The Best Damn Dad – Me

          You don’t have to have followed me for long to realize that I’m passionate about empowering people–especially women. If you’ve followed a little bit longer, you might have even picked up on the fact that I’m a single mom. While I often direct my support and attention towards women, there’s something I want to say that involves men. There’s been a lot on social media these days about men and masculinity, and it seems even that there’s been a blanket attack on them/it. It’s a hard day and age to be raising boys in. As a single mom of two teenage boys (and one teenage daughter), I have had to play the role of both mother and father. My football playing daughter will proudly tell anyone that it was not her absent father that taught her how to throw a football or has driven her home from countless practices and games and cheered her on at every game I could attend between my two jobs. That’s been one of the cool things about being “dad.” The less glamorous side is needing to be dad to boys in all the ways that young men need too.
          Men. Your precious little boys are going to be men, and we need to train them to be good men. It is important that they get good life lessons and examples, even if their fathers are absent. My oldest child is almost an adult. I have had to be the one to talk to my boys about sex (safe sex, not pressuring women, consent), shaving, hygiene, etc. Today, as I stood in the kitchen complaining of cramps while my almost 18 year old son cooked breakfast, I realized it was a good teaching moment.
          I talked to him about when he has a wife, he needs to be understanding about her period and period pain. I told him to offer to go buy her preferred products. Take a picture of the packaging to ensure getting the right ones. Pick her up some chocolate, or ice cream, or something else she likes. I told him not to make a big deal about blood. It happens. Sometimes it gets on surfaces in the bathroom. Sometimes leaks happen on the sheets. I told him to be loving about it. Let her know that it’s no big deal. I took the opportunity to add in some other life lessons as well. Buy her flowers once in a while, for no reason. Women are emotional creatures and we need loving reminders that we are cared about outside of the bedroom.
          As I talked, my son continued to cook, but I knew he was hearing me. Not just hearing, but listening with his heart. I told him that life isn’t guaranteed and I can’t promise I’ll be here forever to teach him about life, so I need to have those moments with him when the opportunity arises.
          “Yes, Mama,” he said. He understood.
          Life has not been easy on us, and it has not been easy for me to parent by myself. I know that I am giving my boys the best start that I’m capable of giving though. They know that it’s okay to cry, but they also know that it’s okay to be strong and all the things that make them set apart and special as men. My ex-husband has provided the example of what NOT to be as a husband and father, but I have tried my damnedest to be the mama that puts on my boots and teaches them what a man IS. I’ve worked hard, I’ve given them life lessons, I’ve taught them how to throw a football and how to shoot a gun, I’ve taught them about shaving their faces, taking care of themselves, driving–both an automatic AND a stick shift, and have been the one to teach them how to put on cologne. I want them to be well-adjusted, loving, strong, sensitive, God fearing, caring, independent, compassionate men. I may be their mama, but I’m the best damn dad they’ve ever had.
th*I don’t completely agree with this photo, because my boys are going to be more than husbands, but you can see my point here.*
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My Child, I Would Die For You

There is nothing on this earth like a mother’s love. It is strong. It is fierce. It is unbreakable. A mother’s love can make a calm woman rage, a safe woman get into a dangerous situation, and a passive woman become aggressive. This is something I’ve known since the first moment I laid eyes on my precious firstborn and it was solidified when I noticed the hospital had somehow burned the back of his scalp. I’m a non-violent, loving, tender woman—until it comes to my children’s well-being being threatened.

I have a child that has been a handful for his entire life. As an infant, he cried constantly and no amount of rocking, shushing, feeding, burping, or changing could soothe him. By the time he was a toddler, he had meltdowns that could blow anyone away with his ferocity. By the time he was entering kindergarten, we knew that he was different and would likely always require tender care in parenting. We’ve had our ups and downs, but he has mellowed out a lot and is figuring out his way in this world as a teenager now. He is sensitive to many things though, such as how he perceives others to perceive him. He gets upset easily and has a hard time handling “big emotions.” This causes problems sometimes, but I never give up hope that he will figure out how to manage it by the time he’s entering adulthood. But the other day I had a moment that truly reminded me of how intense a mother’s love is.

As my son was upset about something small, he went out to the front of the house to cool off. He’s very good about removing himself from situations he knows will cause a blowup. I happened to be with a friend at a local thrift shop when it began, but when I arrived back home, he was sitting leaned up against one of my vehicles parked on the street. I was concerned, both for his safety sitting on the road and for his emotional well-being in general. Because of him sitting against the van, I stood near him on the street as I tried to coax out of him what he was feeling. Then what happened next seemed like slow motion.

I glanced up as a car passed us and I watched the driver turning to look at us over his left shoulder. This caused a chain reaction. It made him veer slightly to the left as an oncoming car came around the corner. The man veering made the oncoming car turn wide to the right as she was making a left turn onto my street. I immediately could see her laughing and looking at her passenger—and NOT seeing my baby sitting right in her path. Now mind you, I live in a small town in a residential neighborhood. I live in an area where you can’t speed and you have to pay close attention because on any given day at any time, someone’s small child could go running into the street after a ball or a pet could go darting out. This young woman though clearly was not paying attention. As my son sat oblivious on the asphalt, I saw her coming right for him. There was zero time to think logically and going off of instinct, I screamed out at the same time as I moved towards him with my arms outstretched. In my panic, I just wanted her to see me and so I was running forwards towards a car coming straight for us. I was standing over him and leaning my arms out as if I could protect him from her car by shielding him. She heard me and I made eye contact with her as she then swerved back to the left to miss us. I was so angry that she wasn’t paying attention and I was angry that my son didn’t realize he was putting his own safety at risk. It was several seconds later that I realized—I just stepped in front of a moving vehicle without thinking rationally to protect my child! I just risked my life to save his! In that scary moment though where I didn’t know if she was going to look up in time, there was no real thinking, I just was willing to do whatever it took to save my child.

At the end of the day, it’s not like she narrowly missed us by inches (she was several feet away still when she saw us) so it was nothing harrowing. But it was eye opening for me and for my son who also realized what I had risked to help him. The worst case scenario that we avoided was for her to hit us both. I didn’t think about that risk when I did it though.

Even the best behaved teenagers can be hard to raise and be a handful. But as moms, we keep up the good fight and continue to parent even through the ugly moments. There’s nothing in the world those teenagers can do that would make us go, “Nope, never mind, I don’t want to be a mom anymore; I don’t love that kid anymore.” And in the hard moments where we feel our child is in danger or he or she is being wronged, well…like a meme I just recently saw on Facebook said; I solemnly swear I’ll be a classy mommy…until you mess with my kids. Then I swear I’ll be the biggest, redneck, ass whoopin’ mama you’ll ever meet! And this is true. Believe it.

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