When I got pregnant, at the time, my only worry was making sure I graduated from college that year. Well, I was also fearful of what my mother would think when I let her know I was pregnant, which, by the way, didn’t happen until I was two months pregnant. I had a scare and thought I was having a miscarriage, which landed me in the hospital and emergency room for most of the night, alone. I got through that and here I am — a mother of a 5-year-old boy.
And the older he gets the more I have a fear of failing him.
People look at me and praise me for all I do as a single mother, but nothing is as easy as I make it seem. Sometimes I want to cry because I’m overwhelmed and feeling like, as his mother, I’m doing everything wrong — no matter how much he smiles, tells me he loves me and that he’s proud of me. Like, seriously, my son is so smart that he acknowledges the littlest things I do.
There are times I’m resentful of those women who have the father of their child there, helping them every step of the way. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m at a disadvantage because I am a single black mother raising an African-American boy on my own. Eventually, he will turn into a man and I’m scared to death. What I’m getting at is, I feel like the weight of the world is on me and when it comes to motherhood I’m terrified I’m doing it all wrong.
It’s bad enough that I already feel like I failed at picking a father my son can look up to; one that’s not in and out of his life, one that can provide him with love, constant attention and affection, a stable place to lay his head at night, money for all his necessities, and just some overall consistency. I wish I would have given him a father that doesn’t make excuses as to why he can’t hop in an Uber or on the bus to come and spend time with him, yet finds his way around everywhere else.
After five years, I’m still trying to forgive myself for having a child with a person I knew wasn’t quite ready for another kid. A person I knew I never imagined having children with. Love is blind, and sometimes we see more potential in a person than they see in themselves. You think that maybe, just maybe, when they look into the eyes of their newborn, something will tell them to go hard and get it together, but that isn’t always the case.
I wonder what effect the relationship, or lack thereof, I have with his father will have on my son when he gets older and begins to understand what’s really happening. Will he blame me for the lack of relationship he has with his dad, or will he blame us both? Will he grow up to be this gentleman who respects his elders and women because he grew up around nothing but women, or will he display the same disrespect as his father? I’m honestly terrified. I fear that my love will not be enough to keep him on the right track; keep him somewhat innocent and full of happiness.
When it comes to his education, I’ve noticed I’ve become that mom who is already thinking way ahead into the future — as if he is starting college tomorrow. If I feel he is falling behind or he does something wrong, immediate panic kicks in, and once again I feel like I’m failing him. He’s already such a smart kid and I know he has the ability to do whatever he puts his mind to, but with him being a black child I want to instill in him how important education is. I’m learning that at his age, I can’t freak out or yell at him when he loses his focus or says something wrong when I know he knows the right answer.
Frustration comes with being a parent, and I’ve always told myself I wasn’t going to be that parent who yells at her child or hands out ass whoopins’ because my child was misbehaving, not listening, or doing something the wrong way. If you’re wondering, I’ve been failing in that department as well. I definitely don’t want my son to be one of those kids who resents me for it all his life, especially because none of that works on him. So, here I go again having to learn what works for him and reteaching myself different ways to parent because, once again, I feel like a failure.
I have to keep reminding myself that there’s not just one perfect way to be a parent and that I have to believe he and I will be just fine.
At night, when he’s in my bed, sometimes I just look at his adorable face and cry because I see how fragile and innocent he is. I think about all the ways I can fail him and then I pray that I don’t. I pray that he stays down the right path because I did what I needed as a parent. I pray he remains protected until he’s old and gray. I look at him and I just know there’s no room for me to fail.