I’m Jowell, an at home mom to my 3 boys, Malaki, Jaydin and Ethan, and a wife to my husband of almost three years now, Bryan. It’s amazing the pride I have in being a mother. My boys have been my new beginning. They are my reason to push through obstacles I used to let break me, my reason to stay responsible, focused, and always moving forward.
In my past, I have mostly lived a life for me, without fear for consequences, and that has put some difficult situations in my life. I came from a strong family on all sides. My parents were divorced, but both encouraged values and character. My young teenage rebellion sent me to a girl’s home similar to a juvenile hall alternative at the age of 17. I spent 9 months with Miss Trudy, who was the leader of the home, and she made it clear that it was up to me if my time there would be my prison or my palace.
At 18, I was back at home at my mom’s, where I struggled to live under the rules, and I felt I still didn’t live up to my parents’ expectations. I moved out and ended up in California, where I lived a fast life. I was a heavy drinker and became addicted to meth. My life was a day by day effort to get high. I had an opportunity to stay with a friend and her parents, back in California, the Martens. I was very encouraged by their love for such a worthless me. In four months, I fell in love with the Martens so much that I call them my Mushya and my Pashya.
My Mushya told me she wished she could have taken a picture of me when I arrived, and then again just before I was leaving, because the difference was like night and day. I was so strung out when I arrived, she said I looked like a “dead man walking.” After being clean, I had color and looked so alive.
I stayed sober for over a year. But, after coming back to Washington, I easily gave up my resistance to drugs and became involved in an abusive relationship. I lost my job and suffered from growing depression.
My guilt ate away at me for throwing away my sobriety. I knew I needed to change things in my life, and I had to separate from bad influences.
Timing is everything in my story. I met my now husband Bryan and his son, Malaki, in 2006. I quickly fell in love with both of them. It’s very special to me that Bryan’s son, Malaki, was born in 2003. Even though my own life was a mess in 2003, God was holding that gift for me.
When Bryan and I were first dating, a small traffic violation turned into a felony on my record, because I had pills in my purse that were not prescribed to me. I was convicted while I was pregnant. A felony takes away the right to vote. It affects jobs and places of residence. It holds me back from being able to be more involved, even at my kids’ school. The judge explained to me what I could get, and what he was going to sentence me to. He hoped I would make a different life for my baby on the way, and that was what I intended to do.
At the same time the judge was suggesting I make changes, I had already begun working with Sarah, my case manager with Step by Step. Sarah guided me through my pregnancy. She helped me with getting medical insurance, nutrition, and she educated me about how the choices I made during pregnancy would affect my baby. She supported me through all of my court proceedings. She was my friend. I took Love and Logic classes taught at Step By Step, and they helped me see that my anger and frustration only lead to more bad behavior, and also how to give reasonable choices to our kids. Bryan saw a change in my standards and started working on bettering his life also. He took an accelerated course, and got his GED.
Today, we have three children, and we use every resource we can to provide a healthy life for our family. We are in the process of getting full custody of our oldest son Malaki, and the courts are in our favor. My middle son, Jaydin, should be entering kindergarten this fall and our youngest son, Ethan, is a work in progress with potty training.
I will soon be able to get my felony vacated off of my record. To do that, I need to maintain a perfect record for five years, which I am just over a year away from now. My excitement grows, as I know I can do this. I am working on strengthening my skills and continuing to focus on my family. I plan to further my education soon and open a business of my own someday.
Bryan and I are growing to the point where we can fully provide on our own for our family, while being able to give back to those who are ready to make the change themselves for a better life. Malaki and I also had a mommy date while we participated in Step By Step’s 5k Walk/Run Fundraiser last fall. I hope I can be an example to others to keep fighting for what is right and that we can give our world a better tomorrow.
Step by Step has had so much to do with setting us up for success. I have received items to help me care for my kids, resources to get more help, and real life lessons. I’ve never been left alone, and I know Sarah and Robyn will always be there for me. I believe they love every client that comes their way.
I can’t vote, and I don’t have a lot of resources. But, I do have a voice to speak up about what Step by Step has done for me. I am just one of the many lives they will impact. Every mother should be encouraged to better her life and to have the helping hand of someone who can show you how to do it. Sarah has continued to be a part of my life for about five years now, and she has become a true and dear friend of mine. She has always been an outstanding example of a mother who can overcome obstacles, a mother who loves and prides in her son, a hard worker, and an endless giver. I very much look up to the examples I have in Step by Step. My family is forever grateful and blessed for all that Step by Step has done for us. Thank you!