I always wanted children. I came from a very large family and get-togethers were always so energized and fun. It was never a thought in my head that I wouldn’t have children one day. I just never knew though that I would be raising them alone.
How have your experiences shaped you?
I have had many moments of quiet contemplation as I looked over my shoulder to see the path I had walked behind me. I wondered how I got through so much. How have these experiences shaped me to be the person I am today? I decided to summarize that path so I could actually see what it looked like. Here is my journey and thoughts about how each stepping stone on my path has shaped me.
The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way in which we use them.
At 16 I was shy and just starting to figure out who I was. My shyness waned as I grew more and more confident. I started to hear my own voice.
At 18 my confidence was intact, and I felt pretty. I felt like I knew who I was and where I was going.
At 21 I was growing towards becoming a woman. I was getting serious about an education. I went away to school and learned how to be responsible for myself. My family was not with me, so I had to learn to lean on just me.
At 22 I met a guy…the guy. The one I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. He was wonderful. He was smart, athletic, and very handsome. And he inspired me to be a better me. He was who I saw myself spending my life with.
At 25 I graduated from college. I went to England and France after graduation and felt every inch of my world. But I was ready to be married. Or so I thought. I think I wanted to be a real grown-up. So, we got engaged by me putting a gun to his head and telling him that I had the world at my fingertips and its either now or never. He acquiesced and we got engaged.
At 26 I got married. And at 26 my new husband changed. He wanted to be somewhat separate from me. He jumped into his own physical fitness that I was not included in. But I cheered him on and supported him throughout all of the competitions.
At 30 I finally found a career I liked. I matured. I gained a sense of myself again. I grew so much. I grew up.
At 33 we bought a house in a beautiful area near the beach. We seemed to finally be on the same page. We were finally starting to grow together and share this common goal of homeownership, preparing for a family home.
At 34 I had a baby boy. I was now a working mother. I had a good career, a darling home, a wonderful husband, and all was well in my world. I was the happiest I have ever been in my life.
At 36 I found out that my husband was having an affair. My heart stopped literally. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. Why would he do this? Why would he break up our family? He didn’t end up leaving. He wasn’t ready… I guess. We decided to stay together and rebuild. Rebuild our home and family footing.
At 38 we decided to remodel our home. It was somewhat symbolic of rebuilding our life together and forging a new foundation.
At 39 I had a baby girl. I now had a baby girl and a 4-year-old boy. Life was beautiful. Then, I found out my husband was having an affair. Again. This time it was different. He was ready and he left me. He left the three of us for another woman who was in his mindless complicated. And I was also tasked to finish building our home alone. So much for that foundation.
At 40 I completed our home and I moved the 3 of us back in. I met a man who became my best friend and confidante. He literally glued the woman I was back together. He too was going through a divorce that he didn’t initiate. We were two broken people trying to put each other back together. But for that time, it worked.
At 41 I became officially divorced. I had a 6-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. I had to sell my newly built house and I bought my first home by myself. A house that looked almost identical to the small one we had remodeled before construction, but a home for my young family. I lost my job three weeks after moving in. They asked me to move to Northern California and I couldn’t. Three weeks after that, I got another job. It wasn’t a great job, but I had no choice. I had to take it; I had a mortgage to pay.
At 43 I got my dream job. I had an 8-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. I felt like I was finally feeling my own strength again. I grew to another level of confidence. The job required travel and my parents were there at every turn for me.
At 45 my world crumbled. My Dad died. The man who loved me with all his heart and who was my biggest cheerleader and support system all in one left this earth. My relationship with the man I had met when I was 40 was coming to a sweet end too. We both discovered that we actually weren’t good for each other any longer. I had grown so much. He wanted a traditional woman who only needed him. I did need him. Just not in the circa 1965 way that he required. How could I be that woman? I had a 10-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl that I was responsible for and had been for many years.
At 50 I was fired for no reason from my dream job. A female Vice President on staff was threatened by my skills, acumen, and professional relationship with the CEO so she forged a character assassination on me and succeeded in getting me fired. The portrayal of being disloyal to him in any manner would surely get you fired, and she knew how to play him in order to secure herself. I knew this to be true because I had seen so many people before me go in this manner of strategy by her. I just sat securely on my laurels thinking I was safe. I wasn’t.
This woman was also an older single mother who raised her children alone. It almost broke me to be treated like this by another single mother who had walked in my shoes. It literally almost broke me. But it defined her drive for survival over support for a younger single mother. I had a 14-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. I almost lost our home. I got a new job at a much lower salary. I was forced to make double mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure and to catch up. All other expenses were halted. No cable TV, which meant no TV at all. No wasting water or electricity. No McDonald’s trips. No help with childcare. It was the hardest time in my life. And that too nearly broke me. But my mother kept me straight and reminded me of where I came from and who I was. With every word she spoke, I grew resilience muscles.
At 54 the other part of my world crumbled. My mother died. I had an 18-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. My mother was my closest friend. We were very similar people. We loved deep conversations over wine and cheese. She was my Hero. She will always be the woman I strive to be.
At 56 my son left for UC Berkeley to study politics. He was 20-years old and my daughter was 16 years old. I sold my old house and bought a new one so I could avoid big repairs to an old house and have money for his college. I was once again feeling stronger in my decisions as to what was best for my family.
At 59 my son graduated from college. One chick in the nest fully educated. One to go. At the graduation, I sat in the stadium at UC Berkeley all by myself. My daughter and ex-husband missed the big university graduation because they were driving up to Berkeley from LA. His Political Science graduation was the following day and they would be attending that one. As I sat in that stadium alone, I became emotional. Families were all gathering and sitting together and shouting as they saw their graduates walk into the stadium in procession. As I saw my son walk in with a massive smile on his face, I saw his whole life experiences flash in front of me.
I was there for every moment of them. I was a full-time parent who saw every skinned knee, every hard homework project, every cold, flu, and fever he had. I taught him how to drive and how to tie a tie. I taught him how to shave too. I was there throughout it all. Every day of his life. I sighed, closed my eyes, and felt an immense amount of gratitude at what I was able to provide for him to get to this happiest of days for him. I was still there too. I was still alone too. But I was grateful to be there at all.
At 60 I made the most money I have ever made in my career. I was truly successful. My son got a job working for a Congressmember. I had a 24-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter.
At 61 a pandemic hit, and I took a 40% pay cut. I had a 25-year-old boy and a 21-year-old girl. My daughter is finishing her college education and will someday work in film. My son will apply for a Master’s Degree and is guided towards foreign policy. And I am still watching and supporting their every move.
What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine, you create.
So why am I sharing this diary of experiences in the first place? I mean, I am 61 and still unmarried! I guess you could say that I am still alone. But am I really? I think I am at the threshold of a new adventure. Always new adventures. I actually insist on new adventures. Ones that will refer back on like the experiences I have shared with you. These are the choices and reactions I had to make on the path of my life. What good would they all be if they didn’t lead me to new steppingstones that will be placed in front of me?
All of those past steppingstones have made me braver by the day, by the year, and even by the decade. How exciting!
I have said in many articles that we are the sum of our life experiences. I believe that if we take these experiences and as the cliché goes, “learn from them”, we gain another brick to our foundation…another steppingstone to our path. And those steppingstones will one day show themselves as a “bequeathment” to our children.
They become the steppingstones for them too, by seeing our resilience muscles growing over time, comes shared strength to those we have indeed worked and sacrificed for. Our children.
I know what I endured wasn’t fun. It just wasn’t. But for some reason, I was chosen to be both mother a father. I took that role on and I’m proud of what I accomplished. I want you all to be proud of yourselves too. Some journeys will be harrowing, and some will be easy.
I wish you all a good journey from the steppingstones behind you and the ones still yet to be forged. Adventures you still have to explore as a result of your sacrifices! And so…that’s how my life experiences prepared me for single motherhood!