i find myself thinking a lot lately about the time in my life when i worked with mommas and their kiddos living in shelters.
i think about these moms when i make an impulse buy for cute shoes for my kiddo – shoes she surely doesn’t need but i can’t resist.
i think about these children as i am crafting with my C.
i think about these families when i am eating on the couch.
i think about them when i am taking my kiddo to an event that costs a small (and unreasonable) fortune.
i think about them when i see my kiddos dad playing so lovingly with her.
and i feel so sad. it is not fair that in this life, little people and their mommas must endure such pain and struggle. that some dads choose to hurt thier kiddos moms.
but when i think of them most is when i am having a hard day with my C. when she won’t go to bed, or when she is having a stage 10 tantrum, or when she is sick, or when i have a migraine, or when she is just crabby and so am i. i think of all the rules and guidelines we had in the shelter in the interest of child safety. supervision was one thing that we always seemed to be talking about.
so and so isn’t supervising her 5 year old, so and so wrote all over the wall because his mom wasnt watching him. is that so and so in the playroom without her mom. all things we needed to address. i think now if i was one of the moms i was speaking to, i would have wanted to shake me. i get it now. i have pen on my walls, while i was online, my C snuck downstairs and emptied the entire bookshelf. i do not always have eyes on my kiddo. i get it now. i would want to shake me too.
please don’t get me wrong, guidelines are necessary. but with our rules, i don’t think we factored in hard-momma-days or cranky-kiddo-days. or just regular i’m-raising-a-2-year-old-days or mom-is-also-a-person-and-needs-a-minute-to-breathe-days.
i love how i worked with families, both the children and mothers. but now that i have my own kiddo, there is a different in my gut understanding that i just didn’t have before about how hard it is for moms. as a child and youth counsellor, working over 10 years in shelters, i know the impact of trauma, i understand how abuse impacts mommas and thier kiddos, and i have seen the challenges families have in shelters. these are rightful challenges. no home, loss of one parent, limited to no income, little control. anyone would find it challenging. i certainly would.
so this is what i want to do over:
i want to offer to do the mommas chores every now and then.
i want to ask if i can hold her baby so she can take a shower, read a book, go online.
i want to reduce the scheduled programming and just be available for her.
i want to bring her a coffee when she is sitting outside with her children.
i want to clean the highchair for the mother who has just fed her baby herslef and 3 other kids. better yet, i want to clean up the whole table.
i want to advocate that a family of 5 gets 2 rooms rather than sharing 1.
please dont interpret these do overs to be based on pity or sympathy. if anything they are based on how strong i know mommas are, and how little they ask for help.
i just didn’t know what the kind of help was that would have really made a difference til now.
for me, i don’t get a do over because my time working in the shelters is over (for now at least while im home with my own kiddo). i am lucky now though that i have the opportunity to shape future child and youth workers through my teaching. and will share my do overs and hope that at least one momma in a shelter gets a coffee brought to here every once in a while, or has a bonus unplanned 20 minutes of peace in an otherwise chaotic time.
[image sources linked through images]
[ p.s the remaining 2/3 of purple eggplant will be popping up in posts on the blog soon ! ]