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The Beginning…My Choice

Last year, in 2009, I wrote my first children’s book, entitled, "My Choice".  In the book "My Choice", Joseph comes to his mother asking for help because he finds himself always feeling sad and angry because his father doesn’t come to see him anymore.  He doesn’t know what to do about the feelings he’s having.

Joseph’s mother empowers him by telling him about the "power of choice" he possesses.  With this new information, he realizes that he can still love his father, speak good things about him and still be happy, despite the fact that he doesn’t like, understand or agree with his father’s choices.  Everyone possesses the "power of choice", but it’s up to them to utilize it.  The story is written from Joseph’s perspective to help other children grappling with the same emotions.

This book is very near and dear to my heart because "Joseph" is my son.

The relationship between Joseph’s father and I was built upon a very shaky foundation, so it was bound to collapse.  But being in the moment, at that time, I truly believed it could work.  About two years ago, we had a huge argument in front of Joseph, which made Joseph upset.  I knew at that point, I never wanted to see that happen again.  The relationship was becoming toxic.  I wasn’t happy.  I held on longer than I should have because my father was there for me my whole life and still is.  I wanted that for Joseph too, however, I told Joseph’s father that in order for us to be able to stay friends, as well as have an emotionally healthy relationship, it would be a good idea for us to co-parent Joseph the best way we knew how.  I told him I wasn’t happy anymore and I needed to be alone for awhile as well as seek healing for some old wounds that I had carried into our relationship.  After that fateful conversation, I didn’t hear from him for four months.  Joseph started asking me about where his father was and he would run the the door when the doorbell rang expecting it to be him. 
I found out from a perfect stranger that his father had been living in the same city the whole time, however, he made no effort to come and see his son.  At that point I was consumed by  rage, disgust, anger, bitterness…you name it.  As of today’s date, it has been well over a year since Joseph has talked to or seen his father.

I had heard about the harmful repercussions of speaking disparaging words about a child’s father in front of the child.  So I NEVER did that.  However, if my son was in the room and somebody said something nice about his father, I would remain silent, because I couldn’t think of anything nice to say.  Or, if somebody said Joseph looked just like his dad, I would say, “No he doesn’t.  He looks like me.” 

There was a picture of Joseph’s father that I had hanging on the wall and I took it down!   Then my sister told me, children can pick up nonverbal cues about what you’re feeling.  He’s observing what you’re NOT saying about his father.   That is so true because one day, I found

the picture I had taken down, tacked back up on the wall.  Joseph had put it there!

This was eye opening for me, I realized that I was too consumed by anger.  I knew that I wanted to deal with this situation in a positive way however, I was still so mad, I couldn’t think of anything positive to say about Joseph’s father.  I just couldn’t find the words.  But I couldn’t allow this whole thing to take me out.   My child was watching me. I HAD TO find the words to talk to my son about his father not being around.  I searched for children’s books about absentee fathers on the internet.  However, I couldn’t find anything that fit our particular situation.  There was a book about a child dealing with divorce.   There was one where the parents weren’t living together anymore but those two situations didn’t address what happened in Joseph’s case.

So I just started reading everything I could get my hands on.  For starters, “The Complete Single Mother” by Dr. Leah Klungness & Andrea Engber.  Since, by all appearances, I had to start thinking like a single parent, I needed to hear from other single mothers that raised their kids “successfully” on their own.  I could not look to my own mother because she had my father and my mother’s mother had her husband to help raise my mother.  This book allowed me to look at being a M.O.M (Mother Outside of Marriage) as a beautiful thing.  It also allowed me to accept the situation I was in.  It didn’t have to be this shameful thing that society tends to label single motherhood as being.  There was even a “partnership with self” contract in the book that you could write out for yourself to encourage yourself as a single parent.  You don’t have to be the mother and father, but the best PARENT you can be.  This was the first positive step for me towards the direction of healing.  Before this book, I had never heard of single motherhood spoken of in this manner before. 

Next, I read "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama.  Politics aside, I’d say the President did pretty well for himself, even though his father wasn’t present for virtually his whole life.  I wanted to know how his mother handled that situation.  What did she say to Barack when he asked about his father?  One of the things that I walked away with after reading the book was the fact that his mother ALWAYS spoke good things about his father.  ALWAYS.   So I knew that’s what I needed to do too.

The next book I read was by Lisa Nichols called, "No Matter What".  She was a single mother of one son too.  She talked about how she handled the issues of her son’s father being absent in his life and how she had to find positive ways of explaining to her son about some of the choices his father was making that landed him in legal trouble.  It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.  She showed such dignity and grace.  Additionally, she still pursued her dreams in life.  That’s a wonderful action to model for your child. 

 Another book, I read was by Louise Hay, "I Can Do It – How to use affirmations to change your life".  She talks about how everyone always has the freedom to choose how they want to respond in any given situation.  For instance, nobody can “push” your buttons unless you allow them to do it.  They weren’t the ones who created those "buttons".  When it comes to forgiveness, it isn’t about the other person.  It’s about you.  It allows you to heal yourself  so that you can move on.  It doesn’t matter what the other person did.  Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.

With all of this new knowledge, awareness and healing, I was inspired to write a children’s book that would give mothers just like me a voice.  I wanted to give them positive encouraging words to help empower their children in a situation where their father is absent in their lives.  That’s when "My Choice" came to life. 

I believe "My Choice" will highlight the fact that an absentee father DOES NOT have to be a negative or a crutch that the child leans on all through life.  I’ve seen it happen so many times before when the child’s mother can’t get past what the father has done.  Believe me, I GET IT.  However justified you may be, we’ve got to be the leaders for our children and show them how to get past it.

My passion is to see this book get published and make sure it is available to as many inner city kids and libraries all over the country as possible.  Learning this new information opened my eyes and raised my level of awareness.  I feel so much better and empowered.  Joseph does too.  He is such a happy child.  I want to pass on what I’ve learned in a positive way. 

It is my opinion that if this information is given to children at an early age and it is reinforced, it will empower each child to learn how to “drive” their lives, and not let the circumstances of their lives, drive them. 

I launched an online fundraiser to help raise funds to get the book published and distributed around the country-check it out at:

**A word and thought, albeit a lengthy one, from the desk of your favorite authoress…


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