I’ll never forget my first weeks back at Safe Harbor after being on maternity leave in 2010. As a first-time mother with infant twins, I was overwhelmed and sleep-deprived. I remember telling my co-workers that I was glad to be back at work, as I generally felt more confident in my abilities at work than at home. Just when I thought I had a mom skill figured out, my twins’ needs would change, and I would find myself starting from scratch to figure out feedings and sleep schedules. My own mother had passed away a year before my twins were born, and I found myself hungry for her guidance.
I am forever grateful to friends, family and co-workers who shared love and support during my first year of motherhood.
But, looking back now, I am especially thankful to the mothers I met through my day-to-day work in Safe Harbor’s Greenville Shelter that year. These mothers taught me lessons through their stories, obstacles, joys, heartaches, and most of all, through their incredible strengths.
“Tasha” taught me about perseverance, as she waited each morning at the bus stop with her three young children, first taking them to daycare and then walking to her workplace off the bus line. “Lucy” taught me about courage, as she happily played hide and seek with her son just minutes before she headed to court to face her abusive husband in a hearing that would determine his custody arrangements. “Brianna” taught me about multi-tasking, as she helped her son with his math homework while simultaneously bottle-feeding her 4-week old twins. “Maria” taught me about hope, as she showed her daughters the key to their new apartment, listening to their squeals of joy after weeks of tirelessly seeking an affordable place to call home.
Maya Angelou said, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” These words remind me of the mothers I’ve met at Safe Harbor. Mothers who are trying to establish safety and stability in the midst of abuse and control. Mothers who are often left with impossible choices. Mothers who call our crisis line and courageously share their story for the very first time. Mothers who walk through our doors holding on to their precious ones and an ounce of hope that there could be a light at the end of their tunnel. They are mothers who face obstacles, who stand back up, who work tirelessly, who keep trying, who reclaim power they have lost. They are mothers who find the courage within to start new lives for themselves and their children on a wing and a prayer, despite every brick wall that stands in front of them.
On this Mother’s Day, as I remember my mother and think about my own children, I’ll also give thanks for the mothers who we are privileged to know at Safe Harbor. As you think about a special mother in your life who has inspired you, I invite you to consider remembering or honoring her through a gift to Safe Harbor. Your gift can be a catalyst in helping a mother to overcome the power of domestic abuse by discovering her strengths within.
Peace to you,
Julie Meredith, Director of Programs & Outreach