28, Alexandria, Va.
Most hated stereotype:
That all black people have a certain level of ignorance or “ghettoness.”
At the age of 15, Jaimee R.’s life went from that of a carefree high school student, to one full of a responsibility her peers, and some adults, knew nothing about. She was pregnant.
Through her pregnancy she kept up her studies and was homeschooled for the remainder of the year after she gave birth, securing her place on the honor roll.
Two years later she walked across the stage at her high school graduation to collect her diploma, pregnant with her second son.
“I was scared of the unknown, not knowing how I’d guide these two little people in a direction that I myself hadn’t experienced.”
The birth of her youngest son not only furthered her journey into motherhood, but was the beginning of a defining moment in her life. A blood clot on her brain called for surgery to remove it.
“That was in August. I was back to work by October,” Jaimee said. “Those years of my life, through all my trials and despite criticism, I developed a strength. I became a fighter.”
Now 28, Jaimee is sensitive to stereotypes put not just on young mothers, but single mothers. Active in her sons’ schooling, there have been times of frustration with school administrators and teachers she feels may not take her seriously.
“People look down on you because you’re a single mom,” she said. “People look at you like you don’t know what you’re doing, that whole ‘kids raising kids’ thing. But you don’t know me or my experience.”
Sporting her tattoo, the celtic knot of motherhood, Jaimee makes no apologies for her affection, pride and belief in the potential of her two sons. On Saturdays in the fall, her voice is the loudest at their little league football games. During Thanksgiving, there was no shame as she gathered the rest of the family around her oldest while he played an impromptu concert on his clarinet. —
Rearing her sons, now 10 and 12, remain a priority, but Jaimee continues to grow herself.
Between work and her kids, she attends college part-time, working toward a degree in business administration. She recently started a fashion blog, documenting her trials with clothes and makeup. Eventually she hopes to own her own business.
Friends often say the young mother “wears her rosy shades well,” hinting at her occasional naiveté, but to Jaimee, it’s finding the silver lining in any situation and she considers it a strength.
Her path was different, but her goal is that of most mothers: to raise respectable, educated, productive children. She works to set an example for her children and in turn does the same for other young, single mothers.
“You don’t have to be the stereotypical single mom. You can be successful. You can be educated. You can do all of those things and be a single mom too. Know you can do better.”
A stereotype that bothers you the most:
That all black people have a certain level of ignorance or “ghettoness.” For four generations of my family, we’ve been teased about the way we speak. “You sound white.” What does that mean? I speak proper. Black people don’t speak properly? I hate that! From my grandmother to my children, it boggles me.
What do you consider your greatest strength?
My ability to find the silver lining in ANY situation. To be able to find the lesson in everything. It allows me to make the most of life.
What stresses you out and how do you overcome it?
Financial situations often stress me out. Doing it all on my own, sometimes I get tired. I overcome it through prayer. There’s no problem, stress, or worry that prayer hasn’t calmed for me.