Thursday, May 6, 2010

What is it like for the moms?

Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday, I started thinking about all of the mothers, especially the single mothers, who are sliding into homelessness now.

A former co-worker used to call mothers and children the invisible homeless. You don’t see them pushing a shopping cart or sleeping out in the open on park benches or under bridges where their children are vulnerable. They stay with family or friends until they’re no longer welcome. Then they sleep in cars and go to shelters.

By the time a mom moves into our transitional housing, she has lost a lot of connections - with family, friends and even service providers. Those supportive kinds of relationships are often tied to the neighborhood. It’s really difficult to maintain the crucial ties that took time to form and anchored her children’s lives.

Most of our moms feel like they have failed their children. You see it in the flat affect on so many faces when they move in.

Then, they begin to feel like their kids are safe and life is stabilizing. Their coaches and counselors connect them with services for their kids. They go to lifeskills classes and start working with a budgeter. They begin to create new relationships when they make friends with other moms who are struggling with the same experience.

They do their kids proud. 47 moms moved their children into a home they bought when they graduated from the program. Myeshia got her GED and is enrolled in college. Cindy is getting her MBA. Stephanie is going to law school next fall.

And, their kids have done them proud. Jermaine is the first college graduate in his family. Stephen is finishing his freshman year in college. Julius had his choice of colleges, but is joining his big brother Stephen. Tiffany is one of the speakers at her high school graduation and someday wants to be an attorney and eventually a judge.

Happy Mothers Day to all of the wonderful mothers who have passed through our doors. To all of the moms facing homelessness now, hold on to the hope. To quote Jermaine, “Where you are, isn’t where you’re going to be.”