At the beginning of my motherhood journey, I was a tad bit tentative. I was already dealing with some “about to be 30 and single” growing pains before I had Ayva. After she was born, there was a period of self-doubt, guilt and shame, that had it gone without being handled, could have greatly affected the type of mother that I would become. My biggest issue? Fear of being a stereotype. I wanted Ayva to have the same opportunities and experiences as a child from a two-parent family, and I was worried that I would fall short. An even bigger concern that I had was that Ayva would be embarrassed of me because I was a single mom, and she would feel ashamed of who she was, and where she came from. Thinking about that used to keep me up at night, worrying and praying, and worrying some more. But then something happened to help shift my thinking.
I Wasn’t Going To Miss That Class
The entire time I was pregnant with Ayva, I was participating in a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. I attended monthly meetings and wrote papers. When Ayva was about 2 months old, I was scheduled to go in and present my culminating project at our last session. I called up my small, trusted circle of caregivers, and unfortunately none of them were available to watch Ayva for the day. I had two choices. I could stay at home and miss the class, or I could go and take my infant with me. As I was working through my decision, and thinking about whether or not to take Ayva, I started to get nervous. Here I was, already Black and single, and I was going to take my baby into a class sponsored by an Ivy League university? Talk about a stereotype! But I had worked hard on that paper, you know? I had pushed through my tough pregnancy to make every class meeting from September to May, and had worked from May to July on my research project as I learned to be a mom to a new baby. I wasn’t going to miss that class.
No babysitter? I’ve been there.
So, I made the decision to go. And I made the decision to take Ayva. And my stomach was in knots. I started steeling myself for (what I thought would be) judging looks and disparaging whispers. I told myself that I just had to make it through the class, and then I could cry. You know what happened, though? When I walked into the class, the only thing I received from the facilitators and my fellow colleagues was support. My sweet Ayva was perfect for the whole 3 hour sessions, and everyone was completely understanding. “No babysitter? I’ve been there”, another mother even said to me. At the end of the meeting, the facilitators commended me for completing all of the work. The fellowship, like my pregnancy, was 9 months, and they told me how much they appreciated my persistance. Wow.
The Seed Was Planted
That day was a big moment for me. It was then, at that moment, when I realized that I could do this. I had to stop dwelling on what I had done wrong, and start focusing on what I could do right, because that’s what everyone else was doing. I had the potential to be a role model for Ayva, to show her that hard work and commitment could pay off. I could teach her about sacrifice and perseverance, and how to bounce back from a setback. The seed was planted.
Now, almost 5 years later, I’ve grown into a Mama that is confident enough to claim to “know it all”. I share my story of being a (former) single mom every chance I get in the hopes of inspiring other mothers. And I’m still growing. Each day, I push myself to be a better mother, and a better wife. One day, I hope Ayva looks back at me and is proud of who I am, and where she came from. I’m grateful that I can look back at me and feel that way now.
On the 14th of every month, I’ll be revealing the truth about motherhood with 12 other writers. This month, our theme was MOTHERHOOD & GROWING. Follow the hashtag #NakedMoms, and check out the links below (coming soon!) from the other moms and find out which stories resonate with you the most!