Your Poem From Me Requests #9

The Giving Cause: The Humble Mumbles of a Perfectly Imperfect Single Mom

Photo by I.C. via ReShot

No one ever said this
would be easy, and I’m not
complaining, I’m simply
expressing what I feel . . .
what burns deep within me.
A single mom is the first
person their child sees in
the morning, and the last
one to caress their shoulders
at night.

She is the chaperone, the referee,
the teacher, the creative arts director,
the analyzer, and PTA attendee,
the cook, the cleaner, and anything
you can dream up, and more.

And when she’s tired, her day
doesn’t shift to meet her needs,
it simply fades into something
between two things: less busy
or a chaotic mess.

I can’t summon perfection
at my whim but I will do everything
in my power to provide what’s
best for my children.
They will know the meaning
of truth and its importance,
what a strong foundation is,
and how to operate effectively
in life.

They will lift their heads up,
holding them high, unashamed
of who they are and what they do.
And I will Mama-Bear the first
person who has anything
outlandish to say about them–
pummel them to a pulp.

My children are mine, and I
will protect them from the
world’s unrelenting wrath.
And when I can’t, the pieces
of my heart broken off and
shared with them will
sustain them accordingly,
providing the strength they need
to stand on their own.

I have done/am doing what
I can to give this world
decent human beings to
further its existence. I am
shaping the shifting Mini-Mes
who are more fluid than water
itself–breaking into the fold,
ready to take on
whatever comes their way.

When the day comes when I
relieve them of the nest,
I will stand back, admire their
first flight, and watch them
Secretly, in hushed whispers
to myself, I’ll say . . .

“I did that.”

Thank you to Melissa Ross for allowing me to gift a poem to you. I truly enjoyed birthing this poem. I hope it is what you want it to be.

To learn more about Your Poem From Me: The Giving Cause, click here. Let me write a poem for you. I can give it life


Part VI: Getting ready to be a father

Photo by Jessica Thomas via ReShot

I get a text from Iesha’s mother at like midnight telling me to get down to Mercy City Hospital, and all I could think of were Iesha and the baby. Are they aight? Are they okay? I was tearing up so badly; I had to take a roll of tissue with me to the car. I put the key in the ignition and turned right. The car purred — started up with no trouble, and the sheer sound of it, for some reason, made me believe — all would be well.

I guess I don’t have to tell you; the car is mine. I love it! My homie Amar’s Uncle Khalil was true to his word. When I’m not hustling to take Iesha to her rec classes or to the ice cream shop to work, I am running errands for us and driving myself to and from work. These last few weeks have been so busy, I barely had time to breathe. Iesha’s been rippin’ and runnin’ too, doing far too much. I’ve told her on more than one occasion, “Babe, you’re getting too close to your due date to be doing all this. Let someone else lighten the load for you.”

But Iesha is stubborn, and she thought she could work here, study there, and hustle here without any of this catching up with her. My phone dings and there’s another text message coming in from Iesha’s mother, and I pull over to the edge of the road, away from traffic to read what it says.

“She’s five centimeters dilated — contractions every ten minutes, lasting about 45 seconds. This baby is probably coming tonight, Deidrick. Where are you!?”

Tonight?! What am I reading?! TONIGHT!!! Not tonight. We still have so much to do. She hadn’t even had the baby shower — that’s next weekend. The apartment won’t be ready until Thursday — it’s Monday. She’s only seven months now. Will the baby be okay? Why is she coming so early?! What are we going to do?

Man, listen . . . I hustled so fast those last four blocks to the hospital, it’s a miracle I didn’t get pulled over by the cops. I kept seeing Iesha’s smile flash before my eyes — like the happiest memories of her were loading up in my brain, and I felt like I was in the matrix or some shit, ya know?

I pull up to the parking deck, grab the entry ticket, find the closest parking spot on the first floor, and hustle to the side entrance of the parking deck to get to the main entrance of the hospital. At Mercy City, you sign in with the receptionist, give the party’s name you’re there to see, and then after scanning your driver’s license, you’re given the room number and if available, a hospital volunteer to usher you to their room.

I told the receptionist I didn’t need an usher — I knew exactly where I was going. I spent so much time in this hospital as a kid, I could map it with my eyes closed. Guess I didn’t tell you this, huh? I have sickle cell anemia. Iesha, as far as we know, is not a carrier and doesn’t have the trait. So, we should be in the clear with our little one. I think she’s just ready to enter this world — ready to give her Mommy and Daddy some work to do.

The last time I had been hospitalized was about four years ago. I don’t miss this place — not one bit.

When I step into the room, I notice Iesha strapped to some sort of device, wailing and screaming. I guess the damn contractions were getting the best of her. My girl has been telling us since day one . . . “I don’t want any drugs.” And I’ll be damned if she wasn’t keeping her word. She handled each contraction like a trooper.

I had to slide some hospital gear over my clothes, and some shoe covers, too. The cover on my head looked funky and out of place. I settled in next to the hospital bed and held Iesha’s hand. Her mom was talking to her, telling her to breathe through each contraction just like she had learned. She was squeezing the hell outta my hand, man. I can laugh about it now because it’s all said and done, but I was scared as shit that night. Scared as shit.

Two hours later, we had a screaming baby, who was letting the world know she was alive. She was 4lbs, 11oz, amazingly so. Iesha’s mom said, “Lord child, had you carried this baby to term, she would have been at least seven pounds.” Iesha was a week shy of being eight months pregnant. We’d made it close enough to a “safe place” for the baby to survive on her own outside of the womb, but you know . . . all precautions had to be taken. Her breathing was a little labored, but she was calm otherwise.

No real causes for alarm, they said.

She spent nine days in the NICU, her weight fluctuating, but she was eating and sleeping normally. On her last day in the hospital, me and Iesha walked up to the NICU and sat and took turns holding her — loving her — letting her know who Daddy and Mommy were.

We both decided she would be Aida Miracle Miles because here she was — our little miracle.

I’d known this day would come, so I was ready, but I wasn’t ready too. If you dig what I’m sayin’. But man . . . I take one look at Aida and another at Iesha and I can’t stop smiling. My two girls — my world in one room. I love them so much my heart explodes at the thought of losing either of them. I am a father. A father . . . I am someone’s father. I don’t think I’ve ever known this kind of happiness before.

So look, that’s all. Stay safe out there, man.

*This concludes the Deidrick series. Thank you so much for reading.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Part IPart IIPart III, Part IV, and Part V

The Love Button

Flash Fiction

Photo by Jatin Purohit via ReShot

Lalina held up her new button proudly and shoved it in her big sister’s face. “Look what I got, Ndia! Auntie bought it for me today at the festival. You should have come. They had basketballs for sale.” Lalina’s older sister loved basketball — she would try out for her school’s junior varsity team in two weeks. Knowing this, Lalina did everything she could to make her sister feel bad about not coming with them to the festival. After all, isn’t this what a seven-year-old sister did?

“I don’t care about that festival, Lali. I had some rounds to do and layups and sprints. While you and Auntie were at the festival, I got those done. What else did you get besides some old tired button?”

Lalina adored her button. It said exactly what she felt everyone should do in life — “Do What You Love”. It amplified her feelings about swimming and ice skating. While her sister loved playing basketball, she had a gentler touch regarding sports. She wanted the button for their mother, who had been working double shifts for two months; an almost feeble attempt at making ends meet for the three of them.

“The button’s for Ma-mah, Ndia. She works so hard. She’s always tired. The button is for her. I don’t think she loves what she’s doing. I think she just has to — for us.”

The pressing thickness of the air between the two sisters got thicker. Ndia knew her kid sister had a big heart, but this moved her to a place she hadn’t connected with in a few years. After their parents’ divorce, the thirteen-year-old rebelled — fighting her mother’s rules and constantly bringing up their father’s absence. It wasn’t a peaceful time for any of them, but Ndia was a “Daddy’s Girl”, and everyone knew it.

“I’m sorry, Lali. That’s really sweet of you. Ma-mah will love it. She will. You’re a good kid, Lali.”

Melba plopped her beaten body onto the faux leather couch. She let out an exasperated sigh and kicked her right leg onto the couch’s head. She was just about to lasso sleep into her world when her youngest appeared before her weary eyes.

“Ma-mah, look what I got you!” Lalina flashed the button in front of her mom and waved it from side to side as if she was displaying the finest item one could ever lay their eyes upon. “Look what I got, Ma-mah!” Melba raised herself up on her elbows and steadied her shaky frame. She blinked twice before tears filled her eyes.

“What’s this you have here, Lali? Where’d you get this?” The tears filled again as soon as she wiped them — she had been overcome with so much emotion and overwhelmed by her baby girl’s gesture.

“It’s a Do What You Love button, Ma-mah! Auntie bought it for me at the festival so I could give it to you. Do you like it? I think you should do what you love, Ma-mah. You’re never happy. I can tell. And you’re always tired.”

Melba sighed a heavy sigh, wiped the spittle from her lips, and pulled her youngest daughter into the tightest bear hug her exhausted frame could muster up. She held on for what seemed like hours. Then she pushed Lalina in front of her gently and gave her little pajama’d body a thorough review.

“Lalina, what a sweet girl you are. Thank you, baby. Thank you so much. I will wear this every single day, okay? I will.”

She hugged her again, wiped the salty tears from her eyes, and patted Lalina’s head.

“I just want you to do what you love, Ma-mah.” And without missing a beat, Melba whispered into her youngest child’s ear, “I am, baby. I am.”

©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt

Originally published via Simily.


Part V: Iesha talks about the future with Deidrick

Photo by Cassandra MCD via ReShot

I never envisioned my life to be mapped out this way. Of course, I am certain not many teenagers do that — map their lives out ahead of time. I had been living for my parents, attempting to appease them. Then . . . Deidrick came along, and I began to live for myself — to experience joy — pure joy. He makes me so incredibly happy. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re young. You have your whole life ahead of you. Deidrick may not be the last guy you date.” But I don’t want to be with anyone else. I know who I want and he is that person.

I look down at my stomach and I feel the life growing inside me — our child — I don’t want anyone else. We will move into our own place soon. He saw to that. He’s been on a mission to get the things we need most and every time I try to offer help financially for these things, he puts a hand up and says, “Babe, I got this. When I don’t have it, I’ll let you know.” I’ve stepped back and I love watching him in action — watching him work for our good. A car soon, followed by our own place. I am absolutely baffled by the sheer existence of this in my head.

In a couple of months, we’ll be on our own — truly on our own. I would be lying if I said I was not frightened. I have fear. There are some doubts. But I get to do this with my best friend — my child’s father — hopefully, one day, my husband. When I think of my life on these terms, the fear subsides. Who will our little one look like? How will she sound? Will she want to learn how to speak both French and Diola along with English? Will she be a pescatarian or vegetarian? Most importantly, will she be healthy — happy — satisfied with her parents?

I have these thoughts — these worries — these things that pop up in my mind as minor stressors, but then I think about who I get to share this next phase of my life with, and I don’t feel as burdened by my mind. Deidrick has a great head on his shoulders. He’s strong-willed, a hard worker, intelligent, has our interests at heart, and loves his parents. I could not have asked for a better person to venture out on this journey with — he’s a God-send.

My parents think the world of him. My father, Oumar, in his thick Senegalese accent, says this about Deidrick: “This boy, I like. He’s smart, wants to work. I don’t worry about you nearly as much as I did when you first told us of your pregnancy. Stick with him, Iesha. I feel good things about him in my heart.” And if my father feels what he feels about Deidrick, I can’t be on the wrong path. My mother, Fatou, dotes on him. She and Deidrick will sit in the family room and have hours-long conversations while I entertain my dad and younger siblings. I have two little sisters; Khalia and Maya.

I will miss getting to see those two little silly ones every single day. I adore them. They have so much potential and Khalia is nothing short of a genius. She’s already being scouted by universities because of her test scores and the advanced learning courses she takes at her school. She’s only twelve! Maya is fourteen, and while she’s also intelligent, she doesn’t go above and beyond. She does what she needs to in order to toe the line in academia and get by. I don’t think she has any interest in school at all, but she knows that an education will provide her with the things she needs in life, and living under my parents’ roof, an education she will get.

I have been getting rid of a few things — things I no longer need — to prepare for our move. My mom and Maya have been helping. I do a bit of “spring cleaning” every other weekend as I tire easily these days. So far, I’ve boxed up most of my books, camera equipment, clothes, and shoes. We’re not hiring movers, no . . . between my father, Deidrick’s brother, uncles, dad, and cousins, we will not need to hire anyone. Deidrick’s mother is planning a baby shower for me in a month. I love her. She is truly like a second mother to me.

She has already been out and about buying clothes, diapers, bottles, etc. for our little one. My mom has been on a mission as well. We already have a crib, car seat, and stroller. This little one has a village awaiting her arrival and a daddy who would give her his last and more. She is loved by the ancestors and is prayed over and cared for daily.

As I get myself together for the transition of leaving home and venturing out on my own, I carry less weight. Knowing that I will not be alone is one of the key factors which I believe will help me grow without debilitating fear. Next weekend, the car. Deidrick and his uncle Rick got everything sorted out and the car will be ours. Two weekends after that, our own place.

I look to my future and I see Deidrick’s smiling face and the image of our baby girl being held in his loving arms. And well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Take care.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Part IPart II, Part III, and Part IV


Part III: Iesha

Photo by Maleka Ali via ReShot

Let me guess . . . You’ve been talking to Deidrick, this is why you’re here now, huh? I don’t mind talking to you if you don’t mind me snapping a few shots of this venue for a friend of mine. I dabble in photography — on the side. I graduated early — this past June. Deidrick’s coming out this year — late baby. I take a few art classes up at the rec center every other weekend. Other than that, I work at a local ice cream shop — you know, Dinnizzo’s Gelatos & Things? That’s my second home. By now, I’m sure you know, I’m Iesha . . . Iesha Selah Ndiaye.

My family is from Senegal. I’m the first one to be born here in the United States. Ugh. I hate saying that, but it’s like some base form of introductory etiquette, so it’s ingrained in me. The few things my parents wanted for me were to get an education, ascend to heights they could not reach prior to moving here, and become a doctor. Well, I’ve crashed all of those things, except for education. I excelled in all of my classes since elementary school and even graduated from high school with honors.

I am also taking classes online with a local university to get a degree in Early Childhood Education. I have fourteen months to go and I will have my degree in hand. After that, I have to do an internship at a school in my community for at least three months before I can begin working professionally full time.

“Everything happens for a reason,” people say. I met Deidrick when I was fourteen. It was my second year of high school, his first. We hit it off instantly. I’d like to tell you it was his charm that roped me in, but really, it was the way he always seemed aloof around me — sort of like he just couldn’t calm down long enough to simply be. I adored that about him — he didn’t try to macho up or subdue it.

He was natural — we flowed into each other from the start.

Of course, we didn’t plan on becoming young parents. I don’t think anyone ever really “plans” on becoming young parents. We’d always been careful when we were intimate, but the one time I forgot to take my birth control pill is, of course, the time the condom tore. . . and here we are. I never thought it would upset Deidrick — it never crossed my mind. He’s a sensitive young man, caring, understanding, and his parents did a great job in raising him.

I calculate my menstrual cycle. You get into the habit of doing this when you’re on birth control, so when it didn’t come on at least three days past its date, I worried. This was on a Wednesday. I’ll never forget it. Saturday morning I was nauseated. The smell of my mother’s Ndambé sent me running for the toilet. I panicked — heavy breathing, blood rushing to my head, the whole nine . . . I called Deidrick, and I told him I could be pregnant, but I was going to buy a kit from the store up the street and go through the motions later to know for sure.

He never floundered. He said, “Babe, if we are, then we are. And we will be great parents.” I was flabbergasted. I mean . . . I was happy, but I was also taken aback. Again, I never thought he’d be upset, but I didn’t expect him to be as calm as he was, either. I bought the test, took it, and well . . . you know the rest.

For the last few months, my mom and I have been attending my doctor’s appointments on schedule. I take prenatal vitamins; I walk two miles every morning, and I meditate and do breathing exercises. My mom’s a Doula, as well as a Herbalist, so . . . I am well taken care of if you can imagine.

Deidrick and I have been tossing names around for our baby girl. I’m dead set on Aida Lily-Grace Miles and he wants Aida Désirée-Grace Miles. It’s not too far off, but there’s just something about “Lily-Grace” that sticks with me. I can’t let it go. I have a feeling, though, I’ll be moved to compromise as time gets closer.

Welp, that’s the last shot. My friend is going to be pleased with most of these, I’m sure, but I have a lot of editing to do now. Then, I’ve got to work this evening. This was a nice chat.

See you around.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Part I and Part II