Dating by its own account can be a nerve wracking ordeal, picking a time and a place, juggling a busy schedule, and of course what to wear. Then throw in finding a sitter and a night where you have no other responsibilities and you might be inclined to just stay home. If you’re a single mom, or dad for that matter, you know how hectic managing your life can be without trying to pencil in time to get to know someone new.
When you’re a single parent, your life tends to be a cycle of wake up, go to work, pick up the little one and prepare for tomorrow, and if you’re like me throw a full schedule of college classes in there. With only 24 hours in the day finding even one to sit down with a date or potential significant other can be a feat that you end up neglecting altogether. Since Ava’s father and I split in 2011 I have been in one serious relationship spanning just over a year and even that amazes me. I’ve gone on plenty of dates and awkward “you just have to meet my friend” set ups but after one or two meet ups over lunch or dinner I usually end up having to cancel future plans because something comes up, mostly because I don’t have a sitter or I’m just swamped with work and school responsibilities. My family helps me tremendously with Ava while I’m at work and at school and some days I’m out of the house from 9am until 9pm so asking them to watch her yet another night so I can go on a date seems a little selfish of me, not to mention after being a passing ship to Ava most nights a week I want to use my weekend to hang out with her. In my mind a date can wait, I just want to be home.
That desire to just want to flop on the couch and watch Disney movies on a Friday night is often met with skepticism. Things like “Don’t you want more kids?” “Don’t you want to get married soon?”, “You’re still single?!” come whizzing past your head at family gatherings or even work events and for the sake of your job, and being polite, you learn and master new ways to avoid or brush off this questions all the while screaming in your head “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT THIS NOW!”. Don’t get me wrong, the women who stuck it out with their partners, whose relationships work, I applaud you and I’m happy you’ve found that so early in life. But for others it didn’t happen in that order, some of us thought love started and ended with a high school sweetheart only to find that a high school romance may not be strong enough to withstand the seasons of life. So when these relationships don’t work we don’t throw pity parties, we throw on our grown up britches and get on with it. We pour ourselves into giving to our kids, to bettering their lives and to make sure they live the life they deserve, after all they didn’t ask to be here.
What it comes down to and truth of the matter is I don’t want to be in a relationship right now, I simply do not have the time to commit to one and I’m not one to half commit or skirt on any aspect of my life. Right now I’m worried about getting my second degree and securing a good job for Ava and I to live comfortably. I want my own life to be on solid ground before I begin looking to share that ground with anyone else. I’m unapologetic when it comes to being consumed with my own life because when I’m ready to share it … I will.
I think it goes without saying that we want to raise our children to love themselves, accept who they are and believe in their own potential but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard someone tell a child how or why it’s so important to love who you are every single day of the year.
One day you’ll be a big girl, a young adult, a teenager looking in the mirror and comparing yourself to the Scarlett Johansson’s or the Michele Obama’s of the world. You’ll wonder if you’ll ever be that pretty or that ambitious, and the answer is yes. Yes, over time you will grow into a beautiful polished woman but in the mean time appreciate the time you have to grow. Realize that you will never have all the answers and that’s okay, part of growing up means asking for help and admitting you’re lost. People respect honesty and needing help doesn’t mean you’re any less capable. You will never have all the answers but you’ll have some and the company you keep, friends and mentors, will fill in the rest.
Remember to always love yourself, remember that you are your best investment. Never discount your own abilities because they are as strong as you believe them to be, practice makes perfect baby girl. Don’t seek to grow up or see success over night because you’ll be disappointed. Instead take small moments to look back at the small victories and the progress you’ve made. Every time you look in the mirror smile, smile at your beauty, your luscious curly hair, your dimples and your infectious laughter. Love everything that makes you who you are because one day it will be those very things that someone will love so much about you, that friends will enjoy so much about being around you. Nobody can ever take those things from you, no matter how mean or unkind they may be. Remember that the things that make you who you are, are embedded in you and they will always shine through, let them.
Finally Ava remember that perfection is a state of mind and not a reality, nobody is perfect not even me. I have made my fair share of mistakes and messed up opportunities and failed even after my best attempts. These things do not define you or your future I promise. These are merely stories to pass onto your own daughter or tools to inspire others. It’s so easy to blame yourself and slowly begin to resent who you are or what you’ve done or lack thereof but don’t give in, don’t let fear win. Fear will turn you into a wallflower and someone who is afraid to take leaps and bounds. So remember even in your darkest hour you are the light in someone else’s life, mine, your friends and even someone you’ve never met, you inspire someone. Loving yourself is so important for your own success it is important to acknowledge your strengths as well as your weaknesses and know that sometimes you will win and sometimes you will loose but success is a journey not a destination and you should love yourself at every step of that journey.
All my love,
Everyone in life has goals, dreams or aspirations of what they aim to achieve in life. People make plans and timelines to accomplish these things with the hope that they won’t be derailed or rerouted along the way. Reality however tells us that isn’t how things work and my life is testament to it. At 18 years old, in my very first semester of college I found out that I was pregnant. That was one of the most emotional days of my life; fear, anxiety, excitement and confusion overwhelmed me. How could I raise a baby? Would I be a good mom? What would happen to my goals and plans for myself?
Ultimately I decided to have the baby, a little girl I named Ava. After weighing my options and listening to the opinions and advice of my close friends and family I decided that I made an adult choice and I would just arrange my life goals around raising a daughter. To my surprise that was far easier said than done and I found myself overwhelmed with a newborn and a full time college schedule. I dropped out of John Jay College when Ava was 9 months old and didn’t return to college until 2013. Dropping out of college was a difficult and defeating choice for me and I felt lost and unmotivated after. I felt like I’d failed myself and my family and most of all Ava. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be someone she looked up to or admired and that she’d feel I was a quitter. So at 23 I rolled my sleeves up and went back to college, albeit no easy task while working full time but I was determined to finish what I’d started.
In June of 2015 at 25 years old I finally earned a college degree, an Associates in Business Administration. I didn’t have plans to go on for my bachelors but my advisor and English professor encouraged me to keep going and recognize my own potential. I am so glad I continued onto City Tech because in one semester I have met such amazing people and made life long friends. I have met professors who believe in and encourage me and make me feel that my goals are possible.
That is why I am writing this blog I want other moms or even other parents who are working and going to school while raising a child that this is possible and you can do it. I want anyone who’s been told to give up, go home or quit to read my experiences and feel inspired or reach out for support. My high school guidance counselor told me that I would never get any type of college degree being a teen mom that I should forget college and go find a full time job. Not only was she insanely unprofessional, she was wrong because I earned my degree and I’m working on a second. So whoever you are, whatever you’re doing know that it is possible and you will succeed because we all have the power inside of us to do so despite the struggles that we have endured. Remember the word impossible itself says “I’m possible”.
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