isn't very often when I feel down about being a single mom. After all, it's all that I've ever known. If anything, I've learned to see having Ayva to myself as a blessing and a gift. The last couple of weeks have been different, though. Having surgery days after Ayva's 3rd birthday have changed our relationship a bit. I'm not able to pick her up to give her a bath, we can't dance to the Fresh Beat Band, I can't run or skip or do any of the things that we like to do together. As the only child of an only parent, I'm sure she feels a bit like she has lost her best friend.
Of course, that breaks my heart. Then I start to beat myself up for the choices that I made that made me a single mother in the first place, and I start to question her future and whether I doomed it from the start, and I wonder if one day she'll grow up and hate me because I just wasn't enough.
Thank God for children's books. Their earnest words and illustrations, meant to inspire children to celebrate and honor their mothers, have certainly been a blessing to me. Although I have plenty of examples of real life single mothers who are raising phenomenal children, on days (or weeks) when I'm feeling exceptionally low, I need a fairytale. So, here are my 2 favorite children's books that feature single moms. Oh, and a tip: They make you feel especially better if you read them snuggled up to your little one.
Mama I'll Give You The World, by Roni Schotter, illustrated by S. Saelig Gallagher
Luisa's mother is a beautician at "Walter's World of Beauty" who works long hours to take care of her little girl. Although Mama used to love to dance when Papa was around, she doesn't anymore, and Luisa longs to see her smile and have a good time again. Luisa plans a surprise birthday party for her mother at the beauty parlor, and invites all of the staff and customers. On the way home after a long day of work, Mama promises Luisa that, "One day, if I can, I will give the world to you." Luisa, in return, gives her mama the world that night, a world of dancing and love and friendship.
My thoughts: Even at 3 years old, Ayva already has a great sense of when I'm not feeling well, and she will give me hugs, kisses, whatever to help me feel better. Since I had my surgery, she has been extra cautious to make sure she doesn't hurt me, and gives my belly sweet little kisses to help me "heal". It's working. Although I don't want her to ever feel guilt that I work so hard to provide for her, I count it as a huge blessing that she appreciates what I do for her.
Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch
Grace is a remarkable little girl with a big imagination who is being raised by her mother and grandmother. After being told that she couldn't play Peter Pan because she was Black and a girl, her grandmother takes her to the ballet to see a famous Black ballerina. Grace learns that she can be whatever she wants to be, regardless of her race or gender.
My thoughts: I love this book because of the way that Grace's mother and grandmother encourage her imagination and creativity. So often, we only hear the physical part of single parent support, but this celebrates the emotional support. Also, Grace totally rocks my world (and is absolutely the inspiration for Ayva's middle name!).
Brandi Jeter is a Philadelphia mom. This post was adapted from her blog, Mama Knows It All.