During the launch of the latest Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, we asked #WhatWomenNeed to push back from the brink of financial insecurity and improve their lives, as well as the lives of their children and families who depend on them.
Here is one woman’s story.
Name: Jennifer Wells
Home: Mason, Ohio
My Story: I’m a single mother of four children. I receive no child support and no alimony. I’m on my own with my four children.
Five years ago I had a double mastectomy, total hysterectomy and oophorectomy. We have the BRCA gene in the family and I kept getting breast tumors. All benign, but I chose to be proactive after my fourth lumpectomy and had it all done like Angelina Jolie. Two years after that my husband left me for someone else and I found myself supporting four kids on my own.
I’m a full time ER nurse, which isn’t quite enough to support myself and my kids: Victoria – 14, Ben – 13, Brooklyn – 11, and Sam – 8. I decided to go back to school full time, all online and will graduate this summer with my Masters as a nurse practitioner. Presently, I’m working full time in the ER – from 11a.m to 11p.m. – and doing clinical time in a doctor’s office for school, and attending online classes through Ohio University.
I’m also a wedding photographer on the side! For fun, I’ve made 750 skydives, and 4 New River Gorge bridge jumps (although I don’t have time for that now). I think I have pretty much seen or done it all.
You can’t just sit and idle when you are left alone, crying on the front porch. You have to have your cry, pick yourself up, and move on. I was able to buy our house, by myself, and I do all the repairs myself. My favorite expression is: “You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.” It hangs in my kitchen and I read it everyday.
This hasn’t been an easy road, but it is possible to still have it all and do it all when left alone. My daughter Victoria is going to be 15 in June and is going to try out for the Voice next winter. Between full-time school and work, somehow I’m also a full time mom…that is my priority! I don’t date, I don’t have time and have given up all hope on finding a descent guy. (That is a story all by itself).
My Dream: My goals do not end when I graduate with my Masters in August. My real call in life is to help single mothers, like myself, who aren’t quite as fortunate to have had a nursing degree to fall back on. (When my husband left me, I at least had my Associates in Nursing).
I would really like to find a way to set up funds for single mothers wanting to go back to school, or some kind of support for them, or even start a support group/program for single moms. In time. Right now, it is off to school and finishing homework and doing clinicals. That is AFTER making sure my four children get what they deserve in life, despite being raised with only one income and parent.
I also want to write a book for single parents on how to get back on top and how you have to prioritize things immediately and get a game plan. I know if I hadn’t done that three years ago we probably would have been homeless since I was only working part time and had no money. I know if single parents followed my plan they could make it too. Although right now I’m still struggling!
Biggest Challenges: My biggest challenges now are to keep my kids and their needs as my priority. I feel horrible when I have to tell them all the time, “I don’t have the time, or we don’t have the money.” My other challenges are just trying to stay on top of the housework and stay organized with full-time work and full-time school, sprinkle in the stress of finances and upcoming student loans.
What I Need Now:
1. Someone to just help me get my housework done or help me with my house maintenance.
2. Someone to help me with my finances, and school costs.
3. Someone to just remind me that “I can do this!” on the days that I’m ready to just curl up in a ball and cry because I can’t give my kids everything they deserve.
Interested in sharing your story and what you need now? Send us an email at info@ShriverReport.org with “What I Need Now” in the subject line, and answer these questions: name, where you live, your story, biggest challenges and three things that you need now to push back from the brink. Submission should be no longer than 500 words and include a photo, if possible. You will be notified if your submission will be featured.
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