There’s a chapter of my motherhood story that few people know about, that I rarely speak of. It isn’t one of my favorite chapters, and at the time it felt like nothing could ever be harder to get through, but its existence shaped everything else that followed.
If I had to give this motherhood chapter a title I would call it, “The Fight of My Life.”
I fought for my daughter every day for three months. I fought to keep her, instead of giving her to someone else, someone older and more ready to be a parent than my 21-year-old single self. I argued with myself, as well as many of those closest to me. I fought against the ideas of some of my friends, and family, and Skye’s dad. I fought to prove to myself and everyone else that this baby wasn’t meant for another family. She was meant for me, and I was ready.
That was the reason for all the doubt, from myself and everyone else, the disbelief that I could possibly be ready to become a single mom at 21. The doubt really wasn’t unfounded either. Of course I wasn’t ready, not really. But how often are we ever ready for the things that change our lives in fundamental ways? My life was about to change forever, whether I was ready for it to or not.
So I fought. I fought until I was talking in circles, repeating the same points over and over, until I wanted to scream.
They didn’t think I understood all the things I’d be giving up, all the irrevocable ways my life would be different if I was the one raising my child. They asked if I thought I could finish school with a baby. They quoted numbers for the cost of diapers, formula, daycare, doctor bills and clothes. They asked didn’t I want to be able to give my kid more, language tutors, private schools or a debt-free college experience. They reminded me of all my plans and dreams that would have to change or forever be forgotten.
But to me, none of those things were what mattered most. Important points all, but I thought there had to be parts of parenthood that mean more than the things dependent on a nice paycheck.
What matters most isn’t the things that I give her but the things that I teach her. The thing that matters is that she wakes up every morning knowing she is loved and safe and secure, with a roof over her head, clothes to wear and food for her little belly. What matters most isn’t the square footage of that roof covering her, or the brand names of her food and clothing.
The things that really matter can’t be bought.
What matters is that I teach her strength, humility and grace. What matters is that she knows she can do anything she sets her mind to. That nothing, not gender or lack of money can ever hold her back from accomplishing her goals. What matters is that she knows her mommy loves her more than anything else in this world, and would do anything to keep her always smiling.
She is mine, my little carbon copy who reminds me everyday how lucky I am to be her mom. She is mine to love, to teach and to watch succeed. She is the love of my life.
No matter how difficult raising her sometimes is, nothing else really matters.