A Mother’s faith
Ihave a story to tell, and I hope that it changes the way you see those who might be struggling in life. I am a single mother. Wow! Surprisingly it’s not a term I hear myself say very often. It is what it is. I am a mother is more the way that I see it. The fact that I am parenting alone does not negate that fact. But there is a bit of a stigma surrounding being a single mother isn’t there? Especially the single mother, who finds herself suddenly in a trap, one which feels like all of the doors to opportunity have been closed.
When my child was young, I made a decision. My partner and I decided to part ways, and I made the decision to leave an established household, to quit my job, and move closer to home. It was a tough decision, and it came with many sacrifices. I found myself facing a number of challenges. Here I was a single mother, I had no car, I had no license in fact, I now had no job, and I had no childcare. How can one work if they have no childcare? How can one acquire childcare, when they have no car? You become bombarded with negative selftalk: “but I can’t access this because I don’t have this, I can’t access that because I don’t have that. Where do I start?” I called all of the daycares that were within walking distance, and I waited. I called every 6 months, just to be sure I stayed on that waiting list.
Two years passed. Two years on waiting lists for childcare. After two years, you start to see yourself a bit differently. Now you actually start to identify as this person you hoped you would never be. You’ve become incredibly frugal, you are thrift shopping, you have figured out how to eat relatively well on a small budget, you’ve nearly maxed out your credit, and by now, you have tapped into multiple amazing resources. I remember the first delivery I had from Fondation Rock Guertin. Cheery men came to my door around Christmas time, with 7 boxes of food. I cried. Strangers. Strangers had donated these things to help me and my child! What a beautiful world it was! I remember my first contact with the Lennoxville and District Women’s Centre. They gave me a bag of food, and a gift card to buy more groceries. I cried that time too, and asked them if I could write a letter to someone to thank them. They said the donations came from the community. I remember the presents from the Sherbrooke Fire Department that were delivered for my child. A big box! I wrapped them all up, and hid them under the Christmas tree, “from Santa.” Much like lyrics from the song “I will buy you a new life” by the band “Everclear,” no one dreams of their child having to have a welfare Christmas.
At this point you wonder if your circumstances will ever change. You start to cringe when you run into old acquaintances who ask “what are you doing these days?” You know that that directly translates to, “where are you working,” because so many people attach employment to identity in our culture. You feel judged, whether or not you are. You start to feel like others see you as having no value in society.
And then, finally, a good break. A spot opened in one of those daycares within walking distance, that I had been phoning for two years. As much as I loved being home with my child for those two years and being able to teach all the things that I felt only I could, it was time to knock on doors and reach out to more resources! I contacted a local employment organization, to discuss employment / education opportunities, and I was coincidentally also seeing a social worker to receive psychosocial support. I contemplated a return to school. Boy did that sound scary. ‘Wouldn’t I be in an incredible amount of debt after?’ The employment agent informed me, that the Quebec Loans and Bursary Program worked very differently than I had imagined! Only a very small portion of the financial assistance was to be considered loan, and the bulk of it would be a bursary. Suddenly, the prospect seemed much more feasible! The social worker encouraged me to explore the program that I was interested in. She said “I know you can do this.” I had no idea what made her so sure, but I never forgot those words. She had faith in me, and her faith lit a flame within me.
I returned to school. It was tough! It was a lot of work, but I was motivated. I dreamt of the job I wanted to one day have, and I dreamt of the life I wanted for myself and my child. A few years later I graduated, degree in hand.
Along the way, I didn’t notice the little goals I was achieving, one at a time. A good friend taught me how to drive, and I got my license. Then I got a car! All the obstacles, the challenges standing in my way, one by one, I overcame them.
Today, I am working in a job I absolutely love, where I can help people. Life continues to throw curve balls, but I am equipped to swing at them. I am exactly where I want to be. I hear people talk about single moms sometimes. About the trap that we can fall into, and I want to tell them there is hope! Empathy is paramount. Yes obstacles can make you feel like all of your paths are blocked, but what helped me, was learning that there are opportunities out there that many single moms are not aware of. Someone wise once told me, “OK, I want to hear about the problems, but then I want to hear about the solutions.”
If you know someone who is struggling, remind them that even though it might feel like there are no opportunities – THERE ARE, and although they may feel that they have no power, THEY DO. My story is about a single mom, but I think the same can be said of anyone who is struggling. It can be hard to pick up the phone, to humble yourself and say I need help. But, sometimes, you are the giver, and sometimes you are the receiver. There are opportunities out there, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local resources to learn what they are. And I have faith in you!
Townshipper’s Association: FREE referral to English services in the Eastern Townships WEB: http://townshippers.qc.ca/ PHONE: (819) 566-5717 (toll-free 1 (866) 566-5717) EMAIL: [email protected]shippers.org
Job Links: FREE employment-related services for the English-speaking population of the Estrie region WEB: http://joblinks.etsb.qc.ca/ PHONE: (819) 566-2422 E-MAIL: jo[email protected]
Fondation Rock Guertin: Christmas Basket request (French form): https://rockguertin.com/demande-depanier/
Cornerstone Food Bank: Situated in Lennoxville https://hcclennoxville.ca/food-bank/
The Lennoxville & District Women’s Centre: Resources and services for English speaking women in the Eastern Townships PHONE: (819) 564-6626 EMAIL: [email protected] FACEBOOK: LDWC