Her presence? Regal. I remember the first time I heard her sing. I had never heard a voice like hers before. Ever. I stood up in the pew, as is custom when hearing someone singing their face off. Indescribably superb. Gritty. And her range..smh. To say I was blown away is an understatement. Tasha M. is a beast on vocals. It’s an honor to call her friend, sister…roadie.
More than that, it’s an honor to watch her use that same God voice endued with power and purpose; speak life into the princess divinely assigned to her. A princess named *Malisa.
If you’re just tuning in, click here to read Part One of Tasha’s story. Her life changed overnight when she unexpectedly became a single mom. Though she thought it was temporary, two years later her niece is now her daughter. Perhaps a dissonant chord at first, their journey has evolved into a song I’d like to call… Beautiful.
Tasha: “Here we are two years later… Not because the situation has gotten any easier. But Malisa and I have come to an understanding. We have each other now”.
e: Sis, let me say again that you are to be commended. It’s understood that you’re adjusting but how are you coping?
Tasha: A lot of prayer. Tears. Having friends I can vent to and get great sound advice.
e: Your story is often compared to the show Raising Whitley, because the circumstances are so similar. Have you ever seen the show?
Tasha: I’ve never seen the show, though I’ve heard about it.
e: Do you find yourself embracing her belief that “it takes a village to raise a child”?
Tasha: I don’t even know how I’d do this without my village! I’m always on the go. Suddenly having a child to raise didn’t change any of that. Plus I don’t trust complete strangers to keep her. At least not at this stage, where her understanding and communication skills are delayed.
e: What does your support network or village look like?
Tasha: My network consists of my family and very close friends. These are people I trust and who loves her like their own.
e: Have you have found any stigma associated with being a single parent in the faith community? Do you find people assuming what your story is?
Tasha: Fortunately for me, my church family is small and we are close. I was able to share my situation with them, they are very supportive. As far as outside of my church home, I couldn’t say if anyone else felt any type of way because I am oblivious to the opinions of those I don’t know or who are not close to me.
e: Is this an indefinite decision or can her Mom/Dad get her back anytime?
Tasha: This is it! Both parents no longer have their rights. Even if I couldn’t do it, they would not be able to.
e: Is there any bitterness towards your brother and Malisa’s mother?
Tasha: At first I was very angry. I was mad that they could keep making children and leaving it to everybody else to care for them. How they hurt and cause damage to these kids that didn’t ask to be here. I was angry that my life and the lives of everybody connected to me had to turn upside-down while they lived free of any responsibility. I had to find a way not to despise them. Only God. Now I don’t focus on them, but on her and what she needs from me.
e: Does Malisa have any siblings and if so how often does she interact with them?
Tasha: Yes, she has siblings. She sees them on a weekly basis.
e: Does she have regular interaction with her parents at all even if they are scheduled visits?
Tasha: She sees her Dad occasionally. In the past two years, she’s seen her Mom maybe 4 times.
e: Do you feel any pressure for them to be a regular part of her life or do you find yourself wanting to shield her in a way?
Tasha: I know she craves her parents, so whenever she is able to be around them, I allow it. I make the boundaries clear to them. They can see her so long as they don’t undo any progress we’ve made.
e: Also she appears to be thriving under your care. Any hesitation in returning her to her parents if they showed vast improvement over a period of time?
Tasha: We are making strides. So if her parents were not capable of doing at least what I do, if not more, I would never let her go back to them. She will be allowed to see and talk to them, but they relinquished the right to raise her.
e: You mentioned that you knew as a child that you didn’t want to have children; where did that come from?
Tasha: I’m not sure. I just knew I didn’t want to be tied down. I always imagined a life of going and doing absolutely everything I wanted to do, without limits. I knew the family unit required all of your attention. Sure it’s possible to do it all with a family, but something at some point will take a backseat.
e: Sounds as though you’ve resolved that you’re going to see this through till 18+ yrs of age!
Tasha: Yup, I have to help her to adulthood. Prayerfully all of this will make her a better/stronger person.
e: Has your idea of parenting changed as a result of this responsibility or has your hesitation only been confirmed?
Tasha: Ya know, at one point maybe a year before all of this happened, I came down with a case of what some refer to as “baby fever”. That passed about six months later! The closer I got to marriage, the more certain I became. I really didn’t want that life. The settled down life. If I get married, I want someone who wants what I want. Travel the world, spontaneity.
I love my niece to life. I wouldn’t trade her for anything, however I am more certain than ever that I made the right choice for me. I’m not really ‘me’ anymore. I am in mommy mode all the time. Some may say that’s a good thing. Maybe it is? But for me, I’m always aware of it. Just because someone does something really well, doesn’t mean it fulfills them. I love that she is thriving, I’m still not sure where I will land in all of this. That’s what being a parent means right? Sacrificing your wants/needs for those of your child. How did I get on a list for something I never signed up for? Lol!
I know this is all God’s will, since He has never steered me wrong, I trust it will all work out for the good of us all.
e: Yeah. Somehow it always does…
© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee, 2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ericka Arthur and authenticitee with appropriate and specific direction to the original content
Photo Credits: American Deluxe Band & Tasha M.