It wasn't supposed to be this way... It wasn't

 

It wasn’t supposed to be me!

It wasn’t supposed to be me….mowing the lawn by myself so the kids could have a childhood.

It wasn’t supposed to be me….updating the house to gain equity so I could sell it for a profit. Or not at a loss.

It wasn’t supposed to be me...raising three kids without a daddy. A daddy who wants nothing to do with them.

It wasn’t supposed to be me …..stretching the paycheck to cover the necessities. the must dos.  the “please mommy’s”, the school bills. the vet bills. The medical bills.

It wasn’t supposed to be me …..considering getting a home security system because the kids were afraid of him.

It wasn’t supposed to be me….disciplining the kids when they needed it.  

It wasn’t supposed to be me….explaining to my boss why DFS was calling them.

It wasn’t supposed to be me….answering DFS’s questions before they asked them, because they had visited me that many times.

It wasn’t supposed to be me..sitting with his family without him, so my kids could know their grandparents.

It wasn’t supposed to be me….explaining why their daddy didn’t want to see them.

It wasn’t supposed to be me…..trying to be both parents.

It wasn’t supposed to be me…afraid of the person that I chose as my husband, the father of my children, my best friend for life.

It wasn’t supposed to be me….questioning every thing I do. Am I a good mommy?

It wasn’t supposed to be me…helping other moms go through the same thing, but not the same thing.

It wasn’t supposed to be me. It wasn’t supposed to be me. It wasn’t supposed to be me.

It wasn’t supposed to be me. But it is.

-MAMW

Behind The Mask-Recap from 5th Annual Valentine's Banquet

This past Saturday night, February 11th, 2017, SingleMomzRock held our 5th Annual Valentine's Banquet. Over 100 single mother's got glammed up and arrived with smiles on their faces. They were escorted to their table by gentlemen with roses in hand. We cater them dinner, have a photographer take their picture, they get to listen to live music and mingle with other single mom's. It's truly become the biggest event for single moms in our area. 

Our theme this year was "Behind the Mask". It actually was thought of when several moms from our group headed to a conference last summer in New Orleans, and we were in the shops browsing and thought that a masquerade theme would be a perfect fit. Fast forward six months and we are coming up with a name for the banquet. We always try have a theme that will able us to minister to the moms as well, but I had no idea how different this year would be.

Also during that time in New Orleans, my dear friend Alaina McCauley messaged me saying she really felt like she should share her story with other single moms. A former single mother herself, she had been through all the battles and felt like it was time to be vulnerable with others. I told her I would get back to her but already had in my mind that she would be perfect as a speaker to other single moms. We asked her to be our featured speaker for the banquet and she agreed. 

Now here we are Saturday night and it's all came together. The castle-like Anglican Church is adorned with tables covered in black and white damask table clothes and red rose poms with silver chandeliers. The red carpet the moms walked down were lined with white rose petals. It was truly stunning, magical almost. Everyone is enjoying themselves, making new friends and getting caught up with old ones. 

Alaina started her message with sharing with everyone her past history of her alcoholic father and always wearing her happy mask to hide all the sadness. By the time her teen years came along she was depressed on the inside and contemplated suicide. She had fell in love at the age of 16, the mask fell off and the smile was real but her dad forbid her to see Him. She started searching all over for a replacement. No one knew quite how good she was at wearing masks. She filled that hole in her heart with boys/men and they were always trouble. The common theme was alcohol or drug users and abusers. She had so much heartache and could never quite figure out why. Why did she always choose those guys? Why would God put those guys in her life? She became mad at God. I mean He's the one that allowed those choices right? 

At 38 years of age, she was once again a single mom, raising four children. Her dad was given just months to live and she finally realized that she had only ever just wanted someone to choose her. Choose her over the alcohol, choose her over the drugs, someone to just love her for her, no masks. At that point in her life, she realized she had found that in her first love; God. She had always had right what she was looking for all along. She was CHOSEN, LOVED, TREASURED and SACRIFICED for. Isn't that what we all want? She stopped looking for love in all the wrong places and put down the masks that she had worn all her adult life.

I looked around the room as Alaina was speaking, I could see tear-filled faces and heard sniffling of noses. I even caught myself starting to tear up with thoughts of my own choices and the masks that I had worn through the years to hide my pain. She resonated with so many of our moms, even if they didn't share the same story they knew exactly what she was talking about.  

As the banquet came to a close, I took to the podium. I asked everyone if they would put their masks on. I heard grumbles and sighs. Most of them know I have been taking a break from running SingleMomzRock. I told them as women, especially as single moms, we all have our "masks" that we wear. It may be the mask that everything is fine when someone asks if you are okay. It may be the mask of strength when you feel like giving up. It may be the mask of independence when you are the loneliest you've ever been. If can also be the mask that people give you. Do you know what I mean? 

For years, people put a mask on me, expectations on me that I didn't ask for. I let them because I didn't know enough about myself to know better. I lived my life wearing that mask...and I was miserable. Through self-reflection, I realized God made me exactly who He wanted me to be. And I'm learning to love that person; something else I didn't know how to do. Learning to love myself has been one of the hardest and most joyous times of my life. My relationship with my girls has changed. My relationship with my family and friends have grown deeper. It truly has been a life changer for me.

I told them I no longer needed to wear my mask and I gently untied it from the back of my head and removed it from my face. I looked up and I saw tears and I heard gasps. I then asked over 100 single moms if they wanted to continue to wear their masks and if not to please remove them. Immediately, masks were falling off faces all over. It was one moment in my life I will never forget. I told them to put them away and to never wear them again, to frame them or hang them in the closet as a reminder of where they have been. I asked them to start the road to self-love and self-acceptance and it would be one of the most freeing things they would ever do. 

We have received such positive feedback from the banquet and the theme has been a constant in each one. Everyone resonated with it. Everyone felt her pain and the insecurities as she was describing them. My wish is that we have provided such a community of support that when they start to slip those masks back on, they can come to us and let us help them see themselves the way He sees them. Just as He made them...#behindthemask. 

 

The Significance in Being Seen

I remember the day someone remembered my name.  You’d think something so basic and simple wouldn’t make such a large impact on a person.  People remember people’s names all the time.  But, at that moment in my life it gave hope to my heart.
 

I recall it was a pastor, I was attending a new church, looking for a home church.  I was in a new city, single now with 3 kids.  I didn’t know anyone here, I missed my old church, I was desperate for connection and someone who could relate to me.  My life, over the years that preceded all this change, had crumbled around me.  I had lost everything I had worked hard for.  My ex-husband’s addiction had stripped it all away, one by one.  First my security, then my spirit.  The only thing that remained constant in all of that, was my faith.  I clung desperately to God in the eye of the storm of abuse, neglect, exhaustion, fear, and insecurity. I recall emerging an empty shell of my former self.  Used up, essentially.  I found myself in poverty, in emptiness, numb. I found a place I could afford in a broken city.  I moved myself with what I could to this place and attempted to carve out a new life.  But I was merely surviving.  I had young children and a job that hardly paid enough.  When that pastor stopped me, as I was hurriedly rushing into service, he asked my name, he asked my children’s names, and a week later when he saw me coming in again he said the sweetest words I could imagine at the time, “Brandi, I’ve been praying for you”.  I felt like I was in another world at that moment.  I blinked and stood and stared and I couldn’t hold back the tears from my eyes.  I wept.  I felt seen.  I felt known.

For a tired mom, who selflessly sacrifices, for a hollow shell of a heart that has lived through a tragedy and hasn’t yet had a moment to heal, for a hurting that is in that messy middle place of when life you knew becomes a life you never imagined, being seen is so significant.  For a woman who feels unworthy, broken, lost and invisible, to be recognized, validated, appreciated, a word and a genuine act of kindness can lift her spirit and give her hope.  I was feeling like I was suffocating under the weight of my pain but with that one act I could take that first deep, life giving breath.  I had called out the week before to God, “I just want to be seen and know I’m not invisible.”  He answered, and used that pastor to do it.

If you’re a believer you may know that one of the names of God is El Roi – “The God Who Sees Me.”  Coincidentally, the first time this name is uttered is to Hagar, the Bible’s first single mom.  As she is cast out, pregnant, from her family and wandering aimlessly in distress the “angel of the lord” meets her right where she is.


I can identify with Hagar.  I can know what it feels like to carry such a weight, a responsibility not only for my own well-being and healing but for my children’s as well.  The compounded fear of what is next, how will I make it, how will I survive, and what kind of life can I give to my children when I can barely take care of my own needs.  What had started as hope for Hagar, became a place of devastation.

We can all identify with Hagar.  When we are in that messy middle place and we feel the oppressive fears.  When we feel the uncertainty of the future loaded with the grief of hopes and dreams lost.  When we hurt for our children as we absorb the shock and pain of abandonment.  We try to shield them, make things right, try to make things okay, stable, certain.  But we can’t, not alone.

I think there is a reason God revealed himself to Hagar, a woman and mother in this way, one who spoke life and hope and hard truth into her life, the truth she would need to hear and be prepared for.  Her life would be very different from the one she was planning in her heart and head, but it was still a significant life.  Women need to be seen.  We need in our heart to be known and validated.  There is nothing wrong with this, this is how we were built.  Beauty companies spend millions of dollars to make us feel beautiful so we can be recognized and appreciated.  The fashion industry too but on a deeper level, our need to be seen and known drives us to a people who love us just as we are, flaws and all.  And in our distress, we especially need to be recognized, we need to be seen as strong and capable and empowered by others around us.

It was this feeling that created a need in me to make it possible for women to have a place where they can be seen.  A place where they can see others as well.  We all need a community to belong to.  A place where we can ease each other’s burdens, love and be loved, cherish and be cherished, grow, lean in, build up.  God works through people, just as he did with that pastor who saw me that morning and unknowingly answered my prayer.  Just as the women that surround me now see me.  God is present and he recognizes where you are in your journey.  He is there to respond to you as you move through your wilderness.  He will plant people in your path who will push you along your destination.

Never get comfortable with where you are, never accept being invisible.  You’re bigger than that, more significant and more worthy than that.  Connect with a support group in your area and get yourself plugged into a community of like-minded people who recognize and appreciate the need to be seen.  Don’t get caught up in the lie that you should give up, or that you have nothing to offer, or that you’re a burden to others.  You are a light.  Support groups and organizations like Singlemomzrock and Thrive Single Moms are eager to embrace you.  We want to help you feel supported, encouraged and hopeful and most importantly, to see you.   How do you want to be seen?

By Brandi Dailey
Founder and Executive Director at Thrive Single Moms

www.thrivesinglemoms.org