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Lisha Taylor & Leah Freeman: “Seeing her and seeing how strong she was – I feel like that made me into the woman I am today.”

Mom Lisha Taylor, left, and daughter Leah Freeman, right, smile into the camera. Lisha has an arm around Leah's shoulders.
Becca Newton

Yesterday was Mother's Day.

So, this week we hear from Lisha Taylor and Leah Freeman, a mother-daughter duo who spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in February.

As a single mom of five, Lisha believes in always showing her kids love. Together, they discussed the importance of family in their household and about the power of a mother's love.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Lisha Taylor: I have five kids. This is my oldest one, and my youngest is nine – eight?

Leah Freeman: She eight. She’s turning nine though.

Lisha: Yeah, she’s turning nine this year. So, I did a good job as a single parent, but –

Leah: I think being raised by a single mother really formed who I am today because, you know, I didn't have that male influence, you know what I mean?

So, seeing her and seeing how strong she was – I feel like that made me into the woman I am today, and she's still a single mother with five children, and she's just teaching me a lot and teaching me how to be a strong, independent black woman.

So, I feel like that's very important, especially in today's society to have a mind of your own. Everything like that. So, she's my biggest influence for sure. She's very helpful. She's so sweet. She's so strong, and I love that.

Lisha: Thank you.

Leah: You’re welcome.

Lisha: I became a strong mother – it started as a child. I didn't have the right upbringing. My dad wasn't there – an alcoholic, and my mom wasn't there. So, yes, I was basically in a house of people but had to raise myself.

"It was so so important to me – I don't care how many kids I had. I don't care if times got hard. I still show my kids love as being a single mother."
Lisha Taylor

So, I told myself that when I become a mother, it is very important to me to show my children what love is because when you grow up in society today – a lot of kids are not shown love.

And it was so so important to me – I don't care how many kids I had. I don't care if times got hard. I still show my kids love as being a single mother.

Leah: Yeah, because if you don't [get] shown love, you're gonna go looking for love in all the wrong places – whether that's, you know, in the streets…

Lisha: Mhmm. That’s what I done.

Leah: …and relationships, you know? You won't love yourself. I think that's also important because if you don't love yourself and people are seeing how you treat yourself – you're just teaching them how to treat you too. You know what I mean?

So, if you're like disrespecting yourself – and she taught me that – if you're just doing whatever, just giving yourself up – people are gonna look at you and be like, “I could do the same thing to her,” and that's why I feel like it's important.

So, she did show us love. A lot of love. Sometimes she embarrasses us in public.


Leah: Just kissing on us and hugging….

Lisha: And?? They’re my kids. I brung them all into the world.

Leah: My mama – she started out with it. So, we all have like a really good relationship. We're all close. Like if somebody were to go stay the night at somebody's house or be gone for a couple of hours.

Lisha: Yes – because we’ve very close. And I taught them that – we’re all we have.

So, you know, being as there’s’ no father in the home, we are close.

Let me back up – we are still a family, and we have to stick together. So, like if you see my other children, you will be like “Wow, we are so close.” We cry together. You think I’m lying, but when one’s crying, everybody's going crazy in my house.

Leah: All of us.

Lisha: That's how close we are.

Katie Quinn works for Missouri Business Alert. She studied radio journalism and political science at the University of Missouri- Columbia, and previously worked at KBIA.
Becca Newton is a student reporter and producer at KBIA. They will graduate from the University of Missouri in spring 2022 with a degree in Multimedia Convergence Journalism and minors in Peace Studies and History.