Sunday, May 12, 2013

Young Motherhood

I woke up on this beautiful Mother’s Day morning and I decided to discuss what the essence of motherhood has been like for me.  First, I’d like to say that I have the utmost respect for all of the mothers of the world.  The mothers of the world are the nurturers, the supporters and the light givers.  We pass the torch. Whether you’ve birthed a child, adopted a child, donated your time as a mother-figure to a child, supported a child, encouraged a child, or work with children, you will want to read this post.   On my journey, I’ve been blessed to experience the inexplicable joy of motherhood and of childbirth three times.   By no means do I feel like I have any particular expertise in this field but I will say that I’ve always tried my best to rear three joyful children that know God’s love for them.  What I am quite familiar with is young motherhood.  I’ve seen reality TV distort the nature of it for personal gain with shows like Teen Mom; so I decided to share what this experience has been like for me.  I can vividly remember thinking moments after my oldest daughter’s birth, “What am I going to write on?”  I wasn’t keeping a journal at that time because I was being physically abused by her father.  I quickly began pulling pages out of a parenting magazine and tried my best to jot down all of my thoughts on any free space that I could find.  Today, I’m almost scared to ask my mother for those early writings because I know they’ll be so painful for me to read.  I can tell you this; I have never seen anything so humanly perfect before the day that my daughter entered the world.  She had the cutest hands and feet that I had ever seen.  She clung to me as if her life depended on it and I realized that she was just as acquainted with me, as I was with her, from the 9-month journey that we had just come off of.  Love never made as much sense to me as it did when I first laid eyes on that child.  Of course I could feel the love in my heart that I had for Jesus, yet this was very different. This was like that love magnified.  You see, this was my Creator’s love for me cradled in the blessing lying in the crease of my arm. Tears would stream frequently when I came close to her.  I would never pick her up unless the nurse at the hospital handed her to me because I too was still just a child myself.  I was 16 years-old when Mercedes made her grand entrance into the world and I was no longer responsible for only myself.

Did I have a plan?  Not even the slightest. People were extremely critical of my age at that time and of course looking back now I know why.  I was still in high school, I didn’t have a steady job, and I didn’t have a remote clue of how I was going to provide for this child. There was no fluffy bank account stashed, I didn’t have a baby shower to receive any gifts and I definitely didn’t know how this child would get into college.  I probably should have been walking around feeling some intense level of guilt and shame while I was pregnant but I didn’t.  I knew in my heart that my child was supposed to be here and that I was chosen by God to bring her into the world. I felt filled with a spiritual blessing yet my reality was quite dark.  Her father was a local drug-dealer in my neighborhood so buying pampers and baby formula were no big feat for him.  I was a thinker on the other hand. I was a writer and quite frankly I knew I should have been preparing for doom but I was at extreme peace. Being in an abusive relationship with such a controlling man left me with very limited access to outside resources; most controlling individuals want the person they’re controlling to be completely codependent on them and only them.  Alternative schools for pregnant teens and young adults like, “The Door”, in NYC would have gladly added me and Mercedes to their enrollment list.  I took their pre-college assessment exam with a friend and I passed with flying colors. Only problem was, my abuser wouldn’t “allow”, me to attend school.  My new job according to him was to, “tend” to my daughter. A young mother has to have a vision of what’s at the end of the platform.  If she doesn’t, she’ll simply tank and tanking was not an option for me. I was filled with the Spirit and it was that same Spirit that never left my side. I lived with my abuser who was gone for the better part of the day.  Raising my little girl each and every day gave me joy.  Plugging into her made the harsh reality of my life easier to accept. Every now and then a trusted friend would come by just to make sure that I was still alive. They know who they are and up until today that sentiment still warms my heart.  Nurturing is instinctual and spirit guided. I didn’t have my mother or my father on standby for when I needed to run errands, get money or go to school. My mother resented my decision to have my child and in her anger she withdrew her support. It was my daughter and me, day in and day out and I think by the time she turned about three, I was her hero.

God Blessed me with two daughters between the years 1993 and 1994.  The physical endurance it took to raise my two precious little girls at the very same time is still something I can’t quite put into words.  As I write and edit this publication I keep choking on my tears.  Pretty ponytails, well-balanced dinners and bath time were mandatory parts of my mommy job that came with no wages.  My pay came from hugs, kisses and really big smiles.  My abuser was locked in prison by early 1995 and my mommy became a sole-proprietorship that lasted until their adult years.  Lots of love and a very well-paying hospital job helped my daughters and me to stay afloat.  The love and dependence that the three of us had for one another is what makes them being away at college so difficult for me today.  Private school, trial and error, lots of episodes of Barney, and divine favor shown to us by our Heavenly Creator is what ultimately carried us through.  The highest reward in all of it for me has been earning the respect of two young women old enough to be my younger sisters.  Watching them fearlessly aim for their dreams while manifesting their own destinies has been an added bonus. My youngest daughter Portia told me just last week that I'm still her hero. My journey was different from an older more established woman’s journey of motherhood.  Should it be embraced differently?  I don’t really think so. I tend to view it this way, “We all have different paths”.   Children make their entrance into the world in God’s time.  Mothers that are handpicked for this precious position can find a blessing in answering the call.  Mothers of any age need encouragement and support from everyone around them.  Dealing with toddlers throwing food in your face and smelly diapers is a really tough gig whether your 17 or 40.  Young motherhood requires even more support as they try so desperately to raise themselves while they continue raising their children and make the sacrifice of giving up young life.  I was blessed to have a lot of babysitting years under my belt before my girls arrived.  I began helping my grandmother to care for my younger cousins when I was just 8. I know that gave me a loving head start for what was just around the corner for me.  Often times, that’s how God works.

A very unexpected miracle arrived in the form of a son later in my 20’s.   His name is Jessiah and his light is brilliant. I’d somehow resonated to the fact that it would always just be me and my girls. I had a very difficult pregnancy with him yet a voice let me know one day while I was sitting on the train that he would be alright.  I never wanted anything more than for him to arrive into the world and to be ok.  His stay in the hospital was longer than mine and initially that was a crushing blow.  God showed up in the form of a very gentle pediatrician that said to me, “God didn’t make any mistakes with your baby”.  This Mother’s Day feels extra special to me and for a change I’ve slowed down enough to take it all in.  All of the pictures, all of the school-made mommy cards, and all of the text messages I get these days; makes every tear, every difficult time, worth it.   Motherhood is an extraordinary relationship that we have here on earth.  It’s the one role that is always underappreciated.  The world says, “Go be independent”, “Go be liberated”, “Go be skinny”, “Go get botox”, “Chase Hollywood dreams”, but it never says, “Go and be a Mom”.  Motherhood is a sacred calling. Motherhood is selfless and it comes with chores and nurturing that will far exceed a child turning 18 years of age.   Psalm 127:3-5, has such beautiful commentary regarding young parenthood and children, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hand. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!” In a world that has learned to use abortion as a form of birth control I love the challenge of this verse. Mothers that celebrate their children will raise children that celebrate their mothers. I encourage you to celebrate the mothers in your life today! Some of us have more than one.  Lift them up in prayer, and let God know how much it means to you to have them in your life.  If your mother or your grandmother has already traveled back to heaven, please let God know how grateful you are for the precious time that you were blessed to have spent with her.  The memories of a mother’s love will live in her children eyes forever.  God Bless all of the Mothers of the World today.

Much Luv,


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1 comment:

  1. This was a post that was so dear to my heart that I could have gone on about the content for pages and pages more. At some point I had to pull myself away from it and send it out to the world. What I didn't include is how undervalued motherhood is in our culture. No one talks about the skills and the talents mothers have to have in order to raise healthy children. We don't have time to be crushed by postpartum depression or to let illnesses prevail. We have to be "on", every day. Our job doesn't come with paid vacation days, holidays, or sick-leave. Motherhood is so difficult yet it's just so expected. A mother will do anything for her child and instinctively protect that child for the duration of her life. When the world kicks our childrens asses it's the mothers that let them know that they are not alone. We pick up more pieces and wipe more tears than could ever be counted in one lifetime. I hope any mother reading this post feels encouraged to keep going!

    I've been wherever you are. I've had to stand on long WIC lines to make sure that they've had cheese and milk. I've had to apply for food stamps and medicaid when my job simply wasn't enough to make ends meet. Fathers have an option to run free. Mother's don't. God's Love will always sustain you and don't ever feel like he will forsake you. He won't.

    Much Luv