Making time for the kids

September 18, 2020 11:28 PM

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The author as a child and her mother. Photo courtesy of Jhada Nicholas.

The author as a child and her mother. Photo courtesy of Jhada Nicholas.

My day had started bright and early. I put on my navy blue uniform for first grade and a matching headband to top everything off. I then sat in the dark kitchen that had little specks of light coming through the old blinds. I was super excited because it was the day of my field trip to the science museum with my school. I took the last bites of what became soggy cereal and went to catch the bus for school. 

It was a cool day outside and I could feel the little breeze of wind push my braids back and forth. The bus greeted me with its blaring stop sign and three honks of its horn. I sat down on the black leather seat and imagined what the day would look like. Soon after I arrived at school, our teachers told us the rules and guidelines for this trip and introduced us to our chaperones. 

I was not really listening to what the teacher was saying because I was in shock. My mother was standing right there waving to all the kids as she introduced herself. My mom was wearing a light black jacket, grey flared bottoms and a work shirt. When she had signed my permission slips a week ago, I didn't think she would sign herself up as a chaperone. 

She and my dad had separated and he had left the duty of taking care of me all up to my mother. She only had me and I only had her. At the time, she was working three jobs and I rarely got to see her. While she worked to save up money for an apartment, I had to live with a family friend. The lady I was living with at the time did most of the things that my mom couldn’t do then like cook dinner, wash my clothes and help me get ready sometimes. I had to share a room with her oldest daughter who I didn’t share a connection with because of our age difference so I spent most of my time with dolls that were passed down. I would usually catch my mom on the weekends and she would bring me junk food or lay with me before she had to go to her 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

I couldn't stop looking at her. I had seen her before, of course, but this time it was different. It was always a tease to see her, but now I would have her for the entire day all to myself. I couldn't help but give her a hug after we were told to line up. I was so excited to tell everyone that this was my mom. For some reason in first grade bringing a parent on a field trip was a really cool thing. All my friends wanted to meet her and even be in her chaperone group.

She got on the bus with me and we just talked the entire time on the way to the museum. It was even more of a blast when we got there. I took her hand and I don't think I let it go that entire time. As we sat and ate lunch, time was passing by and I was able to really soak in the fact that my mom was there with me. 

I wished the day could be longer. I knew that my mom was doing all that she did for us and I was willing to be patient. It just made me sad that the day that she signed my permission slip I didn't ask her if she wanted to be a chaperone. I kind of just pushed the whole idea to the back of my mind because I thought she would be “too busy.”

People have the notion that single parents don’t spend time with their kids and it is like this because that’s how the media portrays it. Television doesn’t normalize the fact that there are single parents who do make everything work. My personal experience makes me sad because yes, of course I would have wanted my mom to be there every morning to wake me up for school, but that does not mean that she wouldn’t have worked around her schedule for me. I wish people would stop looking at single parents through a negative lens. They should be looked at as hardworking people who do all that they do for their kids. It’s not just hard on the kids, it’s hard on them too. 

I had forgotten that my mom is a mom and wants to be a part of all the experiences I have, no matter how much she has to work. She will always make the time for that to happen. 

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