Monday, December 16, 2013

It's A Thin Line Between "Law" And "Lose" - The Heartbreaking Truth About Homeowning

Ever since we were small we were told that a huge portion of the American Dream was owning your own home. I don't think it matters where you came from, it simply always was an indication of having succeeded in life. For so many people it meant more than just a place to call your own, it was a further shrugging off of years of struggle for one's family line. I know what it feels like to be the first in a long line of family to have accomplished a goal before any other generation. While my father went to college at night, he was the first in our family to graduate and when I did, I was the first woman. These things resonate far greater than just the chance to add a few zeroes to our salaries. We were setting trends for our family line, setting examples for our children and their children and so the accomplishment was held dearly to us.

It never bothered me that I needed a government program to qualify for my home. In fact I was quite proud that with help from my country I was going to begin creating a foundation in my community and I set about to not only be a model resident but to see how my presence can help others there. I was and wanted to be a true and dedicated "daughter" of NY. While all the paperwork was quite intimidating it was my love for the law that saw me through the first grip of fear. The mountain of forms, all so alien, a language that only lawyers could volley back and forth with ease, was daunting to say the least that even this engineer was timid.

I'd wanted to be a lawyer most of my life but engineering was the focus in my school and so my love of math and science began to overshadow my love of justice and order. I reached out to the spouse of a friend, a real estate attorney and with the stars aligned, so many of my friends pitching in, I happily signed the mortgage to my quaint one family house for me and my sons in the Summer of 2005. I was frightened at the responsibilities (many to be thrust upon me almost immediately and the rest almost stealthily as if to knock me off my foundation all together) but I had faith, in me, my desire to do right by my sons and my city.

It didn't take very long to find out that a two hour class is nothing but a horrible joke to a new home owner. No one can really prepare you for what happens next. If is as if the city agencies wakes from it's monstrous sleep and notices you all of a sudden. Now you are beholden to all of them for something. The money you thought you made and would be enough to exist in this new found "freedom" isn't and realistically could never be if you don't wrangle very quickly everything that you will now be responsible for.

You are expected to pay for garbage, even if it's not your own but thrown on your property, you pay for water, for heat, for gas, for light, cable if you can afford it. I laugh because I am sure I'm not the first, nor the last homeowner, whose first purchase was a nice TV and hooking up cable so that the boys and I could enjoy watching in our very own home a major motion picture, just as we'd seen so many other families do on television.

We are responsible for shoveling snow immediately following a snowstorm. (you have three hours grace or that ticket will find its way into your mailbox) You should know your recycling schedule inside and out, sweep every day, even if your nasty neighbors are the cause for all the mess, make sure that there are no pebbles or tree roots or obstructions that might cause an accident or you, yes you HOME OWNER will be held liable.

I used to want to be a lawyer, until I began having trouble making ends meet in 2008. Then the mortgage lender began making threats that scared even a staunch advocate like me. They could and would ruin my credit if I didn't hurry up and comply with their demands and then I'd get the calls offering these olive branches which were really horrible scams to get me to sign away my rights and my life's finances and according to them it was legal. I was being shaken down and I didn't see it until I was in a strange office surrounded by smiling lawyers, all who worked for the lender who tried to explain that although the refinance wasn't what I had expected it was the best I could get and so if I kept asking questions and refused to sign then all I'd need to do was pay a few thousand dollars and walk out. But it's because I was struggling that I was there to begin with and I stood there cornered, being made to feel small and unprepared and foolish.

It became worse after that first deal with the devil. The more life and the municipalities shoveled onto my wavering back, with fees for this and fines for that, I found myself getting ill, terribly ill. By this time I was working three jobs, my nine to five and as many part time jobs and projects as I could handle. It lasted a year and then the floodgates broke. I spent six months in bed, doctors (when I could afford to go) kept telling me I was working myself into an early grave and truthfully that sounded quite restful and lucrative, for my sons at least. No amount of studying could bring me up to speed to every pitfall that could and would befall a home owner in this town and this town didn't care what you knew or didn't know - pay up or we're coming after the house.

By the second refinance scam where I tried to thwart the NEW mortgage lender off by hiring an attorney for almost a quarter of my retirement savings I had come to realize a little too late that I had entered a red light district and that I was the gullible tourist whose only recourse is to either let them fleece you a little bit or barely escape with your life. The attorney walked away with all the money and did nothing to keep the wolves at bey.

It was never my intent to be someone so in debt that doing nothing was ever an option but four years later, two lawyers later, three college tuitions, utilities and car payments, water bills quadrupled with no notice later, I am so in debt that sometimes I feel death could wash it all away and at least my sons would have a shot at a life. Thoughts of moving mean nothing, your credit rating follows you and the bank made sure to tether me to this Titanic. My American Dream was a living nightmare and one I couldn't burden my sons with because while all this was happening, at least I'd had a sense to make their lives matter more.

Fast forward and now I am a Pro Se Debtor. Nice. It means I'm on my own. It means that the fear that gripped me from fighting had better find it's guts now or in a year the house that I've raised my sons in for the last eight years will be sold out from under me. No one mentioned that you had to answer the summons by going TO A COURT HOUSE until it was too late but what the hell, I believe in miracles and while I have amazing friends who said they'd help and truly tried, I knew that it was my sense of failure that drove my maniacal drive to work 80-90 hours on things that might bear fruit so that I could at least have options if the time came to leave this place.

I've told the boys and I do thank goodness that I was able to accomplish my mission: to raise my sons in a haven of consistency, a place they knew that was theirs to begin with, where they could lay their heads at night and feel safe and sure and energized every morning so that they could face the day and the world with strength and conviction. I did that. My youngest is almost out of high school and while there is still that chance that he and I might have to find a small place next year, at least I know the brunt of my work has been done.

I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up and dealing with those who preyed on the unknowing has soured me considerably. Yet when I speak to my friends, the lawyers, the Supermans, the ones who go out to save the days for others, I may feel sheepish about how caught out there I was but they tell me I'm one of millions, all being taken advantage of. It seems it's easy money to swindle a family than it is to help it thrive and possibly earn a lifelong customer. After all we seem to be only a dime a dozen.

I loved order, the law and I might lose to someone else's brand of it. Then again, miracles do happen and maybe I'm walking from one fire into an amazing opportunity to help others. I have always loved finding the positive in things for others and I guess it's time I look at the positive in this - it may take a while.

So here goes, as I fill out my answer, truthfully, humbly, that I never set out to be a resident who simply couldn't comply with all of the city's rules and mazes of conditions to just live here and that now I may never be able to find something for me and my son if the bank takes the house. I don't think anyone goes in thinking all that, it's just they entered into a place that only few can truly survive. It is so sad that so many fall when if we all were able to thrive this city would be so much better off.

I love the law. I still do. There are lawyers out there still fighting for the little people. There are judges who know that someone means it when they say that given a fair shake they'd make good on their debt and there are miracles every day. As I get closer to the end of this eight year nightmare I find I'm letting go of the death grip of fear I've had all these years, the one where there is a knock at the door and my sons and I are forced to find someplace else to live. Well, I guess it's time. Let's do this.

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dear Sons, You're Not What You Eat But You Are What's Eating You!

Dear boys,

Mommy has always been a "fatty". I do not know what it is like to grow up thin or fit, I was that pudgy girl that was teased and stared at in school. To this day some of my elders take joy in retelling stories about how voracious my appetite was as a child. I hate those stories. But the truth is I am emotional eater and so when that line about "you are what you eat" came about I looked in the mirror and wondered, "is this what a pork shoulder really looks like?"

Over the course of all these decades I only now realized just how in control of ourselves we really are. After all, we ate when we were happy, when we were sad, angry, frustrated and we definitely ate when we were bored! It didn't help things that my two favorite past times had absolutely nothing to do with being physically active! I loved reading and watching television! I loved the two distractions that taught me how to dream as well as hide.

Let me tell you something about being bullied in school because I was different from the other kids. Back in my day (goodness I can not believe I have to write that sometimes!) being heavy was unusual. I was the biggest kid by those standards and yet today I'd probably be in the middle of the pack. Yet kids are cruel and they learn that cruelty at home sometimes because their frustrated parents get diarrhea of the mouth and let it all hang out in front of the kids. You know what I'm talking about, your mom's not immune. There are those days mom comes in bitching about some reckless driver or the nut who didn't clean up after themselves at the office break room. I get judgmental when I'm frustrated, I'm human. Yet I'm reminded of the days when boys teased me and girls were so mean to me, simply because I was larger than them.

You know Mom is better for it now don't you? You've heard me say, "Mom's larger than life! Of course she has to be a bit bigger than the rest!" I am much happier with my body nowadays, although I still find myself grimacing at photographs! (yes believe it, smart alecks) It took me 47 years to realize that how I was feeling was how I was feeding myself. Now bullying is a whole other sets of letters believe you me but self esteem and self awareness are things I hope I've taught you all well enough so that you don't have to endure all the suffering I did within my very own head.

The power is yours. It always has been. The power to believe what you're told by others lies with you. The power to start a bad habit or stop one is yours. The power to believe what people say about you because you're different lies in your head, in your heart. Yes, we can buy that five pound tub of ice cream but what's the rule? One cup a day, if that, and never to self medicate ourselves because we're feeling something very strongly. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the same with wine but I'm not on that topic now am I!
Of course all of this seems reasonable until you're besieged with name calling or dirty looks in school or at the office. Then your body starts freaking out and you want to hide and sometimes there simply is nowhere to hide so you hide in that tub of ice cream.

Your big brother went on an interview the other day and was asked what type of food are you. (First of all what Human Resources person comes up with these questions? Who are they channeling? Barbara Walters during her brain fart moment when she asked Katherine Hepburn if you were a tree what type of tree would you be???) But my darling eldest said he was celery and his reasoning behind it made me proud. (the fact that you are as slim as one sometimes gets on my nerves but we all can't be this amazing and curvaceous can we Beulah) He said he was healthy and mobile. Like celery. Goodness my son is brilliant. He equated his food as the resource it was, explained its functionality and its appeal. Pure genius, I'd hire him.

As I sit here, looking at my one egg and tomato omelette on toast I am reminded of those feelings being squelched after the first mouthful. I am reminded of a sense of love practically warming my young unknowing frame as I went through that pint of Haagan Daz after the last break up. Well,at least I loved me as I ate it to medicate my senses and put salve on my bruised ego. And this was just last year!

You are all coming to those wonderful ages of 18, 21 and 25! (Translation: Mommy is free! Kinda, sorta) I watch how you eat and if I haven't taught you how to care for yourselves by now I never will. You all eat in moderation, for the most part. You all have your indulging moments but I see you reward yourselves and so I know it's more of a present than a punishment. It's good to see how Mommy has handled things and then talk about it right! Those nights mom cried into her Lamb Korma, or Shrimp Scampi, or Tuna Sushi Rolls, hey, mom loves food! Or when I was pouring over IRS forms (last week) and was eyeing that Carvel Cake commercial like it was porn! Did you know that small Carvel Cakes are now $20! Goodness, are the milk prices that high in Carvel Land, what the hell!!

Mom's eating habits have gotten much much better and you know what, so has her outlook. I eat to live and while I love to eat, I plan for those times when I want to indulge in sinfully wonderful tasting foods. I try to examine when I'm in a foul mood or just moody period. Most of the time it's an old insecurity rearing its ugly head and I have to talk myself off that ledge. We all want to be loved and appreciated, to be respected and to feel relevant and needed. We give those distinctions to ourselves boys, not other people. We certainly don't get what we want from others out of a food container (or a bottle) either.

You all are so handsome and healthy in your long, lanky and lean frames and the chunky little girl in me is so glad that you don't have to endure what I did, what I sometimes still feel like in my own skin. You don't have that fear of being rejected or looked at as being weak or less appealing. Life is funny, human beings even funnier. For that is good in the world people would rather put high marks on body size than on what a person contributes to their every day life and those around them.

Thank goodness you are all so much better at it than your Mom. So go on and be that celery and be healthy! Mom's working on it and she's right now trying to look like a very sexy veggie/fruit smoothie, in a figure eight glass of course. I'm actually enjoying the freedom and the power to choose the foods I'm taking in and not giving into the feelings that come across my brain every day.

Oh by the way boys, someone has to go back to the store. We're out of ice cream.

Love Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Dear Sons, Kids Are Spending HOW MUCH MONEY? That's Not Even Their Name On It?!

Dear boys,

Look, I was your age once and stop rolling your eyes at me because I was. Let me tell you about a pair of "jelly" shoes that your mom wanted. These shoes were see through and plastic and really when I think about it, kinda ugly. But you couldn't tell me anything at the time because it seemed as if every girl wanted a pair and I wanted to fit in, to be like everyone in the crowd and to have my own. Now your grandpa, who I still swear was switched a few years ago by pod people (ask Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams, they'll know) always told me clothes and shoes were uniforms. He would schedule, based on the seasons, when to purchase our clothes according to our needs. Let me tell you, there was NO retail therapy going on at our house! Clothes were for specific purposes and play clothes were just worn out clothes that no longer served their purpose. Sooooo, my siblings and I received "school clothes", "church clothes", "special event clothes" as needed. No one was going to tell dad to please buy them the latest shoes because they wanted to be stylish. Heck, dad's response was always, "when you work you can buy yourself whatever you want, you'll have earned it. For now, I say you wear what you need."

Wow, I look back at those time and I remember feeling so dejected and distressed because some kids at school seemed to have more uniform choices than I did. But I look at the kids now and my mouth opens to the point I know flies are planning their vacations around me. So, these jellys right. They were ugly, I'm going to be upfront about it but I wanted them and I was determined to get a pair. I hounded my dad for weeks, put on the waterworks and just outright begged. OMG! (Goodness, how easily I revert to 21st Century text speak) Yes! My father breaks down and buys me a pair! And you know what? They were uncomfortable as heck, they weren't all that attractive and I think wore them once and never looked at them again. My father sat me down and explained that the $9.99 he spent was equivalent to about two hours of work for him. It blew my mind! All I could think about was how my dad was working for two hours and in all that time all he had to show for it was my ugly pair of jellys that I didn't even wear. I think I cried. I sure as hell never forgot and when I got my first job and went buck wild shopping and spending my hard earned $2 an hour wages on crap my dad reminded me about those jellys.

Now you know your mom and you know I've spent A LOT OF hard earned money on crap. Can we say "Retail Therapy"? (Call Alice, my shrink) Sometimes I can show what I've done with it and sometimes I shake my head at how I wasted serious cash on indulging my ego and inner child. I see young people wanting things not within their means and for all the wrong reasons and while I'm not as strict as your grandpa - pre-pod abduction of course - I do try to remind you that when you take those Summer jobs you make fiscally responsible choices, not only for your sakes but for your future needs.

Now ever since my financial advisor Candi Sparks entered our lives over 15 years ago, around the time your mom had to be on public assistance because times were hard, I've always tried to learn how to manage my resources better. Cash, moolah, duckets, paper, it's all currency and it's all simply a resource, a tool. Don't try to live to make it, don't let one tool overshadow all the amazing other things life has to offer and no I'm not talking about the next designer jacket. I've been pretty blessed. You all took it well when you were younger and I explained that mommy only had a set amount of dollars per week. I showed you the bills as they came in and I showed you how some could be paid and some would take time and effort. You were so mature and amazingly understanding when lights and heat went off and we lived by candlelight for a while. You would go to Payless Shoes or Conway Department Stores and never complained as we found sturdy long lasting items for you and me. It was as if the light bulb had gone off in your head. Yes! Mom would work 40 hours a week to acquire money and that money had to be stretched to pay the utilities, the food, the transportation (the Silver Bullet to us!) and our 'uniforms'.

I watch you all now and I see when you have that gleam in your eyes and splurge for yourselves. You've earned those instances many times over, as I watch you compare items when you shop online and I watch you weigh whether to put off a purchase until the semester is over. I am so proud that while you all have amazingly exquisite tastes you take care of your bills first. (I'll take some credit for that, after all I taught you quality before popularity and classic items never goes our of style and fads will surely always result in that retro picture you wish you hadn't taken) I marvel at how great you all are when you come asking for money and relay to me the depth of thought you put into the purchase you want help with. Even your designer choices make sense and you buy those items on your own, with the money you've earned.

I feel bad about the kids who don't plan, who don't understand the value of the dollars they are spending or the amount of energy expended to acquire that dollar. Designer stuff is nice but you can't live on those clothes if you're about to be evicted for not paying your rent or mortgage. Don't even get me starting on the hoarding of crap and clothes out in this country right now too! Where will they keep it all? Is that what their lives amounted to? Having tons of stuff and clothes? Will cemeteries start selling storage space for it all as well? Shoot, I'm in the wrong business then!

So, as you've all begun to embark on your lives as adult men (I am so in awe of all of you my darlings, how proud I am to be your mom) I want you to keep doing what you're doing and weigh in those lessons you learned from your elders, like Titi Candi and Titi Maddy. (Titi is Spanish for aunt) I've seen some "jellys" in your closets but I smile. We all need at least one, if only just to remind us of how silly we can be when we want something we don't really need.

Also feel free to pool your duckets together come Mothers Day, because Mom likes trips now, not shoes.
Love you boys!

Love Mom


Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Dear Sons, Tell Google To Kiss Your... Wait I Have A Notification! BRB!

Dear Boys;

Once upon a time, in the last of so freaking long ago, when your mom was your age, there was no such thing as the internet. Yes, now pick up your jaw, you dropped it. Kids in their teens played board games or went outside for fun and to socialize. They waited until they got to school to tell each other everything and they rarely called on the house phone (yes a house phone, pay attention!) to gossip because parents wouldn't allow it.

Now I know you've all thought me harsh when I bought you all cell phones (once you all were teens and not a second before) and they only came with calling capabilities, no text and no data plan for you. But the phones were and still are what I consider a resource, a tool for emergencies. PERIOD. No one needs to be texting (OR EVEN CALLING) you while you're in school, because, WELL. YOU. ARE. IN. SCHOOL. Unless of course it's me or your dad and it's an emergency.

I love technology and you all know I'm all about the next best greatest TOOL that is discovered but all this "instant" communications" and "social media" technology is what I call "easy street to a loser's life". You can't live online. You can't experience life if you are too busy hashtagging, instagraming every meal and tweeting about every bowel movement. Worse still, you can't pay any of the damn bills either if you are too busy being distracted with what the rest of the world is doing!

Now, people will say that your mom lives on the computer but you all know the deal. I PLAN for my time on here and yes, sometimes I get carried away and instead of the allotted hour I look up and three have gone by! It is seductive to be where you can get an immediate response (sometimes) from people but it's not living. This is why I wanted you to grow up knowing what it's like to go outside, play with friends outside, not stay inside playing video games. Sure I must sound like all the other old timers but you know me. YOU KNOW ME! I see some of the apps you download and I know you're paying attention. You download utilities, yes! Rarely do you download games. You do pay attention! (Unless I ask to take out the garbage, or come home early, why is that?)

Let me just school you on these companies and not to put all the blame on Google, although they took the proverbial football and ran with it across the entire cyber universe! They do what mommy does, they gather data. They gather data all day long, the same as I once did when I worked in the department Data Extraction and Manipulation. (yes, this is why the Mayor and Chancellor called me a Rabble Rouser but I digress...) Mommy used to get information from many applications being used by her company. This was all so that I could generate reports for all the executives or any Managers that wanted a progress report. Now what I learned in the department is that I could actually make any report sound great (happy, happy, joy, joy!) or not so great. (OMG, WTH, we're in for it now!) That my darlings is called SPIN. I can spin great news or I could spin bad news because what the Managers wanted as an end result was what dictated that. The final numbers wasn't important to them, what they wanted from the people reading the reports was! Ok, let me break it down for you. All these apps track everything you do on it. After a while computers can estimate what you next step will be, so based on everything you're reading online, every movie or TV show on Hulu you watch, everything you buy (with mom's debit card) on Amazon, they start to send you commercials, in your gmail on the right of your screen or in the ads on your FB so that YOU will do what THEY want you to do, which is download something or buy something. Get it?

So don't "live your life" online boys and don't give companies any reason to try to sell you anything. There is so much more out here in this world than what the rest of the world is doing or the latest download can provide you. Don't be a statistic or unknowingly a participant in some company's crazy survey. Love the technology but don't let it dictate how you're going to live your life and for all the data collected in the world, be unique and spontaneous and responsible. Cellphones (along with the computers and gaming consoles) are tools, to be used to enhance your life, not take that away or dictate how you will spend your days.

I was talking on the phone to my BFF the other day and we were talking about it all. How people tell their lives, in excruciatingly painful detail, on social media networks AND how life changing doing something like that can be! What do I tell you??? Do not post anything that may affect your ability to live your life or get a J-O-B! Also, aside from the fact that this English language loving mother of yours cringes at the "HORRIDNESS" that has befallen my beloved language, how do some people communicate at all is beyond me!(yes, I made up a word because apparently we can all do that now, we don't have to wait for Merriam or Webster to do it!) When he spoke to the time when people had to wait until they got home to make phone calls and now people are dying left and right because they can't get their heads out of their asses because they absolutely positively have to spend every waking minute talking on their cell phones - WHILE THEY ARE DRIVING, I knew times truly had changed.

You are all of driving age now and so I want you all to tell Google and Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook and Youtube to kiss your backsides because your attention is on what matters! Your attention is on what's in front of your eyes, like the road and the school book or the smart board in the classroom or the face of the friend across from the lunchroom table and not texting each other while sitting in the same room. So you see my darlings, I wasn't limiting your life's pleasures by keeping you away from all those things, I was expanding your horizons. Don't let these companies who are only out to keep you distracted and poor dictate to you, you call me and let me know when you are on your way - THAT is an important piece of data for mom - and you use the cell to find your way with a map or to capture a moment you want to remember for posterity, that is what these tools are for.
Remember also to not be driving or doing something else either. Multi-tasking is alternating between two TASKS and walking is not a TASK, driving is not a TASK!

I know you all laugh because it seems I am attached to my phone every day but there are times when I turn it off. I simply get to the point where I've become over saturated with sensory overload. I pick and choose the hours I am available for people. I am not ever available 24/7/365 for anyone. (except you my darlings and the love of my life but that's a whole other set of letters) No, I will not answer every text the second I get it and no I will not call back in five minutes if I am called during my work day. Now, I will reply within a few hours, 24 to 48 hours most definitely, to not do that is rude. The internet and ability to reach out instantly has created some serious etiquette deficiencies out here. People are still people, so be aware and be kind but be firm. Set your times for yourself, just as I taught you, return phone calls and texts out of respect and make your daily schedule so that everything you want to do that day can get done or at least you've taken steps to get them done. Fill your lives with goals and milestones and events with people in the same room and don't live it in your heads, in cyber space or some other lame virtual reality.

Oh and one other thing, when it's me on the other end, all rules don't apply - pick that sucker up! I want you to bring home some cookies!

I love you boys. Be safe and do as I taught you, you'll thank me later, decades later probably but oh, you will thank your crazy tech savvy mom!

Love Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dear Sons, Repeat After Me, I AM NOT A QUITTER, Now Quit - Never Underestimate The Importance of Giving Up And Giving In

Dear Sons;

I've spent years trying to help leave you with tips and tools on how NOT to give up or give in. After all, it's the individuals who push beyond their fears that come out successful or at least fulfilled at the other end. Well, I mean all of that. When you dream, you dream big, you dream far, you envision the impossible and then you use your own heart and mind to get you there. No one else's. Not even Mom. I tell you this so that you don't make the mistake of hedging all your bets on another human being's actions.

Yes, and here in lies the rub as they say. That outside factor and influence. We put so much importance on the views and opinions of others that we turn over the very power and essence of who we are. Love is a powerful thing and it is fine when we come across those individuals who inspire us, who motivate us - who is Mom trying to kid here - who excite us and get us hot and bothered under the collar! (wow, if you only knew what that line meant to your Mom!)

Anyway, as you know Mom is a loving creature. Goodness, so loving that if love were currency, I'd have my own Mint and sadly I'd always be broke. I love every human being - within reason. Then there are those chosen few - oh those chosen few - who pretty much could write their own ticket on receiving love from dear daft, loving LOVE in all it's splendor in the grass, Mom. Oh how I can love thee, since the super geek mom doesn't count the ways, for she believes in infinity and beyond.

You all know how I love, I shower you with it every day. In fact you three are probably the only people on earth who understand Mom's brand of love. To love unconditionally, completely, without need to define it is such a rare thing for some people and while you've grown up surrounded by my Love Train on steroids mere mortals either drown in it or run the other way. Yeah, I get that a lot.

You've seen me in my major relationship mode and you've seen me hand over my heart a couple of times AND you've seen me vulnerable and afraid once I've turned over the very core of all that is Mom over to another human being. The older I got the more I had hoped to be able to protect my heart by being "practical", "realistic". Self help books on how to find a mutual love or a love that could last a lifetime haven't a clue! We are all so unique and have our own issues that really, to try and change so that we can't be hurt is just a waste of energy. No matter how old Mom gets, and you know there have been few and far between as to the number of souls I have come to give of my love, time and devotion to, I find myself always at the edge of that cliff- to commit to giving in to the feelings or not.

Why Mom is an "all or nothing" kind of woman, I have no idea. But I am and so, I have accepted that I would rather have my heart broken AFTER I'd given my all than not be myself, pretend to be an ice queen simply because I was too afraid to show my love and vulnerability to another soul who inspired me, motivated me, and yes, ignited passion in me. This is where the older, more responsible mature Mom is now finding her footing. The mature Mom part of me is snatching the young ridiculously in love young foolish Mom off that cliff and basically doing a Cher/Nicolas Cage move and giving her a serious smack across the face. "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

Your Mom is not a quitter but when the feelings begin to change, when the gut is telling you, "Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!" Then Mom should extricate herself from her emotions, take some huge New York City block steps backwards. Love always feels good: in the beginning. It is truly like oxygen to a dying soul. Everything seems possible when a person ignites your mind and body. But all those feelings could be explained away scientifically. I take solace in that. I'm not losing my mind on purpose, my body is reacting to circumstances based on my experiences and my likes and dislikes.

What of these other souls? Well, I've come to see that they are as human and as fragile as we are and to place them on some pedestal because they have lifted us out of some everyday realm into a world of wonder and excitement isn't fair to them either. Also there are those who don't enjoy being pursued and once they see that you have them in their cross hairs they run faster than a gazelle bolting from Mufassa's view. (Lion King, look it up people)(yes I'm using hunting analogies because some of us more aggressive types simply see it as a challenge to get our love interests to reciprocate IN KIND.)

When is love ever right? Oh there will be times that things are going so well that you feel you are the main character in a fairy tale. Where you feel you personify the Prince Charming or the Warrior Princess (your Mom doesn't do scullery maids or damsels in distress). You can have days of perfection between two people and out of the blue you are gazing at them when they aren't aware and you're picking china patterns in your head. In Mom's case I'm already seeing trips to exotic lands and going on wild adventures like a pair of superheroes. (Don't judge, I grew up believing love was just like in Casablanca, still my favorite film of all time or even Gone With The Wind, where the men took on such a strong role of leading men who knew and had command of their environments at all times, Alpha male with strong and gentle sides saved only for their love interests. And the women? Oh the women were magnificent, not apologizing for their femininity but actually basking in it, all the while being fully capable of leading an army into war, more fierce than any general could be) Yes, Mom wanted to be Lara Croft and Scarlett O'Hara, at the same time!

I've seen each of you in love and I was so afraid that you'd gotten this from me and I am so overjoyed that you are so much better at gauging your heart-o-meter than I am. There has been heart break but our late night moments of truth have not been as painful or fearful as I had thought they would be. You have all acquired the much needed ability to see when things are not as they seem and when you have to cut your losses and move on, without seeing that dream of romantic bliss be realized. You are all so much more stronger than me.

I can count on one hand AND STILL HAVE digits to spare on the number of times I'd handed my heart to another human being - given up control of a better part of me, as an offering of my love for that soul. Well, you've seen it trampled on a couple of times and you've seen it appear at first to be a really great match: until. There has always come a time where in the course of my relationships decisions on how to move forward needed to be made. After all there were two souls trying to make their lives work. Then the really hard work about love took place. Compromise, sacrifice, commitment. Words that can drive the strongest of wills to drink and go mad. What's an overly imaginative, closet romantic, to do? QUIT.

Yes, quit. After years of thinking that I (MAJOR EMPHASIS ON THAT WORD - I) had to ratchet up some serious bonus notches so that the other person would have NO OPTION but to fall as madly in love with me as I with them I have come to realize that if I had put just HALF of all that love back into myself I'd see that my love interest was really not the one and I've had spared myself some serious heartache. There is nothing more lonely than wanting to be noticed by someone who is sitting right across from you and they don't. You don't ever want to know what that feels like. So, rather than pine away wishing someone gave you more, you should quit. Take care of your heart, your mind and everything else you were just too willing to give the lucky individual, for anyone would be blessed to be loved by any one of you - and me for that matter should acknowledge it gladly, and seriously save yourselves. Save yourselves for the ones that look at you as if you've made their day and the ones who want to meet you in the middle under that waterfall.

So yes, quit. "Get the hell out of Dodge" (City, look IT up people.) Everyone is worth loving and I'm sure the love interest is a great person but you must put you first and if you are made to feel invisible so soon after Cupid's stupid arrow hits then, please, bust his ass for me if you ever find him because that little Cherub has always rubbed me the wrong way - damned instigator! Quit trying to make a fairy tale out of an instant. Appreciate the small memory that seemed effortless. DO NOT PASS GO, do not collect bad feelings or land into months of emotional jail. Some will never see what they could have had. Some don't deserve it and some were only meant to boost your spirit and give you a memory for a moment and nothing more.

So love. Don't create parameters for it, that's no fun. AND DO give it all you've got and if over time, sometimes all it takes is a switch from one day to the next to see the truth, accept the truth. Any soul would be blessed in having you love them if I do say so myself. Don't settle and don't waste time on people not sure or ready to receive. There are too many songs of unrequited love and well, if you see Mom in her Bridget Jones impersonation, singing Melissa Manchester - well, then you know. Break out the Kleenex, give me your shoulder and make me laugh and feel better, just like you always have done. Ok, having all of you calling those people assholes for being blind doesn't hurt. But they aren't and once I'm over the disappointment I can be back on solid ground again, seeing them better for who they are: great spirits that moved me and I appreciate that about them. After all someone really would have to be absolutely amazing and fabulous to turn your absolutely amazing and fabulous Mom's head, right!

Sometimes quitting isn't so bad you see. In fact it's downright freeing. FREE. I'm so blessed to know this and glad I can share it with all of you. See, now I feel better. DOn't you?

Loving you always in my insane all encompassing Mom way,

Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear Sons, The Wheels on My Bus Went Round and Round And Jumped The Curb On Crazy Street

Dear Sons;

Mom's at it again. She's trying to save the world and she left the house without her cape or brain for that matter. So sad.

Do you remember when you were all little and used to ask me about all the wrinkles on my forehead and my downturned mouth? I'd tell you I was practicing to play Worf's girlfriend in Star Trek, The Next Generation television series. Well, let's not ponder over that nonsense. Anyway, mommy always had a habit of playing chess with all of life's trials and tribulations. I always tried to figure out every possible answer to every possible question, you'd thought I was studying to go on Jeopardy.

"I'll take Worrywarts for $200 Alex"

What can I say boys, your mom is a worrier. But I'm happy to announce that for a while now I've been working really hard at not being so hard on myself. After all, it WAS my job to worry. I have the most important job in the world. Taking care of you. Now, now, I know you all are grown and practically out of the house but a mom's job is to make sure she takes care of her children. You shouldn't have to be the ones to worry about things like the light bill or if I have enough for tuna fish for lunch tomorrow. I know I'm doing the right thing by telling you when those things happen and not pretending that everything is alright. We're partners in life and always will be. It's just how I know that when the time comes for you to be on your own that you all will be alright. Yet I worry.

It's hard work so don't let anyone tell you differently. Juggling four lives is no easy feat. I wanted each and every one of you to have every opportunity to have good lives. It's why I did what I did, worked as much as I could, studied about the world and culture and places. We were doing more than watching silent movies or broadway shows together. We were scoping out all the possibilities and FOR YOU! I'll have my shot at seeing the world but seeing it with you, through your eyes really means so much more to me. For you, the universe was truly going to be your playground. But it's dangerous out there and no one will ever look out for you the way I do. What do I say? Out there people will say you're nothing, but here, at home with me, you are my world. Say what you want about your new found relationships when you get older or get into them. NO ONE. NO ONE will love you and champion for you like I will. There is only one me. Don't laugh, I know AND that my loves is saying a lot. I'm intense!

I've "been there" and contrary to what you may think, I've been your age, sometimes two, three times for good measure! Why that's why I started this letter because for a week I've been acting like a fool, acting fifteen! See, we can all be foolish mortals at any given time. All that's needed is the right circumstance or person to bring it out in us. Anyway, you know what I say about relationships. "Relationships come and go, but the children born from those relationships - THEY are THE FOREVER. You boys are MY FOREVER. While we don't live with dad you've never had to worry about not seeing him around. Mom would never keep your dad from you. You are the best part of him. Please understand that love is complicated. Mom and dad love each other, we just couldn't live with each other. We'd evolved into two entirely different people. But you boys, you are the absolute purest and best of both of us and we both love you. While he and I didn't agree on a lot of things when we decided to go our separate ways, while we both left feeling hurt, we were blessed in knowing that we couldn't place the burden of that hurt on any of you. We had to be grown up about it and put our personal feelings for each other aside and partner in parenting to bring you three up. So while your dad's life has moved on and you have seen him in relationships and you've definitely seen me struggle to come into my own, you've had us both there, the good, the bad and everything in between.

So back to Crazy Street. Sometimes I get too intense, as this mother does. The Engineer in me kicks in and I want to solve problems that aren't even there. Haley Joel Osment saw dead people, mom sees problems that she THINKS may need solving. I can't help it because it's what I'm paid for. I'm expected to solve problems, find pathways not traveled, come up with the next greatest and best thing for people. I scare people away because it's like playing chess with people who only came around to play checkers. I let my imagination get away with me and you know what that means! Yes, like the time I decided to take each of you out of school and the Principal yelled at me and I told her that my sons were going out to make memories and that one week out of school wasn't going to harm them! Then we flew off to Disney World! Yes, mom gets that way sometimes. Well, a lot. Hey, I've no regrets. Mickey was exceptionally great that year and boohoo to the Principal or anyone else. WE made a marvelous memory together. "I love it when a plan comes together!" (Yes, I'm Hannibal of the A Team and I love that you all know the show and we've watched it together regardless of how dated and cornball it was)

So this week mom was feeling fifteen and the wheels on the bus were just grinding and grinding and I gave myself a concussion practically. You see, there was this boy. Oh I can't be too specific. You all know mom can not be getting sick over imaginary things! Why I have every intention to live to be a hundred just so that I can get on your nerves when you're older. I have it all planned out! Oops! There I go again.

Mom's better now. Maybe the boy was a figment of her imagination but you know what, it was fun wondering for a while. I promise if anything real materializes you all will be the very first I run to with the news. So now, the bus is parked and I've given all the wheels flats. I've been as good a mom as I can be for these last 25 years (yes, I'm counting the nine months sweety!) and it's me time now. I really must stop trying to figure everything out, even problems that may or may not arise. It's tiring and no fun. Mom is in much need of fun right now. It has been an intense decade, that's for sure.

Mom's on a wonderful journey, re-discovering herself and her childhood and it's an amazing and wonderful thing! I don't think I've been this happy in eight years! And we all know why that is! Just reread my first book, Defining Moments! Mommy was NOT a happy camper. Settling into a life of serving my purpose always had me fulfilled but it's been such a long time since I've felt carefree, happy and dare I say it, truly in love? I do feel carefree. I do feel happy.

I look at all of you and see that being that serious mom paid off. We have talked through all of my mistakes so you'll have something to go on IF you ever find yourself in a similar situation. Remember though, don't worry your way into them, that's not for single people without children! Now, when you have children (notice I didn't say "if") then you'll have a bit more brain power to exert but this Glam Ma will be right there, laughing at you the whole time, waiting for my hugs and apologies. Seriously, you all were too amazing to raise, I can't say enough on how I'd live my life, the same way, all over again. Yes boys, the same, exact life. Every painful moment too.

Why? Can't you see it on my face? Because everything I did, every good, great, stupid, crappy, silly thing I did, gave me all of you and led me here. HERE. TODAY. THIS MOMENT. I am breathing in this moment deeply and my body is radiating energy, love and filling me with such peace and calm and pure joy. I am loving this moment. I am looking forward to the next. I have no idea where it will take me but you know what, no more trying to figure that out, then figure out "what ifs".

Well, unless it's "what if the boys cook dinner tonight so I won't have to".

I adore you all.

Mom

(look, no need for meds!)





Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dear Sons, Mom's Been In Need Of Some Serious Healing

Dear boys;

I guess you've been wondering what's gotten into me lately. After all, you've seen me at my worst for so long that by now you know all the signs.

Don't talk to mom early in the morning, she'll be moody. Don't talk to mom when she get's home, for AT LEAST an hour, she'll get crabby. Don't talk to mom right before she goes to bed or she'll go off. Sigh......... yes, it's been a hard decade for mom.

I want you to know that you all have been great and amazing sons. You've endured me in my maniacal manic slumps and have been right there with me during my insanely Bi-Polar highs as well. Raising you has been the most amazing part of my life bar none. None of the other things I've done compare to the awesomeness that it is of being your mother. You are the only human beings on earth that knows what it is to live with such a simple yet complicated human being like me and I believe you can live anywhere, with anyone and will be fine. A testament to all that is so great about each one of you.

See, love is complicated. Oh it's easy to love another human being but to do so in a healthy way is where it gets really messy. You have to start by loving yourself first. Yep, this is my A-HA. I didn't realize this until recently. Oh we all here the slogans, the mottos, the taglines, the quotes..."LOVE" is everywhere, being forced down our throats, embedded into our psyches, sold in every ad.

RuPaul said it, “If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

I've spent my adult life looking for something that I should have simply been giving to myself all along. The part about adding another person really has everything to do with sharing time and space. If two people who love themselves can enjoy their time and space with another human being then, voila! That's "love". Well dammit, so it took me 47 years to figure that shit out!

For the past few years you've seen me go in and out of hibernation, a licking of my wounds after what I thought were failed relationships. In fact my darlings, I was trying to make those connections into things they weren't. I was trying to make them out to be the fairy tales I grew up with and we were the characters of those great sagas. LOL, yes, your mom is crazy but she has an AMAZINGLY creative imagination. After all, if I'm going to be the heroine of my own novel, I'm going to BE THE HEROINE. And here in was the problem, I thought that my trials and tribulations were failures when in fact I was just hurting and looking for solace.

I have some very deep wounds my darlings but I promise you that I am healing, finally. The tears you may catch a glimpse at are healing tears. I've been avoiding the wounds for so long that the scars are many. It will take a while and when I slip, maybe into an old habit that doesn't do me any good, I try not to be too hard on myself, I try to find out why I slipped into that old habit and what was I trying to avoid again.

Some of my wounds have to do with those who you know I've devoted my time to. I'm always in awe of your candidness when I ask for your opinion of a love interest. I'm sitting here beaming from the inside out as I remember your responses, "as long as you're happy". You all say that first. I am so blessed that you've all persevered during these rough times for me. That at least you all did as I preached and not as I'd done. You all love yourselves first and it is so obvious to all I introduce you to just how mature and amazing you all are. So unique, fabulously one of a kind - times three!

My wounds also have a great deal to do with my fears. I was afraid for so long that I couldn't raise you right, in terms of finances and so the harder I worked the more afraid I was that I'd never make enough. Then the issues with the house started in 2008 and well, foreclosure is a frightening frightening thing and I was hellbent on enduring it alone (yeah, see above, self-love, gotta have it). So, you see, your mom's been blaming herself for everything, everything and probably all of the world's issues for good measure. If things didn't go right between me and someone I loved I'd blame myself, if work didn't go well, I'd blame me, yes. mom was a sad bundle of blame for a very long time. And doing that for a very long time does exactly what it did to me, it made me physically ill. Then I spent the years in silence afraid I was dying when in fact it was the fear that was killing me; slowly, painfully.

I've not always been there for you and it is some of why my heart breaks but once I realized that I wasn't there for myself, so how the heck could I be there for anyone else. It took a long time getting here and I have a great way to go.

This year has been pivotal. I came close to marrying again which was honestly frightening for me, and I'd witnessed the passing of so many people my age as well. I think the fact that by this time next year each of you will be in your own respect colleges at the same time and I'll be home alone was the beginning of the end of this vicious cycle I'd been in. My young men, each one on your individual journeys of your lives and that part of my life as Mother Hen/Tigress, for good or bad, will be over. Onto Supportive Mom next and I'm looking forward to that with great gusto as well.

So you see kids, mom's working on herself now and just like Dolly Levi I think it's time for me to join the human race and not be so hard on myself. I see forest green shutters in my life, starting right now, actually, I'm several weeks into this new found love for myself and it's going to take some getting used to. I've a great many excuses and distractions at the ready and I'm sure you've seen me hiccup a few of those buggers in the last few days.

NOTE: "Always" and "Never", not a couple of great words, believe you me. I try not to use them. Well, except for when I say I love you. ALWAYS. That's because I mean it, from within my soul, energy flowing through all my chakras (now if you ask then I'll make you listen so don't, LOL), from every level of consciousness that is me, when I say I LOVE YOU, it is real, it is pure. I've gone over everyone I've said that to and I realize I do. I did and I will always love them for the people they are, even now. They were special, to me, at one point in my life and I love their souls. (no, relax, I will not be revisiting any of those paths) Mom's finally let go, of the ideas of them all. Letting go of the idea is the hardest thing to do, I'd spent a life clinging to ideas.

So, mom is now on the journey of healing herself by loving herself first. Oh I have frightened myself into old habits once or twice but I'm getting better, I feel it, in my soul and in my bones. I laugh easier, I cry easier, I love easier and I'm having the time of my life with myself. Being your own BFF is interesting but I check in with myself first now, as best as I can until I hope it becomes second nature.

My darlings, if you see me down or pensive and you want to ask me what's wrong, it's alright. I've not been in a crabby moody mood for days now. Uhm, but it's still not a good idea to catch me before I go to bed... LOL. I need my beauty sleep.

Love ALWAYS,
Mom




Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dear Sons, I've Been Meaning To Get To That, You Know - My Life

Dear Kids,

I had this idea, ohhh last week, and it was a really great idea! I can't wait to tell you about it! As a matter of fact, it's so great I should have called each of you and told you at that moment but I was distracted, at first by work. I wa at work and so I told myself that I would tell you all about it that evening when I got home.

I forgot to write it down to remind myself, I am closing in on fifty you know, I really should write down a daily list of things I'd like to accomplish like I used to when I was younger, like last year. So I forgot to write it down and as soon as I got home I had to unwind. The day's stresses all over me like slime, you know that I need a good hour where everyone must beware and not try to approach me with THEIR stuff or I'll bite their heads off.

Actually, about that, I've gotten better. No, I'm not on new medication, smart alecks. I've been researching stress relief options so that when I'm driving home I don't want to run down any of the idiots I come across every day. Goodness but why does it feel as if I've entered into a world of morons? Did they all just get dumped on this planet all of a sudden or were we in a bunker when the dumbass rays came beaming down? I swear everyone is just six degrees of being permanent residents of Bellevue Hospital, no offense to the Hospital.

Oh yeah, where was I, I had something to tell you all but wait, I put down my things, I picked up my mail and I'm just in disbelief to the tons of GARBAGE I'm receiving. It's election time and we're a month away from elections. Now I'm a pretty active participant in my community (I call 311 every single time I have an idea with a city agency!) and oh YES, let me tell you why you should call 311 every single time you see an issue you are unhappy with.

Well, it seems that things only get done in this city when there is a trail of complaints. For example, potholes. They're not going to fill themselves up of course and this city isn't exactly resident-friendly (I blame the Mayor but that's a whole other encyclopedia on politics) and the city's excuse is "if we don't know about it, it doesn't exist". Oh really? You know my mantra, the one about "learn all of the rules and then beat the bastards at their own game". Well, if they need to know ti exists to fix it then I'm going to CALL 311 (their online website is atrocious and NOT meant to be helpful but waste people's time!) and sit through the ridiculous labyrinth of options they offer before we get to a live person and BE SPECIFIC. There is a pothole on such and such a street, in between this avenue and that avenue and the pothole is directly across from the Piggly Wiggly or whatever landmark you record. Have them repeat it to you. Then ask them to repeat their name, possible an ID number and yes, you will leave your name and number and yes you do want a confirmation number as YES, you will be looking for an update.

Now all this may seem like a waste of time but truthfully, the waste of time is in doing nothing.

After you've done ALL that, here is the trick. They may make note of it but it won't be fixed unless there are an ABUNDANT NUMBER (a number THEY seem to pick out of the sky apparently) of complaints before the incident or complaint goes up that ladder of priority for them. So now you call every time you pass by that pothole. Personally, twice a day for three days is the most I've had to call. Once in the morning, going to work, and once in the evening coming home. Now of course you will get those people who say, why don't you just go another route. My loves, tell them to mind their own business. You don't answer to anyone but yourselves (and me until you're 21, oops, that means only the baby is still trapped huh, LOL)

You can change route if you like or if you find this inconvenient you can take it upon yourself to be a good citizen and let the city know, hey, you have an issue here that can be dangerous for people, can you please fix it. Ok, next!
Oh yeah, so I'm getting all these ridiculous placards and posters and flyers for people who apparently think the only time they need to show up is the month before the election. SMH. Remember to recycle. It's good for the environment and yes your neighbors may not, which sucks but as long as you do your share and they are not encroaching on your property, thereby having you call 311 yet again and again until they are fined to the point of - oh look! THEY GOT THE POINT!

Coming home, unwinding, trying to relax and enjoy what few hours of the day are left until you have to get to bed and rest so that your day can start over again, it's a lot. Sometimes I'm not in the mood to hear about everyone's day and I do recognize when we all get a little to withdrawn in ourselves because we'll go through days where everyone is home, I come in and we each murmur hello and go our separate ways into our own rooms. Sometimes that is just what we need but I do try to get us all together at least once a week so that too much time doesn't get away from us and we don't become strangers in the same house.

I've finally unwinded, sitting down, was just about to turn on the Roku to catch my favorite shows when I realized that if I did that I'd never get a chance to really sit with you all and tell you my idea! So I yell out to you, no I am not going to spend money on an intercom when I can still get each of your attention by yelling "COME DOWN, MOM WANTS YOU". Ok, so we're all here and it's now that it dawns on me just how much I love and adore each of you. I see the faces of my babies staring back at me, with nothing but your full attention and then you become the young men that you are and I can see life and its experiences started to get etched on your beautiful faces adding marvelous detail and character. I am so ready to share with you and be in that moment and I can't even remember the stress of my day anymore.

"Let's go on a family vacation."

Yes my loves, that was my great idea. It has been over eight years now. Since I purchased the house and every dime has been on just keeping us all afloat and we are blessed to be healthy and alive and even if it turns out being a "family staycation" I don't care. Time together, even for a weekend is what we need. Next year each of you will be in your own respective colleges and it will be my first year on my own, ever.

Mom wants to be mom to all of you in one place just one last time before you go off into the world and begin your own individual journeys. No, I am not taking everyone to Vegas and I think Disney has been done besides apparently Florida is sinking so let's look into something more manageable.

Yes life gets to become so full of distractions that we find we put it off or forget to live. Well, I won't forget if you won't forget. Live my darlings, stop and enjoy your moments. Do your duty, produce at work, but remember to relax and take note of your experiences.

I love you.

Mom


Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dear Sons, I'm So Sorry I Won The Lottery, Here Let Me Give It Back

Like most overworked, overstressed parents there are times when I let my mind wander, sometimes a little TOO far into fantasy. It happened Tuesday morning and I'm still reeling from the effects three days later.

Dear Boys;

All I ever wanted was to see you all happy, for each of you to have a life of substance and purpose and meaning. I really screwed that up didn't I. See, I didn't mean to win the Lottery. I wished and wished each day that we struggled to get by for just enough relief so that we could have some breathing room and enjoy the fruits of our labor. But that wasn't meant to be, not when all this cash fell into mommy's unprepared lap.

It happened instantaneously and I couldn't keep track of all the bills that could now be paid off - but wait! Priority! Priority! The house! Pay off the house! Shoot forget this house, we'll buy another one! No! Wait, grandma needs a house, let's do that first. Well, we'll get to that later. Why there's the uncles and aunts and oh wait, we have cousins we can't leave out. My lifelong friends who were there helping me by baby-sitting for you. I can not leave out the people that were there for us when we had nothing to our names. Sure they did it out of love but nothing says I love you back like here's a wad of cash right?!?

The emails and cellphones would start ringing and mommy would be overrun almost immediately by everyone she'd ever met! Whoa, I know I'd met a lot of people but damn! People who had some serious nerve looking for a handout??? REALLY DUDE! You kicked me in the Third Grade!

This is when it began to sour for me boys because what came over me made me ill. I started a list. Yes, a list of the relatives who weren't around when times were tough, you know who, the judgmental ones who spent more time talking about us, of the friends who really weren't friends, who I was going to have the pleasure of NOT helping out. It started to get even bigger, this feeling of power and meanness. All the frustration of not being taken seriously just came to a head. Wanting to teach a lesson to those who marginalized your mom when all she wanted to do was matter and make a difference. I was going to give a vacation to our dentist's receptionist who was so cool to us but I was going to spurn away any attempts at helping out that postal delivery guy who always threw our packages recklessly on our porch.

Mom went a bit off the path with this need to validate herself by "punishing" those who made her feel less than. That's not what a lottery is for, is it? To wag cash in the faces of those who don't have it? To inch a few people up on another rung of the imaginary ladder of society's definition of "success" above some others. I was losing myself in trying to make myself feel better after all those years of feeling trounced upon that soon I forgot all about the charities I wanted to donate to, the organizations I wanted to join.

The job I was ready to quit turned into the place where I could wield my lucky (?) lottery wand and as I sat in my cubicle I wondered who from this god forsaken place would I save and who would I leave behind. As if it was my job to save any of them?? But no, I wanted to see the looks on the faces of the knuckleheads who treated your mom like crap for 20 years, when I, like an Empress changed forever the life of a co-worker, simply because they were cool enough to get me a coffee with cream every once in a while. Oh kids, I was done for and I hadn't even cashed the check yet!

It grew worse this Lottery Fever that gripped me and my soul! I envisioned paying off each of your college tuitions at first, this way you'd have nothing hindering you from concentrating on your studies and then all of a sudden I was taken over with this notion that if I just gave each of you a small fortune you wouldn't need to even bother going!!! WHAT??!!

Oh the injustice! In one fell swoop I had damned you all to a life of material consumption, without a strategic plan or compass that would give you the answers when trials and tribulations arise. I had left you with only a bag of cash as your arsenal. SMH. A path with no goals, no milestones to really create out of wonder or need, just sailing in an ocean and no map to guide you anywhere. The hours of study and focus and learning of skills that would enhance your lives and the lives of those you touched and met along your own journeys lost and replaced with hours of leisure and hedonistic adventures. Where would you find your passions if there was nothing left for you to desire???

Mommy was in a tail spin and she was flushing all of our futures down the drain just for the sake of a little bit of financial relief! Our lives lost to wanting too much of just one resource, one tool! How I longed for those times when we all pitched in when the times got hard. How wonderful you are were when I explained which bills could be paid and which ones couldn't and why some of the things you wanted I couldn't get because it was not within our budget. How proud I was seeing your understanding faces and how my heart still tugs when you all hugged me and said it would always be alright and we would stick together and get through it.

And then it happened! The truth so clearly in my face! The longing for financial relief was real but the hunger for riches was gone. I was richer than any of my wildest dreams boys and you all know mom's got one heck of an imagination! So times get tough, ok then. Mommy is going to come home and we'll sit down like we do and we'll talk about what we can have and what we can't - for now - and we'll get through it. We love our life, tough as it can be sometimes, and I'll squirrel a few dollars here and there so that when that tuition bill comes around you won't have to work too many hours to make up the difference. You'll all go to your respective colleges, all state or city, you'll find your passions as you go out and meet people and go places and see new things. You'll be too busy figuring out what you love to do to spend that bag of currency. Because that's all it would have been. A bag of currency that would have led to passions put aside for that rush of immediate gratification, then an addiction to that.

Boys, I gave it all back. The dream of some relief turned into a nightmare of vindictiveness and petty revenge, of coddling and corrupting, of power playing and punishing. Too much of a good thing isn't good...darn it who said that? So I put back the lottery tickets, the money is going into your Tuition Plans. THAT IS THE SUREST BEST I KNOW I'LL WIN!
You'll struggle, we all do, but you'll have your own journey to experience, not one preordained by my selfishness. Of course if it gets too hard you have me to lean on... So, you see, I gave it back. All of it and I can't wait to get home and tell you all, just how amazing we have it, tough times and all!

Mom

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gotta Be ME And You're Gonna Like It Even If It Kills Me Or The Monday Morning Haze (De-Caf)

I love to read. Oh yeah, everyone everywhere should know that by now. If you don't, well, I LOVE to read.
The older I've gotten the shorter the books, I'm down to a dozen articles or so a day. So as I was drinking my tea this Monday Morning about a 5:30am workout (I'm already out the door by 5:15 so that's not happening), about Managers with hearts WANTING TO KNOW what makes their "teams" tick (again, fairy tale land where I'm at right now) I come across a few other articles from a wide range of websites I visit and I come across the one about everyone needing a DREAM BOARD.

I have this pet peeve about blogs that come blinged out. (See http://carmenmcolon.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-race-to-being-one-dimensional-01.html) So here is an article telling me that to actualize my deepest desires, I could do so by going through other people's images, posting them on my electronic board of photos and I suppose if you wish hard enough and use them as motivators, maybe then you can actualize those dreams into reality.

Mmmmmm, nope. I'm sensing that what will happen is that my longing for images, created by other people, validating concepts thrown at me all day, created by other people, will probably invoke a sense of longing more than a desire to motivate me to do something.... but I'm just throwing that out there.

See, what I've been getting a lot of lately are the "change your ways, change your life" speeches. Or maybe because I've found myself in a place where I'm restless, it's me zooming in on them but then, that's where it stops. I like who I am, for the most part. I can be short tempered, mostly with my loved ones, and I self absorbed when I'm fretting over the issues of the universe as they pertain to me. I think too much, I'm sure I've burnt out my brain cells on things that will just never come to fruition but it's how I'm wired. Overall, I'm at a place where I recognize that my life, while being my own and having pushed myself to move beyond all that fear keeps most from doing, I still have set up some serious road blocks to being more content in my life.

A recurring theme when I meet up with some friends in a particular circle is about body image. 47 and 250 pounds is an accomplishment I think. I'm not embarrassed by either, after all, that's all me. Yet I do know that I've been in an unhealthy rhythm for close to seven years now. Yes, seven and I can even remember the day. September 4, 2006. The day my life changed. I used to believe it was the day my life ended but in fact, as I've gotten older I see it for the day I was forced to grow up and take my life into my own hands: literally. I won't bore you with specifics, because I wrote a book after that, a cathartic exercise that led me down an interesting and adventure packed journey that I still enjoy even today. Defining Moments is the title.

For over seven years I've had this mega-tug-of-war within myself. I love myself but I hate myself. In fact while I hated that I did very little to take care of myself while I was alone I made sure that in front of the world I gave a great show to just how amazing I thought I was. And I was amazing; in public. In private I was just a mess. Those life changing events, like a death in the family, a break up, a divorce, the loss of your job, whatever rocks you to your core so much that you find yourself lying in bed in a fetal position for days, they test everything you know about yourself. I used to wish that my life was less eventful and that if I could only have one of those quiet lives we read about - Farmer John and his wife Bessie Celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary with their six kids and eight grandkids. Farmer John has been running his farm since he was but a young boy, Bessie was his HS sweetheart and life was a bland as it sounds. Except that's the thing. As we interpret it. Farmer John could have been a gambler and Bessie could have been a host of other things, their lives were their own and when you try to describe FIFTY YEARS in a few words you'll never get a full picture of what two people may have gone through.

The same goes for people. I love words but there simply aren't enough of them to fully showcase the amazing facets of a human being. We are so many things and yet this world will do all it can to shove you into a box of ten characteristics or less. Oh and it usually starts with the lowest of the important one like race, creed, color, religion, body shape, age. Yep, those are at the top of the pyramid, the ones that loom so large that we're still struggling to deal with them. After all, the people who are getting everyone's attention is trying to sway everyone to believe that their choice of skin color, or religion, or body shape, is what YOU need to be if you're going to be HAPPY!

So what does this pissed off Taurean do? I say to the world, "You're going to love me like this dammit, screw you and your perception of ANYTHING!" Except that in my mind I'm thinking, well, I could be a bit smaller but for health reasons and I should see a doctor more regularly because I'm feeling crappy. But I'm stubborn and I don't like being told what to do or what to think.

I have this friend who says she's not going to conform to public opinion either. There's a lot of 'beating about the chest' for emphasis. She's not going to change a thing, but on her profiles, on more days than not she's sharing quotes and poems about needing strength to get through the bad times. It got me to thinking that maybe she's not happy and that she's also not doing anything to change that. Well, a bit like me really. It wouldn't kill me to lose weight and yet I've been so hell bent on not "conforming" that I finally can't pretend I don't know what's wrong! I'm scared out of my gourd! To lose the weight would attract attention and goodness knows I don't want that do I??? That would mean getting compliments that might lead to dating that might lead to relationships that might lead me right back to September 4, only in the future!

I sold a bill of goods, and while I'm all good, my age, size, the number of teeth in my head, whatever people are talking about nowadays to detract and distract others from living aside, I've had to come face to face finally with the fact that I've not done anything specific to better myself outwardly because my insides had been stung so mercilessly that I'd been hiding in plain sight all this time. Except this was MY "in your face" way of coping with the pain of that life changing event. I am going to be me, like this, not the norm (and would you know it, so many people are going through the same stuff that actually my size is starting to become THE NORM!) and the world is going to like it dammit!

But I don't like it, not anymore. I don't like feeling lethargic and unfocused in the morning. I don't want my sons most vivid memories of me was vegging out on the couch for days devouring psychological thrillers and documentaries (because everything else stung in ways I couldn't explain - and I really hate horror movies, I really do.) When they were younger they used to call me a super hero mom. They'd describe me in Lara Croft gear (and if I had a Lara Croft body I might even then still found fault with myself, although I'd really like to give that a try) doing Lara Croft world changing things. They made me feel so amazing and they're older now, all but one left at home, just about ready to leap off his limb into his new adult life and I see how they worry about me, the woman on the couch on the weekends, hiding in plain sight.

Maybe today I'll not drink so many cups of coffee and I'll take that break and sit out in the sun, but it won't be because of the thousands of articles telling me to. I want to do it, for me. Now where's Dr. Steve's number? It's been far too long between check-ups.


Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Race To Being One Dimensional, Their One Trick Ponies And Other Excuses, Entry One

In 1994 I purchased my very first computer. I did it through my company's then new computer program. They set a limit, you can buy from a couple of places and over one to four years you can pay the company back. It was a miracle, a happy and amazing chance to be a part of a new world and I took it. $4000 for a Micron Computer with a monitor whose caboose was so huge two people needed to pick it up.

I learned all about the World Wide Web that year, most of the websites were nothing but text, some with little to no pictures. You had to scroll for days it seemed to read all the content that these sites were trying to provide. I then literally picked up the Complete Book of HTML and me and my notepad in Microsoft Office went to town as they say. I started writing code. HARD CORE CODE, practically pen to paper. I created websites.

It'll be 20 years next year and I'm nowhere near as proficient in web designs today. The madness of making the website STIMULATING is ridiculous. Bells and whistles. Everyone wants, NO, THEY DEMAND to be entertained, stimulated. Gone are the days that data was good all by itself. Now, it must come with an animated chart or slide show.
I see life has turned out the same way these last 20 years. DISTRACTIONS. EXCUSES. All of it, because all it does is keep people from the core facts.

Blogs. I used to write a blog just to write down the things that added value and meaning to my life at the time. If it motivated and inspired someone then it was even more of a plus. I'm a nurturer, a giver. Not many of us nowadays, or so it seems. I've come across a WHOLE LOT OF TAKERS. I don't know. Maybe it's me. I'm putting out a vibe that says, "hey, giver over here. Free lunch." When I read, and I read a lot I try to learn things. I mean I read articles as often as I can. More than watch videos really, because my mind wanders too much during videos. See, I GET DISTRACTED. But when I read, I have to focus. So, I read an article about writing a successful blog and you had to do so many things to your words! (make them bold, give each paragraph a title, make that title shiny and dance, add pictures, but wait! If you add videos then your audience will love it that much more!)

So, I'm thinking, this is why I may start to write about something meaningful but the blog world are so full of idiots now that whatever I wanted has lost all meaning because I've spent five hours BLINGING OUT MY BLOG. Why? People will read it because of the WORDS right? Not because of the all the stimulating and entertaining crap! At least I don't read articles because of all the stupid tags I can click on. I'd never finish the damn thing. Hmmm, was that the point?

So I've decided I'd like to go back. One of my favorite sayings is "sometimes you have to go back a few steps to then go forward". Sounds good. So, it's 1994 and I'm going to write about things that I find meaningful. If it motivates and inspires then great. See, I'm a giver and I like helping others. It makes me feel good about myself. Only, I'm not going to try to stimulate and entertain because that's not my job. Bells and whistles can be purchased at Party City.

THIS IS A TITLE FOR MY NEXT TRAIN OF THOUGHT. Why? Because I put it in caps.

July 2013 has been overly emotional where I'm at. Personally and publicly. The fact that I'm writing is how I'm handling the personal stuff. Writing sometimes makes me feel better. I don't do it enough. Now publicly, it seems the world has come the fucking edge of the proverbial cliff. I mean WTF Earth? An article I read about writing (you're going to come across a lot of these) says to keep to one message. Why? Can't people handle more than one at a time? But for the sake of not making this not only the longest blog entry in the world, I'll just deal with the most mind boggling event that have been bugging me and deal with them the only way I know how - drinking. Yeah, that's another issue but not here, not today. Actually, this issue was so caught up in my mind and heart and soul that drinking wasn't going to help in any way. I also didn't relish the idea of being sick for 24 hours and still having the idea of these events bugging me - what a waste of time.

Ok, so this thing had to do with sports and singing. Yeah, in this country and I think in most of them, the ritual of singing the national anthem is a show of respect. For the country, the team, the sport itself. Twice now the idiots with no lives went on social media witch hunts and decided all by their lonesome WHO should NOT have the privilege or the honor of singing those songs at those events.

I'm a doer. I'm also an expert procrastinator but I like to feel that at least I'm doing something. Something. So what's someone like me, average in most ways when compared to the rest of the literate world, to do when a social issue arises? I don't want to add to the bullshit screamers. The ones who write on all their profiles all day their opinions believing it will actually make a difference. Now, that's not to say that people shouldn't. Writing your feelings down is a cathartic exercise and if bitching to your friends on network sites makes you feel better then hey - GO FORTH AND ROCK YOUR VENTING. But for me, I feel as if I'm spinning my wheels and my head is already in a fight to shake the cobwebs I feel at 47.

So I did the second thing I like doing and that's research or as you young ones call it SURFING which I'm sure the pre-teens now call it GOOGLING. (My first and favorite Search Engine by the way was METACRAWLER. It was the Mother of ALL Search Engines. For another time.) So I'm researching what all the hullabaloo was about. An 11 year old boy, Sebastian Cruz, who found some fame by being a contestant on a TV Competition Show was asked to sing the National Anthem at a basketball game in his home town. Hey, sounds simple enough. Good for him. So I go to the video website and watch his performance. Oh wow, he was adorable and amazing! He even wore his cool Mariachi clothes... you know because he was a member of a Mariachi Band, the band that was on the show.

Then all hell breaks loose on the internet because a bunch of couch potatoes thought the boy was not an American citizen and that ONLY REAL AMERICANS should be allowed to sing the song... Hmmm, ok but did anybody do their due diligence (oh I'm sorry was that too smart for the couch potatoes? They're not reading this: NO PICTURES) or shall I say RESEARCH before they put their foots in their mouths - or asses - either one. Uhhh, nope. They surely didn't.

HA! It turns out that the little boy was born in the country so screw you you idiots, he's American AND he was invited to DO IT AGAIN. Are the couch cretins upset that THEY weren't asked to sing? I don't know. So, I go back to my ho-hum life and everything is trudging along. Then, wouldn't you believe it! AGAIN! Only this time the fools are freaking out about a TWO TIME GRAMMY AWARD WINNING CELEBRITY! Oh my goodness! Really?!? But this gentlemen I knew! I had even met him! In 1996, at the Copacabana in NYC, back when I was young and honestly thought I could be in the Music Industry without any music background. (Yes, I know, for another time)

Marc Anthony. His voice is beyond silk. The power behind his voice is so strong that I'm sure it could turn on a car. I feel the same about another of his colleagues, La India. Both are of Borinquen descent. I can relate to that, so am I. Like them I too was born in the United States of America. We're all American, only my voice can't start the engine of a car the way those two can.

Again, I go and research and hear it for myself. His rendition of God Bless America gave me chills. Hell, my engine had definitely gone VAROOM. For the adolescents reading this, NO. I felt pride, in guess what! My country, that team (which happened to be in MY TOWN) that sport. WOW! HE WAS PHENOMENAL! They should bring him back! Again! WHAT'S THE FUCKING HULLABALOO?

Ah, the ass clowns (this is new, I thought I'd try it out) thought with their toes and not their heads and went off yet again about the "foreigner" who was chosen to sing the national anthem. If I roll my eyes any more they will surely lock up at the back of my head. This man is not only an expert at his profession (awards, a career that has provided him with millions of dollars, fans, opportunities, you know, his job) he's adored by millions all over the world and a few hundred stupid Americans took the time out to show their disturbed disappointment that HE was asked to sing the song.

It got me to thinking. After all, at the bottom of all this there was something deep, disturbing, like mildew. What was happening in this country where idiots thought not only that it was alright to demean and dehumanize another human being in public forums for simply doing nothing but for existing??? They were different and so what. When did it become alright? Personally, in my opinion (because after all that is what a blog is, a place for opinions) that crack in the country came about when that disrespectful woman, who happened to be a public official put her finger in the face of our current President. You know the disrespectful WHITE bitch who disrespected our BLACK President? I'm not being racist I'm just expressing my disgust and using adjectives to emphasize it.

All of a sudden it was happening more and more. Things that were once unimaginable, like interrupting the President during a speech was happening all of a sudden! (I mean a man threw a shoe at the last one and ended up in prison after all! Oh wait, that was in another country!) LIAR! Wait a minute! Did another elected official just call our current President a LIAR - DURING A SPEECH? What the hell is this world coming to? I mean, he won two elections, so the country had spoken right? Or had it?

So back to the issue of AMERICANS SINGING AT AMERICAN PASTTIMES. Well, you know what I did, I researched it and I thought about it and in this case I say, give the cretins what they want. I even thought I would do something about it. See, I'm a doer.

AMERICANS SINGING AT AMERICAN PASTTIMES - http://www.thepetitionsite.com/761/965/698/american-singers-for-our-american-pasttimes/

So this is where this post will end off. Because in writing the petition I know anyone interested will go and read it. Then decide if they want to sign it or not and hopefully, the time spent here has inspired an action, to sign it, to share it, to comment... something. As to the issue at hand. The racism that came spilling out into the very cracks of all our main streets, I believe that if this President doesn't STAND HIS GROUND and push back, we're in for even worse.... and yes, that last "crack" will be the topic of my next entry, along with something to do. Because, you see, I'm a doer.


Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why I Believe in Shared Parenting

Before I Knew What Shared Parenting Even Was...


I smile and laugh when I think about my childhood. Oh how I thought I was in some "prison" of my dad’s making, only now to see just how wrong I was. He created an invisible bubble of protection for me, that not only kept harm out but my interests safely within.

Let me explain, he made sure that I had all that I needed, and he made sure I understood the difference between needs and wants. Even in the 60s my dad had the wherewithal to understand that distractions kept one from achieving their goals and to have the answers to the more critical questions of life for a child was something a parent should always have at the ready.

All those jokes about kids asking “why?”. Well he answered every single one of them and he kept repeating over and over like a mantra that my main concern should be school. Now, for a child of the 70s and 80s, living on a block of children who seemed to be free to wander at all hours and go where they please, I couldn’t understand this, as well as the fact that many had both parents, or just a mom. Well, I had a dad and a mom who visited often and one I could see whenever I wanted.

Now, I belonged to an extended family so I wasn’t missing out in any regard to attention in the household but a child wonders why they are different from other children. Children can even get bogged down by those differences if left unchecked. Well, my father made sure all of my time was being used toward one specific end; that I graduate from school with good grades.

So, I was different in many ways from other kids as I am sure all children are every bit as unique as a snowflake, but in this bubble he made me feel safe and comfortable enough to ask questions, respected my limited yet burgeoning intelligence to answer me as truthfully as he felt he could and in the end, even after puberty and falling in love makes a mockery of parents, I am forever grateful.

Fast forward twenty five years and I have sons of my own. I didn’t understand then what I do now, about how important it is to be as forthcoming as possible with your children. Teaching them about humanity and most of all that being human simply means that no one, not even their parents, are perfect. I wanted more for my sons that I had but not to the degree where they wouldn’t appreciate what they had earned; another wonderful lesson learned from my father.


Their father and I divorced as many couples do, along with the emotional turmoil that sometimes comes with such a life altering event. It is the most difficult thing to extract yourself from a life you once felt you knew to begin a journey into an unknown territory with kids in tow. Lashing out, releasing your fears and anger out on your spouse is the easiest thing to do but it can be the worst thing for your children as well. You barely even realize there are little human beings right there watching with amazement, fear and anxiety at the unraveling of what once might have been a calmer union. You have to make it work for THE CHILDREN first.

No one can tell any parent how long it takes before the pain, anger, fear and resentment dissipates. The only thing I can speak to is that when I wanted to inflict pain just seeing the pain in the eyes of my sons kept me from doing anything too crazy. Those boys were my responsibility (a conversation I believe my ex-husband also had with himself) and I needed to get my act together or they were going to be lost. This world is big and cruel and unless I created that bubble for them, they would truly be lost. I couldn’t have that, no matter how much I hurt or wanted to lash out at their father at the time.

Moving on emotionally is every parent’s own trial by fire; some can put it aside and only see their kids’ needs and some need real professional outside help to do it.

NOTE:

This does NOT include your neighbors, your 'girls', your 'boys' or your family members. The relationship should be about the two separating parties, not every nosy ninny or june loopy that has an opinion based on their own failed relationships.

But the first step, is recognizing that regardless of where the relationship was and now has found itself, it’s those children who need taking care of and by all of the adults in their lives. That means, Fathers, Mothers, aunts, uncles, Grandparents. Whoever was in their life as they grew up, as long as they have a real desire to still be in the lives of those children, should make sure they still are.

Step One was etched in my brain: What do my children need first? Peace of mind. Don’t take away their whole world simply because yours has changed. Don't keep them from their other parent if that parent wants to remain in the lives of those children. That's child abuse and it's formally called Parental Alienation. That’s your journey to take and if their daily rituals change then so be it but don’t instill in them the pain and suffering based on an adult relationship. To be the parent is to take on the brunt of the responsibility and sacrifice. Relationships come and go, but the children: THEY are THE FOREVER in those vows once made.

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT VIDEOS I WILL EVER SHARE WITH EVERYONE.

For all we hold dear, from the minds of our young, comes the adults of our present and our future.
Beware of how you parent, for a child will remember everything. If this doesn't move people, what will?
The Hole an Absent Father Leaves His Son....

Carmen M Colon, childrens/education advocate, now a proud member of Leading Women for Shared Parenting.


Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon