A Black Single Mom Lets Go Of the Fear And the Statistics

Alicia Harper_Profile Picture

By Alicia Harper

I never thought of myself as a fearful person. I’m more the person who believes in the beauty of believing that anything is possible. I’ve always felt wholeheartedly that if I just focused on my goals and the necessary steps to get there, I would be unstoppable. And this has worked for me. As I grew up in foster care, moving from home to home and school to school, I landed the opportunity of a lifetime a full academic scholarship to Columbia University, courtesy of the New York Times College Scholarship Program.

When I received my BA from Columbia, I felt unshakable. After all, I defied the odds of poverty, defeated homelessness, and said peace out to suffering and resentment. It felt good. I felt unstoppable. Fearless, even.

I’d never understood the power of what fear could do to a person until I experienced it firsthand. I learned that fear can paralyze you like no other thing, and interestingly enough, I learned this in my young adult life after I’d completed college. And if you’ve ever been afraid of anything in your life, then you can probably relate to my story one of love gone wrong and sweet gone sour.

After trying tirelessly to make the relationship with my son’s father work, feeling defeated on so many levels, giving my all but getting very little in return, I reached what I thought was my breaking point. But I still stayed. The fear of being labeled a Black single mother and the stigmas attached to that label the fear of not feeling confident enough to raise my son on my own into a successful Black man the fear of what others would say if I didn’t continue to portray the image of the perfect family these fears kept me hostage and forced me to stay in a relationship that was toxic for me for almost a year after I realized it was not working. Yes, a whole year. Believe it. I stayed miserable. I stayed paralyzed. I stayed fearful.

I had something to prove to e’rybody and their momma. First, I was not about to be the Columbia grad who defied so many other odds, but couldn’t keep her own family together. Second, it was my church family situation; for so long I was deemed little miss perfect from my church family, and since I’d fallen from grace when I found myself pregnant and unmarried, I felt as though I had too much to prove to them.

This. Relationship. Had. To. Work.

But after a while, this church girl gone child realized that it was costing too much to stay. My dignity, my self-worth, my wellbeing, my safety, my son it was all at stake. Once I came to the realization that being in this relationship was harder than being a single mother, there was no turning back. And let me tell you, that has been the most humbling experience of my life thus far.

Suddenly, I was no longer paralyzed by fear, but pushed forward by it. Hard. Fast. Strong.

The fear that I was modeling the wrong thing for our son and setting a not-so-good example for him the fear that he would think that the thing his dad and I had going on is what real love is supposed to look like the fear of what he would think as he grew older and what those thoughts would do to him these fears pushed me to leave.

And so I left. Liberated. And guilt-free.

I write these words not to degrade my son’s father or vent about the kind of boyfriend he was. I fully endorse marriage and parents who raise their children in a two-parent household. I know how God designed it to be, and I fully plan on letting my son know this as well. But I have to be honest. Heck, the situation with the other parent could speak for itself. And if it could talk, it’ll tell you this much: it was not good. And now, I’m embracing my single momma status fully, with open arms.

I know all of the statistics out there on Black single mothers. I know what society thinks and how the world views us. I know what they say the odds are of my son growing up unsuccessful, not finishing high school, let alone attending college. I know that the statistics expect him to work a dead-end job. And I know that it says he may be a womanizer and have several baby mamas.

But I don’t subscribe to those statistics. I don’t fear them because they won’t stop us. In fact, this year I resolve to fear less and focus more on raising my son into a capable, competent, and socially responsible man Black man.

We’re aiming higher. Much higher. We’re defying the odds, loud and proud baby. I’m now a fearless single mother. Black single mother. And I can’t WAIT to see my baby soar.

Alicia Harper is a mother, blogger, and full-time graduate student at Columbia University. Her NYC life is filled with all things pink, except for the one touch of blue her rambunctious 3-year-old son. Alicia blogs about the trials and triumphs of being a single mother at Mommy Delicious. You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mommydelicious.

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32 Comments

  1. “Once I came to the realization that being in this relationship was harder than being a single mother, there was no turning back. And let me tell you, that has been the most humbling experience of my life thus far.”

    Ma’am, I too, am a single Mom. I can not express in words how effortlessly our stories parallel or how deeply comforted I am after reading this piece. I want to hug you, long and tight. For the first time since I took that pregnancy test, I am inspired to write.

    Thank You.

  2. Alicia, this is so honest and open. I think you just gave a lot of people the strength they need to do this. It’s not easy under any circumstances, but we know that God has not given us the spirit of fear. May God continue to bless you!

  3. I love this post!! I know first hand how hard it is to be a single mom and to let go of Mr. Wrong. But it is worth it especially for your child. No need for another black child to grow u in a miserable household just because mommy is holding on to a mediocre man!! Just wanted to send this sis some encouragement and let her know that it wont be easy but it is worth it in the end. My daughter will be 16!!!! in April and we separated from her dad when she was two. I didn’t know how we were going to make it but WE MADE IT!!! God is good.

  4. WooHoo!!! Yes, we have to defy the odds and statistics against us no matter what our situation is. It’s about time we stopped feeding into the opinion of what some body has said we and are children are going to be. We pick our destiny!!

  5. Such an inspirational story full of truth and hope. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. I commend your candor and courage. I’m sure there are so many women who get the “single mother” label, but all too often we don’t get the backstory. Will your son have a relationship with his father? Is his father in his life? I wholeheartedly believe that a child needs both the female and male energies and beings in their lives to become full functioning and well-adjusted people.

    • A+, you and me both. I believe that children should have both parents in their lives and feel as though they can love (and be loved!) by both parents without fear that the other parent will get angry, upset, or feel resentment. Pray for me as I continue this journey of Co-parenting with my son’s father. It can be an uphill battle at times.

  7. .. Congrats Alicia! You’re beating the odds.. you did what you had to do for your son. I commend your courage and your son is a very lucky little boy. Congrats again!

    xoxo,

    Alex

  8. This was touching and beautiful. You aren’t anybody’s statistic, and neither is Aiden. I love you both! Rock on, girl!

  9. So I’m going to draft a letter to the publishing companies here in NYC and send this little clip over with it!!! I was “YES’ing” and “AMEN’ing” while reading this! So honest and so real but still SO encouraging even for married mothers, the weight of raising a healthy and contributing black man is on our shoulders and it’s important to see down the road of what he will become to get him there. THANK YOU!

  10. Alicia, you’re a beautiful person, inside and out. It amazes me that you already have the perspective that many people wait a lifetime for. Your son is blessed to have such a wise and hardworking momma. And I’m lucky to have you as a friend.

  11. Way to go Alicia! As always you share your truth so powerfully and from the heart that it heals, helps, encourages and entertains. You are a true inspiration!

  12. I was a fan of yours before, but now I am a cheerleader…you are a rock star!

  13. LOVE this post Alicia! You are amazing.

  14. Thanks for sharing your story. It hit home so much. It has inspired me to write more, and not be ashamed of being a single black mom.

  15. IM SO PROUD OF YOU KEEP YOUR HEAD AND GOD WILL KEEP BLESSING AND SINGLE MOTHER AND I HAVE THREE WONDERFUL CHILDRENS THAT I LOVE THEM TO DEATH. SO KEEP YOUR HEAD THINGS ARE GOING TO GET EVEN BETTER. WISH YOU THE BEST IN THE FUTURE. STAY SRONG MY BLACK SISTER.

  16. Love It..Love It! I found myself in the exact situation not once but twice. The first time I knew he wasn’t good for me, but yet I satyed with my daughter’s father I was 24. Thinking the second time around with a new guy 16 years later would turn my life upside down in which i never saw coming. I loved him so cause he loved my teenage daughter like his own no questions asked we where the perfect couple until I got pregnant and left behind to look stupid in front of friends and family that this relationship was toxic all along. I spent more time defending the relationship than being in one. Long story short at 38 I recently became free because I let that relationship go, I’m saddened because now I have a 16yr old and a 2month old out of wedlock and ask myself how does a Grown AZZ woman get herself in this situation. But I know whatever the situation God has a plan for me, I see a promising future for my 16 yr old daughter that this is not how a relationship is supposed to be and my 2month old son will know what a real man looks like I refuse to play into the statistic factor of a baby mama. You have inspired me to do more and I hope I have inspired someone else..this is my testimony!

  17. Wow, Alicia…this was, in a word: excellent! Thank you for sharing your story with us and for exemplifying such bravery. And congrats on being a contributor for MBB! *applause* *sendsvirtualhug* :)

  18. Alicia,

    Your thoughts, feelings, and decisions regarding your expired relationship with your sons father- and staying with him for a year despite the mental wear and tear that it created- is what I went through also. There is so much to my story, as is the case with many single mothers. But I just wanted to let you know that today I was having a pretty discouraging day, and a friend sent me the link to this site out of the blue and I read your post and it lifted my spirits. I am so happy for you that you took a stand for yourself and for your son. You are an inspiration and a statistic of the best kind. You have overcome and will continue to do so. You know your worth and you know what your son deserves and you changed your situation to reflect those facts. I left my sons father on Sept 4, 2010 and it took me months to get myself back, but I did it and feel more alive and more happy that I made that decision every day. Im not married and I know what others in my family and church and at work must think. But I wont give up and I want to be a reason why women are more appreciative of their loving husbands and dedicated fathers. I want the negatives about my situation to become a catalyst for the positive in other peoples lives. My son turned one on the 2nd of this month and I am blessed to have made it this far while caring for him alone all of this time – enduring the pain, frustration, and heartache. But I have experienced love and joy and faithfulness, all at the hands of my son and those who love and care for me most. Thank you for sharing your story. I know I am not the only single mother in the world, but it helps to know that my story might not be so different after all, and there is a chance for something better and something more, and it’s on the way to me…

    Thanks.

    -E.

  19. Yes! Yes! All of this describes the things I went through with my child’s father. I lost control of myself and fell into a deep slump of regret, fear, and so many insecurities as to whether I should suffer and LOOK like the “The Perfect Family” or to raise my child the best way I knew how. My child has EVERYTHING she needs and she doesn’t want for anything. I was lead to believe that I would have nothing without her father by my side but that was obviously wrong. I am so happy right now and I am soooo much STRONGER! This feels GREAT!!! Thanks for your encouraging words!

  20. @ZenMamaPolitic (Twitter)

    Alicia,

    First of all..love the name, even if u may have spelled it wrong…(Chuckle.)

    I think that you are a inspiring woman. I too am a single, and educated mother. I have always been single; as well as raised by a single parent. In addition; I have 2 children, 1 of which, is an adopted foster child. So.. I know that single parenthood does indeed take a great deal of both courage, and patience. Also; one of the biggest obstacles that we face, are fears of being discriminated by antiquated ‘negative’ single mother stereotypes. So, I applaud you on speaking up with this article, and telling the honest truth. Black single mothers are often afraid of society’s politically incorrect ‘harassment’ of them; thus they stay in abusive relationships~that are psychologically unhealthy for both themselves and the child. Rest Assure…things will only get better from here for you. I’m sure of it.

  21. i am 4month pregnant with my first child and what i have been through already has been the most hectic experience! After telling my lover/my friend/my companion that i was pregnant he then told me that he wanted nothing to do with me and that he had a girlfriend and that we would not be together anymore! This crushed my whole world i was devastated! After getting love and understanding from my family and my church family i was able to stand up on my own and realize that God wouldn’t bring me this far to leave and i trust him with the up most! after looking up different sites and bloggers i came across this site and Alicia what a blessing you are i thank you for your bravery God is smiling on you sister bc you are such a blessing to life! For the first time i was reading from someone i could relate to someone who has overcome and is still climbing that mountain to reach the top and looking to us sisters saying come on sisters we can do this! i thank you! God bless you and enjoy your life you definitely deserve every moment of it! :D

  22. Alicia, you are courageous, and your son will recognize that. Your choice to stand on your own rather than stay in a toxic relationship will speak volumes to him when he’s old enough to fully understand.

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