Life of a Single Mom

No one ever thinks they will be a single parent. There are a lot of things we do not envision happening in our lives; that do end up happening.  Some of us have seen single mothers in action.

As many of you know my mother raised me by herself. My dad was out of the picture by the time I graced this wonderful earth. Child support? Ahhh no. There was no child support to be had. The money coming in was the money mom was making and that was it.

For me there was no back and forth between my mom and my dads. There were no sorted issues that put me in the middle between my mom and dad.  If he had been in my life; I have no doubt there would have been those issues.

Life as a mom is not easy; life as a single mother is not for the faint of hearts.  There are many of us out there; and there will be many more. Somehow we all survive.

When Jack left me in June 2010, I was technically working part-time and making about 600.00 every two weeks. Then shortly after he left me; hours got cut and I was making somewhere around 300.00 every two weeks. I was looking for other jobs, even though I loved what I did. If Jack wasn’t helping me financially, I needed to find another job that was secure. Not only secure but that would offer benefits as well. Something many Americans need to do when looking for a job. I am sure one of the first questions out of a potential employee’s is “what are your benefits like?” I would take jobs where others couldn’t because I didn’t need the benefits. I would however once Jack and I were divorced, and I no longer was eligible under the military benefits.

600.00 a month to take care of a 14 year old and an 8 year old. Jack refused to give me money. After all he was doing “me” a favor by making the house payment and other bills. No matter how much I tried to get through to the wall of China and try to make him realize, “it’s not ME you are doing the favor for; it’s OUR kids.” One thing he forgot about when he was off having an affair and so in love was hey “WE” GOT OURSELVES INTO DEBT.  I don’t care who you are, you take care of your children before ANY other partner. Kids come first no matter what.

I would have to call him; and GOD knows I hated calling him for money. I dreaded the phone call. Because I would have to hear, I am paying the house, I am paying this I am paying that. Well I didn’t want to hear his whining because he got handed over ALL the bills when I requested  the money to upkeep the house come to me. He said no and the stack of bills got slide across the dining room table at him. Welcome to my hell buddy. I refused; outright refused to deal with any of the companies we owed money to when I didn’t know when money would be coming. Let him deal with it.

On top of the bills were the children. I needed money for this; I needed money for that. Any time I called him it was the same old same old, what you can’t manage your money? Oh I don’t know you make about 4,000.00 a month and I make 1200.00 a month and have two children to take care of. His famous line, “its all you.” Would he give the money? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

I had suggested he give me what the estimated child support would be each month and then we would figure out the bills. No, Jack was riding his lil bus. “He” was in control.

The problem, he believed me to be this money monger. Somewhere along the way he decided I had used him all those years we were married. Please buddy if I was going to be using someone for their money I would NOT have married a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.  Quit drinking what your mama fed you.

Despite not getting hits on my resume I stuck out the 300.00 every two weeks as long as I could. I had learned how to use coupons  in the ending stages of the marriage. I was trying to get us on the path of better finances. With not much help from him. Jack was working an extra duty job in a local grocery store,  when he wasn’t doing his police officer job.  The extra duty was a sore spot with me because I didn’t want him working that much. Even he was impressed when I asked him to pick up some items once he was off duty. If I recall he ended up spending .13 cents and came out with 10-15 items. So you penny pitch where you can to make that 300.00 last for two weeks. It was costing me 50.00 a week to go back and forth to work. So I only had 200.00 to get the kids through the two weeks. Kids being kids are going to ask for things. I mean really just because my mom was a single mother didn’t mean I didn’t ask for stuff. They are kids for crying out loud.  10.00 here for a school function. When you go through that grocery line and you “pray” your debit card accepts the charges; it’s a good day. But there have been times I have had to put back items the kids needed so I could purchase the items they really needed. Lunch meat becomes a luxury. PB&J and ramen noodles become necessity.

To say you do not become a little resentful of your soon to be ex…he is still technically my husband is an understatement. Especially when he shows up sporting a new tattoo on his forearm to pick up the kids. It’s great he’s being all big and bad….look what the new girlfriend let me get that you would have freaked out about. Meh we’ll see how long she “let’s you” do this crap…I “let you” do this crap and we were on the verge of bankruptcy. The  kids to his place for the weekend and when they come back , it’s “look what daddy bought me. Look what omit her name bought me. My tongue bled I bit it so hard. “Oh that’s great sweetie.” or “bud” Meanwhile back at the ranch….

Of course every time you say something to the ex that you need more money or you complain about his lack of support, he says to you “Give them to me.” Meaning the kids. You have to hear that he’s got the money so it makes sense for the kids to come live with him and his girlfriend while we are still married.

In the beginning you try to be nice then you realize he’s doing everything in his power to make you miserable. Jack would say no, but this is typical Jack.

Finally things in the job aspect start turning around. I found out about this job; the same job I was doing but with a little bit better pay and the benefits were awesome. I applied, went through the interview process and then got hired. I was on cloud nine. It’s funny, I have told my friends while married to Jack I would have never taken this job because his job came first whether he wants to believe it or not. You even call Jack and try to talk to him about the fact you have a new job and you are going to need his help. For the first little while he would  have to call out when the kids are sick until I could  accrue sick and leave time. This job was a whole different ball game. He tells me that he will and I take him at his word.

In true fashion lil miss gets sick within my first week of work. I had to call Jack and I said I will just meet you at the front of your apartment parking lot. He agreed, didn’t say anything else. Once there, I sit and I wait…and wait. My first week of work and guess what I’m all ready late because of him. Then the truck comes rolling in and you want to scream. You don’t. Instead of telling me he was coming from his girlfriends place and he wasn’t at his apartment he just made me come to his “stage” apartment as I called it. I handed off lil miss, and didn’t bother saying a word to him about his lack of consideration. You just beat feet to your job. Upon getting to the job you get a little talking to from your new boss about being late and this can’t happen anymore. You try to explain the situation of why you were late but you do not want to go into too much detail….at your new job about your personal life. You take the lumps that are given; it wasn’t bad really but still you don’t want to disappoint the people who hired you, you don’t want to disappoint yourself because you are good at your job; not the best but good.

Jack was not going to ruin this for me. Most especially Jack was not going to ruin this for the kids. Yes, my job was so I could provide better for my children. My new job no weekends were involved, once I accrued time I would be able to take those days off the kids asked for and still get paid, or when they were sick still get paid. My other job as much as I loved it and as much as I hated leaving, my family came first. My family whether Jack ever gets it’s through his head, always comes first.  So you start laying down the law. From now on Jack will meet me a parking lot in my work and we will exchange sick kids there.

Of course like in our marriage what is any different than when we are going through a divorce; Jack doesn’t like to be told what to do. Of course when you tell him this he gripes and moans. He complains about the driving distance and how much it’s going to impact him. Guess what? I no longer care.

Leaving the old job to the new job, I went 3 weeks without a paycheck. Stress levels go up but you keep on trucking.  I have always been so used to saying “I’m fine, I will make it.” You are stressed about bills, about making it the 6 months probation you are on with your new job, kids need this, kids need that, added the stress Jack was putting on me with the crap he was pulling. I knew what Jack was doing and is still doing, is wrong. Of course you have the years of being married to him where he has convinced you it’s not him it’s you. Then when you tell people what he is doing…male and female they affirm your thought process of what he is doing is wrong.

Jack and I can’t even talk without it going into an argument. Why? Because Jack is a bully. He wants it his way or no way at all. It’s quite funny actually for years I had to listen to Jack tell me I caved all the time. I couldn’t make a solid decision and stick with it. Then I realized when I would say “NO” and give my reasoning’s why. It didn’t matter, Jack went and did it anyway. In the marriage I learned that. So I finally stand up and say NO and mean it. Jack did it anyway.

In January while you are dealing with lil misses head lice. Which by the way Jack made it my fault, that she got head lice. You don’t even have the money to buy the head lice shampoo and if it wasn’t for a very dear friend running out and getting me the head lice shampoo, my daughter wouldn‘t have gotten treated. You work all day and you are up to your elbows in head lice shampoo until midnight. This was truly the week from hell. While I am dealing with head lice, I check the mail and there’s the foreclosure letter on the house. We had to be out by February 7th.  Your son is sick…you have no money for the co pay. You have no money for meds. You are still pulling eggs out of your daughters hair and Jack calls and says “I can take him to the doctor if you want.” Oh just kick it on in the driveway why don’t you on the 500 mile trip. It’s when you have had you FILL of Jack and the crap he is pulling. “No Jack here is what you are going to do. I have all ready taken the day off….I got this. What I don’t have because of you is money to help me financially raise our children. So you are going to call up the doctors office and you are going to make payment arrangements for the measly 12.00 co pay…I don’t have. THEN you are going to call up the pharmacy and let them know YOU will be the one paying  for any all medications that the doctor sees fit in prescribing.” Stuttering on the phone. “I don’t think they will do that.” I rolled my eyes on the phone, “Jack do you really think that this is the first divorcing couple the doctor’s office and the pharmacy have seen? I mean really. They can do this. How do I know they can do this, because they have this thing called a credit card machine that one can manually punch in numbers on. It’s great. We did it all the time at my old job. Now do it.” In this conversation I also told him the 1100.00 he was going to pay on the mortgage…that was now in foreclosure…not to. When he asked why I said “because you are going to set aside that money so when I call you and tell you the kids and I have found a new place to live the kids and I will be able to move in. Otherwise you make a payment and the mortgage company will apply it to the loan and still foreclose on us.”

I had told him months ago it made sense for the kids and I to stay in the current house. Not just because it was the only home the kids knew, but financially. Because finding a “decent” place for the kids and I to live would be about the same cost as what the mortgage payment was. It made sense.  First and foremost as a mother I was trying to keep the kids lives as normal as possible given the situation they were in the middle of. They knew the possibility that we would end up moving. Both kids got apprehensive about it. Whether Jack wants to accept it or not, that house was their safety net. It might just be four walls but to our children that was home. To any child it’s more than just four walls. Yes we all know in life one must accept change and kids also need to be able to deal with change.  Jack’s response to everything I tried to make him see about the kids and what this was doing to them was “they will get over it” “Tell them to suck it up, it’s life.” By the end of the week I had found the kids and I a place to live. Great neighborhood. Friends they all ready had at school. I called Jack and said I needed 1600.00. He said he didn’t have it I would have to wait another two week. Then I stated that I realized it wasn’t 1100.00 so he could give me the 1100 and in two weeks give me the remaining. After all he had set aside that 1100.00. Guess what he didn’t have it. Of course I got the there are bills to pay that we all ready have and I didn’t know. I pointed out oh yes I knew, even after almost 1.5 years of not handling the bills, I knew the bills we had. When you do the banking from the time you were 20 until 32…you know exactly the financial crap the two of you have gotten into. “You had no intentions of making that house payment like you said you were.” Then you make the jab, “it’s not so easy supporting two households is it? You never thought of that when you were having the affair. Semper Fi Marine.” click.

So here the kids and I are 3 weeks until probably the sheriffs department comes and evicts us from their home. I had been in constant contact with my lawyer, here’s what he is doing now.  My lawyer contacted his lawyer. His lawyer wrote a letter back to my lawyer. I read the words and I got pissed.  Jack likes to take credit for what others present to him. All those months of me telling him it made sense for the kids and I to stay in the house, we were established in the house, moving would incur costs of start up. Jack’s lawyer wrote verbatim of what I had been saying to Jack for months. Kick it on in the drive way, buddy.

Of course by now, financially, common sense wise from a single mother’s stand point. No! Staying in that house was not making sense anymore. We all know there are pros and cons to owning and renting. I wrote this to my lawyer and told him he could use whatever he so desired to use. From a single mother’s stand point and providing for her children, staying in that house, no longer made sense. The house was 10 years old and stuff starting to go. The HVAC for the 4th time ate up another compassitor….150.00 repair. The last repair when I mentioned to the HVAC guy about us thinking about changing out units said that’s gonna be a hefty price because codes have changed since the unit was put in. It wasn’t just a simple replace the unit, you had to replace everything, including duct work. He nonchalantly said as he as putting in the compassitor “that will run about 7,000-13,000.00.” We were on septic and the last time we had it pumped out it was 500.00…that was in 2007. The honey sucker was probably about due to come out. So as a single mother what made sense was to rent. Why? Because the landlord is responsible for these repairs. Given the fact Jack wasn’t helping me financially with the kids, it made even more sense.

My lawyer got me that 1600.00 to get into the house. The kids and I were down to the wire; 1 week to get the entire house moved. I was so worried my kids were going to see us evicted and I didn’t want them to see that. Jack didn’t care, him and his girlfriend and her 3 kids were shacked up in their little abode. Meanwhile as you are helping your children pack up their worldly possessions and crying because they are packing up with tears in their eyes, holding them because there’s nothing you can do other than hold them. You keep telling them, “things will get better” and you yourself are wondering when the hell  things are  going to get better. You have to remain strong for your children.

You have all ready had to take a humble pill when within weeks of your new job, bags of groceries end up in the break room, because somehow they know. Christmas was provided by a church and if it hadn’t have been for that group of people, your children’s last Christmas in their home would have sucked big time. Even though their dad’s plan was to have them for Christmas, the kids refused to go because they wanted to be home for Christmas.

Thanks to a dear friend we moved the entire house in one weekend. I was so proud of the kids. Because as hard as it was and as tired as they were they kept plugging a long. There were times we stopped to cry a little bit, there were times we got mad at the situation and just kept loading.

Once we moved into the new house…Jack stopped helping. Even though once again you ask and you ask that he start giving you something his response is. “Not until I am ordered to by the judge.” What kind of man does this to his children? What kind of man thinks that this is ok?  It’s no longer just my opinion, it’s many people’s opinions about him. As much as he wants to think he has integrity; he has none.

I have had women and men tell me they have a lot of respect for me. The fact that I refuse to back down and I remain standing up for what is right. It’s not right that you ex shares the divorce papers with your oldest son and then says “see what your mother is doing to me?” It’s not right that Jack is not helping me with the kids financially. None of this is right; but you keep going. At some point someone will hear your screams, because you refuse to sit down and shut up to make it easier on yourself.

It’s through this experience I have affirmed what I have always known. I am strong. I am stronger than most. I am even stronger than Jack. What I do as a single mother, Jack needs two. 😀 It is what it is.

As a single mother I have learned many things.  Just keep going. With no help from Jack, I am hanging onto this house by myself.  I explained it to my friend as I am hanging onto the edge by my nails to the point splinters are digging up under my nails. She laughed when I told her that. I think she laughed more when I said, I have a darned good finger nail file to get the splinters out. The 1600 dollars Jack gave me to get the kids in the house until the end of April when he gave me 500.00 has been the only money since the kids and I have moved, he has given to “help out.”

Here’s a simple fact ladies. That pretty house, those nice counter tops, the big SUV, the fancy vacations.  85% of women would NOT be able to enjoy solely on their paychecks if they were single mothers. That’s my opinion; I could be wrong. We all know men make more in the work field. Yes I also understand there are women out there who make some big bucks in yearly salary.

Ask yourself this. If I were a single mother with what I am making right now would I be able to afford what I have right now? Nope you do NOT get to factor in child support because you have an ex called Jack. I think a lot of you are a little sickened by that thought aren’t you? Oh and guess what if you do not have an ex husband that is helping you if you make 30,000 a year here’s one little enlightening thought; YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR FOOD STAMPS. Despite that you have worked and you have paid taxes you do not qualify for those services.

This weekend I saw my 8 year old daughter do something that hurt but yet I was so proud of her. She shouldn’t have to grow up this fast, but she is. She set up a lemonade stand; her and her friends in our yard. I was actually surprised the kids made money. Friday the kids made about 4.00. Lil miss divided up the money evenly between her friends. Yesterday the girls did the same thing and today the girls did the same thing. What did my daughter do with her money. She went to a yard sale just down the road that was selling girls clothes and bought herself clothes. Again it hurt as a mother, but yet it was a proud moment. She knows that mom can’t even afford to go yard saling at this moment. I got paid Friday and the money is gone on bills to keep the kids in this house. Again holding on by my finger nails with splinters going up under the fingers.  She is exactly like me. At 14 I was out earning money to take the burden off my mom for all the things I needed because mom couldn’t get them for me. By the time I was 16 I was buying my own school supplies, clothes, bought my first car at 500.00,  got it inspected, paid my own insurance, put gas in it. I did this without any help.  I wonder if my own mother hurt to see her daughter out there so young working to take the burden off of her.  I don’t have to wonder however if she was proud of me,  I know she was.

My son who is a teenager is still learning about all of this. Yes kids will ask for stuff they always will. It’s part of being a kid. I have a wonderful opportunity for both of my children now.  Unlike my mother who raised just daughters as a single mother; I am raising a son and a daughter as a single mother. Guess what I cannot say the things my mother said to me about men. That would be a huge injustice to my son.  This is an important time for a 14 year old young man. This is also an important time for an 8 year old little girl. How this mom proceeds is going to impact them as adults. How their dad proceeds is going to impact them as adults. It’s like the therapist said in the court ordered parenting class that all divorcing couples in the state of Georgia are required to take before their divorce. “the kids will figure out who the smuck is and they probably all ready have.”

One thing I have had to learn how to do is,  not worry about Jack anymore and what he is doing to our  kids. I cannot be responsible for what Jack does or doesn’t do. He has to figure this out on his own.  I don’t wish Jack any ill as much as he ticks me off; I don’t even hate him.  And my friends  when they read this will say “she’s right, that’s her.” I know I am not perfect. I know at 34 years old there is still a lot of growing inside of me left to do. I am not always going to get it right with the kids. There will be times they will not like me. We have all hated our parents, we have all thought we were better than our parents. There are times I cry because the stress of it all gets too much. Crying is not weakness; crying is releasing what bothers you inside when you are hurting. Crying releases the bad so you can continue to be strong.

Why do I write this blog? Why do I share my experiences with you? Because I know there is someone right now going through exactly the same thing I am going through and that woman or even that man is wondering how the hell they are going to get through it. You will, I don’t know when, I don’t know how. I don’t even know how long it is going to take. It hasn’t even happened for me yet. It will. I have always rooted for the underdog. I believe in the Rabbit and the Turtle. It’s one of my favorite stories as a child. Believe in yourself. Most of all continue being you and what you stand for. In the end, the truth shall prevail. You are stronger than the individuals who try to knock you down.