NORMAN — Mother’s Day is a day for recognizing and appreciating mothers and the attributes that make them special, and for Martina Lottie, those attributes are strength and perseverence.
Soft-spoken with a calm demeanor and ready smile, Lottie’s exterior masks an iron resolve which has sustained the single mother and her six children through years of homelessness.
“I never gave up,” Lottie says of those days. “I kept my head up and we got through it.”
Lottie arrived in Norman last year with her five children — the youngest of whom was a newborn infant — and an adopted younger sister, seeking shelter and aid through East Main Place.
She is now in a stable situation with a job and bright future to look forward to, as she prepares to get her GED and Nurse Assistant certification on scholarship through Moore Norman Technology Center.
“I’m excited, I’m looking forward to having a better job and being able to provide for my children,” Lottie said.
A native of Oklahoma City, Lottie’s challenges began at a young age, when she lost her mother at the age of ten. Home life was difficult, as Lottie described family members who were abusive and younger siblings who needed her care and protection.
“I was set to graduate from John Marshall High in 1998, but I was missing three credits and couldn’t make them up,” Lottie said.
During that time, Lottie lost a sister, stuggled with a health problem and later became pregnant with her oldest child. She began working odd jobs and migrating through homes of friends and siblings.
“We stayed in one or two bedroom apartments for periods of time and would get evicted when the management found out how many of us were living there,” Lottie said. “I was afraid of the shelters in Oklahoma City because they were always full and I didn’t feel my children were safe there.”
In spite of her uncertainties and fears, Lottie has happy memories of spending time with her children.
“Birthdays were fun, I’d take the kids swimming and when I had some money saved we’d go to Golden Corral which was their favorite,” Lottie said. “I love seeing them happy.”
When asked what she hopes her children learn from her, Lottie joked “that they don’t need boyfriends” but firmly said to stay in school.
“I hope my children seek education after high school so they don’t have to go through what I went through.”
To mothers encountering similar difficulties to Lottie’s, she says to do the same thing she did.
“Never give up, keep your head up. I have six children and no high school diploma, and if I kept on, so can they.”