(by Yolanda Allen)
Most people say, “I got myself into this mess.” I say, “Only God can get me out.” I am a single mother of four. I have three men and a li’l lady. Her name is Lady Bug, and she is now 18.
Accountability and having good character are things I have always taught my daughter. Many women are nurturers, but I think it’s important to stay strong as well as sweet, and to be independent. It is never acceptable to allow people to treat you poorly.
But I really was not the best example for my children. I had several bad relationships and made poor choices. My drugs of choice were alcohol and prescription pain meds. I was overweight, and my health was really bad. I had several brushes with death. After being homeless for the third time, I vowed to change my life for all of my children but mainly for my Lady Bug. And I had a lot to fix.
I am in recovery now. We left my hometown, and I finally got my life back on track by participating in a program teaching Biblical principles and boundaries. After being out of work for more than ten years, I drove to Charlotte for a radio show audition, and yes, I got that job. I was able to show my daughter that if you work hard and act responsibly, you can live a good life.
I can’t remember a time when she hasn’t taken care of her mother, even as a small child. Every doctor visit and every hospital stay, she was there right next to me, even sleeping in the hospital bed with me.
I am protective of her—she says overprotective, but I just want her to be safe. She was home-schooled because I was not confident about her safety in the school system of a bigger new city, but as she got older, things started to get a little rocky—she became what I would call smart-mouthed. Maybe she started to resent helping me when I was sick, demanding so much of her time. Boys came into the picture around the age of 15. I remained firm and taught her not to allow anyone to mistreat her. I wanted her to understand her self-worth and not depend on a man’s love to feel secure. But I realized that was “Do as I say, not as I do.” I ended my last toxic relationship and am single still.
I finally let up on my rules, and she now goes to high school. I remember her first day of school. I was the one who was scared. After only 19 days, she got into a fight and was expelled. That’s what I was afraid of in the first damn place. I believe that being so young and having to be so responsible about looking after her mother, she became mature for her age and carried herself as an adult. She just did not fit in. She couldn’t get back into the routine of being with other children.
I told her, “You have no more time to waste.” A new special high school opened up near us, and it was her second chance. She enrolled and was finally comfortable. It’s a more relaxed environment where a lot of the students are over 18 and are there for credit recovery. The administrators and teachers understand that these are young adults, and they all have jobs. Lady Bug got one as well.
So we have this strong, short-tempered young lady in the family, still a teen but acting like she is 25. Even now with a job and school, she takes good care of me. With arthritis, I have trouble standing, so she gets my clothes together, runs up and down the basement steps, cleans and cooks. My favorite meal that she makes is fried fish and Brussels sprouts, and she makes the best fruit smoothies. She used to watch me cook when she was younger, and let me tell you, now she can make some things better than me. No, not everything. But she is a seasoning queen. She knows just what flavor matches with every bite to create an explosion in the mouth. I am happy to see her take the cooking torch from me until I get better. But then, Lady Bug I want my torch back.
Present day: We are undergoing a worldwide quarantine. Most everything is closed. Lady Bug said that when she turned 18, she would apply for an Amazon job, and she has stepped up amazingly. I am proud that she watched and paid attention even though I was so out of control when she was younger. She remembers my lessons about strong character and self-love. She is applying them. She has been saving for a car and is planning to move out when she is 19—the exact same age I was when I moved out of my mother’s house. I want her to be better than I was and not wait until she is 40 to get a clue.
Yolanda Allen is a singer, songwriter, radio host, and motivational speaker in Bedford, Ohio.
Lady Bug's Parmesan Fried Fish
4 c. cornmeal
salt, to taste
4 t. lemon pepper seasoning
1 T. Adobe Seasoning
1 t. Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T. melted butter
1/2 t. salt
pepper to taste
4 whiting fillets, fresh or thawed if frozen
1 T. lemon pepper seasoning
1 T. Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning
cooking oil of your choice
4 T. grated Parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes
Combine ingredients for batter.
Combine eggs and melted butter.
Dredge fish fillets in egg mixture, then in batter.
Season with salt, pepper, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese.
Heat oil in deep fryer to about 400 F.
Fry fish about 6 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
Drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice.
12 oz. Brussels sprouts, fresh or thawed if frozen
4 T. butter, melted
1 t. salt
1 T. lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 t. garlic salt
grated Parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Trim ends of sprouts.
Toss Brussels sprouts in a heatproof dish with butter, salt, lemon pepper seasoning, garlic salt, and 1 T. Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and additional Parmesan cheese.
Strawberry Peach Smoothie
6 oz. fresh or frozen peaches and strawberries
1 T. low-fat frozen yogurt (optional)
1 T. green tea mix
1/2 t. honey
Combine everything in blender and serve over ice.