Today I have a guest post of someone super special to me. I call her Kekei. The story goes that we met as babies when we were living in Mississipi and Louisiana and our parents went to a church conference. Five years later we were reunited when my family moved to St. Louis. When I left St. Louis, she still kept in touch with me and was one of my absolute biggest cheerleaders. She believed in me and I believed in her. I’ve moved a lot in my 26 years of life – Kekei has been the only person that wasn’t family to keep in touch with me consistently over all the years. We may have different beliefs in certain areas, but the beautiful thing is no matter what I know we will always be friends because we believe in each other. I am super proud to call her a friend and say that she is an amazing mother who cares for her children and always puts them first. In my job, I’ve worked with many women and teenagers unexpectedly facing motherhood, I am always proud to say that I’ve seen one of my best friends beat the odds and they can too!
Growing up I always felt that the norm was what people around me seemed to want. And it always seemed to have to be in a particular order; school, college, great job, marriage, home, and then children. Often times I did not see it happen this way. And the ones that did try this, weren’t always the happiest people. As an adult, I had to realize that life is generally what you make it. One path for one person will not be that path for another. Being a black woman on top of just being a woman had so many statistics involved. Especially when you add children to the equation. I had to find my own path, some of it was chosen for me and some choices I had to really endure and see through. I wasn’t trying to be a statistic. It seemed as if that’s a stereotype that others use to judge or see how far in life you have developed. I am not a statistic, I am just different.
My path wasn’t in the order of how most people thought it should be. I graduated high school a semester early and went straight to a community college. After a semester there I took a break. I think it was because I wasn’t fully committed to it coming right out of high school. At the age of 19, I was pregnant with my first child. There wasn’t a lot of support for me in that. When my son was just 6 months old, my mother passed away. Everything that was in focus wasn’t in focus anymore. It was like part of me was gone with her. But I had to make myself keep going because I had a set of little eyes looking up at me and needing me. I made up my mind that I was gonna pursue something better.
I did not have that dream job. I had a regularly scheduled job that paid a tad bit more than minimum wage. One night I was online and I just thought that I needed to go to school. Like really go and stick with it. So I enrolled and was called the next day to come in and do paperwork etc. I started the next month. I didn’t have a lot of support with that in the beginning. Yet, I was still very determined. I still had goals and aspirations. I still wanted to have a job I really like and a nice family with a house,
Being a black, single mother didn’t reward me any special favors. But I did not let it stop me. A majority of black women that had children were not perceived to be anything great. They were portrayed to be dependent on welfare and just baby makers with no goals. But in the words of Maya Angelou, “I am a phenomenal woman”. Even greater, I am a mother and that meant more to me than even a degree or obtaining anything else.
I reconnected with my first love and it wasn’t any fairy tale. He encouraged me to keep going in difficult moments. Towards the end of my senior year at the university, I found out I was pregnant with baby number two at 26 years old. I took a small break for a couple months due to having severe morning sickness. When I went back I only had three classes left. I juggled two jobs, going to school, and being pregnant. I told myself that I had to be done before my daughter was born. And I did!!! That is an accomplishment that no one could ever take from me. I had that determination I didn’t even see in myself until it was over. I received my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice.
I overcame a lot of the odds in just a few short years. And I am still learning to find my way through life. It is not in some textbook order or under the stereotypes of another. Continuing to achieve personal goals is important to me. In all, I hope to be an inspiration to someone else and show that they can beat the odds or what society believes of them. Just be different.