Mitchell has special needs. He’s a very thoughtful boy who tries to think of other people before himself. But he’s old enough to know that his mom, Mandy, struggles with money. And sometimes he worries about whether they have enough food in the house. Mitchell’s skipped meals before to try and save food for her.
Mandy is a full-time nursing assistant. There’s always work in nursing, but it’s an uncertain field. Mandy never knows whether budget cuts or layoffs will eliminate her job. And no matter what happens, she has to take care of Mitchell. He is the joy of her life.
Mandy wants to instill the values of family and togetherness in her son. They spend mealtime talking about anything and everything. It’s essential to her that they take the time to maintain their bond. Nothing is more important in her eyes than making sure Mitchell grows up well.
But Mandy worries. She worries about being able to take care of Mitchell and provide for him. She worries about what could happen to them if she’s laid off. They’ve been homeless before, when Mitchell was 3 years old. And while they’re securely housed now, Mandy knows how uncertain life can be, and how little it takes to lose everything.
“I have actually gotten to the point where I had one can of food in my cabinet. …I wanted to cry. I sat there and I opened up the cabinet and I saw that one can. Me and Mitchell were living alone. It was back when I was a single mom. And I just wanted to cry.”
Mandy’s biggest hope for her son is that he doesn’t lose his kindness. She wants Mitchell to have an easier life than she’s had, and to live in a world where his differences don’t define him. And she hopes that he always remembers her advice: “Be kind, be sweet, be caring, be giving, because people aren't like that with you because you're different, so be that way with them. Teach them how to be better.”