I would like to think that we all have good intentions but that’s not necessarily true. Good intentions can turn to bad ones right before your eyes. Sometimes they turn over the course of time. Time is a subtle element of our lives. When I was raising my children time was always of the essence.

My life was a Topsy turvey mess that I was constantly battling to keep upright. Having been born in a completely dysfunctional family my learning curve was trying to stay one step ahead of the punishments that often followed my mistakes. Being a kid I was bound to make mistakes. The swiftness of the reprisal imprinted on me and I would try to be the perfect little everything.  In school I was withdrawn and buried myself in books. Not much to look at, overweight and a tomboy. My parents worked me hard inside the house and doing yard work.

I became a compulsive young adult with small children and eventually an obsessive-compulsive full grown adult. Obsessed with getting everything right, compelled to be perfect. Looking back I realize how much pressure I had on myself and  put upon myself through my own personal demons.

My intentions were to survive with the least amount of bad things happening to my children and myself. Having married and divorced young I hadn’t finished learning how to be a young adult when I had children. My upbringing impacted my life so much that confusion as to choosing the right path and the right people to be with was an everyday question. I was on my own with young lives to care for. I love my children and would do anything to take care of them. Making decisions without any knowledge or forecast of the possible outcomes became a gamble. I said to myself ‘ well, just make A DECISION and live with it, good or bad’. I have to add, some of them were bad. Ignorance was not bliss.

My desire to be part of a family unit, to be loved and wanted overshadowed many decisions. My kids always had plenty of food, were kept clean and dry, were well loved and protected. I did the best I could as a  very naive young female and single parent. Having lousy social skills and poor social judgments didn’t help me.

My intentions were all good but life was very hard for us. Searching for affordable housing while on welfare was a joke. Back then welfare was different for those that were not ‘working the system’. It was harsh, humiliating and degrading. Going to the doctors was awful, they treated recipients different than regular patients.

 Renting a house was difficult. Either the landlord was slumlord, was a shoddy person, or wouldn’t renew leases after one year. That was no excuse according to DSS. One time while renting a shoddy house, it became unsafe for us to live there and it was close to our years term. In order for us to find other housing we had to call the Police as a legal witness, the Fire Department to do a safety inspection and the Board of Health. If Social Services wanted any other inspections we had to get them also. Once that was completed and eviction inevitable we had to call the motel unit after hours to get placed. How humiliating is that? We finally got into a motel unit only by having the landlord evict us with no other place to go. DSS paid over $700/week for us to stay in one room with kitchenette but would not let me rent a house that was not a dump. All of our belongings were squeezed into this room if we couldn’t  find someone to store our stuff for us. Often we lost furniture etc. I became really good at thrift stores and curb alerts.

The money we had to live on was unsuitable for anyone to live on. I had to wash clothes by hand when my children were younger if the house didn’t have a washer and dryer. Everything was extra out of pocket, laundry, taxable items, bus fare, gas, school supplies etc. It was hard and emotionally painful and draining. No wonder people give up.

I never did give up though. No matter what I had to do I did the best I could for my children. They might not have liked the way we lived but we did live. We moved many times. We ate, had shelter, clean clothes, and a car. They had one of the first computers that came out ( courtesy of an ex husband), the first Nintendo game console, stereos etc,. Getting off of DSS was one of the hardest things I did. I had to work two jobs, depend on babysitters (that were unreliable and ultimately unsafe), a car that kept breaking down, no help from family, and a lot of flack from others Life became really hard for us. Bad decisions, good intentions, consequences all around. It was also the 1960’s-70’s lots of controversy happening in the world. As difficult and painful as my life was I don’t regret a thing. Life lessons learned. I became a better person through all the difficulties.

Years later looking back at how we survived, my children are grown, tall, handsome, well built intelligent, thriving adult men.  My intentions were good, my end result  is that my boys are grown into fine men, mission accomplished. I set out to raise my boys the best way I knew how and I did. My story is known through the friends that I had during those times.  

I still struggle with my intentions only now I lay them down at the cross. With all my tears and sorrowful heart. Yes I still cry out for my lost childhood and theirs, the marriages I had hopes and dreams for, the college that I never completed, and the loneliness I still feel.

When you have good intentions you still have to deal with the consequences, no matter how they turn out. I lay them down again and again until I finally give in to my Abba Father and finally let go of all my intentions.

Thank you Jesus for saving me from myself and the world.

Blessings,

Mary

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