Have I ever told you that I love to read? In fact, Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington is one of my favorite books. I first read it a number of years ago. I love the book so much that I’ve read it twice (both times pre-pregnancy and pre-motherhood) at different stages of my life.
As background, Booker T. Washington was born a slave, yet he was the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute and under his leadership built the school. He also was an advisor to United States presidents and was an influential leader in the black community.
Although Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, was originally published in 1901, the information is still relevant today. Booker T. Washington’s story is so inspirational and I periodically like to reflect on the lessons I have learned from him. One day as I was as reflecting back on the lessons I learned from Booker T. Washington, I realized just how many of those lessons I can apply to my single motherhood journey. In this post, I share the 6 biggest lessons that I learned.
I can do anything.
Booker T. Washington was a man of faith and vision. He taught himself how to read and was deeply committed to education. Booker T Washington was determined to go to school for higher education in Virginia but didn’t have the money to get there. Therefore, instead of not going, he got as far as he could go and then worked to earn the rest of the money to go the rest of the way. He found ways to overcome obstacles.
This shows me that things may be hard, but it doesn’t make them impossible. If you have faith in God, put in the work, and refuse to quit then you can navigate the challenges that may otherwise appear impossible.
Work hard and be of good character.
As I read Booker T. Washington’s story I was amazed that when he arrived at Hampton he worked in the school to gain admission and to pay his tuition. He was willing to do the work, even on the mundane, and he did it with excellence. This is so important because you never know how God plans to use it to elevate you in due time. This is such an amazing example of 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV), “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
In due time, Booker T. Washington was recommended to be the first leader of Tuskegee Institute and became one of the most influential black men in history. Sometimes the grind, the hard work, long days, long/sleepless nights is hard, but keep going, keep believing and keep the faith. Your due time will eventually come.
Don’t do it alone. Build relationships.
The single motherhood journey can be isolating, therefore be intentional about building relationships. Booker T. Washington started Tuskegee with a $2,000 endowment and by the time he died the school had an endowment of $1.5 million dollars. This is not only because he worked hard and created a culture of excellence at the school, but it was also because he was intentional about building relationships with people who believed in his vision and what Tuskegee Institute could become.
As a single mother, you can’t do it alone. You must build a community of people who love you and love your children, believe in what you all can become, and are willing to help with gladness and love along the way.
You don’t have to accept the label that society gives you and make it your reality.
Booker T. Washington was born into slavery but he didn’t make that his reality or identity. He saw himself as something more. I love his story so much because he focused on the things he could control (his response to difficulty and opposition), his future, and decided not to be crippled by his past slavery or other challenges.
Just because you are a single mom, it doesn’t mean that you have to be limited by what society says about single moms and the statistics that are often cited about the future of children of single moms. If you have faith in God, know who you are in Christ, and keep working hard then society’s stereotypes of limitation, struggle, and poor outcomes doesn’t have to be your reality. Your mindset will help to shape your reality and your children’s realities. Therefore, if
Think legacy. Leave the world better than it was when you got here.
Booker T. Washington did wonderful things to promote black education and civil rights. Although he was born in slavery, he did so much to help the black community. He understood where he came from and he wanted something better not only for him but for others as well.
As you go on your single motherhood journey, know that it isn’t just about you. Think about
Hebrews 11:20 (ESV) says, “By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.” What type of legacy and generational blessings do you want to leave for your children?
Practice good financial management.
One of my favorite parts (of many) in this book was Booker T. Washington’s views on financial management. In one section he spoke about people who take their paycheck and spend it on appearances but end up with nothing. That example taught me about appearances and money and how focusing on spending money to get affirmation from others is worthless and will leave me broke.
At the time I read it, I was that person who spent a lot of money on clothes, shoes, purses and vacations because I was looking to fit in and receive praise and affirmation from others. In real life, I was broke, not because I didn’t make enough money, but because I spent too much searching for the approval of other people. After I read this I realized I needed to do something different, and I started to pay more attention to how I managed my money.
Money management is such an important topic for everyone, and especially single moms, because there will be so many competing priorities for your money. There will be things that pop up out of nowhere that you need to spend money on. Your children may want the latest toy or fashion item and you may want to treat yourself. However, you must stay focused on your goals and make sure your financial management is aligned with your goals.
Hopefully, these 6 lessons can help you feel better prepared on your single mom journey. Remember that motherhood is a process and that you will make mistakes. However, the important thing is that you keep growing, stay connected with Christ, and as much as humanly possible model the behavior you want to see in your children.
Sometimes it can be hard to find the time to read, however, if time is an issue, then consider using your commute read the book. I absolutely love Audible and they are offering a free 30-day trial and 2 free audiobooks to get started. Click this link to get access to this special offer. I don’t know how I would read as much as I do if I didn’t have Audible.
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!
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