Joy

When people learn what I do for a living, the most common response I get is, “Oh, that has to be so hard.  I just imagine there is so much sadness.”  And yes, there is a lot of sorrow.  A lot of grief.  Anger.  Depression.  Frustration.  Pain.  Being a mother is hard enough.  Being homeless to boot is just plain cruel.  The mothers I work with every day experience all of these emotions and more.  There are days that consist of wiping away tears, calming fears and trying to offer something to soothe their anxiety.  Where will I sleep tonight?  How will I clothe my child?  What if someone takes her away because I can’t provide a roof over her head?  Yes, it can be a sad job sometimes.

But more than fear, more that sorrow, I see hope and joy in my job.  I see mothers struggling to maintain their composure in front of their children, finding strength in their own soothing words.  I see women sharing resources with one another, encouraging each other to keep trying, to not give up.  I see mommies kiss little heads, breathing in the sweetness, and turning that breath into courage to face the next obstacle.  I see families bonding together, emerging strong and wiser, together.

This week I got to share an immense joy with a mother of 5.  Having fled a violent home with only one bag of diapers and the clothes on their backs, this mother never gave up.  When options were slim, when resources were dry, her hope never wavered.  Every day she would say to me, “Well, if not today, then soon.  Soon this will all come together.”  For just over a month they faced the reality of being homeless, depending on others for help with food, clothing, bus tickets.  When she found an apartment that would rent to her, there was a glimpse of joy, only to be dashed by lack of sufficient funds to move-in.  The end of the year is a hard time to ask for financial help from social services.  Everyone’s budgets had run dry.  “Try us again after the New Year.  Maybe we can help then.”  Over and over, this mother never gave up, calling dozens of places a day, trying to find help.  After two weeks, the landlord decided to rent to someone else.  “Well,” she said to me, “looks like today is not the day.  But soon.  Soon it will all come together.”

On Tuesday, the good news came.  A request was heard, and funding came in to pay her entire deposit (when she had only asked for half).  A call to the landlord and she learned that the previous tenants had not passed the background check.  The place was hers if she still wanted it.  She could move in that very day.  As I called to share the good news, I could literally feel her exuberant joy flooding through the phone.  “Its here!  Its here!  Our day is here!  Our day has finally arrived!” she shouted into the phone.

No more fear.  No more anxiety.  No more frustration.  At least not for this moment.  No friends, this moment was made for joy.  For it had all come together.

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