I have spent the greater part of the past 23 years digging deep to find faith in myself and in the universe to believe that I will be okay every day. Approaching each morning wondering, will today be safe? Approaching each Monday morning hoping that the week would be easy, with no shocks.
That was the new awareness I had of myself shortly after my divorce because I was so blindsided by it all.
And every day after that, I approach with a certain level of anxiety…still. With responsibility comes a lot of angst. And when you are responsible for raising a family alone and providing everything for them with no mental or physical preparation for that, well… it can be daunting, to say the least.
I come from a very large family and my parents were married for over 50 years. There were no examples or instruction manuals for single parenthood.
For the past two decades as life progressed, and as my other family members raised their respective families, they did so with a lot of support having two parents in their households to shoulder the physical and financial responsibilities. As time went on, I distanced myself a bit because it was hard for me to relate to them.
I never showed my true vulnerabilities and insecurities. I always just kept up with everyone somehow.
I am now approaching retirement age, but unable to actually retire.
As a result, it is creating a whole new feeling of separation. As my family retires, I watch from the sidelines as they go on cruises, and trips abroad, buy expensive electric bicycles, have lunches with friends on Tuesdays, and take daily yoga classes. I’m happy for them too. They have all earned it.
And though I have a good life which I have worked hard to achieve, it has been completely conceived by myself. And to keep this quality of life, I need to work until I am 70 years old because I was unable to save, enough based upon the fact that I was raising my family.
In the past 23 years, I have encountered many stops and starts, crises and growth, and good times and bad times. But so much of it was reactive. There were very few proactive opportunities for me. Pro-action seems to elude many single moms. But we are complete experts at reaction!
I still wake up every day and challenge myself to be brave.
When people say to me, I don’t know how you did it and I don’t know how you found so much courage. My answer to that is I did not find courage; I found responsibility. The responsibility that I had to take on.
I didn’t start a family with my ex-husband thinking that there was an escape clause. Even though he did. That was never an option or thought for me. And even if it was presented to me on a silver platter, I would never have taken it. I had two little people who needed me to help them build their lives and become whom they were supposed to be.
That was what kept me moving forward.
I would of course have found my own motivation to create a life for myself anyway because I love life. But when you have two children that need you for their basic survival and blueprint creation, well…your perspectives change completely.
I was not a solo act. I was part of a trio.
I intend on pushing through this new phase of slight anxiety as I sit in a population of Baby Boomers that are all living their best retirement lives. Lives they worked hard to achieve and who deserve the rewards.
I must still embrace my career and I want to still grow even though I’m now over 60 years old. I must believe there’s more for me to do, that will result in one day my being able to rest and continue to live the lifestyle I love so much!
What pushes me on now is that I know I deserve that. I know I have earned that. And I hope with all my heart that God‘s plan for me was not just to label me as a single mother carrying a globe on her shoulders for two decades. I refuse to be that tired woman who just disappears from this earth, having not experienced the joy of living the rewards of her toil.
Before I take my last breath, I insist on knowing that my life was on purpose. I will never give up or give in. My life is too fabulous!
I used to say to myself daily, “Failure is not an option.
I will be a huge success!” I already am.
So why do I say all of this? I say it so you can get your act together and make sure that even though you are caring for your family, I want you to care for your future self too! If I could do any do-overs, I would talk about the future with an advisor who wasn’t part of my family or my personal social sphere. Someone who could lay it all out in the kindest of ways so that I was not overwhelmed. Because I guarantee, I would have been no matter what.
I was so busy keeping up with everyone and being a rock star in others’ eyes. I didn’t want to appear vulnerable to anyone. I wanted to keep up the well-curated vision I had created for myself for the world. Though to a certain extent that served me well, it also made me feel alone. It was a lot to project.
So, find someone you can be vulnerable to and whom you trust with your worries, thoughts, hopes, and fears. And draw up a plan for your future self!
There is a reason that flight attendants instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first before you help put on your children’s. You need to be able to be clear-thinking and not oxygen deprived to assist others. It’s the same with your future. Prepare yourself for your future self now and you be fine. You will be clear thinking. And then your adult children will be as well! They won’t have to worry about you and more importantly you won’t have to either!
I wish your future selves all the best!