I hope you are sitting down with some popcorn because it’s full of up’s and down’s

Tonight I received a Christmas Jar. To be honest I have never heard of Christmas Jars before tonight and I was shocked and overwhelmed with every kind of heartwarming emotion any one person could experience.  I was asked to share my story with you so I hope you are sitting down with some popcorn because it’s full of up’s and down’s.

My name is Brandis Barker (Brandi) I am a single mother to 3 amazingly awesome children. Cody 17, Cassidy 14 and Cailey 6. To tell you my story I need to start from the beginning.  I was born and raised by my grandparents in northern Virginia on a 58 acre farm. I swore that as soon as I graduated from High School I was going to move to the “city”. Sure enough the day after I graduated I packed up everything that I could and drove. I ended up in the Sunshine State where I lived from 2004 until 2014. My dad who I had just started talking to and trying to get to know talked me into moving to Owensboro KY to be closer to him and so he could be there for his grandkids. So once again I packed what I could and moved to Kentucky.

The relationship between me and my father did not work out so he ended up moving and me and my children stayed here. I started working as a housekeeper at the local YMCA and absolutely loved the people that I met and soon became family with. After a few years I worked my way up to becoming a director at the YMCA and felt like I had finally found my place in this crazy world. They were the family that I never had and were there for me when I found out I was pregnant with my youngest daughter Cailey.

In 2018 I was laid off and that is when the life that I had built started to crumble. I went on unemployment and tried to find house’s to clean , but I had no vehicle at the time so it was really hard to find work with no car and no one to help watch my children. My luck started to change when I got a vehicle. I started cleaning house’s again and everything was working out or so it seemed.

My oldest daughter who was in the 4th grade at the time had started to deal with mental health issues and I found out that she had been cutting herself. I was absolutely devastated but determined to be there for her and get her whatever help that she needed to help her deal with what she was going through. At that same time my youngest daughter had been diagnosed with a rare disorder called Septo Optic Dysplasia which effects the brain, eyes and bladder functions so she was going through all kinds of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Being a single mother is hard while trying to work but throw in Dr appointments and therapy appointments several times a week and it gets so much harder. But even though it was extremely hard I managed to provide what I could for my children.

In 2020 the vehicle that I had broke and I had no way of getting it fixed, so once again because I had no vehicle I couldn’t work and the work that I could do wasn’t enough to pay the bills that I had, I couldn’t get to doctor appointments for my girls and everything just seemed like it was falling apart.

Fast forward to this year I found out that my daughter was still cutting herself even after going to several different therapists and she ended up getting a life-threatening infection from a dirty blade that she used. I had to spend 2 weeks with her in the hospital and in those two weeks I couldn’t work so it set me back even more with my bills and rent.

Because it has set me back my landlords decided to file an eviction notice even after I had explained to them the circumstance as to why I needed more time to come up with the rent money. So while dealing with both of my daughters health and mental health issues I was dealing with being evicted and I had my water and gas shut off. If it wasn’t one thing it was something else.

I have struggled my entire life and for my kids I would do it all over again because they are all that I have. This is just a run down version of the main events that have happened in my life. I believe that everything happens for a reason and we aren’t given things that we can’t handle, but honestly I don’t know how much more I can handle. It has been so overwhelming trying to stay positive for my kids all while handling trying to work, pick which bills I can and can’t pay and hope they won’t get shut off, medical and mental health issues for my girls, car issues that I can’t afford to fix and not having anywhere to move because of the eviction. But through all of it I am still here trying my hardest.