Money, weight, love. Good or bad, these have been the beacons for me the past 20 years that I have been a single mother. I have literally been obsessed with these three words for as long as I have been bestowed the title of “single mom”.
I know that sounds strange too. Why would those three words have anything to do with “divorce” or “single parenting”. For me… they have everything to do with it. Because these three words became a measured part of my journey as I changed identities from wife to mother to new mother to single parent and now to 60.
Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.
Money. Oh, how I love/hate that word. When my ex-husband left my children and I, we were in the middle of building a home. I had just had a baby. Overnight I was faced with the rent on the apartment we were living in while the house was being built, the payments to the contractors, the original mortgage we were still paying, the Nanny, the pre-school, all the bills and ultimately a lawyer! I was prepared for none of this.
I only knew how to be married where we equally supported our family. Our life. I stood in frozen silence as it all came at me. When divorce knocked on my front door, I opened it and the first words it said to me was, “Hello, I am divorced and you are about to start living financially stressed from this day forward. Have a wonderful life!”
Within what felt like minutes, I felt like I was standing at the base of the Hoover Dam and ping by ping by ping, holes started appearing in the Dam.
Water started to seep through and one by one the streams began to intensify and suddenly cracks began to appear, and the water would come flooding down on me.
All the financial responsibility came flooding down on me too. I was submerged, gasping for air as I popped up only to be pushed down repeatedly. That’s how it felt for me to be the catcher to everyone who had their hand out waiting for a check. My husband just left me to carry it all. It was cruelty I would never have known in him or ever seen before.
I have always lived my life with a certain knowing that my life, whether long or short, would be one well-lived. One filled with opportunity and prosperity. I was raised to believe this, and I just have always felt this. An unshakable knowing because I saw myself living this way. Nothing in my life post July 29, 1999, the day my husband left or what I call, “T Day”, meaning: Transformation Day”, would have supported that notion.
But I just felt it in my soul. Yes, I was faced with all of that and more. My faith and belief in myself were challenged, but it was also what pulled me through. I saw better things for my family and me. I was able to wade through all the people who had their hands out. I was able to finish building and paying for the house.
I was able to move my little family into it, enjoying the fruits of my labor for a year or so, only to ultimately sell it and split the profits with the man who fled the project. I was able to buy a home. My home; in my name only.
I have achieved many of the visions I saw for myself and my family, yes.
Visions of opportunity and prosperity always being the gasoline in my engine. But it came at a high cost. It would. We live in Los Angeles, one of the most expensive cities in the nation. And though I still carried all the responsibility of raising a family, I still believed that anything was possible. I had to.
Money remains central to my nervous system today as my children are now 20 and 24. Every day is still a struggle to keep it all afloat. My role now as their parent is to help them take their first step onto the road of adulthood.
Maybe by my example of staying true to my inner knowing’s, they will not join the ranks of men and women living inauthentic lives who also flee their families and responsibilities.
Maybe, just maybe they will listen to their own inner callings and live a good life. Wouldn’t that be swell? I am seeing it already in them, and it makes me smile. For all the good and the bad, the feast and the famine that they have experienced with me, my hope is that they will take the sum of all these experiences and weave them into their own fabric of life.
I hope they use it all for the good of life and treat people with a sense of humility and compassion. Because even though on the outside we looked like the family who had the house, the cars, the nice schools…it all came at a high price. And that price was me. Because none of it was ordered with the thought that one single woman would pay for it all.
And so, I continue to do my best to try to live my life well within that certain knowing that my life, whether long or short, will be one well-lived. And money? Well, we are still getting to know how to co-exist harmoniously.