*i normally refer to my daughter as “Brittany Spears” in my blog, but this was more serious so I used her name.
I usually do not give you much thought, you’ve been relegated to the back of my mind. A space normally reserved for the inconsequential, only accessed out of necessity. Today, though, you’re right there at the forefront of every thought. However, today those thoughts do not conjure the same negative emotion that generally accompanies them. There is no anger, disgust or shame. Today I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for you…because today is Mother’s Day.
I got home from work at a little after 8 am, I’m on the graveyard shift this weekend. Since I had 3 full days off in the last 3 weeks I was able to get the house moderately clean so there were only a few toys to step over as I crept into Emily’s room. Just a glimpse of my sweet girl nestled in her covers fills me with a surge of love so powerful it catches me off guard every time. I have never known a feeling so intoxicating yet so pure. When she begins to stir, I quietly tip toe towards my own room and collapse into my bed.
I can’t sleep for the ticker tape of “To Do” lists running thru my mind. Then the “Happy Mother’s Day” texts and social media alerts begin. I’m flattered to be thought of by so many of my amazing friends and family. I truly feel blessed, yet the self pity finds a way to creep in. The resentful little hot head in me mentally composed a text to you that went kind of like; “Just wanted to thank you for making me a single mother! I’ve aged 10 years in 2, Gotten to experience the joys of being economically disadvantaged, delivered a baby by myself, carried the weight of almost losing that baby all on my own, have dragged her to hospitals, surgeries, court… Without help from a partner. I’ve moved, changed or rearranged every part of who I am. I’ve been labeled, looked down on, nearly disowned. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in over 2 years, I work insane hours, study in the middle of the night until early in the morning, scramble to class every week. My social life is non existent, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to date, I have no man in my life, no one to lean on. I don’t recognize the tired, unkept reflection that greets me from the mirror….” At some point my exhaustion caught up to me and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up this afternoon to Emily bouncing in from church with my parents. She squealed with happiness and ran to me, arms extended with one tiny fist tightly clutched around a flower. Looking down at her I thought that if her smile were any bigger it wouldn’t fit on her precious little face. As she stood beaming, proffering the now crumpled coronation, I was again flooded with emotion. Pride, wonder, awe, and a kind of love that is so vast and deep it is simply indescribable, washed over me and any ounce of resentment toward you vanished. Instantly. A new message began taking form. This is the one I will share with you.
I just wanted to thank you for helping me become a mother. I’ve done more growing up in the last 2 years than in the previous 10 years combined. I’ve discovered a resourcefulness in myself that I did not know existed, a strength I had thought unfathomable and a faith I presumed long gone. Our daughter has been through more in her short life than most and seeing the resilience sparkle in her eyes bolsters my own. Her strength reinforces my drive to defy the hand we were dealt. My struggles have turned from road blocks to stepping stones in my efforts to give her the best life I can. The moment I held Emily in arms my heart softened, my mind eased …. I changed. I became gentler, kinder. My priorities were rearranged, the trivialities that once took so much of my energy ceased to have meaning. Taking care of myself and my baby became the only priority . I was moved to move, to put down roots, cultivate community, foster family ties and provide a village to help me as I guide my little girl through childhood. I’ve settled into a life that is grounded in love instead of doubt. I have found out who truly cares for me and who is unworthy of my time, that is a gift in itself
I’ve always had long nights but now at the end I am fulfilled instead of depleted. Spending my evenings reading stories, giving baths and coloring is far more gratifying than anything I found in a club or bar or bedroom. The hours of my days are packed with purpose and ended with a simple prayer recited nightly with Emily. It may surprise you to know that you’re included in that prayer. And tho my reflection is disheveled when I see the light in my eyes that comes from being a mother, I am content….and I am thankful.
So today I want to thank you for giving me such an incredible gift and for entrusting me to raise her on my own. You’ve shown me just how strong I am and that’s the kind of example I want to set for our daughter.
Pay your child support, bitch.