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For Mother’s Day
One mother’s struggle against overwhelming odds and her amazing success story

by David Moore
Q-Notes staff

At home with the Partlows: Carricka, Jeannette and Tobias.

Jeanette Partlow is a single mother of two. Her children, Carricka, 15, and Tobias, 12, know their mom dates other women and they don’t have any qualms about it.

Partlow’s odyssey — from realizing her sexual orientation at a very young age, to being a successful professional and home-owning mom at the age of 44 — is a long one. Once an existence full of pain and constant setbacks, her life today is brimming with the energy of a vibrant family, a deep faith and an outstanding career with Bank of America, where she works as a Product Analyst.

Partlow recalls being aware of her attraction to females while being a student in elementary school in Charlotte.

“I identified very early on — around the age of nine or 10,” Partlow says. “When I was growing up we lived next door to a lesbian couple. I don’t think I really understood that at the time, but I was drawn to them and they were drawn to me. We were friends.

“I had my first relationship with another girl when I was 12 or 13,” Partlow continues. “We were trying to think of it as just a very close friendship, but, of course, it was more than that. Later on after school she got married. I was trying to understand why she did that — because I knew she was a lesbian. Eventually I came to understand that it was because of family pressure.”

Partlow eventually succumbed to the same pressures and would marry briefly while serving in the U.S. military. “It didn’t work,” she says matter-of-factly. “I knew it was what everyone around me wanted, so I thought maybe I could make it work, but it just wasn’t possible for me.”

Add to Partlow’s challenges with her sexual orientation a drinking habit that began at the age of 13 and a crack cocaine habit she picked up in later years, things were starting to look pretty gloomy for the future.

“I had girlfriends and boyfriends on and off over the next several years,” Partlow recalls. “Even though I didn’t really find myself sexually attracted to men, I just considered it a necessity, part of my using journey. They could provide me with something I needed and I could give them something they wanted.”

Partlow’s drug and alcohol usage continued to escalate, even during the pregnancy of her first child. The relationship she shared with Carricka’s father came to an end, but left her with a beautiful and healthy daughter and a drive to get her life in order.

“I wanted to get off the drugs and stop drinking, but I wasn’t strong enough yet,” Partlow says quietly.

Her habits would also see the end of a long-term relationship she shared with another woman. “She just couldn’t take it anymore,” says Partlow. “I was clean for years before I could get over her. She was very special and it’s taken years to get over.”

A near death experience finally prompted Partlow to get help.

“I met these guys and we were partying,” she recalls. “So we went back to this hotel room and they jumped me. I don’t know if it was some kind of gang initiation thing or what, but they really hurt me.

“They stomped on my face. While they were holding me down I heard one of them say ‘give me the pistol I’m gonna’ kill her.’ I thought that was it.”

Fate intervened on Partlow’s behalf and her attackers relented — apparently leaving her for dead.

Partlow, however, managed to escape and get medical attention.

“I survived. But my face was so messed up. I looked terrible. I didn’t want my daughter to see me looking like that.”
While Carricka stayed with her father’s mother, Partlow went into a treatment facility.

For the next three years Partlow stayed clean. She gave birth to her second child — Tobias — and for a time, things were on an upswing.

“But then I moved back to the neighborhood I was in before. Around that environment, I started using again.

“At some point I came to my senses and realized I couldn’t continue to live like that,” Partlow says of her return to drug use.
Once again, she sought out help from a treatment program.

“This wasn’t the same kind of program I was in before,” she says. ”I was required to work and I won the chance to be a part of this apprenticeship program. That’s when my life began again. I’ve been clean for 12 years now.”

Today Partlow is fulfilled being a parent and having a successful career and home life. “I have two beautiful children I love, I have a house and two cars and a great job.”

When it comes to relationships, Partlow insists she’Il never settle for a compromise. “They have to beat me or met me at the table emotionally, spiritually and physically,” she says. “If it doesn’t feel like love, I’m happy to be by myself.”

The Partlow family regularly attends services at Unity Fellowship Church on Eastway Drive. “It’s a very welcoming environment and we feel comfortable there.”

As for Mother’s Day, Partlow looks forward to spending time with her family. “My son, Tobias, always likes to cook for me on Mother’s Day, so I’m anticipating something special. I have two very special kids that love me and accept me for who I am. I feel really blessed.”

Did you know that?

President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium, which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.

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