May 17, 2019 · 5 min read
I am head over heels in love with my beautiful baby girl. Today, she is a Howard University graduate and living her best life. I dreamed of having a girl as my firstborn to continue the family tradition. My mother was my grandmother’s firstborn, and I was my mother’s firstborn.
I was in my first year of teaching in Charlotte, North Carolina and like most first-time moms, I was determined to do everything on my own. At age twenty-nine, I truly believed the words from Chaka Khan’s song, I’m Every Woman. I never doubted that I would not be able to handle living in a new city with a new career while caring for my witty three-year-old that had a mindset of a thirty-year-old.
I’m sure at this point “seasoned” moms around the world are laughing to themselves knowing this is not going to go as planned. And oh boy, you couldn’t be more right.
I was over the moon as I welcomed in this new chapter of my life. For the first time, I had my own place with my daughter and a career I had always dreamed of having ever since I was a child. I chose not to return to the cities where I had a “village” of people that could help me raise my intelligent, strong-willed and wise beyond her age daughter. I placed her in a well-respected daycare and began to settle into a routine. It’s funny how the picture in our heads don’t always line up to the reality of being a working mom with an energetic and very spoiled daughter.
My daughter at the age of three called all of the shots in our home. I rented a two-bedroom apartment in a very nice section of Charlotte. I made it a point to decorate her room exactly the way she wanted it with only a few Disney princesses. I also ensured she was receiving a great pre-school education from her daycare. On Fridays, we went to McDonald’s, where she was able to run around in the play area. On Saturdays and Sundays, We would find things around the city to do and attend church services. Sounds endearing and sweet right? Wrong!
The daycare did not open until 7:00 a.m. and my first period began at 7:10 a.m. which meant every day I was ten minutes late to class. Sure, I informed my principal, and he was very accommodating, but other teachers were not as understanding or supportive.
My daughter had her own bedroom, and she insisted on sleeping with me every night. She kicked in her sleep and would consistently take all of the covers. I was getting less and less sleep, And at the same time, more and more complaints about my arrangement with the principal. He eventually told me that he could no longer honor our arrangement and I had to find another daycare center at the start of the next semester.
I was exhausted. I felt like all of my “I’m Every Woman” spirit was no longer working out for me. How was I going to explain to my daughter that she was starting a new daycare center? How was I going to handle another year of doing it all by myself? When would I ever be able to get a good night’s sleep again?
It was close to Christmas break, and I was feeling a little broken. I reached out to my village in Atlanta, my three best friends from college, who my daughter affectionally refer to as her aunties. I called my friend Stacie. She heard the desperation in my voice and knew I needed help. She immediately called the others and informed them that “Kim needs us.” They packed their bags and headed from Atlanta to Charlotte.
My friends were ecstatic to see their beautiful niece, but they noticed that she had become a bit spoiled. During their visit, Stacie tried to get my daughter to clean up her toys and eat her vegetables. When my daughter refused to listen, Stacie reminded her of the consequences, and my daughter said with a smirk on her face, “Santa not coming,” and continued to misbehave. My daughter was fine with Santa when she saw wrapped boxes underneath the tree on Christmas morning. I was such a wimp when it came to disciplining my “mini-me.”
Christmas morning came, and she had so many gifts under the tree she actually got tired of opening them, whining when prompted to finish opening her other gifts. “I’m tired, I don’t wanna open any more presents.” My friends looked at me disapprovingly, but also understood how easy it was to be captivated by my daughter’s charm.
After Christmas, my friends suggested taking my daughter with them to Atlanta until after the New Year, so I could get some rest before returning to work. I was so grateful to my best friends who have been by my side since I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter. As usual, they had my back. This is what friendship and sisterhood are all about. They assured me they would drive her back to Charlotte before I had to report to work on January third, and I would finally be able to get some much needed me time in my bed alone.
I relished my me time. While I did miss my daughter, I enjoyed catching up on my reading. I read a book that had sat on my dresser for months, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.
On New Years’ Day, I received a call from my friends telling me how they were exhausted and that I had to pick up my daughter in Atlanta. I think my mind snapped at that very moment from the weight of being a working single mom in a city without support. I told them, “bring her home or else keep her,” and I hung up the phone. I was reminded of this exchange seventeen years later as my village and I reminisced of the old times at our annual Sister Summit. As the story was retold to me, we literally doubled over in laughter.
I was exhausted trying to be “Every Woman.” My friends had no children and were free of parenting responsibilities. I believed that if they experienced a little of what I experienced daily, they would understand. Well, after my friends got over the shock of me saying “bring her home or keep her,” they regrouped, piled in the car, and brought my daughter home to me.
Years later as we laughed about it, I asked them, “Why didn’t either of us suggest we meet halfway in South Carolina?” My friend Stacie replied, “We were all too tired to think straight.”
Kimberly A. Morrow, M.Ed. is a parent educator, speaker and author of 8 Pearls of Wisdom: A Parenting Guide — Empowering Children is the Way to Go! For more information visit her online at www.kimamorrow.com.