Beauty in the Breakdown: Being Raised by a 19 Year Old Single Mom


I can remember going to school in the first grade and being happy. I remember being at peace and feeling normal. I was sitting in my first-grade class and I remember my cousin, Erek, walking in. It was a surprise to me because from my understanding Erek lived in California. He walked in with his backpack and I stood up and shouted "that's my cousin!" I was excited that my cousin would be joining my first-grade class. 

My cousin's and I were extremely close. My grandmother died when I was about 4 so my mom and her sisters were on their own. My mother has two sisters and they all had children at a young age. My aunts were 15 and 12 when they gave birth to my cousins. My mom was 19 when she gave birth to me and I was the baby of the bunch amongst my cousins. It was basically kids raising kids. My family is made up of women! My great grandmother had 7 girls, my grandmother had three, and my mom had me. This day, living in Houston, there are only probably about 7 men and 30 women. 

No one had a father around. Not-one-cousin! I can't remember one cousin having a father around constantly. My mom, her sisters, their children and I all lived in a great house. It was just us. They took care of us and we pretty much did whatever we wanted. We lived in the fun house and all of my cousins would love to come over! 

Late at night when all of the adults were sleep we would dress up in clothes that were too big for us play "ninjas." At night, when all of the lights were off we would team up and run all through the house play fighting. We would move fast, never to get caught. We had a club house in the backyard called "The Players Club." Painted in big white letters said "7 and up." Once I turned 7 they changed it to 8 and up. My friends and I still snuck in there anyway. 

Not having a father was "normal." I didn't notice that my mom was a single mom and it never dawned on me that my family is pretty much made up of single mothers. I did not want to meet my dad because I didn't know that I needed one. None of my other cousins were complaining and quite frankly we were fine. There was food, we played games, our moms would host movie night, we had a clubhouse in the backyard, we had Mario on Nintendo, Disney movies, we had bikes, and Christmas was the best! 

It wasn't until all of that came to an end that I realized something was wrong. It wasn't until my mom, her sisters, and I had to move out and we started to live from apartment to apartment. It wasn't until my mom started to sleep all day and I would have to stay with my aunts for weeks. Actually, last week my mom told me that I had to stay with my aunts because we were homeless for a while. I didn't know what it meant to be a single mom and how bad it would affect my upbringing. Although I turned out pretty fine, I dealt with traumatic things. I am still dealing with traumatic things that I will talk more about each week. 

I met my father eventually, when I turned 17. I don't talk to him currently and I don't know if I've ever really forgiven him. He has 5 children, I am the oldest, and I think I am the only one he doesn't communicate with. It isn't that I never tried to have a relationship with him, it's that he doesn't want a relationship with me. I am studying what it really means to forgive and love like Christ. It's a concept I am still unsure of, however I am always willing to learn. 

I believe that the beauty in having a single mom and not having a father around is that God protected me through it all. As a kid, I was so oblivious to the dysfunction. God protected my heart and my innocence. He allowed me to be a kid and I never felt left out because that was my normal. I also was able to see my mom as a superhero and I appreciate her so much more. I appreciate how she fought everyday though she was probably dealing with depression. Depression of not finishing high school, being a single mom, and losing her mother. However, every Christmas there were gifts, every night there was dinner, and every tear she was there to wipe it. She did what she had to do-- with the help of God and her sisters. The beauty is also that God is teaching me to love like him. I feel like I am forced to love my father, and love like Christ. I find the beauty in the challenge to grow, forgive, and love. 

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children

NIV 5:1 Ephesians