As a little girl, I never wanted to be married or have kids. I definitely didn’t ever want to be a single mom. But who does? I was 17 years old when I met what I thought was the love of my life. I was still in high school working at a fast-food restaurant and he was 19 working at… well let’s just say working as a struggling entrepreneur. He was nothing like anyone I had ever experienced before. He was a complete 180 from my upbringing. It was exciting! Up until this point, I had worked so hard to be everything my parents wanted me to be but around him and his family, there were no expectations, no stress, and most exciting no rules. We both lived with our parents but obviously thought we were grown (besides the fact that I had to tell my parents that I was staying the night at my best friend’s house anytime I wanted to stay with him).
< I would insert a picture here but I am extremely embarrassed by how we both looked sooooooo>
On my 18th birthday, I officially became grown grown! Couldn’t nobody tell me NOTHING. I had it all together. My freshman year in college and the “love of my life” (who didn’t graduate or find a legitimate job) had not a worry in the world. Next thing I know I’m pregnant.
Pregnancy didn’t scare me much. I mean, what’s the big deal? We’re just having a baby. His cousins were all my age with multiple kids, no jobs, and no challenges. It didn’t seem that life-changing. But little did I know my life would change forever. My parents (thank God for them) tried to explain how difficult life would be but I had to learn for myself.
At 19 I was smacked in the face with a large dose of reality. The baby required all of my attention, time, and sanity. I couldn’t go back to school or work immediately. The whole no job, no challenges thing only worked if you had no aspirations. My friends were working hard in college and playing even harder because that’s what 19-year-old college students do. But not me. I spent this time changing diapers, prepping bottles, and crying with regret.
None of my friends had kids and I very quickly learned that I didn’t want to go down the same path as his cousins. And those expectations my parents had for me, were for my benefit. Slowly, all of my drive and motivation to be great came back to me. I realized I wanted to have a successful and exciting college experience that would prepare me for a successful career and gratifying life. I started thinking about my future and nowhere in that fantasy was a guy with no money, no job, and no high school education.
The next stage of my life was navigating college with a baby and a boyfriend. The struggle was real. My amazing parents were so much help! But they had their own lives. They successfully raised their children and deserved to live their lives the way they wanted. So, they moved across the country to Texas. Of course, they wanted me to come but how could I leave the love of my life especially now that we had a family? So, I stayed and omg was it hard!
Fast forward a year later. I had to grow up fast! But the love of my life not so much. They say the brain doesn’t fully develop until 25. And at 20 I was learning that I made a lot of decisions at 18 that would impact my life permanently, while he still enjoyed life with no responsibilities. This was the year I broke up with my son’s father and with my parents 21 hours away I found myself completely on my own with a 1-year-old. I thought being a young mom was hard but being a SINGLE, young mom was the real struggle! I spent most of my time in a very depressed state. My life was full of tears, fears, regrets, questions, and stress.
I was 20 years old with a full-time job to support myself and my child, a full-time college student, with no financial and very little physical support from his father. Your 20s are when you get a free pass to live wild and free. But not me. I had no time to live wild, I had to find a babysitter to go to school and work.
A year later I embraced the fact that it takes a village to raise a child and I moved to Texas with my parents. Their presence alone made everything 10 times better. I honestly don’t know what I would have done or where we would be now without them. The little support that I had from my child’s father diminished little by little until it was completely nonexistent. So, I raised my son with my parents’ help.
I was determined to take care of my responsibilities and live the life I fantasized about. I continued going to school to get my degree and worked a full-time job after school. My son went to school during the day and my parents watched him at night. I kept telling myself that this was a temporary hardship that would pay off 10-fold.
I graduated within the next 2 years and was able to land an amazing job with a Fortune 500 company. I was ambitious and driven before. But once I had a child, I realized that it was not only my life that was at stake. I HAD to do better for him. He did not choose to be in this world or to be raised by a single, young mom who had no clue what she was doing. I made that decision for him. So, it was my responsibility to ensure that he had a gratifying life filled with happiness, joy, and love. I have made it my mission to provide just that. Even though sometimes I overcompensated for him not having a present father (that’s a story for another day), I did everything in my power to make sure he was happy. He was my best friend!
Because I refused to allow my young mistakes to negatively impact my future, I have grown into the woman my parents always wanted me to be. My son changed my life drastically, but ultimately for my good. He made me grow up and push myself to be better than I could have ever imagined before him. God used him as a vessel to save my life! Truth be told, as difficult as it was, it was what I needed to be the woman I am today. I’ve written all about how my single Mommi journey was a blessing. And about the transition from a single-parent household to my son gaining a stepfather.
Being a young single mother taught me so much!!! Some of the biggest lessons I learned were 1. Don’t make any permanent decisions off of a temporary emotion and especially before you’re 25. 2. It really does take a village to raise a child and a nation to support a mom. So, if you find yourself alone on this journey find your tribe. Your support system is essential! 3. Single black mommies are STRONG! They are resilient and they are fearless. And 4. My son will make some big mistakes. There’s nothing I can do to prevent that. But what I can do is be open with him and share my mistakes. So many times, people are embarrassed by their mistakes but the lessons learned from your mistakes are not only for your growth.
Thank you for reading a small piece of my journey. If you are a single mom, my hope is that you find encouragement and peace knowing that single mommies are strong and although the journey gets tough, you are strong enough to persevere.