The Strength of a Village...An Essay

Below is an essay I published in the book, the Global Orphan Crisis. It was about single motherhood. I haven't read it in a while, and thought I would share it with you! The photo is circa the early 70s with my sweet momma in PA.

The year was 1971, a fifteen-year-old girl dressed in a cream-colored dress with three gold buttons down the middle, sat nervously in a doctor’s office tucked away in a little town in Pennsylvania, with her mother at her side. The doctor entered with a grim look on his face and placed a handful of papers in front of the young girl. They were adoption papers…she was pregnant. The doctor handed her the pen to sign away the growing baby in her belly to another family. The girl’s mother didn’t urge her to sign the papers instead she told her that it was her baby and her choice. Much to the doctor’s chagrin, the girl never signed the papers. Instead, she and her mother marched out of that office and into an ice cream parlor at a popular department store and shared a banana split. I’m so glad that young girl pushed those papers aside because she was my mother. On April 17th, 1972 I was born to an unwed fifteen-year-old girl and into a family that embraced and surrounded me with an extraordinary amount of love. On all accounts, my childhood was a very happy one. I was blissfully unaware of all the struggles my mother endured. She shielded me from the ugliness of people who looked down on her because of her age, marital status, and not to mention that she was Caucasian and had me to an African American man. I was oblivious to her money woes, her heartbreak over my biological father’s lack of participation and support, and the stress she must have suffered raising a child when she was only a child herself. What I did see was a mother who worked hard, held her head up high, strived to do better, and was fiercely protective over me. My mother was and is my hero. I didn’t care that she was a single mom…she was my mom, my anchor, and the love of my life.

Fast forward to February 16th, 2006, a beautiful baby girl with a headful of hair is born at George Washington Hospital, in Washington, DC. I gave birth, and my mother was right there with me along with the next most significant person in my life, my grandmother. The same woman who stood by that young girl thirty-four years ago was now standing beside my hospital bed as I experienced my own miracle of life, my daughter. I had great expectations for my baby girl, none of which included me being a single mom. But, on a sunny crisp day in November 2007, I found myself unloading a U-Haul and moving into a two-bedroom apartment with my twenty-month-old daughter in tow. That year wasn’t my finest. I separated from my daughter’s father, lost my beloved grandmother to Alzheimer’s the day after Christmas, and was an emotional disaster. I had become what I dreaded, a statistic… a single mom. I wasn’t fifteen, I was thirty-four, but I was still scared out of my wits! This wasn’t how I envisioned starting off motherhood!

In hindsight, it isn’t a big surprise that the relationship with my daughter’s father failed. We fell in love at bolt lightning speed and neglected to nurture our relationship or give it the time it required to evolve into a mature and stable partnership. We went from enjoying a carefree relationship to acquiring a family with absolutely no preparation and an idealized perception of parenthood. Yet, foolishly, I still didn’t anticipate I’d be a single mom. During, my first year of single motherhood I faced a number of challenges that rocked me to my core. The hopelessness and isolation I felt were paralyzing. I was four hours away from my family and had very few friends. One day, as I was awaiting the return of my daughter, and having an emotional breakdown, I glanced over at my coffee table and noticed my grandmother’s bible sitting there. My grandmother was a Christian soldier. I never met anyone with the faith or love for Christ that she embodied. Her bible was a part of who she was, and I desperately needed a part of her at that moment, so I opened the bible and began to read through the tears.

The floodgates brok