I’m a 25-year-old mother of a five-year old. In many ways, we are growing up together. I’m growing into a woman I can be proud of, trying to create a better life for us and she is growing into a beautiful and smart child that questions and pushes almost every boundary set. She keeps me very busy.
Just before I turned 25, I made a conscious decision to become better. A better mother, a better law student, a better friend, and better person that’s open to giving and receiving love. I call this choice I made, the “journey to better.” In order to do that, I needed to become more honest with my reality and begin to stand in my own truth. One of the ways I did that was to write a blog asking for help in dealing with the residual effects of being a single mom on BBM. Many times it felt as though I was the only one dealing with “my type” of single motherhood. It was so affirming to know that not only was I not the only one, but other women (and men) had been through it and lived to affirm, support, and share some of their story with me. I thank all of the many people I know, and those I don’t know personally, that took the time out to share my story and encourage me. I am grateful.
As I stumbled and bumbled (and sometimes I still do) throughout life, I realized that I was living in fear. Fear of not being good enough: Not being a good enough mother, Not being a good enough student, Not making all the right choices… I was trying too hard to be perfect; to overcome the void that I thought existed for my child. I suppressed this fear by keeping myself extremely busy: with school, work, play dates, extracurricular activities. In my mind, if she was kept busy, she’d feel no void.
Then one day I just stopped—stopped trying to be the perfect young single mom (what the hell is that anyway?), stopped being my own worst critic, started talking about my fears and talking through them. I was all zen with my imperfections, and trying to become better through and despite them. I focused on the love I was giving to my daughter and myself and trusted that that was enough.
Then I received an email from my daughter’s absent father’s wife asking for a meeting with me.
ALL the work that I had done on becoming better and talking through my fears went away… quickly. I was swimming in an ocean of fears, mistrust, anger, and lack of control, once again (sigh). In retrospect, I think I was having a very human response. I had just become comfortable with my life as I thought it would be. I spent the first 0-2 years of my daughter’s life maybe trying/maybe not trying, to make the relationship work with her father. I spent her 3- and 4-year-old time trying something, anything, to create a relationship with anyone on her paternal side of the family. At her 5th birthday, I gave up and said, “Okay, God. This is your will. And now her father wants to be a part of her life and he sent his new wife to communicate it to me?”
So, predictably, old Yasmine came back and did what she does best: avoid. Hey, I am an imperfect person.
Fast forward a few weeks, a new court date has been scheduled and I have resolved to meet with my daughter’s, I guess, stepmom, before the court date. I’m back on my journey to better – and that includes this next step, wherever it brings us.
My purpose in writing this blog post today was to share (and maybe encourage another BBM community member) that there is no one way to experience single motherhood, and it is hard as hell to be a mom. Mainly because we have to put our children’s needs first, protect them at the same time, fit in some time for self-care, and honestly that balance is hard to maintain. It’s okay to acknowledge that parenting is hard and not have it be interpreted as complaining (at least it is for me).
My turning point came when I threw up may hands and said, “F— it, I can’t make anyone be a parent, I can’t be a perfect mom, I am who I am, I love my daughter with every fiber of my being and that is enough.”
I just want to remind you that we, as single mothers and parents, are enough.
Love, light, and plenty of encouragement to you during the new year!
Yasmine is a proud single mother, avid traveler, professional multitasker, and writer for the upcoming lifestyle blog, FortuneTwenties and social commentary blog Why.Race.Still.Matters. She is an alumna of Spelman College and a law student at Rutgers School of Law. Tweet her words of encouragement and support here.