Ever since I kicked off my #YoungMomStrong series, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with some fabulously fierce mamas across the country. This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Iman Brooks, the blogger behind Single Mom What a Life!
Iman’s story is a powerful one, and her strength is something that I admire. Read more to learn how Iman survived an abusive relationship and what she’s doing to make the most of each day as a young, single mom.
What makes you #YoungMomStrong? Tell us a little bit about your story.
I was never one of those girls who talked about having children or getting married. I still do not have the perfect wedding planned out in my head. But somehow, I got married when I was 21 to a guy I had known for nine months. I had started school (to get my BA in psychology) two weeks before getting married. I thought “I am going to have one of those stories about love that no one is going to believe.” However, that was not the case.
My ex was emotionally, economically, sexually and verbally abusive, as well as controlling. To make matters worse, he would not give me the financial information I needed to stay in school. About three weeks into the marriage, I found out I was pregnant. When I was five weeks pregnant, he kicked me out.
I tried to make it work, but after he told me he got me pregnant to trap me in the relationship, I knew I was done. I hit a point where I considered not going to term with my son out of fear. I did not get one of those lovely pregnancies you hear about. In fact, I was outright depressed. I could not go shopping for baby stuff because it sent me into anxiety mode. I cried all the way up until the day my son was born.
The moment they handed my son to me, I knew I could do this. I have had really bad days, but I have never looked back. I am not angry and that has made me #YoungMomStrong.
So many single mothers are angry, feel guilty, or are just plain hurt. I am free! My son has been the single largest reason to push through. My sons father is 100% out of the picture, and I don’t care. It has taken work and forgiveness to get to this point, but my son and I deserve it.
Tell us about your family.
My family is large. I am one of nine children, and a twin. Most of my family lives in the south, but my twin is in Canada with her husband and two children. I live with my older sister and her boyfriend. They have been my biggest advocates on finishing school.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a young mom? What is the biggest challenge?
The most rewarding thing about being a young mom is I am not set in my ways. I am still able to learn with and from my son. The biggest challenge has been the loss of friends. I was the first in my group (and still one of the only) to become a parent.
When times get tough, how do you stay strong? Is there a motto you follow? Who do you lean on for support?
My ex said he wanted to take my son and I home. Even though we were not in good standing, I felt that he is the father of my child. Well when I stepped out of the truck, he took off with my son. It took ten days, a drive to another state and me moving from my apartment, but I got my son back.
My motto after that became: “Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel, and than let it go.” I could spend a lifetime mad about things out of my control, or I could spend a moment mad and then find a solution.
What has kept me strong has been my older sister. She is transgendered and everyday she lives with stares, judgement, and disrespect, but she smiles everyday. My sister’s husband was the largest advocate for me when I was thinking of not having my son. The first thing he said to me when we talked after having my son was, “you are strong.” He says these same words every time we talk.
As a strong young mom, you do it all! How do you find time for yourself? What are some of your personal hobbies/passions?
A good amount of the work is mine when it comes to the important things (doctor visits, feeding, clothing, baths…you get the point). That is 100% me. When it comes to less important things, I have my sister and her boyfriend. They spend time with my son everyday without me (so I can study). My sister is the one who spoils my son. The two of them are very close. I get a free moment every now and again, but none that are for long periods of time. If I get the chance I blog, but that is about it. It is school, work or my son. I don’t have room for much more.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
Outside of school, I would have to say my biggest accomplishment is treating my son as his own person. I am very proactive in my son’s life, but I have made it a point to limit what dreams and aspirations I have for him. Right now, my son wants to be a garbage truck driver (or the truck) and I find I am okay with that. Would it be nice if he was a doctor, sure, but would he be happy? I always ask would it make him happy, because nothing else matters.
Complete the following sentence: I am proud of myself for…
Being a better mother than my mother.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned since becoming a mom?
Where to start… It is easier than I thought in some ways, and harder in others. I was not expecting the emotional rollercoaster. You do not know how many feeling you can feel in a day until you have a child.
I also learned there are a lot of stereotypes that you get placed in as a single parent—and many of them are hurtful. People always assume that I messed up the marriage. I cannot count how many people say, “why didn’t you make it work?”
The last thing is how much you can love another person. I know every mom says this, but before I had my son I could count how many times I said, “I love you” in a year. I am not one of those huggy, feely, kiss-me-type of people, so loving someone so much who I have not known my whole life is mind blowing.
What advice would you give other young moms?
The advice I would give to single mothers is to let go of the anger and guilt. It is painful to let someone else control you and your child’s happiness. One hiccup in the road is not going to be the end all, but not letting it go will.
My advice for mothers in general is don’t let anyone tell you they have the answer to parenting. There is no psychology or sociology on how to raise perfect children (I looked). We are all doing the best we can, and what works for you is not always what works for someone else. Remembering that will go a long way to feeling less guilty about your child liking chips instead of carrots.
Have a question or word of encouragement for Iman? Please leave a comment below and I will make sure I forward it to her!
It’s my mission to create a community where young moms can come together, share experiences and empower one another. If you know any young moms who would like to share their story, have them send me an email. We all have a story to share. We are #YoungMomStrong!