"Thank You God For This Day I Had With My Mom"

    Every night when my son, TJ says his prayers, he always thanks God “for this day that I had with my mom.”  Sweet, huh?  I think so too, but almost a year ago, he wasn’t thanking God “for the day that he had with his mom” because his mom was always at work.  As I think back, he was probably silently thanking God for being able to “see” his mom.
You see, I am a Retail Store Manager and quite obviously, don’t have a typical Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5 job and being a single mom, who just happens to be sexy (toots my own horn. forgive me), I have had to depend on sitters a great deal to take care of my son while I was working.  My mom would always complain that “someone else was raising my son” and my reply to her would always be, “What else am I supposed to do? Not work?  Last time I checked, I don’t have anyone helping me, so I gotta do, what I gotta do.”
And that’s just what I did.  I worked nights, weekends and holidays.  I worked 10-12 hour days and if one of my managers called out and I couldn’t cover it, I had to work from open to close (a 16 hour day).  I made my schedule a month in advance, so if I didn’t know about a birthday party a month in advance and I wasn’t off that weekend, then my son was unable to go.  After school activities, were a no go.  My schedule didn’t permit them.  I cooked dinner, maybe twice a week (on a good week) and baking…who had time for that?
I had always been blessed to have terrific sitters for my son (with the exception of one, but I’ll save that for a different blog) and my son has always been well taken care of.  When I moved to a new area, I was in a panic to find a new sitter.  He was going into the first grade and I needed someone who had a family daycare that was open 24/7 or somewhere close to that. They needed to have a child, preferably a boy around the same age as my son.  They needed to be able to drop off and pick up from school, be available nights and some weekends and because I wanted to put him in football that fall, be able to take him to his practices.  I found the BEST sitter, who was able to meet all of my requirements and more.  During the holiday season, when store hours were extended, TJ would spend the night and she took him to school the next morning, instead of me picking him up after midnight, disturbing his sleep, trying to get him back to sleep when we got home and waking him up at 6 the next morning for school.  Sounds extreme, I know but what else could I do?
Because I worked so much, I found myself trying to compensate for not being home by buying TJ stuff.  It would be a new video game or toy every week.  He had enough clothes to clothe a small army and more shoes than most women.  His 7th birthday party was a pool party, that ended up with about 35 kids (that was not in the plan). Lets not count all the adults (about another 25), a dj, a cake that I designed (didn’t make of course) and a life guard. Thank the Lord, that he never got a “spoiled brat” persona.  You know, the kid who has a fit when they don’t get what they want. Thinking back, I guess he never had to throw a fit because he always got what he wanted and so much more that he never asked for.  I was overcompensation to the fullest.
About a year ago, I hurt my back at work.  I continued to work on modified duty for awhile, then I went completely off of work. Being able to take TJ to school everyday AND pick him up was something new for the both of us.  That would only happen on my days off.  Now there is time for pancakes in the morning, discussions about what happened in school on the drive home and home cooked dinners made by mommy.  I am home to do homework with TJ, instead of check what was done with the sitter. He now has a social calendar and able to do after school activities.
In this year, I have come to realize that even though I worked an awful lot, TJ didn’t suffer.  He has always been a great student, he is respectful and is friendly.  At eight years old, he is very empathetic and loves God.  I used to worry that he was missing out on being a kid because of the schedule that I worked but I now know how resilient TJ is and although I know that I won’t be able to be off of work forever, every night when TJ thanks God “for the day that he had with his mom,” I smile and silently thank God too.
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Father’s Day Dilemma

TJ’s school did a wonderful celebration for all the Mom’s for Mother’s Day.  It was a “Mother’s Only” event and each Mom was treated to a breakfast of donuts, muffins and OJ served by their child in their classrooms.  Each child recited a poem that they wrote to their mother in front of the class.  TJ’s poem was so sweet.  It feels good to be recognized by your child for all the things you do for them.  It especially feels good when that recognition is done in public.  Leaving TJ’s school that morning, I began to worry about the up coming Father’s Day Celebration and how TJ would be included in it since it was “father’s only”and his father is absent in his life.  I thought about the one little boy in TJ’s class whose mother did not make it for the celebration and how sad he looked.  Since his mother was not there, he recited his poem to all of us. By no means, did I want my child to feel like this for the Father’s Day Celebration and I stressed about what I was going to do.  I decided that I would talk to TJ after school and get his thoughts on the situation.
2 o’clock couldn’t come fast enough and TJ wasn’t even in his seat belt before I asked him, “TJ, what do you think about the upcoming Father’s Day  Celebration?  How are you going to participate?”  Since I was driving, I couldn’t look at his face when he responded but to my surprise he said, “I already talked to Mrs. B about that.”  “Oh REALLY?”  I was surprised!! “Yeah!  She said that the assistant principal could come in and sit with me.”  “Are you okay with that?” I asked him and he responded that he was.
I sent TJ’s teacher the following email to discuss TJ’s and I’s conversation and my thoughts:

Good morning,
I hope that you had a wonderful Mother’s Day and thank you so much for the Mother’s Day Celebration.  It was beautiful!  I wanted to discuss with you the Father’s Day Celebration that is planned.  I spoke to TJ on Friday to get his thoughts about participating in it.  I was surprised when he told me that he had already explained to you that his father is not involved in his life and that his uncle’s and grandfather are out of state.  He said that you suggested that the assistant principal step in.  He said that he was okay with that.  I guess I was just more concerned about how he would feel not having his father there and what his participation level would be. I was just wondering if you knew what the children were going to do yet, since a poem or something similar probably wouldn’t be the ideal thing for him to do given the situation.  I welcome any suggestions that you may have on how we can possibly include him in this celebration.
Thank you and have a wonderful day.
This is her response:
Hi~
 You beat me to the punch by just a day or two. I did speak to TJ and have been working out details since then. It is my intention to be sure that someone is here for him. I have requested that no moms attend, otherwise I would have you come instead. Each year there are a few dads that are unable to attend, unlike the Mother’s Day event where there was only one. I want TJ to feel included and comfortable. We will be having donuts and doing a “Lowe’s Build & Grow” craft together. It is a little less sentimental than the moms event. 🙂
I will let you know what comes of this. I am still checking schedules and working out assistance. It is looking like Mr. Barnes will be the one sitting in.
  
Have a great rest of the day!!

I was amazed at how a situation that I was so worried about, had already been taken care of by my 8 year old.  I was worried that he would feel left out and I had even debated not sending him to school that day and the two of us just hanging out.  He was able to foresee what may have been an obstacle and went about finding a solution to the problem.  I even asked him if he spoke to the teacher privately about his not having a dad and he said that when they were discussing it in class, he raised his hand and told Mrs. B in front of the whole class.  Needless to say, he is not self conscious or ashamed of the fact that his father is not in his life and I couldn’t be prouder of him!  I am glad that my son and I have a relationship that we can talk about everything.  He has asked about his father and I explained to him that his father didn’t want to be a dad but that doesn’t make him any different from anyone else.  He is just as special.  Just recently he told me that he feels sad that his dad is not around but in the same breath he said, “But I have you, Mom,” and yes he does!