To begin this special Mother's Day Tribute, I'm taking you back to 1987...
The day I met my mom, Rochelle.
I can't imagine what she was thinking in this picture. She spent her Valentine's Day evening in labor, and at 12:44am on February 15th, I became part of this world. My other half, Felisha, arrived four minutes later.
I am sure she was feeling all sorts of emotions; "how am I going to do this?" as she already had a toddler when she was surprised with two extra little humans at once.
She had no idea when she was holding us in that very moment that we would help transform her life 30 years later.
The next 30 years of her life would be extremely challenging. She would soon be experiencing a divorce, future domestic violence, homelessness, and the loss of her own mother.
Yet in the midst of all of those challenges, she would fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a nurse, and fight for a quality of life for her daughters.
There was one piece of her life that was neglected during these first 30 years with our mom; her self-love.
She was so busy surviving, overcoming, working, and parenting, that she didn't make time to learn to love and take care of herself.
Then her twins stepped in...
As Felisha and I experienced our twenties, we realized that this piece of self-love was also missing from our own lives. During this chapter we went on our own unique journeys of self-love and transformed our lives in amazing ways, and we decided it was time to get real with our mom about this too.
In 2014, she made a life changing decision. She said goodbye to an abusive husband, and she began to take her life back. She went on the most beautiful self-love journey. She started taking care of herself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. She learned to truly love herself.
It is an honor for me to share a glimpse of her self-love testimony with you on this Mother's Day.
My mom with her twins last year at my wedding. You can see in her smile how happy and free she is today.
I can't imagine my life without her, and I cherish every moment I get to share with her.
Now that I live hundreds of miles from her, I am even more sensitive to this time with her. I miss having her just a quick drive away for support, or a hug.
But no matter what the circumstances; her heart is truly always with me.
& so is the soul of the woman who raised her...
The beautiful soul that my mom called "mom"
She is the one who not only raised my mother, but helped raise me and my sisters as well.
Marylin struggled with fertility during her life journey. She had a lifelong dream of being a mother, and suffered multiple miscarriages as she tried to achieve this dream.
She was a cosmetologist, and she loved helping other women feel beautiful.
One day she was at her salon, when a woman came in crying in her chair; "My niece needs help, she is pregnant and cannot keep the baby, she is only 16 years old."
Marylin replied, "I will raise the baby."
After going through the paperwork and adoption process, Marylin met her daughter, Rochelle, on March 9th, 1965.
The two would instantly be connected and grow a bond.
Marylin would later experience more heartbreak with her health.
She gave birth to a stillborn child, Monique, years after Rochelle came in to her life.
Marylin was never the same after losing Monique. She would experience real struggles with depression, and she felt emotional and mental pain on a regular basis.
There was one specific support she had during these struggling days that would raise her spirit; her relationship with God. Marylin would be the woman at church dancing and singing during praise. She was able to escape her pain when she connected with God.
She would give birth to a healthy baby boy ten years after adopting Rochelle, but she continued to struggle with her mental health.
Marylin had no idea when she adopted Rochelle that she would later become the grandmother of four girls who would love her tremendously.
She supported her daughter and grandchildren when they were escaping violence and needed safety and support.
She not only provided safe shelter, but the most supportive and unconditional love.
She never looked at Rochelle and her daughters as if they were not her blood. She loved each and every one of us as if we were a part of her.
Marylin passed way when I was 17 years old.
My mom and sisters would never be the same after losing her.
We all miss her terribly, but we feel her powerful spirit with us in beautiful ways.
This Mother's Day I want to honor her legacy and all that she has taught me.
Now that I am older and struggle with depression of my own, I understand her pain differently.
I understand why she hurt so much.
I feel her presence with me constantly, especially when I am at church during my times with music. I always feel her singing and praising with me.
I want to continue to leave her legacy by raising awareness to the mental health struggles and provide support for others who are experiencing with this type of pain.
I want others to know that they are not alone.
I also carry on Marylin's legacy by being a "step-parent" to three amazing humans that are not my blood.
Whenever I feel that I am not enough as a parent, her spirit reminds me that motherhood is not just bonded by blood.
Motherhood is unconditional love and care for humans; whether they came from your body or someone else's.
I'm a Mom
I didn't give them the gift of life, but God gave me the gift of them.
These three made me a parent for the first time.
Being a mother has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I am so grateful that God chose me to be a BONUS mom to these boys.
They challenge me and grow me in ways I would have never imagined.
There are days where I have cried because being a new mom can be so overwhelming.
I jumped right in to being a mother to three at once.
Sometimes I don't feel like I am doing enough to give them all that they deserve, but I know I am giving it all I have.
I learn more about parenting everyday.
I work hard to teach them and grow them in all the ways that I have learned, as well as what my mom and grandma have taught me.
Before I was called to be their parent; I went on my own journey of self-love to work on becoming the best woman I could be. I am grateful that I am able to apply that self-love to my life as a parent now.
I pray that that I can continue to support them in all the ways God has called me to.
I pray that I can be the parent that they all deserve.
No matter what happens in life, these three will always be the three young men who changed my life forever and made me in to an even stronger woman than I could have imagined.
I am grateful to the women that gave birth to these special boys.
They gave me an amazing, life changing gift.
Happy Mother's Day to you both; thank you for giving them the gift of life.
My sister mom and "My first babies"
My older sister, Amanda, was like another mom to me growing up too. When we were born, she instantly took on a caretaker role for her little sisters. We have an interesting dynamic in our relationship; one I see with her two daughters today. Lexus and Serenity are two of the most special little humans I've ever met.
Amanda was a young mom to them both, and in a way the three of these girls have grown up together. They argue like sisters, but their love is so strong. I love the relationship I share with all three of them!
She has been going through her own self-love transformation in the last couple of years. I have seen her grow and blossom in such beautiful way. I am so happy to see her come back to the Amanda that I knew in my childhood.
I joke with Amanda often and call my nieces "my first babies" because I have always felt so maternal and natural in my bond with them.
In a beautiful way they gave me practice for being the parent I am now.
Happy Mother's Day to my fierce older sister, Amanda.
Thank you for bringing these two special girls in to this world.
My new Mom...
I have had the honor of GAINING an amazing woman in my life!
Momma Donna Granny (so my husband calls her) is my husband's sweet mother.
There are no words for the kind of mother this woman is. She is the type of woman who would do ANYTHING for the people that she loves. Since I have met her, she has always reminded me of Forrest Gump's sweet Momma on the movie! She is a little tiny southern lady who is just full of love.
I have so enjoyed gaining her as another mother in my life. She has hugged me and cried with me, and shown me such unconditional love throughout my journey of moving states away from my family and becoming a wife and mother for the first time.
I am so thankful to this woman for giving my husband the gift of life, and raising him to be a real man!
Beautiful Momma's Rockin SLS Styles!