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Without Them

| This is the 569th story of Our Life Logs® |

This was my childhood: I never knew my father and my mother did not raise me. I bounced around between foster families in Los Angeles, California. I remember how I used to wait for my mother to feel ready enough to take me back. But I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

I told myself that I would never make someone feel the way she made me feel. I would never make someone feel so unwanted.

My mother died when I was almost 17 in 2012. I never really got a chance to know her that well, so when I found out that she died, I did not feel broken from the loss. Instead, I grieved for all the things we never did and never would do. And for some reason, her death made me feel so alone. Nothing changed in my life, really, but that’s how I felt. This is when a yearning to discover who I was burned inside me.

I was 18 when I decided to move to Las Vegas to get to know my biological father. I took an AncestryDNA® test and linked it with my Facebook account. The power of social media. I was so happy to meet my dad face-to-face after talking over the phone for months.

It was obvious that he was my father, just by his face, and he was glad that I was now in his life. I told him about my mother dying and he said he did not know her that well. They had only met a few times because he was more like a “client” of hers. He didn't call her a sex worker, but I got the feeling that is what he was referring to and I didn’t ask him to clarify. I didn’t need to know more about her.

About three years after I got to Nevada, I got pregnant with my son. My boyfriend and I were 21 and had been serious for two years, so we felt eager to take on the responsibility. Of course, I was nervous to be a mother without really having one myself, but everything changed once my son was born. I fell in love. I loved everything about motherhood and my boyfriend loved the fact that I loved being a mother. I did everything for the baby, and he enjoyed the scenery.

This was right around the time my dad died from health issues. I was glad he got a chance to meet our son, but I was devastated at the same time. Just as I had gotten the chance to finally meet my father, he was taken away from me. I was resentful and angry and felt left all alone like when my mother passed, and I was desperate to fill my days with distractions.

I decided that the best way to surround myself with love was to have another baby. So, that is kind of what we did. We did not fully plan it, but we did not avoid it either. Eleven months after my son was born, we welcomed our daughter to the world.

This is when things got rocky.

My boyfriend began to feel overwhelmed with the responsibility and we began to argue a lot. The more help I needed, the more space he needed. We did not look at each other the way we once did.

I had a brother in California who was also raised in foster care and he decided to come and help us out—plus he needed a fresh start. It was crowded in our little two-bedroom apartment, but we made it work.

Despite the arguing and the lack of space, my boyfriend and I found time to create another human within three months of the birth of our second baby. Yup. I was pregnant again. And this time it was not planned. I already had so much on my plate, but I could never take away the chance of life. I was the product of an unwanted pregnancy and was so grateful for my own life.

When I had my third child—my youngest daughter—my boyfriend tapped out. Between the death of my parents and having three babies back-to-back, I was experiencing a mental breakdown and he was too immature to stick around for the show. One baby would wake up during the night and scream, only to wake up the other two babies who would then harmonize the first baby’s screaming. I would have to change 10 diapers per kid per day—I was literally wiping shit up around the clock. My boyfriend would let them sit in their mess if I did not change them. When I would fuss at him about leaving them in the diaper, he would walk out of the house. I would never chase after him because…part of me was relieved he was gone. I would not have to sit around the house working like a slave while he played video games all day.

One day, I started fussing at him for some help and he left for the last time.

Sure, he would stop by every now and then to give me a pack of diapers, but it was never enough. He knew he couldn’t come empty-handed so up he just decided to come less and less until he faded out of my life.

When we split up, I made myself too overwhelmingly busy to be sad about my failed relationship. I enrolled in school for administration, I was working full time, and I was determined to prove myself capable of being a good mother. I was able to depend on my brother to fill in the gaps, who became heaven-sent because this was right around the time we started potty training my son.

My babies.

Right when we were settling into our new lives, we heard rumors of a nasty virus that mutated and was running rampant all over the world. I thought to myself, great, what else could happen right now? Not a global pandemic, are you kidding me? But it was no joke. Classes were halted and we had to go online. I could not afford the internet bill, nor could I focus on school from home with three babies. I stopped going to school and I also got laid off from my job at the casino.

I applied for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance and began to look for work other places. I knew I could braid hair, so I put some ads out and started building clients. I also put an ad out to babysit. At one point, I was doing hair, babysitting, and taking care of all three of my own babies all at the same time. I was beyond exhausted from the 24-hour constant flow of needs coming from everybody else. I watched kids for a living and then came home and watched kids for love. It was hard, but they were worth it.

But…that’s when my body gave out. I got physically ill from all the stress and the constant go-go-go. I did not catch the virus, but I developed gallstones and intense acid reflux that was so severe that it affected my heart. I needed surgery. I had no choice.

My brother stayed with my children so I would not lose custody of them while I was healing in the hospital, and I missed them more and more every day. Unfortunately, the bills piled up faster than I could heal. When I came home, all our belongings sat outside on the curb, and an eviction notice was taped to the door. My ex-boyfriend’s parents had stepped in, took the three babies, and my brother went back to California. This was the lowest I had ever felt.

My children were the only reason I got up every morning. They were the only reason I pushed through hurt and grief and pain. I had to get them back into my life because they were all the love I had left. I would jump through any hoop for them. I would not keep them waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I would not be like my own mother.

For two months, I ate, slept, and breathed with saving on my mind. I rode the bus during the time it was free. I went to the library and washed up and brushed my teeth in the bathrooms. It was hard, but I didn't mind it because I knew I was going to get my kids back. I never wanted them to feel unwanted or insignificant. I rotated between spending a few nights with different friends and sleeping in my car. I even sat in the casino all night at the slot machines hoping to hit so I could afford a place again to get my babies back. I hustled as hard as I could with my hair clients and I babysat other people’s kids to get back my own kids. It was all so bittersweet. As I kissed the Band-Aid of another baby, I would wonder if my own children were getting ouchies of their own and who was kissing them all better?

Eventually, I did get them back after this period of extreme sacrifice. I was able to get into another apartment with a little leeway from the landlord. This once is just a one-bedroom, but I let my kids have the bedroom and I am okay if they are safe. Their grandparents were so proud of my determination that they welcomed my return, and were happy to place my children with me.

With one of my babies.

Throughout all this, I found out that I will never have to worry about turning into my mother. It’s simply not in me. My kids were my strength to keep going on the days I wanted to give up. The road ahead will not be easy, but it cannot be harder than journeying alone.

This is the story of Diamond Bailey

Diamond was raised in foster care and has suffered through a hard life, but she is still proud to be a young mother of three children at the age of 25. After losing both her parents, developing gallstones, having three babies back-to-back, and being abandoned by the dad before getting evicted, she is still smiling. Motherhood has been the pinnacle of her life because she never experienced this kind of bond. Her biggest motivators are her kids, and she is looking forward to a brighter future than her past.

This story first touched our hearts on December 8, 2020

Writer: Melodie Harris | Editor: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker

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