“I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.”
― Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom
The month of March is celebrated as Women’s History Month, frequently chronicling those women who have sacrificed beyond the norms of humanity in many aspects of society.
However, many women who have gave birth to and raised children have already sacrificed beyond the norms of humanity.
Often being a mother is the most priceless gift of human kind and their journey from beginning to end can be one of the most difficult, thus the concept of Women’s History is one that can and should be celebrated every minute of every day of every month and during every year.
LaKeisha James is a single mother, who after divorcing some eight years ago has the responsibility of caring for three children, two boys and one girl.
Born in Los Angeles, California and moved to Cleveland with her mother when she was just two years old, LaKeisha is a Cleveland native through and through.
She credits two women, her grandmother Evelyn Bayless and her mentor in the Young Scholars Program Linda Woodard as being the most influential people in her life.
A graduate of Law & Public Service Magnet High School in Cleveland, LaKeisha has always believed that education is the foundation to success in life. As an adult she has earned two degrees, one a Bachelor of Science in 2012 and most recently a Masters in 2015, both from Kent State University.
While those lofty individual achievements are most impressive, her most daunting and rewarding task has been the raising of her three children, all of whom are successful in athletics and in the classroom.
Her oldest child Jairad James, a graduate of Bedford, recently won the men’s Division III NCAA 174 pound wrestling championship for Mt. Union University in Alliance, Ohio.
The second child, Jordin James qualified for the National Junior College Athletics Association national tournament in the 133-pound weight class for Iowa Lake College.
The youngest of the three, daughter JKhai James is a freshman at Bedford High School and competes in track and volleyball.
LaKeisha, 42, has to perform a balancing act between attending each of her children sporting events, her job at Cuyahoga County Board of Health and worshiping at The Word Church.
Depending on the day of week, she could be exhausted from Jairad’s wrestling meet, to you Jordin’s meet in Iowa, often consuming the long drive from Cleveland with her daughter or even alone.
Her most recent birthday was celebrated at her daughter’s track meet.
“My children are my life and I live for them,” LaKeisha told the Call & Post.
Ask how her boys got involved in wrestling when most young men want to play football or basketball and she responded;
“I gave them the opportunity to participate in all sports and they just enjoyed wrestling. They were not influenced by anyone in my family.”
She recalled visiting her sister in Las Vegas and says JKhai was with her for every moment.
“She must have felt on cloud nine to be in the real Las Vegas at just 14,” she charmed.
When asked what the children’s favorite food was, he rapidly replied. “My macaroni and cheese.”
It is a ritual for LaKeisha to come home after a grueling workday and prepare a home cooked meal, of greens Mac and Cheese and fried catfish.
She doesn’t consider theses responsibilities as challenging, but rewarding and necessary.
Although, LaKeisha and her children father Ralph James does co-parent, it is in her DNA as a woman and a mother to do the heavy lifting. She is after all a mother.