November 03, 2011

Single Parenting | A Time to Give

Many of you know that I don’t often talk too much about my personal life on here, since this is a hair website after all. That being said, from time to time I get the itch to share a little more and today is one of those days, so I’m going to get personal for a brief minute…

Last week my hubby was out of town on business, leaving me home flying solo with all six kiddos {actually, six children + one teenage nephew who is living with us}. Those who know our family can certainly vouch that life is always crazy {read: insane} at our house when my hubby is gone! The evening carpools he normally helps with land squarely in my lap. The adult talk I enjoy after a long day of kiddie conversations is… gone. The bedtime routines become longer since he mostly manages that, and the homework he normally helps with is fully mine to do after a long day’s activities.

I had been struggling for three days at that point to keep the weekly “logistics” schedule going without incident, and had very little time to myself to do pretty much anything I wanted to do or to even relax.  There just wasn’t time.

When last Wednesday rolled around, in the midst of single parenting, I was patiently waiting in my car for my twins to come out of their dancing lessons while simultaneously trying to keep my “littles” entertained. {It was a carpool I don’t normally drive since my hubby picks them up on his way home from work.} I’d been sitting in the car for an hour because the traffic is so bad {thank you UT freeway construction} that it did not make sense to go home just to turn around and come back, although we only live 5 minutes away. That’s when I received one of the worst phone calls of my life. It went something like this…

Officer: “Is this Mindy?”

Me: “Yes.”

Officer: “This is Officer ______. I received a complaint today from one of your neighbors about your son _____. Your neighbor claims that he was left outside for too long unsupervised, was playing in the road, and didn’t have any shoes on.”

{I couldn’t remember the policeman’s name because I was still processing the title “Officer”, wondering if my hubby was kidnapped or killed in Mexico City, and trying to process the instant shock of his statements.}

Me: “What?” {Creative response, huh?}

Officer: “Was your son outside today? Was he unsupervised?”

Me: “Yes my son was playing outside today, in the front yard with a neighbor boy for a little while. But both of us moms were checking in on them often and every time I saw him he wasn’t anywhere near the road.” {I live in a cul-de-sac with nine houses, so there isn’t any through traffic}

Officer: “Did he have shoes on?”

Me: {with a now shaky voice} “Honestly probably not… my son has a sensory disorder from birth, so he cannot stand to have anything covering his hands or feet. We put shoes and socks on him every day, but by mid morning they are always off and lost. Pardon my ignorance… but I wasn’t aware that there was an ordinance or law about children wearing shoes outside.”

Officer: “No, but your neighbor was obviously worried about his feet being cold. It is a chilly day… I mean I even have a jacket on today.”

Me: {Still confused and trying to process the situation, knowing that one of my neighbors is essentially indicating that I am an unfit mother, I became quite unsettled.}“I dressed my son for the weather. Did my neighbor tell you my son had on a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and long pants? It is a Fall day… but he was dressed for it.”

Officer: “Look Mindy, I’m not saying you are not a good parent {although that is exactly what the whole neighbor/police situation seemed to indicate}, and I’m not here to tell you how to parent. I’m just here to inform you that we received a complaint, and that if we get another one… we will have to open a case with Child Protective Services.”

Me: {Completely stunned, emotional, and with nothing better to say} “OK… thanks.”

After I hung up the phone, I then proceeded to spend the next two hours bawling my eyes out, reviewing the timeline to see how this could have happened. I mean, who could possibly think I was an neglectful mom???? Are you kidding me? Involving the police, who was just doing his job, or Child Protective Services is targeted for people who beat or verbally abuse their children, sexually molest them, chain them up in the basement, and starve them. I mean, calling the police because my son was playing outside on an early Fall day with no shoes on??? Any mom will tell you that this is very NORMAL behavior for a 3-year old.  My children are loved, clean, well fed, cute hair, taught, involved, well adjusted, respectful, and, of course, bicker at each other like most other sibling sets.

I have my own insecurities about being a wife and mother, but I have never been neglectful or abusive. We have adopted twice… most recently finalized with our last daughter two months ago. Everyone knows that the adoption process includes State and Federal background checks, including social workers strictly analyzing our parental, personal, financial, spiritual, and emotional history.

I called my hubby to let him know what happened, only to learn that he was very sick in Mexico. Poor guy, and there was absolutely nothing much he could do to console me from there. Needless to say, that day wasn’t a highlight of my life!

We all know a single parent, and perhaps many of you are single parents. {I know we have hit a striking chord with many single dads out there with our Daddy ‘Do hairstyles, because they have written in the most wonderful and thankful emails along with beautiful photo recreations of our styles.} My older sister was a single parent for several years, as were/are a few of my best friends. Our two birthmothers were single moms, both struggling severely to rise up above the stereotypes and be able to provide a better future for their other children. Our last birthmother is currently doing all she can to finish her college degree, which we admire greatly.

Being a single parent is tough work, as my week proved to me.  I marvel at those who have the courage to maintain their lives and better their personal situation, as well as those of their children, without the help {for all their various reasons} of a significant other. I don’t know that I could do it.

Just last Friday, while still in single-parent mode, I attended a Mommy Blogger conference, which was organized by LDS Philanthropies. I was so excited to meet other moms like me, who share their passions and humor online! They are a unique type of women, with extensive reach, and definitely have a special knack for sharing life-learned lessons.

LDS Mommy Bloggers

It was not only a delightful afternoon {I laughed till my cheeks hurt, getting to meet these wonderful women}, but a very uplifting one as well.

LDS Mommy Bloggers

You see, LDS Philanthropies brought us mommy bloggers together to ask for our help. Its mission is to look for worthy causes and then support them by organizing fundraisers where 100% of the proceeds serve that cause. Just last year, it worked to provide assistance after the earthquake in Haiti.

As a new initiative for November 2011, the organizer talked of a scholarship program for single parents in conjunction with LDS Business College {LDSBC, click to read more about the program}.

The organizer then introduced us to Megan, a very sweet single mother. It was truly inspiring to hear Megan’s story, as she shared her journey and struggles in trying to provide financially for her daughter, while going to school to make her long-term future better. See Megan’s story below:

 

As I sat there listening to Megan speak, it occurred to me that my pity party feelings since that Wed’s phone call really took me fully out of perspective. I mean, I’m lucky enough to have a college degree, stay home with my kids, have a good husband who helps in the home, and the ability to provide for our family.

Many single parents like Megan struggle every day to get to a place that I totally have taken for granted.   To hear her state at the end, about what she would say to those anonymous donors who helped fund her tuition… it was so sweet and emotional, and more than a little humbling for me.  I want to help others like Megan!

Did you know???

  • 28% of children now live with just one parent.
  • 40% of children under 18 experience a parental breakup.
  • 90% of single parent families are headed by females.
  • Single moms with children have the highest poverty rates.
  • 60% of children living in mother-only families are impoverished.
  • Single moms are more likely to be poor because of lower earning capacity.
  • Single moms median income is only about 25% what a married couple make.

Those are some crazy statistics? Very sad stats, actually.

When we asked the program organizer about the goal of the scholarship program, they asked if we could gather $7,200 collectively, since that would be the cost of funding a full 2-year scholarship for one single parent. The college is currently aware of 45 single parents in need.  Yes, $7200 will change one of those single parent’s lives FOREVER!  This reminds me so much of the story below, and I know you have all heard it…

 

So I’m happy to announce that for November we are joining the ranks of a lot of other mommy bloggers who are trying to raise scholarships for single parents like Megan. With this being Thanksgiving month, isn’t this a great way to show our support and love for these amazing people?

I, for one, know of the power of moms and daughters and their networks as we watched our fanbase explode the voting for CuteGirlsHairstyles in YouTube’s May 2011 “On the Rise” contest. I am hoping that CGH and our readers alone are generous enough to donate $7,200 {if not more} so that we can say that we collectively sponsored a single mom in bettering her future, as well as those of their children. Will you help me?

You’ll notice I’ve added a new widget to my sidebar {and in this post} where you can securely donate. I have donated personally, as have my parents, and many siblings and friends. If you have ever enjoyed one of our hairstyles, please donate what you can.  Even $1 will make a difference. Then, if you were touched by Megan’s story as I was, feel free to spread the word. You can grab the widget and share it with your own followers and fans, or simply hit the “share” button.

Let’s help give these wonderful, single parents the chance to create a better future for their families. Although we may not be able to help all single parents worldwide, you will most certainly be helping at least one!

Happy Hairdoing!

* Note from Mindy: Don’t forget to follow us on BlogLovin, a new easy-to-use blog reader!