In this age, as single income households rarely cover all household expenses, we are expected to work full time, cook, clean, garden, do the laundry, raise the children, be the snack parent, the room parent,
the team business manager and look fabulous while doing it. Are those the expectations, or are these my expectations?
I’d say it’s a bit of both. In tradition with many moms before me I found motherhood to be the ultimate crash course in life, it took me having my first son for me to recognize and acknowledge that my way of procrastination and winging it would not get me the results I expected in life. I have always had expectations of myself (some too high, some too low) but managing my life in addition to raising a tiny human (without creating damage that would cause years of therapy later) would require a bit more planning, a bit more organization, and a bit of tunnel vision.
When I see my children, I see their God given beauty and talent, their empathy and intelligence, their
kindness and willfulness. I know that they have a purpose here, albeit unknown to me. It is my primary goal to ensure that I equip them with any skills, knowledge and experiences (within my means) to ensure when they find their purpose they are prepared for it, whatever “it” may be. To do so I have had
to grow and stretch far beyond what I could have ever imagined.
So how do I do it? I keep it simple. With every request, or potential opportunity I ask myself; what is the development/enrichment opportunity for them, what is the cost to me? It may seem completely selfish, but I learned very quickly the easiest way to fail my children is to ignore my needs, my time, and my space. We hear this cliché all the time but it is 100% true, "You cannot take care of others to the
best of your abilities if you are not taking care of yourself first." As a mother this may sound counterintuitive, but I find this prioritization allows me to be present in the moment and in their lives much more.
It’s vain, but it’s important for me to be confident in my appearance. In my quest for physical upkeep I’ve learned that working out and eating healthy also has the benefit of staving off depression, fatigue, and mood swings. It’s a personal rule that I only skip workouts as my body requires for mental or
physical recovery. Juggling it all or the appearance of doing so should never come at the expense of physical and mental health.
I also know that I perform best and I’m happiest when I’m challenged; so I manage a balance of finding
opportunities that stretch me, whether it be a volunteer opportunity, sitting on an organizing committee, training for a competition, or a complete change in a career path. To achieve this, I create 5 year plans, and I allow flexibility for change as required. In this way I can keep my eye on the prize and hold myself accountable to my goals. If you hate going to work every day, or you’re just showing up so you don’t get fired, it’s time to allow yourself to take the time to figure out what you want to do, and begin mapping out how to get there.
When I had my first son I leaned on my mother for advice, I had no clue where to even start. My mom’s advice was simple: “Think about what type of people you want your children to be as adults, and make all of your choices based on the end result.”
That has provided the guidance for my parenting style. I created a stretch goal and a minimum goal. At a minimum I want them to be self-sufficient individuals who have compassion for mankind and love for God. I wanted them to be of a giving nature and at the same time independent of me when they come of age. As I consider what I choose for my children or if I get overwhelmed with all the parenting advice and suggestions, I go back to my list of qualities and ask myself will this handicap them or help them? How will this develop them? What will this teach them? I’ve decided to parent on my own accord and I pay very little attention to the opinions of others or unsolicited advice because I have a plan, and I have faith in my plan.
All work and no play is never any fun, and that is true in my life as well. Another cliché, but I make sure I stop to smell the roses. For me the roses are my friends and family. The running around can get isolating and knowing your tribe to keep you grounded and to hold you up and hold you accountable is
critical. My friends and family are my sounding boards, my venting boards, my best supporters and harshest critics. It also helps that their loads of fun and lead pretty extraordinary lives themselves.
Surround yourself with those you admire and aspire to be like. Remember and nurture the old friendships. The perspective of others who love you is invaluable, and being there to support someone you love is deeply fulfilling and satisfying.
Finally, I allow myself to let go and let God (my last cliché I promise). I am a firm believer that God doesn’t help those who don’t help themselves, so I plan and I do so that I don’t have regrets of what I should have done. I make sure to act when I can with the information I have available to me at the time. If things fail miserably, I know I’ve done my best and I believe my best is good enough. I trust the things
that are out of my control God will take care of on my behalf. The world will beat you up enough, there’s no need to do it to yourself. In this way I find peace and comfort.
About the Author
Tabitha Porter is a 33 year old single mom living in St. Louis. After graduating from the University of Illinois with her BA in Chemistry she began her career as a chemist. During her time of employment she has moved up the ranks to her current role of an Implementation Manager for the life sciences division of Merck KgAa. In addition to her role, she is actively involved with the Black Leadership Network, which works to help Black employees network and develop skills for advancement.
Tabitha says her biggest contribution to today’s world fall to her two children 9 year old Samson and 6 year old Sidney. Samson speaks and reads Mandarin, is an intermediate violinist, and has competed at the Youth National
weightlifting competition 2 years in a row. Sidney is following in his brother’s footsteps and is actively learning to speak Mandarin, and progressing through his violin training. Sidney has a competitive spirit and is engaged in any sport he can convince his mom to sign him up for, this season its football, and Tabitha has volunteered to be the team’s business manager.
When Tabitha isn’t working or juggling the
schedules of her children, she can be found training on the Olympic lifts and/or doing Crossfit. Tabitha has won the bronze medal in the total for the 2017 American Open 3 and bronze in the 2015 USAW Regional Weightlifting Championships.