Be BOLD. Be BRAVE. Be WILD.
An Inspirational Story for Single Mothers
There was a time in my life, when I spent many a sleepless nights, dreaming of a life I knew one day I would have. My circumstances left me falling short of where I wanted to be, I felt incomplete. I was a 19-year-old kid, graduating from high school eight months pregnant. I didn’t know which way to turn to take care of this little human that God had placed in my care. I spent years working as a waitress in the daytime and going to school at night because I knew in my heart that my daughter and I were meant for so much more for our lives. More than a little studio apartment in a bad part of town that we called home that I struggled to pay for. Relying on food stamps and welfare just to survive. I knew this beautiful little girl deserved better and I would bust my butt to give it to her.
I spent my days and nights worn out from trying to be a good mom. I fell short of what I wanted to be as a mother for my little girl. In my mind, a perfect mom, was someone who bakes cookies, always says and does the right thing for her children. I never was this person, not by choice but by circumstances that formed my character. My character told me to put myself last, to be tough, dodging the slings and arrows that came my way. I had to be brave. Brave enough to say to the world and my critics, I’ve got this. I will make things happen for me and give my daughter everything I never had.
The feelings of inadequacy as a single mother are all too familiar in society today. Where do I belong? Where does my child belong? I remember taking my daughter to McDonalds to play and watching the families with fathers tending to their children, I longed to give my daughter that normalcy. I wanted her to have a father who would protect and care for her. A man that would love me also and we would be a "normal" family.
They say motherhood is the hardest job in the world. I agree but, just try being single too and the degree of hardness is amplified tenfold. Twenty-five years ago, the stigma placed on me was like something out of the 1950s. Church members who said, “do not judge and abortion is wrong,” would not come to my baby shower because I had a child out of wedlock. That left me with feelings of worthlessness. As a young woman, I struggled to understand and make sense of it all. I would sometimes cry when I was tired, wishing for a little time to be young, be with my friends and feel free. Then my little girl, would snuggle up next to me on the couch to watch one of her favorite Disney shows and my soul would be renewed.
My generation grew up on fairytales of Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, dreaming one day their prince would come and take them away from it all to live happily ever after. Times had changed for my daughters generation. The movies my daughter watched were Mulan, Beauty and Beast and the Little Mermaid. These were independent, strong women forging their way in the world. It inspired me. Being a child myself in many ways, I watched these movies with my daughter and I knew I could be just as independent, just as strong as the characters in these films. I would bravely forge through my life. I would be my own ‘princess charming’ and make our lives not just better, but the best.
I spent years working jobs that I hated but I always was upwardly mobile. A temporary agency I had started to work for taught me computer skills, and I went from a waitress, to a receptionist, then secretary, and by the age of 25 (the age my daughter is now) I landed a job as a Office Manager for a mortgage company. The owner was the most elegant, well-spoken and beautiful woman I had ever met. She inspired me. She believed in me and mentored me. With her confidence now imbedded in me, I began to really find myself as a woman. Not as just another teen mom but as someone who was respected and who people listened to. Her mentorship was a turning point in my life and I will be forever grateful to her.
I met my first husband during this time and got married. I finally had a family, a father for my daughter and the start of a career in the mortgage industry progressing from Office Manager to Loan Processor. My husband had adopted my little girl and has never left her side since. The stigma I had felt for years was no longer there. I had the life for myself and my daughter I always wanted. My dreams finally came true. When I became pregnant again with my son, it seemed my life path was set but this time would be short-lived. My son was born via emergency C-section at 33 weeks. Severely anemic, he received a blood transfusion in his first 24 hours after birth and he spent a month in the NICU before we could take him home. Not being able to hold my son for a week after he was born and seeing tubes down his throat to assist his breathing was an agony that only a mother can understand.
The depression I felt during this month while he was in the hospital never left me after he came home. My son spent the first three months of his life on oxygen and the Postpartum I had been struggling with took over my every move and thought. I was a disaster. I clung to my ‘normalcy’ as much as I could. However, it was completely washed away when I found out my husband was having an affair. I never wanted a divorce and could forgive him, but he didn’t feel the same. He wanted out. Needless to say, any strength I had gained from my perfect life was pulled out from under me and my world collapsed around me. I sunk into depression from which I am surprised still today I survived.
After the divorce, I had only been a loan processor for a year; and with limited experience, limited business opportunities, and poor self-worth, I faltered, spiraling out of control. At one point, after days of hiding away in my bed, my little girl, who was ten at the time, came to me and asked, “Mommy are you ever going to get out of bed?” My daughter and I now refer to this time period as the ‘dark days.’ Other than when my little boy was in the hospital, that day was the lowest time in my life. Here I was, a single mom with two kids now. Trying to hold on to some sense of myself, of who I was and I had been neglecting my one true purpose in life, motherhood. I was lost.
In time, things got better, as they always do. Slowly I began to remember the motivation, the independence, the strength I felt when I was younger and with the love of my daughter and my son, their hugs, their laughter, their true admiration of me, my children brought me back from the brink.
I was doing well now as a Loan Processor but wanted more. Upwardly mobile, that’s me, always in a constant movement towards a goal, it is my lifeblood. I moved from Loan Processor to Loan Officer, with more money, respectability and most importantly, more freedom to be with my children. The path was never easy. As I said, the hardest job I ever had was being a single mother. Tired? I always remember being so tired! Sleep…well, it’s overrated anyway. What I have learned is you always have more in you to give. All you have to do is just look in your child’s eyes, you will find the ability to keep going.
During this time, I continued to go to school. I took the long way, twenty years to be exact but I never gave up. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, in 2012. When I walked the stage with my children watching in the audience I had the biggest smile on my face, the wind under my wings, and I was at peace. I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable. I wanted to show everyone that I was intelligent and could make something of myself, again outside of my circumstances. It was one of the proudest moments I have ever had in my life outside of giving birth to my children.
I spent five years single after my divorce working, learning and raising my beautiful children. I had one bad relationship after another but that is another story. Much of which is not worth discussing as matters of the heart can be very complex. In 2008 though, I married again. Michael is my high school sweetheart, the one I never forgot. We met when I was a seventeen-years-old but after a year together I thought, “I can’t settle down, I am too young, I want my freedom.” Michael and I broke up and went our separate ways. We stayed friends through the years and found our way back to each other after twenty years apart. He is the man who took my self-esteem, which had been beaten up through the years, and made it whole again. He dealt with many hard knocks I threw his way out of my past mistrust and hurt and loved me through it all, and loved my children as his own.
I had found my home, my normalcy, my respectability, I guess you could say, the things I needed and had strived for. However, I began to be plagued with restless nights again. I was happy, content in my life and felt very blessed. Still, sleepless nights of tossing and turning, feeling incomplete resurfaced. The dreams weren’t about my aspirations for a better life like when I was young. A dream began to take form from a desire in me to help others achieve what I had found through my struggles. I wanted to empower other single mothers to live out their own uniqueness, to give back to single mothers what more times than not is sacrificed for security and necessity, their ablity to make their dreams come true and.…
A means to give their children not just a good life but the best life.
A means for financial security, an education path and solid career.
The tools to parent effectively, breaking generational cycles of poverty and low self esteem.
Ability to manage their finances, to gain wealth, and to own a home to raise their children in.
Normalcy, whatever that means to each individual, a community to belong too, a network of like minded single mothers to gain empowerment from and give back too, as a family, a tribe.
Confidence to say THIS IS ME, warts and all and I am amazing and I will assert my WILD individuality.
From this vision, from this dream, from this path I walked, WILDflowers Foundation was born. WILDflowers Foundation's mission is to instill in its WILDflowers, a generation who grew up on Mulan, Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, that there is no excuse for there not to be a boldness about you. Those dreams that as a little girl staring up at a cloud filled sky you knew would be yours. They are. They are yours for the asking. WILDflowers Foundation's mission is to give single mothers a opportunity to find their light, to have a safe place to dream again, to have the tools, and the empowerment needed to be their most authentic self, and from the program to gain the ability to then light this same fire in their children’s hearts.
This is your time.
Be BOLD. Be BRAVE. Be WILD.