Suburban Birthday Party Conversations: Not So Random Thoughts Before Bed


I live in a suburb that is 45 minutes from the city I love, grew up in, and cherish—Detroit. I come from a working class family of postal employees, big 3 bonus check getters and what can brown do for you delivery drivers. Living in suburbia at times is great and there have also been times when I am uncomfortable and/or annoyed. The reason I love and connect to the television show Black-ish so well is that although I don’t have the wealth of Dre and Bow I still understand their plight of wanting to give their children better. Being an African American, middle-class, single parent from Detroit has presented many challenges and triggers for myself and others during my time here in suburbia.

There are observations, conversations, and preconceived notions that trigger us. For instance, one of my triggers is when someone comes to me with a issue and they want to focus on the issue instead of the solution. I have been known to stop people mid conversation and ask “is this a venting session or a solution session?”. This allows me to adjust my level of expectation, time and energy accordingly. So as I tell this story about overhearing something that triggered me please adjust you level of expectation, time and energy because I am venting. I’m not looking for a solution.

I took my youngest daughter to a birthday party of a classmate. I sat with some moms that I have known for a while. We talked about all things Common Core math related and came to the consensus that the devil must have written the curriculum. We also discussed how lately our lives have been disorganized, filled with commitments and piles of clothes all over the house. All three of us at the table were also single parents. We confided that we should not to be too hard on ourselves and that our children would survive if they ate meatballs for breakfast. By the way we are all Black-ish!

Then all of a sudden I hear a conversation behind me from a mom who works from home, has a college student help her after school with her (2) children and a husband works for the local university. Her husband has been on a business trip for the last week and she is crying and moaning about taking care of the children and their needs and commitments while he is away. Now her children are at the age where they are self-sufficient. She then asks the other parent (who is also black) “how do you do it when your husband is away on business?”. Her response was priceless. She gave her the sistah-girl head cock to the side and said “we manage”.

As a single parent that conversation irritated my soul. (Insert DMX Party Up music). I do this on an everyday basis. Just me, myself and I. I make sacrifices of time, energy, sleep, dreams and money to be a parent. By myself. Did I intentionally sign up for the singles section? Not really, but hey it is what it is. However, to hear a mother whining because you have to do it alone WITH help for a shortened amount of time made my last nerve evaporate because it was being tapped on. Then I had to check myself. Am I hating? Slightly. Was I jello? Not really. Was I annoyed? Hell yeah. And guess what it’s okay. I’m human. What is everyday life for me is a struggle for others, I get it. When people say, “I don’t know how you do it.” I gently remind them you will never know. God only gives the strongest battles to those who are built for it. Do I struggle with everyday life? Yes. But I can’t groan and moan about it everyday. It doesn’t serve a purpose. And it distracts from the fact that everyday I make a conscious decision to get up, dress up and show up.

I simply need to get ish done. Point blank period. I have to save my single mama tears for something that’s worth the work. And this overheard suburban birthday party conversation was not worth it.


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