It’s hard being a parent from prison. Especially realizing the devastating effect the unforeseen consequences my actions had on my children, particularly Nia, who was only 45 days old when I got arrested over 17 years ago.
While my other children experienced “Dad” being home for birthday parties, Disney trips, soccer games and more, Nia was robbed of all those monumental memories.
I’ve worked hard to insure she knows her value as my daughter and as a strong black/Hispanic woman.
I’ve tossed and turned at night, fearing the “Daddy” issues she’d suffer because of my absence.
When we talk, she listens to me and I listen to her.
I always knew my older daughter Alexa would head to college because she was top notch in school and I was super proud when she recently graduated.
But Nia….reminding me so much of myself, I was content with negotiating her promise to graduate high school.
So when Nia told me that she finished writing her college application letter, I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions. When she told me she received her first college acceptance letter, I’ll admit I was a little surprised.
But I shouldn’t have been.
“Can you please send me this letter you wrote?” I asked Nia, after congratulating her for this achievement.
Dear reader, while sitting at the computer at a level 7 maximum penitentiary, reading Nia’s college letter, I found myself loosing the battle from the flood gate of tears and I cared not who saw.
I would like to share Princess Nia’s college application letter with you.
FROM MY DAUGHTER
Recent estimates show that 2.7 million US children have a parent who is incarcerated. Being a child of that statistic was and still is difficult, yet it doesn’t define me. My father was incarcerated before I was born. People say you can’t miss what you never had, but I never agreed with that. Even though I never spent a “typical day” with my dad I have spoken with him every day on the phone.
I grew up with my mother, grandmother, and older sister. They always told me to not discuss my father’s situation. I remember my mother always telling me, ¨nobody needs to know where your dad really is¨. What I was told about him was that he was a great father. He took in two of my older half-sisters and treated them as his own. To me he is a great father, but in a different way than they experienced. He always listens to me, and gives me fatherly advice. I understand him and he understands me. We have an unbreakable bond. As a little girl holding a big secret like that was hard for me. To see my friend’s fathers pick them up after school attending father-daughter dances and cheering their kids on at the winter concerts year after year. I always had this emptiness in my heart when I would see that because that was something I never experienced. Something I missed out on. Something I can never get back in life. This made me grow up faster. I learned how to deal with my emotions and become resilient no matter how difficult and challenging life is.
During my high school years, it became harder to face all the obstacles in my life not only with my father but being a Hispanic and black teenage girl in a predominantly Caucasian school. In 9th and 10th grade, I started making some decisions that could’ve turned me down a bad path. I started to become friends with people who did not care about my best interests. I was angry at the world I started not to think about the consequences of my actions. I was getting into fights in school, sneaking out and failing my classes, my family was always trying to put me in behavioral programs signing me up for outreach programs and therapy as if I couldn’t control my behavior fearing that I would end up like my dad, what they did not know is that I was acting out because I lost sight to everything that was important to me I guess u can say I was struggling with depression. After all those programs and sessions its started to become tedious and I started to regret making all those bad decisions I had made. As 11 grade started to creep up on me I knew that I needed to rethink how I want my future to unfold, how important it is try hard in school and get good grades because my future depends on it. I’m glad both me and my dad were able to bounce back from all situations no matter how big or how small. He achieved so much great things all while behind bars he is an author, published 2 books which were amazon’s best-selling, and was a mentor to other people who have yet to find their best selves in life. Seeing my father go over all those obstacles made me rethink my obstacles in life, there is always time to turn your life around no matter how difficult things can be, There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to figure out how to get there. Being accepted into college would really help me discover myself and who I wanna be in this world I want to serve a purpose in my life by helping people as much as I can just like my father is doing while he serves his sentence, and I hope I can do that with the career pursue, I want to make my father proud show him that just because he wasn’t there for me I turned out okay and that I’m doing everything I can to succeed in life the right way. I want to show my family that I am in fact my father’s daughter just like him, I did make mistakes during my 9th and 10th grade but those mistakes do not define me as the person i am today.