Monday, February 11, 2013

A Single Mom's Crazy Rantings: How do you do it?

It has now been just over 6 months since I've been an "official" single mom to my 3 crazy-lovable kiddos. Day in and day out there are obstacles, challenges, rewards and difficulty.
 
The most popular question I get is "How do you do it?"
Sadly more often than not the person asking this question is asking for advice. I find that my advice is asked most frequently by a number of woman whom are wanting to leave their husband or significant other for one reason or another.
 
It's not my job, nor is it my business, to judge another's  marriage but I am more than happy to give my advice, help, understanding, acknowledgment or encouragement.
 
So "How do I do it?"
I don't.
 
What people see:
I was a stay at home mom until a month after I asked my husband to leave. I have a part time job and live on my own with the kids. Most of all they see that I'm happy :)
Most people see what they want to see. They look at me and see a single woman making it with her 3 kids even through divorce.
 
Here's the truth:
I desperately want to be a stay at home mom for my children so I work a part time job night and weekends. I do this so during the day I'm home with them doing our normal routines. Breakfast, chores, lunch, preschool, sports/activities, dinner, etc. Half the time I leave before dinner to go to work. This means someone else reads them a bed time story, tucks them in and sends them off to sleep. I usually work until 10:30pm, pick up kids and come home. I then stay up until midnight or 1 am working (for no or little money) on my photography or the blog. Even on days I don't work I'm still up until midnight "working".
Then its up at 7:30am and we start all over again. Since the blog and photography don't pull in huge pay checks (yet) I also frequently nanny a couple other kids here and thereto make ends meet. My house is usually messy because there isn't enough time to do anything and when given an opportunity to have a minute to myself I take it instead of doing dishes.
I didn't get much help before, but when your a single mom you get NO help. Each day its you and the kids, there's no more spouse giving you a break when he's home from work. Its only you. There are mandatory breaks every other weekend and possibly a few hours once a week. That's 4 days a month I get a break and even then I try to work as much as I can because there's no childcare costs.
 
For 3 kids I get just over $600 a month, my part time job brings an average of $400. These are the only consistent incomes I can count on. The kids and I get medical and food assistance from the state, which takes the food costs out of the equation. Rent and power average to about $600 a month. Which then leaves me with $400 a month to pay for diapers, wipes, gas, preschool, childcare, toiletries, non food groceries (garbage bags, dish/laundry soap, paper towels, etc), sports/activities, clothes for the kids if needed and other bills (phone, car ins, my medical expenses, debt, etc) Does $400 a month cover these items? NO.
I pick and choose what bills I can pay each month. Or I make smaller payments when I can't afford the full payment.
Some months I don't have enough for the basics. When this happens I have been very fortunate that I'll have a photo shoot, nanny and the extra money comes in somehow.
Living like this might have been fine when your single but not when you have 3 children to support.
 
Another factor that you have to keep in mind is the constant battling over the littlest things with your ex spouse. Childcare, support, expenses, family, cars, debt, kids, jealousy, diapers, etc. You name it and there could be an argument. I choose to disengage or not argue because I hate confrontation.SO I choose to take the higher road and don't lower myself to the argument. If its pertaining to the divorce case at hand then I let the attorney handle it. If its an argument relating to personal issues I don't give it the time of day. Though its hard to not argue back and forth this has been my biggest accomplishment thus far.
 
Then there is the fact of paying for an attorney for my divorce. I don't, I have been borrowing money from family (thankfully for them). Who knows how I'll ever pay that back. SO far the average total for the attorney has been close to $4,000.00 and the divorce isn't even final yet.
 
I have come to realize I can't go much longer than like this.
For over a month now I have been either looking for a second part time job or a full time job. The only difficulties with this are to be able to afford my portion of childcare for 3 kids I have to get a full time job that pays a minimum of $11/hour after taxes. And in this economy there really aren't many options available, and if a position opens up your trying to claw your resume through the competition. This will also means that my "dream job" of being a stay at home mom for my kids is soon over. I'll drop them off at day care so someone else can raise my children then pick them up with just enough time to feed them dinner and tuck them into bed. I'll be like most other working moms where you only get to see your kids a few hours a day. I'm not wanting pity, tons of people do it, but when you have made sacrifices in your life to stay home with your children it just makes it a hard situation to swallow.
 
With today's economy, money seems to be the most important thing in peoples lives. They seem to think that if you don't have money your not happy. This usually is reflected on a marriage. Sometimes this isn't the case and there are other reasons for divorce.
Unfortunately most couples think that divorce is the answer or that the grass would be greener on the other side. This is NOT always the case. And in today's society divorce seems just as disposable as taking out the trash.
While my life is happier now I tried everything first. I believe its your duty to try everything possible before walking away. I tried to make things work, went through marriage counseling but in the end infidelity was where I drew the line. You will not always be happy in a marriage but you made a vow and I feel that you should try everything to uphold those vows.
In the end trying everything may not work or may not be for you. But making the decision to get divorced or spilt up your family isn't something that just pops into your head one day. It's something that needs to be thought about, processed and talked about before any decisions are made.
 
My life is what it is. Its a struggle everyday. But I still seem to stay positive, have a great outlook on life and believe everything happens for a reason. We'll make it somehow and I can't worry about tomorrow when I'm living today. :)
 
SO, "how do I do it?"
I don't! But I'm trying.
 
{Looking for a job ~Bree and J}
 
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1 comment:

  1. Bree! It's Sarah Hightower (now Heath) . I mostly just wanted to post a comment to give you my love and support. I can say from first hand experience I know what a divorce feels like. I may not have gone through mine with children, but I can relate to how devastating it is and the mourning process one goes through even without children. Now that I have my son, I admire your strength for handling this with such grace. I want so badly to reach out to you now in your time of need because you were such a dear friend to me when I started at O'Brien's. Please find me. I'm on FB under my husband's name ...Ian Heath. Although, I added my first name as his middle. So his screen name reads Ian Sarah Heath (of Kent) . I am here for you and want to be a friend to you who can semi-relate to your situation. Please lean on your friends and family. They will be the ones to get you through.

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