How are you surviving?

My dear friend of so many years one of the few people that know me inside and out. One of the few that know the storm I’ve been fighting for the past few years asked me a question that floored me. Left me speechless caused me to think.

I usually get asked “how do you do it?” That five word question I’m use to and I can answer without thinking. I’ve rehearsed and acted out that answer so many times I can do it in one breath. “How do I do it?” It’s simple “I just do. For me there is no other choice. And failing is not an option.” “How do I do it?” That five word question almost 99.9 percent of the time is asking, how do I make it as a single mom with a full time career and still have hair on my head.

But “how are you surviving?” Completely different question and seeing as she knows me….my typical answer I knew wouldn’t suffice. How am I surviving? When one of my off springs are fighting the biggest battle to date in their life. Which consequently means I’m fighting the biggest battle to date in my life. It doesn’t matter how old our children get they are forever our children and we are forever their parents. But…..back to the question. A question I have NEVER been asked and one I never knew I’d dread being asked until she asked it.

So…..how am I surviving? Some days I’m just numb I feel nothing. Other days I’m so alive, full of vigor, humbleness, energy. Sometimes I’m angry, no not angry pissed! How could my child be going through this? I’ve worked hard, provided for them and still do, sacrificed for them, kept them in the best school districts even though years ago ensuring they lived in a good school district and went to the best schools had me living pay check to pay check. Sometimes barely able to put on the table, but I never gave up. I knew my hard work would pay off one day. I sacrificed so that hopefully they wouldn’t have to. I sacrificed because I wanted and want to always give them the best opportunity possible. I’ve never done drugs, I’ve never spent necessity money on partying, everything in my life from the second I became a mother became about my children. When you do this as a parent your children are suppose to grow up and make great decisions, and live a life far more grand than you ever have. It least that’s what I was told….So yes knowing my child is fighting a battle that I can’t bail him out of makes me angry at times. Knowing that my child is fighting for his life over something he did not do pisses me off. Other times. Other times I’m just sad. Sometimes I just sit in bedroom and cry, and pray and cry some more. This child of mine has went through all the hard times. He has went through the ramen noodles for lunch and chicken for dinner because it’s all I could afford back then. And he, he never complained. I remember he told me one day “mama you work hard and things are going to get better for us. I know they are you just have to believe it.” He is that child to me. My other children may miss it but not him, he has always been intuitive to my emotions. Doesn’t matter how hard I would try to put on a brave face he could see through it if I was having a bad day and he would do everything in his power to console me. You were right son. The hard work payed off in such a great way! The financial struggles have disappeared but not having you here is taking us all through an emotional war I know we weren’t prepared to fight, but we are fighting it and we are all going to get through with the victory. You will make it through this with the victory.

How am I surviving? Some days I don’t know. Some days are harder than others. As I write this on my back patio drinking a cup of coffee, I look at the flowers falling off my tree in my yard. I wonder if the tree is in pain, but I’d have to guess not. The tree I’m certain knows it’s fall and it has to shed so that it may grow new flowers in the spring. How fitting is that for life, sometimes it’s our season to shed. Sometimes it’s our season to walk through a storm and blessings all at the same time. But just like the tree survives and produces new fruit when it’s it’s time….so shall we. I survive because I know storms don’t last always. There is always a sliver lining in every situation if you look hard enough, your faith is stronger than any battle and is the strongest armor of weaponry you have. How do I survive? I try to feel every emotion, but at the same time not let it consume me. I come to terms with things and then do everything in power to make the outcome favorable. How am I surviving? I know I’m blessed beyond measure, I was built to bend and not break, and honestly I survive because I have family and friends that love me and my children immensely and that is priceless.

So How am I surviving? Just like the tree there is a season for everything. My mind is conditioned to go through the storms because the root of my heart and soul are endless.

There is no SOS for the single mom.

Where do I begin? Do I say I’m exhausted? Physically, mentally, spiritually? Who am I going to tell that to? My children…..of course not. Why? Because they are just that, my children. My children that did not ask or have a say so of coming into this world. My children, MY children, the humans I would die for without a second thought. The humans I have sacrificed for, would go through hell and back for. The humans my heart beat for. So no there is no one to tell “hey I’m exhausted. Think you could cook tonight, look over homework, support them at their games tonight? ” There is no SOS for the single mom. We are the lifeboat, the motor, the rescue team, the navy seals elite in distress. WE ARE IT!

Everyone tells you that when you become a mother you become a warrior, you learn how to love without condition. When you become a mother you turn into the most selfless human that has ever graced the earth. Your children are your strength. These miraculous miracles you were blessed to carry and birth into the world and raise. You children are your strength. You children give you courage to face the impossible and make it possible. Your children inspire you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. And are you perfect? Of course not. But for your children you are a chameleon, you will be anything and everything they need you to be.

But did they tell you that your children at times are your greatest weakness? Did they tell you that you can’t keep them in a bubble and keep them safe forever no matter what you do. Did they tell you that eventually they grow up and make their own decisions, good, bad or indifferent? Did they tell you at times some of their decision making skills will cause you to fall on your knees and give it all to God because you will be helpless to do any thing else?

And there it is….the elephant in the room HELPLESS. Yes I began this whole entire paragraph with the word AND. You did happen to read my website is titled Imperfect-me?? Oh ok. Just checking. Back to that word helpless. Even writing it makes my skin crawl. I was told I was a warrior how on earth could my child make a decision that could leave me helpless? How on earth could one ever put me in a position to feel helpless? How do I deal with this. It’s me? The single mom of 5 that worked her way up the corporate ladder, that juggles more things efficiently than a ring master at Barnum Bailey Circus. My child leave me helpless????? I asked that more to myself than she, yes she, the one who constantly butts her nose in my business and shows up when I need her the least……anxiety. She keeps me up til the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out at what point I did something wrong for my offspring to put their self in this position. She anxiety has a way of making me reminisce about all my mistakes as a mother, what I could have done, what I should have done, what I didn’t do good enough. And now here I am. Running days at a time with only 2 to 3 hours of sleep. Trying to function on Star bucks, positivity , and any small win I can pick up rather it be in my personal life or my career life. There is no SOS for the single mom. We are the lifeboat, the motor, the rescue team, the navy seals elite in distress. WE ARE IT!

So how do I deal? Honestly…..I don’t know. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, one second at a time. Helpless doesn’t equate to defeat. And just because I’m strong doesn’t mean I don’t get to have moments of failures. And just because I’m not extremely emotional doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to cry. Oh wait there SHE is. The rose that grew from the concrete, the warrior came up from the ashes. Finally she’s here! She’s the one who day after day night after night will eventually show up and put anxiety in her place(although this time it took her a bit longer than usual. But it’s ok because she’s here now) She fuels me with the fire I need to push on she reminds me that I’m a Got Damn warrior and my children are the greatest blessing ever bestowed to me. She is me! So what’s being a single mom? Even when we feel helpless, even when we fall, even when it seems impossible, we get back up. Even if standing in our children’s corner is all we can do we do it. Yes at times we may be helpless but we are never defeated. So There is no SOS for the single mom. We are the lifeboat, the motor, the rescue team, the navy seals elite in distress. WE ARE IT! We always figure it out. Even if it takes us a million different paths to get to the destination we always get there.

Life in the single lane.

I promised you all honesty and rawness. Being a single mom with a full time career is rewarding, tiring, humbling, and at times exhausting. We live in a world where people can’t afford to wear their heart on their sleeve. At times being a woman of color and being successful can almost be a double edge sword. Theres the myth that succesful women especially women of color  feel they “don’t need a man” can I please just throw that myth away and light fire to it. I don’t care what color you are, how successful you are, we are humans and we are designed for companionship.

I have a tough exterior. I have to. I’m raising Kings and Queens, but I won’t lie there are some nights I come home and I crave adult conversation. Someone to kiss me when I walk through the door and say “babe how was your day.” Yes sounds so simple and silly but it’s those moments I long for. I probably shouldn’t admit that right…. We live in a world where you aren’t suppose to cry if you get heartbroken, we catch flights not feelings right? You shouldn’t fall in love so quick….I don’t quite remember what amount of time you should wait to love but I know someone, somewhere, in some book, or some social media page gave us the amount of time it should take before we fall in love. For it to be official you two have to be posted up on social media (nothing is wrong with have your relationship on social media. However nothing is wrong if you don’t either) and on and on. CAN WE PLEASE JUST STOP WITH THE FUCKING RULES! I love love, I love to give and recieve love. I love to love with no boundaries, no rules, however I also have the flaw of being able to walk away from love. I’ve been hurt enough that I come to realize every moment isn’t forever and I’m ok with that….which in return means I rarely ever put up a fight to salvage a realtionship.

Then there’s the talk about income. I didn’t realize the amount of intimidation that comes when you are a successful woman. I guess in my head I think it should be a huge plus to be with a woman who can build, that is capable of investing with you, that doesn’t need you financially. In a world full of people who would rather buy luxury cars, the latest sneakers, and diamonds, but have yet to understand the importance of investing, 401k, a great credit score….its easy to get lost in the sauce. Shouldn’t a woman that is succesful and not caught up on materialistic things be a huge bonus???

Or maybe I need to be more approachable. For those that know me, they see a different side of me, however I am at times a serious person. I also guard my energy, so I’m not for everyone. I learned through trial and error to stay exclusive. Everyone doesn’t deserve my energy. Maybe that’s the problem maybe I’m a bit too exlusive…or not.

Someone asked me whats my type and this may sound cliché but I don’t really have a type. I trust the vibe, I trust energy. The man thats quite and isn’t overly friendly will always catch my eye before the loud, flashy, talkative man. Other than that I’m a 38 year old succesful woman who doesn’t have a type….oh shit does that make me extremely awkward? Fuck! probably!

Then there’s the fact that I don’t mind being single. I”m truy an introvert and extrovert it just depends on my mood. I just want to keep it simple. Lets travel, laugh, invest, own, and understand each other. Lets make each other better. Lets have loyalty before we fall in love. Lets not live by any rules, let our spirits guide us. I don’t want a conventional relationship, I want something with someone who doesn’t need a title unless we choose to give it one. Will I ever marry again? I’d like to or maybe not….maybe I’d just like to grow old with someone. I don’t have the answer to that. What I do know is this. companionship is important, and the wiser I get the more I realize success is nothing without someone to share it with.

So at this moment in my life…being single completely and utterly sucks. Yet its freeing, and liberating to get to know and love myself. I’m ok with being single. I’m not ok with wasting my time or jumping into something just to do it….I’m not on a time clock, but shit I need to it least start dating……….

Debarkation Day! Time to go home.

  1. Of all the process this was most defiantly the lengthier of them all. This is where the fast to the fun would have came in handy. Oh I didn’t mention that. If you book early enough an d the fast to the fun is still available its $99 per cabin purchase it. It has a lot of perks but the most important one is you get to debark first!
  2. we had to be out of rooms around 8am I think. I choose to take my luggage with me because once I got off I knew I’d be ready to hit the highway and drive home. We were on deck 6 and had about a 2 hour wait for our deck to be called to debark taking a elevator to deck 10 was a nightmare. The middle elevators only work to get to the lower level to debark so everyone that was waiting had to use the elevator at the front or the back and most people were going to deck 10. The lindo food bar is there for breakfast as is the main pool area. Once we got up there we got up there we ate breakfast and hung out at the pool area for 2 hours. I was thankful it was not hot.
  3. When our deck was finally called to go down we were in lines waiting to get through customs for another hour, with all our luggage in tow.
  4. This is where passports are so much more convenient than birth certificates. All they do is scan the passport and your own your way out. With Birth certificate and Ids they have to key stuff in.
  5. Once we made it through customs and were off the ship this is the moment I wished I would have parked in carnival parking instead of a third-party.
  6. they people that parked in carnival parking walked straight to the carnival garage got in their vehicles and left.
  7. Our third party was right outside with a sign but we had to wait another 20 minutes for our shuttle bus to drop off another party before they could pick us up. Then I literally watched like a hawk them load all our luggage because I didn’t want anything left.
  8. Getting out of the parking lot was miserable. People were coming in for the next cruise shuttles were blocking the way and it was a  complete cluster.
  9. I want to leave you with this. I will now cruise every spring break with my children. This by far exceeds any spring break vaca we have every taken….including disney world. Please tip your cabin steward even if you pay your gratuities up front. They work extremely hard. I hope these blog post help you on your cruise. And if you’re a single mommy…..YOU ROCK!

Carnival Cruise. Embarkation day and things to do on the ship. Also lets talk excursions!

I’m back and its Embarkation day or ITS CRUISE DAY BABY TIME TO BOARD YOUR SHIP.

  1. put yourself in a position to be on time for your boarding time. They give you a window to be there. Keep that time in mind you don’t want to be too early and defiantly not too late. We departed out of Galveston Tx, it’s about 3 1/2 from where we live so we went a day ahead and stayed in a hotel which was great because I didn’t have to rush in the morning. If you know me personally you know I’m terrible with mornings.
  2. Let me talk about parking. Shit it is confusing!!! There are a ton of people on every corner trying to get you to park in their lot. I was completely confused. I drove past the carnival lot entrance because of the amount of traffic trying to get in and opted for one of the other lots. I want to say parking for the week was about $80 the loaded our luggage on a shuttle and took us to or ship entrance. It was all of a 5 minute ride not bad.
  3. We arrived five minutes before our time window closed our window was between 1:30-2pm. There are people outside the port that will take your luggage for you. I made sure I tipped. it was much easier letting them take our luggage than standing with it in line.
  4. I’ve heard horror stories about getting on to the ship, however for us it was literally 20 minutes (make sure to keep your passports and Id on you, if you’re using birth certificates have those too. I kept all those in my bag back that I took with me. you will need those to get on the ship. Have lanyards for your room card. You need it on you at all times it’s how you get in and out of your room and purchase things.)and we were through the line checked in and on our way to find our room.
  5. The vista ship is magical! one thing that seemed like a inconvenience but honestly is great is the meeting they make everyone on the ship go to. There are thousands of people on the ship so they split you up into different areas, but everyone hears the same message.
  6. Things to do….literallly everything! from spas, to casinos, to kids clubs based on their age groups, basketball courts, pools, sky rides, golf, pool etc the itinerary is always filled with things to do. If you’re a single parent there is also single night. One thing I enjoyed with my pre-teen was movie night on the pool deck. Make sure you google your ship ahead of time and check it out! It’s also a fun way to get your kids excited about going on a cruise
  7. Dont be afraid to let your teenagers wander without you. I purchased the chat app its $5 per person so for us it was $20 bucks not bad and you can stay connected by texting each other. My teenage sons were honestly only with me about  20 percent of the entire trip. They played basketball, spent time at their club and made friends. I don’t think they ever made it to the room before 1am any night. Trust me its ok they’re fine. Now my sons are also 14 and 16. My 12-year-old went to her club some but spent the majority of her time with me. Which was fine. I love spending QT time with my princess .
  8. Make friends talk to people and drink. I got the bottomless bubbles for my kids. You can carry on a 12 pack of cans a piece but I didn’t want the inconvenience. They have an adult beverage drink package also. I didn’t buy this because I had my kids with so I brought my drinks secretly it was cheaper that way. However when I take a adult only cruise…please believe I will purchase that package.
  9. We took a 8 day cruise which had 4 stops Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize my favorite, and Mahogany Bay…which we didn’t get to port at due to weather (yes that part completely sucked and I was bummed but we made the most of it and they took us back to Cozmuel again which was nice, though I would of rather went back to Belize.
  10. ok back on track. Excursions. You have the opportunity to buy excursions so we had 4 ports. You can buy an excursion through carnival or you can wait til you get to the destination to get an excursion. Be careful not purchasing through carnival however because if something happens and you don’t make it back to the ship on time the ship will leave you and you’ll be stuck finding your way back to the States.
  11. I wish someone would have told me not to buy an  excursion at every port. As fun as they are they take away from shopping time and meeting the locals. I”m a writer so I’m kinda obsessed with humans. Also getting up early after not going to sleep til late can make for fussy kids,
  12. For all four excursions we did I think it totaled to around an extra $1,700 next time if we do four stops we’ll only do two excursions. I will say this snorkeling in Belize is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you should defiantly try it.
  13. Make sure if you purchase your excursions ahead of time (which I suggest because they come with discounts) that when you enter your room the first day you look for the envelope with them in them. They will be with our paper work on the desk. You will need your tickets for everything you purchased when you get to that destination so make sure you take them off the ship with you so you can be on time.
  14. The food is spectacular. If you’re in the dinning room we did my time dinning we could eat from 5:30-9:00pm we aren’t early dinner eaters so this worked out perfectly.  We made our reservation on our chat app and our table was always ready in about 10 minutes. So make sure you are dressed and ready to go when you are reserving your table. Once in the dinning room order more than one entre and appetizer I mean you are on vaca! As awesome as the dinning room in after day 4 my kids and myself were over it. We did the lindo buffet, pizza, five guys burgers etc. There are so many options. I didn’t do any of the restaurants you had to pay for, there really isn’t a need with the amount of food on the ship.
  15. Also make sure you leave room in your luggage to shop. I’m quite sure my luggage went from 60 pounds when I boarded to about 100 pounds from my purchases.
  16. Have cash, or your credit card most places took credit cards also when shopping. I would never suggest using a bank debit card when out of the country.

Carnival Cruise. Single Mom. Part 2

What to pack?  I mean come on packing for a cruise is just as important as getting on the ship. I can’t mention enough how important it is to reasearch.

  1. If you are going on a 7 or 8 day cruise you will need full size luggage. In my previous post I included the size luggage I packed.
  2. You will need multiple clothes best bet is to say plan on changing clothes it least twice a day, for us sometime we changed clothes 3 times just depending on what we were doing.
  3. make sure you take a light jacket it can be a bit chilly at times on the ship and depending on what time of year you leave and where you are leaving from it may be cooler leaving and coming back
  4. pack multiple swimsuits if you have them, swim trunks also
  5. flip flops, boat shoes, sneakers for excursions depending on what you’re doing.  heels for elegant night, or a comfortable casual sandals. You walk alot on the ship.
  6. please don’t forget your sunscreen regardless of your skin tone I promise you need sun screen
  7. I read that luggage can not exceed 50 pounds. I can’t speak for any other cruise line but carnival doesn’t weigh your luggage and i’m all but certain both my luggage weighed more than 50 pounds. so don’t stress and dress that but pack smart.
  8. oh back to the shoes how many pairs? well it depends on how much of a shoe geek you are. You know you will need black and brown shoes they go with everything. I packed 10 pairs of shoes. I honestly wore about 5 pair my whole 8 day cruise. My black and brown Birkenstocks sandals were my most worn shoes my entire trip
  9. If you don’t have reliable luggage go to walmart.com or you local Walmart. They have reasonable priced luggage that will last you years to come. I’ll make sure I post a pic of all the luggage we took.
  10. ziplock baggies I’m the queen of zip lock baggies. Its so easy to organize in them.  hair stuff, morning stuff, face stuff etc.
  11. Pack some type of motion sickness medicine. I brought dramamine for motion sickness from Walmart. I think it was around $4 a bottle, however we didn’t use any of it. Myself and my kiddos are dolphins and love water, and luckily we had no sea seasickness.
  12. pack a small first aid kit….trust me things happen
  13. pack a yetti cup with a lid, or if you’re like me the ozark trail cup from Walmart work just as well and they are easier on your pocket book, so if they come up missing you aren’t going to go ballistic 🙂 They offer free juice, water, and coffee on the ship. However the cups offered are small.. Pack your own cups so that you can carry them around and arent having to refill every 40 min
  14. What to pack for elegant night. I honesty I saw everything from prom dresses and tuxs, to sundresses and khaki and polos. It’s honestly up to how you’re feeling.
  15. If you are on a 7 to 8 day cruise you will have two elegant nights.
  16. Don’t forget a swimsuit cover up or two, If youre like me there were times I spent half of a day on the cruise ship in my swimsuit, and after excursions I shopped sometimes in my swimsuit, shorts, and birks.
  17. make sure everyone has a light weight water-resistant bag pack. You will need them for the first day of the cruise in case it takes a bit of time to get your luggage to your room. It took  our luggage about 4 hours after we boarded to get to our room.  You can pack your swim suits, cups, sunscreen and a light jacket in them and wear them on your back to carry with you.
  18. Your room has soap and shampoo however I packed my own soap and shampoo and conditioner just because i’m extremely particular about what I use.
  19. The luggage tags that you have to print are longer than regular luggage tags. I had read on the internet that a person had a mishap of just tapping their room tag on their luggage and it was raining the day they boarded and it destroyed their room tag and they didn’t get their luggage til the following day. So I used their method which they called “the redneck way for luggage tags” print the luggage tag, put it in a zip lock bag….or course I have zip lock bags :-)and zip tie them on your luggage. That way if it rains your room tag wont get destroyed. I’m also quite sure you can order large luggage tags…but hey this was extremely cost-effective.
  20. Makeup let me not forget for me, I did’t bring my mac makeup suitcase, cause thats honestly what it is. I packed some concealer, foundation, eyeliner, mascara, powder, lip gloss and liner. But honestly  I rarely ever wore any of it and by the time we left Belize my skin was 5 times darker than normal so my foundation wouldn’t have matched anyway.

Carnival Cruise. Single mom with 3 kids. Part one

Being a single mom I was stumped about what to do for spring break vacation with my 2 teenage sons and preteen daughter. We had been to Florida multiple times and although Disney and universal are fun you can only do them so many times. After asking on fb for advice the same answer came up multiple times. Go on a cruise. I was beyond hesitant. Going out of the country with just myself and my children, and next being on a boat and having to the on a time limit when we port. Ultimately I decided on a cruise. I figured if we hated it no big deal there will be plenty of other vacations. Let me just say this we loved it!

1. Research! Critics cruise is a good site, of course Pinterest, and nothing happens without Google!

2. Ask people that have been on cruises for advice! A lot of things you won’t think of they will.

3. Yes you can cruise with birth certificates instead of passports as long as you are leaving and coming back to the same USA port. However make sure the destinations you are going to allow it. I will say this passports are much easier, and a lot quicker to get through customs when debarking (well get to this process a bit later) keep in mind most passports have to be valid for it least 6 months

4. How to choose a room, and the ship. It really all depends on your needs. I googled best cruise ships for teens and the carnival vista was in the top 5. I read a ton of reviews and figured this was the ship we’d try. Plus where I’m located I’m 3 1/2 hours to Galveston TX and 3 1/2 hours to New Orleans LA. I choose the middle of the ship deck 6 not to low not to high. The lower the deck middle ship the less rocking. Do you want a balcony, ocean view or interior room? I get claustrophobic easily, I also love everything about the ocean so choosing a balcony was a no brainer for me.

5. Room size I was completely paranoid about fitting 4 of us in one balcony room. I had called after reading reviews we’d be cramped, about getting another adjoining room. Because the only rooms available were about 20 cabins down I wasn’t able to add another balcony room, if the second room has children and no one over 18 the room can only be separated by no more than 5 cabins. Well shit there goes that idea. So then I asked about the family harbor cabin, it was middle ship deck 2 and had more space, I called carnival and asked about the upgrade and they told me an extra $3,000 yes that right not $300 but $3,000. I told them I’d call them back tomorrow to see if the room was still available. In the mist of that 24 hours I was talking to one of my associates who cruises often. She was like “why would you pay an extra $3,000 for just a bit more space you will hardly ever be on your room. Save that money for shopping.” She has caught my attention with the words “more money to shop.” If you know me you know I’m a minimalist, however I like quality and authenticity which the majority of the time equates to a higher price tag.

4. The balcony room was more than enough space for us. Keep in mind both my teenagers are males and my preteen is 12 and she doesn’t live in the bathroom just yet. Idk if I would have chosen this room if the genders had been reversed. The couch turned into a twin bed, there was a twin bed that dropped from the ceiling that my daughter slept on and two other twin beds. So we all had our own beds to sleep on. My sons kept their clothing in their luggage and it fit under the bed. They both have 28 inch suitcases. My daughter has her hard shell 24 inch luggage and I packed my hard shell 24 and 28 inch luggage. My daughter kept the majority of her clothing in her luggage and we got her luggage upright under the counter desk in the room. I unpacked both of my luggage and hung them in them in the 3 closets and used the drawers. Then put my empty luggage in the two hanging closets.

5. Yes I will go into what to pack in my next blog. Kind of a little backwards I know but hey…my blog is called imperfect-me for a reason.