The Early Years
I was raised in Augusta, Georgia, in what you would call a pretty standard Christian home. My father being a pastor pretty much guaranteed that church would be an enormous part of my upbringing... and truth be told... I'm so glad that it was! I had a great childhood and I grew up wanting nothing more than to replicate exactly what I saw at home every day... To be a wife and mother... serving her God, her husband, and her family. My mom was (is) the BEST and I wanted to be just like her. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a husband who devoted his life to making sure his family was taken care of so that his wife could focus on their home and family? That was EXACTLY what I wanted.
But somewhere around age 13, the foundation of my home was attacked by a chronic illness entering into my family. Life would never be the same and I found myself feeling alone, ostracized, and insecure. I worked hard to hold it all together on the outside, but on the inside, I struggled with feelings of rejection, low self-esteem, and insecurity. These feelings led me down a path of decisions that would ultimately change my life forever.
An Unexpected Turn
The test is positive.
You're gonna have a baby.
I couldn't believe it. I mean... I saw the test... but I couldn't believe it! What was I gonna do? I was 16 years old... a junior in high school. "What will my parent say? What will my family say? What about school? This can't be happening!!" All of these questions were reeling through my brain and I knew my life would never be the same.
Chris was born September 19, 1994 by emergency c-section due to a condition called pre-eclampsia. At our first 6-week visit, the nurses cried when they saw us because according to them, we both should have died during that birth. But God saw different!!
I graduated from high school right on schedule and my parents agreed to let me go away (a short distance) to college. (Growing up on The Cosby Show and A Different World GUARANTEED that I was going to college!)
The test is positive
You're gonna have a baby.
Freshman year, second semester at Georgia Southern University. Baby number two is on the way. I have to be honest and admit that I struggled deeply about this pregnancy. My sons father walked away and completely rejected any connection to my unborn child. I cried.
I prayed. I cried. I prayed.
Joseph was born August 15, 1996... one of the two most beautiful boys in the world... and God had entrusted he and his brother to me... a 19 year old undergraduate student with nothing but her supportive family and her persistent faith.
Langston Hughes penned a famous poem called "Mother to Son"that reads:
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
These words, first published in 1922, ring ever so relatable to me, even over 90 years later. Parenting single has not been easy. From being on welfare to living in low-income housing... we experienced it all. I never imagined raising two sons on my own. I never imagined being the sole responsibility for two very different human beings. I never imagined having to bear the weight of the financial responsibility of a three-person household all by myself. I never imagined having a family that did not include a husband. It's not what I wanted, yet, it was exactly what I had.
I battled feelings of guilt and condemnation for YEARS.... I mean literally.... YEARS. It was MY fault that they couldn't have the "nuclear" family that I was so blessed to grow up in. It was MY fault that they didn't have a father in the home. It was MY fault that they didn't participate in any of the Father/Son events at school and church. IT WAS ALL MY FAULT! I carried that guilt for many, many years.
Nonetheless, I worked very hard to be the best mother I could be for my boys. I graduated from college in 1999 and the boys and I moved to Atlanta. We had seasons of plenty and seasons of want. Yet through it all, I can honestly say... 23 years later... that my village and my faith in Jesus Christ carried us through it all. I could tell stories for days about all of the adventures my boys and I experienced. You'd crack up at many of them, at at others, you'd cry your eyes out. Yet through every hill and valley, God has been faithful to us. And though things didn't quite turn out they way my fairytale read as a little girl, GOD's story has proven to be better than I could have ever dreamed! One songwriter put it this way, "All of my good days... outweigh my bad days... and I won't complain!"
A New Chapter
So what's going on now? Well, Chris is living on his own in Chicago, acting, and is currently starring in the dual roles of Marquis de LaFayette and Thomas Jefferson in the hit musical "Hamilton, An American Musical". He got cast the summer before his senior year at Belmont University so he hasn't finished college (and I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he may not go back to do so.... I mean... he's living his dream right now!!! ), but it was an opportunity of a lifetime and we have no regrets!
Joe is living at home, working, and about to start his junior year of college, pursuing a career in film and production. He SAYS he's gonna get his own place in January of 2018. Mmmmmmm Hmmmmm (side eye). We shall see. LOL He's awesome though! We live more like roommates than anything else... although he's got a SWEET deal if you ask me! Hahaha
I am continuing my music, leading worship, and trying to work on some new music for a new project. I love being in the studio and recording so hopefully we can get that ball rolling a little faster. I'm also in my last few weeks of graduate school! YAY!!! When Joe went to college, I decided I wanted to return as well. As of August 18, 2017, I will have completed my Masters of Social Work degree!! I am so excited! It's been an intense 2.5 years, but I'm glad to be able to marry my life experience with my education in order to assist other women and families along their journey of life as a therapist.
In addition to all of this (I know... you'd think that was enough!! Haha), I am stepping more boldly into speaking at women's conferences, seminars, workshops... you name it! God has given me a heart for people... especially women... and a desire to help them build healthy relationships with God, themselves, and with others, no matter what stage of life they are in. Of course there is a particularly special passion I have for single mothers and parents, so I will do all I can to allow my story to be a source of hope and inspiration to single parents and women everywhere.
Honestly, I just turned 40 and I feel like I'm just getting started!!!