Eight years ago yesterday, I became Torie Diana Flanagan’s Mom.
That’s not entirely true — because as soon as I knew that I had my little one inside of me, our relationship began. First, I did a happy dance; next, I called my two closest girlfriends: Minerva and Denise; then once they pummeled me with questions, I panicked … “Oh God, what am I doing?”
I wasn’t rich by any measure during my “single” days living in Northern Virginia, but I would treat myself (and only myself) from time to time. I remember spending weekends at fancy hotels, such as the JW Marriott in D.C. with cushy terry cloth robes and pay per view movies and room service, spending online for RedEnvelope.com exclusive gifts and at Arlington, Va.’s Pentagon City Mall for one-of-a-kind Afrocentric items. But sometimes things would get tight financially, but I could deal with it for the most part. Having a child would change my whole life, but something said it was time for a change. So I held my breath and dove into mommyhood.
I’ve been told that I’m doing all the things with Torie that I wish my Mom had done with me. This year alone, we went to Museum Day, Franklin Institute, African-American Children’s Book Fair, Academy of Natural Sciences, Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary, Mount Airy Day, Boo at the Zoo, Philadelphia Science Festival, Philadelphia Book Festival, Trail of the Lorax — especially if it’s free — we are THERE. I treasure my limited time with Torie and want us to make memories.
I was able to do many things with my Aunt Doris, Mama (my grandmother) and Pop Pop. Just as Torie lives full time with her Aunt Carol and Cousin Mar, I lived with my aunt, grandmother and grandfather. They took me to see The Wiz and the Rockettes in New York City and the Nutcracker almost every holiday at the Academy of Music in Philly. We went on long autumn drives and out to fancy restaurants. My grandmother taught me how to sew and cook, while my grandfather patiently helped me learn how to ride a bike. I attended and was baptized at my grandmother’s Episcopal church, even though I attended Catholic school. They were there for me through everything: school bullies, school plays, detentions, puberty and my first crush.
When I disobeyed or told a lie, Mama would always say, “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you” before giving me a spanking. I didn’t understand it then, but I get it now as a Mom. It’s the disappointment that the person you’re bringing up to have the highest of values didn’t listen or comprehend what you’re trying to teach them … and that hurts your heart. That’s a deep hurt and worse pain than from any spanking.
I never knew that you could love one person so much until I had Torie. She’s my No. 1 and if that means we’re separated because my work hours are too late and she has to go to school in the morning, then so be it. I just keep repeating: “Everything is temporary.”
And I know that I’m blessed to have a family who can give me this ultimate in support with my beautiful daughter. And Torie knows how much I love her and that this arrangement is a sacrifice and not “party time” for Mommy. I pull all-nighters after work every Thursday (after midnight Friday really) and am in Philly by Friday morning. Then I pick Torie up from school in the afternoon and our weekend begins. Then I’m off no later than Sunday morning to head back to Northern Virginia and go straight to work from D.C.’s Union Station — so no sleep then. That’s why I’m called “Weekend Warrior Mom.” But I feel that a change is on the horizon and it’s going to be good for all of us.
I took off this past week from work so that I could be with Torie full time and I couldn’t be more proud of her. My new 8-year-old loves school, has friends and even her first crush. We talk daily and my sister Carol keeps me updated on the good, bad and the ugly that happen. I love hearing about Torie’s many antics during the week. All we have is now and I’m going to do my best with what I have RIGHT NOW. So she gets all my love and that of her Philly family — every single day. So no matter what our bank accounts say, I know that we’re rich with family and friends who have our backs.
In the spirit of this holiday season, I thank all of you for your support and love. Something good is coming for all of us — I just know it. But it won’t be the $550 million Powerball jackpot, because I see that was just won on tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri. Oh well.
***JUST FOR YOU***
Please check out these resources to find free and affordable events that are family-friendly in the Philadelphia area:
Free admission to Eastern State Penitentiary if you donate a book for a prisoner from Dec. 5-7, 2012.
Stag and Doe Nights are coming up on Wednesdays for discounted shopping at Chestnut Hill shops and Dickens Weekend is Dec. 8-9, 2012. There will be extended store hours, Dickens performances and family activities.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, the Center City District will hold Winterfest, a free festival at Sister Cities Park at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Next up on our agenda: Holiday lights shows. Ooh rah!