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Happy Sunday!   I want to thank those who took a moment to post a comment to my Introductory Blog.  I truly appreciate your encouragement, support and your open and honest communications.   In this post, I share what happened next after my daughter Daphne asked me that bomb-dropping question, “Mom, I know you love me but do you like me?”   Here’s the rest of my story.   In 2002, I was self-employed and running my own marketing communications firm which required me to work both day and night to maintain and grow my business.  I had to work hard to ensure that we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. I made the decision in April 2000 that I never wanted to work for anybody else besides myself and God.  So, I stepped out on faith and started my business, Clark Creative Communications, LLC.  Three months later, I had clients and was grossing $10-12,000 monthly. Back to that bomb my daughter dropped on me.  One evening in April 2002, my daughter approached me in the kitchen and said to me, “Mom, I know you love me but do you like me?” At first, I thought she was joking but the serious expression on her face and her eyes welding up with tears let me know she was quite serious.   Needless to say, I went to bed that night feeling like a bad parent. I literally cried myself to sleep over that question. It really cut to the core of my being and was a reality check that I wasn’t as on point as a parent as I had thought.   The next morning, I woke up and heard God speaking to me letting me know that I was not a bad parent. Yet, although I had been working hard to provide for my daughter’s physical needs, I had neglected to care for her emotional needs. This realization prompted me to do a serious self-assessment of myself as a woman and a parent.  I knew that I needed to change, not my daughter, in order to become a more balanced woman and parent to my daughter.   In June of 2002, I flew with my daughter to Detroit to drop her off to spend the summer with her dad. On the return flight back to NJ, I was praying and talking to God, asking him to show me what I needed to do to become a more effective parent to my daughter when she returned at the end of the summer.  I wanted to make sure that our relationship was strong and solid.  I never wanted my daughter to question again whether or not I liked her.  And, I knew if I didn’t take the time to become more emotionally involved in my daughter’s life, she would begin to seek validation, love and attention elsewhere. I didn’t want her to become a statistic:  teenage mom, joining gangs, or seeking comfort in boys/men she would meet on the internet. While on the plane ride, I began to doodle on my napkin and I wrote, “My Daughter’s Keeper.”  I started to repeat the words over and over in my head.  In an instant, I felt a light bulb go off in my head and I felt that God was reminding me that I AM MY DAUGHTER’S KEEPER, so I needed to start acting like it. On the plane ride, I received a vision from God to start an organization that would work with mothers & daughters to around the world to strengthen their relationships.  At the time, I didn’t know how this was going to help me with my own relationship with my daughter.   When the plane landed, I rushed home and starting translating my vision into a concept paper. I emailed it to a few close friends and family members who all agreed that starting a program for mothers & daughters was greatly needed and they had not heard of anything like it.  Some wished that there was a program for mothers & daughters when their daughters were teenagers.   To make a long story shorter, within a week, I proceeded to legally set up My Daughter’s Keeper, Inc., (MDK) created and launched a website and applied for 501c3 status.  As word began to spread about our mission, people wanted to get involved.  The response was overwhelming but validated the great need for such a program as MDK.   What’s so ironic about my journey is that the more I became engaged in establishing the non-profit organization, the more hours I had to work. I was running both my for-profit and non-profit businesses simultaneously. Actually, I invested a lot of money from my for-profit business into launching the non-profit business.   You may be thinking that I had even less time to spend with my daughter running two businesses.  True, but the difference was that my daughter who inspired me to start the non-profit was now working closely with me.  She helped with programs, volunteered and participated in programs.  She served as a peer mentor to her friends and other teen girls in the program.  She understood the importance of our work and that as we were helping other mothers and daughters, our relationship was also growing stronger.  She was now spending a lot of time with me at the office and on the road.   Eventually, I realized in 2004 that MDK was my calling and my life’s work and I would have to cease operating my for-profit business to dedicate 100% of my time to serving others.  It’s another story to go into what I have gone through stepping out on faith and trusting GOD for EVERYTHING.   I just realized yesterday during a moment of reflection that it has been ten (10) years since I have worked for anyone as an employee other than God.  For my obedience, God has truly made provisions for me and my daughter to serve mothers and daughters, adolescent girls and single moms, without skipping a beat most times.  My daughter has never wanted for anything and our lifestyle continues to get better.   It has not always been an easy journey and I have some stories to tell that most people who know me would not believe.  They would never think that someone who looks so well put together on the outside and has started four (4) businesses, authored a book and is a sought-out speaker, would have endured some of the pains and hardships I have experienced as a result of making personal and financial sacrifices to be obedient to my call.  A lot of people would not even be able to relate to my journey and would consider me clinically challenged for making some of the choices I have made over the past eight years. I have taken a lot of risks in my life. While a few risks resulted in setbacks, most resulted in rewards and elevation for my life.   Yet, I sit here writing this blog feeling content, fulfilled, and blessed to rise each morning doing work I am extremely passionate about.  Yes, I gave up the big salary, certain material luxuries and even lost a few close friends, but the intangible things I have gained in serving and empowering others are priceless and far more valuable to me.  I can honestly say that this is the most happiest time in my life ever!  Seriously!   As for my relationship with my daughter, we are closer than ever.  She’s my best friend and I am extremely proud of the young lady she has grown up to become.  She has truly made my life as a single mom easy, hence the title of my book, “Life As A Single Mom: It Isn’t Easy, Or Is It?”  The “Or Is It” part is my personal testament that raising my daughter on my own has been a wonderfully, blessed experience.   At the ripe age of 43, I am still relatively young and attractive and living the second half of my life as an empty-nester.  My daughter is completing her second year of college as a result of receiving a full academic scholarship.   There’s an interesting story that goes along with this blessing too.  I’ll share it one day.   To all my moms out there:  Please do not ignore red flags or signals when your children are trying to alert you that there may be a problem on the horizon.  Most of the time, there are signals.  We must be willing to make and take time to listen when our children speak, assess both the situation and ourselves, be intuned to what’s going on with our children, and be proactive and ready to take action in order to prevent those signals from developing into real life issues with our children.   This is a photo of me and my daughter that we took two weeks ago in Boston.  We were there for her audition at Berklee College of Music.  She plans to pursue Music Therapy so we are praying that she will be transferring to Berklee in the fall.  It was a wonderful mother/daughter weekend and we had a blast spending quality time together. Have you had a defining moment that changed your life in some way? Personally? Professionally?  If so, please post a comment and share it with me.   Thanks for tuning back in to my blog.  Log in again soon!  I will be posting at least twice a week and I have a lot of great empowerment topics coming!  If there is an area of empowerment you would like me to discuss, please let me know.  This blog is not about me.  It is about you and how I may be of service to help you become empowered and elevated in every area of your life.   Be blessed and Be Empowered! Read More: