Ten years ago ironically I was exactly where I am today. Months from giving birth to a daughter all the while trying to figure out what my next move would be. I remember being anxious, nervous, overwhelmed yet, even in the center of all of that, existed a calm. There was something about preparing to become a mother that mellowed me. Though a completely difference experience than anything I’d ever gone through I felt prepared for what was to come. Now on the cusp of welcoming my third daughter those feelings are still present after a decade of motherhood albeit for reasons altogether different than before.
In 2008 I was jobless, was 21 credits shy of completing my bachelor’s degree, and awaiting the moment when the person I’d been housing for the past nine months would show up. While the situation at the time wasn’t ideal, I can say that it was the catalyst for getting me to where I am today. The fear of amounting to nothing and not being able to accomplish my goals was so fierce that I often lay awake at night in tears. Saddened and feeling like I had become a statistic I definitely was in a dark place. The bad relationship didn’t help, but the thing I did know what that regardless of what I was going through I wanted my daughter to have a great mom. She deserved it. So I changed my focus.
I made the decision to be great.
A common question I’ve been asked by friends and associates is how I was able to do everything I had done as a single mom. Truthfully the answers to that are the grace of God, a supportive family, and the like. Yet one of the genuine reasons is because I made the decision to be nothing less than great. For the entirety of my life I’ve focused on becoming something excellent in this world. No matter the hurdles that tried to stop me, I always had plans of making my mark. After finally accepting that I would become a mother in a way that I had not seen for myself, I recognized I had the decision to let it make me or break me. I simply chose the former. This is not to say that I didn’t face hardships or spend countless nights wondering where I had gone wrong. It did mean however that I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel even if was just a pinhole sized flicker.
People envision motherhood ideally as something to embark on when they’re financially stable, have seen the world, maybe married, or checked off host of other boxes first. No matter the way the list is set up there are action items that come before being someone else’s sole provider. My situation did not allow for such preparations. I had to just man up. One of the great lessons I’ve learned over ten years is that motherhood is not a death sentence to your dreams. In fact it can be the motivator you need to keep you on the road to success. Knowing that my daughter’s livelihood and quality of life was in my hands was a large part of many of the decisions I made. Whether that was to start my novel, complete my degree, or create my clothing line I knew each move I did or didn’t make would affect her.
Looking back the nervousness, anxiety, and uncertainty I felt was because I struggled to see past that moment. I’m now aware that all the things I feared weren’t as great as I made them out to be. In fact things turned out to be okay and I didn’t ruin my kid in the process. I’ve learned to relax a bit and to understand perfection isn’t necessary to be a good mother. Though the reasons behind those feelings have changed to trying to figure timing with a film schedule, how to maintain my businesses through “maternity leave”, and adjusting my home to fit another person – I have learned to how to better cope.
In a decade one of the greatest insights I’ve discovered is that I am the only mother my children know. Which means they cannot compare their experience, the depth of my love, or my choices in parenting to anyone else’s just yet. It means that how I care for them is the best for them. That the love I surround them with is the love that best suits them. And even when they are mad at me for saying no, maybe, or not right now I am still mommy and they love me.
PC: Anna Linduska Photography
Over the course of this year I want to delve into how I’ve grown as a person in being a mother for ten years, how it’s molded me and changed me. I’d love to know if there’s anything you’d like to know whether you’re a mom now, want to be, or are simply curious – let’s dialogue. #BlackMomsMatter.