A strong family is only as good as its support system. Through my journey as a single mother I have learned a lot about my fears, my weaknesses, and my strengths. I used to worry a lot about how people saw my children. It wasn’t about me, the former teen mother, the girl who goes out with her kids and still looks like the older sister; it was about the children of this young, single mother. I worried if people at school felt bad for them because there was no father on their emergency contacts card. I worried if they were seen differently by their friends because grandma picked them up when I couldn’t make it and dad never came to any of their games or school activities. I wondered if the doctor thought I wasn’t smart enough to understand when they talked to me during our visits. I worried a bit too much.
As my children have gotten older, many of those fears and doubts have begun to subside. Looking back now, I realize that I have met so many people who have been supportive of me and my decisions. People who have taken the time to educate me, to teach me, to help me be a better parent and pass along lessons to my children of what a healthy, strong family looks like. Today, I’m no longer scared, and I no longer feel powerless. I have the confidence to approach others and ask for help. I have the confidence to take my kids to the park and not worry about what other parents think. I have the satisfaction of coming home every afternoon and knowing that my little family is as strong as ever.
I am grateful for those who take the time to hold our hands and guide us in the world. I am glad that there are support systems for families who face many of the doubts that I faced. Who acknowledge that they don’t meet the unrealistic standards set by society but are willing to do anything to ensure their families hold the one thing society doesn’t place enough emphasis on: the unbreakable bond of communication, respect, and love. If you were to ask me today who helped me build my strong little family I would in a heartbeat answer it’s people like you. Those who believe that while we took a detour, we are still human beings with the same desire as everyone else: to make our children (and ourselves!) happy.
The support of organizations that continuously work to improve the lives of families like mine are doing what they envision – helping us and many others. I’m a supporter of volunteers, of policymakers, and of those community leaders who are able to connect with us and who fight for the services that help us find the road to self-sufficiency. I am grateful for their genuine interest in families which with time will yield a better society. I am grateful for having had that help to accept that I am capable of building and maintaining a strong family. I am grateful for finally feeling like a proud mother, and grateful to have such a strong village helping me in raising my children.
Lisette is a proud mother of two, and advocate for young mothers, for families of children with disabilities, and abused women. Through life's experiences she has learned to appreciate those who have helped her, and has learned to share her stories to help others.