“Three years ago, as I was working at my church, I met a young woman who had recently found out she was pregnant. She told me she was nervous about having a baby, especially because she was going to be doing it mostly on her own. She shared her fears with me, and I did my best to help her figure out what she wanted to do next. She knew she wanted to have this baby, and that she loved them, but the logistics were going to be hard.
She was only a little bit older than I was, and I couldn’t imagine being in her situation at that age. I knew by the end of our conversation that day I wanted to help her in whatever way I could as she navigated this new world she had found herself in. While she was pregnant, I got clothes for the baby and helped her set up a space for him at her place. I did my best to help prepare her to be successful after the baby came.
Then, on one November afternoon, she called me to tell me her son had been born. She invited me to come meet him, and of course, I did so happily. As I held her son in my arms, she told me she was afraid. She wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to parent him. That’s when she sprung a question on me that shook me to my core.
Would I be willing to adopt her son…? How was I supposed to respond to that? I was a 19-year-old preschool teacher living with my parents! I was so afraid at that moment that I was going to do or say the wrong thing. I knew if it came down to it I would move heaven and earth for that baby, and if it meant being his mama, that’s what I would do.
We talked for hours that day, and by the end of it, we had both decided it was best for her to try to parent her son. We came up with plans for how she was going to handle what she could, and when things were too hard she would call me. I was going to help her with childcare and take care of him as often as she needed.
I made sure to always have my phone on so if they needed me I knew. Some days were really hard. There were days when I would get off work and go pick him up while thinking to myself what I was doing was crazy. A lot of the people around me had a hard time understanding why I was doing this.
They kept telling me I couldn’t be everything to everyone, and I needed to let this mama sink or swim on her own. I knew I could never do that. As a foster sister, I had seen the trauma that comes from a child being taken from their mother, and I knew I didn’t want that for this sweet baby.
For the first year of that baby’s life, I was his Auntie Em. I woke up with him on the nights he was with me. I cheered for him as he learned how to crawl. I held him while he cried from teething. His mama and I were doing great co-parenting together and loving on her sweet son. We had found rhythms that worked for all of us. Some of the situations that had made it harder for his mama had been resolved, and she was starting to need me less.
When March 2020 came around and the world shut down, I didn’t see him anymore. His mama didn’t have a job, so she didn’t need childcare. The baby was sleeping through the night, so his mama didn’t need a break to sleep anymore. My family has members who were considered high-risk, so we were completely self isolating.
I knew it was what needed to happen, and with how well everything had been going, both mama and baby were safe, but it was still so hard. I went from being one of the most trusted people in the baby’s life, to being nobody so quickly. I would still chat with his mama, and she would hand the phone to him so he could babble at me, but it wasn’t anything like it had been before.
Then I moved to a new state. I knew when I moved there was a possibility his mom wouldn’t keep in contact with me, and I was so afraid I would never see him again. For a while we still chatted regularly, but slowly over time it stopped happening.
I didn’t really talk to them for almost a year. I worried about them a lot, but I knew I needed to respect her boundaries. Having me in their life might only serve as a reminder of how hard things had been for them. Now that they were doing so well, they didn’t need me, and I had to learn how to be okay with that.
Then last week, I got a Facetime call from her. She wanted to introduce me to her new baby girl! I was so happy to talk to her and meet her sweet little girl. She told me about how things are going for her little family these days. They have a safe place to live, her son goes to daycare, and he is going to start preschool in the fall. She is rocking the single mom life, and her son is doing so well.
She knows with the addition of the new baby, things will be harder, but she is prepared and she has a family who is able to help her now. I am so happy for them and seeing them thrive was amazing.
My experiences with this mama and her son helped me grow and learn in ways I never would have known were possible. I learned sometimes it is worth it to give up a little bit of your life so that someone can live their life well.
In our culture, you are supposed to practice self-care and say no to helping someone if you have a reason to say no. I had to break that kind of thinking and pave my own way. Yes, taking care of yourself is important, but I have so much more to give when I am willing to step out of my comfort zone.
I currently help three single mamas with their kiddos so they can continue to be successful in their parenting journey. Over the last few years, I’ve found a way of life that I love. It is fulfilling and beautiful, even if it looks nothing like I thought my life would be. I live with my grandparents to help them out. I don’t have a full-time job because I want to be available to the families that need me. Some days are a struggle, but it is so worth it.
I’ve learned helping someone be successful with their kids is a lot more rewarding than just watching their kids. It’s cooking dinner so that a tired mama who just got home from work doesn’t need to do one more thing. It’s taking time out of your day to drive a child to their doctors’ appointments and making sure you take notes so their parents get all the information they need. Some days it’s as easy as playing with a baby while their mom takes an important phone call, and some days it’s as hard as watching kids so their mom can go to a loved one’s funeral.
I am so thankful I am in a position to help families succeed. I know my situation is unique, and because I am able to live with very few expenses, I am able to help families in very specific ways. I live in a military town now, so most people don’t have family close by to help them when they need it most. I get to be the person who steps in and helps people in their times of need.
My dream is to have a home people know they can always bring their kids to. I want it to be a safe place for a teenager who had a fight with their mom, or for a kid who needs somewhere to be for fifteen minutes because traffic is bad and their mom is running late. I will always be there with my door open for young and afraid moms. That is where my story started, and I think it will always be the kind of story I hold close to my heart.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Emma of Colorado. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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