May 21, 2013 by Vicki
I became a single mom thirteen years ago. I decided to leave my husband who lacked interest in being a father, a provider, or a partner. I moved into my parent’s house with my six-week old daughter, a laundry hamper full of her stuff, a car-seat, and a backpack of my personal belongings. I had not graduated highschool at this time. I was living with my husband in a tiny apartment in the not-so-nice part of town, and we were supporting ourselves on his disability pension.
After a month of living at my parents house, I decided that it was time for my daughter and I to get our own place. We moved in a month later, and struggled to make ends meet. For the first few months, we carried on as well as we could. I decided, at that point, getting a job was a necessity. I was collecting Ontario Works, and they had “exempted” me from the job search because I had a baby under eighteen months. I remember thinking, how is this possible when you are only giving me seven hundred dollars a month to pay for rent, bills, food, diapers, and all other expenses. I got a part-time job at a store, and worked long days. I would miss my baby so much I used to cry on my lunch break. I couldnt believe how my life had turned out. I was having a really hard time, going to work, missing my baby, and still not coming up with enough money to make things easier. Ontario Works took fifty percent of every dollar I earned, so it felt like I was working for nothing.
When my son was born, it was even harder to make ends meet, let alone sleep, or eat or have time to have a shower, with a toddler running around and a brand new baby. But I had a lot of support from my family, my aunt came by every day for the first few weeks just so I could shower and eat. By this time, I was living in geared-to-income housing which was fantastic! I’ll never forget one summer day, I was upstairs changing my sons bottom, my daughter was downstairs watching “Blues Clues.” I wasn’t upstairs for more than 5 minutes, and when I came back down there was no toddler. She was gone! She had managed to open the back door and decided to go for a walk. I panicked, obviously! Grabbed my son (who was 3 weeks old at the time) ran outside and started calling her name. A few minutes passed, which seemed like hours, and my neighbour from the end of the survey came walking up to me, laughing, and said that my 2 year old had gone down to her place to play with her son. I was so relieved and angry – I was beside myself. I must’ve been quite a sight, infant up against my chest, and my toddler scooped under the other arm, walking back to my unit.
I enrolled in the LEAP program through Ontario Works, which is a program in which they assist single parents to gain their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. They will assist with clothing, transportation, childcare, and support during your return to school. I attended an adult education center and worked my ass off because i was determined to have a better life for my kids and for myself. I graduated the following spring with honors, and other than the birth of my children, that was one of my proudest moments. Finally!! After everything that I had been through, worked at, and survived, I had finally earned my secondary school diploma!
So here I sit, thirteen years later. For the last eight years I have found and maintained employment at nursing homes after going to college for my Personal Support Worker certificate. I am now raising adolescent children, and trying to find out who I am, after over a decade being one hundred percent about my children. My kids are still my everything, but they are getting more and more independent everyday and that is how I have raised them to be. My daughter, who is thirteen now, thinks she is the mistress of the house, rules the roost, and thinks her mom forgets what it was like to be a teenager. She thinks it’s cruel and unusual punishment that I INSIST on meeting all her friends before she goes out with them, boy or girl. But I tell her that I need to know who she is hanging out with. We have dealt with cyber-bullying and ended that real quick. My advice on teen chat lines, is to keep your kids away from them at all times, Moms! My girl and I are the best of friends, and she can talk to me about anything, even though she doesn’t like it when I squirm, uncomfortably, when she talks about boys that like her.
My boy is still, and will always, be my baby. He is my little daredevil. He lives and breathes BMX’s and PS3. Now that the good weather is back again, I’m lucky to see him for more than 20 minutes before he’s out on his bike again. He’s my quiet one! He has discovered the sanctity of his bedroom, and the wonders of music. I’ll tell you, that boy is starting to grow like crazy, and so is his appetite. I’ll need another job soon just to keep his tummy happy.
Neither of their fathers have been around for a long time. We are doing ok without them. I have a wonderful family, who are all very supportive. When they say “it takes a village to raise a child” they were right. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my mom, my siblings, and my aunts if they weren’t there to fill in wherever or whenever I was unable.
My advice to any single moms out there….keep your heads up! Work your ass off and Love the hell out of your kids! You are the only parent they have. Last, but not least, when you are pulling out your hair cause they just aren’t listening, and you gotta get to the babysitter so you can get to work, so you can pay the bills and buy them Christmas presents; remember and cherish these times, because they prove when the going gets tough, YOU can do it! You have done it! You will continue to do it, because you are a single mom and that’s what us single mom’s do!!! Enjoy the hugs from your kids! Best payment you’ll ever get from any job.
This post was written by Sarah who also agreed to be interviewed in the video above. Thank you Sarah for sharing your experience and wisdom.