Julie was my boss when I was in college. She was a great boss and has turned into a great friend. She’s such an encouragement to me in my journey to motherhood that I KNEW I had to have her share here. I love having her advice and wisdom in my life; I know you will too!
When I became pregnant, I was living in Hawaii, enjoying the beauty of the islands, with a decent job and sharing a house with my best friend. I was 29, certainly not too young to be a mother, but the situation wasn’t ideal. I had been divorced about 2 years before, ending a marriage that had only lasted a year. I liked my job, and it paid the bills, but I had no savings and owned almost nothing. My boyfriend was a US resident, but a citizen of Cameroon (it’s about half way down the western coast of Africa – I had to look at a map too). We had been dating for almost a year, but I had tried to break up with him more than once because although he was a nice person, I didn’t think that our relationship was going anywhere.
My mother had visited me that fall, and after she quizzed me incessantly about my relationship, I had finally told her that he was from Africa. I suppose I expected her to be upset with me for dating a black man. She wasn’t angry, but she was worried. My Mom was born in 1931. In her worldview, it just wasn’t a great idea for people to date interracially. She didn’t really disapprove, but she did worry about what other people would think. “What about the children?” she asked me. I explained that I doubted that we would stay together long term anyway, and children were not in my plan with this guy. “Besides,” I said, “are you trying to say that you wouldn’t love your grandchild if he or she was biracial?” She told me not to be crazy, that of course she would love any child of mine, but that she worried about how he or she would be treated, and she reiterated that it wasn’t fair to the child.
Only a few months later, I found out that I was pregnant. The early weeks of finding out and telling people were extremely stressful. I wasn’t sure what to do. My boyfriend did not even believe me at first, and then suggested that maybe the baby was not his. I have never been so hurt and so angry in my life. Later he apologized and tried to help with untenable suggestions. My roommate was alternately excited and supportive and irritable and frustrated with me. She was dealing with her own challenges at work, and was trying to make decisions that depended somewhat on me making decisions. My Mom had always been there for me, whatever was going on in my life, but I was honestly afraid that she would not support me this time. She was disappointed, and my Stepdad was angry.
When my parents let me know that, despite their initial reactions, I could still count on their love and support, they wanted me to move home. That plan was very attractive to me, but at the same time, I didn’t know if leaving the multicultural world of Hawaii for southern Missouri would be the best choice for my child. I was a wreck.
One night during this time, I fell asleep praying for guidance. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but it was something along the lines of asking God to tell me what to do, and to help me believe that things would be okay again someday. The next morning, I awoke with the remains of a very vivid dream in my mind. I felt so good that I tried desperately to hold on to the dream. I couldn’t recall much of it beyond the memory of a warm bright light, but I felt an overwhelming sense of calm, and I could still hear a reassuring voice saying to me very clearly, “His name is Andrew, and everything is going to be alright.” I hadn’t even begun to look at baby name books yet, and after that morning, I never considered another first name.
Because of the baby’s position, my ultrasound couldn’t confirm the gender, but I referred to him as “he” anyway. My doctor was worried that I was too convinced that the baby was a boy. “What if it’s a girl?” she asked me at almost every visit. I answered the same way every time, “I am hoping for a healthy baby. A girl might be easier, because I’ll be raising him alone, and I’ve been a girl, so I know about that. But he’s a boy, and his name is Andrew.”
Andrew was born on his due date, and was healthy with only minor complications. My roommate was my labor coach and we laughed through the night together. Two months later, my boyfriend and I separately amicably, and baby and I moved back to Missouri to be near my family, who have always cherished him. I never thought that what I heard in my dream only applied to a healthy birth, and I have held fast to it through the years. As a single parent, I’ve often felt the need for a quick prayer (sometimes screamed!) to remind God of His special promise. There have been challenges, but even in the darkest, scariest moments, every time I give a problem to God, He finds a way. He has outdone Himself fulfilling His promise to me. I have been lucky every day to get to be Andy’s Mom.
In June, my son will turn 18, and in August he will start college at Yale. Even as I get teary-eyed thinking about saying goodbye to him and to this part of motherhood, I’m still reassured because I know this:
His name is Andrew, and everything is going to be alright.