I don’t think I truly appreciated my single mom until I became a parent myself. As I walked the hallway at 3 AM tearfully trying to soothe my colicky newborn (yes, we both were crying), I remember thinking of my own mother all those years before. My sister was just an infant when my father left, and yet my mother carried on, caring for both of us girls, working full-time, and just generally being the strong, kick-ass mom that she had no choice but to be.
I continue to be inspired by every single mother I meet, which is why I was totally blown away by the remarkable story of Briana Williams. The 24-year-old isn’t just a strong single mom to baby Evelyn, but she also gave birth to her little one while attending law school. And not just any law school, my friends, but Harvard Law School.
Yep; all while raising adorable Evelyn on her own, arranging childcare, studying, pulling all-nighters … the whole nine yards. Moms are truly amazing, aren’t they?
In an Instagram post that went viral this week (in which she and Evelyn are both dressed in caps and gowns), Williams pulls no punches when it comes to admitting just how grueling the whole thing was to pull off.
“To say that my last year of law school, with a newborn and as a single mom, was a challenge would be an understatement,” Williams wrote in her caption. “Some days I was so mentally and emotionally fatigued that I did not leave my bed.”
Even Evelyn’s birth was no small feat. In fact, she was born right smack in the middle of final exams, when Williams could hardly take a break to usher her daughter into the world.
“I went into labor in April — during final exam period,” she writes. “I immediately requested an epidural so that my contractions wouldn’t interfere with my Family Law grade. And, with tears in my eyes, I finished it.”
Talk about one incredible multi-tasking mama.
Williams continued to balance Evelyn’s needs with her studies, and explains that securing childcare as a single mom was not always as simple as it sounds. There were times that her childcare plans fell through, and she even had to bring her daughter to class (and kudos to her professors who allowed this!).
“I struggled with reliable childcare,” the mom shared. “It was not atypical to see me rushing through Wasserstein to the Dean of Students’ office with Evelyn in her carriage, asking DOS can they keep her for a few until class was over. If not, she’d just have to come with me to class.”
If Williams sounds like a superhero to you, you are not alone. Thousands of commenters found her post inspiring, many of them single mothers themselves who know firsthand just how hard it is — even when you’re not pursuing a law degree.
But Williams is quick to point out that her reality is not always a picture-perfect, social-media ready one. She says her experience was hard and emotionally trying, and that at times, she doubted whether she would even be able to make it happen.
“I did not think that, at 24 years old, as a single mom, I would be able to get through one of the most intellectually rigorous and challenging positions of my life,” Williams shared in her post. “Instagram can make peoples’ lives seem seamless, but this journey has been heart-wrenching.”
But she got through. She made it. And she ends her post with a dedication to her beautiful daughter, in hopes that her experience will set an example for Evelyn in the years to come.
(Major tissue warning ahead.)
“Evelyn — they said that because of you I wouldn’t be able to do this,” the proud mom writes. “Just know that I did this BECAUSE OF YOU. Thank you for giving me the strength and courage to be invincible. Let’s keep beating all their odds, baby.”
If all of this wasn’t enough to leave you in a puddle of tears, Williams shared some even more awe-inspiring facts about her astonishing life in a follow-up post this week. She was born in a small town in Atlanta, as one of six kids — and the very first in her family to attend college. She also worked full-time in college to support herself financially.
But through it all, she says she never forgot where she came from, and what she struggled through to get where she is now.
“I found ways that I could appreciate coming from a disenfranchised background,” she shared. “I could look at the law through the lens of a black woman and (eventually), a financially independent single mother.”
So what’s the next step for this amazing woman? Williams has already secured a prestigious job at a law firm in Los Angeles, and on top of mothering Evelyn and working full-time, she expects that she’ll be able to accept some pro-bono work on the side.
While that might sound like quite a bit for one woman to manage on her own, if anyone can do it, I’m willing to bet this badass mom sure can.