Motherhood at the Center

I recently had the opportunity to sit with the women at RLCC’s Motherhood Support Group and hear about some of the issues they are facing. Being a mother of young children myself, I know firsthand how challenging it is, even with a strong family network and a wealth of resources at my fingertips. Without these resources, it seems nearly impossible. Thankfully, REAL Life is providing resources and support for women in our community who are trying to raise young children despite significant barriers to their success.

Chelsea, a mother of five young children with two more on the way, has her hands full and says she needs all the support she can get. Chelsea grew up in foster care after her mother gave her up when she was just eight months old. Despite repeated attempts to earn her mother’s love, she grew up witnessing her mother raise her other biological children while continually rejecting Chelsea. It is clear when listening to Chelsea talk about her own children that she has chosen to go in the opposite direction of her birth mother and is making sure her children have no doubts about just how much she loves them.

T., currently eight months clean, is trying to repair her relationship with her grown children from whom she has been estranged because of her drug use. She is also trying to honor the legacy of her son who died as a direct result of her drug use. She wants to “be a beacon of light” to her children and to others. She is struggling to find her purpose—she says she is not sure why she is at this motherhood group since she is not currently in the thick of mothering, but here she is. She is hoping to share her experience so that others do not have to go through what she did.

H., also a mother of grown children, has found her way to the group and seems slightly unsure of her place here as well. She is, however, raising a nine-year old boy named Joshua who is not her blood relative. She struggles with resentment toward his birth mother for abandoning him, and she often feels uncertain about her role in raising him. Yet she feels called to mother him and love him as her own.

Chelsea assures both of these women that they have a place at this table. She credits T. with bringing her to the group. “T. is everything to me,” she says with tears welling in her eyes. She assures H. not to underestimate her role in Joshua’s life. Chelsea says that the love she received from a particular foster mother overshadowed her birth mother’s rejection and was more important to her than the fact that her own mother did not love her. The connection between these women around this table is palpable. They are all helping each other find hope despite the significant challenges they are facing. Chelsea is able to articulate T.’s and H.’s purpose, which they are struggling to do themselves.

In Oprah Winfrey’s recent segment on 60 Minutes about the power of trauma-informed care, she interviewed Dr. Bruce Perry, one of the world’s leading experts on childhood trauma. When Oprah asked him what makes the difference between people who are able to overcome trauma and those who are not, he said the key factor is relationships. There is no doubt that the relationships these women are forming at RLCC’s Motherhood group are a crucial part of their journeys to transformation, recovery and stability. And, what’s more – if I witnessed this profound moment of connection during my short visit, just think how many similar transformational connections are occurring at the RLCC every day, week, month and year.

~Guest Blogger and RLCC Volunteer, Katie Morris