I remember the phone conversation I had with him after I took the pregnancy test. At the time, I had a boost mobile phone and when I told him that I was pregnant he told me after the bleep that it would be best to abort the tiny cells in my body forming and preparing for what now is Zion. Because I decided to have her, I have to consider my life in a way that I have never thought about before. When you are single and do not have any actual dependents there is a considerable amount of selfishness that one can get away with. But because Zion is a living representation of my decisions, I have to take strategic plans of action to ensure that certain cycles of lack and abuse that I've endured would not be bestowed upon her. A close friend of my family, Pedro, told me that Zion's life would begin where my ends.
My life began with a single mother in the United States. My mother moved into this country from the Dominican Republic when she was 17 years old. At 22, she was in a life changing accident that crippled her ambitions in becoming a doctor. She was struck by a drunk driver while crossing the streets in Washington Heights, NY and after that day, my mother has been under the knife over 30 times; the doctors had to put her face, stomach, and legs back together again. They wanted to amputate her limbs, but my mother prayed and they didn't. She often calls us, her son and daughter, miracles. She lives with pain every single day and still raises her body to support what now are two college graduates, feeding and clothing us the best ways she knows how.
Zion's conception began in August of 2006 as I was about to enter my first semester at City College. I had to get real serious about what I wanted to do with my life. Since then I have graduated from a Creative Writing program at SUNY Purchase in 2012 and have assumed several roles as a Teaching Artist in some of the most underrepresented communities. I wanted Zion to have a mother that graduated from college, as to ensure a parent that would not stay in the cycle of poverty. As a daughter born into a family where my mother was the sole bread winner on Disability, I knew that I needed to bust my behind and STILL make time for my daughter.
Zion tells me that she misses me. It hurts me in a very silent way when she tells me this. I see Zion everyday when I take her to her bus stop and I see her a couple nights a week for her bath and dinner, but that is still not enough. I also know that this time as a child, I will NEVER get back. She doesn't have two abled adults in her life with whom she can exchange her time with. She doesn't have two incomes that will guarantee that she will get to travel early on and see corners of the world I have only imagined about. I work everyday teaching, writing, editing, and laying out books for writers. Even while I am at home, I have to remember to step away from my duties and spend time with her. Zion is learning about arithmetic, reading and writing. She is learning about art and dancing and I have the honor of preparing her for those lessons as I am her closest teacher, confidant, and supporter.
As a child I've never traveled outside of New York City, except for that one time I went to the Dominican Republic and Disney World as a toddler. I faintly remember those experiences through my mother's stories. Before I had Zion, as a young adult I went back to the Dominican Republic twice. I was working and going to school and I had the funds to do so. I even moved to the South for a year. Those experiences has brought me closer to my mother's family. I met my aunts and uncle, whom I have never had a relationship with until I was in my early twenties. Since that time, my uncle passed away and I was extremely grateful that I took that trip because I would have never met him.
Every Sunday, the whole family got together to sit under mangos trees, while the dinner simmered in the kitchen and all of my nameless cousins played in the house. I ate with my aunts and uncles and cousins everyday during breakfast and dinner and we formed bonds that brings tears to my eyes as I write this, because here in the states with my crazy hours, I don't eat with my daughter nor get to form those kind of bonds over a hearty-full meal with my own family and friends. Family is really important. Community and family together are detrimental aspects of ones personal growth, both internally and externally. We all need one another in order to be good with ourselves.
As an educator and writer, I want to better myself so that I can serve my community. As a mother, I want for my daughter to remember me always being there for her. I want to serve from a place of wholeness and I am mainly those three things, a mother, and educator, and a writer. Feeling good about the work that I do affects many lives beyond me and Zion. I have one of the most sacred task as an educator and writer and mother. I am entrusted with the minds of now and the future. I want to make a positive impression in the many challenges and self-discoveries we all go through.
But my daughter misses me and I miss her. I want to be there for her in a way where my work is something that she also looks forward to and for my work to not be seen as more time from being away from her. It is hard for us to see the fruits of my labor. I've often wished that I could take mommy and daughter trips, so that we can bond and have uninterrupted time together while seeing the world we are missing. It is important for us to get away from those routines that keep us apart. This is why I wrote this. I wrote it for us.
Traveling is not about escaping life, but it is for life not to escape us.
I want this summer to be all about Zion having her mother and I want it to be all about me having Zion. I want it to be about meeting our family and drawing connections to our lineage and cultures. I want Zion to meet her father's family in Jamaica and discover a side of herself she is not privy too. I want her to meet my side of the family in Dominican Republic. I want her to go to Costa Rica with me for a women's empowerment workshop. I want her to be fueled by the wild nature, to feed her free feminine spirit. To see the cleanest beaches, eat the best foods, and meet people with other languages. To dance under different rhythms from a different side of the moon. I want to witness her in her growth. I want her to witness me in mine. We haven't had that kind of romance yet.
This isn't the kind of fundraiser where you will get anything physical per se. You won't save world hunger. You wont get a book or a CD. This isn't the kind of love where it is conditional or involves some kind of perk. I am asking for everyone to give from their hearts by contributing the amount your heart wants to give, and by sharing this within your network, your family, and your friends. To share this on your websites, e-mail, and via word of mouth. I know I am asking for a lot, but I also know that Zion is worth this kind of attention and detail. WE ALL ARE. I also know that my mom could never have provided this kind of opportunity for me. And I know that I cannot provide it alone.
If this love project happens because of your contributions, I will take endless amounts of photos and videos and blog about the people, the land, and the lessons that will greet us. I will interview family members and new friends. I will blog from our locations (wifi permitting) so that you can get a live look at what your love created for us.
I will use the money to buy a fancy tumblr template, our plane tickets, and our lodging expenses to Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Jamaica. And if I have extra money, I will bring my own mama. How dope would it be to have three generations of women travel alone together. She so deserves it!
Lastly, I want to deeply thank you for reading this and considering strengthening the bond between me and my daughter. I believe that this small act of kindness will ripple into the universe and prepare Zi and me for an awesome year in teaching and learning. It will expand our family and community in ways I am so ready to experience and discover. I ask that god blesses us all. I believe in you. I hope that you believe in us too.
I cannot wait for Zion to pick a mango from my father's tree.
Un abrazo fuerte,
- Nancy De Leon
- Nia Hampton
- Katlin B
- Christine-Jean Blain
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more