They are wasting my time! she shouted as she closed the front door behind her. Our startled team of case managers looked up to see a frustrated mother standing in the hallway with tears in her eyes. She spoke again, this time, much louder and with much more emotion than before. “They are wasting my time!” Then, she bent down slowly to put her shoes away. When she stood up, the tears were already rolling down her cheeks. The outburst surprised the team because they were waiting to hear the good news about her first day on the job.
The staff gave her the time she needed to collect her thoughts. As the tears slowed, she shared that there was a slight mix-up, and her start date was the next day. Carried To Full Term is a long-term housing program for women who are pregnant, and homeless. The women who contact our 24-month program are already in crisis, and in need for stable housing. Additionally, our program’s six objectives are designed to help women become independent and self-sufficient.
On this particular day, this mother was looking forward to starting her new job to meet her employment objective. The excitement on her face earlier that morning, could not be hidden, as she prepared for her first day of orientation. After she had calmed down, we helped her explore other areas where she had greater control. We asked if she would be interested in taking care of her garden bed? She agreed and went outside. A few minutes later, one of our staff joined her in the garden. No words were spoken until the staff member noticed that she had some leaves from the squash vine in her hand. After asking, “what was in her hand?” the mom shared that she had pulled some weeds.
With a smile, the staff member told her that the leaves in her hands were not weeds. A lovely conversation was born between the mom and staff member. The mom wanted to learn to tell the difference between veggies and weeds. She shared, “the grass and everything looked so good growing together.” Together, they walked over to a small cabbage bed where some weeds had almost taken over the bed.
The mom was told, “anything in the bed that was not a cabbage, was a weed and how they have the ability to choke the cabbage, preventing it from reaching its full potential. Those unwanted plants must be pulled. They must be weeded out. It was explained that the grass and weeds, as pretty as they looked, were hindering the cabbages’ growth by taking up all the soil’s nutrients.
The mom wondered how she would be able to pull all those weeds? The best approach is to start with one cabbage at a time, weeding anything growing around it. That meant all the grass and weeds needed to be removed because they were choking the cabbages from growing. She said, “well that is a perfect metaphor for my life right now. I need to pull out all the things that are stopping me from growing.” She was reminded that everyone has problems. Some people have learned healthier ways to process and manage their responses, but that takes practice. She said she was extremely frustrated earlier, and needed to find different ways to express her frustration. Then, out of the blue, she added, “you know what? I actually like being out here in the garden, to help the cabbages grow. It is so peaceful out here;” and she kept pulling the weeds.
Life in our resident program is in constant motion. Sometimes, the series of events can be fraught with frustration, other times, peace prevails from start to finish. Whatever the scenario, there is no denying the safety and security that come with stable housing. Sometimes, residents feel safe enough to feel all the feelings in the moment; other times, it might be to experience the peace that comes with gardening. Carried To Full Term exists to facilitate the success of each mother’s decision to commit to becoming independent and self-sufficient. You can be a part of the change journey by joining us as a guest or sponsor at our upcoming gala, as a monthly donor, or in support of an expansion project. You can visit our website to learn more.