Mom with a Vision: Weekly Blog on My Journey as a Single Mom
As a single mother, then of three boys, there were so many concerns and worries that would creep up and consume my thoughts. Am I raising my boys right? Are they happy? Do I give them everything they need, and some of what they want? Where will the next pay check be applied? And so on…
It is not easy raising children, in any relationship status. Married or single, our biggest fears and greatest worries all revolve around our children. And that includes who we can trust our children with, or who we surround ourselves with to get through the hard times, and cherish the good times. Our network of family and friends play an intricate part with easing our concerns, and providing the support network we need to feel confident and comfortable with our children. Some of us have an abundance, and some of us do not.. but we all have ourselves.
When I was younger, just becoming a single mother at 29, of two young boys, I was terrified. Something as simple as food shopping alone with a 7 month old and 3 1/2 year old paralyzed me with anxiety. There were few nights that I did not cry over them wondering what our future had in store. Many months I was worried about covering bills and providing well balanced meals for my children. Thankfully they enjoyed pasta, mac and cheese and hot dogs at the time, which worked within my budget. And although there wasn’t a month without electricity, there were many Christmas’ that I relied on the real angels to bring gifts and joy to my children.
Those earth angels were (are) my parents, and if it was not for their ability to provide for many of my children’s “wants”, there would have been years of bare Christmas trees and eyes filled with tears. It was because of their unconditional love and support that we were able to get by without going homeless or on welfare. It is because of them, then and now, that I am able to have some independence and provide somewhat of a comfortable life for my children.
There is very little support for mother’s in my financial situation. I make too much to meet standards for most state and federal assistance, but not enough to have anything left over after bills and most essentials are paid. It isn’t due to lack of trying. I have a college education and have always held a job. But I was never really provided the lessons, and offered the tools, to fully prepare myself for how expensive life can really be. Without allowing myself to be completely poor, I wasn’t going to make it, and that was not an option for me.
In addition, I was always an immature mother. Not in the sense of silliness, although I am that too, but in the sense of life experience. As a teenager, I was rarely interested in life lessons and professional preparation. I could care less about what my future was, as long as I was well liked and loved by someone. I always placed my value and direction in life in someone else’s hands, and ignored the lessons my parents were trying to teach me, so that I could become a thriving self-sufficient financially stable adult.
It wasn’t until my second time around as a single mother, this time of three boys, without a savings account and continual debt that I always find myself in, that I started to realize how important a real financial understanding is. 40 years into my life, still allowing my parents to bail me out of hard times, I realize it is finally time to “grow up” and get out of my own way. But was it too late? No, there is no such thing as “too late”.
Today I find myself struggling but growing and improving. I am more aware of areas that I need to focus on. I appreciate my earth angels more than they will ever comprehend, and I am always thinking of a way to crawl out of the mess I allowed myself to be consumed by. But not without also recognizing there are many other moms out there, just like me, but without the extended assistance that I was blessed with. And it is that which drives me to continue to help others, when I can, within my means, even though I could probably still use some help myself at times. This help I speak of, is by telling my story and continuing the message regarding the importance of education and self-reliance.
We, as women, as mothers, as individual contributors to this world, owe it to ourselves, to arm ourselves with the knowledge, respect and understanding of everything that is required to be successful in this life. Surviving should never be a goal, it should be the first stepping stone to advancing and being prosperous. And our circumstances should never be the excuse we lean on when it feels too hard to stand. So how do we do it? So many of us know what we should do, or what we want, and very few of us can grasp the amount hard work that is necessary to obtain those things. Even less know where to start.
The lesson is simple, so very, very simple. So simple, in fact, that we feel stupid when we realize how simple it really is. We need to get out of our own way. That is it. Simple, right? The only person that stops you from walking out that door, as a newly single mom, with 2 boys by your side, is YOU… your fears, your thoughts, your worries, your procrastination to stand up and take a hold of the situation. Yeah, YOU! You are holding you back from taking that first step to less worry, less debt, less feelings of failure and self pity.
If I only realized, 15 years ago, that all the tools that I needed were always at my fingertips, I would have surpassed my biggest hopes and dreams. The ability to learn, whether through reading a used book from the dollar store, or listing to a paid podcast, was all on ME. I just chose, that is right, CHOSE, to ignore them.. to wallow in what my circumstances made of me… to make excuse after excuse about how hard it was (is) to not only buy that pair of shoes I really want, but to buy that pair of pants that I really needed. I was allowing myself to bleed everywhere; emotionally, financially, physically, mentally.. and why? Looking back now, I have NO IDEA.
So what now? If you are like me, a single mom (or any mom really) who has basically cruised through life, waiting for opportunity, dwelling on what needs to change (but not taking the step to change it), and pointing the finger at everyone except the person looking back at you in the mirror… WAKE UP! You are everything you need, you have everything you need, to break that habit and learn what you need to learn in order to create the life you so desperately deserve.
The first place to start, take a look around you. Who is with you? Who supports you? Who encourages you? First, and foremost, your answer should be ‘ME, I support, encourage myself’. And then you need to look outside of you. Not all of us have earth angels to help us through the hard times, but they are out there. Open your circle up, join other mom groups that will bring new people into your life, and look for the things you want. If you cannot find them, create them. There is always a way.
My next steps include working heavily on my financial situation. There are many things, this past year, that I have changed; but the one thing that is a constant learning experience for me is money. Regardless of what I allowed to happen in the past, I will be financially prosperous in the near (very near) future. My savings account will exist. My investments will grow. My debt will disappear. And it will all happen because I will gain the knowledge I need, and take the steps (physically and mentally) that are required to make it happen. Finally, once all that knowledge is absorbed, I will teach it. Because there is nothing more rewarding, nothing more powerful, than providing someone with the tools they need to ensure they accomplish their goals and level of success.
My message to all mothers, of all financial circumstances, it is never too late to better yourself. There are many tools out there to learn the ins and outs of claiming your financial independence; do not be afraid to use them.