BILLINGS - “I was just running. It’s like herding cats every day. You’re just running,” said Thersa Daly, 55, of Billings.
“I was tired and exhausted all the time,” said Veronica Bourne, 30, of Billings.
Daly and Bourne sound like they’re talking about a long day at a labor-intensive job, but they’re actually talking about motherhood.
Both found themselves at a point where they knew it was time to seek help.
“Almost a year ago in July, we were in a very dark place. I was in a very dark place,” Daly said.
Reaching out of the darkness, she turned to the Family Tree Center located on Billings’ southside.
The non-profit agency aims to prevent child abuse and neglect by offering a variety of classes and programs.
“A lot of us think we’re doing the right thing by doing all and being all for our kids when really we’re not taking care of ourselves, and realize we can’t take care of our kids if we’re not healthy ourselves,” said Stacy Dreessen, the center’s executive director.
Daly began at the Family Tree Center with parenting classes. Now she’s doing a series of classes on emotions and gets a weekly in-home visit from a mentor.
“The moment I walked into this place, I knew this is where I needed to be and this was going to be a good place for my family. It’s changed my life. It has absolutely just changed my life,” Daly said.
She has an adopted son, Shane, 5, and is also the guardian of Timothy, 3, and 5-year-old Shayna.
Daly has cared for a total of 32 foster children over eight years.
She realized it was time to focus on something other than her kids.
“Taking a really hard look at yourself first, making sure you’re taking care of who you are. And if you are exhausted or in that place, where the place is very dark and you’re alone, this is the place to come, before you have a crisis in your home. Before your children are removed. Before you’re at a place where there is no turning back, this is the place to come and say, ‘Hey, I need help,’ and there’s no shame in that,” Daly said.
“Parenting is hard. And I don’t care if you have one or six, it’s hard work and in order to do a good job you have got to take care of yourself. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. You need it. I need it,” Bourne said.
Parents of four boys ranging in age from 5 to 15, stay-at-home mom Veronica and her husband Jeremy use the Family Tree Center’s respite childcare program.
Veronica drops off her youngest child at the center once a week, allowing time for herself.
“It’s actually made their lives better and my life better, and I feel better about taking that time. I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. Actually, as a matter of fact, I demand it,” she said.
“I learned pretty quickly in marriage that leaving to go to work was actually easier than staying home with the kids. I know my wife will say, ‘I don’t have a job,’ and that’s not true. She has a very difficult job,” Jeremy Bourne said.
While Daly and Bourne were able to reach out and seek help on their own, for others encouragement might need to come from family and friends.
“If you have kids, she’s wore out, that’s a for sure thing. You have kids, she’s wore out. And if you love her, and you care about her, and you want her to be the best wife and the best mother that she can be, encourage her to be a part of the Family Tree Center and use the resources they provide, so that way she can get the rest she needs so that she can be all she can be as a mother,” Jeremy Bourne said.
To learn more about the Family Tree Center and its programs and classes, visit their website by clicking here.