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Not Really a Single Mom

Photograph by Getty Images

If raising three curious and playful daughters isn’t tough enough for the average mom, imagine doing it all by yourself. That is exactly what Renae Christine was afraid of when she and her husband divorced. Yet, as she worked hard to be a good role model and provider for her daughters May, Renae and Monet, she soon learned that even though she had become a single mom, she wasn’t really alone.

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Naturally, a divorce means a dramatic change in the family finances. Renae runs two successful home businesses that bring in enough income to take care of her three girls without asking for government assistance, but after her husband left she couldn’t maintain their 4,500-square-foot home and all of the utilities that came with it. The family of four moved to a smaller apartment nestled up three flights of stairs; where it became a dramatic production anytime the family had to go shopping, walk the dog or run out to the store.

As a newly single mom in a new neighborhood, Renae found herself facing many transitions at once. She sought out a new church to attend with her daughters and found one nearby. Although it was difficult being the new family in church and adjusting to the church’s customs, the first person they became acquainted with happened to be a church member they would see every Sunday: a homeless man named Jay.

Jay, who situates himself on the corner down the street from the church when he is asking for donations was the first sign of life in a new neighborhood for Renae and her girls.

“We've given him McDonald's gift certificates and the kids color him pictures,” Renae shares. “He has also gotten gifts for my little ones and they just adore him. He's a comforting presence when we see his smile every Sunday.”

Growing a home-based business often means a turbulent work schedule and lifestyle. Oftentimes Renae has had to ask her own mother, her ex's mother and her brother to watch her daughters for several days each time she has left town to promote her business. She confessed that asking for help was difficult because she didn’t want to be a burden on her family, yet each time she was met with warmth and understanding.

Renae's children truly have a village encouraging and inspiring their growth.

“I expected them to roll their eyes or give me an excuse that they were busy. But each time they accepted and said it wasn't a problem at all,” Renae said.

Between her new church family, her parents and extended family members, Renae's children truly have a village encouraging and inspiring their growth. When she thought that her relationship ending would mean that her life would become unbearable to manage, she found that the love she lost with her husband was replaced with even more resilient and heartfelt bonds with people who expressed their love through consistent support unbridled by the constraints of romance.

“My children are very close to everyone who supports and helps us,” Renae said. “They've even developed a relationship with my business partner. He has even helped my 9-year-old do her homework while I got the younger kids something to eat while he waited to continue a business meeting with me.”

Renae believes that the people who have been supportive of her family should receive awards, especially the unexpected blessings that floated in without warning, like the neighbor downstairs who called security on her daughters three times for making too much noise through the floors.

“I met her and discussed ways I could keep my kids' feet quieter, like buying them slippers to wear when they are especially rowdy, or taking them to the park more often so they can get their energy out,” she says. “To my surprise, after all these arguments with the lady downstairs, we not only became friends but she now defends me and my girls against those with glaring eyes. Now I'm scared she'll move out!”

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Without the help of friends, family and even those surprise faces that appear along the way to remind Renae that she is a part of a community that welcomes her, she would not have been able to continue growing her business from home. Renae was also afraid that she would have to move back in with her mother and seek out government assistance, but it has not come to that.

“Because everyone has supported my business and my family I'm able to continue raising my kids in my own little home,” Renae says. “For that I am grateful and I know that we can continue to grow together. We aren’t alone after all.”

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