By: Carrice Wong
The ‘White Rabbit’ days:
The to-do-list grew longer and my shoulders tensed so high they almost reached my earlobes. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath and that my teeth were clenched until my jaw felt bruised and I had a moment when I finally exhaled. How was I going to find an apartment without rental references? How was I going to find a job when all my work experience was a decade ago? How was I going to take care of my child now? The initial anxiety when separating can feel similar to being caught in a whirlpool; where the ends and beginnings of tasks seem to blend in a swirl of mixed emotions. I felt like the ‘White Rabbit’ from Alice in Wonderland not knowing if I was coming or going and some days when nothing made sense I felt frightened, overwhelmed and alone.
They aspire to assist, empower and inform single moms so that we can best support our children and ourselves:
Thankfully, there are support workers in our community for newly single mothers like Jennifer Bateman, YWCA’s Single Mother Support Services Co-ordinator. I had the genuine pleasure of discussing the many services that she and her colleagues are able to connect single mothers to throughout Metro Vancouver all the way to Abbotsford. They help make the transition into single parenthood feel smoother and support mothers individually or in groups, as well as provide avenues for finding affordable housing, childcare, employment, low cost groceries and legal aid. There are also programs in place for mothers and children fleeing abuse.
After our conversation, I not only knew about services available to me that I had not been aware of before, but I also felt safer and more confident in myself. Speaking with Jennifer was like calling a knowledgeable Aunt who cared about my well-being and wanted to guide me without judgement. She wasn’t going to hold my hand like a child, but instead treated me with dignity and respect and at the end of our discussion I felt like I was a capable adult. What a relief it was to find a place where there are Jennifers only a phone call away.
A frozen lasagna bubbled away in the oven and my daughter set a Rubbermaid bin with the paper plates and plastic cutlery I had picked up at the dollar store. We were going to eat our dinner like Lady and the Tramp she said. I looked around at our rental apartment and felt at peace for the first time in a decade. That was when I felt my shoulders slowly drop. I relaxed my jaw and exhaled as if I had just surfaced out of the depths of the ocean. That night we camped out on the floor cuddled up in our sleeping bags with a forest of brown boxes around us. I cannot remember the last time I had slept so sweet.
“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley
We can weave our world into what we desire; like a delicate spider-web with infinite connections and paths. Sometimes, our journey seems like it is at an end when it can be a beautiful new beginning. The biggest lesson I am learning is to ask for help when I need it and make connections with other single parents and advocates in our community. The challenges in this life are easier to roll with when shared. I hope you will visit the following sites and explore some of the options available to help make the transition into the single parent life a little lighter.