Author Cynthia Moreno for Confident Motherhood
I never wanted kids of my own. I grew up in a dysfunctional family pieced together by my grandmother. My parents were fresh out of high school when they had me. They had no idea how to parent but how could they? They were kids themselves. My mother's substance abuse got the best of her and at seven years old, my half-brother and I ended up in foster care. Luckily, my dad got his act together by then and rescued me.
My dad may have gained full custody of me, but, it was my grandma who did most of the work. She ensured I was loved and cared for as it should've been from the beginning. Growing up, my dad would refer to my grandma as my "mom" and deep down it felt true.
As I got older, I made a decision that I wouldn’t have any children of my own. I read books about adoption and told my family how one day after I graduated college, had an amazing job and a house of my own, I would adopt a little girl. Then, my life would be complete. Why would I ever bring another child into the world when there were so many out there that needed a loving home?
And then I met him. I was twenty-two, he had a pool and liked to party. What was supposed to be a summer fling, changed my life forever. Things fell apart quickly after I got pregnant. I realized that I was dating an alcoholic and an abusive one at that. I felt scared and trapped. They say pregnancy is supposed to be the most wonderful time of your life, but for me it was hell. I kept telling myself things would get better, he made empty promises that they would, but nothing did.
The day my daughter was born and I looked into her beautiful blue eyes, I fell in love in a way I didn’t know was possible. She was mine and I was hers. I didn’t understand how my own mother could give up a love so deep. Marley was here and I was going to do everything in my power to protect her, love her, nurture her, and help her become a better person than I was.
Things didn’t get better at home like her father promised they would. If anything, they got worse. All my naive ideas of how I wanted to raise my daughter went out-the-window as our life turned into survival mode. I stuck around for two and a half more years. It wasn’t until my Women’s Studies class had a lecture on abusive relationships that I really realized I was in one.
I made a plan with my friends, packed a bag, and took the biggest leap of my life. We got out and we were safe. I was going to start my life over with my daughter and never look back. The court decided otherwise: he got joint custody. It’s a blow that I’m still navigating.
Flash forward two years and we were thriving as best we could. I had my own studio apartment and a stable job. Marley and I had our routine down. I felt like we could go on, just the two of us, forever and life would be great.
But then- I met him. He was unlike any man I had ever dated before. He was so nice it was off-putting at first. He slowly got me to let my guard down and then I fell hard. We had our daughter two years later and all of a sudden I got to be the mom I always wanted to be. There was never any push back when I made a decision. Ray trusted me to parent and followed along: from cloth diapering to raising our daughter vegetarian, he was along for the ride.
Becoming a mother made me take a deep look at the life choices I was making and to put someone else first for a change. I might not have been ready to become a mom at twenty-three and it definitely was not the picture perfect moment I had always imagined, but you can’t live your life with what if's. My first born came to me the moment I needed her the most. She helped me get my act together. In more ways than one, she SAVED my life. I felt lost when I first became a mom, but I have finally found my confidence.
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