Single Mom Out Loud

The joys (and desperation) of raising a boy without a man


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Tea Anyone?

I have a friend visiting from Brasil and staying with Kaio and I,  and like every good host I asked him to watch my son for a few minutes so I could run an errand. Going to the grocery store alone is such a treat when we have a child. We can wander around the isles like a free 21 year old college student, without having to worry about a 30 pound-borderline-being, who is a ticking bombing waiting to explode in front of everyone.

I usually tell people everything that can go wrong when I leave them with my very creative child, but I figured I wasn’t going far away therefore no extensive instructions were necessary. My little expedition didn’t take longer than 30 minutes and when I got back to the house I saw my friend on his computer in the living room while Kaio was out of sight. I immediately asked where he was and how he behaved, hoping that he wouldn’t tell me that he “accidentally” drowned my child in the bathtub after minutes of torturous crying.

Surprisingly, he told me Kaio was great. And that he was making tea for him. Hmmmm. He must have liked the toy tea set I got him from ikea.

Within seconds Kaio walks into the living room, tea cup (and water) in his hands indeed. My friend drinks it and says:

– “Thank you Kaio. It’s so good. But that’s enough. I am full.”

– “How many of those did you drink?” (Me a little confused)

– “I don’t know. Like 6 or 7.”

– “Was it good?”

– “it’s just water. It was fine.”  My innocent friend smiles while giving Kaio a very loving hug.

I couldn’t help but ask him: “Did it ever cross your mind that the only place he can reach water is the toilet?”

Given his panicking facial expression, no it didn’t.

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Single Motherhood And The Drama of Having a Gifted Child

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while but I’ve been so busy with work and moving that I kept forgetting, so here it is.

I am constantly hearing from my mommy friends about how stressed they are because their kid are picky eaters, or are spoiled, or are mean to other kids. I have heard every complain one can hear about kids. And every time I hear mothers talk about how they feel their lives are over because they have a child or how they don’t feel like themselves anymore, I silently thank the universe I am not one of them.

People are constantly asking me how it is to be a single mother, and I think they are always surprised with my answer. To start, I don’t feel in ANY way that my life is over or that I am not myself anymore. Quite the contrary; I feel like my life is just starting and that I am finally starting to figure out who I really am. And that’s thanks to Kaio and his presence in my life.

Kaio is just all around awesome. I know most mothers are blindly in love with their bundle of joy that they fail to see what spoiled punks most of them really are. But I promise you I am not one of those mothers. I am harder on Kaio than I am on anyone else, but that’s because I want him to be the best version of himself. I love that kid to death and I refuse to become one of those mothers who enable their kids bad behavior. I congratulate him when he is great and I discipline him when he is bad. I am raising a man, not an entitled self absorbent being.

Every person who has met Kaio says the same thing about him and these people don’t even know each other. They all mention two things about Kaio: the way he stares at you as if he is looking into your soul and his soul itself. Now, I am not a christian or a spiritual being in any way so I can’t really tell you what they mean. As much as I try to read books on spirituality, meditate and sing kumbaya, this whole new age thing is not for me. I prefer world affairs and science. I like debating both to a fault. But everyone of my friends who do enjoy the whole soul enlightenment idea, they all say that Kaio has an “old soul”. That he is enlightened and evolved. Whatever that means.

What I do know is that he is bright. Extremely bright. Kaio said his first word (mamma) by 5 months, he started crawling at 6 months, and started walking at 9. His development hasn’t slowed down a bit. At 12 months he learned to ride his scooter and now at 15 months, he can tell the difference between all 10 numbers and primary colors. He has an ear for music applauded by one of my good friends who is a drummer, and he absolutely hates baby talk. In fact, he prefers adults over kids any time of the day. And this is just his professional resume.

He is so much more than that.

Kaio is sweet and extremely happy. He smiles more in one day than I probably have in my entire life and there are very few things in this world that will bother him. The kid is just all around chill. I have no idea where he got this personality from but I am glad he has it.

I am not trying to say he doesn’t have his moments. We all do. He will have grumpy days in which not even chocolate cookies will please him. He will have temper tantrums in which may look like the world is coming down upon humanity. And he will even have days in which he will spend hours just giving me the silent treatment, refusing to say a word no matter what the emergency. But those grumpy days, temper tantrums and silent treatments are rare for him. They are so rare I even enjoy them. As crazy as it may sound, its a breath of fresh air. Because honestly, sometimes the pressure of having a nearly perfect child gets to me. I am not even close to being the perfect mother, and the fear of potentially ruining him with my flaws is too much for me to handle sometimes. I call it “the drama of having a gifted child”. And I hope I don’t sound ungrateful by calling it that.

That’s Kaio. Sweet. Loving. Well centered. Mature. And extremely smart. He does in fact make my life so much greater and exciting. Yes, sometimes its hard and most of the times its also exhausting, but neither of those two things are bad necessarily. Every success story you hear involves hard work and sleep deprivation. No one has accomplished anything spectacular by drinking all night and sleeping in until noon. And that’s how I look at my situation as a single mother. I might not be solving cancer or fighting for world peace, but I am contributing to the world in a different way: by raising the best human I can possibly raise. And that’s a whole lot more than a lot of people can say.

No doubt things changed, but for the better. I still have a life and I am still myself, I just modified it a little to fit him in it. Instead of spending every weekend doing something crazy, I now take only one weekend out of the month to do that while Kaio stays with my mom. Either be Vegas or San Diego or whatever. Instead of going out every night, I now only go out 2-3 times a week after he is already asleep (to avoid taking his time with me away from him). Instead of spending every Sunday at a bar with friends, I spend it with him (and friends) exploring new museums or new hikes, which is much healthier anyways. In fact, Kaio is only 15 months and he has visited every museum in LA, including LACMA, MOCA, Getty, Natural History and the California Science Center. He has definitely enriched my life culturally, because I probably wouldn’t have gone so frequently if it wasn’t for him.

So this my new and improved life. The thrill of getting drunk every night was replaced with the joy of seeing him change. The excitement of being 100% free was replaced with the fulfillment of teaching him new things, cool tricks and the world in general. Children see the world through the eyes of their caregivers, so my hope is for Kaio to see the best the world has to offer. A friend’s father once told me: “Life offers a man no greater satisfaction than the raising of the next generation”. I think the same applies to women. Its fun. Its a gift. Its a privilege. And it’s inexplicably satisfying if you are brave enough to stick around and do it.

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22 Things Single Mothers Should Teach Their Sons

Being a single mother is a tough job. You constantly go back and forth between acting like a mom and dad. Playing two roles is an even harder task when it involves a boy. We are not men so it’s hard to teach our boys how to be one. Many of us wonder which important lessons we should be focusing on, and which ones we should let them learn on their own. Below are 22 things I think every single mother of boys should teach their sons.

1. To be a kind
This is the second most important lesson you can teach your son. Its not your job to toughen him up. That’s the world’s job and I promise, it will do a good job at it. Teach him to be kind. Kind to people. Kind to animals. Kind to himself. And kind to you. But most importantly teach him to be kind to those weaker than him. Kindness is a strong man’s virtue.
2. To always be a gentleman
In today’s world sometimes acting like a gentleman can be looked upon as sexist. Its not. Start by teaching him to open the car door for you. To hold the elevator. To carry the groceries. Teach him to pick up the check if he can afford it. To buy flowers. To walk a girl on the inside of the street. To give her his coat if she is cold. To get the car while she waits if she is in heals. Being a gentleman NEVER goes out of style.
3. To be selective with his sexual partners
This is probably the hardest lesson to teach a boy these days. Boys are expected to have as much sex and with as many women as they can. Teach your son to be selective. To value his body and his time.
4. To play a sport
Every boy needs to play sports. They need to burn off that energy and they need to learn to compete. Make him pick a sport he enjoys and teach him to focus and better himself.
5. Discipline and self accountability
Teach him discipline and self accountability. To wake up on time. Go to bed on time. Turn his homework on time. Don’t enable his bad behaviors. Don’t let him get away when he does something wrong. Teach him that there are consequences to his actions. Punish him when necessary. There is a difference between raising a man and raising a delinquent.
6. How to throw a punch
Being gentle is a virtue but knowing to defend yourself and others around you is an even better quality. Teach him that there are only three circumstances in life in which he can and SHOULD throw a punch: To defend himself. To defend his lady. And to defend those being physically attacked by bullies, racists and homophobes.
7. To be none of the above
Teach your son from an early age that bullying, homophobia and racism is unacceptable and he will grow up believing it. There is nothing more manly than a man who defends those oppressed by society.
8. When to walk way
As important as it is for him to learn to defend himself, its also important he learns when to walk away from an argument or situation. Either be with you, his wife, his boss or a stranger. Knowing the difference between standing up and walking away is wisdom.
9. How to tie a tie and tie a knot
Both are essential skills. And while you are at it, also teach him to iron his shirts.
10. How to change a tire
If you don’t know how find a friend who does. Teach your son the importance of knowing how to change a tire. One day it might go flat when he is driving that special girl home.
11. How to cook
Cooking is an art. Teach him to be an artist and to never depend on others for his meals.
12. To apologize
He can’t always be right and he needs to learn to apologize when he is wrong. The world is not a kind place to those who are arrogant enough to think they don’t make mistakes.
13. How to drive a stick
Every man needs to learn to drive a stick. Maybe he will always buy automatic cars or maybe he will be into manuals. Either way, teach him to drive both. For both emergencies and self pride.
14. To lose with dignity and win with humility
Sometimes he will win and other times he will lose. Teach him to lose with dignity. Without excuses. Without pity. And to win with humility. No cheating. No making fun of those who lost.
15. To be strong
Its okay to cry. Its okay to feel pain. But every boy needs to learn how to be strong from early age. Teach him to be tough and brave. Teach him to pull his own bandages. To fall and get up without crying. Pain is weakness leaving the body so teach him to endure physical pain with strength. And be there for him when emotional pain brings him to his knees.
16. To drink responsibly
Almost every person drinks alcohol. When he is old enough, teach him the art of alcohol as well as the dangers of it. If you teach him this, the police won’t have to.
17. To never hit a woman
Violence is never okay. A woman should never hit a man and a man should never hit a woman. But teach your son that if he is ever hit by a woman it’s NEVER okay to hit back. Teach him to walk away. Teach him to restrain her kindly. But teach him that he is never allowed to hit her. He is a man. And being a man comes with advantages as well as responsibilities. Never hitting a lady is one of those responsibilities. There is no exception to this rule.
18. To tip
It’s important to learn to appreciate the service others provide us. Teach your son to always tip. And to tip generously. If he can’t afford to tip he shouldn’t be going out.
19. To choose his shoes wisely
Nothing says more about a man than the shoes he wears.
20. How to fix things
Every man should know how to fix things around the house. Teach him how to change the light bulb, to hang frames, to put together furniture, to unclog the drain. Once he learns how to do them, let him do it for you.
21. To dress with class
Teach him to coordinate pants, shirts, jackets, ties, belts, socks, etc., Its important to let him create his own fashion and be his own person but it’s just as important to teach him to dress appropriately to the occasion.
22. To be an exceptional father
This is the most important lesson you can ever teach your son as a single mother. Maybe your son has a good relationship with his father or maybe he has never met him. Either way, teach your son to be an exceptional father. Teach him the responsibilities of fatherhood and that its never EVER okay to abandon his children. The value of a man is not measured by his muscles or paycheck. Its measured by how he cares for his children. Make sure he learns this.

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First Things First

I spent the whole night thinking about this entry. I kept going back and forth in my mind on which topic I should write about for my first bog entry. I wanted something funny. I wanted something uplifting and somewhat cool. But something kept telling me to write something real. I could see sit here and write about a great time I had in Colorado last week, the time I had my vibrator confiscated by TSA for being a potential weapon (true story), or I could even write about my friend’s tampax birth (you heard that right and I promise this story will be coming soon). But I realized none of these funny stories would actually tell the story of my life and how I got here in the first place. I had to start from the beginning.

For starters, I never dreamed of being a single mom. As feminist as I am, I am a firm believer that children will always do better in a two-parent home and that boys need a daily father not a distant relative to visit every few months. I never dreamed of raising a child on my own, let alone a boy. And I definitely never dreamed that if I had to, I would actually be good at it. When you spend years of your life being told negative things about yourself, you start to believe it. For years I thought I would never succeed in a career, that I would never be able to hold a job or friends or a relationship and that I would “fuck my son up”. For years I believed I was crazy, inadequate and unlovable and therefore I was doomed to be a bad mother too. Turns out I am none of those things. I can succeed in my career (very well for that matter), I have tons of friends (many whom I have known for more than 10 years) and my son is a happy and healthy child. Those who know Kaio, know how absolutely brilliant and beyond his age he is. I don’t mean to sound cocky, but I do like taking partial credit for the amazing child he is.

Kaio’s dad or, as I like to call him, Mr. Big, is not around. He hasn’t been around from the moment I told him I was pregnant. You might be asking why I am referring to him as Mr. Big and it’s not because he is some wealthy big shot like Sex and the city’s Mr Big. That couldn’t be farther from reality actually. But because at some point he was a big love and because he is just all around big; like my son. Big hands, big feet, big dreams and an even bigger ego. Unfortunately.

Mr. Big and I dated on and off for 3 years before I got pregnant. Things were never perfect. Quite the opposite. It was chaotic. But always passionate. Some people say that we are so alike that that’s why we never worked out. In Brazil we say: Two biters don’t kiss. And its true. But I think the reasons that ultimately made me a single mother are lot more complicated than a Brazilian saying can explain. I don’t want to get into details of our relationship or how he ended up completely bailing on my child because that’s not what this blog is about. I am simply here to share my story, my struggles and the laughs that is my new life as a single mom. I know I am not the only single mother out there so I am sure many can relate. Its scary, its challenging but it’s also so rewarding and fun. People constantly ask me if I could go back in time if I would have an abortion and my answer is always the same: No Fucking way. Kaio is the most amazing human I have met and its kind of cool that I made him. He makes my days a lot more fun. I constantly catch myself laughing when I see him do something dumb like trying to put his left shoe on his right feet or trying to fit under the couch, and getting angry because he can’t. And there is nothing more soothing than drinking a glass of wine in the end of the day, watching some TV while hearing his giggles in the background. I swear his giggles heal.

So lately I came to the conclusion that although it wasn’t something I dreamed of, my new life as a single mom is quite interesting. There are diapers, laughs, poop eating, horrible dates, great commitment free sex, lots of temper tantrums and a lot more wine. Kaio came to teach me that maybe our future is something that happens when we steer off the course we had drawn for ourselves.