Every human deserves a support group! I found mine because of the most important things in my life: my children and my faith. The God, My Parents, and Me and Parent Culture groups at All Saints consist of parents who come from all walks of life. They are my most trusted and valued friends. Hi, my name is Brenda, and I am a struggling single-parent.
When I think about God, My Parents, and Me and Parent Culture the word “authenticity” comes to mind. O Magazine contributor and TED Talks participant Brene Brown writes, “To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude, and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.”
My twins, Charlotte (Cha Cha) and Henry, are four years, six months, and three days old (and counting…). We are a mama-only family and have been All Saints members since their baptism, Easter 2010. When they were fifteen months old, I felt a lump in Cha Cha’s abdomen. My baby girl had a tumor. She was diagnosed with stage III, in-operable hepatoblastoma with a 50% chance of 5-year survival. Yet, after five surgeries and six rounds of chemotherapy, she is cancer-free (and has been for three years)!
After Cha Cha’s treatments were complete, I felt like a trembling shadow, like I had come undone. This is when I was introduced to God, My Parents, and Me. This group helped me heal. I began to feel like myself again — a better version of myself.
Five months later, I was ready to try a Sunday morning service again; I wept through most of it. This is when I found the Parent Culture group. I was still fragile and tearful, and I was warmly welcomed by fellow parents.
These groups are the places where I know, without judgment, I can ask for help and offer advice. These are also places where I can give. The universe took care of my family in unexpected ways when Cha Cha was going through treatment. Now I frequently take pleasure in caring for other caregivers. Sometimes we cry. And, oh, how we laugh! We share our joys and struggles, our excitements and frustrations, our stories and questions. There is not always an answer, but there is always a knowing nod or smile, a gentle touch or warm embrace; there is always someone else’s story reassuring me that we are all in this together. This is the village that is helping me raise my children.
It is because of groups like these that we are so grateful to call All Saints home.