I became pregnant in the fall of my sophomore year of college at Spelman. Cue single mother shame, pressure from my parents to get married, pressure from other family members to terminate my pregnancy, lack of support from my Morehouse ‘boyfriend,’ and hesitant support from my close friends.
Despite the brewing situations, I pressed on and continued my pregnancy and gave birth to what I believe is my best achievement to date: my baby girl. Sometime in late 2008, my relationship with my daughter’s father went south, and I became a single mother. I went on to graduate from college with my class in 2010, work as a consultant with a fellowship in India, and start law school in Fall 2011.
I felt that, because I was a young single mom, I would never be allowed to complain about anything: lack of sleep, financial strain of raising a child and attending school or about my daughter’s father’s lack of support physical or otherwise.
Reasons I felt that way:
- I should’ve known that my daughter’s father would walk away and it’s my own fault.
- I should not down talk another black man, especially a Morehouse Man.
- You’re a young mother and you weren’t ready to be a mother, what do you expect?
- Suck it up, life isn’t fair.
In real life:
- How could I even fathom that someone I loved so deeply could turn his back on his own child… I wish I owned a crystal ball, but alas…
- Listen: Morehouse Men, Spelman Women, and humans in general make mistakes. No one is exempt.
- I don’t care if you are 15 or 45 years old; nothing can truly prepare you for the demands of motherhood. Whatever the case may be, you went from being just you to just two (or more with multiples).
- I usually do suck it up because life, at times, isn’t fair.
Realization I made:
- I shamed myself into silence with my own negative talk. No one told me, “Yasmine, you can’t do or say what you actually feel” (although I know some people may feel that way).
- Honestly, it’s up to me to live in my truth, acknowledge the hardships I’m experiencing, and then yes suck it up because life does go on.
Talking in my own truth:
- At times even the most positive talk can’t combat the way I feel when my five-year-old little girl looks into my eyes and asks to see her dad, as I, once again, have to tell her he’s busy with work. It’s difficult explaining the concept of choices and priorities to her without placing blame.
- Positive talk hasn’t always helped recently, as I’ve had to deal with her father asking me to stop sending him pictures or any other communication pertaining to her. Those pictures were the only way he saw her. (Visitation was suspended because he has seen her less than five times in two years.)
- Positive talk sometimes has a way of going silent when trying to figure out how to pay all the bills and still send my daughter to tutoring and extracurricular activities because her father decided to stop paying child support.
Many people know that I am a single mother to a fantastic little girl with parenting support from my family and friends. Not so many know that my daughter’s father is just absent. Even less know that I feel shame, guilt and occasional anger because he has made the choice to not be a parent to our daughter.
I’m not sure if anyone in the Beyond Baby Mamas community can relate, but I’m so tired of feeling that shame and guilt and anger due to a choice that was not my own. Fellow BBMs, does it ever pass? How do you deal and become better mothers in the process?
Let’s all try and use this space to stand in our own truth in a community of mothers supporting one another.
Yasmine is a proud single mother, avid traveler, professional multi-tasker, and writer for the upcoming lifestyle blog, FortuneTwenties and social commentary blog Why.Race.Still.Matters. She is an alumna of Spelman College and a law student at Rutgers School of Law.