I’m Vicki, and this is MY story

Hi I’m Vicki Berlin and I am one of the founders of Single Mothers Individually Living Empowered, Inc.

This is my story: I became a single mother in my mid twenties. I had two sons ages 4 and 9. I struggled through a seven year marriage with a man who drank, had a bad temper and changed jobs a lot. I won’t go into details for the privacy of my grandchildren. I spent time in a womens shelter, gave up my family for him for a year but when the time came that I knew I had to leave for the benefit of my children, my family was there for me. I’m telling my story so women realize it’s hard to walk out that door when you have no money, no car and some have no place to go.

I was fortunate as I said my parents took me and my boys in. The first time they took us in my husband left for nine months, no contact to his children at all. I was forced to live on the system and the minute I got my own place and was making a go of it he arrived once again. He talked me into trying it again and I believed he had changed. Nope so one year later I was calling my parents to come rescue me. They did, however with specific terms. File for a divorce the next day. So I filed for divorce, went back on the system full time (hadn’t gotten completely off) and began rebuilding me and my son lives. It wasn’t easy. My parents hated my ex but he still had visitation. I was trying to get over what I thought was the love of my life, explain to my children why daddy wasn’t around and listen to my mother complain and complicate things with not so understanding words. BUT she was there for us. When I decided to go to college my parents babysat while running their business. My sister was still at home and she helped alot with my youngest. Through all of this I had only one friend and she lived in Canada, so letters were our only communication. My family was understanding but did they really understand what I was going through? No. So when single mothers talk about loneliness, I believe its the lack of friendship with those who understand what we are going through.

Well, I am not a quitter and I don’t like being the underdog ( I never played sports) I made it through my two years of college and I met a wonderful man that I have been married to for 25 years. We have a son and he was there for many years for my other two sons in a big way. BUT the story doesn’t end here. Because I have determination not to fail and I learned that we must forgive in order to move on I did just that. My sons are grown and they have a great relationship with their father and he is a good grandfather to our grandchildren. SO bad things happen and we have choices to forgive and move on. It took a long time and it wasn’t easy. However, in my case my ex and I and my husband became friends and we can do weddings, grandchildrens birthdays and even holidays together. Is it easy no but my grandchildren deserve to know the man their grandfather is today and they love my husband just as much. Not all men grow up and realize that they might lose the gift god has given them, not all children will gain their daddy’s back (some unfortunately are better off). It ‘s what you as a mother do for them that counts, being mom and dad isn’t easy and sometimes you think they don’t realize the sacrifices you are making for them to give them a normal, loving family life. HOWEVER Mom they do! Children understand more than you think and if you talk to them, love them with time (not things), be a great example they will become loving successful children.

For many years I have been in contact with many single moms, my husband was a coach for many years and you learn a lot about people on the benches. I learned their hardships, their desires, concerns and does anyone really care. As my children started leaving home I got into leadership training. I learned to forgive, you have choices and how leaderships helps you grow and you can help others to grow also. I was always trying to figure out how to make enough money to build homes for single moms as that is a big difficulty, especially to those who have no family to go home to. As I was learning how to coach people in life I also got a reality check. Three years ago our community had a bad holiday season where we lost six mothers to death. They took their lives because they were lost and had no hope. One single mom called for help from a friend before actually going through with the idea of death and through her I learned that there was a new kind of loneliness women were feeling raising children on their own, even with family support. So god guided me to the understanding that I could help these women by showing them the many choices they have in rebuilding their lives. offering friendship through getting together on a Saturday morning for an hour or so, having fun learning new things, and offering mentorship to give them the support they need when the struggle seems impossible.

Over the next few months you will see stories of single mothers on our board, get to know the board members who are not single mothers, read stories of mothers who have been in our program and mothers who we meet on our ventures, including stories we find on the internet of single mothers who just want to share to let you know that there are people who care and we are here to help in any way we can. The best nugget for success is to be positive and that we get through motivation of people who are not afraid to share their story. We ask you join us and our stories over the next few months and if you want to share your story just email us at smilesinglemoms@gmail.com or join us for an hour of friendship talk on Saturdays. The who cares and gives hope. Vicki

My name is Karla and I’m 37 and a single mom to four great kids. I have two daughters 17 & 14 and two sons 7 & 15. I work fulltime during the day so that I can be available for my kids in the evenings. I was born in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri to two loving parents. My mother was an active duty Marine and my father was a retired marine who worked for the NRA at the time I was born. My parents raised me with good moral values and taught me to be active in the local church.

In November of 2009 I was alone with my kids. My husband and I had split up and I wasn’t sure where to turn. In the fall of 2011 the flood left my children without a home and we moved in with my mother. Desperately looking for hope in everyday life I found S.M.I.L.E.

First I found that I wasn’t alone. I had isolated myself because my family and my church upbringing had led me to feel ashamed & alone. I made many friends in SM.I.L.E. with moms from all walks of life. I learned it is possible to live on a tight budget and still really enjoy life.

Another valuable lesson from S.M.I.L.E. was I have options I was taught that my life doesn’t always have to be this way. I have options and part of those options are setting goals. At first I thought this was crazy, every goal I had tried to reach the past never came true. S.M.I.L.E. and another program I’m in I’ve learned to celebrate everything.

Today I live in a farmhouse where I support my family and remember to take care of myself too. I am dating a wonderful man who appreciates my kids and me. S.M.I.L.E. is here for friendship, mentoring, guidance and for me most of all it gives me the ability to share my experience strength and hope with other struggling single moms. Life is possible if you choose to live it. I choose to live everyday to the fullest taking the good with the bad.

Today as chair of S.M.I.L.E. I would like to add to the story of Karla. Karla became a single mother helping a single mother. A mother in an awful situation Karla did not think for minute before jumping in to help another single mother through a terrible struggle. This is what true friendship is.

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