Still in Process

Where is the money is my constant thought whenever we get to this time of year, tax season. I realize I haven’t planned my finances well again as I am running short on my cash flow. How can I make it through this and salvage my not so great choices thus far? Yes, somehow the money lasts just long enough till the next set of bills appear.

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 How many times do I have to do this to myself? I keep saying I am going to plan for a better budget next year. I do prepare the budget, and I figure out ways to pay off debt. I tell l myself I am going to save the truth is I do save. The savings ended up going to the car that broke down, the next appliance on the fritz, and the kid who has to have something to wear to school because they have grown again. Where is the money supposed to come from? There has never been a thing called alimony in my life because I am pretty sure you have to get married for that. At this point, I’m not sure anyone can stand me except me (insert laugh here). I have also never received a dime of child support. However, in many ways, though I thought I am blessed because I didn’t have to deal with any of it. 

 Last night, however, I was seriously trying to decide was more critical gas in the car, food that night, or food tomorrow. I decided gas has to be the most important because I can’t just call into work and say I don’t have the money to get there.  I can do without food for a few days. I’m driving home in tears which I don’t recommend to any of you. I couldn’t believe in a year I had gone from having enough money to being in the place of lack. 

What happened?

I really started to think about my mindset and because I know the way I see things can make all the difference.  What had happened this last year or even in the previous week that I had not been dealing with. I kept shoving my emotions in a drawer and just leaving them there. 

I have lost some family this last year and a friend I wish to see healed instead they die. Friendships have ended, pets have been killed, and my most recent relationship with someone special dissipated though I don’t even know why. I have been slapped multiple times by my emotions, but I have had worse years. 

What is the difference?

I am more isolated where I live now in the middle of nowhere. There is no one ever knocking at my door. 

I don’t invite people over because I have been moving forever and can’t seem to empty all the boxes. 

There has been no more hanging out with girlfriends and just venting about my life regularly to just get it out.

My responsibilities and the pressure of them have increased 10 fold this year as well. 

I decided this year I wanted to be more positive and apparently it has been a struggle. I’m really into books this year, so I was like most google what’s the most popular positive thinking book… The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I started to listen to it last night on the way to a meeting.  

I began to listen to a man that seemed a thousand lives away from me. It helped me to know that he was a believer because I have been struggling with trust and faith. 

In the section, I was listening to in the book was about confidence, and thought oh boy something I don’t want to hear about. I continue to listen anyway because it is dangerous to change a book while driving. Norman talked about this person he knew that was just so down in the dumps all the time. They always expected that something would go wrong and when he met with them a couple months later the person was completely changed. 

What did they do to change?

They read the Bible. (Not what you wanted to hear either, eh?) Yeah, I was like and your point? But he mentions they read the first books of the New Testament and underlined every passage that spoke of faith and courage. This is not something I had heard of before and then also committed them to memory. After that, I was like there is no way I have time to do that!

However, I have thought about this last year again and how much time I have wasted allowing these negative thoughts and pains to fill my head over and over. My views of myself, and finances right now are stressed. What would I lose by trying it?

There is not I am great, and everything is lovely right now, but I have some hope this is just a season of my life. I have some faith now that it will be okay and believe it. I am still praying, and still in process. 

Emse Alburn

www.esmealburn.com

It Does Not Get Easier

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Today is Halloween. This morning, I threw my child out of the car with her costume tail in hand while other moms flocked to the schoolyard to watch the costume parade. It was as heartbreaking as the violin recital I missed last month.  I cried more than the first time I was traveling for work and missed my daughter’s first lost tooth. The lump in my throat was the same today as it has been for the last 4 years of doing this alone.

It doesn’t get easier, this single mom thing.

When you have babies, everyone will say how much easier it will be when the kids are old enough to help out.

Everyone is lying…or, at least, wrong.

When you have elementary-aged kids, everyone will say that your kids won’t want you around as much soon so it will get easier.

Lying.

Wrong.

Delusional.

Babies turn into kids, whose emotions need as much attending to as the diapers once did. Kids turn into teenagers whose roller coaster of hormones deplete your soul more than infant sleep patterns and feeding schedules. Teenagers turn into young adults whose journey to self-realization will rob you of your savings, your time, and your peace.

There will always be budgeting. There will always be work or the struggle to find work. There will always be seemingly immediate needs. There will always be emotions. There will always be cleaning. There will always be cooking or meal planning. There will always be more things to do than there are hours in the day.

And, most pernicious to the potential peace of single parenthood, there will always be the hole that needs explaining but defies the lexicon of the most learned parent: Where is my dad? Why did he leave? Was it my fault? Is he ever coming back? Does he love me?

That never gets easier. That, above all, is the heaviest burden, and one that is grappled with at every stage of life.

Really, you can insert any scenario inherent in the struggle of single parenthood, and some “wise” soul will bestow upon you an unsolicited, platitudinous gem about how things will one day be easier. And, they will have no idea how wrong they are.

It never gets easier. If you are a single parent, you already know this. So, I am here to tell you that it is okay not to feel comforted by these well-intentioned promises of succeeding serenity.

That urge you feel to punch Susan in the face when she tells you that she knows what it is like to be a single parent because her husband works a lot - that never goes away. That’s ok.

To find yourself in the situation of being a single parent is always going to be overwhelming. It is normal for you to feel that way. To have the life of one (or more) of God’s precious children dependent upon you and only you, it is more than one person can grapple with in the rare moments of single-parent solitude.

You don’t need to accept the placating sentiments of others. Being a single parent IS hard. It is ridiculously, unfathomably, stiflingly difficult. It is alright for you to ignore the mistaken masses, and to indulge in your own assessment of your situation.

But hear me, single moms, your kids know you love them. They know that you wish you were at the parade. They know that you are hurting because you wanted to find the time to cook their favorite meal. They know (even if their boundary-testing behavior doesn’t always reveal it) that you try, day in and day out, to fill a void that someone else created in their lives. They see Susan with her husband and her platitudes, and they know that Susan could never understand how hard it is to do this truly alone. They see you. They love you. So, go ahead and love yourself.

It will never get easier. You will never figure it all out. And, that is ok. It is ok to recognize that you were dealt a crappy hand and that you can find joy in the rubbish without convincing yourself that someday this will all be less burdensome. In fact, perhaps recognizing that happiness does exist now, in this overwhelming mess, is more realistic, healthier, and attainable than making happiness dependent upon the changing and unpredictable future.

Being a single mom means being superhuman. Susan and her friends will never understand. So, accept it, even when it is overwhelming. Celebrate it, even when you feel like you are doing it all wrong.  Go ahead and love yourself for the freakin’ hero that you are.

No, it doesn’t get easier. But, the truth is, we can learn to take it easier on ourselves.

A. Smith