I am a single mom raising two boys on one income. I don’t receive child support or government assistance. I’m not asking for sympathy or tooting my own horn. These are just facts. We live a pretty good life, and I’m proud of my little family. We’ve learned a lot over the past two years, through struggles and celebrations. Single parent life is tough, but you are tougher. Let me explain how I survived without child support.
At the time of my divorce, we lived over an hour away from any family, friends and my job. I had no support network in that little Oklahoma town. Many times my ex-husband told me to quit my job and find something closer, but I loved working for Onin Staffing. I had a boss, a team and a culture which encouraged me to grow and be successful. I wasn’t willing to give it up.
When it was apparent my marriage was over and my world was falling apart, it was my team at work who got me through the days. My two little boys were depending on me to make sure we were taken care of through the chaos of divorce. I had some tough choices to make and lessons to learn during this time.
After we filed for divorce, I moved to the same town where my job was located. Within days, we had a place to live, my oldest transferred and after school care set up. My youngest remained enrolled in his daycare, 35 minutes away. This made for very long days.
To get both kids to school and me to work on time, we had to leave by 6:00 AM daily, even in poor weather conditions. We did it for nine months. The schools supplied breakfast and I used my crockpot faithfully to keep us fed with home-cooked meals. Meal planning was a new skill I had to develop.
Money, there was little to spare.
Money was always tight with my ex-husband, but I was used to two incomes when raising my kids. On my own now, I had to learn how to budget and say no to non-essentials. It didn’t help when I was hit with a garnishment from an eviction my husband had incurred while we were previously separated.
At first, I was angry, but with some soul searching, I realized that although this was not my debt, it was my fault for not having my name removed from the lease when I left and for not settling the ownership of the debt legally during the divorce.
Once I took ownership in my part of the situation, I realized that with budgeting I could afford to have 25% of my check deducted each week. The debt would be paid off by the end of summer proving I could afford a better place to live. So, I accepted the challenge and we survived.
Not only did we survive, but the kids and I also thrived.
I found several free activities for us to do in the summer, like hiking and visiting parks. We even took a small vacation to a local theme park and stayed with a family member. I was able to hang on to most of my savings so when the garnishment ended, we were able to move to a better home.
We moved to the town where my parents live. We have a house of our own now, which I rent. We are minutes from the school and we have a friendly neighborhood. The boys love our big backyard and we use it often. My parents have helped with getting kids to and from school, especially when I was still working 35 minutes away. But, life is better, much better.
I still budget and avoid non-essentials. I use my crockpot and I meal plan. We eat at home mostly and pack picnics when we travel. This year, we took a bigger vacation to visit a friend who lives on the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve learned over the past two years how to set goals and reach for my dreams. I’m already planning next year’s vacation – a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. I don’t make a crazy salary, but working for The Onin Group has changed my life.
In the beginning, I questioned myself daily, asking “Am I doing the right thing?” It took a little time, but I began to realize that I was making good decisions, thanks to feedback and encouragement from friends. These friends were living good, successful lives – I could trust the source. After years of gaslighting, I’ve learned to trust my own instincts again. I made a conscious decision to take responsibility for my life and live with integrity, and it has made all the difference.
It hasn’t been all roses, though. I’ve had to deal with ghosts of the past and negative people in our lives. However, don’t get discouraged when people hold your past against you, even if they weren’t your mistakes. Keep your head up and know that each decision you make is leading you to a better life. Know your truth and live it in the face of those who oppose you.
Here’s how I survived without child support:
- A support system is a MUST
- Clear communication with everyone
- Setting boundaries
- Planning and backups
- Goal setting – I read a lot of books on this!
- Surround yourself with good influencers
- Seeing problems as opportunities for growth
- Meal planning, a crockpot, and premade crusts
- Making friends with people who have integrity and goals
- Forgiveness and seeing the lesson in the pain
- Finding faith
These were my failures:
- Reacting emotionally to things outside my control
- Not asking for child support
- Not making a clear parenting plan with a schedule
- Not separating the debt legally
- Not having a lawyer
- Believing the threats
- Lack of faith
I’m still working on overcoming my weaknesses. I continue to read and learn how to be a good steward of my money and resources. I’m frugal, but I want my kids to have a great life, so I plan accordingly. I work every day to see the lesson in each situation. I do my best to be a good leader for my household. I pray, a lot! I’m not perfect, not even close, but I’m trying to be better than I was yesterday. Being a single mom isn’t easy, and it’s worth every moment!