Virtues from Motherhood: Shaking guilt

For all of Ava’s life it’s just been her and me. Ava’s dad has never really been involved in her life consistently and it’s never seemed to bother him that he’s missed every single milestone in her life and has little to no bond with her. That alone baffled me, how could you not be apart of a life you created?!

Confusion aside I was hurt and felt guilty, mostly guilty, for bringing Ava into the world with only half her parents to raise her. I never wanted her to be that kid from a broken home and I had hope that he would wake up and realize despite our inability to be together that he should step up and be a father. Sadly, not surprisingly, he chose not to and was completely absent from her life for five years, seeing her once a year and calling her maybe half a dozen times at best. On father’s day or parent’s day at school I always felt such guilt under my proud mom smile. I couldn’t help but notice her looking around at other kids who had both parents there all the time and though she didn’t look too bothered I knew it had crossed her mind. I knew eventually she’d ask why he wasn’t there or why he never answered the phone and I secretly hoped it’d be when she was much older.

Unfortunately my luck ran out when she was 5 and she asked me why her daddy never celebrated her birthday with her (for the record he was present at her first birthday but she doesn’t remember that). I was overwhelmed with panic and sadness and told her that her daddy was busy working but she was too quick for me and asked why her friend Riley’s daddy could work and be at her party. I held back tears when I told her I really didn’t know and that I would always make sure she had the best birthdays in the world.

Now I wasn’t lying I really didn’t know why he couldn’t call or send a card, I was just as confused as she was and at every holiday, school event or special occasion tears would well up in my eyes as the guilt hit me once again. I felt so bad and I didn’t ever want to show her that so I made sure I was at every event, every holiday show, every class party cheering her on twice as hard.

For a while I didn’t share that guilt with anyone I just kept it tucked away and let it gnaw at me silently. I found however that when I did share it with my friends, my family that they were angry or shocked that I felt that way. I was told that what I was doing for Ava was extraordinary that getting my degree and working was all going to give her the best life possible and that I was setting a good example for her, she was being raised by a strong woman. As nice as those things were to hear I still wasn’t convinced until my own mother told me a man being there physically means nothing if he can’t be there emotionally or mentally. I realized she was right, he couldn’t pick up the phone or mail a card, what difference would him standing in front of her blankly do?

I still struggle with this, sometimes I’m sad that she’s got maybe a dozen pictures with her dad in her 7 years of life, other times I’m angry that he’s just going on with his life and doesn’t seem to wonder what she’ll think of him but lately more and more I’m proud, proud of my daughter for being so smart and bright, proud of her for always seeing the bright side and proud of myself for showing her that there is a bright side, you just have to keep looking up.

Things I want my Daughter to know: Self Reflection


As the spring semester nears end, I can’t help but reflect and look back on the progress I’ve made this semester. Professional progress, academic progress and even personal progress have made this semester one of my most memorable since I began my college career. I have reached heights I never thought I would see and have been fortunate enough to meet amazing people, both friends and mentors. I also want to thank all of my readers, the people who have reached out to me and told me that my words helped them, reached them or made their day a little bit better, having people read my words is truly an honor. So in light of the semester coming to a close, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned this semester or that have made a lasting impact in my life.

1. Friendship winds its way into our lives when we need it the most

When I began my journey at City Tech I was mainly focused on academics, and being dedicated to the course work. I was reminded however that community is a huge and necessary ingredient in the recipe for success. I met three wonderful ladies that opened so many doors for me. Together we have conquered our major and encouraged each other when one of us was down, overwhelmed or confused. On our many lunch dates, study sessions and collaborations we have become lifelong friends.

2. Failure is a component to success

This may sound odd but it is true. I heard this at least 4 times my first week at City Tech by a Professor who has offered numerous resources and strategies to me. At first, I was confused as to why a Professor would tell us we’re going to fail, I’m sure some people will, but why put that idea in our heads? Well as time has progressed I can attest to the trueness of this statement. As emerging professionals and academics, we need to know that everything we do won’t be right on the first try and that it’s okay to try again.

3. Unplug before you burn out

Sometimes no matter how devoted, focused and determined we are we can reach our wits end. With all that goes on in our lives and all the things we have to sift through and deal with sometimes we need to step away to turn off the phone, close the laptop and recharge. It is okay to give yourself a time out and refresh yourself before you continue on with life. If you can’t do yourself justice and give yourself a break you’re not doing the people and obligations you have in your life justice either. Take a breather and ask for help if you need it.

4. Be open

To new people, to new ideas, new food or even a new color lipstick! There’s nothing more exciting then finding some awesome new dish to share with your friends or eating at a new brunch spot you found on groupon. Similarly be open to learning something new, read a book from a new genre, take a class on something you’ve never heard of or be spontaneous in your travels. The best thing in the world is growth so don’t stunt yours because you’re apprehensive of the unknown.

Time has taught me that nothing stays the same, not my daughter, not my weight, not my taste in books and most certainly not my knowledge. All of that, is okay though, maybe change can be good. I can offer you this advice Ava, roll with the tide, don’t fight it because you’ll tire yourself out trying to overpower a force that is beyond you. The universe has plans carved out for us, plans with pit stops and scenic outlooks where we can see how far we’ve come on the path of life. My advice to anyone who feels they’re stuck or that change hasn’t come fast enough, or even too fast, that it is okay and nothing lasts forever, you can get through this. If I can go from college drop out to pursing my second degree anything is possible, you are possible remember moms, we have the greatest audience in the world cheering for us, our kids.

I want to thank all my readers, the people who have supported me all semester long as I learned the ropes of blogging. I hope to be right back here in the fall blogging away! Stay tuned for more!

Virtues from Motherhood: Cookie cutter moms don’t exist

In the age of social media and popular opinion, it’s easy for anyone from any corner of the world to have something to say. The categories of controversy are endless, and amid them is the subject of parenting and what a “proper parent” should look like. While celebrities are often the target of these online feuds and keyboard wars the “popular opinion” tends to trickle down into the most average newsfeeds. So I thought to myself, firstly who makes these pointless cookie cutter visions of a mother and secondly why is it anyone’s business what I look like or indulge in so long as my child is healthy, fed and well cared for? I see such outdated ideals on what women in general should look like or how we should speak and quite frankly, hilarity aside, it’s appalling. In 2016, there should be no right or wrong way to be a mother especially in terms of appearance.

I was eighteen when my daughter was born so I was told that “I looked too young to be a mother” or “I can’t be a day over 16” or my personal favorite “Babies having babies”. That statement made my blood boil to no end, how dare anyone gage my ability to be a mother solely on my age or by the actions of other young women? Though I may have gotten off to a rocky start to adulthood there was never a time Ava went without, suffered or was harmed, she was always my number one priority and still is. I worked 14 hours shifts at a hostess job when I was 19 to make sure I could give Ava the best of everything, I worked a retail job I despised just to ensure I could throw her the best birthday parties. I did all these things as a teenager, as a young 20 something, as a mom with tattoos, as a mom who likes rap and hip hop and as a mom who wasn’t really concerned with what motherhood should “look like”.

I’ve seen some ridiculous articles about how children of parents with tattoos are more likely to be abused or more likely to live in poverty. Things like that make me chuckle because there’s zero validity to it, none, nada. On the other hand though there is a statistic that estimates teen mothers have less than a 30% chance of getting a college degree before she turns 30. That statistic has been proven and the fact that it has is saddening. While motherhood is no easy feat in itself, it’s not impossible to obtain a degree, teen moms just need more support in order to accomplish it. Instead of condemning these young women for not having kids at that “ideal age”, lets support their dreams and provide hand ups instead of just handouts.

Mother is not a “one size fits all” or cookie cutter persona. We do not all fit under one umbrella, and we never will. Like snowflakes like fingerprints we are all unique, diverse and wonderful. I got my first tattoo two months after Ava was born, I got my most recent last week because tattoo art is something I’m drawn to, it intrigues me, I like it. Last year I got a half sleeve piece dedicated to my grandmother and to Ava, it’s my biggest tattoo to date. At first I hesitated at the idea of getting it because I feared people’s opinion but after expressing my concerns to someone close to me he said “Sam you’re the same great mom with or without it and if you love it get it, all it changes is the outside not the inside”. I love my tattoos, Ava loves them too and she’s always so excited to tell people the tattoo on my wrist, of her name, is in her handwriting. Ava doesn’t remember me without tattoos and she doesn’t think anything of their presence, she has no bias. At the end of the day I am still her mother, her provider and her protector. The same goes for other moms, moms who are tattooed head to toe, without a single tattoo, covered in piercings or rocking some awesome hairstyle, we are all mothers! Not one stitch of our appearance can change how we love our kids and that is something people need to realize.

Things I want my Daughter to know: Love doesn’t hurt


Since you were born you’ve probably heard “I love you” thousands of times. You’ve heard it being said to you and to the people around you and at 7 years old, you probably have a simplistic definition of the word. For you “love” is the way people take care of you, brushing your hair, tucking you into bed at night and cheering you on at school events and for now and years to come this idea will serve you well. One day however you’re going to grow up and have a more panoramic view of the world and of love. At some point love won’t just be mommy coming to your play at school or putting little notes in your lunch box, no, at some point love will be something you seek from a partner, someone who knows and keeps all your secrets. Though the idea of you growing up and finding someone you love frightens me, I want you to know that of all the many things love can be, painful, should never be one of them.

Love does not hurt, love isn’t heavy or burdening, love isn’t ostracizing or tiring. It’s important that you never feel like you owe something to the person you love, remember love is not a commodity that can be bartered or exchanged; it is a mutual and constant contribution to one another’s lives. Love is good morning notes next to the coffee machine, love surprising your partner with peanut M&Ms because it’s their favorite when they’ve had a rough day. I want you to have positive experiences of love Ava, I want you to never doubt that you’re lovable and that you deserve the best. If ever you feel like what you have is less than love it’s okay to leave and it is okay to have love for a person but not be in love with them. Love is a freeing experience it makes you feel light and open to life so I caution you, if you ever feel the love you have casts shadows on your life, on your happiness, it is time to move in a different direction.

Most of all Ava I want you to understand that in life we will love many people. We will love people intimately, like family and as close friends and all these types of love are necessary to us growing as a person. Sometimes though, like flowers, love has a season and we must move on to preserve our own garden. When love stops feeling freeing know that it’s not your fault and you just cannot fix it sometimes. This doesn’t mean the love that once was is any less significant it just means that there is more out there for you and you have every right to find it.

Things I want my Daughter to know: 7 Things being your mom has taught me

This week in honor of Ava’s 7th birthday I’m doing something a little different with “Things I want my daughter to know”. This past Saturday Ava celebrated her birthday and it made me realize just how far we’ve come. When she was born I was 18 years old. I had no job and just a high school diploma. Today I am 25 and I have one degree and am steadily approaching a second. So I’m going to list 7 things being Ava’s mom has taught me.

1. There is no greater love than the love a mother possesses for her child.
I discovered this days after you were born and people wanted to touch and hold you. Though I knew they meant no harm I didn’t want anyone touching MY baby. I also felt this on your first day of school, when you began nursery I wanted to sit outside the school all day and I cried after dropping you off. Nobody could take care of you better than I could and it was hard for me to let you go and be a little person. Even now every morning when I kiss you goodbye for the day I wonder what your day will be like and if you’ll need me at any point during the day. There will never be a moment where I am not fiercely protective over you, even when you think I’m being unfair.

2. Sometimes your bad behavior is funny.
I know moms aren’t supposed to admit this but I think it’s in good humor to know that occasionally your out of line behavior cracks me up. The first time I had to excuse myself from disciplining you, you were two years old. Someone had moved your fridge letter magnets up out of your reach and you were not pleased. You attempted to reach them I heard you struggling to and as I came out to assist you, you shouted in anger “WHO THE bleep PUT THIS UP HERE?!”. To which I promptly burst into laughter and had to turn around. Should you have repeated adults bad words no. Did I correct you? Absolutely, but till this day it cracks me up. Every now and then you have little bursts of attitude and though it’s a bit out of line it’s funny to me to see such a large personality on such a little girl.

3. Just because I see the world through rose-colored glasses doesn’t mean everyone else does.
This has become clearer to me as you’ve gotten older and I find just because I gravitate to something doesn’t mean you will. It also means just because something comes easily to me it might be complex to someone else. This became obvious to me when I’ve had to explain to you why certain things aren’t acceptable in school. Though I can see your potential and know the questions to ask you to get you going again not everyone else does and I have to teach you to ask for help productively when you don’t know how to do something.

4. Change in inevitable.
I’ve said this before but the only reason I know how to roll with the punches is because I am your mother. Change is something that panics and stresses me out but I can’t let you see that. So in turn I’ve learned to accept and roll with it as best I can so my flaws never spill over into your life. Having you was the biggest change my life will ever endure but I know if I can be a mother and raise a little girl everything else life throws my way is a cake walk.

5. Kids really are mirrors; they reflect all of what’s around them.

One day when I was running late for something and I had to take you with me I truly saw that you absorbed most of the habits around you. I’m a bit anal retentive when it comes to certain things, and that clearly rubbed off on you because you wouldn’t wear socks that did not match, you downright refused. It slowed down the whole morning but it made me see that everything I do, in your presence or not, affects you in some way.

  1. Admit when you’re wrong.

This is a hard skill for people in general but I would be doing you an injustice if I didn’t teach you to be humble and admit when you mess up. I discover these things often, like when you’re right about where something is or if you did or didn’t do something. Though my first reaction is to brush it off I know I have to admit it was my mistake. Teaching you it’s okay to be wrong is the first part, I also have to teach you how to fix it. Sometimes sorry is not enough and you have to replicate that I’m sorry in the form of actions.

  1. Don’t ever stop finding reasons to smile

I am amazed at how quickly your mood can change, both good and bad, but mostly good. I am amazed that even in the middle of a rainstorm you’ll find something to laugh about or be silly. I then remember that this is a gift of youth that is often spent over time into adulthood but seeing you experience it makes me remember that it was not too long ago that I was care-free and laughing. I cherish that I can share these laughs with you and hopefully let you keep those moments a little longer.


Mommy loves you so much and one day when you’re a teenager loathing my rules and expectations I hope you’ll read this. I hope you’ll read this and gain a little clarity into the method to my madness and understand that I don’t set rules with the intent of raining on your parade but instead with intent of protection, guidance and stability. One day when you may have a daughter I hope you’ll relate to my words and they’ll finally resonate with you and you’ll see every choice was crafted out of pure love.

Virtues from Motherhood: Forgiveness

Learning to forgive is something that is instilled in us from childhood. We’re told to “forgive and forget” in order to come to terms with the blemishes others may leave on your life. Though I don’t personally believe in the forget aspect because to me every hardship or set back you experience allows us to learn something by forgiving. And why would you want to forget a lesson learned?

Forgiveness is a double-sided arrow as it is something you grant others as well as something you grant yourself. Learning to forgive yourself is as crucial to your personal growth as forgiving others is. It’s not always easy to forgive yourself because it’s not always easy to admit you gave it your best and it still was not enough.

I learned to forgive myself after I realized I had brought a child into this world who would never have that chance at normalcy that most other kids are born with. She would never have that Mom, Dad family or that two-parent household because Ava was being raised by a single mom. Ava’s father and I split when she was two years old after realizing we had ended up on different paths in life. At first the reality didn’t phase me much because I felt that all the love and support I was giving her was more than enough. It wasn’t until she began school and there was “parents night” and “fathers day lunch” that I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt.

It occurred to me that if I noticed these things other people, mainly other kids, would as well. I wondered what would happen when kids asked her where her dad was or why she didn’t see him often. My biggest fear however is that she would in some way be mad at me for the life she was born into. I constantly over compensated to try and ease my mind; the guilt would keep me up at night. It wasn’t that I felt I was a bad mom or I wasn’t capable, it was that I had her while I was still young myself and she would have to grow with me instead of just reaping the rewards of it later in life.

It took me a long time to grant myself that sense of forgiveness I needed to keep progressing. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a family friend who asked me would it have been fair to Ava to let her grow up seeing me settle? Seeing me settle for a relationship that was toxic to me, settle for not graduating college and then in turn have Ava feel that I was unhappy because I gave up everything for her. I had never thought of it that way and it made me realize several things about the people around me who had in the past admitted they’d settled for things. I didn’t want Ava to feel settling was okay or that you had to give up on yourself when you felt the slightest bit of defeat.

I forgave myself for not giving Ava that “cookie cutter” family and for having her walk with me along my journey to success. It occurred to me for the first time that maybe her seeing me reach my goals despite the obstacles I faced would be motivation for her that I would be able to show her and not just tell her in the future. Finally I forgave myself because I knew I was capable of more and that no matter what hand I was dealt, I would let the cards fall where they may. Instead of accepting defeat or succumbing to my own guilt, I powered through it because your past does not define your future it is merely another brick in the foundation of your life.