“Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up despite the struggles.”
— Author Sharon Jaynes
This is a powerful quote and one that reminds me that no matter how challenging the moments or days can be, it is perfectly OK to be imperfect. All it takes is a few brief minutes to scroll through social media and see the picture-perfect life of others. Deep down, we all know that’s not always our everyday reality, but it can be hard to remember that when we are in the trenches trying to help our children grow. We are teaching difficult lessons in hard moments to students (our children) who are sometimes unwilling to learn.
When children are small, they love us unconditionally. In the teen years, the challenges of parenthood move far beyond hugs and kisses and meeting basic needs. We are trying to teach life lessons so they do not have to make the same mistakes we did and help them grow into kind, compassionate, successful adults. Let’s be honest. Sometimes in the teen years, both parents and kids aren’t always the most lovable — but we do not give up.
This morning as we rush to get out the door to church or Mother’s Day brunch, many of us are stressed and overwhelmed by the challenges of raising children. As our young children test their limits or our teenagers test our patience, it’s easy to feel defeated. Many of us grew up with the benefit of loving parents who taught us how to take on the challenges we faced and showed us unconditional love. However, not every child is so lucky.
In those instances, we often find children who grew up having never been shown how to overcome obstacles. Unless someone steps in to change the pattern, the cycle of a difficult life continues.
In our community, we are so blessed that we have programs in place to offer the type of guidance, support and love that helps families turn their lives around and helps mothers succeed.
Abandoned at age 14 by her mother, Olivia fell into a lifestyle of addiction. She had never been shown that another way of life was possible. With addiction being all that she had seen, she soon found herself following the same pattern. After a long and rough journey, Olivia found hope through United Way.
She was offered an invitation to go to drug court, and she accepted it. The program led her to Pathway of Hope, a program that United Way of Northwest Georgia helped the Salvation Army to pilot in this community. The program aims to break the cycle of generational poverty through counseling, budgeting, planning and parenting classes. Olivia has now gained financial stability and is working to improve her financial situation by attending school and advancing her career.
Her children have improved academically and emotionally since Olivia has been in the program. She says the program has helped her more than just financially. She has received emotional support and encouragement. She says it’s like she has gained a whole other part of a family. Olivia’s life has changed, and she has set a solid foundation for her children.
The United Way programs that Olivia participates in have shown her how to be the mother she always wanted. She now has the tools and skills she needs to continue during times of struggle. Olivia’s story reminds us that life does not always work out the way we planned, but with the help of our neighbors, family, and friends, we can succeed.
Not every parenting moment is an Instagram moment.
It’s in those challenging moments when our children learn the most from us — and when we can learn the most from them. No matter what life throws at us, it is how we persevere and come out stronger that matters most.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Amanda Burt is the president of United Way of Northwest Georgia