True Resilience: Lessons My Children Will Learn Through Me Story
My name is Michelle and I am a single mother of three children ages 16, 12, and 5. I am raising all girls, so this really is something that is near and dear to me. I always knew I wanted kids, a husband, and a house. The typical nuclear family. When I was in my mid 20’s I recall telling my parents that I wanted to have kids and if I was not married or in a committed relationship by my late 20’s I was going to consider having a child and raising it on my own. Of course my parents objected to that idea. They tried to educate me on how expensive raising kids really are, but I did not listen.
I had my first child when I was 29 years old, not in a committed relationship and really had no one to be responsible for but myself and my daughter. I felt like it was going to be very easy compared to what my parents said. Well, all those things I thought I knew changed quickly for me. By the age of 31 I was pregnant with my second child and still not married. Unlike the first pregnancy, I was involved with someone and we were together on and off for almost 12 years. I met my youngest child’s father, and had known him for many years prior to us dating. We were together for 4 years and his drinking took a toll on our relationship. Because of this relationship, I really sat down and explained to my older two that this is not how a relationship works. He needs to provide for his family, spend time with his family, not go drinking night after night, and these are not healthy aspects of a relationship.
Just because you are in a relationship, does not mean that you have the support you need mentally, physically, or financially. Both my parents had passed away before my first child turned one, so I had no real family support with my kids. I no longer had the luxuries of going out to eat with friends or having drinks, or shopping for myself. Those things were over and the real struggle started. I was a single mother of three and I needed to provide for my family off of my now minimal income that covered rent, utilities, cars, insurance, food, and childcare. All the things that my parents warned me about are now becoming real. I picked up a second job that was seasonal off and on for three years just so I could have extra money for them to join sports or dance classes. [emaillocker] I was now receiving government assistance to provide for my girls, something I never thought would happen.
For me, raising my girls without their fathers in their lives was hard. They would sometimes ask questions about their friends. Questions like, “why does she have a daddy and I don’t?” became difficult to answer. Those are the voids you never wanted for your kids growing up. I always thought that no matter what, their dads would always be present in their lives. That was not true. For me I raised my girls on my own, so who they are, would reflect on me and my parenting skills.
I lost my job after 8 years when the economy was bad. For two years while unemployed, I would apply for jobs. I was always told my work history is awesome, but I needed a degree. At this time, I made the choice to start college at the age of 40. I needed to show my girls how important a college education is. I always enjoyed working with people, and had been working in the social work field. I enrolled in Human and Social Services. I am currently enrolled in my Bachelors in Social Work through Youngstown State University. I currently work at a domestic violence shelter as case manager; doing intakes, goal planning, court hearings, and evidence collection with sexual assault cases. I see even in my personal and professional career, the struggles women have raising kids alone. Being a single mother either by choice or not is definitely a struggle. I preach to my girls often “go to high school, graduate. Go to college, graduate. Secure a career your going to be happy and successful with, date someone, get married AND THEN have a family. Don’t rush being a mother like I did, learn from seeing my struggles”.