Today’s Community Blogger is Tamara D. Brown. Tamara is a social research interviewer by trade and a minister by vocation. She blogs at The Well Report. Tamara became a single mother in 1979. She was 19. She married 11 years later. She is the mother of one daughter: BBM’s founder, Stacia L. Brown.
Stacia sat down with her mom and asked her a few questions about her early single-parenting experiences. Here’s what she had to say about sacrifice, the importance of finding trustworthy caregivers, and determining your child’s love language.
1. Take us back to the day you discovered you were pregnant. What do you remember about it?
I knew from the moment of conception. From that day on, I would not take any medication, not even an aspirin. Then when I felt the first flutter, I called you Stacia.
2. How did you break the news to my father? What was his response?
I don’t remember breaking the news or his reaction. It was probably shock.
3. Initially, did you feel more prepared for motherhood than you actually were or did you feel like you were in over your head from Day 1?
Although I was only 19, I felt mentally prepared — until one day when I was spending the day with some friends. One of them had had her son when she was 14. She looked worn and overwhelmed. Suddenly I remember feeling like my heart was sinking, and I needed someone to push me up a steep hill. I was about five months pregnant then — a little over halfway through –but I kept repeating to myself that I was not going to make it. I received encouragement from God and my friends that day. I don’t recall ever feeling that kind of despair since. I never allowed myself to feel defeated.
4. Beyond Baby Mamas often talks about the importance of building a village (or support system) to help with the rigors of child rearing? Over the years, who are some of the people comprised your village?
As a child I had so many caregivers, I don’t remember their faces or names. That’s not healthy for a child. For years, it affected my ability to establish certain friendships. I knew that I didn’t want that for your life so I made a concerted effort to only allow immediate family and close friends to look after you. These caregivers were your maternal and paternal grandmothers, my grandmother and your god parents. As you grew older, our circle widened and I met other single parents with whom we shared meals and other social activities.
5. What was the hardest part about parenting alone?
There were days when you just needed physical help. I remember a time when you were about four years old and we didn’t have a television. It was one of those luxuries most families seemed to have, and it was one I felt I would’ve been able to easily afford if I weren’t a single parent. You wanted a TV, and I wanted you to have one. There was an appliance store behind our apartment that sold them. I couldn’t afford a delivery fee and there was no one to pick it up for us, so I pushed the TV out the door and across the parking lot. I found a rip in the fence that divided our apartment building from the store parking lot. I pushed the TV through the torn fence, we climbed under it and I pushed it all the rest of the way home. Having to do the “heavy lifting” — literally, in that case — alone could be tough.
The hardest part was watching you want something so bad and not being able to get it. I had to find a way. Some years later that same TV broke down and I was able to get it to the shop but there was no one to pick it up. I carried it home.
6. When did your faith become such an integral part of your parenting?
When you were an infant, I looked over in your crib and decided I wanted to be someone you’d be proud of. I didn’t know how to do that. When you were two, I went to God and asked Him to give me a new life and wisdom to rear you. He did just that.
7. When did you find time to date?
LOL… I dated when you went away for the summer to visit relatives. The school years were yours.
8. As a child, I only remember meeting about three men you dated. How did you know when it was time to allow me to meet a significant other?
I don’t know that a made a conscious choice during those times. Occasionally some relationships would spill over into the school year. One of the gentleman was someone I casually dated during the summer. He wanted to continue to see me so he said you could go on dates with us…lol. The other was also a single parent raising his daughter. The third was someone who had proposed but wound up not being right for me.
9. What advice, if any, would you like to give to single mothers?
I would advise any single mother to identify what your child(ren)’s love language is. Each person has something that makes her feel especially loved. Make sure that you are expressing individual love in that way.
Human touch is so important. If you didn’t grow up in a home where there was a lot of affection. Make sure you incorporate that in your home.
Try to watch your words. Single parenting can have many frustrating moments. What we say in those difficult times — those things we say in anger but don’t really mean — can become self-fulfilling prophecy. Words can wound the spirit.
Lastly, it seems that modern single moms have more support than we did back when I was raising a child alone. But what hasn’t changed is the need for single moms to refresh themselves. Make time for yourself. Network with other single mothers so that each one gets some “me time.”