Single Parent Stories: Getting Us There

Sass writes the blog Getting Us There. She has been a single mother for 15 years and her daughter is now in college. On her blog, she mostly discusses the financial challenges of single parenthood. Sorry guys, kids don’t get cheaper as they get older! Here is her story.

It is always interesting to me to think back to how I got here. I don’t like to think about it often because all of the old wounds are healed over. This wasn’t what I planned almost 20 years ago when I said “I do”. I met The Ex back during my freshman year of college. He was a couple years older and a member of the “bad boy” fraternity. The hard partyers. The guys that everyone warns you about, but secretly can’t resist. After we met, that was it for me. We dated all through college. His partying never really bothered me because “everyone was doing it”. He graduated before I did and started life in the real world. His job had him on the road a lot so I thought he had grown up and become responsible, and I was growing up too. We got married a few months after I graduated and began our lives together. There was one problem though…  I was slowly starting to realize that the party hardy ways had not been left behind in college. By the time I really clued in, I was pregnant. Not the best of timing. He lost his job (and our insurance) due to his partying when I was about 6 months along. And after the Princess was born, we were on a series of him being hired and fired, hired and fired, arguments, fights, broken promises…. Well, you know the drill. Around the time the Princess turned three, I realized this wasn’t going to change. So, I started making plans…

I quit my job as a teacher in private school (no benefits) and went to work as a receptionist — better pay PLUS benefits. A few months after that, I hit the breaking point. I scooped up the Princess and moved home with my parents. Three months after that, I was “officially” a single parent. The Princess and I lived with my parents for about a year to get on our feet. I’m well aware that not everyone has that kind of safety net and I’m very grateful that I had it.

So, fast forward to today…. Yeah, I’m leaving out a LOT, but almost 15 years of being a single parent has had its share of ups and downs and this would be a novel instead of a blog entry if I tried to tell it all. But where we are now is what is important anyway. I currently live in a cute, little (and old) house I rent from my Dad in the town where I grew up. I love my job, it provides fabulous benefits and it is close to home. The Princess is in her first year of college. The Ex grew up and gave up the partying and has a wife and two sons now. I have a friendly relationship with both the Ex and his wife, child support gets paid on time and we can openly and rationally discuss the things that affect the life of the Princess. Finances are a huge struggle as I constantly scramble to pay off credit card debt, pay tuition and lead some semblance of a normal life. All of these have come with their fair share of blood, sweat and tears.

So I’ve learned a few things over the way-too-many-years that I’ve been a single parent:

  1. You can find humor in most any situation: It can be SO easy to get bogged down in the more month than money, the loneliness, the frustration, the nameyournegativefeelinghere. However, finding a way to laugh at least a little at the current situation really helps avoid the bogginess!
  2. The dust will still be there tomorrow: The house will still need cleaning tomorrow. But that soccer game or tea party is strictly a one shot deal. Don’t miss out on them.
  3. Creativity is your BFF: Think outside the box. Whether it is sneaking veggies into a picky eater’s diet, how to stretch that $100 budget into Christmas morning magic or how to survive when both you and your own Princess (or Prince) are down with the flu. Look for the less than obvious solutions. They are often the best.

At the very end of the day, realize that although it sometimes seems like it, you are NOT alone. There are a lot of people out there who have been there, done that, got the t-shirt and made a movie of it. If they can get through it, you can too. Heck, if I can get through it anyone can!

Like this? Here are previous posts in the Single Parent Stories Series. Email me if you’re interested in contributing.