I don't think any little girl grows up thinking she wants to be a single parent, or at least I didn't. That was something I never pictured for myself- couldn't even have imagined it would ever happen to me. I grew up in a strict Christian home, went to church three times a week, plus youth group, choir and Bible study and had a very real personal relationship with Jesus. My best friend was/is my pastor's daughter and my boyfriend was her brother- the pastor's son. All I ever wanted was to marry him and have lots of babies. We dated for almost ten years, from the age of 13 to 22, and when we broke up I was beyond heart broken. I couldn't, and didn't, go to church because seeing him was too difficult for me and I was in college- there were a million other things I could be doing on Sundays besides going to church. I guess it didn't take too long for me start living completely for myself. I was angry with God for so many things and it was just easier to hide from Him rather than facing and dealing with everything.
I began dating someone new, someone who was not a Christian. But he was a lot fun and nothing like my ex boyfriend, which was exactly what I wanted then. I never planned on us having a long term relationship, I thought he was just my rebound guy. Or at least that's what everyone told me, I'd only dated one person in my life, so I'd never had a rebound relationship. But then a few weeks turned into months and then into years. It started off like smelling like roses and I quickly forgot all about my shattered heart. And then things changed, the newness wore off, and the real personality emerged. But by then it was too late, I had fallen in love with someone who didn't really exist and I thought if I could just be a better, more perfect version of myself, that I could get him to be who I thought he was. It became an unhealthy relationship and we were quite the dysfunctional couple. I thought I was in love with him though and I made excuses to myself for why I should still be with him.
And then my life really fell apart. My beloved Mema passed away completely unexpectedly during my first week at a top tier law school. Just four months later my invincible, genius, top neurologist in the world, dad was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer- Non-Hodgkin Small B-Cell Lymphoma, specifically Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma. I couldn't breathe, every second of every day was more painful than the one before it. I couldn't fathom what God trying to do to me and I became so angry with Him. My faith had already been on shaky grounds and when all of this happened it became practically nonexistent.
When I found out I was pregnant I was in my second year of law school. I had worked so hard for my perfect future and my whole perfectly imagined life was in front me. I had everything to lose and nothing to be gained from having a baby. (Or at least that's what I thought) Her father did not want me to keep the baby and for awhile I was miserably waffling about what I should do. My parents would be devastated and my life as I'd dreamed it would be over. I didn't choose the easy road. I could have done what he wanted and gone on about my life as if nothing had ever happened- no one would know and and no one would ever have to think any less of me because I wouldn't have to drop out of law school and become an unwed single mother. But I couldn't do it. The chances of me becoming pregnant were slim, like so slim, and I knew that there must be a reason or a higher purpose for this baby that was growing in my tummy.
I didn't have a decision to make, my baby was my only choice. The next eight months were the worst of my life. I really don't even like to think about that time because it makes me sick to my stomach. I'd always been the kind of child that my parents were (mostly) proud of- they were eager to share my accomplishments with their friends/co-workers/anyone who would listen, had impossibly high hopes and expectations for my future, and always pushed me to succeed in everything I did. While my personal life left much to be desired by my mother, she often overlooked it because of how well I did in my educational/professional life. And then it all changed; pride was replaced with shame and embarrassment. It took me my mom months before she was able to go back to church; I had humiliated her and she was ashamed of me.
For the first few months, (5 to be exact) I hid indoors. I only told one other person and basically was cut off from the world. My parents didn't want to tell my grandparents, so I wasn't allowed to go to any family functions. Who knows how long that would've gone if it hadn't of been for my Grandma passing away when I was six months along. There was no way my parents could explain my absence from her funeral, so they were forced to tell the rest of my family. It was their reactions to the news, which were so unexpectedly supportive and encouraging that I think it gave my parents, my mother in particular, a different perspective. My Grandpa said "We lost our girl (meaning my Grandma) but God's given us another one."
But I don't want to give the impression that I deserved better. My mom had invested her life in making sure my dreams could and would come true. Countless hours and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars were spent on my behalf, as an investment in my future. And then I threw it all away as if it meant nothing. My mom now saw her life as a waste, everything she'd done and sacrificed was now worthless. She was devastated and mourning the life she thought I would have. And I understand that because I was also mourning the life I had worked so hard to have. It took me awhile to fully come to terms with the new direction I was on and to say goodbye to the old hopes and dreams. It would have been very different if this hadn't had been something I did to myself, something I chose to do. I made the conscious choice to go ahead with my pregnancy and have my daughter when I could have made a different decision. I could have gone on my merry way, deluding myself that nothing had changed. But I didn't. And I thank the Lord daily for my precious daughter.
My church was unbelievably supportive of me, even when I couldn't gather the courage to show my face and walk through their doors. The ladies gave me a baby shower and my best friend's mother gave the devotion. The verses she read changed my outlook on everything, as if a blindfold had been removed from my eyes. Psalm 139:13-17:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
I had been hiding from everyone, but mostly from God. The only reason I was having a baby was because of something I did wrong; because of a sin I committed. But out of my sin He created something beautiful. He formed her in my womb and He saw her and the life she would have before time even began. This was the beginning, the first of many, turning points in my road to redemption; I stopped hiding and began thanking.
She has changed my life, for sure, but more importantly she's made me a better person. I used to be very self-involved; I was the axis point about which the world revolved. Since becoming a mother it's as if the floodgates of my empathy have opened up. I have a new purpose in my life. It helps me get through the rough days- to know that my daughter is the greatest gift this world has to offer me and I need to be up to the task. And now that I'm two and half years into this wonderfully unexpected journey, I'm still alive! I don't see myself as a failure anymore and I hope that any other single mother in a similar circumstance can see that better days are ahead. I wasted so much time hiding and being miserable because I hated seeing how people now looked at me- and I wish I could get that time back.
One of the most difficult things about being a Christian single mother is that there's not much hope for the kind of marriage I'd always dreamed of having. I'm still working on that, still trying to trust and believe that all things are going to work out together for good. But I have good days and bad days and every day presents new challenges as well as opportunities. I'm working on seeing the opportunities instead of focusing on the obstacles. I try to be a source of encouragement to other single mothers- to let them know that they can do this! I still have struggles with my faith, but it's something I work on daily. One of the real changing points was last year when I felt I really needed to do something to jump start my relationship with the Lord and I decided I would pray every day of Lent instead of giving up something. I can't begin to tell you the transformation this had on my hardened heart. I'm still far from where I want to be and I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm getting there, slowly but surely. Over on my sidebar and in the upper menu tabs you can find links to previous posts where I write about how I've worked through and managed everything, from faith, to finances to family.
Before I had my daughter, before I become a parent- I had no real appreciation for just how precious life is; and now it's something I think about daily. I am so grateful for my daughter and for how being her mother has made me want to be a person worthy of her. No, this isn't the life I imagined for myself, but having Spencer in my life has made it infinitely better than anything in my wildest dreams.