Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fathers Week: Day Four 'My Journey With A Fatherless Child'
5:27 PM

Fathers Week: Day Four 'My Journey With A Fatherless Child'

I'm truly inspired by Danielle's story. We went to high school together...kinda. While my friends & I ran the mean streets looking for house parties to crash, Danielle stayed at home. She was the first person I knew to have a baby in high school. Funny how not even 10 years ago that was a rare occurrence & now they're building day cares in schools. Anyway, the reason I asked Danielle to tell her story & not any of the other millions of "single mothers" we see nowadays is because, although her story could be classified as typical, it's very unique. A child is not an excuse to settle, or be angry, or expect a sympathetic handout. In Danielle's case, her son heightened her drive while many pull over to the side of the road & nap. And today, by her own standards & not the world's...she made it.

Common said it best “There are too many black women who can say they’re mothers but can’t say that they’re wives”. That quote in itself implies much more than the lack of marriage in the black community. It implies the lack of families. In far too many cases, the husband less woman is raising fatherless children. It is the plights of the fatherless that far too many women forget about as they drown in their husband less reality. It is this situation that has brought so many women to “play daddy” and it is this situation that brings me to reflect on my own experience as a single mom.

You will never hear me say that I am “the mom and the dad”. I have learned that it is far too difficult just being me without trying to be someone else in addition to that. Despite being a single mom at age sixteen and broken from the relationship with my son’s father; I knew better than to pretend that I was going to fill the void left in his wake. I think all women intuitively know this. The way they reconcile this understanding is what sets each single mom down their own path. I reconciled it this way; I have to be the best I can be for my son and give him the best life that I can give him in spite of any circumstances that arrive. I will never know the kind of man and father my son’s dad might have been, so I have reconciled never to try and be what not even he could be for my son. Standards should be set based from experiences for when they are based in myth, they are not attainable. While we all set out with the best intentions to fill the unseen voids, I knew that I could only be the best me and that while I wish my son would never have to experience the voids left by feeling abandoned or unloved by his father, I knew that was not possible. With that understanding I set goals to lessen the pain my son would feel by those voids where possible and to not create additional ones with my own behavior. I knew being the best mom I could be would mean hard work, sacrifice and selflessness. I also knew that being a single mom would mean twice as much of all of these. I had to decide that with each challenge I faced and overcame, I would become a better mom and my son would have one more brick laid in his foundation to make him stable and to help him better cope with the voids I could not fill.

When my son was two months old and I had finally resolved that the relationship with his father was a terminal one, I also resolved to use the “single” in single mom as an adjective only and not as a verb. Single might describe my situation but I was determined that it would not determine the actions I would take. I knew that using my single mom status in my actions and decision making would be the crutch that allowed me to settle for being less of a mom than I knew I was capable of and would allow me to provide less of life for my son than I knew I was capable of providing. Like most, I felt the pain of the dream I had lost as my picture of my family dissolved when my son’s father walked out the door. I had to decide that the tears were ok but the anger had to go. I had to decide that this dream was the only one he was ever going to take from me and that just because he got this one, didn’t mean I had to give him the rest. Of course I always dreamed of walking down the high school and college graduation isle and the wedding isle before walking into parenthood. I had to decide to keep dreaming of walking down those isles. I had to decide to keep those dreams and to set my goals based on the dreams I had always had. Maybe the journey would look different, and maybe it would be harder, but I knew I had to continue on that journey.

What I came to find out is, while my journey was different and hard, it was also more beautiful and full of love and pride than it would have been under any other circumstance. I walked through the same doors and worked toward the same goals I had always thought I would, except I had my little man on the journey with me and therefore always had a reason to stay motivated staring back at me with little brown eyes. I often hear that my journey was extraordinary because of my single young mom status. But for me it is the journey I always wanted to take no matter the order of the milestones on my path. Maybe the circumstances make it extraordinary to some people, but I’ve always considered any other path extraordinary (out of the ordinary). Ordinarily people dream big, set goals and follow them. They would never let anyone else’s presence or lack thereof, high jack their dreams or cause them to change the standards they have for themselves as a friend, lover parent or human being. Contrary to the extraordinary, my journey with a father less child has been a precise and calculated effort to be ordinary just like every mom that wishes only to give her child the best life possible with an unwavering determination to not settle for less whether being single gave me an excuse to or not.