**Valentine’s Day is a celebration of all kinds of love. All month long I’m bringing you stories from the people I love most about the people they love most!**
Grace is one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. Inside & out. We met ten years ago, it was my second day at a new job and she’d come to interview for a position with the same company. I remember two things about her from that day – I desperately hoped she’d get the job because I just knew we’d be instant friends, and she had great hair. Grace is one of those people who can light up the room with her smile; she’s wicked smart, a fiercely loyal friend and has a highly contagious laugh.
Grace is also an amazing Mom to a bright, creative and thoughtful son named Jackson. When I met her, she had just moved back to Orange County and was trying to pull her life back together as a newly single Mom. Over the past ten years I’ve been witness to all of her hard work as she fought to build a beautiful life for and her son.
When the idea for this series popped into my head, she was the first person I thought of to interview. I so badly wanted you to meet her. I wanted to give her an opportunity to tell a part of her story – I wanted to capture that story as a gift for Jackson too.
This Portrait of Love is for all the single parents out there (my Momma included), who find enough love within themselves to love their children for two.
Christina: Tell us about Jackson.
Grace: Sigh, my Jackson. He is a beautiful, unique boy who has a sensitive heart for serving others. He loves God, art, animals, sports, friends and Android apps!
C: How did you feel when you found out you were going to have a little boy?
G: Well, let’s just say I was convinced I was having a little girl and I was less than enthusiastic when the ultra sound tech said, “I’m 95% sure it’s a boy! Do you see this outside plumbing?” Excuse me? Outside plumbing? You have got to be kidding me!
It took me two days for it to sink in that I was really having a boy. My husband at the time was tearfully over the moon happy about having a son. Once I got over myself and the dreams I had for my “little girl”, I couldn’t wait to see this little guy with “outside plumbing”. I loved him from the beginning even though I thought he was a girl for the first 5 months!
C: What were the first few minutes after Jackson was born like?
G: I talked to Jackson through my belly while I was pregnant. It was so wonderful to finally see him, smell him, touch him, kiss his chubby cheeks, rub his bald head and know he was absolutely perfect. I felt like I was watching my own dream. I couldn’t believe the labor was over; I had obsessed over what labor would be like for almost 9 months! He was just perfect and he was ours.
C: What’s your favorite part about being a mom?
G: My favorite part about being a mom is truly knowing & experiencing unconditional love. Since the day I found out I was pregnant, almost every thought in my mind has been about Jackson. I held unconditional love in my arms the day he was born. I remember thinking if I feel this much love for my son, how much more does God love us?
C: What were your greatest fears when you realized you’d be raising Jackson alone?
G: When reality set in, my greatest fear was I did not know how I would make ends meet for my son. Providing a home, food, clothing and being able to give this innocent little boy enough love as both parents was beyond my imagination. He was 18 months old when we divorced so he doesn’t know any different than his life today. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? I don’t know how I would have gotten this far in 10 years without my parents, my sisters and my loving friends. So many people love & care for my little guy, I am truly appreciative and blessed by my “village”.
C: What’s it been like to raise a boy as a single mom?
G: In the beginning it was really tough for me mentally. I felt like a failure because I blamed myself and I was ashamed of my failed marriage. As I grew through the years I’ve learned to turn my thought process around. I’m not a failure because I’m doing this mostly on my own. There are definitely times when it feels like everything is falling apart but somehow we always pull through with protection. We are a family just the two of us and we’re accomplishing life together. No matter the circumstances, we have each other.
C: How does it feel to watch him grow up?
G: The most satisfying part is I get to watch him grow up with a front row seat! I’m that Mom that has tears of joy watching him play sports, volunteer, or on the last day of another successful school year. My boy shows me things I wouldn’t have seen before; he opens up my eyes to the wonderment all around us. Honestly, what could be better? I’m grateful!
C: Now that Jackson is getting older, how has your relationship changed from when he was a little baby?
G: There are so many changes from year to year and different stages of life as a child grows up. As a baby he needed me every waking minute. As a toddler he was able to entertain himself and I got a few moments to myself. When the school years started he gained so much independence that I didn’t know if I could handle it. But as the independence starts to be part of our every day routine I have gotten used to it.
C: What’s been your proudest moment as a mom?
G: Watching him succeed and making good choices on his own. When he was 5, he made the decision to follow Jesus on his own. (I didn’t make that decision on my own until I was in my 20’s.) When he was in 3rd grade he decided to make friends with a little boy with autism because nobody else would play with him. It’s moments like these that make my heart swell beyond words and he inspires me to be a better person.
C: What do you dream for him?
G: I dream that my Jackson will be a God fearing, loving husband and a wonderful Daddy. I pray for his future wife whoever she may be, will be someone who loves my son unconditionally with her whole heart (and will love her crazy Mother in Law!) I want him to be happy and filled with so much joy throughout his life journey. I hope he makes mistakes – mistakes that he will learn from but that won’t destroy him or his spirit. I hope and dream that Jackson lives his life with an open heart and knows exactly who he is.
P.S. You may know Grace by another name, we’ve changed her first name (at her request) in an attempt to protect her privacy.