Omar Tyree Single Mom: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780684855929

Single Mom: A Novel

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9780684855929: Single Mom: A Novel
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After more than ten years of raising her two sons alone, Denise Stewart finds herself again involved with both of her sons' fathers as well as in a relationship with a new man.
Jimmie, the father of her older child, suddenly wants a major role in his son's life. After being on absent father for thirteen years, he discovers his teenager is a top basketball prospect. That's when Jimmie decides to make some time to spend with his son.
Walter, the father of Denise's second son, is trying to gain custody of his twelve-year-old. After attending the Million Man March in Washington, Walter believes he should assume full responsibility for his son instead of just for two weekends out of each month.
And truck driver Dennis is falling in love with Denise, and is fond of her boys. Although he is uncertain whether he wants the burden of a ready-made family, he also feels insecure in an intimate relationship with a white-collar woman who earns more than he does.
All this as Denise runs her own thriving business, co-chairs a single mothers' organization with her best friend Camellia, and struggles to keep faith in her family. Suddenly, for this single mom, success takes on an all-new meaning in her increasingly complex life.

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About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Omar Tyree is the winner of the 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work -- Fiction, and of the 2006 Phillis Wheatley Literary Award for Body of Work in Urban Fiction. His books include Boss Lady, Diary of a Groupie, Leslie, Just Say No!, For the Love of Money, Sweet St. Louis, Single Mom, A Do Right Man, and Flyy Girl. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. To learn more about Omar Tyree, visit his website at

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

July 1997: Another Sunday

I don't know what the problem is with black men and church, but I have to fight every Sunday morning to get these two boys of mine dressed and ready to go. It's as if the Bible was only talking about Eve in Genesis, and there was no Adam. The funny thing is, the Muslim brothers don't seem to have that problem at all. You see hundreds of brothers attending Louis Farrakhan's mosque on the South Side.

"I can't find my socks!" Walter hollered from his room.

Every Sunday it was the same thing, either his socks, his tie, his suit jacket, or his dress pants were missing. I guess he thought he could actually get out of going to church by deliberately misplacing his things, but I had news for him.

I pulled out a pair of brand-new dress socks I bought just for the occasion. I had a few extra ties in my closet just in case he misplaced them, too. I was planning on buying a couple of extra suits for him and keeping them in my closet as well.

"Wear these," I told him, tossing the socks on his unmade bed.

Jimmy walked by and laughed. He was dressed and ready to go, with his hair brushed, and he was smelling like cologne. I turned and stared at him as he headed through the hallway toward the stairs.

"Ah, Jimmy, is something going on at church that I don't know about today?" I asked him.

Walter started to laugh. "He thinks this girl likes him," he said, dropping a dime.

Jimmy looked shocked for a minute, then he just shook his head and went on about his business. I immediately thought again about having that conversation concerning sex, responsibility, and condoms with him.

I really didn't want to bother Jimmy about it that morning, nor did I have the time, but I was curious. I walked down the stairs and into the kitchen where my giant of a son was having a quick glass of orange juice. He tried his best to avoid eye contact with me.

"So, ah, which girl is it?" I asked him. The boy was only fifteen, and I had been looking up to talk to him for three years already. I wasn't exactly short myself, especially with heels on.

Jimmy sighed and shook his head again. "Come on, Mom. He don't know what he's talkin' about. Why you listenin' to him?"

I thought about that question for a minute. "Well, first of all, I never remember you being so eager to go to church on Sunday. You got your hair greased and brushed this morning, you're all ready to go, and ah, is that some kind of cologne that you're wearing?" It was obvious that something was going on inside that teenage mind of his.

He set his glass on the counter and said, "I'm just trying to help you out, Mom. Since you want us to go to church every week, I figure I might as well stop fighting it."

I smiled, and that quickly turned into a laugh. "Is that right? You're trying to help me out? Well, I don't know if you know it or not, but the Lord don't ask for you to wear cologne," I told him.

"He don't ask for us to wear suits and ties either," Jimmy countered with his own smile.

He had a point, but I wasn't through with my interrogation yet, so I pressed him for answers. "So, you're telling me that you're absolutely sure there's no girl in this church who you would like to see today?"

His smile got even wider. "It's a lot of girls in there that I would like to see. But that don't mean nothin'. I'm going because you wanted us to go."

"So, in other words, if I said that we're going to a different church today, that wouldn't bother you at all? Is that what you're telling me? Because you're going to church for me, right?"

He hesitated and started to laugh. "But why would you want to go to a different church? All of your friends go to this one."

I grinned. The boy must have thought that I was born yesterday. "Mmm hmm, that's just what I thought," I told him. It was definitely time for our talk. I stepped close to my giant son and asked, "Jimmy, have you, ah, done the do with any girls yet?"

Walter must have snuck up on us and heard my question, because the boy laughed so hard I thought he would break his rib cage.

"What is your problem?" I turned and asked him. He was plenty immature to want to get in trouble in the streets. It was a godsend to have Walter out in the suburbs! The West Side of Chicago would have chewed him up and spit him back out.

"Nothin'," he answered.

I decided I would talk to Jimmy again later on that evening, while Walter was over his father's house. I had agreed that his father could pick him up after church and drop him off at summer camp that Monday. I had Walter pack two extra sets of clothes and underwear with him to take to church.

When we arrived at church that morning, back on Chicago's far West Side on Augusta Boulevard, I watched to see who was watching my oldest son. It looked like every girl over twelve and under nineteen was eying Jimmy, and my mind was not playing tricks on me.

Walter noticed it himself and got to laughing again. I was getting tired of his silliness, so I quickly grabbed his left arm and pinched him through his suit jacket.

"Cut it out."

"Oww, Mom!"

Jimmy looked at his younger brother and grimaced. "Sound like a little girl," he commented.

"What?" Walter protested loudly.

I stopped walking down the aisle and grabbed both of them right there and whispered to them very sternly, "Look, I don't need this from either of you. Okay?"

Jimmy started to smile, but Walter was still pissed at being called a girl. I couldn't argue with it myself. I was used to seeing much more physical and tough-minded boys, but that's not the kind of thing a mother could tell her son. I just hoped that he would pass through his many developmental stages and turn out all right. One thing was for sure, Walter would not last one minute in Chicago. I was almost certain of that. I sheltered him as much as I could and he didn't have the street smarts that most city kids have. Jimmy, on the other hand, knew how to conduct himself in the streets, and since the skill of playing basketball was so well respected in Chicago, so was he.

We sat in our usual seats on the left side of church, next to Camellia, Monica, and Levonne. I wondered if Jimmy ever thought of Monica as a girlfriend. She was only a year older than him, and most young guys considered her attractive. She was already wearing the fancy hats and matching gloves to church, and getting the extra attention that it afforded her. However, I realized that Monica and Jimmy were too close to being cousins to seriously think about dating each other.

Anyway, Jimmy sat down right next to Monica, and they immediately started acting giddy and secretive. I didn't hear a word Reverend Gray said that morning. He was usually pretty loud, but I was busy eavesdropping on Monica and my son.

I was planning to ask Camellia all the details about the chat she had with her daughter. Usually, I stayed out of their business, but after I saw how Jimmy and Monica were carrying on, I was dying to know what they thought they knew. Fortunately, we attended the early, shorter service. Otherwise, we could have been in church for three hours or more.

"You know, you two were really carrying on today," I told them after church.

"Mmm hmm, and the church ain't the place for gossiping," Camellia grunted with a frown.

I gave her a look. She knew better than that. It was more gossiping going on in church than at your average high school. The bigger the church, the more the gossip. But that would never stop us from going.

When we walked out, Walter's father was double parked out in front, and on time as usual.

"What do you think about his wife?" Camellia whispered to me.

I gave the tall, thin sister a nod while she sat in the passenger's side of Walter's silver Lincoln. The car was too big for the man if you asked me, but it was perfect for a Napoleon complex. "I have nothing against her," I answered Camellia. I couldn't lie to myself and say that I wasn't at all jealous of her, because I was. Nevertheless, my jealousy had more to do with the fact that she was married than anything regarding Junior. She would have her hands full with him. I didn't envy that liaison at all.

Then my son started with his usual pouting. "I hate going over his house," he mumbled with his overnight bag in hand. "It's always boring over there."

"Yeah, well, that's just what you need, some quiet time to calm your behind down and think," I told him. "Now give me back my car keys."

"How was church?" his father asked me as he walked over. He and his wife were dressed for church, too. I never bothered to ask, but they probably went to some white Catholic church on the North Side that let out after only an hour of service.

"It was fine," I told him. I'm not saying that it was right, but I rarely had many words for the man. I just didn't know what to say to him half the time.

He spoke to Camellia, her two kids, and then to Jimmy.

"How's basketball coming, Jimmy? I know you can dunk by now, right?"

Jimmy nodded to him and smiled. "Yeah, I can dunk."

Too bad you can't, I was too mature to comment to Walter. I did think it though, and that was bad enough. At only five foot nine, he was easily the shortest brother I ever dated. Everything about him was unusual for me. I had always been attracted to tall, rugged men. Walter Perry Jr. was short, well-groomed, and extremely pretentious. I hated to think it, but his son was following right in his footsteps, no matter how hard he tried to rebel. Maybe Walter III knew that better than anyone, which made his rebelliousness more meaningful to him.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Mom," he said to me as he climbed into the backseat of his father's car. It was his little joke to always let his father know that he would be coming back to me.

I smiled at my son and watched the silver Lincoln as it pulled off, heading east on Augusta.

"You're thinking about the custody thing, aren't you?" Camellia asked me. She knew me too damn well.

I nodded to her and said, "Yeah. I'm just wondering how he would turn out."

"Probably just like his f...

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