Leticia Anaya: Raising a boy in Los Angeles as a Single Mom
It all works out in the end
Leticia Anaya and her 9-year old son Emilio Zamir love exploring Los Angeles. They visit museums, parks and coffee shops. They attend festivals and go to Dodger games and Anaya who works as a special needs para educator loves documenting their adventures through her camera lens.
Her son's middle name, Zamir, she explains, means “song bird” in Hebrew and she affectionately calls him “my song bird”.
But reaching this enjoyable phase in motherhood was no easy journey for Anaya.
In her second to last semester at Cal State Dominguez Hills, she was rushing to class after work one evening. Zamir was crying, clinging on to her legs and asking her not to leave him behind. She felt terrible but the clock was ticking. She rushed out of the house and by the time she arrived on campus, she went to the student lounge and broke down.
“I started crying. I started saying: ‘I can’t do it anymore,’ I couldn’t breathe. My heart was beating really fast. I was ready to quit." recalls Anaya.
She was having another anxiety attack. The soft-spoken single mother from Lynwood was overwhelmed by life and the many demands of juggling school, work and raising a boy on her own. Plus, she was in the middle of a difficult four-year custody battle with her son's father.
“Sometimes we would hug and cry together,” says Anaya of the days her and Zamir were going through the uncertainty of what the family judge would rule. Thinking back, she feels going through a custody battle has been one of the most difficult things she's had to face.
“I just remember thinking to myself ‘I can’t quit' and I would pray,” she adds.
In 2007, when she was 21, Anaya put college on pause when she became pregnant.
She was diagnosed with Hypermesis Gravidarum, a condition where an expectant mother suffers severe morning sickness throughout the three trimesters. Her pregnancy didn't reach full-term.
Zamir was born prematurely and kept in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit until his lungs fully developed.
Today, Zamir is a happy, healthy young boy who is very respectful towards his mom and has demonstrated a keen interest in science.
“I always say, I had such a tough pregnancy physically, but then I got my reward because he’s such a good boy,” says the proud mom.
When Zamir was 2 years old, Anaya became a single mother. But she has been very fortunate, she says. Her parents have fully supported her and stood by her side through it all. And watching her graduate from Cal State Dominguez Hills with a Bachelor's Degree in Child Development was a proud moment for the entire family.
Now she's getting ready to begin a Master's Degree program.
Her advice to other single moms in Los Angeles is to keep pushing forward, no matter how difficult the road may be.
"Motherhood can be difficult regardless, let alone when you're doing most of the parenting alone, but it's also very rewarding when you know you've accomplished all you've set your mind to as a single parent."