I’ve been asking myself what message I'm trying to convey in writing these letters and the answer that was clear to me was one of hope. If I was the reader I would want to read about hope, hope even when things seem hopeless. Being a single mother has meant, on many occasions, I’ve had my share of lost and hopeless moments where it was hard to look at my situation with fresh eyes. But let me share with you how I found hope, or should I say how hope found me at a time when I almost lost it.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
On my list of ‘wants’ becoming a mother didn’t make the cut. It was certainly on the lists of the girls around me growing up but for myself, I had no interest. I was knee deep in selfish mode to even think of looking after anyone else. My life consisted of working, shopping and having an active social life. Where would a child fit into that? If the term ‘living my best life’ was used back then, I would have been the prime ambassador. I watched my own mother work tirelessly to provide for me and my siblings, many times without the help of my father. Witnessing that, parenting didn't seem fun to me. Through my eyes it was a tough job that most women did alone and I wanted no part of it.
It’s crazy how the very thing you try to avoid is the thing you end up finding. Attempting to tread carefully and not end up in a similar situation to my own mother, knowingly and unknowingly judging her life decisions, that I didn’t even notice I was heading down the same road.
At the age of 18 I met my son's father and initially had zero interest in him. Like most people who have a type, he wasn’t mine, at least so I thought. He had a swag about him, which caught my attention to notice he was also handsome. We got on well, and before I knew it I was head over heels in LALA land for him. I turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the warning signs, other women, lies, gossip, rumors and broken promises because I was skipping along the hills of the land I’d moved to. I was blinded by lust, I say lust as I am wise enough now to know that it wasn’t love I was feeling at the time. Love doesn’t lie, it doesn’t hurt or cause confusion. We weren’t in a committed relationship, in fact, looking back it was a highly dysfunctional ‘situationship’. Things were a mess, but not messy enough for me to walk away, because whenever I did pluck up enough strength to leave it didn’t take much for me to go running back.
I was in my early 20s when I first got pregnant. I say first because Jayde who is now 12 years old is my first-born child. He wasn’t the first baby I carried though, for a short time before Jayde I was pregnant, unfortunately at around 8 weeks into my pregnancy I miscarried and for reasons that can only be explained by God, I didn’t get to meet my child. Until this day, at this very moment of writing this letter, I never knew I was walking around with guilt. I assumed I was fine because it was never something that I spoke about or fully acknowledged. I knew it happened, it’s not something you can forget, but I chose to block it out. This is this the first time I’ve spoken so freely about my miscarriage and really wondered what could have been. Now I smile and acknowledge they existed, growing inside of me, even for a short while. They’d be approaching 14 now, would they have been a girl or boy, what would I have called them or what would their character be like? I know life would probably be so different if they were here today, there may not have even been Mothers of Men or Jayde.
I blamed myself for their loss at the time and was constantly upset when I learnt of my pregnancy because it wasn’t part of my plan for my life, I was angry with myself, hurt and was still chasing my comfort zone in the form of the dysfunctional relationship I was inand out of. My son’s father already made it very clear, he never wanted the baby and so when I miscarried his words hit like a rib shot, he said, “Good”. Good because he never wanted another child and I was being 'bad mind'. In his eyes I was being selfish, only thinking about what I wanted in my decision to keep the baby. And so when I miscarried it was like some sort of punishment for not considering him. He already had children from previous relationships. I began to blame myself, was I selfish? Abortion was never an option despite not wanting children but now that I was pregnant some maternal instincts kicked in and I wanted to care for the life growing inside of me. I pondered on what I could have done differently. Maybe if I cried less? Or wasn’t so stressed, maybe then the baby would’ve made it into my arms?
Through my mourning process I was mentally drained and emotionally tired but still, I wasn’t too tired to foolishly continue trying to hold onto a man that I knew deep down wasn’t right for me. Things moved on, pain swept under rugs and it wasn’t long until I was pregnant again.This time determined that things would be different, I never placed many expectations on him. Any threats or unkind words that came mostly went ignored and I tried to not let it get to me, that’s not to say that inside I wasn’t wounded. However, I decided what was more important at the time and that was to ensure my child came into the world safely. It wasn’t always easy and there were days when I wanted it to all be over, where I wish I could rewind time and make better decisions. However, life doesn’t work that way. I needed to suck it up and get on with things. I was preparing myself for them, for motherhood but no amount of preparation could compare to what was coming.
February 9th, 2006, Jayde came in to the world weighing in at 8.6oz. He was perfect. The goal to make sure he arrived safe and healthy was achieved. But the next steps were unclear. As a first-time mother I didn’t have a clue what to do. I had a little human that would depend on me for everything, but I also had mixed with feelings of wanting to rewind time. I could barely take care of myself and manage my own life. Being a parent is hard enough when both parents are present but doing it alone was tougher and something I didn’t want to do. So much so that I created an invisible wall between me and my son, a wall which would stay up through the next 10 years of his life.
Let me be clear though, whilst I had a lot of issues and battles that I was fighting, Jayde was well taken care of, I compensated for his dad not being fully invested in his life, I made up for the broken promises. Never realising that I also, was not fully invested. The invisible wall that had been hidden showed up and began to show itself in the form of rejection, resentment, guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear and anger, not entirely towards Jayde. But I could see where it was affecting our relationship and I was resentful to the situation we were in. I knew he felt it with the uncomfortable hugs or when I became snappy and short tempered, he saw it when I found it easier to bond with other children but couldn’t share that with him and helpless when he was the one getting me tissue to dry my eyes.
Still I held on that things would get better for us, I have a praying mother that never stopped praying and encouraging me but at the time my vision was clouded, and better days almost seemed too hard to find. Until I met a man for myself. A good man, a man who loves me despite of me, a man who has been encouraging me to be a better mother & better Dinah, a man who is showing me what true love is, how to receive it and share it, a man who speaks to my heart, that comforts me in ways I could never imagine that despite where I am coming from or what I’ve done He will always be there with me, a man who has showed me that all things are working out for my good Romans 8:28. I met Jesus and invited Him into my life. I was at a point where I was exhausted by my own efforts. I needed peace, my home felt like a war zone, fighting the battle of healing, I wanted to step up and raise my son correctly. God had blessed me with such a gift in the form of my son and I had to do better by him. And so, I allowed God to begin healing me.
He gives power to the weak
Through this process God revealed to me the plans He had for our journey, how He would restore my relationship with my son and use us for His glory. It’s only whilst I sit here typing this letter that I fully begin to understand that Mothers of Men was birthed way before I knew it. That God had begun a work in me before He formed me, that everything I had been through was a build up to be used for an appointed time, when God would reveal Himself to be a man of His word in my life. By no means am I claiming to be perfect, life is hard and full of new challenges that I must face daily but my once bland outlook on my life is now filled with joy, hope and wonder. I am worth the fight. I mean how else would I be here sharing intimate parts of my life for the world to view. Some might find encouragement whilst others may pick it apart and label me a bad mother for voicing my inner thoughts and feelings. Well this is my motherhood story. The good, bad and ugly, it’s mine to share.
Dear Mom, has been launched because I don’t think we share enough, actually we do share, I’ll take that back we share. It just tends to be the good, more often and really that’s great but what about the down times. The times when you thought you were on the edge of breaking and the times when you just wanted to throw in the towel. I am sure we can agree that we have all had those moments at least once in our life. So why don’t we sharethem?
Dear MoM is a platform for us to do just that. In a world full of facades, can we go against that? Let’s share, encourage and inspire other mothers. Your storm could be the breakthrough someone else is looking for.