Editor's Note: This story originally said Lucien was born in Florida. It has been changed to say he was born in Muncie.
At nearly 5 a.m. every morning, Kileah Adkins’ alarm — a small voice full of more energy than she’ll have all day — sounds from beside her bouncing in bed waiting for mommy. She no longer needs to set the alarm on her phone each night because her son consistently wakes up around the same time every day.
Pancake crumbs and drops of yogurt — Lucien’s favorite — shower his lap and the floor as he sits independently in his highchair, never once picking up his spoon. Adkins tries to help her stubborn boy as she finishes her fifth cup of coffee, but he refuses.
Each morning he thinks getting dressed is a game, running from mommy so she can catch him. She hoped to be out the door by 8 a.m., but she is just now putting on his shoes.
He’s gotten better at going to preschool without clutching to her leg, but sometimes he can still be reluctant to go, drawing out mommy’s hug as long as he can.
Circling the commuter lot beside the Jo Ann Gora Student Recreation and Wellness Center four times and getting lucky enough to find the last parking spot in the far back corner, Adkins finally makes it to campus, headed to class, already exhausted.
Kileah Adkins follows the same routine every morning as she tries to balance raising her 3-year-old son, Lucien, and all of her other responsibilities in life.
She and her son live in a small, income-based apartment, close to work, Ball State and his preschool.
“I won’t lie — there are days when it gets rough,” Adkins said. “Yes, we are struggling right now because I’m a poor, single mother, but I try to push myself by seeing the big picture. I’m miserable now, and I can stay that way the rest of my life, or I can push through for two more years and be able to give Lucien the life I want for him.”