I’ve been raising a daughter for the past 17 years, in what seems like a simultaneous time of me raising myself. When I found out I was pregnant with her all of those years ago I only thought about the pretty dresses, cute hairstyles, and having a girl to treat like a mini me, the same way I treated my dolls when I was little. Being a mom and having a little girl was high on my to-do list. So when I chose to have my baby I didn’t consider any of the real life factors such as her dad and I not being together, not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life and career, and what it took to really be a mom. I’m not saying I would’ve changed any of these things, I’m just saying these are things I did not consider when going forth as a single mom. I only thought about the fact that I had a kidney transplant and this may be my only chance at motherhood and having a sweet baby; something that was a part of my every day role play from age 2-13. So I did it.
In raising my daughter we had lots of ups and downs because like I said, I was still raising myself as well. I moved from NC to Maryland for a job when she was eleven months old and we’ve been in this area ever since. We’ve lived with mice, bed bugs (twice), and roaches. We’ve lived in apartments, a dilapidated basement of a house, a high rise, a townhouse and now a single family house as of the past few months. I also got my master’s degree, went from retail jobs to a government job, and from hiring babysitters off Craig’s List to being afforded to work from home. The struggle has been real. One thing I did for my daughter even when times were rough is that I never let her feel it. When I couldn’t afford gas in my car and we had to walk to Target, I made it fun. “Let’s go walk to Target and stop by the park on the way back!” When I lost my job for 8 months and had only unemployment coming in, I enrolled her into every activity I could find in the county because activities were so much cheaper for low income families. That’s how she learned how to swim, do gymnastics, and dance ballet. She did an acting class during this time as well and now she’s making videos on YouTube. I couldn’t find a job so I enrolled in classes to get my Master’s Degree so I could hopefully find one and make more money for us. It took a very long time but I eventually did it.
I still got to dress my girl up in pink and frilly looks. We went to church on Sunday, I helped with homework to the best of my ability, and showed up. The hardest parts were putting her on the plane to Texas several times a year, which started around 2 years old. By 5 she was flying by herself and has been ever since. She has more air miles than anyone I know!
We have one year left before college. I think I’ve spent the past 17 years trying to give her a good life, and give her a path to internal happiness and love. It hasn’t been easy especially because I’ve made mistakes along the way. Lots of mistakes.
If I could give any advice on raising a daughter I’d say these 11 things (in no particular order):
- Keep their hearts and bodies protected.
- Let them in on some of your struggles, and how you’ve overcome.
- Don’t cry too much in front of them, but don’t let them think you don’t ever cry either. It’s healthy and right to have feelings and express them.
- Teach them the value of a dollar and working hard.
- Let them know they are strong and no matter what happens in life, you can make it.
- Teach them to love themselves first.
- Show them a good time.
- Let them find their own style.
- Don’t let them see you get abused.
- Introduce them to a spiritual life.
- Tell them you love them and you’re proud of them.
Do you have a daughter or are you a daughter? Drop some of your best advice that’s been provided to you in the comments below. Also, if you like this post please share!
Last photo set by Praya1
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