Courageous Mom Deserves A Chance

Tiffany with baby JADE MOON PHOTO

Tiffany with baby JADE MOON PHOTO

I believe in redemption and second chances. Heck, I believe in third and fourth chances. If that’s what it takes for a person to undergo true change, whether it be in attitude or personal circumstances, I’m all for it.

Which is why, when I interview a woman like Tiffany for Hawaii Foodbank, I admire her courage while at the same time cringe at the thought of how judgmental some people can be.

And to be sure, Tiffany has seen people judging her. After all, she says, “I became a young mother at 17 years old. I’m a single mom of six kids. I’m only 28 years old.”

She’s a single mom living on state assistance and collecting disability for two of her children. So, yes, she sees why people judge her. And she wants to tell them they’re wrong. She wants them to know there’s more to her than meets the eye.

The disability benefits are for a son who has epilepsy, and a daughter who was born with a clubfoot. She is doing her best as a mother, and from what I could see when I spoke with her, she’s doing a darn good job of it, considering her circumstances.

Tiffany always has wanted what everyone else wants: love, a good job and a safe home for her children. Her first experience with what she thought was love ended badly, when her teenage boyfriend abandoned her when she got pregnant.

But she didn’t give up on her dreams. She soon found what she thought was a solid relationship with another man. They had four children together and he raised her oldest son as his own. For many years, life was good. But then her partner got involved with drugs. Tiffany watched and suffered as her family fell apart.

“I would sit down with my kids and I would look at them, and they were so innocent. They need somebody stable in their life. And so when I thought about it, how will my life be a few years from now, I just thought, I gotta do something. This is not healthy.

“That relationship, I stood in it for a while before I even got out of it because it was so hard. But when I did get out of it and I was aware of everything and I could see a different picture, I said, oh my god. I don’t deserve that. There’s more to life than that.”

Separating from a long-term relationship is always hard, but she knew she had to do it. After investing 10 years in the relationship, she left.

She was ready, she thought, to start anew. So when she fell in love again, she was happy. She got pregnant, thinking she was making another family — a stable one this time.

She was wrong. The suffocating, horrible nightmare began again when her new boyfriend got involved with drugs. This time Tiffany didn’t wait — she left the relationship right away. She had to do it for her children. Better to be alone, she thought, than to expose them to that kind of destructive influence again.

It’s been hard. Throughout the turbulent years Tiffany always worked — first as a certified nurse assistant and then in retail.

But she had to face reality as a single mom: Her 4-year-old son has developmental delays from the epilepsy and functions like an 8-month-old baby. Her youngest daughter, who was born with a clubfoot, needed constant trips to doctors for treatment. She quit her job in order to take care of her children full time. She sees her current state of unemployment as necessary but temporary.

Tiffany knows she’s made mistakes. She’s learned from them. But she’s also made good decisions to protect her children. She’s determined to instill good values in her kids.

“I try to teach my kids the difference between what we want and what we need in life,” she says. “I want them to have good morals.”

As I said at the beginning, I find her courageous. She hasn’t given up hope for a better life. Why should I — and why should society — give up on her?

Twitter: @JadeMoon1