I've been working and thinking about mothers a LOT lately, especially single mothers. For my thesis work I've done interviews with single mothers who are welfare recipients, and I recently finished analyzing the transcripts (moving on to writing the thesis!). I think about them constantly, and ache to use my education to benefit them.
I feel so blessed to have this time to learn from the women that I've interviewed. I can't help but think that I could have been any of them, if I was born into a different family. I just finished analyzing an interview for a woman named Mary (not actually her name, she picked it as a pseudonym). She is amazing. She is strong and courageous and a MOTHER. She has 6 children, and is 40.
She grew up with a stepfather who was an abusive alcoholic. He wouldn't let her mother work, so he sent her and her siblings to work in the fields. After school she'd go to the fields and pick onions with her younger brothers and sisters, and then they'd sleep in the fields. They'd wake up in the morning, go to a little house her parents shared with her uncles (yes, her PARENTS lived in a house!), shower off, and go to school smelling like onions.
Her mom eventually left her dad, and they moved to the southwest and at 15 she started working in a meat packing plant to take care of her 4 younger brothers and sisters. She went to school until 10th grade, and had several abusive boyfriends and husbands. She always provided for her family, though, and worked difficult, long hours. She kept them off the streets and always made sure they had enough to eat. When she had her last 2 children, she decided to go back to get her GRE. She was working 2 jobs, and was also taking care of 6 kids, breastfeeding, and attending night classes for her GRE.
One of her daughters has 2 kids, but her boyfriends is a drug addict and has been in jail. She told her daughter she needs to leave him and get a job, and take care of her kids: " I said I went to work. I had 2 f--- jobs. I went to school, and still you had a roof over your head. I didn’t get assistance, I didn’t have help from nobody. From nobody. I did it by myself. You know, why can’t you f--- do it by yourself now? You know. And the ones that are watching us are your kids. Like you watched every single thing that I did. I said, tell me when we lived in shelters. Tell me when we were sleeping in cars. Tell me when we were without a home. You tell me when. Never. I said, you know why? Because if I had to sell my ass to give you a f--- gallon of milk, I would! Because that’s how much pride I had for myself. Ok, your dad didn’t wanna be there? He knew you were there, but he wanted to be running around doing drugs, doing this, you know, I don’t need the bullshit. It’s hard. He wasn’t getting up a 4, 5 in the morning when you had diarrhea, when you had a fever and I had to take you the doctors for your allergies. He wasn’t there. He wasn’t there when you got up and walked, you know?"
She didn't use ANY government assistance until 2 years ago, when her back problems made it so she couldn't work.
My heart is so full when I think of her. She is so level-headed and fair. She seems so hardened & her language is course, but it was also strong & confident. She loves her children with a fiery, firm, unquestioning passion.
I've also been thinking about single mothers because we're almost done with all the adoption paperwork, and are about to do our homestudy (which is a huge step, the ppwk has been HARD). We've already had incredible answers to our prayers and miracles. I feel so blessed to be a part of adoption. It doesn't feel like a trial to be adopting, it really feels like a blessing, instead! I can't stop thinking about it, about what to put for our answers on the paperwork, about these mothers making such difficult decisions, and praying for them, and thinking about the children, and praying for the children. I am so excited to increase our family, not only by one baby, but by that beautiful woman, our birth mother.