Beating the Odds

Sometimes it feels as though it’s all up hill.  We are constantly going against the grain of “something”, especially, during the school year.  The hustle and bustle can ware us out to the point of dampening our spirit.  There is much to keep up with, getting to school on time, homework, science projects, school activities, PASS Testing, just to name a few.

It’s a lot of hard work on both mom and child, however, just when you think there is no light at the end of the tunnel, you get a glimpse of an intense bright light heading your way.  You put your hand above your eyebrows to look out further.  The light is so bright, in fact, that it brings tears to your eyes.

That is what I experienced a couple of weeks ago at my son’s 5th grade graduation.  They were giving out special awards and he did receive an “A” Honor Roll Certificate, which I expected.  What I didn’t expect was for him to get an award in Physical Education and one for Safety Patrol.

I was so proud; my baby did well.  Now, he sat for a while, and I watched the other children get up and get their awards.  They all looked so cute and so pleased with their accomplishments.  I know there were a lot of excited moms in the audience.  The cameras were flashing, including mine.

Down to the last three awards.  The principal announced the upcoming award by reading a letter from President Obama addressed to the children.  He was basically commending them for having an A or A/B average from the 2nd through 5th grade.  There were two awards for that; the Golden Presidential Award was given to those who had an A average and the Silver Presidential Award to those with an A/B average.  After she read the letter, she announced the names of the students who were to go up and receive the Golden Award – A average from 2nd through 5th grade.  The first name she called was COLBY BROWN.  My heart dropped and streams of tears fell down my cheeks.  It was such an honor.  His award reads:

President’s Education Awards Program

President’s Award for Educational Excellence

presented to

Colby Brown

in recognition of

Outstanding Academic Excellence


          At the bottom it was signed by Barack Obama, the U.S. Secretary of Excellence, and the Principal of the school.

Next they called the children up who won the Silver Presidential Award – A/B average from 2nd through 5th grade.

Next was the most prestigious award for that particular school.  The principal introduced it as the highest honor that one could attain, “the recipient of this award must exemplify the character, discipline, and academic excellence which we have been striving for this year.”  There could only be one chosen from each 5th grade class.  She continued by introducing the first recipient, “This person always works hard and takes pride in his work.  He is respectful to his classmates and teachers.  He follows the SHINE expectations and is a role model for others.  He is the perfect example of a Springfield Super Sun.  Every student should be like him.  He is, Colby Brown.”

Could it get any better than that?  Really, could I be any more blessed?

My son is half Cape Verdean and half African-American living in a single-parent home.  He was the only African-American child among twelve other children to stand there holding the Golden Presidential Award.  Then he was the only African-American child standing with three other children holding the highest award you can receive in that school, which is the Springfield Super Sun Award.  I call that, “odds against the odds beating the odds”.

No one could imagine what that meant to me at that moment.  It’s such a deep feeling of gratification and relief to see your hard work and struggles pay off in such a tremendous way.  It’s unexplainable; words can’t really do it any justice.

The icing on the cake:  The next day, I was sitting at the dining room table looking through my son’s notebooks that he brought home from school.  One was full of writings, like a journal.  I enjoyed reading all his thoughts, then I came across one titled, “Mom”.  I perked up and intriguingly read, “I have a special person that I like.  It is my mom.  She takes care of me and I love her.  She feeds me and makes sure I have a place to sleep.  She gets me to school on time, so I can get an education.  It is kind of hard for my mom, but she does it anyway…for me.”  Okay, I don’t even have to comment on that because any single mom knows how that feels.  I’m tearing up all over again just sharing it with you.

It seems as though I read, and see, on the news more bad things than good things regarding single moms.  Just the other day I read a headliner, “Single Mom Lives in Poverty”.  There was a picture of a single mom and her two children.  Then the article proceeded to provide information on her income, which didn’t amount to much, and how she has to work two jobs.  Well, yes, those are realities, but there are also two-parent homes that are living in poverty.

On the flip side, there are single-parent homes that are doing quite well.  Why aren’t there any success stories flourishing about them…I’m just sayin’.  It’s a stereotyping that keeps us thinking that’s who we are…poor and helpless.  I know I’m not poor, nor am I helpless.  I may not be wealthy in the eyes of the world, but I am rich in many ways, and my son and I always have what we need when we need it.  We can be financially comfortable, just as we can raise academic achievers.

If we continue to dwell on the negative stereotype – believing that single-parent homes are inferior – then that’s what we will become.  If we dwell on the positive and believe we can achieve, then we WILL achieve.  It starts in the mind, and then materializes.

I KNOW there are single mom success stories out there; those are the stories I would really love to hear.  Those are the stories that are going to encourage the rest of us.  Share your success stories.  They will become contagious.

Think Positive!

Know that single moms are beating the odds every single day.

Written by Alice Monterio

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