This time I opted for a movie title instead of a song title because I Am Woman just didn’t quite say it all. Parenting in any form is not for the fainthearted. For the solo mom it is nothing less than a legendary feat. No disrespect to the solo dads out there but you all have a cheering public fawning over your every youtube video just for combing hair. DO WE NOT COMB HAIR??
In re-organizing my life to accommodate work, grad school and 330+ days of 24/7 parenting, I have discovered how amazing I really am and I’m not alone. Thirty-four percent of all households are headed by single parents and four out of five of those homes are headed by single moms. That’s a marked change when compared to the stats of even one generation ago. While the demise of the traditional nuclear family comes with challenges, there are many of us making it work gloriously in spite of having to get the car serviced, take out the trash and throw a football in work attire–usually simultaneously. Making it work takes chutzpah, moxie and a whole lot of creativity. It also takes a village (mine is so AMAZING!) so if you see a single mom, show her some love, preferably in the form of a casserole or having her car serviced!
Solo parenting is a reality for a lot of us out here and it’s a big job. But as one unnamed single mom said on social media, in each moment “there’s freedom, beauty, bravery, strength and grace”. Moms, for all you do, this post’s for you!
As a full-time musician, this space was filled with the happenings from my last gig or the eager excitement about my next one. Since going from full-time musician to full-time teacher/mom it’s a space that’s becoming more about navigating the world on my own while raising a boy to become a man. It’s becoming more thoughtful, more reflective, and I hope more honest, in a keep-it-real-but-don’t-overshare kind of way. So…here goes…
Early on, in the post-apocalyptic phase of divorce, my then 5 year-old son reminded me that we still had a Father in the house. I remember standing in the kitchen when he randomly hit me with that one. It showed me that my faith had not gone unnoticed and that he had started to grow his own.
That 5 year old is now 12 and these days, faith is less about random comments and more about making sense of random happenings. This summer, that hasn’t been an easy task. Balancing conversations about disparities in a justice system that overwhelmingly tries to serve and protect us all with the very real dangers he may face as a young man is sometimes disheartening. And teaching him to be compassionate and respectful in discourse is un uphill climb when social media and headlines often make a mockery of civility. But being disheartened in difficult times doesn’t mean dropping the ball. It’s about pushing through.
That’s my Big Job now, pushing through, modeling responsible citizenship and maintaing a safe space to talk about fear, fairness, freedoms and keeping the faith. Some of that I’ll do here, some at the homework table. Much of it I’ll do in my corner of the world where trust evolves, faith defeats fear and coming together begins. These are difficult times but if we begin to really talk and listen to one another, I know we can all push through.
As we celebrate the 1 year anniversary of those 9 souls senselessly gunned down in cold blood at the historical Emanuel AME church, we find ourselves once again, as a country, praying for peace and healing in Orlando where 50 have died. We find ourselves also, once again, divided by things that should have no bearing: race, sexual orientation, politics, blame. Instead of being outraged at the continual violence and the grief that loss of life produces we are angry and casting blame. I’m angry too. I have to explain to a 12 year old that the world, in spite of what we see in the media daily, is not a horrific place full of danger, hatred and violence. To do that, I have to be convinced of it myself. Today, that’s not an easy task. But I am looking for the helpers. I recently read a mom’s words to her children: ‘whenever you see bad things happening, look for the helpers. There are always more helpers than bad guys’. Simple but effective. Look for the helpers. Be a helper. I’m doing both while holding on to the unchanging Lifeline who always makes beauty out of even the biggest heaps of ashes.
As you know, there have ben a lot of things in the air. Some balls have dropped, some are still spinning mid-air. One thing’s for sure: THIS season is coming to a championship ending! I played hard, had a lot of wins and I can almost see the view from the mountain top! As with all games, there is a lag time between the season’s end and the championship game. I’m still waiting on that one and when it gets here, I’ll tell ya aaaaallllll about it. Meanwhile, time to enjoy fall’s color concerto. To get you started, here’s my all-time favorite autumn picture.
There are some times in life when it’s full court press time. For those non-sports fans, that’s the time when it’s down to the wire in a basketball game and everybody is working overtime to win. Well, basketball ain’t the only place where games need be be won. Life is one big ole playing field and if you’re in it to win it, sometimes sleep, home cooking and the gym take a back burner because the business of winning the game requires nothing less than full concentration and overtime. It’s those times when you ignore the longing for a shower and massage and get your head completely in the game. Those moments feel like hard times. But, when it’s all over, the final release is oh so sweet. When you shoot your best shot and watch that ball arch, wondering–no, knowing–no, hoping–no, praying– that it will drop just right, it’s an amazing, scary, awesome, scary, powerful, scary feeling. And that hard knock life? Well it turns into…Come back next month. I’m still waiting on the buzzer so cheer me on!
Working with the under 10 set has helped me to see that there are still major lessons to be learned from Disney’s blockbuster Frozen. And seeing some of the nastiness of the social media offerings over the last couple of weeks leaves me no alternative but to remember out loud what my Grandmother taught me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. I’m sure there are grandkids all over the country who were taught the same thing. So why have so many of us forgotten?! At the risk of sounding pious: social media musings cloaked in semi-anonymity are not exempt from this rule.
There was a song from Sting a few cold war moons ago in which the recurring line told of the Russians loving their children too. He continued with, “we share the same biology regardless of ideology”. Sting’s not from the US but it would seem his grandma taught him that we can agree to disagree– in peace. Love really is an open door that we can choose to walk through when we eschew hateful rants and remarks. Kindness leaves bridges in tact no matter what our beliefs, and choosing love over hate makes us all winners every time. Without that door we are walled up behind our ideologies and ideals lofty or base, depending on who’s rating. Not hate or bitterness but Love
is an open door.
Sometimes it’s not the big stages, the sold out concert halls or the Baroque churches. Sometimes it’s watching young Mr. Landin play “Watermelon Man” on his first gig with a live band or watching “Uncle Sonny” sing “My Girl” for the first time in 40 years. It’s singing Gladys’ “I got ta go’ in harmony with Miss Lynn and playing MD with your Sunday morning band doing Saturday night music. And sometimes it’s watching the mantel pass as your son sings the Jackson 5 hits of the Michael Jackson we 70’s kids remember from our childhood. Sometimes it’s easy as ABC and Music doesn’t get any better than that!
Something about the springtime smell of sunshine and roses in full bloom seems to give me an extra shot of motivation. With school coming to an end the German word “Aufbruch” comes to mind. It’s a word that means “awakening” or “start”. Life is cyclical and this year one cycle is ending and another is beginning. Time to put all that knowledge to good use. It’s a little bit scary, quite frankly. Endings and beginnings always are. But they are also a lot like the dawn. Before the sun comes up, it’s impossible to see what the day will be like but then, the sun comes over the horizon and you can see forever. Of course, the day may be grey and cloudy but at some point, hours, days–weeks, if you’re in London–later, the skies clear and you’re on you’re way. That’s where I am now. I’ve got a new attitude and I’m on my way!
Ten years is a long time. A whole decade. An era. Music changes, fashion, media, life itself. This year marks ten years without the single most influential woman in my life. She was my very first music teacher, my very first friend, the first person to ever teach me about God. Her music touched me from the very first moments of my being. The wisdom she imparted guides my decisions even now. Her joy at being still rings in my own laughter. She was the first person to ever love me and although I have been blessed to be loved by many, no one will ever love me like she did because no one loves like a mother does. The woman she was influenced the woman I am in countless, immeasurable ways from the way I write to the way I sing to the way I mother my own child. She was strong, beautiful, talented, funny, expressive and a great woman of faith. Ten years truly is a long time but when someone has been that strongly interwoven into the fabric of who you are, ten years is just long enough to let you finally realize that they never left. In tribute of Brenda Waters, my mother, my friend.
A child of the 70s has arrived in StarDate “twenty-fifteen”! I remember when 20anything sounded far away and futuristic. And now we have arrived. While recently watching an episode of Star Trek TOS I enjoyed seeing how many things we have that good old Gene Roddenberry “saw” in the 60s. Flip phones, Siri, translators and stun guns have all been in use in some form or other. And yet it is a very different world from the one we watched from the bridge of the Enterprise. From my perch on the bridge of a ziplining course, we are still here on earth and will be in the foreseeable future. You would think that would make us live more purposefully as a species. And maybe, this time of year, we do. For a short time, the year is new and we dive into it full of Great Resolutions to do Great Things. Usually by March, magazines stop featuring new diets and even paying for the gym membership wont get us off the sofa. Weekly date nights with spouses fall by the wayside and we have indeed screamed at our kids. More than once.
I have an idea. How about we stop making Great Plans excepting this: Be grateful, be forgiving and live purposefully. That’s it. Wake up, be thankful and remember that each moment is a gift. Hey, even the lousy ones are preferable to the alternative. So just be the best you you can be, each day. Some moments will be stellar. Many will have you crying for do-overs. But forgiveness starts with self. There are no do-overs. So just simply, do your best, as bestest as it can be in any given moment. That’s my plan. And I am finding, moment by purposeful moment, life can be Oh. So. Beautiful!