Louis Armstrong, The Dougie, & My Choice To Be A Single Mom
Today is Mother's Day. I have been on a roller coaster of emotions, but I couldn't even begin to tell you why. I woke up in tears, i called my best friend in tears, I hugged my daughter in tears, and I cried into my coffee. If didn't have stock in NuvaRing I would think I was pregnant. Seriously, it was ridiculous. But I really was a hot mess, and finally, after some contemplation, and a post "put the kiddo down for a nap" Mimosa, I realized why I was crying like...well..a baby. I had woken up with a clear understanding of this life I have chosen.
I can hear your thoughts.
"Wha? This life you've CHOSEN?? Put the Mimosa down, honey. You're starting to talk crazy."
But it's true...I literally CHOSE to be a single mother. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed, recanting the events of the morning. My daughter's father screaming at me as I drove him to work with our daughter in the back seat. Her screaming and crying from fear of what was going on. Him jerking the steering wheel as I drove through traffic, and then wrestling me for the car keys after I pulled over and told him he had to get out. He had a work knife on him, and I had my daughter with me. My thoughts briefly flashed to a memory from my own childhood and I let go. I called the police and took my daughter out of the car, and when they came, we continued on our way. When we got home, I put her to nap and I sat, knowing the decision I HAD to make, but was DREADING making. Having grown up without a father in my life, I knew all too well the longing to be called "Princess" or "Daddy's Little Girl". I understood the pain that took hold of the adolescent heart when you realize that YOU are not invited to the school's annual Father-Daughter Dance, and that there will never be a Mother-Daughter Dance for you to attend. I did not want that for my daughter. But more than that, I did not want my daughter to grow up witnessing violence, emotional anguish, and turmoil. I did not want her to grow up in a house filled with yelling, that sat on a foundation of fear. I did not want her to grow up thinking that love was yelling and threatening and whoopings and pain. So I had to make a decision. Would I stay with a man I feared just so I could say that my daughter grew up with her father in the house, or would I be courageous and bold and strong give my daughter the ultimate gift of love by removing her from that situation and raising her on my own, as my mother had done 31 years earlier, with me? Three Mimosa's down and there I sat, still on the edge of my bed, staring at my hands, talking to God. What to do, what to do. (Don't judge me...you can talk to God and drink a little drink, he doesn't mind, I don't think). And as I prayed my waterproof mascara'd eyes out, I heard a voice. Clear as a bell.
"I have never left you. I will never leave you. You know what you must do."
And at that moment, the decision was made. At that very moment I made the decision to be a single mother on nothing but FAITH that God would see us through. I knew how to be a single mother because I was raised by one of the best. But I didn't know HOW to be a single mother. What does that mean? I knew the logistics of it. I knew how to run a household, how to budget, how to cook for the week, balance a checkbook, and even stretch a bag of rice, two cans of black beans and a pack of chicken over a two week period (yes yes, my mama had some kitchen skills back in the day). But I had no understanding of the HEART of a single mom. Now please..please please please, married mama's out there, please don't crucify me because I am NOT..I repeat I am NOT discrediting your work as moms or your hearts as moms AT ALL! We are ALL in this crazy pressure cooker called mommyhood together! What I AM saying is that I was not prepared for the number of times I would break down from the realization that I didn't have a back up to take over dinner time when Emory was having an exceptionally difficult time controlling her tongue thrusts, and I needed a time out to keep from just losing it altogether. Or the number of nights I would stay up trying to make sense of doctor's notes and therapy recommendations, wishing I had a second set of eyes or ears or another mouth to say "honey, she's going to be ok". I wasn't prepared to have to swallow my pride, and the lump in my throat, and head on down to the welfare office and apply for food stamps so I could take care of my baby. My mom did it. Numerous times. But she never let on to the emotion that literally squeezes your heart to the point of palpitation because you now realize that no, you can't do it on your own, you need help, but you're not supposed to need help because you got a college degree and had a child with someone who was once so great. I didn't know about these things.
I simply didn't know.
So when I woke up this morning, realizing it was Mother's Day, and hearing my daughter blowing me kisses from her crib, telling me it's time get her up too, my subconscious mind immediately went back to the day I decided to become a single mom, and all the things, and days, and happenings, and people, that have gotten us to the place we are today. I cried tears of joy, simply because we've made it this far. I cried tears of gratitude, because He has kept, and continues to keep His promise. I cried for the realization that I not only know how to be a single mom now, but I know HOW to be a single mom now. And I cried because I chose to give my daughter a home filled with love instead of lies, laughter instead of tears, and the shouts of Louis Armstrong on our record player, instead of shouts of anger between her mother and father.
I revel in the decision I made. I would make it again 100 times. 1,000 times. 999 million times. I am Emory's mother. And being her SINGLE MOTHER is my choice. She may never have a Father-Daughter dance to go to, but on any given day of the week, if you peek in through the curtains in my living room, you will find us breakin' down "The Dougie", and memorizing Beyonce's dance moves from "Single Ladies".
And that, my darlings, is better than any old Father-Daughter dance as far as I'm concerned.
Happy Mother's Day to ALL my mommy friends, and a special shout-out to the ladies doing it on their own!