Doozer’s Day

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As I write this, Father’s Day is looming. For single moms, the annual holiday is often better known as “Ugh. How are we going to handle it this year?”

Some of us use this holiday to celebrate our double duty. Some of us let it pass without discussion. Some of us celebrate grandparents or other important figures. In my family, we’ve done it all, including a brief stint in which my daughters claimed the day for themselves as “Sister’s Day.” But this year, at my daughters’ request, we are trying something entirely new: Doozer’s Day.

“Doozer” is my girls’ nickname for my boyfriend. It comes from the children’s show created by Jim Henson about the helpful Doozers who are famously task-oriented. If something needs doing, Doozers just “do-do-do-it.” It is an apt nickname, to say the least, and is now the only name by which anyone under 12 in our lives recognizes him. He is a great guy. Yet, it took a days-long, anxiety-ridden process for me to grant their request for Doozer’s Day.

Doozer and I have been dating for over four years. For the past three of those, I have frequently fielded questions about when we will get married, whether or not I am a “real single mom,” and if we will move in together. The answer to all of those questions is simple: “I don’t know.” There is something so simultaneously wonderful and frightening about loving again, about inviting someone to become a part of the family that you’ve rebuilt from the rubble, and attempting to trust. It is confusing.

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If relationships are typically a straight line from interest, to love, to engagement and marriage, ours would look more like the wobbly-yet-determined footsteps of a drunken man trying to walk the straight line of a sobriety test. It took a full year to get to “I love you.” In these four years, we became neighbors, but we still don’t cohabitate. He has never stepped into Father-Daughter dances. We do not share finances. We broke up almost monthly for the first three years because none of this makes sense. I know this isn’t the life he wanted. I mean, a financially ruined, emotionally unstable single mother with ex-husband drama isn’t exactly dating site profile material. In all honesty, he is not the man I envisioned loving either. This serious-faced, consistently underwhelmed introvert with a deep need for solitude? C’mon. Could there be a more opposite personality to mine? What was I thinking? He is certainly not who the girls envisioned as the fourth member of our silly, dancing, ice-cream-for-dinner crew. Yet, here we are, the three of us, stumbling into this new life – sometimes with headfirst abandon and sometimes one tepid quickly retracted toe at a time. Because as much as this was not what any of us had in mind for our future, it is the only thing that feels right – this family.

Seeing Doozer with my girls fills and softens my heart in ways that I did not think were possible. The time and energy he puts into them is one of the most magical phenomenon I have ever witnessed. I fall more deeply in love with him every time I see it. But I would be lying if I said that those feelings were simple and beautiful. In fact, they are complicated. As I watch this man guide and support my daughters, I am also terrified. I constantly fight the urge that creeps up the back of my neck to grab them and run far away to some secret enclave where the three of us live without worry that someone will break our hearts again – where we trust no one and are only vulnerable with each other.

I approached Doozer about his potential holiday, fearful that he would say, “This is too much, I’m out.” But when he responded positively, I became even more fearful about what that meant. Honestly, he could not have given an answer that would not have invoked fear. Knowing that he is taking a bigger piece of their hearts each day is, well…nothing short of terrifying.

Second Corinthians 4:7 tells us, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” I use this verse often when talking about our bodies as vessels of the Lord. Think of yourself as the jar, I tell my girls, brimming with the Lord’s treasure. You are magical and unique, like any handmade pottery, and full of God’s love. Trust Him, I always say. Trust that He made you just as you need to be, His perfect vessel. Trust that He leads you, His vessel, where you need to be. Just trust Him.  So this year I am listening to my own advice. I am trusting God as we walk this journey that is crooked and scary but is the path upon which He has set our three hearts. Instead of resisting the path because it is unfamiliar and, honestly, a bit unorthodox, we will celebrate.

I hope that all of you single mommas celebrate. Whether you have a Doozer, a dear friend, an aunt, a neighbor, or yourself. Trust that God placed you where you need to be and with whom you need to be, and celebrate THAT!

Bring on Doozer’s Day! (Or Friend’s Day or Auntie’s Day or Whatever Day!)


A. Smith

Stop Apologizing for Who You Are

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Have you ever said, “I am sorry” for pretty much no reason at all? You get so used to saying the phrase it just comes out of you like second nature. Before you realize it, you are even apologizing for bumping into a chair as if the piece of furniture gave you an appalling look of insult!

I have always been one to apologize for everything. But during my divorce and then becoming a single parent, those words, “I am sorry” have suddenly become this barrier I throw up in defense. It is reflex that I developed into a terrible habit that almost too a point I am apologizing for my very existence. I even said those exact words!

I was blessed with a rare treat of a night out without my children. What also made this night even grander was it was an art show I was in with several of my other close artist friends. There were many artists from all walks of life going to be there, and we all shared a love for God. After months of painting, touch-ups, and meetings, the night came, and I put on my new outfit I had purchased for this specific evening and my bright yellow 4 inch, strappy, heels. I looked in the mirror, and for a moment, I felt good about myself.

The night started out amazing. I was able to meet and fellowship with new artists and catch up with old friends. I was able to share my art and tell the stories that inspired them. It was one of those nights that every exhausted mom needs to refresh herself.

However, like many of these social situations, eventually, the topic of my divorce and being a single parent comes up. And while this topic can sometimes inspire and be the very subject of my art; it is often the topic I struggle to speak about as I am not always sure of myself.

I found myself in a conversation with a sweet artist about our work and what inspired us. The conversation turned to my kids and I, as part of that inspires my work. And with a good attempt, I tried to keep it brief. But my complex divorce story is difficult to keep simple. I found myself beginning to feel vulnerable, and eventually, I struggled to try to sift through the doubts in my head. Was I talking too much? Why would anyone want to know about my divorce? Do they think I am a bad Christian? Shouldn’t I be more confident? I am probably talking too much! Soon, I did what I normally do when I lose my confidence; I awkwardly smile and start apologizing for rambling.

A close friend of mine, being aware of my little problem of apologizing too much, quickly joined the conversation. We made a joke and laughed, but then I said the words I regret. “I am sorry I apologize so much. I pretty much apologize for my existence.”

When I said that, it struck my heart. The conversation continued with laughing and fellowship. The rest of the night went wonderfully; however, that feeling lingered on as I went home.

It was like a truth God brought to light. What I said was true. I have this terrible habit of apologizing for no reason. I pretty much apologize for my very being. Here I was a part of this celebration of hard work and art showing parts of our passion and souls, and I apologized for who I am, feeling that is was something shameful.

The sad part is, is it not just this night. When it comes to any point for someone to see the most vulnerable parts of my life, I start apologizing as if they would be insulted. My most vulnerable part of me is me being a single mom and taking life on alone. The brokenness of my divorce is still healing. Yet, these are not things I should be ashamed of and apologize for. These are aspects of my story, and they are part of creating who I am today.

Apologizing outside of honest mistakes and mishaps almost take away the whole meaning of apologizing. Instead, it builds guilt and shame that shouldn't be there.  In no way should anyone feel the need to be sorry for being the person God is creating them to be. Being a single parent is not shameful as it is a brave undertaking. Feeling the pain and being vulnerable from divorce and breaking a part of a family; it is what makes us human.

If anyone has the habit of apologizing because we feel the vulnerable parts of lives might offend someone, it needs to stop. It may be hard, but we need to work hard to try and not say, “I am sorry,” when we did nothing wrong.

Instead, we need to lay our worries and doubts before a mighty God who can carry it. We need to remember we loved, redeemed, and made by a wondrous Creator who cares for us deeply. And even if our journeys as a single parent is difficult and leaves us vulnerable, we should never feel ashamed.

NaTacia Z. 

See more blogs from her at her site https://blessedsinglemom.wordpress.com

White Mom

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This is going to get messy. This post is my attempt to be as open as possible about an important, complicated issue: race. In it, I am sure I will reveal my own ignorance, selfishness, and cultural blinders. Please know that this is not meant to be directive. The intention behind this piece is open and inquisitive. I offer no answers. This is a vulnerable assemblage of my real experiences and fears. In the spirit of Chronicles 29:17, I want to share “willingly and with honest intent.” I am not sharing because I think this is an issue for which I need to be appeased, but because I think it is important to have honest conversations about the things that impact our parenting. I am certain I’ve made mistakes in life and in this piece, but I want to talk about it. As with all things parenting, I am certain my experience is not unique and am hoping that we can create a dialogue to become the best parents we can, together.

Navigating the world as a white mom to two biracial girls has always presented unique challenges. There are numerous instances I can recall when my racial difference from my daughters was acknowledged in unexpected ways. I remember having my girls, at ages 1 and 2, in my shopping cart and overhearing an elderly white couple behind us in the aisle scoff and whisper (in that pronounced way people whisper when they are feigning secrecy but really want you to hear), “What a shame! Those could have been two beautiful white girls.” I’ve had more than one white mom tell me that my kids are “not like other black people,” as if that is a compliment.

Not all instances are so cruel. Small children have asked me why I don’t look like I am their mom. Curious adults have asked me if they are adopted. The racism and audacity of others in 2019 is no longer appalling and is something I talk openly about with my girls. It is not something I thought too deeply about when I was married to their father, and his family was in the picture. There was something that relieved a good deal of the pressure of talking about race when our family was a functional, happy mosaic of difference. Now that the only biological family they interact with is white, it worries me more.

I will admit that it was something that made me hesitant to date my current partner, a white man. I liked him for a long time before I let him know. I still wrestle with worry about what it means to my kids’ development that I have “replaced” their black father with a white male figure in their lives. Are they going to read it as a sign that I prefer white men, or think white men are better suited for parenting? Yikes. I hope not.

Have I done something wrong that my oldest daughter prefers Taylor Swift to Beyonce?

What did I do to my youngest daughter that she seems to only make friends with white girls?

Why can’t I get my girls to love the women of Black Panther as much as they love Wonder Woman?

When I get excited that they’ve made a black friend, am I tokenizing that child?

What does it mean now that the recipes handed down to them are the epitome of blandness instead of the cuisine of Southern black culture? As much as I love my family, none of us can throw down in a kitchen the way my ex-husband’s mother could. I’ve actively tried to rectify this with often embarrassing results.

Two years ago, my oldest daughter became interested in Kwanzaa. So we researched and decided to celebrate the holiday. I had the fantastic idea to make sure we ate traditional cuisine, including a Kwanzaa cake. The kids stared blankly at the cake, and I felt like I had failed at properly constructing the awesomeness of this cultural fare. Turns out, my failure went far beyond baking.

The Kwanzaa cake was a lie, perpetrated by a white “chef,” having absolutely NOTHING to do with Kwanzaa. How the fact that that she referred to corn nuts as “acorns” did not tip me off to this fraud is a testament to how strongly my guilt had overridden my ability to think clearly. I mean, why was I even watching a white woman demonstrate African American culture? What a mess. This incident was so eye-opening to me. This is when I knew that my guilt was so much more about me than about my kids, who thought I was ridiculous.

To be frank, I am worried that they’ll resent me. I am worried that I am robbing them of a rich cultural upbringing. I know there is a huge part of their identity that I will never understand. I can speak with authority about what it’s like to be woman, but I don’t have much to offer when it comes to the experience of being black in America. It is not my lived experience.

Perhaps I’ve just been in academia too long, and my inclination to think critically is overriding my ability to listen to what my kids really want and need when it comes to race. Often times, I fear that I veer into the racial justice version of Idris Elba’s Impossible Hulk (Google the SNL skit for reference). I have gotten, “I know, Mommy, stop!” several times when infusing race into the discussion of their school curriculum. Do I push past that, or do I listen? Holy cow, I wish I knew. More than anything, I want to do the right thing for my kids.

Right now, I am at a place where I just listen. I listen to my girls. I listen to the experiences my biracial students share about growing up. I try very hard to listen to others, though I know I can do better. I pray about it, but more importantly, I pray about it with my girls. I have come to realize that it is important to let them see this struggle. I don’t ever want them to think that I fully understand or hold any level of expertise on this issue. The best I can do, at this moment, is to make sure they know that I know it’s important, that I support them, and that I don’t have all the answers.

A. Smith