Single Mom, Twice the Strength
AN INTERVIEW WITH FAITH & HANNAH
I first met Faith through my work with the Zach Johnson Foundation. Her daughter, Aerionna, started in our program in 2nd grade and is now going into her freshman year of high school. Aerionna is a product of her mother-strong, beautiful, smart, and driven. I have gotten to know Faith over the last six years, mainly by sitting next to each other at basketball games. Currently, Aeri is playing on a basketball team in Ames and Faith makes the two-hour drive several times a week for practices and games. As a single mom who is also working, going to school, and raising a family, Faith doesn't skip a beat. I am completely inspired by her relentless spirit to succeed, despite all odds, and not let anyone or anything stop her from chasing her dreams and making sure her kids get to pursue theirs.
Hi Faith! Could you share about who you are and your story of becoming a mom?
I am a 40-year-old divorced mother of four. I came from a family of four children. I was the only girl and the oldest. One of the dark sides of my childhood was being sexually abused by multiple people and my parents had no idea. So in trying to deal with that and a strained relationship with my parents, I became very rebellious through middle school and high school. I still was involved in activities and did well in school, but my poor choices caught up with me and I got pregnant my senior year of high school. I ended up having multiple miscarriages before having my son. It was a very tumultuous time for me, but I still graduated on time. I started college, even though I had a child, because I had a full ride scholarship. I got pregnant again with my oldest daughter and then dropped out of college after one year.
Skipping ahead, I got married and had two more kids. After being married for 12 years, I got a divorce. It was a very scary time for me because I had four young kids and I didn't think that I could successfully raise them by myself.
Tell us a little bit more about each of your kids.
Denzel is 23 and he was always the wild one that couldn't sit still. We were constantly in the ER with injuries or getting him out of some type of trouble. He enjoys rapping and is very intelligent.
Mariah is 20 and is very sweet and compassionate, but stubborn and rebellious. We bump heads a lot because she is just like me. She attended Mt. Mercy University for two years but she is back home working for now.
Kiana is 19 and attends University of Iowa. She can be very quiet and moody, but intelligent and quite beautiful. She was the kid that never gave me any problems and thank God because the oldest two did enough of that!
Aerionna is 14 and this little girl is very special to me. I love all my children, but her and I are the closest and and she is the favorite of all her siblings. She is very intelligent and she knows what she wants and goes for it. She has played basketball since the third grade and now plays AAU basketball for All Iowa attack in Ames. She is involved in lots of activities and sports and teachers always love her. There is just something very special about this kid and I am so excited to see what she does in the future.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME IN BEING A SINGLE MOM?
Being a single mom for the last 10 years has been challenging and very rough at times. It also has been very rewarding when I look back and realize that no matter how hard it was, I always made it through.
I used to feel really guilty that my kids no longer had an active father in their lives. I would try to make up for it in other ways, like making sure I was always at their school and extracurricular activities, no matter how many hoops I had to jump through to be there. I tried to make sure that they had most everything that they wanted and always looked nice. I never wanted anyone to think that I was struggling or feel sorry for me. I really tried to be super mom. I have made a lot of bad decisions as a single mom and I have spent a lot of time beating myself up for those moments. But I realize that I am only one person and I am not perfect. It gets frustrating parenting on your own, so I rely on my relationship with God to be able to make good decisions and to keep moving forward when I want to just give up.
How do you juggle so many hats and be a "super mom"?
I am always super busy and most of the time I am just on auto-pilot. Other times I get very overwhelmed and have mini breakdowns. I always pull it together and just do what I need to do because I have plans with my life. I also have four kids who are watching me. I have made a lot of mistakes as a mother, but one thing I do want my kids to learn from me is that you can do whatever you put your mind to and it's never too late to change your life.
I always tell my kids that if I can do it, they can too. Your life can never get so bad that you can't pick yourself back up and make different choices. Education is important to me and I am showing them that through my actions. I can be pretty prideful and I don't like to ask for help. But now I know that the wise thing to do is ask for help when you need it. No parent can do it all by themselves.
how do you prioritize yourself when you have so many other priorities in your life?
Once my kids got a little older I decided I needed to change my life and pursue some of my dreams that I lost when I became a mom. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted my life to look like. I enrolled in Kirkwood Community College and got my AA. I am now approaching my last semester with a major in communications and a minor in public relations. I write for the campus paper and enjoy writing blogs and creative pieces. I also like photography and videography.
I am still in the process of discovering who Faith is outside of being mom. With school, work and traveling for Aerionna's basketball team, I don't have a lot of free time. Once I am done with school I hope to pick up a few hobbies and travel. I got on a plane for the first time this year and went to California with my daughter. It was my first time on a plane and my first time leaving the midwest. I hope to get into a career that I am passionate about. I want to help people and leave a legacy for my children and my family.
Who are some mom role models in your life and why?
I had a very strained relationship with my mom. Growing up, I thought she was a horrible mom. Now that I am a mom and have been through some very challenging times with my kids, I realized that my mom did the best that she could at the time. She survived some very challenging times with my siblings and me and still loved us and cared for us. She has been a great mom/role model in my life, even though I didn't see it at the time. No mom ever got a manual that tells you how to raise your children. You pretty much learn through trial and error. Being a mom is a daily learning process and learning to be a good mom never stops.
As a strong woman, What are some of the values you hope to instill in your girls?
I hope that my girls know that they can do whatever they want to in life. Being black and a woman should never be a barrier that they can't get around. They may have to work harder and smarter, but they can do anything that they put their minds to.
I have tried to show them that education is very important. I want them to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving people. I have also instilled in them strong Christian beliefs. I believe that Christ should be at the forefront of their lives, and he is the reason they can do anything. Family is important to me and even though we may fuss and fight, we are still family and love each other.
what's the one piece of wisdom you want to leave to your kids?
Don't let life make you bitter, let the rough patches propel you to be better. I want my kids to be so much better than I ever was.
So Cheers, Mama! is a community dedicated to celebrating the mama life. How and why do you celebrate being a mom?
I don't really take the time to celebrate being a mom. It is just who I am and what I have always done for the last 22 years of my life.