This is my 3rd year as a mother and my second year as a single-single mother. These past few years have been filled with God taking advantage of, what feels like, every opportunity to reveal His awesomeness to me in different moments of my life, good and bad, big and small. This time is no different. My first Mother’s Day as a single mother was a struggle mainly because of my sinful indulgence in social media that had me coveting the marriages, parenting relationships and lifestyles of mothers that I saw plastering my timeline. It was also a difficult time for me because, although it was a day to celebrate motherhood, I was very insecure and constantly questioned my adequacy as a mother. I had a distorted view of what being a mother is and how to be the best at it. This Mother’s Day weekend has not been what I expected but definitely more than I could have ever hoped for. My son and I spent this weekend at my parents’ house and during that time God has exposed my heart in areas that I have been wanting to change. It took some serious reflection to decide if I would even share these thoughts, and they will probably seem like some random points but if you read to the end, I promise I will bring it together.
Part One:The Nails…
As a single mother (and often times even if you are not single) it can be hard to find time and money to treat yourself. For me it is often easier to hide behind putting my son’s needs ahead of mine as an excuse to not do a few extra things for myself. I usually set out to do something for myself then get distracted by remembering something that I said I would buy for my son. One thing that I have always wished I could keep up with is getting my nails done, so I decided this would be my treat to myself for Mother’s Day. Of course I did not decide this until Thursday, and when I text my favorite nail artist, Tia, she was already booked. But Friday rolled around and she told me she could get me in extra early Saturday morning, I didn’t care what time it was. As I was walking out the door at 5a I encountered a strange smell and popped my head in to check on my son. I thought maybe he had an accident, those still occur from time to time at night since he is 2. He was wide
awake and just laying there, covered in vomit. This was the first time that it has ever happened so I woke my mom up and asked her to help me so I could make my nail appointment but also because, honestly, I was a little freaked out. My mom did not hesitate to get out of her comfy bed and help my son wash off as I walked out the door. While driving to my nail appointment, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for leaving my son with my mother to go get my nails done. It was tough to see the blessing that I had just witnessed in the time between waking up and walking out the door. Looking back, I realize that if I did not have a 6a appointment I would not have woken up to see that my son had thrown up. He is the type of kid that if it is still dark and he thinks everyone else is still sleep then he will lay in the bed and not make a noise, even if he has an accident. I keep thinking what if I hadn’t gotten up until 7 or 8a, how long would he have just laid there? Then I think about how awesome and loving my mother is that she would get out of bed to help care for my child so that I could go do something like get my nails done. As silly as it may sound, getting my nails done was a big deal to me because it was the one thing I budgeted to treat myself to for Mother’s Day. I told Tia to be free and creative and that is exactly what she did, right down to the colors. And with that, you get the work pictured above. I will make more sense of this point in a minute…
Part Two: The Outfit
When I gave birth to my son in 2013 I weighed 193lbs and was only about 20lbs lighter when I left the hospital 3 days later (I’m only 5’2″). A little back story: I have always struggle with my loving myself and having a positive view of my body. As a young girl, I was often the target of bullies. I was not as slim or “well shaped” as the other girls, and on top of that I had natural hair at a time when natural hair was not “popular” (I didn’t get my first relaxer until I was 17), so while the other girls had curls, flips and straight pig tails, I had poofy, kinky concoctions with wild edges. What’s funny is that now my hair still looks like that at times, and I love it. My wardrobe consisted of pieces that were more value than style, if you know what I mean, so there were a lot of great, yet malicious, jokes made at my expense. So after having my son I had to battle new self-esteem problems on top of a sudden recall of the old ones. One thing I used to always want to be better at was dressing myself. I never really had a desire to get deep into fashion, if it was comfortable and it fit I wore it. Much of my 20’s consisted of tank tops and hooping shorts that I had kidnapped from my cousin. So here I am approaching my 30th year of life and I am finally enjoying mixing things up. I used to stick to the ease of two color matching with my main colors being black, white, red and blue. It took me a long time to have a real desire to care how I look and to be kind and loving to the woman that God has created me to be. The process of becoming comfortable in my skin is still ongoing but the more I venture out into wearing what I like over what I think other people will compliment, the more I remind myself that I am already accepted by the only One whose acceptance matters. So for Mother’s day 2016, I decided to mix it up with some colorful fun. I mentioned earlier that when I went to get my nails done I let Tia pick the colors. Although I had never seen Aqua/Turquoise and Orange together, I thought it was really cute. Later that afternoon when I took my mom shopping for her gift, I ended up finding an outfit for myself. I had already planned on just wearing the black and white outfit that I brought with me but plans change. When I found the sweater I almost talked myself out of getting it because it is pretty “busy”, but when I found the pants and remembered I already had the top and shoes, plus it matched my nails so I took it as a sign. I had finally gotten to a place where I am ready to just embrace my own style and tastes. Now when I think about what will make me appealing to someone else, I remind myself that there is One who gave all that He had to love me. And now, because it doesn’t matter to me if anyone likes what I wear but me that I enjoy putting outfits together that I think are fun. This may seem silly, but after two years of disliking myself in anything that I wore and dreading the process of figuring out what I would wear, now I am excited when I have places to get dressed to go to. Now I just wish I had more places to go.
Part Three: My Face
Earlier I shared how I was often bullied growing up. I used to always wonder why I wasn’t “pretty” like the other girls or why did’t I fit in. I had people that I hung with at school, but I never felt like I really belonged anywhere. So as I got older I learned to master the smile and nod when someone asked me am I okay. Even into my adult life my
face offered one answer while the truth remained locked away in my mind.
Compartmentalizing has been my strength for the last 5 years. If my feelings were hurt, I put it in a little mental box and kept it moving. If I felt betrayed, I put it in a little mental box and kept it moving. If I felt taken advantage of, I put it in a little mental box and I think you get the point. There have been countless times when I have thanked someone for telling me I have a beautiful smile but in my head I was wishing I could blurt out how close to the edge that I really was. It wasn’t until I was battling serious depression after I had my son that I realized how often I put on a smile to hide what was going on inside my head and my heart. After many long nights of crying out to God about everything that I have ever held in, my comfort was found in Him and the promises of His word. Deuteronomy 31:8 tells me that He will go before me and NEVER leave me. I now know there is nothing I could ever do to keep God from loving me (especially since He knew how messed up I would be before He chose me) and I know that I can pour out my entire heart and mind to Him. Every compartment I have ever filled with pain is now emptied because I have a real resting place. So now when I smile, I am just smiling.
Part Four: My Heart
So I told you in the beginning that I would bring it all together and that time has come. The most important thing that I want to share with you is that these small superficial things that I am finally at the point of enjoying in my life now mean almost nothing to me. Looking back, I see how I spent the last Mother’s day lurking on social media, secretly coveting the gifts and displays of affection that other women’s husbands, boyfriends and children’s fathers got for them (since we’re being honest). I was stuck in a place of wondering why I wasn’t good enough of a mother that someone would go out of their way to make me feel appreciated. Why hadn’t some “man of my dreams” chosen me yet. It was a really tough place to be. But it was also in that place that God revealed to me how the problem was not so much in what I was desiring, but that I wanted the things more that I wanted Him. I wanted to be comforted by the feeling of having what everyone else seems to have instead of enjoying my security and identity in Him that I do have. I finally saw that I already had the two greatest gifts that God could ever give me, His Son, then mine. It was this time last year that I started writing my first blog post pouring out the truth of how I let sin lead me to a place that only grace could bring me out of (it took 5 months to actually share it). This Mother’s day I was able to really enjoy the seemingly small things like getting my nails done, some new clothes and a new lipstick. It took everything that has happened these past 2 years for my heart to be slowly changed. I enjoyed getting my nails done because the events leading up to me being able to go reminded me that I have a strong support system. I am a single mother, but the “single” part only describes my relationship status, not the amount of help I have. I enjoyed shopping (which I usually don’t) because I am reminded that regardless of what I wear or how fashionable I am, I am already accepted. I smile uncontrollably and with great ease because I know where I was this time last year mentally and emotionally and thanks be to Jesus, I no longer have to hide behind my smile. I am thankful to be able to enjoy this Mother’s Day because I know the value of the gift that was given to me to make me into a mother.
Grace and peace,