2017 was really a dope year for me. It wasn't easy, but it was lit. After having gone viral with the "My God Today" videos, I went viral for a completely different reason. I asked the Croom Five (my siblings) to take pictures at Thanksgiving. It's very rare that all of us are at home in Birmingham at the same time. The stars aligned and everyone was coming home for Thanksgiving that year, so I asked Danny Austin of Danny Austin Photography if he would come and photograph us. My mom was busy cooking and said she didn't want to stop her progress in the kitchen to do a photo shoot...understandable.
The following week, I posted one of the pictures with a caption just summarizing what we all did and thanking God for blessing us. I'm still not exactly sure how the photo became a meme, but I woke up the next morning and my notifications had blown up! It was being re-posted by several big IG pages and even some celebrities. People were in the comments arguing about how we probably weren't really related and about how they called me an "eye doctor" and not an optometrist. (I don't mind being called an eye doc, by the way.) People were getting heated and fighting over whether or not we had student loans...it was the weirdest, most random thing ever how people had so much trouble believing that a positive image of a black family was authentic (but that's another conversation for another day). On the positive side though, I had some parents who messaged me and said that they also had five kids and the picture gave them hope for their children's bright future. I had teachers who contacted me and said that they were going to blow the picture up and post it in their classrooms. This photo went even more viral than the "Wipe Me Down" video.
I'm proud of my siblings, and I'm grateful to our parents for keeping us in church, for making sure we always had what we needed, for moving us into and out of dorm rooms, and for supporting our dreams. I will always remember how my parents took me to the UAB Optometry School Open House when I was only in high school. I hadn't even gone to undergraduate school yet, and I was the only high school student there, but my parents took me anyway and let me learn about the profession that I had been talking so much about. I'm grateful to my mom and dad, but most importantly, I'm grateful to God for keeping five young black kids away from the many pitfalls and obstacles that often plague our community.
Some of you may have seen the viral picture before, but in case you haven't, here it is...
Between the five of us, we represent 9 total degrees, 3 doctorate level degrees, 4 HBCUs, an Attorney, an Army Captain, an Optometrist, an Instructional Design Technologist, an Electrical Engineer, a College Professor, two Published Authors, and have given my mom seven grandchildren so far. We are all about 2 years apart and in our 30s.
Our family was never perfect, but we did/do have a praying mother. She worked full time for most of our lives, but always found the time to pray for us. Sometimes I'd wake up in the middle of the night confused and feeling something dripping on my forehead. My mother would be randomly anointing my head with oil and praying over me. She would tell me to just hush and go back to sleep.
Them prayers be working y'all. If you have kids, please be their prayer warrior. I now anoint my own children's heads when they sleep and pray God's protection over their lives.