My daughter was born on Mother’s Day almost 11 years ago and for the first time since she was born, her birthday lands on Mother’s Day this year. On an early spring day, Faith Christine Fountain made her journey into the world. And at just twenty-four years of age, I hadn’t had my own life figured out and surely no clue on how to appropriately mold a human being.
Yet, still I rose…
I could go deeply into the hardships like losing dangerous amounts of blood during birth that required a blood transfusion or the time I was degraded by social workers in public aid offices on the West side of Chicago. I could recount the times I was nervous to talk about being a single mother in job interviews because of the trauma of having people immediately limit my potential. However, instead of the cliché stories of the hardships and trials of being a single mother, I will tell what single motherhood did for me.
Because, Still I rose.
Those that know me best, have known me to be someone who dances to my own drum — an eclectic soul that listens to that inner voice to follow a life authentic to my dreams and desires. As a teenager, my father gave me money to buy my first CD and I bought blues legend Albert King. He asked why, and I replied, “Because I can hear all of the other music on the radio daily”. I then spent hours after school secretly learning blues guitar on my dad’s guitar and mastering the southern progressions by the age of 14. I played the same blues music in my great grandfather’s Church of God In Christ church in Bellwood, IL at 16 and my first blues club when I was 18 years old. I later became an electronic music DJ after following the call of the bass and treble I heard at a basement house party in college. I’ve always sought authenticity and questioned the boundaries and constraints that keep people in tightly fit boxes. And like the changing musical notes in a jazz set, I have improvised my life, stumbling sometimes on crumbling roads of uncertainty. And given my commitment to authenticity, I had often felt out of place, different, not good enough, not black enough, and sometimes feeling without deep purpose.
On Mother’s Day in 2007, in the walls of Mount Sinai Hospital, the number one gunshot Trauma Center on Chicago’s west side I found purpose. I consider that day to be my rebirth, an appropriate analogy considering that some say that giving birth is a close encounter with death. I did not have a clear plan on the road ahead as a single mother, but I knew a few things: I would fight to make sure she was always taken care of, I would become something she could be proud of, and I would be supportive of whoever or whatever she would choose to become. I wholeheartedly became Faith’s mother — the best decision of my life.
And Still, I rise.
As Faith’s mother, I have attained a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, fulfilled some of my wildest childhood dreams (with her in tow), and have become something she has told me she is proud of. As a single mother who is unwilling to live in societal constraints and continues to listen to the authenticity of my own drum beat, I have taught my daughter to look beyond known horizons. Together we dance and push past the constraints, the sighs and the pity of onlookers. For some, purpose is in careers, in partners, and material possessions. However, my purpose began the day Faith was born. I am a single mother, a person like everyone else trying to navigate often difficult roads. I have never understood those that scope my single motherhood as a tale of pity given what I have been able to overcome and achieve — what a single mother like Maya Angelou was able to achieve.
Still we rise. We always have and always will. So please don’t pity us — just support us — support our rising.
Originally published at medium.com