Tag Archives: mother

A Time Honored Tradition Banned: Father/Daughter Dances

By, Amy M. Voltero

Dictionary.com defines time honored traditions as respected or valued because it has existed for a long time. How many times have you been to a baseball game and witnessed the first pitch being thrown?  Tailgating is every die hard football fan’s pleasure. There’s nothing better than setting up a tent and the barbecue grill, and psyching yourself up for three hours of sacks, touchdowns and first downs.

The country’s singing of the national anthem is also a time honored tradition prior to a sporting event.  I can remember being a kid waiting to see which famous celebrity was honored to belt out our country’s theme song.  Another childhood memory was saying the, “Pledge of Allegiance,” in homeroom when the teacher was taking attendance. My most fond memory of time honored tradition is preparing for the Father/Daughter dance at my elementary school. I loved getting dressed up, and looked forward to having the best dance partner, my Dad. We would do the dough see dough, the jitterbug and dance to slow songs.

In Cranston Rhode Island, Father/Daughter dances, and Mother/Son baseball games are now obsolete. Thanks to the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union and a complaint fueled by a single mother in the community. The issue at hand was her daughter was denied entrance to the dance due to her father not being in her life. That means persons in charge of admittance to the event, discriminated against this young girl for something out of her control.

These events violate Rhode Island’s gender discrimination law. Superintendent Judith Lundsten informed school organizations gender-specific events would no longer be allowed after school district attorneys found that, while federal gender discrimination laws exempt such events, Rhode Island law does not.(Fox news)

According to the Associated Press, “I acknowledge that many of these events have long traditions and for many parents, these types of gender-based events are not an issue,” Lundsten wrote. “However, this is a public school system and under no circumstances should we be isolating any child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all-inclusive when planning your events.” (Fox news)

Some families in Rhode Island are outraged. Despite the differences in family structures, there are some families who want to practice traditional family values, and that includes, partaking in events such as the above. Parents who struggle balancing their time between work and parenting, look forward to these dances, and in creating memories that will last a lifetime.

I am in agreement with Superintendent Lundsten’s statement.  Family structures in the 40’s and 50’s, families consisted primarily of two parents, siblings and sometimes grandparents.  The norm of family structure in the year 2012 consists of one mother or father, two mothers or fathers, or a sibling or alternate family member could be acting as the primary caregiver. Children should not pay the price for the hand they were dealt. I believe such events, should not be excluded from a child’s life. Just change the name, why completely ban this time honored tradition?

As most of you know, I wear the hat of mother and father. Balancing work, recovery and parenting can leave an overwhelming feeling of guilt at times, for not spending as much time with her as I want to. The rush of daycare and work preparation, dinner, bath, playtime and bed feels as if I am on auto pilot some days. When all is said and done, I work from home, listening to her seaside lullaby cd, and reflect on my day and shortcomings. I always come to the same conclusion, I wish there was more time in the day. As she gets older, I realize I will be wearing more hats; coach, tutor, cab driver, etc. My hope is to be able to find an even balance between life on life’s terms and parenting. By the time my daughter reaches the age of dances, hopefully the ACLU will have come to an agreement with communities in bringing back these traditions, only under a new title, so single parents such as myself will be given the same opportunity, as generations before, to cherish these Kodak moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DCF: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

By Amy M. Voltero

How many of you are familiar with the Department of Children and Families? Not all, but most parents struggling from substance abuse, I know have had their children placed into DCF custody, or have had a case opened,  at one point or another. Some have even lost their children to adoptive families, because they just couldn’t stay sober.

I am one of those recovering substance abusers, whom shared a short period of my and my daughter’s life, having a case. When I found out I was pregnant, I was around 3 weeks into my pregnancy. I was homeless and actively using drugs. That was enough for me to enter treatment in May of 2010. I realized it wasn’t just about me anymore, but now an innocent child. My daughter didn’t ask to be born, nor did she deserve to suffer the consequences of an uneducated, self-centered addict, I had become.

I was on methadone during my pregnancy, which meant the possibility of my daughter having to be weaned off the methadone, by small doses of morphine, until she would be free of withdrawal symptoms. This was indeed my biggest fear. How would I forgive myself for what I had done?

I worked hard on changing the person who walked through the doors, day after day. I surrendered, and took an honest look at the damage my using had caused, and the painful lives of loved ones, whom I had hurt. I held on, without any family support, and continued my journey.

My mother was there for me the day I delivered a healthy baby girl, on January 13, 2011. My daughter, stayed in the hospital for three days for observation. Miraculously, she never had to be treated for methadone withdrawal.

DCF interviewed me, and due to my honesty, as a substance abuser with an extensive history, opened a case on my daughter’s behalf, for neglect.  My worker visited the program regularly, spoke to my counselors, and program staff to ensure progress in my recovery. I truly was changing.

I moved in August, 2011 to a sober living program, for women and children called, Dennis McLaughlin House, in Charlestown,MA. The visits with my worker continued, until the department felt secure enough to close the case.

Having DCF in my life, was truly a blessing at that point in time. They supported me through my transition, to ensure the safety and security of myself and my daughter.

Not all stories are like mine, however. A very close friend of mine, has a two and a half-year old son, whom she has not had custody of since he was two months old. She was sober during her pregnancy, and had also had a long battle using substances. He was admitted to the Neonatal ICU, due to needing surgery on his rectal area. That meant she could not take him home, which is every mother’s fear.

To sum up the story, she was overwhelmed and had post partum depression, and eventually relapsed. She was not going to probation due to her long days and nights, spent at the hospital, and from her slip.

We, as substance abusers, use to avoid having to deal with life, and not to deal with feelings. When we use, it numbs us temporarily. Having education now on the scientific part of addiction, we now can see that using only creates a band-aid effect. Our problems will still exist, whether or not we mask them.

DCF entered her life and took custody of her newborn son. My friend was arrested for not complying with probation, and was sentenced to seven months in MCI Framingham. She had plenty of time to think, get educated on how she could change her life, and be reunited with her son.

She went to a residential program and graduated, then went to a sober living home to continue treatment. Her son was placed into a white-collar home, with two young parents, in the medical field, who also had another child. My friend’s visits continued, once per week, only with DCF supervision. The visits were held at the mutual meeting place, the DCF office. Leaving him was never easy. He called her mum and the foster-mother mum as well. She would leave the visits, crying, and isolate herself. Although she was deeply saddened and depressed, she refused to allow the system to get to her.

A trial was conducted for her to regain custody of her son. After months of grueling testimony, the judge came back with the decision. My friend was deemed an unfit mother, and her rights to her son were revoked. They would only allow her two more visits, and that would be all. She was in shock!

How could a judge, deem her an unfit mother, as she had now, over a year of clean time, was committing to therapy once per week, at one time, even had two therapists, attending school to get her GED, voluntarily attended classes for self-help, could provide a home, love, emotional and mental support, and had truly changed? I’ll tell you. Rumor has it that the DCF worker assigned to the case had a personal relationship with the now adoptive foster family.

My friend, along with her mother’s support, contacted almost every political office in Massachusetts, looking for support. John Kerry’s office went to bat with her, only to find that DCF painted a deceiving picture of her in a letter addressed to the senator.

She would now have to appeal the judge’s decision, which could take possibly two years or more. That’s a great idea!! Let’s revoke her visits, so this foster family can strengthen their relationship with her son! I’m sorry, a mother’s natural place is with her child, UNLESS, they pose a current danger to herself or others. My friend DOES NOT fall under that category!!!

She is now fighting for visits with her son, during this appeal process. She is a woman I have watched complete a one hundred and eighty degree turn around. She has established herself, became educated, and continues to do the right thing on a daily basis.  Despite her current situation, she continues to hold on,  to prove the members of the judicial system wrong and to her son, she will not go down with out a fight.

I sincerely hope the judge can sleep soundly at night, knowing she is biased, and has no idea, what it’s like to be on a journey of self discovery. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes lady. You are denying her, a woman, of her God-given right, to be a mother. Try a little empathy, Lady!! People are capable of change; however, it takes a real person to have the ability to see that!!

I ask you, from the bottom of your hearts, to please help me, help her fight for her child! If anyone knows of an advocate, politician, or even someone whom has been through a similar situation, please comment on this article on this page.

Thank you for all your support!

 

 

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A Day In The Life Of The “Single” Working Mother & Its Rewards

By Amy M. Voltero

I roll out of bed each morning around 6:30AM. I stare at the ceiling briefly, then proceed to my kitchen area. The coffee pot has been set the night previously, which makes it ever so simple to flick the orange switch. I sit at my desk, read my meditation for the day check my email, Facebook, and enjoy the remainder of seaside lullabies, courtesy of Parents magazine. If you are like me and find the mind racing, and meditation difficult, I strongly suggest giving it a whirl. I finish dressing, and complete my daily routine.  I then choose Mia’s clothes for the day, set out a single diaper and 4 wipes on the bed. I pack her lunch, also prepared the night previously, and prepare her breakfast.  She could wake anytime starting at 7AM, and could sleep as late as 8:30AM.

Today, she sleeps until 8AM….crap, LET THE RUSH BEGIN!!!! Thursday’s are my worst day of the week. I quickly change her diaper, serve her breakfast, can’t forget the Wiggles DVD. Style her hair while she is eating her breakfast in her highchair, laugh at her silly jokes, and encourage her new vocabulary.

It is now 8:23AM; you’ve got to be kidding!  I quickly wash her hands, she brushes her teeth with my help of course, and I dress her. She’s at an age where she HAS to do everything herself. Yes, yes, we are approaching the terrible two’s and finding your independence is definitely included in this stage.  Here comes the mental checklist: lunches, shoes, diapers, wipes, blanket, clothes, keys, cell phone, dinner, carriage, lights. Oh wait; it usually makes it easier if you remember to put the baby in the carriage.

Load the car, baby and all, seatbelts, rear view mirror, side mirrors, Michael Jackson cd; yes my child loves Michael Jackson. Michael was one of her first words, oddly. AAAAnd we’re off to daycare. I have the pleasure of traveling over he Tobin Bridge 4 times a day. Another kicker!!

Quick drop at daycare, off to Dunkin Donuts for yet, another cup of Joe, then rush back to Charlestown to get my head shrunk at 9AM.Thank God for therapy!!!  Session‘s done, then off to work.

Rush, Rush, Rush!!!

That’s just an example of my life day in and day out. I am a single working mother, which makes my job three times as hard. Yes, I made the choice to have a child, but not to raise her alone.  I never wanted to be a single parent. I thought I would have the white picket fence, house on the hill, caravan, dog…then I remembered who her father was. It took a lot of acceptance and personal growth to realize that just because I’ve changed, doesn’t mean the people around me have. Any man can make a child, but only a real man can raise one.  The only consistent male role model she has in her life is my brother, which I’m truly grateful for. He has been a godsend, loving my daughter, as if she were his, spoiling her, we’re currently working on that, lol and meeting her basic needs. Yes diaper changes too!!

I am her mother, and her father. I have to play good cop, bad cop, and I don’t enjoy it. Parenting is hard, without all the added stresses of life happening, just taking its natural course. Now add, mother recovering from substance abuse, learning how to live life’s on life’s terms, having to deal with feelings, confronting issues head on, conflict resolution, balance, work, meetings, social life and being accountable for anything and everything in my past, creeping up to haunt me, years later.  Whew!!

That may not appear to be a lot of work, but it holds its ground when you never knew how to take care of yourself. Now I’m taking care of my eighteen month old daughter as well.

Although being a single parent has its challenges, I would not have rewritten this chapter of my life. Everything I have been through up to this point of my story has made me into the woman I am today. It’s so funny, because I feel as though I can actually step outside my body, and look at how much my past and present has shaped my life.

I’m not saying that you have to be a single mother/ parent to have experienced any of the above. Heck, I know married couples, who are single parents. One parent goes off to play mother or father of the year at work, while the other minds their children.

Parenting is a controversial topic in any household.  Bottom line is, the phrase, single working mother/ parent, is redundant. We are always working, whether it is paid by an employer, or to be given the gift to watch the child you created, grow and develop into a carbon copy of yourself.  If we stop and think about it, getting paid, sometimes doesn’t ever really involve a paycheck, does it?

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