Table of Contents
- Message from the Editor
- Meet the Contributing Writers
- Christmas – The Meaning Behind the Celebration
- Word Search – Cozy Fall Findings
- The Death of A Marriage – Part 3
- Book Nook
- Becoming A Caregiver – Embracing My New Reality with Love & Grace – Part 2
- Beyond Average
- Ten Inspirational Quotes Which Focus on Mind, Body & Spirit
- Single Parent – Transforming the Mindset
- Word Search Key
A Message From The Editor
After a long and hot summer, we are finally beginning to enjoy some crisp fall mornings. Fall is my favorite time of the year. The varying hues of burnt orange, red, green, and yellow greet us on our morning walks. In the evenings we enjoying gazing at the clear night sky as a thousand stars twinkle above.
Enjoy those moments of sitting snuggled by a fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate. Or chats by a firepit with a warm cup of apple cider, or traversing through the trails on a nature hike. All these small moments tell the story of our lives. Make it an epic story of adventure, faith, and more happiness than tears.
As the holiday season is quickly approaching, before the hectic dash of preparing large meals at Thanksgiving and the shopping frenzy associated with the Christmas holidays, take the time to exhale and just enjoy the blessings of another year, family, friends, and the gift of God’s grace.
There is still time to join our Greece trip in 2023. See the link below for additional details.
Happy Reading – Bernetta
MEET THE CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Bernetta Thorne-Williams is the author of several romance novels including From Dysfunction to Love, Forever Love, POOF, Etched Upon My Heart, and others. She credits her travels with her amazing husband, of over thirty years, as the inspiration behind her stories of enduring love. Bernetta has displayed her writing talents in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including Chicken Soup for the Working Mom’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Beach Lover’s Soul, and Chicken Soup for the African American Women’s Soul. She is currently one of the moderators for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Facebook group which hosts inspirational content from writers and positive enthusiasts from around the world. Looking for a romantic read? Visit her author’s page
Jane Rhoe is retired with most of her professional experience in health services management. She has worked as a consultant with various hospitals, state governments, and other health-related organizations. Jane enjoys traveling. Her happy places include the beach and the mountains. Her other interest includes volunteering with community organizations and boards. Jane is most passionate about her growth as a follower of Christ. She is the survivor of a painful divorce and is healing one day at a time. Jane is proud of the strength and independence that she has cultivated during this journey. Jane is a native North Carolinian. Drop Jane a note at this link.
Jacqueline Allen isa retired civil servant who has dedicated over twenty years of her life to a project near and dear to her heart, Women I Know (WIK). WIK serves women in the Washington, DC area by providing personal hygiene items to women who have fallen on difficult times. This grassroot effort which began with just a handful of friends during the Christmas season has grown into a year-round mission. A mission which extends far past the items in a bag. It is calling is to help women know the unconditional love of Christ. WIK seeks to minister not only to the physical needs of homeless women and those living in shelters, but also to their spiritual needs. In addition to personal hygiene bags, WIK currently offers a clothing boutique once a year, all free to assist women with taking charge of their lives. If you would like to donate to WIK, please contact Jacqueline at this link.
Ronnie Moore is a native of North Carolina. She was raised in a small, close-knit household where she learned the value of hard work and family early on. She is a graduate of Meredith College, where she received her degree in Accounting, with double minors in Finance and Economics. While she has not had the opportunity to utilize her background to the fullest, she has spent most of her professional career working in financial services as well as state and county government. She has also spent many years volunteering at hospitals, counseling youth and working with the elderly.
Ronnie has always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. From the time she understood what it meant to earn a dollar; she would find a way to do it. Some of her early ventures in business included: home cleaning services, selling goods, and landscaping. If she could do it, she would. Currently, she is working to launch her own body care line, Belle Crave Body. With over 10 years of working to perfect her craft and learning how to utilize nature’s medicine to heal, she is finally ready to share it with the world. Her hope is to make everyone love and feel beautiful in the skin they are in.
In her spare time, Ronnie likes to read, write, draw, and binge watch Netflix. She aspires to grow deeper in her relationship with God, as she knows she has only made it this far by His grace and mercy. She is no stranger to hardships or hard work, but with continued faith and perseverance she will become the woman of God she is meant to be. Drop Ronnie a note at this link.
Natalie Huckins is a mother, grandmother, and entrepreneur. Originally from Upstate New York, Natalie and her three children moved to North Carolina twenty-seven years ago and settled in the Triangle. Last year, Natalie moved to the coast where she decided to resign from her full-time job and work solely on her business. Leaving the corporate world behind has afforded Natalie the opportunity to fully embrace entrepreneurship. With the grace of God, she has watched as her business has gone allowing her to set the trajectory for this next chapter of her life.
Natalie has a passion for writing, photography, and nature, oftentimes using her photography skills to capture the perfect moment at weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations. Next to her children, and grandchildren, Natalie states her three dogs are the love of her life.
Natalie worked several years in affordable housing and with those experiencing mental health challenges. Her years of experience in these fields have given her insight into the world’s “invisible” population, which in turn has helped her grow as an empathetic, caring advocate for such people. Natalie also enjoys doing crafts and has dedicated her life to being the best person she could be as a child of God. Drop Natalie a note at this link.
We believe everyone has a story. Allow us to help you share yours. We are actively seeking articles between 800 – 1,200 words for our January 2023 newsletter. Articles containing hatred, profanity, or a political perspective with not be accepted. Please submit articles along with your contact information to Bernetta by November 30.
Additionally, are you an author? We would be happy to promote your book in our next newsletter. Send a link to your book to the link listed above and we will review it for inclusion in our next newsletter.
CHRISTMAS – THE MEANING BEHIND THE CELEBRATION
Christmas, the holiday evokes happy memories for me. The smell of fresh apple pie as it drifts through the house, the twinkle of lights upon the tree, family togetherness, laughter, and of course presents. My mom, no matter how exhausted she was from work, always made Christmas a feast. In conjunction with the outward celebration, mom was a spiritual person, as such we knew growing up that Jesus was the reason for the season long before it became a ‘catchphrase’. Like most homes of the 70’s, we had the picture of Jesus walking on the water hung proudly on the wall and a Bible visible. I grew up loving the holiday. Those things contribute to my fond memories; however, they are not the reason Christmas is my favorite time of year.
Despite the warm feelings associated with the holiday, Christmas has become commercialized and reduced to gift bags and ribbon boxes nestled, or stuffed under the tree. December 25th is the day we have selected to celebrate the birth of Christ. Granted, that date is an educated guess. Although, it is widely understood that there were no birth records kept at the time of Jesus’ birth and some would argue that the shepherds in the field herding their sheep would indicate that Jesus was likely born in the spring. However, the symbolism behind the meaning of Christmas remains – it is the date society selected to celebrate that Joy was born into the world in the form of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Christmas was made an official federal holiday in the United States on June 28, 1870. There are an estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the World according to World Atlas, which makes Christianity the largest religion on earth. With those numbers you would think that people would stop attempting to X “Christ” out of Christmas. Every time we say or acknowledge Merry Xmas, we are removing Christ from the holiday. Every time someone says Happy Holiday instead of Merry Christmas, we are removing Christ from Christmas. We have no problem wishing others a Happy Valentine’s Day or Happy Halloween, yet the thought of saying Merry Christmas bothers some. It just goes to show that after all these centuries the name of Christ still intimidates some, yet for others it is a name of hope, joy, forgiveness, and eternal peace.
For the most part, however, there is a warm, fuzzy feeling which accompanies the Christmas. People tend to be a little kinder, patient, giving, and jolly. So much so that, in 1933, a group of campers from Keystone Camp in Brevard, N.C. decided to dedicate two days (July 24 and 25) to the holiday.  Although the original intent of the campers may have been to bring the joy of Christmas to those missing their families in the warm, humid months of summer, Christmas in July has absolutely nothing to do with Christ. This mid-year celebration of capitalism further distorts the true meaning behind Christmas. It further monetized the holiday which, at its core, is meant to unite people through the joy of the Good News of Christ’s arrival to reunite a broken world with a very real and loving God. Instead of celebrating the best gift ever, salvation made possible, we flood the stores or order massive amounts of toys/electronics/jewelry, and gadgets to celebrate the day.
To further add insult to injury, society introduced another personality to the holiday in the form of the jolly old fat guy, Santa Claus. Santa Claus’ origins can be traced back to the third century, with St. Nicholas, a monk who was born in the country known today as Turkey around 280 A.D. He was known for his generosity. The legend of St. Nicholas was brought to America by Dutch settlers in New York. Approximately, 100 years later Santa Claus transitioned to Kris Kringle as gift giving entered the mainstream for kids of all ages. Stores began advertising Christmas shopping in 1829, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which featured images of the Santa Claus.”
This fantasy of a happy, gift giving guy further removed Christ from the holidays. Our culture would rather adorn a tree, string lights around the house, and spin a web of marvelous storytelling about a bearded man in a red suit instead of honoring the true sentiment behind the holiday.
As we prepare our feast and shop for more things unneeded, perhaps we can take the time to put Christ back in Christmas. Read the story of the birth of Christ as written in the gospel of Matthew and Luke: Matthew 1:18-24, Matthew 2:1-12, Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2:1-21. Bake a birthday cake with your child(ren) in acknowledgement of Christ to enjoy with your other goodies, attend church, enjoy family, and recognize that the meaning of Christmas cannot be found in a box, under a tree, or with a gift card. The true meaning can only be etched on our hearts as we give thanks for the grace, love and mercy provided to all of us because of the birth of Christ.
COZY FALL FINDINGS
THE DEATH OF A MARRIAGE – Part 3
27 May 1972
19 July 2019
Slowly unraveling, our relationship was very rocky after my former husband’s (MFH) comments expressing doubts about the continuation of our marriage during a silly argument about the grocery store. Although I pressed, he never gave me an explanation of why he said, “We cannot continue like this.” I even gave MFH permission to leave. Nevertheless, after hurt feelings scabbed over, we morphed back into a comfort zone and never spoke of that incident again.
MFH worked an hour north of our home and I, an hour south. I was director of a state-wide health program and he was an executive at a federal company. Operations at his company ran twenty-four hours seven days per week. My official schedule was Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 p.m. He worked varying hours most Saturdays, Sundays and some holidays; even though he had many levels of employees (supervisory and managerial). One would think a “workaholic,” at his level would not think he had to physically be there. I had a very hard time with that because I was spending the weekends alone, and we hardly traveled or had an active social life. Heck, he did not think it necessary to attend my office Christmas party! Did MFH go to any job-related special events with me? No, not one! Surprised? Of course, you are not. Spouses were expected to be at his company’s corporate events despite where they were held in the country, and I would dutifully attend.
Embarrassed, I went solo to my work functions while others’ partners may have not wanted to attend, but they did. Tension prevailed during the time leading up to events. It was as if my feelings were not important to him. I was always asked about him. As he always blamed work for his absence; so, did I. However, we would have strong disagreements about his lack of cooperation, efforts to honor my requests and participation in my work-related events. The excuses ranged from the oldest in the books, “not feeling well” or “I am tired” to “timelines for reports.” His honesty, “I do not want to go,” hurt no less. I got tired of it and stopped asking. I finally started telling myself, “There are no perfect marriages, and this is one of those things on which we are not going to agree.” I also chalked it up to him not being a college degreed person and perhaps he felt insecure around my colleagues.
A telling example of MFH’s lack of regard for my feelings and/or needs followed my Mama’s death from congestive heart failure (CHF) in 1995. Her heart specialists told me that due to her age over 80; it was nearly impossible for her to get a heart transplant. I was also told that she most likely had a year or two at most to live. I requested a family meeting so the doctors could explain this unthinkable news to my sister (her main caretaker) and my brothers. MFH asked if I wanted him to attend the meeting. “Yes,” I replied. I asked him, “Do you not think I need your support?” Silently, “Really, do you have to ask? What do you think?”
Labor Day weekend 1996 all of us were home except our brother in Africa. We had a great time with lots of laughter, great food and pure joy. The night before we left, our son and I sat in Mama’s room chatting with her. I finally told him, “Go to bed because it is the last night I will have with my Mama.” I had no idea of the gravity of that statement. He reluctantly left. We talked about nothing significant, but then she asked me, “Are you happy?” With my voice several octaves higher and a quizzical expression, I answered, “Yes, of course I am. Why are you asking me that, Mama?” Instead of answering my question, she then asked me, “Why?” Not happy in the least with this inquisition, I answered, “I have a husband with a great job and we provide well for our family, blessed with our son, etc. Further, a wonderful Mama and Sister and “okay” brothers.” With that she let me off the hook. We kissed goodnight and I went to bed.
About 2:00 a.m. Mama called out to me. She was awfully sick. I woke the household. MFH called emergency medical service (EMS) and a brother called our sister (who lived across the highway). I prayed with Mama while I dressed in her room. Then I held her and continued to pray until EMS arrived. My sister rode with her in the ambulance while the rest of us followed. We were ushered into a small conference room and after what seemed like forever, a doctor came to talk to us and disclosed Mama’s passing. We were stunned! I started psychotherapy a year before Mama died. It probably helped, but nothing can dull the pain of hearing the doctor say and trying to process that she was dead, or the pain I still feel from time to time.
At about 4:00 a.m. we returned to the house in shock and disbelief – very numb yet experiencing the worst hurt in my entire life. We called our brother in Africa (seven-hours ahead of our time) and he started making travel arrangements immediately. MFH started packing and told me he was going back to check on things at work and would return in a couple of days! Of course, I gave him the third degree accompanied by tears. In “extremely blunt” language I told him he did not care about me, plus a host of other things. The absolute worse day in my life and he was leaving me and his son to take care of work several states away! So MFH left with my family asking, “Where is he going?” With disbelief and incredulous looks on their faces, they looked at me.
Stay tuned for Part IV of Death of a Marriage in our January newsletter.
Written by Jane Rhoe
POOF is Promises. We have all made them. Some we honor and keep and others we forget and dismiss. However, a deathbed promise to your father is a promise of a different sort. One that should not be entered into lightly; especially when that promise has the potential to offer redemption. POOF (Promise on Our friendship), a childhood word created by a devoted father and shared with his only daughter becomes the catalyst that leads Samantha on a journey into her father’s past and careening into her own future.
Chicken Soup for the Working Mom’s Soul:
Whether you work full time or part time, in an office or from your home, or are a stay-at-home moms Chicken Soup for the Working Mom’s Soul is for you. The stories found in this heartwarming book are from women who, day in and day out, juggle and balance their careers and their families. Whether it’s a busy day at the office, followed by music lessons and baseball practice, preparing dinner, or helping with homework, then snuggling and tucking in the little ones, life for a working mom is a busy one. But it is also an enriching and rewarding life, and the stories shared in this book by working moms will show you that it’s not important to be ‘Super Mom’ all the time, just some of the time
Chicken Soup for the Working Mom’s Soul: Humor and Inspiration for Moms Who Juggle It All (Chicken Soup for the Soul) by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51IYOcH4k8L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
BECOMING A CAREGIVER EMBRACING MY NEW REALITY WITH LOVE & GRACE – Part 2
We had no idea that in just a few short years, our lives would change forever. In all life’s changes, please include taking care of yourself. Caregiving often sneaks up on us, and changes our lives forever. But it is not always because of a spouse, like in my case, who became ill. It could be a number of many situations… a sick child from birth, a devastating accident walking to the mailbox and a car running up on the curb, a rare disease at a young age, a stroke, a slip on the floor… etc. You never know. Nor is it always long-term care, again, like in my case, it may be short term care and you just know that no matter how tiring, your focus is all on your love one without a moment to think of taking care of yourself.
Again, in my case, its long term, my husband, who we will call Mr. B, suffered several mini strokes, as well as a significant stroke over the years. I would encourage anyone who is in long term care to please! please! take care of yourself.
At first it was subtle changes for me. I was doing more of the driving. (This was traumatic for me; Mr. B did nearly all the driving and I missed it tremendously even to this day!!!) So now I am the driver! Also, I found myself in charge of major home projects like roof repairs, foundation issues, home generator… routine maintenance like yard, repairs, appliances, finances, as well as car maintenance (I never had to take my car to the mechanics, or get car tags or inspections.). Now I do. I started noticing more missteps with Mr. B, not seeing friends as much, conversations were changing with Mr. B. There were numerous shifts in my thinking, my attitude, my understanding, my prayers, how I saw myself, and how I saw others.
In my younger days, I was referred to as a strong Women. Right!!! A divorced mom, having to be the responsible one, sometimes working two jobs, the fears of failure, and the seemingly bigger than life responsibility of taking care of myself and two sons, but I had youth on my side. I was young!
Now older, mid-sixties to be exact, “No Spring Chicken” to say the least, here I go again finding myself having to be the responsible one, but this time not for children but for a husband who came into my life over 30 years ago, a good husband in fact, best friend, and a great dad to my two sons at the time. Although we are now 6 children in a blended family, I so often think about that guy, a vibrant Mr. B, who once took care of us, now here I am again, the responsible one taking care of him. It somehow makes it easier that he was there for me thirty good years before.
Also worth mentioning, unlike in my younger days, I know my strength lies in God, not in me. It lies in wisdom and life experiences. I know I have limitations! No matter my heart’s desire. Caregiving is too much for me alone, and my best guess is that it is too much for most to tackle it alone, so accept help. Seek help! Wisdom has taught me to humbly embrace the nuggets of help, as well as the strength and wisdom that I receive from others. Wisdom has taught me that God’s Grace and His timely Mercies touches willing hearts and places them in my path for which I am so humbly thankful!
Music is one of my secret weapons, a gift is what I really call it. There is lots of music in my head drowning out unwanted thoughts. There is music in the house for wake-up time, shower time, get things done time. I often find myself dancing around to good music and God’s Grace as we get through another day. Sometimes my husband may show a little teeny tiny sign of getting into the groove… those are the times my heart smiles. I also listen to lots of inspirational messages anytime and anywhere on my iPhone or tablet, at home or out and about. I need to keep nourishing my spirit so I can be in a good place both mentally and spiritually to take care of myself and my myriad of responsibilities.
I am evolving into what taking care of myself looks like. Each of us caregivers have to discover what encourages our spirits. It is unique and personal for each one of us. I know you have heard it, everyone tells the caregiver, “Now You Be sure to take care of Yourself.” Has anyone heard that? So, I have decided to take better care of myself on purpose. I carve some “Me time” out for guess who? Me!
As you know music is huge for me. I do things like take showers, almost daily, by candle light and music, making a little time and ambiance just for me. I started walking 51 weeks ago. The walls in the house were literally closing in on me. A girlfriend was God sent, and has been walking with me every step of the way. The children started sponsoring a home care aid three days a week for four hours a day just six months ago. A blessing that I so desperately needed, yet could not dare ask for. Remember what I said about God touching the hearts of others and placing them in your path.
How do I end part two of caregiving when there is no end, we get up and do it all over again and again. I could vividly write the heartbreaking details of what a day in the life of this caregiver looks like from stripping the bed in the mornings to tucking my husband in at night, knowing that this is life for me now, and that come morning I will do it all again. And for some, there are challenges or little rest all through the night. We caregivers each have our own story, … we each our own journey.
On your journey, I will ask you to consider two key questions and embody them in your mind, and in your spirit. Question number one, “What does taking care of yourself look like for You?” And two, for all those well-meaning family members who vow to be there for you… ask “Hey, what does your help look like for me? God Bless You. Hang in There!
Written by Jacqueline Allen
What exactly is the perfect size for a woman (at least by societal standards)? A new study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education reveals that the average size of an American women is now between a 16 to 18, according to Revelist. That is an increase from 10-year-old data that indicated most women in the U.S. were a size 14. I remember being a size 16 and I was considered anything but AVERAGE. Overweight, obese, fat, plus size, big boned – but AVERAGE, absolutely not. Even with the average size being a 16, the ideal perfect size woman has the measurements of 36-24-36 (aka, what the Commodores considered a BRICK HOUSE – you know the song). While I am no “brick house,” or the American standard of “average,” I am who I am and I am learning to love all of me, one day at a time.
Growing up as a “big girl” was not easy. The name calling, the teasing, the mocking, the being the butt of everyone’s joke really takes a toll on your mental health. In your mind, you know your body type does not define you as a person and deep down you know just how dope you really are. But for some reason, you allow the opinions of others to deem you as inadequate and spend much of your childhood into adulthood never feeling good enough. It does not matter how much your family hypes you up (they are supposed to, right- that is your family). Or, how your friends stick up for you and tell you to stop feeding into what others say about your weight. The only thing you can focus on are the constant body shaming remarks. They repeat in your mind like a record player on a loop. You stare off into a gaze replaying the very moment, the very words and physical feeling of how it all made you feel. Just torturing yourself, over and over again. And for what? To give people the power to steal your time, your joy, and your mental peace (SMH (shaking my head)). I cannot tell you the countless nights I cried myself to sleep. Hating how I looked on the outside. Letting my weight determine my abilities and worth in this world.
Now, I cannot say that I no longer allow those things to bother me. Even now, in 2022, with all the body positivity campaigns and larger body individuals speaking out and demanding acceptance in this world, I still allow comments from my past to have influence over my life. But I am learning accountability. No, I did not ask to be teased and tormented. But I did allow them access to my peace and the power to project their opinions of me on to me, which has affected how I see myself in life. I allowed them to make me build up walls around myself to cope and not let anyone in. I gave them my focus and stopped doing the things that made me happy. I gave them my voice, so I find myself avoiding social settings where I will have to hold conversations, meet new people and just be seen. I gave them my light. But me taking accountability for what I allowed is a step towards healing. It is a step towards breaking down those walls and challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone and letting this world see me – really see me. See me for my good heart, my great personality, my intelligence, my beautiful soul and all the greatness I have to offer (just wrapped in a well-padded package).
So when it comes to being average or the perfect size, by societal standards, I am anything but – and that is okay! I do not want to be average, nor do I want to be perfect. God did not create me to be average, but He created me to stand out. He did not create me to be perfect, but to grow and learn from my mistakes and to be imperfectly me. AND I LOVE ME, despite the number on the scale, or the size printed on the tags in my jeans. It took me a long time to love me for me and accept who I am in this present moment. And even though I am on a health journey and working on myself, I can finally say, I am doing it just for me and not to appease anyone else. I am rewriting the script to my life and from now on, there will only be one narrator, and that is me.
Written by Ronnie Moore
TEN INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES WHICH FOCUS ON MIND, BODY & SPIRIT
- “Action expresses priorities,” by Mahatma Gandhi.
- “Mediation is not spacing out or running away. In fact, it is being totally honest with ourselves,” by Kathleen McDonald.
- “Body language and tone of voice – not words – are our most powerful assessment tools,” by Christopher Voss.
- “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship,” by Thomas Aquinas.
- “If you are still breathing, you have a second chance.,” by Oprah Winfrey.
- “Contentment is the greatest form of wealth,” by Acharya Nagarjuna.
- “You don’t need someone to complete you. You only need someone to accept you completely,” by an Anonymous Author.
- “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future,” by Corrie Ten Boom.
- “When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up,” by Les Brown.
- “Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained,” by Arthur Somers Roche.
Visit our website for daily motivations Luminous Inspirations
SINGLE PARENT: TRANSFORMING THE MINDSET
Single Parent – What comes to mind when you read those words? Be honest. Most people automatically see a female anywhere between the ages of 22-42. She lives in a house that is somewhat disorganized, but manageable. She is multi-tasking and is hurried. Her hair is always in her face as she races to keep up with her minor children. She is sincere in her efforts to meet the demands and needs of her children while trying all she can to help her children “fit in”.
Erase that image.
According to a Pew Research Study in 2019, Americans have almost a quarter of households that are single parent homes (23%). In comparison, China, Nigeria and India have much lower percentages of single-parent homes, 3%, 4% and 5% respectively. Canada is not far from America with 15% single-parent households. In the majority of cases, the primary parent is the mother.
So, what is it we are doing or not doing? The 2022 Census shows less marriages and an increase in births outside of marriage. Enough statistics. That is not what this article is about. So, now that I have your attention, I will share my experience as a single mom.
It was not supposed to be this way. I got married almost directly out of high school. I married what I thought was a responsible, handsome, military man. I was more than a little excited to travel across the country from New York to California to live with my new husband near the Air Force base. We had not known each other very long, but the preacher always told us to marry instead of live in sin. He preached that we would fall in love after the wedding. I foolishly believed that. Needless to mention, I became a single parent within eighteen months of our marriage. I was pregnant and had a nine-month-old son. I had no job, no home, and no source of income at all. My soon-to-be ex, lived with his parents, rent-free and worked only when he felt like it. He never contacted me to see how I was doing, and he told anyone who would listen that the child I was carrying was not his. Oh, how I wished that were true! Decades later, he remains a selfish, wannabe player.
Throughout the pregnancy my son and I lived with a variety of family members. I had one large suitcase that held our meager possessions. My parents were divorced and each of them allowed me to stay with them briefly. I was fortunate to have several siblings with whom I stayed for short periods of time. After the birth of my daughter, I lay in the hospital, not knowing where I would live. Fortunately, one of my sisters heard about a loft unit and she secured it for me. I left the hospital and went to that unit with my son and newborn baby girl. During the pregnancy I had gotten on welfare for medical insurance, food and supplemental rent. It was humiliating and degrading, but I had to feed my children.
Over the years, we were forced to move a lot due to increases in rent, poor living conditions, loss of a support system, etc. However, that only made me more determined to improve our lives. I enrolled in college and worked two jobs while raising my children. It took several years to complete my degree, but I finished it and continued to work even harder. I had no hand-outs and had to practically fight for decent, affordable housing.
All of that is why I feel a sense of rage when I hear people using their single parenthood as an excuse as to why they are failing to live up to the same expectations as everyone else in this world. No one put a gun to anyone’s head to choose their partner, have children or choose certain jobs. Being a single parent is not a disease or excuse and should not be used as one. It is an insult to the children to use them as the reasons their parent is not fulfilling his or her obligations, whatever they may be. Our children should not be the excuses why we fall short, but rather the reasons why we rise to the occasion. Our status as parents is usually a choice and does not entitle us to certain liberties or relieve us of obligations that are expected of others in this world. Single parenthood is not a badge of honor and none of us deserve any more praise than two parent homes. If anything, it is often more difficult for two parents to come to agreements regarding the raising of their children. It should be no surprise that very few adults agree on everything in every situation.
It troubles me when a person throws out their single-parent status as if it should give them sympathy or a “free” pass that others would not receive. We are supposed to be equal in every respect and that includes being a single parent. If I could transform the mindset of every single parent, it would be to give them mine when I raised my children. People used to ask me, “How do you do everything you do while raising your children alone?” My response was always the same; “It is only because of them that I am able to do it.” They were my blessing, my strength, my purpose, my determination and my joy. But never, ever were they, my excuse.
Written by Natalie Huckins
We hope you enjoyed this edition of the newsletter. Look for the next release in January 2023!