It is said that people who fail to plan, plan to fail. I hate that mantra. As single mothers, planning at all is a luxury and even when proactively planning eludes us, and reactively responding to the constant flow of demands on us is what we know best, well…failure is never on our radar!
Best Laid Plans
This mantra is for those people who have been able to stick to the navigational system they set in place when they placed their first foot on the path to creating a family. It takes only one person to derail the best laid plans; the best laid family.
Divorce. the action or an instance of legally dissolving, or as we all know, to legally dissolve one’s marriage contract.
If I had a nickel for how many times, I have pondered this last citing; to legally dissolve one’s marriage contract, I would be a rich woman. In my previous role in the hospitality industry I negotiated hundreds of contracts for a living.
I have spent many hours mitigating contract clauses when a client wanted to cancel or change their original contractual obligations. In doing so, my mind always drifted back to wondering why we don’t have the ability to mitigate damages to our broken marriage contract when children are involved, and when we are left to raise a family and carry so much of the financial burden unilaterally?
How is it right that one can break their part of the contract, only to leave the other party with the responsibility of seeing the entire family contract come to fruition. Aka, raising the children?
My mind has been racing on this subject ever since COVOD19 introduced itself to our world. I live in Los Angeles and as COVID cases were increasing and hospital beds were decreasing and the economy started to show a decline, our city government jumped right in to help alleviate the financial struggles that our citizenry was experiencing.
Ordinances declaring that people who were laid off would be protected so that employers would not rehire their positions with lower paid replacements and that they would get their jobs back.
Debit cards were issued, and Utility bills were halted with the protection of their services not being turned off all in the name of support. We have experienced job losses like I have never seen. The population that is most focused on and rightfully so are the Homeless, the suddenly unemployed, the lower wage earners of our city, and our state.
However, a section of the population that has gone by the wayside are single parents. When a single parent experiences a job loss or a reduction in their workweek which translates to a pay cut, they are assumed to be okay. But we aren’t.
We are more stressed out than ever and I honestly didn’t think that was possible. Oh, we can apply for unemployment if we lose our jobs and we can benefit from the ordinances our city government is offering, but that will take some time. The children still need to be fed, clothed, cared for, and now homeschooled.
As single parents we are pulled in so many directions it feels like we are trying to put our fingers into hundreds of holes in a broken water dyke. Plug one hole and another one bursts and on it goes.
We are spread thin, to say the least, and through it all, we are not sleeping because we are so worried. My children are adults now. Due to the stay at home order and social distancing, they have not seen their Dad for more than 45 minutes in the past 3 months even though he lives about 45 minutes away. They may be adults, but they are still living under my roof. Their father is completely removed from any of the stresses that I, as the still single parent may be experiencing. And I am.
My work week has been cut which resulted in a 25% pay cut. Not to mention, I make quarterly bonuses of which I was always able to pay college tuition, car repairs and repairs on the home, etc. Those bonuses have now been eliminated through 2021 so the actual pay cut will reflect about 50% annually.
I lay awake every night (literally) and shake my head. How is it that I have been expected to carry so much for so long? Their father has slept soundly for the past two decades since he left. I have not slept one night soundly since he walked out the door when my children were 4 months and 4 years old. Which leads me back to the faulty contract question.
If buying a home binds, you to a contract life of around 30 years, why doesn’t a marriage contract get renegotiated as a family contract with at least a 20 years life to it?
It’s not the marriage part of the contract that matters. It’s the family part that matters. You don’t have to be delusional and think you are going to be the family you once were. That’s silly. But when a spouse leaves a family when the children are young, he or she should be held to the contract of the family beyond the dollar amount a computer calculates in custody payments.
Some divorced couples are evolved and can get ahead of their own emotions and do what’s right for the children so that they can be as evolved as their parents. But most don’t. They wait for a complete stranger a.k.a., a Judge to make the determinations as to how they will parent by a document.
These are all questions that have come to the front of mind in these days of COVID and even before.
And I’m tired.
If you are in the beginnings or middle of your divorce and are hammering out the custody portion, think about what the future holds in life with its many twists and turns. If you can plan, then maybe you can say that you did not fail to plan after all.
In the past 20 years of my being a single parent, I have weathered through more than I could have ever imagined. And I have done so alone. I put my life on hold in an effort to stabilize my two children and give them all of me. And now 20 years on, I have one child well into his career and another one still in college.
My plan is to really focus on me now.
However, a Pandemic may have said otherwise. Yet another one of life’s twists that has to be handled. I think I would be far more energized to tackle this one if perhaps I had not been so taxed at the previous 20 years of handling all of the family twists and turns alone.
As single parents, it’s hard to plan and be proactive on everything that comes at you. But you can do it if you can start this thinking together at the beginning and as the parents, you are and will always be. Even if you don’t live together.
Parenthood. Even when its Hell its Heaven!
So single parenting or not. Just do it the right way and be the best parents you can possibly be. It’s the most important job you will ever have.
If you can, then you both will feel a lot more energy to live the amazing life you were always meant to have! Even long after the divorce!