One day, you are a single mom to a young child and the next, your 3-year-old little girl has turned into a young, single adult owning her own company in Manhattan at 27 and offering you words of encouragement. Where did the time go?
This all hit me when I received a text message from my daughter, who lives and works in the fashion industry in New York City. The text read "Damn hot mama." At that point, I realized that she had taken a screen shot of an email blast release of a home show event I was to speak at and was referencing a photo of me. How in the world did this happen? Going from struggling and juggling single mom to a main speaker at a suburban Boston home show? I had absolutely no idea. My response to her text was the typical LOL and then the text conversation proceeded: "Really thou? You look amazing in that pic." I respond with, "is this bad?" My daughter continued to text, "why would that be bad? You look really fresh I love it! You make me proud." Now I'm really confused. When did the tables turn? I thought my job as a mom was to constantly give positive praise to my child. Now, who has become the adult here? My mom defense in response was, "No it's all you. I wouldn't be at this point in my career if I didn't have you to work for. You made it all worth it." Again, this young adult returns with another phrase that blows me away: "Don't make this about me right now. It's your amazing drive that has made us both who we are today. You make me proud to be your daughter and a part of you." I pause and think before I respond to her last comment. Has my 27 years of encouragement and praise and can-do attitude paid off? Has my fear of her having a less than normal life without her birth father present resulted in a motivated young lady to others and especially her mom? I finally respond with, "Thank you babe! That means a lot. Through all our ups and downs in our life we were always happy people. You're the best daughter! Never a dull moment and that's good."
Then my phone rings and enough with the text messaging. I had to sit down and reflect upon the way the phone conversation went. Who was this wonderful creation of a person? How did she become this dynamic creature? I took myself back to the early '90s, a time of turmoil, separation, divorce, struggle and determination. I was so determined to make this little girl have a life of success that I never looked back. I never had pity on myself for being in a failed marriage not once, but twice. I only saw opportunity to show my little girl that a women can do anything she sets her mind to. We were not going on welfare, nor were we going to have food stamps. We could not afford to jet off on school vacations to Disney World as other families did. I just could not simply afford it and how was I going to send this little brown eyed beauty to college?
I would like to think that the quality time I spent teaching her how to ride her bike in the school parking lot, playing ball with her on the beach, planning the best picnics ever and picking wild flowers in the woods had attributed to the development of this young lady. I focused on the important things in life, not the material objects. Of course I did have one of the biggest things going or me, an amazing Greek family that offered support by being there for us providing normalcy every family deserves. Although it was available to me, my father wanted to always provide financially. My stubbornness which I attribute to one of my dad's passed on qualities did not allow me to take his generous offerings. "Everything's fine, dad." This was not his problem or situation, this was mine. I created it. I could have stayed in married situation that I was unhappy with to avoid the constant struggle of a single mom, but I was up for the challenge and determined to make this a success story for my daughter.
Young children are so easily influenced by what they live with everyday. We think they're not watching or noticing how we handle every day life as a parent, single or not. When one day you turn around and a curve ball is thrown your way. When your child is offering you phrase and encouragement, that is when you realize the single mom journey was well worth the fight.