In this edition of A Mommy Story, we meet Ariel of www.mamaofkings.com. Ariel was brave enough to talk about her family struggles. Despite being subjected to difficult situations, she kept a positive attitude and continued to be strong for her family.
As far back as I can remember, my life has been one big event after another. I was affected by our constant moves as an Army brat, losing my infant sister and my parent’s divorce. I was a victim of an attempted rape, depression, and being shunned by my mother. I have always had to persevere and overcome. No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to make it through just ONE year without something “major”.
Unfortunately, this did not change once I reached adulthood. I got married and started a family of my own. During, our first year of marriage, my husband and I both had to leave college for different reasons. I also birth to our first child and had to move abruptly after. During our second year, experienced the miscarriage of our twin boys. I had to leave school for the second time. During a freak accident, I got shot in the foot and was out of work for two months. In our third year, we almost lost our home due to financial problems. It was also during this time that our second child was born.
Unfortunately, the fourth year was when things got tough for us. In May of 2016, we found out that we were expecting our third child. We were over the moon and thought it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I was involved in a successful network marketing business and had a pretty good full-time job as well. Money was the last thing we were worried about.
Suddenly, the following August, I began to get sick. I was in pain almost all the time and could not seem to get rid of an infection, despite the antibiotics my doctor put me on. I ended up being hospitalized for a few days after the infection reached my kidneys and began to pose a threat to my unborn child. My doctor made the decision to keep me on a daily antibiotic throughout the remainder of my pregnancy as a preventative. However, my body was so weak at the time, that I still couldn’t fight off the infection.
There were a few more times over the next couple of months that I was kept at the hospital for treatment and observation. After missing work a few times due to illness and health concerns, my employer and I came to the mutual conclusion that it would be best for me to go on leave until the baby was born. The only problem with this was that we had already made the decision that my husband to was stay home with the kids. We already had two children, one on the way, and only a part-time network marketing business to support us.
My husband began putting in applications EVERYWHERE he could think of. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much luck. Eventually, our savings were depleted, and we were faced with eviction. After speaking with a lawyer about the circumstances surrounding the possible eviction and condition of the property, we were assured that the court would likely side with us. Optimistic as we were, we made no preparations for leaving the home just yet. Unfortunately, the judge did not even want to hear our side. We had photographs and text messages as proof of the landlord’s negligence and unlawful filing of eviction, but the judge had ZERO interest in them. We were given 1 week to vacate the premises. With no money and nowhere to go.
The day after we received the verdict, we received a call from one of my husband’s cousins offering us his old trailer. He said it would need a “little” work, but we could have it. While extremely grateful, my husband and I did not know the true condition of the home until the day we moved. It was in NO condition for human habitation, much less children. We made plans to fix it up, but we were WAY in over our heads. When we looked at the plans and everything that needed to be done to make it safe, we would have been better off purchasing an entirely new home. Financially, it would have been unwise to even entertain the idea of repairing the damage.
With no other options, we moved in with a family member. Although husband continued to submit applications, the options were extremely limited. The town we moved to contained a maximum total of 10 business (maybe). Only one of them would have provided enough income to allow us to get into our own home, and they wouldn’t be hiring for another couple of months. When that time came, the company told him that all the positions had been filled, and to reapply in a few months. We needed some sort of income SOON as I was due any day with our third child. Without reliable transportation there was virtually no other option for our family but to WAIT.
On February 1, 2017 our third child, a daughter, was born. We were ecstatic to meet her, but less than thrilled with our current living situation. We went back to the drawing board and began comparing our options. Option number 1 was to fix the trailer we had been given. Option number 2 was to use our tax return to move closer to town so that the job hunt would be easier. Within a matter of weeks, however, neither option became feasible as we were forced to leave the family member’s house and begin our hotel hopping.
It was early on a Friday morning, close to midnight, on a busy weekend. We had trouble finding a hotel and all the cheap ones were at maximum capacity. The only hotel we could find was a little pricey, but it worked for a couple days. When we realized that we only had enough money to stay at this hotel for a few nights, we made a new reservation at a hotel across town that only charged around $40 per night.
As a mother, the only thing going through your mind is how to provide for your kids. Without a doubt, I knew that my children would be fed, clean, and have a roof over their heads. No matter the cost. Whether we ate or not, we made sure that our babies never went without.
We were not very open about our situation because we feared that our children would be taken from us, but a few friends could sense something was going on, so they reached out. We are forever grateful for the few that helped us out during that time by providing food, paying for a few more nights in the hotel, and even helping my husband with temporary work.
Eventually, we faced the grim reality that we were almost out of money and needed to find shelter. We began calling around but came up empty handed each time. There was only one shelter in town that would allow us to stay together as a family. Unfortunately, we didn’t have all the documentation necessary to be approved for the program. So again, we had to make a difficult choice. Do we live out of our broken-down van until we can save enough money to get a place, or do we split up temporarily so that the kids and I could go to a women and children’s shelter?
After a lot of thought and prayer, we concluded that the only thing that made sense was for our family to live separately temporarily. It was the hardest decision that we have ever had to make, but in hindsight, it was definitely the right choice.
Just before my 22nd birthday, the children and I moved into a transitional home for women and children. At the time, they were ages 3, 1, and 2 months old. They had no idea what was going on and couldn’t understand why Daddy wasn’t there.
The home that we moved into was apart of a church ministry and had very strict rules. My husband was not allowed to come to the home and could not even be told the location of it. We were allowed one “pass” a month to leave the house and go see him.
During our time there, my husband was able to find a good job and started paying off our debts so that we could move forward as a family. The kids were able to start spending time with him on the weekends, however, that time was extremely limited due to his work schedule. As time went on, our oldest began to develop anger issues along with anxiety.
Close to the end of our time in the home, I reconnected with family that I hadn’t spoken to much since graduating high school. After seeing how hard we were working to get out of our mess, they offered to help us out financially and help us get back on our feet.
In total, we were homeless for 9 months and 2 weeks (including the time spent living with a family member, 1 month in hotels, and our time at the transitional home). There were so many times that I just wanted to give up and die. There were times where I thought about signing custody over to a family member. As crazy as it may sound, I feel incredibly blessed to have gone through that experience with my family because of the outcome it had on us.
The cliché phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” has proved to be true in our life. Now that we are back on our feet, we are so much closer than I ever imagined. Spiritually, this time apart from the rest of the world allowed me to reconnect with God like I never had before. The day to day in a house full of other women, from all walks of life, was stressful, but each and every woman and child we met there touched us in one way or another. My children walked away from that house with a new extended family full of “aunts” and “sisters”.
Before, I was struggled with my depression and anxiety while trying to find myself. I now feel so deeply connected to my inner self; There is no question of who I was and what my purpose was. I could feel God’s calling so heavily on my life, and I had no doubts that I was meant to be in that home.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him…”, and I am now a living testament of this. This is only one piece of my testimony, but I will forever see that God’s hand is at play in my life. What we see as crazy, unexpected, and sometimes even disastrous HAS PURPOSE and is part of His plan!
If you find yourself in a situation and can’t seem to find your way to the light at the end of the tunnel, just remember: you are not alone. You are stronger than you think. You WILL make it out on the other side. And you will live to tell the story.