Guest Post: This (Untold) American Life
I’m extremely excited to be writing about a part of my life that not many of you know much about and sharing it for the first time with A Few Good Toys. Honestly, it's hard for someone like me to come out about my personal life but the cause that Stacy wants to share with everyone through A Few Good Toys has given me the courage to write about myself.
My name is Shanlynne, mother to a four-year-old and two-year-old. My four-year-old is Adonay and my two-year-old is Adonis. Most parents have a reason for why they want the best for their children. My reason is because of the events from my childhood. During my childhood, it was hard for me to relate to other children. When I was growing up I always felt like I didn’t get to live a normal childhood. At a young age my mother abandoned me and my father was an alcoholic so he was always a blur in my life (but now he is trying hard to change for his grandchildren). Luckily for me, my grandmother adopted me and raised me to be the mother I am today.
So now that you know about my past struggles here is the part I usually never share. I was about 19 years old when I was pregnant with my first child Adonay. The heartache that I had during my childhood and depression during my teen years made me realize that I had to be the best mother for my children — if not the best, at least the closest to that.
My husband and I moved to a bigger city to start a better future for our little family. At the time we were basically kids raising a baby on our own. We didn’t have the privileges afforded to others and had to sacrifice so much for our family. Starting out with nothing was the hardest thing, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking about how can I be the best mother.
Most of the time, we lived pay check to pay check (which was at times was not enough). Sometimes it was hard for us to even afford food. Many of our meals only consisted of rice, beans, and eggs. We tried everything to make ends meet. Even with my husband's insane work schedule, I tried to get back in the work field while breastfeeding. We only had one type of transportation — our rusty two door car. This car had so many problems, we would be lucky to have it to drive to the destination. Since we couldn't afford a babysitter and Adonay wouldn't sleep without breastfeeding and our transportation wasn't reliable, I had to quit my job after 2 weeks.
Most days it was usually just Adonay and me trying to pass time until my husband got home. We never had the opportunity to get new baby clothes or toys for Adonay. With the little income my husband was receiving at the time, having to pay for rent and bills always left us empty handed. We had to resort to buying from thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets.
I’d always dreamt of getting nice clothes and toys for Adonay, but at the time that thought was unrealistic. We searched high and low for quality toys that we could afford. Most of Adonay’s toys were used and rusted from the 1970s (most retro toys were made of wood) but those toys were extremely old and most likely toxic for him to play with. One of his toys that I can remember was his extremely out-dated xylophone. The structure was made out of wood but it was chipping and underneath the steel was rusting. Most people that bought these items had money to restore the toys to almost brand new quality. For us, we had to clean anything we brought home just from the surface which wasn't enough. At some point, we brought home bed bugs.
New toys and clothes was something Adonay had to miss out on. But living in those section 8 apartments was a privilege for us in so many ways. We learned to live with what we had and made friends with extremely humble families like us that would do the uttermost for their children.
That time of our life was eye-opening and the struggles we faced together made us a stronger family. I’m extremely humbled and grateful that today it’s not as hard as it used to be and life is more simple now. That sometimes we can actually buy nice things for our kids without going broke for the next five months.
Sometimes I do feel like it’s unfair that all these nice clothes and toys aren’t in the price range for low income families. I believe that every kid regardless of being rich or poor deserves to be able to have quality clothing and toys. Some can’t afford it and that just not fair. Stacy is starting up A Few Good Toys for this very reason that ALL kids are deserving of nice toys.
Shanlynne is currently working on launching her blog Playful Modern Kids. In the meantime, you can follow her on Instagram as @playfulmodernkids.