Does Almost Count? Transitioning to the West Coast Without My Daughter

On our way to the airport

On our way to the airport

I really had the intention on starting this site & updating it more frequently. I really want my post to be more timely. I decided because of the way my life is set up, I am going to take the pressure off & blog when I blog. The goal is to continue to blog.. Besides I have so much updates. I feel like I’ve just been flying by. This summer started with a flood & I haven’t slept in my own bed yet. I have traveled. I went to the Dominican Republic on assignment. Ask me about if you’re interested in finding out more about that because this is a different post.


- This post was written on October 21, 2014


A few weeks ago, I credited a round trip flight to the West Coast to see if I could see myself living out there with Zi. I had been through three virtual job interviews with a nonprofit interested in using my arts education background to create & oversee programming for & by Bay Area youth. The conversations were going great & the task is right up my alley. I get to be creative, strategically fun, & around young scholars. I also connected with a women who had space in her apartment with her two daughters. She was interested in helping me & Zi make the transition to Oakland. She understood the challenges in being a single mama. 

One of the challenges in my version of babymamahood is money. I’ve been feeling a ways about not be abled to travel frequently with Zi. I have the ability to take her, but not always the means. I know that in my life I want to travel. I am a nomad. My heart is a turtle. I carry my home everywhere like a shell. Zi is not my shell, but she is a part of my home. Because of that, I need the resources to to begin to take trips in any form of transportation, to carry another person outside of my shell. Your income determines the lengths you will go in miles & in life. I didn’t make that up. The last minute ticket costs were too far from my budget. So, I left & landed in Oakland & my trip overall had left a really good impression on me. 

During my stay in Oakland, I visited the after school program I would be leading in & I met with the staff & the students. I felt really good about the program. I believe that I could do the job & impact the scholars in a positive way. The energy feels right. & living with another single mama allows for all of us to grow our families. A day after I arrived back to New York, I was offered the position. It felt really great to be wanted. To think that an organization in another coast read my cover letter & resume & thought that I could be a good fit feels really awesome. However, they do not offer any relocation pay & I am moving into this post flood, post shelter, post back at my mama’s couch in Yonkers: BROKE... 

However, Oakland just FEELS right. I feel like I belong here. But, there is one thing, my baaaaaaaaaaaaaby. My heart. My rock. My anchor. What schools would she go to? Who is going to pick her up from school & after school? Who will care for her on the days where I have to stay late or on days when she doesn’t have school & I work? My network & my mama are in NY. & at the same time, I am really interested in making leaps & bounds at work. I don’t want motherhood or work get in the way of one another. For all of this to happen, I NEED to build a community in Oakland. 

Support is KEY. It is rooted in finances, in time, & in the right people. I felt really stressed around the idea of leaving Zi behind, but I also felt really stressed around bringing her without having her schedule set up. My schedule is pretty much set, but I can’t work without the school/ care that she needs. In NY, Zi has her routine. She’s in school, & is studying ballet, hip hop, & tap.

When I mentioned to my mother that I might leave Zi behind, she had her reservations because I wasn’t thinking about leaving my kid with my mom. My mom is physically disabled & Zi would just be an extra weight on her. Zi needs someone who can keep up with her schedule & her energy. My mother & I went through a lot of back & forth. She threatened to cause problems for me if I left her with her godparents. 

My mom’s fear is rooted in my history with sexual abuse. She felt like she made a lot of bad decisions because she had to be gone for work & because of that I experienced molestation from a very young age. So, leaving Zi with anyone but her scared her very deeply. I cannot say that it doesn’t scare me. But, I really trust the family that I was considering leaving her with. Zi’s godparents had offered their help in us making that transition to Oakland. I didn’t ask them. They offered it. 

I thought long & hard about leaving to California without Zi. I spoke it over with Zi several times. She really loves her godparents. She gets to have her own room (for the first time). She gets to keep her routine, schedule, & friends. But, the tradeoff is she doesn’t get to have her mama for a couple of months. It really isn’t a fair tradeoff. It really isn't fair at all. But, in this road of babymamahood and preserving your vision, there will be a lot of sacrifices on both parent & child. 

Today I allowed Zi to stay home from school as it would be my last day in New York. During the car ride to the airport, she asks, “Do you really have to go? What would happen if you don’t leave today?” I told her, “I’ll lose my job. We lose our opportunity to live in California.” I want to say, to have a home… She says, that she doesn’t care. She just wants me. I wish my presence alone meant that I could survive in this costly world. I whisper to her, “This is our dream. This part is just temporary.” 

The sacrifices that Zi has to make on my behalf, because I decided when I was pregnant with her that we could do this as a single unit has me constantly questioning the worth of my motherhood. I feel guilty whenever I leave her for a shift at work, or when I went on assignment to the Dominican Republic this summer, and this last trip I took to Oakland. She says, “You are leaving again.” My eyes cracked. My spine softened. The last time we traveled together I was only abled to support it because I raised funds for A Love Adventure Project 2013 summer. A project I started because I spent too much time away from Zi. A theme I keep running up against as a working mama, writer, & poet. 

Four days before my departure to Oakland, the woman whom I am supposed to stay with, changed her mind. She couldn’t get down with me leaving Zi behind. She rescinded her offer altogether & thankfully after a conversation has allowed to me stay in her apartment for 30 days. The original conversation was until whenever.

This changes everything because not only do I start work in November, but now I can’t look for schools or childcare because I do not know where I am going to be living in 30 days. I can barely unpack… I am trying to figure out what my next move should be… I would love to find some daily work until I begin work, work, because I need to stack bread. 

Right now all I can say is that I am here, in the Bay Area. Soaking it all in. 

Some of you have been asking on ways that you can help. I have some ideas. Please feel free to chime in. 

  1. Connect me with good people in Oakland & around. Do you have a network that I can tap into? Send them an e-mail with my e-mail jujuangeles(at)(gmail).com—I need advice/referrals in the areas of housing, family, & childcare. 
  2. Have a job I can do that is okay with me just working for a couple of weeks?
  3. Want to give? Donations are always hard to ask for but welcomed.
  4. Encourage this unconventional ride of motherhood. Don’t let me quit. These times has me feeling a little defeated. I know I am almost there. I have to tell myself that almost does count. It does. It does.  

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All monies will be used for housing related costs & airfare for Zi to come to California.