Updated: May 9, 2020
“It always seems impossible until its done.” Nelson Mandela
There are different ways of being a mom, you can be a foster mom, adoptive mom, biological mom, a step mom, and a grandma. Doesn’t matter your title if you take care of a child and have their best interests at heart you’re a MOM. Despite what anyone may say being a MOM is no easy task. I had no idea what becoming a mom would entail. No clue how much work it would take. When they say it takes a village they are in no way, shape, or form, lying. When I became a mom, I was a #teenmom at the super tender age of 15 years old. I already had a huge sense of responsibility the second that I my daughter entered the world. I’ve heard stories from about other young moms who wanted nothing to do with their babies as soon as they were born and wanted to just go back to living their lives as they were before they got pregnant. And Im sure that even occurs with older woman. For me I was immediately, deeply in love. The hilarious part was that my daughter grilled me the second she was born. She didn’t even cry, she looked at me with her her grey wide eyes, looking like she was pissed for being there and I was amazed that my little human already had such a personality. The whole thing was amazing to me, to be honest. I had a super smooth pregnancy but the labor lasted 21 hours, I was blessed to have had a midwife and she was amazing through it all, not forcing me to have an epidural regardless of the amount of pain she saw me in. I made sure my birthing plan was clear that I didn’t want to do anything that could potentially harm my child. That was my own personal choice and everyones journey is 100% their own. For me, the rush of a million emotions hit me immediately. I was lucky to feel immense love and joy but also fear and a huge sense of protection over this tiny little defenseless human. From that moment on my life changed irrevocably and I wouldn’t change it for the world. MY main objective from then on was going to be to make sure I protect and guide this human to the best of my ability.
Raising a child definitely takes a village. Many helped in the beginning of my daughters arrival, primarily my parents. Helping me and my boyfriend at the time to be able to graduate from high school and allowing us to do what we needed to do. For me that was to go to college in NYC and her father picked up and left like he could. However a couple years into college my parents could no longer afford to live in this expensive city after retirement and moved overseas. My daughter’s fathers’ caretakers who also helped when they could also retired and moved overseas. So for a long time I felt very alone in raising my daughter. It seemed that everyone left when I needed them the most, right in the beginning of my sophomore year in college and without no other family resources here it almost felt like I was being punished. I wanted noting more than to succeed for my daughters sake and to make sure she had a happy healthy childhood and it felt like the world was against me. I'm not gonna lie, for a long time I was very bitter, angry and sad at the difficulty of my circumstances. I was a child raising a child and couldn’t see past my circumstances. It was a lonely, trying time that I had placed myself in. But I honestly believe that the hardest times of your life especially when you’re young are what test and shape your character and who you become, how much perseverance you have later in life and how well you can overcome the inevitable challenges we all face.
I finally came to realize that at the end of the day it was really my choice to stay here in one of the most expensive, and hardest cities to live in the world and I chose to push through. My parents did what they could and offered me the opportunity to move with them but Ive always been stubborn and I chose to make my way here. My father always called me the rebel without a cause but I did have a lot of causes, too many to count more than he knew at the time. They taught me what it was to fight hard and keep pushing, they taught me hard work, perseverance and family values and there was no way I was ever going to give in that easily. I had a lot to prove to myself and to my daughter and never liked to take the easy way out of things, my life was always a reflection of that stubbornness I had.
In hindsight, I realize that that was one of the biggest blessings in my life. I made a lot of mistakes along the way but learned so much and continue to learn from those experiences to this day. They taught me to have confidence in myself and to know that after I have a good cry to wipe my tears, stop feeling sorry for myself and find a way. I remember many times going grocery shopping and being afraid that my card would be declined because it happened so many times, especially when my daughter was with me because I would have to pretend everything was fine and figure something else out so that she wouldn’t notice. I still secretly get this feeling to this day when I go grocery shopping which reminds me how grateful I am. Back then, if I didn’t have enough to buy us both food, it didn’t matter as long as she could eat. And being a full time student Ramen noodles were our go to. Yeah it wasn’t the best source of nutrition but it was what I could afford and I suffered in silence because to this day there were very few people who knew what our situations were. I couldn’t tell my parents because they were struggling financially themselves. And I wasn’t receiving help from anyone. This is the truth. Life is hard sometimes but you do the best you can and keep pushing because I truly believe that it’s worth it. That its a gift to be here and share what you learn so that others don’t feel alone and hopefully it inspires people to speak up about what they go through so we can heal collectively and find solutions together. No matter what we are #strongertogether and when you change your perspective, believe it or not doors open up. I started to look for sitters and started asking family friends which led me to some very sweet wonderful people that helped me out when they could. And then my daughter’s biological paternal grandmother came out of seemingly nowhere and helped me so much while she was still here with us and her aunt was also a huge help. Always has been and has literally been there through it all since the day that I found out I was pregnant. Of course during those times nothing was easy or simple and I had to commute 4 to 5 times a week, 3 hrs each way transferring to 3 trains, waiting for the ferry, traveling on that for 30 minutes, then taking a taxi to her grandmothers staten island home with a small child early in the mornings to do it all over again on the way back to make sure I’d make it in time to Jamaica, Queens for my 9am classes. To say I was tired would be a complete understatement.
I was a full-time student and to earn an income bartending and waitressing became the only jobs that worked with my crazy schedules so there wasn’t a lot of sleeping going on back in those years. Most weekends I was getting out of work at 4-5am coming home to pick up my daughter bring her to SI, heading back to go to class then sleeping when I could, to start the commute again on Sundays to pick up my daughter, take her to school in the morning, sleep in the day, pick her up from school help her with her school work go back to work and start the weekend routine all over again. This was pretty much my routine throughout my college years that no one had a clue about except maybe a few of my closest people. I didn’t ever need anyone to feel bad for me because that did nothing for me it wasn’t going to feed me or my daughter and I just didn’t want to make the effort to explain my situation to anyone. Even most of my friends in college had no clue because I would also find time to go out and spend time with them. I only talk about it now because I believe that we can all learn a lot from hearing each others’ stories and seeing that we are capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit. No matter the circumstances, I graduated with my Bachelors of Science degree with a major and minor and got that notch on my tool belt. I’m sure there were many who didn’t think I could do it, and many more who rooted for me, regardless of anybody else, I was proud of myself because only I knew what it truly cost to get there.
Through every struggle I found a victory, though not right away it took me a long time of self-reflection, forgiveness both to self and others and an immense amount of gratitude and humility to finally see through the thick curtain of bitterness and resentment that I harbored against others. Through all my ups and downs, my anxiety attacks, hair loss and times when I seriously only had enough to feed her, I kept it together in front of my daughter. I worked really hard to always make it seem like everything was just fine even though everything felt like it was falling apart because I wanted her to have a different childhood from mine, free of adult worries. My parents are amazing people and growing up we had a lot of financial hardships that I was acutely aware of.
There were a lot of tears, broken shoes that had to be glued, Christmas' with no gifts that we had to make the best of, moving from one place to another and yet no matter the hardships they would do their best to take us on adventures every year, they taught us to always give back to the community and passed on the travel bug to us. Not everything was perfect, I made a lot of mistakes and I’m sure I’ll continue to make them but that’s the beauty of them because if its not for those mistakes we’d never be able to grow as people. Now as a young adult, my daughter and I have a lot of conversations and she tells me how she notices a lot of her peers worry about money because their parents are struggling, I tell her that unfortunately I can relate a lot to those kids. When I’ve asked her if she remembers the hardships we had when she was little she looks at me confused and says she never even had any idea we were struggling. And I just sigh in relief, thankful she didn’t realize how hard things were.
I’ve always loved being a mom, no matter how hard it was being a single mom, alone with a small child trying to get my degree. Having to find help from people I didn’t expect. I didn’t just feel alone, I was literally alone. Everyone was living their own life, my entire family and source of help lived in another country. My daughter’s father was nonexistent. And all the times I had the option or choice to make things easier for myself and maybe even for my daughter I chose to be her mom and to raise her. Every time I questioned if I was doing the right thing I would remember where I come from, who my family is, how hard they always worked to make sure we had everything we needed and I just felt that my daughter deserved the same. And I’m thankful now that I made the decisions I made. I’m thankful that I was raised by warriors who taught me to be a warrior in return through their example. I know there are many many many people who aren’t as lucky and had terrible examples growing up or zero relationships with their parents yet they placed their children first and made sure to raise their children so as not to repeat cycles. It takes a really strong beautiful soul to pull yourself together enough to be there day in and day out for your child no matter what you’re going through.
At the time that I met my husband, I had sent my daughter to live with my parents for a school year while I prepared myself financially at home. I knew he was the one when he convinced me to bring her home sooner than I expected because he saw how miserable and sad it made me to not have her with me. That among many other things sealed the deal with knowing he was the one for me. The way he came into my life and the amount of strength I saw in him being a single father himself with full physical custody (something extremely rare to see) he had gone through so much to ensure his daughters’ safety and well being and reminded me that I had gone through everything I went through for a reason and from then on we would figure things out together.
Being a parent is tricky, we’re responsible for a human that will grow up to be an adult and will impact so many people in their lives and a lot of what they do to others or how they are will be because of what we did or didn’t do when they were growing up. To me being a parent is the most important job in the world and I can’t even begin to understand how some people can take it so lightly, doing the bare minimum and think they deserve the title just because of biology. Today I am not only a bio mom to a beautiful young woman but also an extra mom to my wonderful step daughter. I chose to step up and be as much of an example to both of my girls and although I only gave life to one, I’m dedicated to both. Being a parent is a lot more than biology and definitely a lot more than being around some of the time when its convenient. Its a lot more than who you come from, and more of who is there for you, through the hard times and the good, not when its just easy. My husband is also an amazing #stepdad to my daughter and neither of us are perfect but we do the best we can. I have so much respect for people who can take in other peoples biological children and dedicate themselves to being there for them and guiding them, providing them with a safe ,warm home. It takes a lot of work and its a lot harder than most people expect but we blended our families to the best of our abilities and we are so grateful for how imperfectly perfect it is.
Everyone’s experience is different. I don’t judge but I also don’t enable bullshit. At the end of the day you know peoples true intentions when they make excuses about their past but not much really changes in relation to their commitments in the present. Today I’m proud of both my daughter’s and who they have grown to become. Empathetic, compassionate, loving, strong willed, beautiful young women. It’s so important for me to show my girls that no matter how hard life tries to knock you down you have to keep fighting, dust yourself off and get back up again. No excuses needed. Just get it done. Commit yourself to do what you need to do, especially when its hard because when time passes you don’t get it back.
With lots of love today and always,
P.S. I’d love to hear your stories and experiences with motherhood or step motherhood below!