Can you recall hearing stories told of mothers from back in the day who loved and cared for children who were left behind by a parent? literally abandoned. As a young girl growing up, I was privy to countless family chronicles, spoken ever-so-softly by my Native American maternal great grandmother Leila. She loved, nurtured, and cared for every single child she could squeeze into her rickety old two-story home.
As an adult single mother working diligently on two jobs, raising two extracurricular obsessed teenagers who depended heavily on my ‘taxi cab’ abilities, I couldn’t possibly imagine what was about to take place in my steps “1-2-3” regimented lifestyle. While cooking dinner one weekday afternoon, I received a knock on my back door. Standing on the other side was a 17-year-old pregnant teenager; with natural long flowing hair (I knew her from the neighborhood), she was no stranger to me. Speaking swiftly, as if she was afraid to utter one word, it all spilled out, “Hi Ms. Debbie, can I live with you? I have no place to go and I really want to graduate high school.” Without hesitation, in the blink of an eye, I answered “YES” and followed with every mother’s question- are you hungry? My home became her home for three months. The appreciation and respect this child displayed in my presence was nothing short of commendable. She did graduate proudly from high school on time; and shortly after gave birth to twin baby girls.
I’ve always been told that I have an enormously welcoming smile, with a strong nurturing spirit illuminating an essence of love for all to see. In a recent conversation with my 24-year-old son, he actually thanked me for being his mother, with a courage somewhat resembling the cliché of neighborhood mother. He explained to me how much pride he felt (of course not at first), when he realized why his mother opened the door to a pregnant neighbor.
The crux (nuts and bolts) of this article is simply to remind single mothers of their gift; sacrificing daily, no matter the level of adversity, is simply what we do. I’m reminded of my second experience of taking in a homeless teenager, in a completely different state. With jingle bells ringing, Christmas 2013 was in full swing for part time retail workers. One night, I noticed a group of associates gathered around a crying holiday worker. I joined into the conversation only to learn she was 18 and left behind by her mother. She began to explain her circumstances of living in the local homeless shelter with another family. Somehow I knew what was coming next- (the big question) Yes! she came to live with me that very night. Much to my surprise, other associates chipped in, helping with food and transportation, and all-in-all it was a very pleasant experience. Four months flew by extremely fast; all of the mentoring and teaching of life skills had come to an end just as quickly as it began. Driving her to the bus station, with a ticket bound for NY to join her father was undoubtedly a tearful experience of separation anxiety for the both of us. I often wonder what happened to her, but communication was lost and I never saw her again.
You see, often times all a child needs is parenting….
As simple as it may sound, “A Mother’s Open Door” is being aware, understanding, and ready when God chooses you to extend kindness to a broken or lost child. ~Dakota
By Dakota Somerville