Living the good life
Twenty-five, unmarried and uninterested… I blindly set out on a journey – never thinking beyond the next day, never stopping to ask myself if I was ready to raise one baby, much less three by myself! If I had bothered, the answer would have been unequivocal, NO. But today as I watched my daughter, my firstborn cross the threshold, I know beyond a doubt that I am a good mother.
I’m not just a baby’s mama or just a single mother. I am simply a mother. I can now without reservation say; I am qualified, certified, justified and you can punch my ticket because I have been validated.
“I’m going out, and I’ll be back,” I told my sister as I closed the door. How many times had she learned that story? Back then I went out every night from Wednesday to Saturday. Sometimes I wouldn’t make it home until the next day. I never really worried about my children and their health because I had two younger sisters and occasionally my mom would stay home while I prowled the streets. I didn’t think my kids cared or even realized I was not there and I used that to my advantage. I told myself they moved too young to realize I was an absentee parent, but I was wrong.
I had duped myself into thinking that I was giving my children all I had to give and I dared anyone to dispute me! That was my story, and I was sticking to it. I thought I was doing my job because sometimes I would read to them before they went to sleep. I taught them how to write and spell their names, but the one thing I didn’t do was make raising my family my number one priority. Sure, I had moments of lucidity when I would realize the error of my ways and try to do the right thing, but overall, that wasn’t the case. My happiness came first.
Putting a man before my kids was never a problem for me. Putting myself before my kids was the culprit. For me, it was always about what I needed or what I wanted to do. I’m not saying I should’ve given my children every moment of my free time because we all need a little me time for sanity reasons. I’m saying when you have to make decisions that could negatively impact your children, always choose your kids.
Just ask yourself, what investment do you have in the club? Like Janet Jackson said, what has the club done for you lately? Is the club paying your bills? Heck no. As a matter of fact, with the money you spend getting in and buying drinks, you are paying the club’s bills! After being a parent who on occasion chose the club, I can tell you; there is nothing in the club that won’t be there next time and the next time and the next time… It rarely changes. On the other hand, your children are changing.
They are developing a sense of who they are and their importance in this world, and I hate to lay it on heavy, but most of that depends on you! You have a responsibility to your family and keep in mind those children did not ask to be here. We made the decision to bring them here and in doing so, we accepted the challenge and responsibilities that come with it.
One evening as I got dressed to go out, I noticed my seven-year-old daughter sitting in the corner watching me every move. In her eyes I could see love, admiration and respect resonating and I realized that I was setting the stage for her future and as of that point; I had done nothing to encourage her to be a successful, respectful young lady. Oh, she would know how to dress and look like a lady but what was I showing her? What was I teaching her about men and relationships when I was in and out of them every few months? What kinds of responsibility was I teaching her when I would go out and buy a new outfit every week for the club, then struggle to feed them off what was left?
Throughout my children’s upbringing, I can say I always maintained a job, sometimes two, but there was never enough money. That is because I knew nothing about money management and budgeting policy. My thing was, “I work every day, and I am not going to spend all my money on bills!” I believed in paying myself before I paid anything else. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
I eventually learned about making a sacrifice for a short period to see a long-term benefit. But that was only after having numerous utilities disconnected, a car repossessed and being about one day away from eviction. Can you say ruined credit? But what did I care about my credit? I simply stopped answering the phone and did what a lot of single mothers do wait on my income tax check to get those creditors off my back.
At forty I would like to buy a house and a new car, but my credit is shot to hell! I pay for monthly credit monitoring, write letters to the three credit bureaus frequently, and though I see some results, it’s slow moving. Now I have to wait – just like the creditors did. Sometimes I had to make the hard decisions where a bill would have to wait because it was rough and money was scarce, but for the most part, I have to say honestly; I ruined my credit because I didn’t make smart choices and my priorities were mixed up. It’s that simple.
Within it all
God continued to bless me and put some people in society in my path that would guide me and teach me about sacrificing. But I believe my biggest lessons came from the three who were placed in my care. If you take time to get to know your children, you will realize their greatness. They have the ability to transform, mold and shape you into someone you can be proud of, but you have to invest in them. Try it. You will be surprised by the transformation you see when you begin to listen to them, talk to them and do the little things. I know I was amazed. This was an awakening for me because when I saw the good things reflecting from a mini me, I began to see my greatness and I began to respect myself and demand more from life truly.
I thank God for making those wonderful, beautiful little creatures whose blind love and sometimes not so blind love, made me a better person. I have three distinct individuals, and I love the challenge of reaching them on their level. I have been blessed with a smart, beautiful daughter. Her personality is a lot like mine, so I talk to her a lot about my mistakes. Sometimes she says I tell her too much, but I want her to know my struggles so that they won’t become hers.
I have a 17-year-old son. He’s always been a loner, and on occasion, I have had to resist the urge to try to change him. He’s intelligent, quiet but outspoken at the same time. He rarely challenges me and has said little about the times I was not the best parent in the world. Maybe he didn’t notice because he’s always been in his little corner of the world. Either way, he knows he has an outlet in which to express his feelings.
My youngest son is 15 and not quite as easy or forgiving as his siblings. From about age four he has been causing me to own up to my mess. He doesn’t give me a pass because I was a single mother. His philosophy is so simple. He frequently says, “You should have made better life choices.” Of course, he is right, and it hurts to hear him say it, but it keeps me focused and hopefully, it will become his mantra, also. I don’t expect him to be like his brother or sister. I respect his individuality, and though sometimes his “individuality” tests my limits, I refuse to give up on him.
After extensive conversations with my children, I now know they were aware of more than I gave them credit for. For a long time afterward, I was ashamed of my behavior and would experience moments of depression because I didn’t like looking at that man in the mirror. I had to realize I can’t erase the past but I can learn from it. We go through things to make us wiser and better people, maybe even do a little bit of research.
I can honestly say I cleaned up my act and I am not just a good mother; I am a good person.out of the hard times I went through I was still happy, feeling less tension because I was able to achieve weight loss success and also helped my friends to understand and beware on causes of breast cancer.