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I had the pleasure of interviewing, 39 year old, Leslie from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. This is our REAL TALK conversation….
Introduce yourself. Age, location, kids and ages, career, hobbies, passion in life, etc.
My name is Leslie and I currently live in Ft. Lauderdale, weather is nice but the people can do better. I am 39 years old my one and only is in her first year of college. I really do not have any hobbies, unless you consider cooking. I have always wanted to be a chef, but at my age and with my responsibilities that would almost be impossible. My passion is for me to soar in 2013 as well as my baby girl. She is passionate, going to school for biochemical engineering! So proud, she is kicking serious college booty!
How did you become a single mom, (what’s your story)?
I became a single mother when I was three months pregnant. My daughter’s father told me that he was not ready to be a dad, but was leaving me for a female with three young children. Although it hurt, it didn’t break me. He signed over his parental rights and I have been doing me before she was born and my daughter is stronger for it! She appreciates true relationships, friends or boyfriends and she respects herself.
What are some of the hardships you faced as a Single Mom?
Money and time were always hardships that I faced as a single mom. I didn’t go to college immediately after high school. I was pregnant with my second child by the age of 19, my first born had passed the year before. I worked several jobs to make ends meet. This left little time to spend with my daughter. Finally, I entered a program and became a paralegal. Eventually I went to college and earned my degree. While I was busy in school or studying, I had my daughter extremely active in after school activities.
Did you have any outside help raising your daughter?
My mother was a God send! She watched my daughter for me until she was three and in a full time pre-school program. That helped out tremendously. My father always made sure that she had winter coats and boots, etc. and decent clothes when money was almost non-existent in our home.
What have been the BEST moments raising your daughter alone and what have been your WORSE?
One of the best moments raising my daughter alone, was that she could see me shine, improve, and grow as a woman. Yes, I struggled, but I always made sure that I put a positive spin on why we might be struggling and to talk to her about doing better and going farther and working harder. Everything a young lady is going to learn about being a woman she is going to learn from her mother. The worst moment that I faced while raising my child always has to do with discipline. It was very hard being the mommy and daddy, being the friend and the enemy. It was not often that I had to discipline her, but the times that I did it was very difficult for me.
What, if anything, would you have done differently?
That is a loaded question. Yes, I struggled, but I don’t think that I would change anything in terms of how I raised or the struggles that we experienced. We are better people for it. However, the one thing that I would have done differently would have been to choose better men to have relationships with. I was stuck on the idea that every child needed a mother and father, I didn’t believe in myself or capabilities. She witnessed too much crap that I went through; I wish that I could erase those images from her mind.
Raising a daughter, what have you tried to teach her that perhaps you weren’t taught growing up?
I was always taught that children should be seen and not heard. I taught her the opposite. I encouraged her, and still do, to speak her mind RESPECTFULLY. I always tell her; sometimes it is not what you say but how you say. I grew up feeling like I was an indentured servant not a child. I wanted her NOT to feel that way and communicated with her and discussed issues that were good, bad or indifferent.
Did your daughter ever ask about her father? What did you tell her?
Yes, my daughter asked about her father many times until she was about seven years old. I never bad mouthed her father in front of her. I wanted her to be able to make her own conclusions about him that would determine there relationship. When she did ask, I would tell her that her father went away to work and would be back one day and it may not be soon. After she became older, I told her the truth that her father walked out when I was three months pregnant and signed over his parental rights after she was born. They met when she was fourteen, and she did not like him at all, he tried WAY to hard and insisted that she call him Dad instead of by his first name. After an hour he left and she looked at me and stated with a look of disgust on her face “Ma…I can’t believe that you had sex with that man!” To which I replied, yes, (trying not to laugh), but he helped me to create a beautiful daughter. Since she has graduated high school and started college this past fall they have created a relationship and we have put our differences aside, for her sake.
When your daughter was younger, how did you handle Father’s Day, Father/Daughter Dances, etc?
Father’s Day was special in our family. My parents started the “tradition” of giving me Father’s Day cards the year my daughter was born. They both told me, you are her mother and her father; you deserve to celebrate both days. In the beginning, in pre-school it was difficult because of the Father’s Day projects she was sent home with. Then, one year, she began to give them to me. We go out on Father’s Day for a nice dinner and movie and snuggle with ice cream later before bed. So basically, on Father’s Day, I was always treated like it was Mother’s Day. I think that the activities and bond that my daughter and I shared, did not make up for her absent father, but certainly helped. Even while in high school, after she started working, she took me out to dinner on Father’s Day…although it was only McDonalds (LOL), it was special because she recognized that it was just me and her against the world and I did the best that I could to make sure she never wanted for a thing.
Do you date? Are you in a relationship? When do you think that single moms should bring the men they date around their child? Is dating different as a single parent? Do you think it is harder to date as a single mom?
I just ended a three year relationship. At first we were counting down the days for my daughter to graduate high school and go to college. Then we gained custody of his two minor children. He was very old school and a few years older then me. I didn’t want to do the “mom” thing again. I had to let him go. A single mom should date when they are ready AND they also need to have conversations with their children. In my case, the Dad was never around, however; in situations where Dad is present a family conversation needs to be had so that everyone is comfortable, especially the children. Yes, it is harder to date as a single mom; most men that I interacted with prior to my three year relationship always assumed that I was after something, money, a house, etc. The bottom line is that single moms need to be loved and respected as do single dads, just because I am a woman does not make me needy or desperate.
What advice would you give to a newly single mom?
Be true to yourself and be strong. Everything that your child is going to learn is going to come from you, good, bad or indifferent, be strong!
What is the best advice that you ever received about single parenthood?
I was told to be the best that I can be because I will be the strongest and most prevalent example in my child’s life. I worked three jobs at one point in my life but never regretted the extra money that was spent for my child. She is my world and will remain that way till the day I die.
3 words that would describe you?
Smart, compassionate, loving
3 words that describe your parenting style?
Communication, understanding, patience
How do you respond to people who say, “I don’t know how you single moms do it. It must be so hard?”
The truth is, even some married women “do it” by themselves, there are some men that are totally removed from the entire parenting process. Single mothers are strong and able and will do what is ever necessary for their child/children.
Do you think that people look down on single mothers?
I believe that some people do look down on single mothers. However, they are the same people who look down on adoption and other means to end parenthood. At the end of the day, my life is too focused on making sure my daughter is the “Queen Supreme”, I don’t have time to worry about why someone would hate on a single mother who is only trying to do the right thing. If you have to hate on me and waste your time and energy….YOU have issues not me!
You can reach Leslie on Twitter @numbr1SingleMom