Rhonda Mccardell is a successful paralegal & a mother of 6.
Rhonda Mccardell is a successful paralegal & a mother of 6. We are honored to have the pleasure of featuring her today! Her transparency inspires us all and we are excited that she let us into her world by sharing her struggles, her story, and her testimony. We know her story and advice will motivate everyone reading, take a look!
You’re an excellent woman, mother, and Senior Paralegal. How did you accomplish your goals raising six kids?
You know, I wasn’t always the best mother. As mothers we do the best we can with our circumstances.
What are the pros and cons of raising six kids?
Wow! What a question. You know it wasn’t my plan to have six children. I married young, I thought I had married the love of my life, that we would have our children and give them everything we didn’t have. I thought it would be like a fairy tale and we would have the house with the white picket fence and live happily ever after. That wasn’t the case. I was one of those women who could get pregnant at the drop of a hat. And I did, almost every year in the beginning and every two years after that. I even had my sixth child after having my tubes tied. I was in shock!!! How could I be pregnant again?
We were good though. We were both working and making a living, spending money recklessly as young couples do. But it was good; we took care of our children.
The kid’s father was a great provider; he worked hard and paid virtually all the bills. But that didn’t last. Things changed quickly after he injured his back at work. This was a job he had been at for many years. He had to have major back surgery; he was in pain all the time. In addition to that our marriage was suffering. I was the only one working and he was home all day. He was miserable and so was I. The boredom and pain pushed him to start using drugs. He went from being the best provider to a crack head.
His drug addiction took over our lives and after many years of drug behavior and abuse I decided I had to get my kids out of there. I did just that. I pack the few things that were left and got out of there.
Our lives would drastically change. Here I was a young woman living on my own with six children and no other financial help except for my job. I worked at least two jobs, sometimes three, in order to feed my children. I never wanted them to be hungry like I was as a child.
I had to learn how to juggle the finances, even with two jobs it was hard to make ends meet. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a car, I used the bus to get to both jobs. Some nights I would get home after midnight.
Raising children is rough! It’s even tougher when you do it as a single parent. I am always amazed at the people on TV who talk about the joys of parenting. I’m like WHAT? That was not something that I felt while raising my kids. I felt stress, I felt resentful, and I felt fear. When you have six children there is always something that can go wrong and something always did. There was always an emergency I couldn’t afford, there was juvenile detention, juvenile arrests, suspensions from school, time off from work to attend parent-teacher conferences, etc. You see, when you have six children the calls on your job are constant. I am surprised I didn’t get fired based on the days I missed and the number of emergency calls I got from the school. When you have six children you don’t think about a career path, your only goal is to make it through that particular day.
When I look back on those days I know the only way we made it was through prayer and grace. My children are amazing now. To have lived through all that Hell and still turn out to be good citizens sometimes baffles me. But they are and I praise God for it.
What were some things you struggled with and how did you overcome them?
I can definitely say that I struggled mightily with my self-esteem. I knew from childhood that I was different or at least I felt different. I felt at times that I would never measure up. I always wanted to be and look like someone else, to live somewhere else. You see when you grow up in a household that is full of drama and the people in authority are active drug users that don’t have time to give you any attention, you can’t help but to have self-esteem issues. I was one of 5 children; my mother was trying to rear on her own. It seemed to me that I was hungry all the time. Many times the only food we had as a child was free lunch at school. That was a real struggle because if you ate free lunch you could expect to be tormented by the other students at school. Kids are cruel. I mean if you went through the free lunch line the kids would tease you relentlessly, that didn’t help my self-esteem. I hated that, but the hunger was more powerful than the need to belong.
I can remember at least once a month when my mother got her food stamps we would be so excited; I would gorge myself because I knew in a couple of days it would be right back to the world of hunger. As a child I would hide food so that we could have more days with food. I would wake up in the middle of the night and eat the food that I had previously hidden. This turned into a regular occurrence whenever we had food. I began to get up in the middle of the night, almost in a sleep like state and eat the items I had been saving. This behavior carried on into adulthood. I would often sleep walk when I was stressed. My kids would later tell me that they would watch me to make sure I didn’t go outside while sleep walking. I knew that if I had a bad day I would sleep walk and eat.
As I got older and began to exercise, I changed my focus to healthier eating. Yet even though I was working out and eating healthy I wasn’t really losing weight. You see, I still had this secret. I was still sleep walking and eating at the same time. I couldn’t control it. if you eat over a thousand calories in the middle of the night, it doesn’t matter how much exercise or healthy eating you do in the daytime. You will gain weight! I felt ashamed about the way I would eat while sleep walking. I even named my alter ego Queenie. Queenie began to take over my life. I would wake up with food in the bed, crumbs on the sheets. As a child, food offered me a level of comfort a feeling that everything was going to be okay. As an adult, food seemed like a burden to me.
The turning point came for me when I moved to Florida. I had been in the legal field for over 24 years. I got offered an incredible job opportunity in Florida at a law firm making more money than I ever had. I was ready to make the transition. Now, this was a stressful process. I had to leave my current husband in Houston because we didn’t have the resources to pick up and move both of us. I had to come to grips with being in a new city, with no family and no husband.
It was very difficult. I began to grieve and with the grieving Queenie was in full force. I wondered if I had made a bad decision moving here. I was forced to get on my face before God and ask for his help. I began to journal. It was a practice that I had let go many years ago. But I thought now is a time while I’m alone to get closer to God through my journaling. Writing allowed me to be honest with myself and honest with God.
I asked God to help me with Queenie, you see Queenie protected me as a child but I don’t need her as an adult. I needed to be closer to God. I got rid of anything unhealthy that I was holding on to – even food.
I prayed and journaled every night. I would wake up fix my meals and workout the next day. After about two weeks I notice that Queenie was gone! I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my chest. Not only that, I could feel myself getting healthier, physically and spiritually. I had been oppressed.
I now am 30 pounds lighter. I have a true passion to help other women who struggle with this issue. When you have trauma as a child it can manifest in many ways as an adult. Mine was a food addiction.
Even though I am 58 years old, my goals are still in progress, I still have a lot of things I would like to accomplish. I am currently a senior bankruptcy paralegal. The work that I have been doing for the past 24 years as a paralegal is very rewarding. I have an opportunity to help change lives.
What advice would you give to women who may be battling with the same struggles you have conquered?
I truly believe that we can’t do anything without God! I also think that it is important to surround yourself with women who will tell you the truth. We as women need to love and support each other because we are all suffering from something.
What are your current goals?
My goal is to help others who are oppressed. Particularly those who want to improve their mind, body and spirit. I am truly interested in healthy living and fitness. It is possible to conquer this food addiction, and to live a healthy lifestyle.
Today I can say I am a good mother. You see, it’s never too late to be a good parent. I pray for my children daily. When asked, I give them the best advice I can. God has taught me a lot.
Thank you so much Rhonda for your words. We believe in you! To learn more about Rhonda, visit her on Facebook at Rhonda Allen.