Archive for April, 2011

Dating Pet Peeves

April 18, 2011

Following up on my “Guy Pet Peeves” post, my beautiful online pal Saida Latigue (@MochaMama42 on Twitter), had a few pet peeves of her own to share. I thought it best for Saida to express herself in a separate post. Without further ado, here are some of Saida’s dating pet peeves.

 1. A self-proclaimed gentleman has respect for my time.

You’re a man and you want to be treated and respected as such. If I am supposed to meet you at 10:00 am, calling at 10:40 am “to see if I’m on the way” is silly. If I’m meeting you somewhere crowded and popular, and I haven’t called to say I won’t arrive at the agreed-upon time to meet, shouldn’t you make yourself visible in the crowd and call at 10:15 at the latest to inquire about my ETA if you don’t see me or haven’t heard from me?

My time is valuable and I actually arrived at 9:55 am. You have no respect for me or my time, so …. NEXT!

2. Being a man means you pursue me.

You say you’d really like to get to know me better. However, to communicate with me, you text my phone intermittently. You email vague one line questions, and when I ask for an in-depth explanation, you don’t respond. You think of “conversation” as attempting to engage me in “relationship style” banter on mutual friend’s threads on Facebook.

I am no longer in grade school. I can infer you’re interested in me, but if it comes across as such a half-hearted attempt to get to know me, it’s a turn off, big time.         

3. A man is decisive and knows what he wants.

I decide to meet for drinks with someone I’ve dated in the past. As a single divorcee, sometimes I just want to spend time with a member of the opposite sex. The conversation is easy and out of curiosity, we ask each other why we’re not in a serious relationship at this time. I completely understand the “people are in your life for a reason or a season” rationale; however, when you share with me that you felt DUPED in your last relationship because the woman you were dating said she didn’t want marriage or a serious relationship and that was why you were in a relationship with  her — only to find out a YEAR later, she shares she would like to “take the relationship to another level” of  commitment and monogamy…and you join a dating website ( in retaliation) and only choose potential dates by photo — those are RED FLAGS that you haven’t yet figured out what you are doing. STILL. Sad, particularly when I have known you going on six years.          

4. GROW A SET.

Get some CAJONES about yourself. Be a man about it, do your thing as a man and be one, because I’m definitely very much a woman and don’t want to be the man. Period.

Phew! Saida laid it out there, didn’t she?  Do you agree or disagree? The floor is yours.

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When Did You Know Your Marriage Was Over?

April 17, 2011

The Huffington Post recently ran a series entitled, “The Moment I Knew,” where women discussed the moment they knew their marriages were over and it was time to file for divorce.

The stories were universally depressing, of the “I knew it was time to end my marriage when he wouldn’t even come visit me in the hospital after my open heart surgery” ilk.

As I read “The Moment I Knew” stories, I wanted to ask each contributor: “Are you sure you didn’t know before then?” and “If you realized it earlier, why didn’t you act on it?”

I asked those questions because those are the questions I asked myself when I finally decided to file for divorce.

Common wisdom holds that marriage is hard work. This is true. Staying married requires a commitment to being together, a commitment that transcends any and all issues that may arise during the marriage.

Staying together no matter what issue may arise, is very serious business indeed.

But when it is ok to give up? When is it futile to fight and try and work hard to stay together? When is it necessary to cut one’s losses and move on?

Some, of course, would say never. That it’s never OK to give up on your marriage; never OK to back out; never OK to say, enough is enough, this thing is dead and rotting and it’s time for us to move on with our separate lives. That level of commitment is fine if both parties share it equally.

But if your commitment isn’t equal, and you feel like your fight is futile, then it may be time to reassess.

In my case, the moment I knew I had to get divorced came, like so many of the Huffington Post contributors, after a dramatic and tragic series of events. In sum, my ex-husband kicked in the front door after I’d locked him out during a particularly nasty argument. The sound of my daughter’s scream when he kicked open that metal door still reverberates in my ear. I called the police, which further enraged him. I retained a divorce lawyer the next day.

But really, I knew before that moment. I knew on my wedding day that it wasn’t going to work. I knew for certain on my wedding night, after the party was over and the guests were gone and we could go back to being uncivilized to each other.

I was nine months pregnant with my son on my wedding day, one week from delivering our second child. I’d insisted on getting married because I couldn’t stomach the thought of having another child out of wedlock. But I knew the whole time that he was the wrong man to marry. I’d known that during the five years we lived together before the marriage.

I knew I shouldn’t have married him when he punched me in the head in the hospital while I was in labor with our first child. I knew I shouldn’t have married him when he would leave me and our newborn daughter alone every weekend while he took my car to Philadelphia to get high. Even after he got clean, I knew nothing had materially changed.

But I was stuck with this image of myself as the type of woman who was not a “baby mama.” My internal compass told me the life I was living was inauthentic and immoral, even though correcting it meant marrying someone I believed to be a misogynistic bully. I was embarrassed to be a pregnant, unmarried black woman, facing the real and imagined stares of my partners at my conservative law firm. Despite my Harvard Law School degree and my post-law school accomplishments, I felt like just another ghetto stereotype.

So I went to a Christie’s auction, bought myself a three-carat diamond and platinum Harry Winston engagement ring and planned a small wedding. At our divorce trial, my ex told the judge I “forced” him to get married. The judge was having none of it. He was a grown man – I didn’t force him to do anything. If I forced anyone to get married, it was me. And the nearly three years we were married before we both – simultaneously, as it ironically turned out – filed for divorce just confirmed what I’d known all along.

The question I asked myself when I first spoke to my divorce lawyer, throughout the divorce and nearly every day of the seven years since then isn’t “When did I know?” but “Why did I do that to myself and why didn’t I know I deserved so much more?”

First posted on MarriedMySugarDaddy.com

Single Mommy Blues

April 16, 2011

It seems we mothers spend a lot of time – and ink – talking about how hard it is to be a mother.

Numerous books, parenting blogs and websites are devoted to the topic. On playgrounds and playdates, mothers huddle together and talk about how incredibly difficult this motherhood game really is.

And yet the voices of some of us mothers mostly remain unheard.

The point of this post is not to compare notes to see which moms have it worst. Mothering is hard. It’s hard whether you’re single or married, whether you’re successfully co-parenting with a cooperative ex, or doing it all by yourself, whether you have the help of a village or only the help you are able to pay for.

But I want to talk about the special hardships faced by single mothers who are doing it alone. Really alone. Without the help of a reliable spouse, co-parent, or a network of friends or family members who pitch in whenever possible.

For several years after my divorce, I sacrificed having a personal life for the sake of my kids. Weekends were consumed by soccer, gymnastics, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, ice skating – you name an activity, we probably tried it. Dating? Hah! I wasn’t ready. Focusing on the kids was a great way to avoid thinking about how badly I’d flubbed the whole “picking the right partner” thing.

I didn’t become SuperMom because I wanted to. I did it because I lacked an alternative. I live in New York City. My family is in Michigan. My ex-husband was – and is -absent and uninvolved.

I had the help I was willing to pay for. I paid full-time rates for part-time babysitters to ensure I had someone to pick the kids up from school and care for them on half-days and school holidays. The extra expense killed my budget, but my work schedule was too demanding to enable me to rely on afterschool programs.

Recently, I tried co-parenting with my ex-husband, an experiment that now seems short-lived. His last overnight visit with the kids was New Year’s weekend. He is too unreliable to keep a regular visiting schedule, and I don’t have the energy to deal with the litany of excuses.

Although single parenting would be tough even if I worked at home, my demanding executive job makes the juggling even more difficult. Plus, in addition to my day job, I do speaking enagements and lectures. I write, for this blog and others, on my own time.

I even finally started dating again.

The writing, the dating, the lecturing, and some occasional exercise are things I do for myself. But they take away from the time I spend with my kids. I can no longer devote every weekend to their activities. And I feel incredibly guilty about it.

For example: my son is a natural baseball talent. Yet I don’t have time to take him to a baseball coach to work on his skills. I don’t have time – or a good enough pitching/throwing arm – to take him to the park and help him work on his catching, fielding and hitting. I haven’t found time to have him try out for a travel team – and even if he did, I’m not sure I would be able to haul him around from game to game.

His father, who played baseball in high school, takes no interest in his son’s baseball development. I get angry about this sometimes, and then I realize being angry is futile.

Well-meaning friends tell me to stop beating up on myself. They tell me to focus on the fact that, all by myself, I have raised smart, independent thinkers who are thriving in some of New York City’s most competitive schools.

I do acknowledge my blessings. But still, I’m tired. So please forgive me for indulging in a bit of whining.

Mothering is hard for all mothers. It is especially hard for us single women who are parenting completely by ourselves. And because we’re so used to doing everything all by ourselves, we don’t ask for help easily. Or always know how to accept it graciously, without constantly thanking the person who agreed to step in for us. Or apologizing for being burdensome.

So if you know a single mom who parents by herself, maybe you can offer her a little help. If your kids are friends, maybe you can offer to pick her kid up from school and host a playdate at your house. Or you can invite her kid to a weekend playdate or sleepover. Let her be the last parent to pick up her child from the birthday party. Because whether she says it or not, she values every single moment she gets to spend by herself. But she may not feel she has the right to ask for that time.

And try not to get too annoyed when she keeps saying “thank you.”

First published on CocoaMamas.com

Guy Pet Peeves

April 12, 2011

This topic needs no introduction.* Let’s dive right in.

1. Lurking in the “friend” zone.

Every couple of weeks or so, Twitter rehashes the discussion of the “friend” zone – the place where women put men they have no intention of sleeping with, but whose company and conversation they enjoy enough to hang out with and generally keep around.

I take the word “friendship” very seriously. If I have no intention of ever sleeping with you, and I know you like me, I’ll tell you – bluntly – that the thing you’re hoping for is never going to happen. If I like you, I’ll offer you my friendship.

At that point, you have one of two choices: (a) you can say (to me or to yourself), “Baby, I’ve got enough friends,” and eventually disappear; or (b) you can agree to be my friend, in which case I am expecting you to be a FRIEND, and nothing more.

I am told (b) is unrealistic. And that pisses me off.

When I say to someone, “Let’s be friends,” I mean it. I don’t mean, “Let’s be each other’s emergency ____ in a glass jar.” I don’t mean, “You can be my friend until I break up with X, at which point Imma need some emergency comfort sex.”

But it seems some men don’t quite get this concept. I’ve been burned before by male friends who thought the friend zone was the bench and they’d get to play as soon as one of the starters came hobbling off the court.

Add this to the list of shit for which I am now too old.

If you are in the friend zone, play your position. Or go play for another team.

2. Solving non-existent problems.

Has this ever happened to you? You are talking to a male in your life – whether it’s your significant other, your father, a friend, an uncle, a cousin, or the guy who runs the corner liquor store – about something that has happened to you. In your mind, you are just relaying a story.

All of a sudden, though, here comes all this unwanted and unasked-for advice. You’re telling him why you no longer talk to your childhood best friend, and he interjects,

“You should call her. Friendships are important.”

WTF? Really? Did you not hear what I just said about that bitch? Did you somehow stop listening when I got to the part about how I will never, ever again in life trust that chick, let alone call her? What’s wrong with you?

Guys, stop. Sometimes we just like to talk. When we need your advice, we’ll ask.

3. Baiting and goading.

Baiting and goading is a common sport on Twitter. Guys will take the most outlandish positions – usually it’s some Jabba the Hutt-looking character claiming he won’t even say hello to a woman who weighs more than 130 lbs. – and then sit back and watch women lose their minds.

Paul Carrick Brunson, the self-styled Modern Day Matchmaker, engaged in a classic bit of baiting and goading recently. Referring to his recent article on Essence.com listing ten types of men women tend to overlook when dating, Brunson sparked a spirited debate on Twitter over the merits of the man with poor hygiene, who Brunson referred to as the “caveman.” Brunson wanted to know why women routinely include bad breath and bad hygiene on their list of dealbreakers.

Come on now.

I love Brunson. I’ve even used his services. But I don’t believe Brunson was seriously advocating for men with breath like rotten meat. He was enjoying the spectacle of watching his replies fill up with women asking him if he had lost his damn mind.

Men sometimes like to say things to get a rise out of us. They like to see us react – and overreact. Sometimes it’s good-natured fun, and sometimes it’s pure meanness. Sometimes, it’s both. And while the banter can be mutually enjoyable, after a while, it gets to be irritating.

4. Calling/texting out of the blue.

Let’s say you met a guy six months ago. You exchanged numbers, maybe even texted each other a couple of times. Then nada. Time passes. You meet other people, date other people. The guy is forgotten.

Six months later, your phone rings, or your text icon pops up. And once you figure out who it is, you laugh.

For real, dude? You thought I was still sitting around waiting for you to call?

Anonymous texting ranks right up there with the call/text out of the blue. I can count on one hand the phone numbers I’ve memorized. Yours is not one of them. Identify yourself. And don’t get offended if I say, “Who?”

Those are some of my guy pet peeves. What are yours? Guys, feel free to list your pet peeves about women in the Comments section – if you dare.

*The fact that I can only come up with four guy pet peeves tells you a lot about how generally satisfied I am with men these days.

When Negative Is Positive

April 8, 2011

First of all, the good news: my biopsy results were fine. “Your results were fine, no problems, everything looks ok,” the radiologist told me when I called.

I thought about ending this post there.

But I still have a bandage on my breast. I still have the image of watching a needle poke into some weird thing inside my breast seared into my brain.

So let me describe the procedure.

I arrived at the Women’s Imaging Center at Weill Cornell Medical Center on time for my 9 am appointment. Outwardly, I was calm. My efforts to think positive thoughts had convinced me that this was some kind of divine comedic error, yet another example of God’s Monty Python-like sense of humor.

Things happened quickly. Within 15 minutes of my arrival, I was lying on my back in a hospital gown on a table in the ultrasound room.

In the two weeks since my mammogram, an odd thing had happened: I was no longer able to feel the lump. I had convinced myself, therefore, that the thing – whatever it was – had disappeared.

I mentioned to the ultrasound tech that I could no longer feel the lump. She nodded and applied the gel to the ultrasound wand, and began moving it around on my breast. I was about to ask her, “What happens if you can’t see it anymore?” when she said,

“Oh! There it is. I definitely see it. And these pictures look exactly like the ones that __________ got last time.”

So much for it disappearing.

And then I got scared.

During my last visit, I had peeked at the ultrasound screen, but none of what I saw made sense. I was reminded of my pregnancy ultrasounds, where I could discern the baby’s head, spine and heartbeat, but not much else.

This time, I saw it clearly.

The it, the thing, the lump that was causing all this trouble appeared on the ultrasound screen as a gelatinous bubble, like the movie The Blob. I had a Blob inside me. Of course, in the movie, the Blob consumed whatever was in its path.

I reminded myself that The Blob was a silly movie about killer Jello. But I couldn’t take my eyes off that screen.

The procedure I had is called an ultrasound-guided needle biopsy. A nurse and a doctor soon joined the ultrasound technician. While the ultrasound technician showed the doctor the pictures she had captured on screen, the nurse cleaned my breast for the procedure.

Everyone – doctors, nurse, ultrasound technician – was great about explaining to me what was happening, in terms that were simple but not dumbed down. I watched the doctor use a long, fine needle to fill my breast with Lidocaine so I wouldn’t feel any pain during the biopsy. I watched her insert a second thicker, hollow needle into my breast. She showed me the needle’s spring mechanism and explained that she would be activating the needle with a loud pop! sound to collect tissue samples, a process that would be repeated 5 times.

To my surprise, the doctor also announced that she would implant a small titanium clip into my breast to mark the location of the mass, since it was so subtle and not easy to detect, for the benefit of future radiologists. I didn’t like the idea of a titanium anything in my breast, but I gave my consent.

And then I turned my attention to the ultrasound screen.

I watched the needle probing and poking the blob. I saw the needle tip penetrate the mass. Even before the doctor gave me the “one-two-three” warning that she was about to activate the spring-loaded mechanism, I held my breath in anticipation.

I didn’t flinch.

“You’re doing great,” I was reassured, over and over again.

Inside, I wasn’t doing so great. I was overwhelmed by the odd and unsettling miracle of watching a needle enter my breast and cut away tiny pieces of some unidentifiable thing inside my breast.

It dawned on me that, no matter who you are in life, at some point, you will wind up in one of these hospital gowns, submitting your body to some procedure or another, hoping to discover that for you, life continues.

I couldn’t conceive of any other result. My children have no one but me. Their father is, um, unreliable. Their grandmother is gone. The family they know is in Michigan, where my children don’t want to be. They barely know their relatives in Philadelphia. And I am no longer as close as I once was to the women who were their godmothers.

The radiologist commended me for being so “good” throughout the procedure. I thought only about not orphaning my children.

My breast was a bit sore after the anesthesia wore off, but physically I was fine. Mentally and emotionally, though, the three-day wait for results was torture. I kept myself busy to keep from dwelling on it, but the bandage on my breast reminded me that, in the words of Madeline’s Miss Clavel, something was “not right.”

And now I know. The negative result is positive. I am relieved.

OK and fine do not, however, mean everything is back to “normal.”

For me, there is a new “normal.”

From now on, I will have a titanium clip in my breast. I will need to be diligent and consistent about getting annual mammograms. The breast biopsy joins the growing list of procedures and surgeries I have had recently, a list that replaces the “none” or “N/A” I used to routinely tick off on medical history questionnaires.

But still – I’m fine.

I’ll take it.