The Have Nots…

The book “Maid” arrived at my doorstep yesterday afternoon. I read the Foreward and then couldn’t resist checking out the first sentence written by the author.

“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter…”

I dreamt about that first sentence last night.

In the world of the “haves and the have nots”, I will surmise that no one notices the maid unless she does something wrong. Otherwise, I imagine she is invisible.

My Own Teenaged Years:

I recall that when I was still a teen with a baby, I cleaned a military man’s house for him on Saturdays.

Then I cleaned for a woman in a posh house, but it was always over the top filthy. Food long dried on plates stacked everywhere. I would have been greatly embarrassed had anyone seen my own humble little home looking like that.

But never worry, the “have nots” will always come in and clean filth for a pittance. I think I made $40 for that whole huge house when I cleaned it.

The English Teacher:

For a time I lived with an English teacher I had in high school. She seemed so decent and kind when she visited the institutionalized home the state provides for underaged children without parents.

I packed my bag and rode happily along in her car to her home.

When I walked into her house I was horrified, but I didn’t let it show. Because she had saved me from the confines of a place where many kids were housed where I desperately wanted to leave.

The many cats in the house ate from the pots simmering on the stove. The pots that were cooking our very next meal.

I ended up running away when I found out I was pregnant.

The Minister’s House:

Then there was the minister’s home where I lived in the last months of my pregnancy. A couple with two boys, these people lived in what I also regard as filth.

I remember the dried stench of tuna on plates that had sat there for days during the time I spent the weekend with a great-aunt.

The dishes from which they’d eaten for days were left there for me to clean.

The Friend’s Mother Who Liked To Go Clubbing:

I stayed for a while at one friend’s house whose father was diabetic. Her mother was always out at night, so I would cook his dinner.

I felt the resentment of his wife, who didn’t want anything to do with cooking, all the same. Felt the heat of her anger every time I turned my back to her at the stove while I stirred a pot of food.

She didn’t want me there. I knew that. Yet I provided for their family what she never wanted to do. Which was to see that her husband ate his meals on time. So it was a trade-off.

She was dependent on me to provide the meals and clean the house so she could go to the clubs at night. And I was dependent on her for a roof over my head for a month or so.

The Reality Of The Haves & The Have Nots:

Some people live hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, hoping there is no medical emergency that lands them in a hospital they can ill afford.

And others are born into money. These people never know that fear, that need. They don’t understand that you are always sorting words in your mind so that you can ask something of them in the nicest way possible.

A world some take for granted. And others will never live to see.

I look forward to reading Stephanie Land’s book. A way of honoring what she lived through. And that she persevered with courage and determination and love for her child.

All because she happened to be one of the “have nots”.



  1. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. You have such strength and have touched my heart. I watched the whole Maid series on Netflix and it is phenomenal.

    1. I watched the Maid series on Netflix. I was immediately hooked. The strength and survival skills of this young woman truly admirable. The true story itself is phenomenal but Andi McDowell’s powerful performance should win her an Emmy.

      1. I must add that your own very personal stories of your past, Brenda, are an honor to read. I knew you were strong when I first read your blog from back in Texas. Thank you for continuing to write so beautifully and share your journey with us.

  2. I remember every word you ever shared about your life. If you don’t write your autobiography, the world, and your grandchildren, will miss out on a memorable life story.

  3. Brenda, thank you for talking about your past. I know it’s not easy, putting yourself out there, and being so vulnerable, but I really feel like you touch so many lives and offer so much help and peace to people when you do. I’m so sorry for all your hardships, but they helped make you the wonderful person you are today. I really love these stories of your childhood and of course your sweet kitties. Thank you for opening up and sharing your life with us.

  4. Thank you for sharing your struggles. I feel a kinship with you not in the same struggles you have experienced but in other struggles. I am so glad you have your four-legged family. I too have two adorable cats and live in an apartment. I think we are close to the same age too. I look forward to your posts every day.

  5. Brenda, I have heard/read a few of your stories before and today as I did now I think of your strength and courage, not to mention love for your daughter. You are an amazing lady and you are absolutely correct in all of your statements, people do not want to see “the help.”

    I’ve not read the book nor seen the tv show but I have heard they are both good.

  6. I agree with both comments of desperation and experiencing economic uncertainty which many in this country have not been through. I can’t imagine even fearing for your own safety going to school at young ages let alone surviving with a child. Brenda – you would have made a wonderful social worker with your own life experiences.

    1. Yes I agree. We cannot predict our futures either. When I see young mothers shopping at grocery stores with 3, 4 & even 5 children, or expecting another, I have no idea how they do it. Really! There’s no way I could ever parent so many young lives in these rough times. Very sorry Brenda that you had such a traumatic childhood. As a very loving person, your girls and grands are fortunate to have you. I also think you’d be an excellent social worker.
      Let us know about the book. A few details maybe.

  7. You could write a book on your own experience. I did not read the book but did start to watch the series made from the book. It is amazing what someone that is so desperate but loves their child so much what they will go through to keep alive and provide for basic needs of her child. It give us all hope that when there is love and a will to survive good things can come out of bad. Enjoy the book.

  8. If everyone had to experience a period of economic uncertainty, when the roof, food, transportation, we depend on wasn’t there, I think we’d live in a much better and certainly kinder society.

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