Category Archives: Relationships

The relationships category provides man to man advice to young men of color. There are topics and discussion that men need to discuss. This category provides a platform for that firm discussion.

Fatherhood: Blog 3 of 3

A police officer left a pink notice taped to the door of my grandmother’s house, it read,

“Robert L. Singleton was shot and killed yesterday, date, time, etc.”

My father was shot and killed when I was about 5 years old. There was no officer present to hug my relatives, no passing of a folded flag, just a pink notice taped to my grandmother’s front door.

My mom and I stayed in the East Falls projects in Philadelphia, PA. My father’s death was a catalyst for everyone stepping in to assist with my upbringing. I didn’t miss anything regarding my; instruction, examples, maturity and my well-being. There were dominate roles of masculinity that I identified and embodied. While I didn’t have a “father” around because of his death, I had all the examples of fatherhood all around me. My father wasn’t breaking the law, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and got shot by a police officer. In 1975, police sensitivity wasn’t an understood term, class or even a thought, especially regarding lives of black men. Interesting I guess in 2014 it’s much the same but I digress. I only have one memory of my father on or around Christmas. My mother was on his lap and they were laughing at me. I was playing with a colored wheel that turned and changed the color of the apartment interior.

Greg-MPM

Big Uncle Greg

I didn’t know my father’s side of the family until I was about 13 years old. My uncle Greg showed up at my mom’s house on Clearfield Street. I asked him, “Are you my father?” He laughed and said, “No” I guess I had been watching too many after school specials and he looked just like the only picture I had of my father. I thought he was my father come back into my life, dumb. I said I was 13 right. It’s weird because when my father was killed, my uncle Greg was the person that first saw the pink notice taped to the door.

I didn’t miss my father, I never knew him to miss him. My father’s absence wasn’t felt because I had so many strong examples of how to be a man in my life. I had my uncle Rusty and my uncle Greg that were the cornerstones of my masculinity. I had other uncles but these two were and are the men that helped define me. My grandfather was the patriarch of the family and he set the foundation but these two are the masons for the mortar. I see so much of them in me.

Big Rus...the original "Smitty"

Big Rus…the original “Smitty”

Throughout my life, I was taught to be a man.

Whether it was women, men, uncles, friends, I was taught at an early age to always work on being a better man. Growing up it’s easy to see the easy way out and take that route. I’m here to tell you, that’s nonsense, the easy way out doesn’t help you become a man. Try to do the right thing, be responsible, tell the truth, stay out of trouble and define yourself by learning from the good examples around you. I learned early, watch people who are smart, positive, and good…then copy them! Success at anything you do will come if you start with being positive and doing good.

I’m not a father but the last single purpose left in my life is to be a husband and father. Most of my closest friends share the same goal as I. My friends have children and I see the change in them through that blessing. One of my closest friends, Derrick continually says, “I want that for you man, you deserve it.” He has three now, two of them are my God-children.

Derrick, Cyrus

Derrick, Cyrus

Derrick, Cyrus

Derrick, Cyrus

Riley, Derrick, Jacob

Riley, Derrick, Jacob

 

Most, if not, all of us were raised without fathers and we had this aligned goal of never fathering a child without being present in that child’s life. I see it in all my friends as fathers, subtle and overwhelming, serious and hilarious. One time I was talking to my friend Terry and he tells me to hold on, then I hear him and his daughter, Autumn say “Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”.  He does this thing with letting the car drift on a certain block with a big hill. It’s hilarious to envision this 6’1′ dude being a big kid with his daughter.

Terry and Asia

Terry and Asya

Terry and Autumn

Terry and Autumn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Luke leading the Halloween parade and hearing the pride of Lydell, his father are those moments that best capture fatherhood.

Lydell and Luke

Lydell and Luke

It fills me with envy and happiness at the same time.

 

 

 

Adrian and son

Adrian and son

 

 

 

Bernard and Kirsten

Bernard and Kirsten

 

There are no thugs in these pictures, no criminals, no drug dealers, no dead beat dads, and no “baby daddy’s”. Yes, there are some men that are not married to the mothers of their children but they are NOT baby daddys. Baby daddy are these guys that I classify as the guy that inseminates a woman(gets her pregnant), and leaves her to raise a child on her own, unassisted. The men in these pictures, ALL these pictures, are fathers that are involved with their children lives. Fathers; visit with teachers, help with homework, attend college tours, share custody, take them on proms, give them birthday parties, take them to college and attend parent teacher conferences. These men made good choices as young men and have the ability to be leaders of their families.

I just visited my “brother” Tracey, yesterday, who has a 6 week old. I arranged to stop over to buy books from his entertainment company, LLeft. I really wanted to see the new addition to the family, his newborn, Tanner. I spent the last 6 weeks sharing the joy of their newborn through he and his wife’s, Facebook posts. Tanner is the reason I wrote the three blogs about family, brotherhood and fatherhood. It inspired me to write about these core things in my life. So this is dedicated the “heiress” Tanner Lorin Lee and to that moment that a man becomes a father and he no longer lives selfishly. He lives to raise a child to be better than him. The act of pouring  everything you are into this little person that you created.

Yesterday I asked Tracey “What does it feel like to be a father? What word would you use to describe the feeling?”

He simply stated it’s “unimaginable, euphoric”.

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Tracey Lee & Tanner Lorin Lee

MPM

“Children are one-third of our population and all of our future.”

~Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

“Children are our most valuable resource.”

-Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. president

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
Robert A. Heinlein

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Brotherhood: Blog 2 of 3

When I decided to blog about brotherhood, I immediately thought of my Girard College brothers. I didn’t think about my relatives. I actually have three blood brothers. When I was about 12 years old, I found out I had two brothers on my fathers’ side. Previous to that day, I only knew my one brother from my mother. One of them, Russell is like my twin, we share the same taste in women, and wear similar style clothes, it’s crazy. I wasn’t close with him growing up, I never knew him but I realized how similar we were the more we talked and hung out. I love him, I love all my brothers equally but again, when I hear the word brotherhood I don’t think of them immediately.

Let me explain, around the same time or a little after I was introduced to my father’s side of the family, my mother enrolled me in Girard College. Girard or GC is not a fraternity or club, it’s a parochial boarding school for “orphaned” boys or “broken families”. The school takes in children from 1st to 12th grade. My father was deceased so that classified me in the ‘broken family’ category. I enrolled in GC about 1982, it was an all male school then.

 

Derrick and Damon

Derrick and Damon

I’ve laughed and cried with these guys. The bond to our class  is nothing like anything else in my life. As kids we grew to be very protective of each other. We had our own little niches with nerdy, cool, jocks, artsy types but they were OUR brothers and nobody breach that bond. Yes we had some odd types, but they were our odd types and if you mess with one of us you had to deal with all of us. That was and still is the way we are, protective of each other and unified. It’s like a frat but it’s deeper, I know their mothers, secrets, flaws, and without question or hesitation, would come in a minute if anyone of them called.

Chuck and A

Chuck and A

I’m so happy for the success of my brothers. I’m happy with the women they chose to be their wives. Yes, we now have a few sisters(wives) that have become family…Alicia, Jennaye, Jen, Jenn S., Lori, Khaleen, and Christina. Another “sister” of ours, Jill Scott gave us a shout out on her first album. Check it out if you don’t believe me.

 

Lydell, Terry, Chuck and Doug

Lydell, Doug, Terry and Chuck

When I attended Girard College, I didn’t know that this brotherhood would transcend into my adult life. On Fridays, I drive to Rockville and hang with one of my brothers Derrick and his lady Nile. We play Uno with her sisters Elan and Reigna and their husbands, Adrian and Troy and it’s like family.  I had no idea that at 13 years old I would have these same friends into my 40’s.

Doug, Mike, Terry

Doug, Mike, Terry

Looking back I can remember instances where my brothers would just show up for me. I had a cookout in Annandale, Va, and these brothers drove from NY and Philly to attend. I drove to Philly to run a 5K to support Doug and his wife, Jennaye. He called me a week before and he told me why, I was already checking my calendar because I knew I was going, and I’ll be there next year. It’s just not even a thought. Looking back over the decades I witnessed my happiest times with all these brothers.

Lydell and Casey

Lydell and Casey

These brothers of mine are trend setters, we don’t follow anyone. You won’t find the typical stereotypes among our ranks.  Paul is running a successful restaurant and bar, National Mechanics. Gavin, previously a district attorney, living large in NY. Joe B. became a psychologist, Adrian living in Amsterdam working for Nike, Devon and Lydell are both doctors, who previously owned their own practice. Casey a successful barber, promoter and husband. Chuck is doing his thing as a personal trainer, Tracey is the ONLY rapper that earned a law degree, how sick is that?! Joe became an attorney and President of the Girard College alumni association.

Mike and Alicia...best wedding reception. Our first sister.

Mike and Alicia…best wedding reception. Our first sister.

When Mike posted his picture of his classroom on his Facebook page I was so proud of him. Andre is publishing his 4th book, how crazy is that? Just to see it from the beginning, from 1982 until now, witnessing the evolution of men, pushing each other and sharing all of our success. All my brothers from the class of 1988. Are you kidding me?! In our class alone there are 3 lawyers, a psychologist, 2 doctors, a published writer, an engineer, all from one class. Twenty or thirty brothers and not one of us in jail, what are the odds of that?! What positive stereotype can you find in this group of men?

Terry, Casey and JoeThere are other brothers that are not in my class that may not have even gone to Girard but still cut from that same cloth that I hold dear, Bernard, Joe R., Tony S., Estes, Terry, Kenny, Mark and especially Paul B. I can’t name them all but make no mistake, we are brothers.

The gang

I couldn’t have a better blessing of influence. I never knew and you will never know how your life will evolve and what brothers will remain in your life. The key thing is that YOU may be that man who people depend on, seek advice from, or just be there when you need them.

Devon

Devon

Our society places value on what’s unimportant, brotherhood is important. Whether it’s fraternal or a group, find yourself some positive brothers that are better than you. It will help you grow and mature.  It helps you understand your core self. It helps you align with people who are moving upwards. All these guys are better than me in some way, and I use their abilities to get better. The people who challenge and push you are not always the people who want to see you fail. At times, I can hear these dudes in my head guiding me; Terry, Doug, Devon and Derrick, that extra conscious when I’m making decisions.

Bernard

Bernard

These are the people who see your potential and know you better than you know yourself. These brothers will be the ones that you think of when “brotherhood” comes to mind.We have a competitive spirit that continually makes us all cohesively better. I credit Girard for that. Girard staff and instructors prepared us all for life. Nothing was sugar-coated and it galvanized our class. It bonded us for the rest of our lives.

Estes and me

Estes and me

Just because you don’t know you father or he’s not a good influence doesn’t indicate that’s how you’ll be as a father. Of these men who are fathers, are great fathers…something most of us didn’t have. As I said, we share a common desire to give our children something we didn’t have a GREAT father. I’ll share my thoughts on my next blog, Fatherhood: 3 of 3.
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Proverbs 27:17 “So as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpen another.”

 MPM

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Family: Blog 1 of 3

As I grew up I never really had a secure definition of family. I have three brothers and one sister, all with different parents. There’s no one mother and one father in the equation. I’m closest with my brother from another mother.

Russell and me

Russell and me

Funny how it just happened that way.

As a child I didn’t identify the labels and titles that are put on families today.  I didn’t know what a single parent household was, blended families, dual parenting, divorced, stay at home dad, single father, widowed, orphaned family, etc. If these titles did exist I was unaware and it didn’t matter. I didn’t need a legal guardian because someone was always watching over me. They may have been a blood relative but just as easily not related.

I did go through this temporary stage where I thought that in some way I was less than the other traditional families. It didn’t last long because I had so many caring people around me that it didn’t matter. I mean I’ve had co-workers that loved me deeper than I could ever overlook. My “aunts’ from the OHA Office of Hearings and Appeals in Baltimore, MD. Diane, Karen, Judy, Vernice, Terron, all of them, they aided my navigation through college; women, money, career, you name it…they were there. They were and still are extended family. There was never a void of love and caring in my life. My mother, grandfather, uncles, even friends were a huge part of my definition of family. I’ve been a part of many extended families in my life. I’ve learned to look at the best of the extended  families and exemplify them in my life. The roles that I’ve been exposed to have had a huge impact on me and my decisions. As I matured I grew desiring what I didn’t have…the nucleus of family; husband, wife, grandparents, kids, dog, etc.  I don’t like the whole half-person, step-something, titles. This not what I choose for my family, I don’t agree with the media projection of the “modern family”. This is the norm now, perpendicular to what I want for my family.

I don’t want half and step children in my family. It’s a little archaic but that’s what I want. My dating preference has been predicated on dating a woman without children. Equally, I want to be the full package to my wife; not my girlfriend or baby momma, my wife. I will be the husband, father, uncle, God-father that I’ve seen in my life. I’ve gathered all those roles and made them into one role for me. What I didn’t have as a child, I desperately want for my children, that selfish commitment to my family. I think that’s the goal of a parent…making sure your children are better off than you. You can keep those negative black male stereotypes, I want to remind people what’s possible through my example. Sounds kinda arrogant but why follow a negative trend. I never liked stereotypes, especially about family.

Family is your beginning, it’s your nucleus.

Favorite picture

Favorite picture

It’s not the people who support you when you are doing wrong. It’s the people who try to stop you or talk you out of doing wrong. It’s not the friend that’s around when you have a new car…it’s the person catching the bus with you. Family is not the people who are your relatives, it’s the people who really know who you are. They can detect when something is wrong, they know when you’re not happy. It’s not always the people who raised you but it’s the people who love you. I have friends that are not related to me but I have a deeper bond to them than some of my family members.

I pursue the traditional family that I’ve wanted around me. I’ve learned that family is what you make it. That’s my message…just because your environment has been fractured or inconsistent, it doesn’t mean the family you start has to be dysfunctional or flawed.

download_002My mother had me enrolled in Girard College, a school for boys when I was about 13 years old. Attending GC was the biggest catalyst for success in my life. It affected everything exponentially in my life. Girard or GC is a boarding school and I lived on campus with 30 other classmates. I enrolled in Girard when I was in 7th grade, and when you live with that many “brothers” for five years, you are family. Attending Girard College and graduating with the great class of ’88 changed my life. I didn’t know I would inherit all the families of my graduating class. So my family identity encompasses many families…but I’ll address that in my next blog: Brotherhood: 2 of 3

MPM

“Family is the most important thing in the world.”  Princess Diana

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How to be the best father you could be.

Father’s day just recently passed and I got a taste of being a father. This weekend my girlfriend and I baby sat the baby “Zoe”.

ZoeSmiling

the happy baby Zoe

Zoe is one of the best babies I’ve ever watched, she is a “happy baby” as my grandmother would say. Vanessa and Myles were home packing and my girlfriend volunteered us for duty.

ZoeCarm

Zoe and the person responsible for her kidnapping

During the brief time we had her, I started to think what kind of father would I be. I started to reflect on the best habits or traits I like about myself. Then I started to think about the traits that could need some improving, wooo.

When I thought more about it…the characteristics I reflected on were not originally my habits. Most, if not all, my habits or traits came from someone else.  What I mean is, throughout my life, I’ve come across men AND women who exuded positive traits that had a huge impression on me. My father was killed when I was about 2 years old and my grandfather and uncles step in to help my mother out. My mother was 18 and a high school graduate when she gave birth to my big head, that was a feat within itself. In the 70’s being a single mom wasn’t something to be proud of, luckily for me, the family nucleus was still intact.

I’ve heard stories about my father from uncles. I’m not going to say the stories were always good, I’ll just say I hope I don’t inherit some of my paternal attributes. The most influential people in my life were my mom, my pop pop(grandfather) and my uncles Rusty and Greg. They were the people who spoke to me the most. They spoke to me in words and in their actions. My uncle Rusty on my mother’s side (Voshell R. Smith) spoke the least but I followed his every move. He doesn’t smoke, drink, nothing. Everybody else in the family had some small “influence” not to the level of seeking counseling but most family members partook of the vices of purgatory.  Funny. My uncle Greg (Gregory Singleton) on my father’s side was very similar my uncle Rusty no bad habits, no drinking, smoking, nothing.

Greg-MPM

My Uncle Greg and I in Bermuda

Both in the military and both had money, not rich but rich in moral character. They both were clean-cut and always had a job. There were other people too, women that help shape me into the man I am. I remember the OHA SSA in Baltimore, MD where I worked as a “Stay in School” student while I attended Morgan State U. There was Diane Mobley, Karen Carrington, Judy Long, Vernice Bernard, Terron, the other Dee. Those women kept me straight and they collectively embodied what being a woman looks like; classy, fly, dignified, intelligent, beautiful women. Judy Long was the real one, keeping it REAL. They were all like aunts to me and always held some level of distinction in their demeanor . Those women helped me understand what my role is as a man. They helped me fashion an image of my wife.

So yeah, being a father starts with more than just the actions of your biological father, it starts with the choices you make as an adult. What you value as a man, what you look for in a woman and how you allow your life to be an example to your child. We sometimes get caught up looking at the nonsense and replaying it in our lives. That’s dumb, get away from those influences! Look at all the positive influences in your life and soak them up like a sponge. Whether it be a man or woman, the positive examples are there. Take those examples and make them a part of your life. Be that father that you didn’t see growing up and allow your child to identify you as “Dad”.

ZoeMPM

The baby Zoe gave me a glimpse of what it will be like, and I thank Myles and Vanessa for granting us this privilege for a brief time, that baby is awesome.

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”

C.G. Jung

“Listen, there is no way any true man is going to let children live around him in his home and not discipline and teach, fight and mold them until they know all he knows. His goal is to make them better than he is. Being their friend is a distant second to this.”

Victor Devlin

“A boy needs a father to show him how to be in the world. He needs to be given swagger, taught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure.”

Ian Morgan Cron

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