A Mother’s faith

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - By Anony­mous

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!

Re­sources

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

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