She’s 20! Its hard to believe. Rearing Niani as a single parent was not easy, but as I said earlier today, it was always blessed. Very often, as the primary parent, I felt like Sisyphus, in Greek mythology who was punished to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and repeat this action forever. Yes, sometimes, it felt like forever…Before I could master one thing, another fire emerged, and I was always wearing gasoline underwear! But God!
On this day, she may not get to celebrate as she desires. She’s immersed in finals. Yet, I pause for an extended praise break, to give God glory for carrying the boulder, even when I didn’t feel like he was. I celebrate this day because it represents a twist on the gospel sentiment, “Just another year (day) that the Lord has kept me and most importantly her!” She is not a statistic! She is college educated, healthy, whole and when not experiencing our normal challenges, happy!
She was reared in the South, and all that goes along with that. We didn’t have family within a 600 mile radius. There were no Sunday afternoon dinners at family members’ homes. There were no traditions that accompany that. Our Sunday was church, followed by adjacent sofas for afternoon naps, after a stop to Bojangles. I didn’t always have money to purchase a present for her to take to as a result of an invitation to a birthday party, and more often not the time to even go and purchase a present. We didn’t share the same last name, but we both experienced the whispers and assumptions that accompanied such.
We did however share our own inside laughter. Our private talent shows. Our shared love of Friday night pizza, love of lemonade and long conversations. We collectively welcomed “company” into our intimate life, and yet were just as excited to say goodbye to resume our intertwined, yet distinct life. Somehow at a very early age, she learned to do whatever she could to bring happiness to my often sad and overwhelmed eyes. She catered to me with sunflower seeds and shoulder rubs as I sat staring at what I prayed would one day become a dissertation. She did her homework without prompting and developed a sense of savvy that resembled my upbringing as a product of a single parent home on the south side of Chicago. And I, did everything I could, everyday, with every fiber of my being to be the parent x2 that she needed. I don’t think there is a soul that I have met within the last 20 years that does not know something about Niani. I can’t help it! She is everything! I know I was chosen to be her mother, and divinely favored to do it alone.
Yes today, I celebrate my daughter who is no longer a teenager; but I also celebrate all the single moms (and dads) who are still in the game, moving heaven and earth on the daily to bring happiness and peace to their bundles’ life. Let us revel in Psalm 127:3 which affirms that “children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” This was not predicated upon a two parent home. Of course that is good, but our children are positioned to be blessed regardless. If you’ve got a 20 dollar bill, you have no time to put it up – its likely already spent….but single ladies (and men) I hear you! More importantly, God does too!