5 Reasons Why I Love My Husband

Marriage is one hell of a compromise, sometimes we have to give a little to get a little in order to get through certain disagreements that being in a relationship inevitably brings. I sometimes forget that I have a good man, a great man even; and admittedly I sometimes tend to take him for granted, but in the spirit of Valentine’s Day I cannot think of a better time to let both him and the World know how much I love, respect, adore and appreciate him.

1. He is Reliable

He is not the take out the garbage kind of reliable. Lord knows that there are too many times that I have to drag the garbage out myself on the night before Sanitation comes since my husband always forgets garbage day but he’s the kind of the mortgage is due on the 5th and it will get paid reliable. I can count on him for the big things, the important things.

Greg has a saying, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll wrap my arms around the situation and take care of it.”

The first time I heard those words from him was 3 months into our dating. I was faced with a seemingly daunting situation. Said situation had nothing to do with Greg. I was just sharing my plight with him since he was my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t expect him to fix it. I didn’t expect him to even assist me in any way. Greg saw it differently though. He didn’t like to see me sad or worried and he said as much. He told me he “would wrap his arms around the situation and take care of it” and he certainly did, much to my surprise and pleasure.

To this day, 6 years later, he still says those words to me, big problem – leaky roof; or minor problem – slow leak in my tire. Greg is always willing and ready to wrap his arms around any and all problems and fix it.

2. He Loves My Son

When I met Greg I had been divorced from my first husband for 9 years and was raising my son alone. Don’t get me wrong, my Ex was/is still very much a part of my son’s life but the reality is that he is a weekend Dad, more like an every other weekend Dad, so the bulk of the responsibility of rearing Blake, my son, fell solely on me.

The middle of the night fevers was all me. Teaching my son how to read and doing school projects with him was all me. Schlepping him back and forth to all his activities, which over the years included soccer, baseball, piano, Tae Kwon Do, the flute, football and swimming lessons all me. So Blake and I became a little team since it was just me and him for as long as I can remember. Like every parent, I love my child, therefore, my main concern with dating as a single parent was if you can’t love my child then we can’t date. We, Blake and I, came as a package deal, there is no having me if you can’t accept him.

When I split from Blake’s dad, you can read all about it here 5 Lessons I Learned from my Divorce, Blake was only a year old. I started dating again when Blake was barely 2 and I had the unfortunate experience of coming across men who didn’t care to hear me talk about my son, much less want to meet him, or didn’t understand when I had to cancel a date because I couldn’t find a babysitter.

I had a policy that I never wanted to date men who didn’t have any children of their own because they wouldn’t understand my obligation to my child so I was hesitant when I met childless Greg. Surely, he wouldn’t get it either; but what a pleasant surprise Greg proved to be when just a month into dating he suggested that the 3 of us hang out on a Saturday afternoon because he wanted to meet this Blake that I talked incessantly about.

Well, the rest they say is History, they bonded over skateboarding and watching WWE wrestling, and when Greg suggested that I allow Blake to stay up past his bedtime on weekends and I actually complied that was when Greg became almost God-like in Blake’s eyes. It didn’t take Blake very long to figure out that if he needed something from me it might be best to go through Greg first since it might increase his chances of getting what he wants.

The first time I heard Greg refer to Blake as “our son” I melted. I knew right then and there that he was a keeper.

3. He’s My Biggest Fan

Greg believes that I am “all that and a bag of chips”. Like seriously, this guy thinks that not only am I great but that I can do anything. He never ever doubts me, even when I doubt myself. I once read somewhere that if one person sees you as succeeding then you will succeed. Well, Greg is my one person.

During my seemingly endless dating years, I remember wishing for that one guy that would love me for me, with all my imperfections and idiosyncrasies. Someone who, no matter my shortcomings, would be able to accept me. Everyone seemed so judgmental and was looking for perfection, despite not being perfect themselves. I am oh so thankful that my husband doesn’t judge me and accepts our differences.

Greg doesn’t dim my light, he supports and encourages me. I remember waking up last year and out of nowhere told him I wanted to write a book but I needed to start writing a Blog first in order to hone my writing skills and build my voice. Despite having zero writing experience and publications Greg was excited for me and truly believes that I possess the talent to one day write a New York Times Bestseller. As I procrastinated, Greg would ask me every day had I started writing my Blog yet.

I have never had a partner that wanted me to shine as much as Greg. He sees my talents as limitless and that makes me believe in myself.

4. I Like How He Treats Others

Greg is so nice. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have wonderful things to say about him. When you first meet a man or a woman, listen to the way their own people talk about them. Greg is loved and I saw that quickly when he was among his co-workers and his friends. People like him and respect him.

A few months into dating, Greg and I were in a building looking for a specific office, we came across the Janitor and I will never forget the manner in which Greg spoke to him. He addressed the Janitor as “Sir” and was so respectful in his ensuing conversation with him. I think that was when I started falling for him.

I once went on a date with a guy who yelled at our waiter. The waiter had made an obvious mistake but being talked down to by my date was uncalled for. On the way home, we argued about the way in which he spoke to the waiter, that was the decline of “our getting to know each other” phase. How you treat others, especially those who might be lesser off than you, speak volumes about who you are.

I have always been delighted with the manner in which Greg talks to and interacts with everyone, be it the janitor, or the crossing guard, or the housekeeper; Greg is always kind and respectful.

5. He is Eye Candy

You know how sometimes you meet a guy or gal and they have such amazing personalities but they might not be physically your ideal but you’ll date them anyway because they are so sweet. Thankfully, I didn’t need to settle on physicality with Greg. I am very attracted to my husband.

At our wedding, we wrote and spoke our own vows to each other, I remember saying how very attractive I am to Greg and then mentioning that I never get tired of seeing him naked – I had all our guests in stitches – Poor Greg blushed so hard he turned visibly red…Well, I can safely say 6 years later I still like to see him naked. 😉

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Greg! I know this blog post will surprise you.

MILF

“Mr. Pannell asked me to participate in your school’s career day.”

“Noooooooo!” said my 15-year-old son. He was visibly annoyed.

“Why not? I want to do it.”

“Mom, no! I’ll talk to Mr. Pannell in the morning.”

“No, you’re not gonna talk to anyone because it’s something I want to….” My son cuts me off abruptly.

“Do you know that you’re a meme in my school?”

“What? A what?” I was a little confused.

Blake was getting more annoyed by the moment. “You do know what a meme is, don’t you?” He said while rolling his eyes.

“Of course I know what a meme is. How am I a meme? That doesn’t even make sense.”

He sighed, “All my friends think you’re hot. You’re like the Mom with the body. I don’t want you around my friends.”

“Well, aren’t you happy you have a hot Mom? I mean…” I trailed off as he interrupts me again.

“No, I don’t! No!” with that final statement my 15-year-old walks away.

I’m left standing there a bit befuddled thinking to myself, “What just happened? Is this kid for real?”

This was a conversation that took place last week between me and my 15-year-old son, Blake, who attends an all-boys private school. A few days later I posted the conversation on Facebook as my status update and my friends, for the most part, were amused, and to tell you the truth I am a little amused by the entire thing myself. My Facebook friends, who are all people I know in real life, most of them even know Blake personally, started to weigh in on whether or not I should participate in Career Day.

The opinions were split down the middle, 50% who gave their point of view believe I should adhere to Blake’s wishes and not participate in Career Day, some of which were my male friends indicating that I just wouldn’t understand since I am not driven by testosterone and raging hormones. The other 50% were of the opinion that Blake will always have to deal with his “Mama being hot” so I should indeed attend and Blake will just have to get over it.

My take on the matter is that I should go, for several reasons, the main one being that I can motivate and inspire by giving a talk to young, impressionable minds on the benefits of entering the legal profession. These days we never know where someone’s inspiration can come from and I think it would be a wonderful thing if I am able to reach even one student and inspire said student to one day apply to Law School.

I mean, to this day, I remember the lawyer I met while I was in high school that made me want to become an attorney. Well, I didn’t really “meet” her, she was in the bank conducting business, where I was waiting on my father while he too conducted business in the same bank. This woman was striking and fierce, as I eavesdropped on her conversation with the banker, I realized that she was a lawyer. She was well-spoken and polished, and she had the bank employees eating out of the palm of her hands. She had a commanding presence, and I remember thinking, “Damn, I wanna be like her when I grow up.” 😃 That was the moment when the seed of becoming a lawyer was planted into my brain. Obviously, there were several other circumstances, over the course of the following years, that made my determination to become an attorney a growing ambition but it started in the Cross Roads Branch of the National Commercial Bank in Jamaica.

I get it, teenagers are going to ogle. Blake is uncomfortable with his friends ogling. He probably ogles his friends’ moms too. It’s life, maybe even a rite of passage for teenage boys, if you will. I don’t know – I have never been a teenage boy – but what I do know is that Blake needs to get over himself and stop telling me what to do. As it stands, I am forbidden from attending his basketball games because his friends “look at me and talk about me”. Really?! My son plays Center for the Junior Varsity team for his school and I am so proud of him for even making the team and now I am not permitted to go cheer him on because he is “uncomfortable”. Mind you, my husband is allowed to attend the games but I cannot.

I have gotten to the point where I want to tell my 15-year-old to get over himself and his discomfort. My patience is wearing thin with him and this foolishness. I will respect his stance on the basketball games (even though I did sneak into one of the games a couple of weeks ago) because it is a mere social activity, but I was invited by a faculty member to participate in Career Day and I think it is very important that I attend.

One of my very good friends from Law School, a male, has been advocating for Blake all week. He has even sent me private messages saying I should sit this one out. He totally understands Blake’s “plight” since he “was once a teenager with a hot Mom too”. He says it “can be a lot for a young man to deal with”. My response to that is the fact that I have to sit out the basketball games and now he wants me to sit out Career Day, it would seem as if Blake wants me to sit out the remainder of his teenage years. My former Law School buddy promises that “it will get better” as Blake “matures”; but what if it doesn’t? Should I really wait for Blake to get over his “discomfort”? His teenage years will be over in the blink of an eye. He’ll be going off to University in just 2.5 more years. Am I to miss out on the limited time I have left with him, as my child in my house, because of such unbelievable nonsense?

I asked my husband, Greg, the neutral party and always the go-between for me and Blake, what he thought of the entire situation. He supports my perspective and thinks Blake should learn to start properly handling the situation instead of giving his friends too much of a voice. Greg states that in years to come when Blake’s buddies are all adults, he will still have friends that ogle me because some dudes are just “disrespectful” like that and Blake needs to learn as early as possible how to handle those “friends”, the sooner he learns, the better. Blake’s advocate disagrees with Greg and believes “friendships are important at any age, that life is never easy for teenage boys and young men, who go through a lot and are oftentimes told to put on a brave face and act tough because society expects them to”. According to my Law School buddy, what all young men need is “those they love to listen and understand their point of view”.

Now, I am at the point where I am going back and forth in my mind about this situation. I love my son, obviously, and want to make him happy, but for me, this shouldn’t even be a discussion. Like seriously, back in my day, my brother wouldn’t dare tell my mother not to show up to his school for Career Day, there wouldn’t have been a discussion. Hot mom or not.

According to my husband, the situation could be worse, the situation could have been such that he was being teased for having an unattractive mom. One that no one wanted to look at. Despite, the disagreement among my Facebook friends on the topic, the general consensus is that I ought to be “proud” that I am a hot Mom and that this is a “good” problem to have.

I have verbally agreed to participate in Career Day but I still haven’t handed in my formal notice of participation yet. Career Day isn’t until mid-March so I do have some time to think about it. I would love to hear your take on the matter. Should I go or not? What’d you think?

My Boy!

It’s that time of the year when we string the lights, decorate the tree, bake cookies, drink too much eggnog and overeat; but before we do all of that I’d like to first acknowledge the human who gave my life added purpose. My life always had meaning but I got a swift kick in the behind to make sure I do it right 15 years ago today when my obstetrician handed me a 10 lb bundle and said, “Here he is. What’d you think?”

Honestly, my first thought wasn’t, “Oh my gosh, he’s so precious. I’m in love.” Instead, my very first thought was, “Who’s baby is this? This kid doesn’t look like me. Why is he so light?”

I quickly got over the lack of resemblance when I took a closer look at the nose. Yep, he was mine alright, that nose is unmistakable. Blake didn’t scream or cry when he first got here, instead, he just stared, he actually seemed to look around the room, observing his new surroundings. Fifteen years later and by golly he still does the same thing, I’m always in awe when I watch him carefully observe his surroundings instead of just walking right in.

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My next thoughts as I held him was “What do I do now? What I am I supposed to do with him now?” Blake seemed to read my mind as he nuzzled against my chest and started searching, he found his food supply, latched on and went to town, pulling and sucking and feeding hungrily. Damn, that shit hurt!

It’s been 15 years and Blake’s appetite has not changed. He still has a voracious, healthy appetite. The kid will eat anything.

It’s astounding how much Blake’s current persona mirrors my labor experience. I was scheduled to deliver the baby on December 4th, which I thought was kind of cool since it was rapper Jay-Z’s birthday; but Blake had other plans and arrived at 12:06 am the next day. He was not to be rushed and to this day, he still does things on his own terms and refuses to be rushed or cajoled into anything, which can be both good and bad.

My labor was fairly painless, I had a surge of pain for a few minutes, called for the epidural, which I had initially thought I wouldn’t want since I always saw myself as an Amazonian natural labor type of girl but when that indescribable pain ripped through me and I wasn’t dilated enough to push I quickly called for the epidural in order to get some kind of relief. Honestly, the only pain I felt during labor wasn’t more than about 15 minutes but it was the longest 15 minutes of my life.

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Similarly, raising Blake, luckily, has been rather painless. Yeah, there are the usual ups and downs that come with parenting but thankfully he has made it relatively easy for me. The disappointments and WTF moments have been few and far between and for that, I am eternally gratefully.

Does he make me repeat myself too much? Sure! One day I decided to count how many times I had to tell him to clean his room before he actually cleaned it and it turned out to be 8 times, all of 8 times before I had to threaten him with the wrath of God in order to get him moving.

I am in sheer disbelief at how lazy my teenager can be. Like, seriously, how hard can it be to put your clothes in the laundry basket when you take them off instead of tossing them on the floor; and how many times do I have to tell my child to make his bed before he leaves for school in the mornings and for God’s sake why won’t he hang his wet towel back in the bathroom after he has used it instead of throwing it on his unmade bed?

The kid is as loving as he is lazy so even though I bitch at him to clean up after himself I still get all the hugs and kisses and “I love you” that I can handle despite him being at that age where it isn’t considered cool to do so.

It has been a tumultuous, loving, exasperating, sweet, mind-boggling and beautiful 15 years of motherhood. Blake was sent here to get me out of my comfort zone, the one where everything I did I got it right and was so self-assured and confident about all my endeavors. Motherhood has had me second guessing every decision I have ever made. Am I doing it properly? Am I getting it right? Am I too strict or am I too lenient? Should I impose a weekend bedtime or allow him to stay up as late as he wants as long as he gets all his homework done? Should I have the password to his phone? Or should I allow him his privacy?

It’s crazy that after all these years together, I am still not sure if my parenting method is correct. I figured by the time I got to child #2, I would have had it all figured out but it is obvious that child # 2 is not happening. Growing up I always thought I was going to have a few kids of my own, at least 3 or 4, but as faith would have it that was not in the cards. However, every day I thank my lucky stars that since I only got one I am thankful it’s this one. I couldn’t have picked a more ideal kid that compliments my own personality.

Blake is not perfect but he’s perfect for me. Happy Birthday to the biggest reality check I’ve ever experienced. The kid keeps me on my toes in a such a crazy, weird yet fantastic way. Not only do I love him but I like him too.

Here’s to Big Blake! My 6′ 2 15-year-old who makes me oh so proud to be his Mom.

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Remembering Jason

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September is a bittersweet month for me. Living in New York I love the change of the seasons that September brings, transitioning from hot and sticky to nice and cool, but not cold, is always a pleasure. September is also my birth month so it gives me an excuse to celebrate my life. However, as I celebrate my own life my mind also goes to my baby brother, Jason, who died unexpectedly on September 10, 2012, just a month shy of his 29th birthday.

When my cell phone rang at 1 o clock that afternoon and I saw my Mom’s number on my phone screen I got an inexplicable eerie feeling. I had just talked to both my parents, who lived in Jamaica, earlier that morning so why was my Mom calling again?

I answered my phone, I recognized my Aunt’s voice. My Mom’s phone but not my Mom on the other end of the line, the eerie feeling grew and I pulled over, something told me I shouldn’t keep driving.

“Jason is dead.”

“What?” I was certain I hadn’t heard properly.

“Racquel, I’m so sorry! Your Mom just came home and found Jason dead.”

“What’d you mean by dead?” Suddenly, I didn’t know what the word meant and I was sure my Aunt didn’t know what she was talking about. “Let me talk to Mommy please.” I refused to believe what I was hearing.” I started shouting. “Where is Mommy? Lemme talk to my mother!”

My mother came to the phone and she was belligerent with grief. I couldn’t understand much of what she was saying because what she was doing wasn’t even crying, she was howling. Howling in pain and disbelief.

What I do remember is that I hung up the phone and immediately called my father, who had just heard the news and was racing home from work. He instructed me to call my other brother, who lived on the other side of the World, and I did.

I drove straight to my son’s school, Blake was in the 4th grade at the time, I signed him out of school and while we drove home I was sighing so much, he kept asking me what was wrong but I had no idea how to tell him. Blake had only just gotten back from Jamaica the week before, where he used to spend all his Summers; and he was extremely close to his Uncle Jason.

In the days that followed; the autopsy report revealed that Jason was born with a heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which led to his sudden death. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy otherwise known as Cardiomegaly is a condition where one has an enlarged heart. Apparently, Jason was born with this genetic condition so as he got older, his heart grew and grew and grew and kept growing to the point where his heart got too big; so big that the heart could no longer work effectively or efficiently and one day it just stopped. Jason’s death was just as simple and uncomplicated as that. A simple death for a simple, uncomplicated life.

None of us knew that Jason had this heart condition because he was never sick. For the entire 28 years that he lived, he was physically healthy. My Mom does recall that in the weeks leading up to his sudden death he had complained a few times about being extremely tired. She would suggest that he get some more rest, that perhaps he was doing too much. Maybe he needed a vacation, some rest and relaxation; but his complaints were never serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor.

The fact that Jason died of an enlarged heart is ironic because he really did have a big heart. He was one of the kindest, most compassionate people I knew. During his short life he gave and gave; of his time, his possessions, his love, his money; just about everything. Have you ever heard the saying “kind to a fault”? That was Jason! So incredibly kind and always doing for others without any expectation of anything in return and it was no big deal for him to inconvenience himself to make others comfortable. He was as affectionate as he was compassionate and I am not ashamed to say that of my mother’s 3 children he was the most loving.

This year on the Anniversary of Jason’s death I lit a candle in his honor, it’s not something I had ever done before, and I am not even sure why I did it but it’s just something I felt like doing. I lit the candle and what I did afterward was weird, at least for me it was – I spoke to him. Yes, I spoke to Jason as if he was seated right next to me. I was alone at home at the time and I thought to myself what if I heard a voice answer back. What would I do? Then I thought to myself I wouldn’t even be scared because Jason was so harmless in life he would certainly be harmless in death. Then I thought to myself why are we so afraid of the dead?

Jason didn’t respond as I spoke to him, not that I expected him to. Also, there were no signs that he heard me; the curtains didn’t mysteriously blow through a windless window, no chairs moved, or a radio or TV didn’t suddenly turn on by itself but I got a sense of inexplicable peace, almost as if he heard me. Yeah, weird…I know!

I don’t know what happens to people when they die, and I have no theory or beliefs on the subject but the sense of peace I felt from having a one-way conversation with my dead brother was one I have never really felt before and his memory have not left me for weeks thereafter.

I find myself thinking about him endlessly, thinking about the fact that he loved music and he used to blast Linkin Park all the time. One of his weekly rituals was to head out to a music store and pick up CDs. It was his thing, he wasn’t much of a singer and I’ve never seen him dance but he still loved his music.

He was also into astrology and had an unbelievable knack of remembering everyone’s birthday – everyone’s. You only needed to tell him your birthday once and he’d never ever forget it. He enjoyed analyzing someone’s personality based on their zodiac sign. It was just something he got a kick out of. When he passed away I couldn’t believe how many books I found on astrology as I cleaned out his bedroom.

Jason also enjoyed having conversations with people who were much older than him, he would sit and talk to my grandmother for hours. He visited with her regularly and she loved it. The young usually don’t have much patience for the elderly but Jason sure did.

It’s hard to believe that it has been 6 years since I last heard his voice, 6 years since he left us so unexpectedly. It’s so hard to come to terms with the fact that your own life actually moves on even when someone you love doesn’t exist anymore. It makes you wonder where they are and what exactly is going on with them? Sometimes memories of him come to me out of the blue and I smile.

Jason was a good kid. My only regret is that being 10 years older than he was, I didn’t spend as much time with him in his teenage years, as I would have liked to, I was out of the house and away at College when he was experiencing those awkward teenage years. When I was around I did try to be a good big sister though, and I only hope that in his last moments, as his entire life flashed before his eyes, he remembers me as such.

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Jason: October 7, 1983 – September 10, 2012