friends, more than others could appreciate our friendship, it doesn’t mean I excuse them from their shortcomings. I hold them accountable, in the way they need to be held accountable. In the same way they hold me accountable when it is required.