They say it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes I wonder if most people feel that way any longer. I feel as though I am at the end of a runway that leads to the moment and point where planes take off. Into the sky they fly off to a new destination and adventure.
This is what is happening with my baby adult. I call her “baby adult” because, even though she is 18 and a legal adult, she’s still a child. In the years of the pandemic, she became a published author twice, graduated with a 4.85 GPA and made Cum Laude. She placed at state in Science Olympiad and did amazingly with Spoken Word.
Nonetheless, to say these last few years have been a challenge is an understatement. We are finally here — the end and the beginning at the same time. With college looming, her intelligence and, more importantly, her application of said intelligence, will ensure that I am not in the poor house from school costs.
The 19th Century Charitable Association of Oak Park generously gave her scholarships that will fill the gap. I am so grateful for this. I remember driving by the “19th Century Woman’s Club” as it was called (yes, I’m going to say it) “back in my day” over the years as an Oak Park resident and an alumna myself of Oak Park and River Forest High School.
Chatting with the other recipient mothers, one pointed out that not only were all of the four recipients girls, but all were also raised by single mothers! I was shocked! We basked in that. How did we do it?! The world tells us that, as single mothers, we are depleted, too overwhelmed to care, doing the bare minimum, and if there is anything successful that comes of us raising our kids, it must be because others helped us.
I was asphyxiated by pride and excitement about the girl power emanating from us. First you should know, I am not a braggadocios person; I’m low key sometimes to a fault. But I must say loudly and proudly, “Who runs the world? Girls!” (Beyoncé)
Amelia took nine AP classes and still had time to make her own clothing designs, which she fashionably rocked. Peera, besides what I previously mentioned, was an intern at Fermilab and accepted to the Harvard University summer program. Matylda is an exceptional public speaker and I was captivated by her intelligence, charitable contributions, and grace, Sabine is also exceptional and is not only graduating with a high GPA, but also already has world experience through travel. Most importantly, these girls (us included) navigated our mental health in chaotic times and are still working on it.
The world is not kind to single mothers, but when I look at these girls, I see they are the fruit of our labor. I see through all the hard times and lack of confidence and inadequacy we felt, mostly because of the world’s narrative around single parenting, and conclude that all hope is not lost.
Yes, without our partnerships with teachers, family, and friends, we would have a harder time raising our children because it truly does take a village. But this is also the case with two-parent households. The world just gives two-parent households more credit than single-parent households. If things go wrong, then the narrative is usually, it’s because there is only one parent influence.
We have decided to form a support group and celebrate ourselves and our girls as we (speaking for myself on this one) are so used to downplaying our accomplishments and not giving ourselves enough credit for managing life and raising exceptional children. We are giving ourselves permission to be proud.
Thank you to the 19th Century Club for thinking of future generations and providing a way to support them in the best ways possible.
Thank you to our girls for being themselves, doing it so well, and allowing us to be their mothers. They don’t deserve a world like this and my hope is that many youth will navigate it well enough to make changes to it and be better than us, their mothers (and fathers).