Big Mama Shares Lessons from Her Children
For the month of August, I will be writing about lessons I have learned from being the mother of Mrs. Kenithia Denise Avery (Nita).
If Wynton was my test run at motherhood, then Kenithia was my test run at raising a teenager. See, just like Wynton our first born said, he had talked to God and picked us to be his parents, well, God picked us to be Kenithia’s parents. Here is our story.
As a young couple with one child, we were excited to start trying again to expand our family by having another baby. When Wynton was two years old, we got the wonderful news that not only were we pregnant, but we were expecting twins. My husband Andre and I shared the good news with our families and started to prepare for our life with two new family members. Well nine weeks into the pregnancy God had other plans for our future family. We had come home from work to hear our cat, Indigo, in the basement meowing in despair. We ran to the basement and found our cat on the couch and the entire basement flooded with water. As we shut off the water valve and called the insurance company, I ran to the bathroom to discover that I was spotting blood. In the mist of all the chaos I was having trouble with the pregnancy. I made it to the doctor, and he confirmed that I was having a miscarriage. Pushing through the grief of a miscarriage, we poured everything into fixing the basement. With the help of insurance and donations from friends and family we soon had a new basement complete with a guest bedroom that had a queen bed & dresser. Little did we know at the time the plans God had in store for our future.
Jeremiah 29:11-For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Both my husband Andre and I volunteered with the youth ministry at our church in Louisville Ky. I worked with the youth choir, and he taught youth vacation bible school. One Sunday one of the youth members that had been visiting church with her friend came forward to ask the church for prayer. She was in the youth choir and was a member of Andre’s vacation bible school class that summer. It was summertime and they were going to put her in a group home for an emergency placement before the school year was going to start. I looked at her plea to the church and my heart immediately melted. Little did I know that across the church sitting in the pulpit God was speaking to Andre as well. Here is our full conversation after church:
Andre: Are you hungry?
Andre: Do you want to go get something to eat?
Andre: Do you think we should go get Kenithia?
From that moment on Kenithia was a new member of our little Guess family. Our house was totally prepared to take in a new child with our new basement bedroom. We met with the social worker, and she worked to fast track to get us approved for Kenithia’s emergency placement for temporary custody.
Watching Nita step out on faith and asking God for help was a huge lesson in faith for me. She asked God for help, and he provided. Actually, God answered both of our needs with this one. Having Nita in my life provided me with the opportunity to nurture and to mend me from the grief of the miscarriage I had suffered that summer.
We knew that being 29-year-old parents of a teenager was not going to be easy, but God provided. Nita was a smart young lady that came to us with everything that she needed to succeed in life. She only needed some support. We quickly gained temporary custody, enrolled her in school, and laid out the rules for Nita and she rose to the expectation. She was in the advance program and maintained a great GPA (no C’s allowed). She made the cheer squad, ran track, and was manager of the girls’ basketball team on top of her studies, church activities, and the Whitney Young Scholars Program requirements. She was the type of child that you could show her the finish line and she would find a way to get there.
God often dropped us confirmation that we were indeed supposed to be Nita’s parents. One day she came home from school sick, and we were trying to find her a doctor that would take our insurance and Andre said, “I will call my family doctor in Smoketown, and you can take her there.” At that time the office was not taking new patients but took Nita as a favor to the long history of treating the Guess family. We got to the doctor’s office and Nita said, “this looks familiar. I think I have been here before” We checked with the receptionist, and she pulled up the computer records to find out that this was indeed Kenithia’s family doctor’s office, too. Right in front of us she provided us all of Nita’s medical history. God you are so amazing. When we put one foot forward, he will provide the rest.
Matthew 6:33-Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Nita continued to flourish. We often had to remind her that we were her support and she no longer had to fight battles by herself. When she saw the results of us being involved in her education and us meeting with teachers to conference on her behalf, she was able to just be a kid. To this day I am proud to watch Nita do the same thing for her four children.
Even as I got pregnant with another child, we both were still able to pour into Nita. Andre fostered her love of reading by exposing her and her friends to Toni Morrison and often hosting movie and book discussions in the basement with her friends. We wanted her to stay connected with her friends and biological family. My great-great Aunt Ola Mae told me that I only had a little time to raise Nita and I needed to spend it teaching her. I quickly started weekly cooking and laundry lessons on top of her busy schedule.
During her junior year of high school Nita applied for the Muhammad Ali Scholarship. Her essay allowed her to be chosen as a fourth-place finalist and she got to meet “The Greatest” in person and realized how great she was and how bright her future could be! The Whitney Young Scholars Program prepared Nita to transition into college and make strives to be independent. It was a thankful and proud day to drop her off to college at my Alma Mater Western Ky University. Even if she was tearful and unsure, we knew she had everything that she needed to succeed.
Nita quickly took to life on campus. She took a food services job and would fix hair on the side for extra money for special occasions. She was enjoying her independence and was ready to fly. The next year she upgraded and took a job as a dorm residence assistant and was able to secure herself a private dorm room.
That summer Nita was ready to spread her wings and decided to move out of the Guess household to share a place with her biological aunt that was a few years older than her. Meanwhile I had another baby, and our family was preparing to move to New York City for Andre’s new job. We wished Nita well and told her she could come to Jersey and work and stay with us in the summers if she wanted to work and save up some money for school. That next school year Nita found out that she was pregnant and left school to make a life for herself and her new baby. I always knew that Nita would be fine because she was a smart and capable young woman.
As Andre and I made a life away from our Louisville family in the New Jersey/New York area, I found myself being overwhelmed with my own situation. Being a stay-at-home mom in a new city with three young kids was a daunting task for me. This country girl was dealing with a fast-paced life on the East Coast with three young children looking for me to make this new place a home. This is when there was a lap in communication between Nita and me. It wasn’t until a friend of hers contacted me and LET ME HAVE IT for dropping Nita because she had a baby. It was the wakeup call that I needed. Nita didn’t need anything material from me, she just simply needed her Mama. I called her immediately and we both cried it out and never lost touch again. I still regret that gap in our relationship and take full responsibility for ever making Nita think she had disappointed me. I was peacock proud watching her make a life for her and her son. He is now an independent 21-year-old young man that was the first person to make me a grandmother and call me Grancy.
Even though Nita dropped out of college she never stopped her pursuit of her college degree. She has now been married for 10 years and is the mother of four and grandmother to one. She earned her associates degree while working full time, being the PTA president at the High School that her sons attended, teaching Zumba and being a football, basketball and cheer parent for her children. Last year she finally earned that Bachelor’s degree. Like I said before, if you show Nita the finish line she will find a way to get to it!
I pass the BIG MAMA torch on to my oldest daughter that has made me the grandmother of four beautiful grandchildren. I now crown you LITTLE BIG MAMA.