At the Homeless Coalition, the cycle of poverty became alarmingly apparent. We were in charge of leading a jewelry making class for the women of the Coalition, meaning that many children also had to tag along and be included in some way. It was interesting to be leading a class in a subject that we were all pretty much novices. I tried really hard to pretend to know what I was doing, but I still had the directions strategically placed in front of me the majority of the time. Making that kind of jewelry is legitimately difficult, despite how easy Sneh made it look. 😛 The women had to use most of their focus and attention to make sure they were stringing their bracelets, earrings, and necklaces the correct way. So when one of their children came and tagged on their elbows, the patience was limited. I saw children turned away, reprimanded, and scolded for simply wanting to show their mommy what they made.
But these women were not necessarily cruel or bad mothers. I discovered this firsthand after working with a particularly overbearing mama. Jody came to my table, bossily instructing me to begin two sets of friendship bracelets for her two daughters, making them in different colors so that they wouldn’t get mixed up. She continued to direct my actions the entire time, irking me just a tad. I’m no expert in jewelry design, but we were there as the hosts of the event. I thought that maybe possibly gave me a little bit of a leg up. Not with this mom! As I sat by, unsure of what to do with my hands when Jody took over my job, I began talking to her. I found out that she’d been planning to attend the event for weeks, ever since the Coalition first announced it. She said she had wanted to do something special for her daughters.
Jody’s intentions were good. She didn’t carry out her plan in the way the mothers I’ve grown up around would have, but she had the same basic need to make her daughters feel loved and nurtured. Maybe she’d had a less than loving mother, or had spent hours that day working hard, or was struggling without a father in the girls’ life. I have no idea, but I realized that I can’t be quick to judge a person before knowing their story. These are mothers who can’t leave the room when they’re about to lose their temper with their children, or pay for babysitters to ease the strain that raising children can bring. Jody’s little girls, Jamie and Emily, were really no different than me…they’d simply been born into a different life. Their hardships, the ones that landed them at the Coalition, were situational, random circumstances that they did nothing to incur.
Why hadn’t I been born into such a family? What did I do to deserve the love and support and necessary resources that I am always surrounded by? In the end, we are no different from the rest of the world. We are all victims of random chance.
I hope to use my chance opportunities to improve the opportunities of those around me.