family?” Of course, my answer to them was that they should do what they feel is best for them and their children. As I look back on those conversations, I think what they were really trying to ask was, “Do you think I can make it on my own without family close by to help me with my children?” Since both of my friends are asking the same question, I would have to guess that many of you are asking yourselves the same thing. That is why I thought I would share with you a bit more of how I have gotten where I am today.
When I became a single parent I was working part-time making quite a bit less than I am making now (over half my current salary). Can you guess that times were tough? I had a four month old and a three year old that I had to do everything in my power to keep safe. That meant fighting with everything I had (and a lot that I did not) to pay attorney fees, custody evaluators, councilors, and professional supervisors during my children’s visits with their father. All this on top of regular expenses that I was used to sharing with my husband like work related childcare, groceries, housing, utilities, etc. The first two years I went without much help at all from my ex monetarily. In fact, it took over two years to finally get a child support order in place so that I could have ORS garnish his wages.
Luckily for me, I was able to go to work full time for my current employer about six months after leaving my husband but the legal fees just kept getting worse and I dug myself pretty far into debt. So between the money troubles, legal drama associate with a divorce, emotional trauma of losing half the people you love (my ex’s family disowned me for leaving), and now having to do all the parenting on my own, there were days that I was not sure if I would be able to make it on my own. This is perfectly normal. Big changes in life almost always leave you wondering. It is definitely helpful to have family close to help as needed but I am living proof that it is not necessary since my mother was 2 and a half hours away the first three years of my becoming single. Many days I made through out of sheer will but I would have to say that my saving grace was my neighbors. I strongly believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at any moment in time. I know that I owe my neighbors a HUGE thanks for keeping me going and for keeping me sane.
The neighborhood that I moved into was mostly townhomes so my neighbors were in close proximity to me. This helped bring us together since we could not walk out the front door without running into someone. I had one neighbor that was quick to bring over cookies to welcome us to the neighborhood and her daughter and my oldest daughter quickly became best friends. She was sweet enough to notice when I needed a break and invited my daughter over to play often. Then directly across from me was another single mother with children very close in age to my children so we became friends quickly through our children. She too could tell when I needed a break and would gladly sit outside and watch the kids play as I got a few things done inside the house. Another friend, who helped me start Village of Life, was a single mother who had her daughter in the same after school program that I had my children in so she and I took turns picking up the kids if we knew the other parent was going to be late. We also took turns cooking dinner to give each other a chance to relax. Through all of this, each of my neighbors gave me the adult interaction that a parent absolutely needs to stay sane. I was able to talk to them about parenting challenges that I was going through and work/life balance issues that I had to overcome.
The question remains, do you need to be close to family to be able to make it on your own? I don’t think so. But I do strongly recommend that you get to know your neighbors better or keep some good friends close that you can trust to help you. This takes humbling yourself enough to ask for help (I still struggle with this one) as well as being caring enough to be able to help someone else.
We were all sent to this earth to help each other. Whether you are single or married, you were not meant to do this alone. “It takes a village to raise a child.” Be bold and band together with other parents in order to make life easier on yourself, your children, and someone else who is walking the same path you are. If you need help finding another single parent to work with, go to the Contact Us page within this site and type in your information. We only collect the most basic information here to protect your identity and privacy. As I receive information from other single parents, I can start to match up parents to help you build that bond to build a better life for you and your children.
Until then, keep your chin up and remember the words to this song every time you start to question if you can make it or not. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXL65Nd_O1o Your angles are waiting for you to ask for help so don’t be shy.