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Dust Yourself Off

By Sarita Thomas

The late singer Aliyah, singer of "Dust Yourself Off"

Dust yourself off….This title is more than just one of my favorite songs by my favorite singer, the late great Aaliyah. It has also been my motto for many years. A blue print of sorts, that describes what drives me and keeps me focused on my goals. This title and song was never more relevant until recently when I was jolted back into the past. Feelings of despair, loneliness, anger, frustration and any other adjective you could come up with…I felt all of these emotions as I watched an associate of mine shed tears over her “baby daddy.” Baby Daddy…Baby Momma…some people despise those words. Not me though…I am a firm believer that people give words power, and I pride myself in taking away the stigma associated with being a baby momma or daddy. True it may not be something to aspire to, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of either.

As I stood watching this person cry over her latest hurdle as a baby momma, I realized that raising children, especially raising children alone is probably the great universal topic. Something, that no matter your race, color, religion, sex, etc., we all have the same common concern. My friend, who from this point on will be referred to as Sarah, is a single mom of a 2 1/2 year old son. She’s 40 years old, planned her pregnancy, and has a good job at a local insurance company. Now some of you may think she doesn’t meet the “text book” definition of a “baby momma.” She’s not in her teens or early 20s or on state assistance. She’s not a high school dropout. She’s the exact opposite of what you would think a “baby momma” is, yet here she stood before me looking as if her life was in complete shambles.

The “baby father” had suddenly decided he wanted to renege on picking their child up twice a week from day care and bringing him to her grandmother’s house. The assistance excited her as it gave her a much needed break from leaving work, speeding across town to pick up their son, dropping him off at her grandmother’s house and then returning to work within an hour’s time. To call her the day of his pickup to “cancel”, left her feeling defeated, to say the least.

I stood there and listened to her rant through tears, about how “He makes me sick!” and “He doesn’t realize how hard this is. It’s hard work raising a child all by yourself.” I know the hardship all too well! I was a single mom at 18 years of age, who worked my way through two years of college to obtain my Associate’s Degree, AND I plan on going back to school in the fall to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, WHILE sometimes working two jobs just to be “Ok.” I KNOW how hard it is! The only help that I had, was from my mom and late grandmother.

I wish there was a magic wand I could wave to make all those adjectives go away or some sort of elixir to make it better. The only piece of advice I could give Sarah, or any “baby momma” out there, is that it truly does get better. The child grows up and becomes independent which means PRESTO! No more “pickup from daycare issues.” And, hopefully, you and the father start to grow up more and evolve and change. Yes, I said it ladies, we need to grow up and evolve and change too!