The Momma Who Thought She Could

Altregia and her girls in the mid 1990s.

Altregia and her girls in the mid 1990s.

It was only eight weeks after giving birth to my youngest daughter, Asia.  It was a bittersweet day.  Filled with distress and fear, I held my bright-eyed baby girl wrapped in a pretty pink blanket.  For a moment, as she cooed at me and blinked those perfect brown almond shaped eyes, I felt the unconditional love a mother has for her child.  But, to be perfectly honest, I was a scared 27-year-old mother without a college degree, penniless and still adjusting to the fact that I had four little girls to raise on my own.  I was in court for my divorce hearing.  The oldest girls, my twins Amelia and Camelia, were nine at the time and Ameshea was four years old. 

Those first few months were tough but a few rays of hope managed to shine through.  Despite the financial challenges I faced, I’d signed the twins up for dance classes and as most of these activities require, we had to find special accessories for upcoming recitals.   In this case, we needed to find special tights.  This called for a trip to the mall, which the girls were super excited about.  They loved shopping and they knew we couldn’t leave the mall without a special treat; our beloved chocolate chip cookies.  The day of the shopping trip, the girls woke up early, energetic and so happy about going shopping.  I didn’t even have to tell them twice to do anything, not even their Saturday chores.  Amelia and Camelia got dressed and helped out by dressing their younger sister, Ameshea. I put on my favorite orange sundress and brown sandals, dressed the baby and prepared the baby bag.  “Okay, girls. It's time to go.” I called and before I could finish my sentence, the twins ran out the house so fast they nearly tore the screen door off the hinges as they raced for the front seat.  “Girls,” I shouted, “no one will be sitting in the front seat, today!”  Their little heads dropped as they simultaneously said, “Oh, man.”  They proceeded to slide open the side door on my burgundy Dodge Caravan with the wood grain on the sides.  I loaded the stroller and baby bag, buckled Ameshea and Asia in their car seats and off to the mall we went. The ride was always fun because we would sing all the way there.

I made it to the mall, purchased the girls' tights and I remember suddenly feeling overwhelmed; in a daze as I felt often.  In complete contrast, the girls were all excited because we were in route to our yummy treat, chocolate chip cookies.  In pure excitement, Ameshea managed to run too far ahead of the twins and I.  In a stern voice I called out, “Ameshea, come back here now!”  Out of nowhere, a sweet petite elderly lady with gray hair, walked up to me.  She was graceful and very pretty.  She asked me in a soft voice, “Are these your children?"“I replied, “Yes ma’am.” “All four?” she asked.  “And I simply said yes ma’am.”  “They are beautiful like you.”  With her soft hands, she grabbed my hand, she looked me in the eyes and she said “I know you might not feel it now, but these four little girls are a blessing to you from God, and they are going to bring you much joy.” I said a simple, “Thank you,” as I walked away with tears in my eyes.  My daughter Ameshea asked me, “Momma, who was that lady?“  I answered, “I don’t know, just a very nice lady.” Immediately, I turned around to catch one more glimpse of her, but she was gone, just like that.  There was no one in sight that even resembled her.  I knew then that she was an angel sent to encourage me that day at that time.  God was reassuring me that he was with me.  I was grateful for that moment.

Several years later, I was having a party, a pity party all by myself.  You know the kind of party where you bring your own box of tissue, a cozy blanket, and oh yeah, that old family photo where everything appeared to be perfect. Tears ran down my face as I thought about the responsibilities and challenges I had to face day after day.  This was one of those nights when I really needed some inspiration so I turned on the television.  I was watching the Trinity Broadcasting Network channel and there was a pastor speaking on faith.  The pastor said something that really resonated with me.  After watching that program, I decided that my life would never be the same.  I have always had faith, but my way of thinking changed.  I was tired of wallowing in self–pity. No more, I thought to myself, this ends tonight.  The next morning I woke up with a new perspective and attitude.  I was in my bathroom brushing my teeth, and I could hear little Miss Asia in her room saying “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…I know I can!”   At that moment, I looked in the mirror and smiled, I really smiled.  I said to the lady in the mirror, “You can do it, you can do it, you can and you will successfully raise your daughters!”  I was so thankful that God had chosen me to be their mom.

From that day on, I made a habit of writing. I wrote scriptures down on index cards and posted them throughout my house.  They would say things such as “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me," and “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” I started thinking and speaking positive thoughts. I was grateful. All I had to do was believe and take the first step.  My faith gave me courage to make steps that seemed impossible to others.  I was able to open my very on nail salon.  Owning my own business allowed me the flexibility to spend more time with my daughters.  I also drove a school bus so that I could keep them in great schools.  We commuted 40 miles from where I worked and they attended school.  This required early mornings and late nights, but we made it. 

I would always tell my daughters “Great grades will bring great scholarships.”  As the twins started applying to colleges, the guidance counselor at their high school advised them not to waste money by applying to schools where they had no chance of getting accepted. This is where faith had to take over. Though I’m sure the counselor meant well, she did not know the God we serve or the magnitude of our faith.

Not only did my twins apply to top tier schools, they were also accepted AND offered full academic scholarships.  My girls are now all college graduates with multiple degrees.  I count my blessings every day when I open my eyes and I think back to that day in the mall, when that sweet little elderly lady walked up to me and said your daughters are a blessing.  One thing I know for sure, they have truly been a blessing to me.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Declaration | I know who I am, I was created in my Father's image. I walk by faith, not by sight.