By Heather Spaulding
For Corinne Morrell, single parenting has been filled with heavy challenges countered by incredible rewards.
“The good part of being a single parent is that it’s all been mine. The first steps, first day of kindergarten, first school dance. I’ve gotten to see it all and watch [Ashlynn] turn into a beautiful young woman,” Morrell said. “And I helped do that.”
Her daughter Ashlynn is now 15. The most challenging aspect of those 15 years, Morrell said, is that as the only parent, she has had to handle every situation that arises all by herself.
“It’s hard trying to do it all, meet that work-life balance while making sure she has her needs met, and that our essential needs are met,” Morrell said.
Currently, Morrell works two jobs to make sure they have enough income.
“It has definitely taken a toll,” Ashlynn said while giving her mother kudos for being a hard worker. “She takes good care of us.”
While the mother-daughter pair has been through tough times, including the pandemic, they have had good times too. A few years ago they were able to help build and buy their own home through Homes for Islanders. Owning their own home had a huge impact on their lives.
“It’s been nice to have a space of our own,” Morrell said.
An exciting part of the process for them was that both mother and daughter were able to pick out the colors of their own rooms.
“We have the freedom to express ourselves in our own living space,” Morrell said.
Over the last two years that they moved into their home, Morrell has taken in a few displaced teens. The experiences solidified her respect for foster families working hard to make a difference in children’s lives.
Without pet restrictions on their residence, the mother-daughter duo expanded their family to include a cat and dog, which provided comfort and companionship throughout the pandemic.
COVID provided its unique struggles. Adjusting to remote schooling, Morrell said was rough on both of them. The longer the pandemic continued and social activities stayed on hold, the more she worried about Ashlynn’s emotional needs.
“Fortunately, she has a couple of friends whose moms are a lot like me in regards to keeping safe and taking precautions, so we were able to pod up with them,” Morrell said, adding that without those couple of friends, without their pets to keep Ashlynn company, she can’t imagine how tough the last year would have been.
“I can’t imagine her being alone all the time through this crisis, and you know there are some kids who have been,” Morrell said.
Friends like these, Morrell said are part of what makes the island community special.
“I have a very cool core group of ladies that have my back, support me, and have stepped up when I needed them,” Morrell said. “They have kept an eye out for Ashlynn, so she has a good group of island mommas.”
That group of women would not fail to tell her if Ashlynn got into trouble either, Morrell said.
“Not if I don’t get caught,” Ashlynn piped up in the background.
“That’s just it, in this community, you will get caught,” Morrell said with a laugh.
Besides a village of mothers, Ashlynn has received numerous opportunities in Friday Harbor that she may not have had in other places, Morrell explained. She has received various scholarships and participated in a number Parks and Rec activities just to name a few.
Regardless of where they are, the pair is content to kick back and hang out together. A few of their favorite activities, according to Morrell, include simple things like going for a drive or having breakfast. If they’re feeling more adventurous, going sailing. The duo loves to play the “I Love You More” game, though it is often difficult to tell who is winning.
“Parenting has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but it has also been the best thing I have ever done,” Morrell said. “I think that is largely due to who Ashlynn is. She a good kid.”
To which Ashlynn responded, “She is an amazing mom. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.”