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7.7.16

Feeling Hopeless in the Village.


Anyone that truly knows me, knows about my son, Bam. Bam is 12 years old. In person, he definitely doesn't look his age. He's very active and carefree. He's a good kid. Good manners, courteous, helpful, with a great heart & pure intentions, smart and handsome. He likes Starbucks, jumping off of things, rides his bike, skateboards and does tricks on his hoverboard. He plays soccer, football and runs track. It's a pleasure being his mom. Bam is my only son. 

We live on the Upper West Side and here’s the day-to-day “mini world” we live in: I don't let Bam go home from school alone yet, because he goes to a good school that's in a bad neighborhood. I still have to know his friends before he goes with them, he still doesn't talk to strangers and when he goes out to play, he has a time limit, most likely within my sight and again with friends I know. He doesn't spend the night at anyone's house unless it's family or very close family friends and I'm probably staying too. On alternate weekends, if he takes too long to call me after he goes with his father, I'm calling them both up until I reach him. And I always worry until he comes home.

Needless to say, I've been called overbearing and in some cases, admittedly so, but what else am I to do? All of this time I've been trying to protect him from bullets, gangs, bullies, strangers and molesters and other predators, but now I have to protect him from the police? Predatory police officers are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. In that case, that means I'll never be able to protect him.

Let me get this straight: I've moved into a better neighborhood and it still won't be enough. I make sure that he has golden opportunities to shine and be a better version of himself every day and it's not enough. You mean all I can do is pray? You mean all I can do is teach him to be a good person, help him live a good life and give him tools to be successful and just hope that the predatory police officers don’t pluck his life from this earth? 

Right now, I'm all over the place in my mind because I'm all about being positive and helping my son maintain the belief that life is good and if you work really hard and stay awesome, you'll have a great life. But the reality is, not everyone lives that way. There are people that want your LIFE, that hate you, not because they know you and genuinely don't like you, but people that see Bam, this bright-eyed innocent boy with the sparkling personality, somehow his skin color really scares them.

I've always been street smart, able to access a situation based on the energy in the room, perceptive enough to have us quickly exit if I sense danger and able to fight for him if I ever needed to. I've taught my son to be that way too. I pride myself on being a good mom. I still believe that it takes a village. I've raised my son in this Upper West Side village bubble, with great people, low crime with great opportunities and while the mini world I'm protecting him within, there are still predators that want to take his life. And now I have to school him on the predatory police officers that may lurk inside of our village.

I need for my UWS Village to understand that this world needs more than good moms. This world is screwed up and in 6 years when Bam is 18, I'll probably be just as overbearing. He'll have to call me constantly when he's away in college, I'll probably move to his town when my first grandchild is born and I'll probably give my daughter-in- law a hard time. In these times, that's if he makes it to that part of his life. And when he has that life, his life still won't matter to someone that doesn't value his.

But my while my heart breaks when I think about the things that I’ve protected him from daily can still take him out, looking or not, there are the predatory police officers that can take him from me, from you, from this world. Those predators that have sworn to and supposed to help me protect him. 

Don't get me wrong, all police officers are not all predators, I have friends and family that are police officers. People I trust him with and love him like I do. There are our neighborhood patrolmen and patrolwomen that we see everyday in our village that as long as I see them, he could go a little more out of my sight. So I can't send him the double message that the people wearing blue with badges on their chests are the Boogyman that I'm supposed to protect him from. I work really hard to give him a good life and a care-free existence. The reality is that I can't protect him and neither can my village. What can we really do? 

First, I need for my village to hold it together and maintain our strength and resolve to keep each other and our kids safe. I need us to stay strong. I need for no awkward small talk conversations to pop-up on the playground and on the track, football & soccer fields about, "Did you hear about (insert black victim's name here)?" Or blurt out, "But All lives matter, Right?” or have awkward silences and pretending that the ills of the world regarding the predators in blue can't reach our village bubble and the insanity of the "outside world" doesn't exist for us. I need for us to be conscious and not in denial. I need for us to be more proactive in prevention of injustice instead of waiting for something to happen to one of us to stir the community to action. I need us to really talk about it. Problems, outrage and solutions. I need for us to be a force in holding the Powers That Be accountable.

Next, I need all of the police officers to hold each other accountable. Stop this wall of silence and solidarity. Stand up for what's right and denounce what's wrong. It starts one police officer at a time.

I need for the veteran officers that are training the new officers to bring out the best in their novices. Help them discover and empower their heartfelt need to help the communities that they've sworn to protect, instead of instilling fear and perpetuate the myths of negativity associated with dealing with black people. I need for them to remember that we are not the enemy. I need for our neighborhood patrolmen and patrolwomen to reach out into the community and reassure us that they're going to continue to uphold their sworn, "Protect and serve" and will make sure that that is the message that our kids and parents will pass on through the villages of the rest of the world.

And I need for the police not to be the enemy. I need that for me. I need that for our village. I need that for my Bam. Our villages have enough to worry about.

23.7.15

#SandraBlandsLifeMatters

Without even immersing yourself in Social media, CNN, FOX or any news outlets you are still witnessing a devastating abuse of power in the case of Sandra Bland.

Sandra Bland is me, my sister, our girlfriends, mother's, aunt's and cousins.
And all Sandra Bland did was not properly signal, get stopped for it and "sass" Officer Brian Encinia.

That's it.

Personally, anyone I know, with the weight of their life and their day, the rush to their destination and the anxiety of being stopped by the police; ANY OF US could've been Sandra Bland. And for all of those who do not THINK for one minute that these are unique circumstances, think again. Because unless you live under a rock, buried in a deep ravine, the abuse of power in this country is everywhere. People's lives are unjustly "plucked" from this planet with disregard to life's value in what seems like everyday by those sworn to protect us. When will that stop?

There's no overt conspiracy against police, no police hate here. But what the hell is happening? 

After stopping Sandra Bland, everything else the police officer did was 1000% wrong. None of Sandra Bland's "offensive demeanor" or "black woman attitude" warranted her forced exit from her vehicle. Within that traffic stop, Sandra Bland's rights as an American Citizen, as a woman and as a human were violated.

And to add another insult to her unnecessary death, the transparent cover-up currently in progress is crazy to watch. Where's the accountability? Where's the: "I messed up." "We messed up." "We were wrong." Nope. None of that. Instead, there's this calculated plot to cover up an avalanche of wrongs. What is right with any of this?

There are actual "justifications" being thrown around.
How dare Sandra Bland not respect him? How dare Sandra Bland get sassy with that officer! He's got a badge!
How dare Sandra Bland have ever wanted to die in her past! 
How dare Sandra Bland ever get depressed in her past!
How dare Sandra Bland have weed in her system!
How dare Sandra Bland be a woman!
How dare Sandra Bland be a *gasp* black woman!
How dare Sandra Bland drive a car!
How dare Sandra Bland live!
How dare Sandra Bland die in police custody?
How dare she!

My heart bleeds for Sandra Bland, her family and the senselessness of Sandra Bland's death. And the insulting of our intelligence within the "investigation" we're witnessing. It's heartbreaking.

Sandra Bland is all of us. Sandra Bland does not deserve to be forgotten or swept under the rug. Sandra Bland deserves justice. Bottom line. 

#AllLivesMatter. I just hope that police officers, state government, federal government and all of the rest of us remember that. 

#sayhername #SandraBland #justice

17.2.15

Mother's Day & The Power Of Letting Go

Happy Mother's Day Ladies!

This is the first Mother's Day that I let my son go for the weekend. A "piece of peace" so I can pamper myself, shop and sleep on Mother's Day. I miss him but it's a sweet deal to be off duty for a day. I'll see him later this evening.

I wouldn't have been able to do that years ago. But as my son and I get older, I've realized that there is a point in a single mother's life when she realizes that she must let go.

Let her child go off into the world, make their own way and 'be a man', just like you've taught him.

And when the dust clears and it's just you standing... That's a whole other journey to begin... And it's nothing like it was before baby. You have more wisdom, you have battle scars. The tough skin needed as a single mother, that body armor, isn't needed as much. There's no precious cargo to protect.

Then hopefully by then, you've let go of all of the pain, let go of all of the past. Let go of all of the shame.

Why? Because it's just you now, and there's no kid to hide behind. There's no more package deal. Your child is not stuck to your hip all of the time. Now you stand alone. And if you're like me, single for what feels like forever, you're vulnerable and feeling awkward.

My son is asking me, "Mom, when will you have a someone for yourself?" This isn't new. He's been asking for years. He never wanted his mother to be alone. But I've martyred myself because I was afraid. Afraid of loving and not being loved. Afraid of opening myself again. Afraid of failing again. I can go on and on, the list is endless.

We always tell our children 'always do your best no matter how hard it is' and 'you never know if you don't try'. And I have fallen short of both in my dating life. Depriving myself of love, feigning nobility as a dutiful mother as an excuse to push prospects away. What a Crock of doo-doo. Who was I really fooling?

So I've decided I'm using my Mother's Day to reflect on my independence, examine my heart and prepare for that next phase in my life where my son doesn't need me as much anymore. That doesn't mean that I'll be jumping into the deep end. But I won't be afraid of the water.

Enjoy your day, ladies. I will.

Baggage??


When it comes to approaching a new relationship in regards to my son, I just don't like the term baggage. So, what do you call "baggage" that lives and breathes?
My son was born into a loving and nurturing relationship. Although things are over between his father and I, we still maintain a healthy friendship that has continued only for the best interest of our son. There's no 'hanky-panky' or baby daddy drama. And I'm not bitter about how things ended. It's just me, now starting fresh... With a son.
I know that the term "baggage" comes from what is brought from one relationship into the next relationship... But when it comes to a single women with children, why is it that when men see her coming, some say, "Oh, she has serious baggage." Having children are supposed to be a blessing, a badge of honor, now that there is no man around, some men treat the children as a deterrent. Some men say up front, they don't date women with children.
Perhaps it's the stigma of a single mother that needs rescue. The woman that wants you to be the "daddy" to her children.
I, on the end, do not need a father for my son. He has one.
Then there's the man that thinks that he's better than that woman, he is doing her a favor by dating her, "She has kids, who else is going to want her?" These attitudes, when perpetuated, are dangerous. It teeters on emotional abuse. Then you hear the sob stories of women that let men mistreat their children because they don't want to be alone.
As far as I'm concerned, my son is a VIP. You need a special pass to even come close to him. The VIP section can often be a lonely place, especially when people can't 'get with the program'. but that is fine with me.

I don't want to miss out on my next loving and nurturing relationship because a man isn't up for what they think will be a big challenge (single mom and her offspring), but I also can't control what a man's opinion of what they think a relationship will be like, just based on the fact that my son exists.
A friend of mine, a single man with no children of his own, calls the children of single mothers, "carry on" versus "baggage". I like that better. Me and my son will carry on until it is meant for me to have someone of my own.

Manifestations of Love



I’ve spent a great portion of my life being concerned with doing ‘the right thing’ or doing what others expect from me. I’m way too old now and too tired to be consumed with the other things that take me from living the life I’m loving. Especially with my relationships.

I have great friends and family that truly want what’s best for me and have tons of great advice for me. And although I’ve made some mistakes, I pray that they don’t judge me too harshly. We’re all human. We’ve all done stupid things. But I am a work in progress. I can admit my faults and don’t harbor many secrets. Maybe I should keep more to myself, but it’s cathartic for me that I don’t.

With that said, the album that I released, Scandal, was mostly autobiographical. That’s me being honest. And now, when I listen to some of the songs I sing/sang, I thought of the instances that I’ve lived and loved through that I brought out on wax and I’m asking the same questions others are thinking. It’s funny, but on the outside looking in, I’ve been a mess.

The trouble is, that the things that dominate your mind and you speak, in my cases, write & sing, manifest themselves in your real life. The messiness from Scandal, Boots by the Door, Live With It and Lose Again. Yup. My life.

And while it was poetry and my heart bled when I wrote it, it was a hot, sticky mess while I was in it and it was fun and not fun at the same time. I noticed that that’s what was beginning to happen. Only I can change the course of that, so it’s time to write some new songs.

But with all that happened in my past relationships, I’m writing 2 books and another album. I’m learning from it all and I will most definitely not be repeating those patterns. I’m declaring it & putting that out there. I’m gonna get the messy out of my system, grow from it and love differently.

That’s all I can ask of myself. 

To hear and buy my new album:  http://birdiechesson.bandcamp.com/album/scandal

12.8.14

#Depression is Real

This morning on Facebook, I shared a rare personal snippet of myself when I revealed I myself have struggled with depression. I know that I am not unique in that aspect. What I realize now in the mourning of Robin Williams' untimely death is that there are people out there that don't truly understand what depression is. 

It's not like a "What a depressing day." Or "I feel depressed today." Depression is a pit that you can't dig yourself out of. Some can deal with highs and lows seemingly effortless, like I've seemed to on the outside. But on the inside, I'm struggling to live everyday. It's a nagging pain that won't leave and it makes me heavy on the inside. It even paralyzes me sometimes. Those are my descriptions. It may be different for someone else. All I can go by is my own highs and lows.

What has saved me is taking care of my son. I am a single mom. I am a great mom. My son has always inspired me to keep going and be better. Still on my worst days, I’ve struggled with just getting out of bed. As a baby, my beautiful son depended on me, so I got up to feed him, I played with him, I hugged him, I kissed him, I bathed him and put him to sleep, religiously. And 10 years later, my sense of duty as his mom still saves me from sinking deeper and I'm able to get out of it, every time I sink into it. All the while, I'd feel guilty that I wasn't loving my son enough because I was hurting so bad. Was there truly a reason to be sad? I never really knew. All I knew was that I was hurting.

I'd apologize for having emotions, then apologize for not having enough emotions. I'd shut out my friends & family, not return phone calls and procrastinate on work. I've spent many days and nights not wanting to live but not wanting to die and being stuck in the middle of vapidity. The hours, days and yes, weeks go by of mental inactivity and life passed me by.

I am a writer, editor, author, illustrator, book coach, singer and songwriter. Can you imagine the time it takes to be depressed? Or rather, the energy it takes not to be depressed? This morning I asked, "BUT COULD YOU TELL THAT ABOUT ME?" Someone in another conversation said that I made depression look easy. But in fact, I want to use this to give depression another face. I am alive and fighting to live.

I continued: "But it's still a constant battle. I'm literally fighting to live everyday. I have solace in that fact that we all fight every day. Sometimes I still have found myself feeling lost more often than found." Then I sought to assure my friends and family, "But I am still good."
The truth is, #DepressionLies. Sometimes people going through the most have the brightest smiles. Unless someone tells you or you have telepathy, there is no true way of knowing their suffering. Depression is real. I'm tired of people acting like it doesn't exist. People deal in their own way but some cannot. I will never make excuses for anyone's actions but I have to live with mine. #DepressionIsReal

No matter if it's physical, emotional or mental, all I know is that when you're in pain, you want the pain to end. Some people really feel as if there is no other way out of their pain and out of others' misery but to end it all. It's tragic and there's no way I can fathom that inner torture. Many want to judge, but realistically, there are countless people walking around in slow suicide mode all day, everyday, doing drugs and other hazardous things to themselves, overworking, slowly eating and drinking themselves to death. I've been guilty of some of those things myself.

But I love my life, everything it brings and what I bring to others too much not to fight to live. Everyday. Some people don't have that scope of sight. The pit of despair is too deep.
I still seek help when I need it from time to time. I go to therapy from time to time, attended support groups, written about it and sung songs about it. And the number one thing that I've learned from it all is that it takes one day at a time. 


My heart goes out to anyone that suffers, just know that you are not alone.

If you need to talk to someone: Please call someone that can help, click this link. 

6.12.12

The Hype...

After several conversations with people about dating, I said the same thing. "There are good men out there looking for good women." "Men aren't hard to figure out." "It doesn't matter if you have children, there are good men that will provide that still would want you."

Did I really believe my own hype?

In the past 3 years, I've dated the older man (10 years older) and the younger man (almost 10 years younger). The general consensus is that both men wanted a wife, visualized me in that role and we mutually genuinely enjoyed each other's company. Problem was, both men thought they were ready. When I called them on it, they weren't ready for the responsibility of a single mother + one.

At my age, mid 30's, most men have had relationships with many different types of women and now trying to settle down with the 'right one'. Thing is, at their age, many of the women have been married-now-divorced mothers and some are single never-been-married mothers. If they didn't realize their choices of single childless women were 'limited', they realize it then. That's why some men reach back into the pool and date the young girls because it's a notion that they're fighting. "I want to get married to a girl with no kids and start a family." Well, there's a lot of ready-made families aka single mothers in this day and age, so good luck with that.

To keep up, you have to have a running start. Jump in there, dive in head first and be that lover, support partner and father figure. As much a man thinks he can handle the responsibility, many just can't hang. That's why the turnover rate for men dating some single mothers is so unstable. Single mother don't want to parade different men around their kids so they elect to stay single. The beginning of mommy martyrdom.

It takes some internal conflicts that come into play with single mothers. Discipline? He didn't sign up to discipline someone else's kid, deal with baby daddy drama. He just wanted a single woman, with minimal baggage that would be his wife. If the relationship progressed, then maybe he'd have kids. There are single women with no kids that have a ridiculous amount of baggage. Mental and emotional issues is one thing. But one of the first things you should know, single mothers don't refer to their kids as baggage. We are a package deal. Take us all or don't even try.

Single mothers guard their hearts because they have to. They're used to the flaky nature that some men that think they're ready to date a single mother and get in over their heads. They also have to protect their kids' little hearts. When we're in relationships, the kids are also 'all in'.

I've heard men actually say, "My ex was a single mother, but she didn't have her kids all of the time." Did that mean that my kid was in the way of you loving me? Am I being penalized for having my child all of the time? Should a single mother should ship her kids off every time you wanted to go out? I agree that couples need alone time to get to know each other on other levels but sometimes it's not as often as he would like. So what do you do? ADJUST.

Maybe it's coffee and lunch dates while the kids are in school. Extra effort and work has to be done to make it work. But it can be done. There are several questions he needs to ask himself when pursuing a single mother...

Perhaps he can ask her schedule. Upon examination, Where's her downtime? That way, you can realistically gauge how would you fit into her life. How are her views on discipline? What does she want from you? If she says she just wants to have her career and be a wife an mother, what part would you play? If you are self-aware and communicate your true feelings and listen to her needs, it's not even a barrier. It flows naturally.

Loving a woman isn't hard. Loving a woman with kids isn't hard. It's like a game of jump rope. Actually double dutch. Don't be intimidated. Just wait for the right time to jump in, go with the rhythm of the game and enjoy. I believe that there are good men out there. I believe that men can be ready for the responsibility of stepfather, it's up to us single mothers to let him transition smoothly.

So, men, don't believe the hype, dating a single mother can be rewarding. And ladies, there are men that will date and treat a single mother with the love and respect she deserves. I strongly believe that.