There is no doubt that the struggles of a single parent go beyond that of a parent with a partner. Here’s my story of surviving and thriving as a single mom. 

Never once in my young life did I think that I would be a single parent at the age of 20. We were supposed to be together forever. That was the plan, but sometimes life just doesn’t go according to our plans.

At the young age of 20, I was a solo parent with two beautiful babies. I was living with my parents full time, and we were lucky to have them. My mom watched my kids while I attended community college and worked towards my Associate of Science in Accounting.

Making the big move 

With that accomplished, I was determined to continue my education and was accepted into the University of South Florida. In August of 2001, I made the move from the small town of Lake Placid to the big city of Tampa. I was overwhelmed with trepidation and excitement! I was also very thankful that my parents could care for my kids until I got settled.

young children posing for family photo

After 2 months and despite protests from my mom, I brought my kids to live with me in Tampa. I worked during the day at McDonald’s. At night, my younger brother would watch my children so I could attend classes at the University of South Florida. For me, single motherhood came with such support, and I was grateful for it.

The more I learned about accounting, the more clear it became that I wanted a long term career in the field. With grit and determination, I secured my first official accounting clerk job. It was with a local CPA firm, and it was an opportunity to leave my job at McDonald’s.

I wanted to give my kids the same opportunities my parents gave me. I wanted them to see my parents and myself as their role models. They became more active in after school and weekend activities, and I became a part time student. Running on very little sleep (like a lot of single mothers and fathers do), I was able to make my kids happy.

Pushing through loss

Flash forward to September 2005. That Labor Day weekend I received some of the worst news of my life. My mom passed away during the early morning hours of September 5th.

That wasn’t supposed to happen so soon. She was supposed to be here for my graduation and for her grandkids graduations. She was supposed to be here to see the birth of her great grandkids. But God needed her more. The following weeks were nothing but a blur. I made the decision to withdraw from USF to focus my attention on raising my children.

A few years later, I scored a new role with Bloomin’ Brands in their corporate office. My new job allowed me to have an ideal work-life balance. I had the flexibility to attend every sporting event, every awards ceremony, and most importantly every parent-teacher conference.

In August of 2013, this very proud single mom of two drove her son all the way to Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Thanks to academic and athletic scholarships, he got to attend Seton Hill University. I drove my daughter to Florida A&M University (FAMU) the following August. She received over $30,000 in scholarships.

I was a parent on cloud nine! I had other parents asking me what my secret was to raising such amazing kids. I gave them by best advice: “Be your child’s parent, not your child’s friend.”

Seeking and surviving change

Officially an empty nester, I started changing careers. I wanted a job that would give me with more financial stability and freedom. I landed at HSN in Saint Petersburg, an opportunity all the way across the bridge from Tampa. I wasn’t worried about the drive; I didn’t have anyone waiting for me at home. However, the job turned out to not be a good fit. So there I was yet again scouring employment sites for something new.

Before I even started putting my resume out into the job market, I received a call from a corporate recruiter. There was a job opportunity, one that would bring me back across the bridge to work for a fast-growing healthcare staffing company. I agreed to the interview.

In December of 2015, I had my first interview with my potential new manager and a VP of the company. I left the interview feeling doubtful, but that was quickly resolved. A recruiter called ask me if I could meet with the CEO. I was nervous, but I decided to be myself and have confidence in my abilities. Although I had not completed my bachelor degree, I felt confident in my accounting abilities.

With my spirits high, I went to my interview with Harmony Healthcare CEO, Christian Brown.

Proud mother and daughter at graduationI must have impressed Mr. Brown, as here I am three years later as Senior Accountant at Harmony Healthcare. Not only have I gained financial stability, but I am able to continue to provide support to my kids. They’re following their  educational aspirations, and I want to be here for them so they don’t struggle like I did.

My daughter graduated from FAMU last December with her degree in Pre-K/Early Childhood Education. She is currently teaching 2nd grade at an elementary school in Quincy, Florida. My son is a bright young man and is still pursuing his degree. He hopes to graduate soon with a degree in mathematics from Seton Hill University.


Moving onward and forward

To all the single parents out there, never give up with moving forward in your life.

Don’t allow the little things to get in the way of helping you and your family achieve your dreams. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty either. Know that you can and will do your best for your children no matter what obstacles come your way. Seek out resources for single parents. Find a support group where you can share your story and learn from others’ stories. Find yourself so you can

The struggles for single parents are indeed real. But as my story shows, you can not only survive but also thrive as a single mom or dad.

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