When I was in college, I told my roommate how I wanted to be married with a few kids by the time I was 25. It has always been my dream to stay at home and be a mother. After meeting, and falling in love with my ex-husband we decided to get married and that I would stay at home with our children.
I still believe this was the life I was meant to live and I think staying home with your children, if that’s what makes you happy, is such a wonderful thing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
When my ex and I decided to divorce and I knew I had to get back into the workforce after not working outside the home for almost fifteen years, I was scared. I’d quit working so long ago and I wasn’t sure what I had to offer. I also wanted to continue to stay at home with my children.
I had thoughts about selling my home, thinking there was no way I could manage it on my own. I was so overwhelmed one day while trying to change out the bathroom ceiling fan, I started to vomit. I was used to having a partner, someone to share household duties with. I wasn’t used to carrying such a heavy weight on my shoulders.
I had a flashback to the night my ex and I decided to separate. He said to me, “You will find a doctor or lawyer I’m sure. Someone who can take care of you.”
It was that day on the bathroom floor with my old ceiling fan hanging above my head that I didn’t want anyone to take care of me. I wanted to take care of myself.
I started believing in myself and realised I didn’t have to do it all on my own, I could ask for help. But that didn’t mean I was expecting anyone to come in and save me, or do all the hard work for me.
When I started dating again, I soon realised it was so much easier for me to create my own happiness without depending on someone else to make me happy. I’d been with my ex-husband for so long and thought a new relationship would make me feel whole and happy.
It wasn’t until my 40s that I discovered how much easier it was for me to take care of things, including my happiness, myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t value my relationship and count on my new partner for things, because I do.
However, I’m so much happier realising I am capable of doing certain things without someone coming to help, or take care of them for me. I don’t spend energy waiting for someone to make me happy, I now know that’s in my hands.
It’s something I’ve been talking to my teens about a lot. I want them to know another person can enhance their life and help them, but I want them to learn the difference between that and someone coming in to save them.
I don’t want them to put their lives on hold for someone else. I’m teaching my kids to do the things they want to do alone if there’s no one to share it with. I explain that so many of us think someone else will make us happy, or make our lives easier and while that is the case for some, it’s not like that for everyone.
I want them to be resilient and be able to count on themselves. I want them to realise how much easier it is to try and figure something out, try something new, and to be financially independent, than it is to count on someone to sweep in and take care of those things for them.
A big piece of this puzzle is believing in ourselves. I always thought I was a pretty capable, independent woman until I found myself single with three kids. It was really hard, and I wanted to press the easy button.
All that did was make me more anxious and afraid because the truth was, I was to trust and believe in myself. I had to tell myself (over and over and over) I could do this working, single parenting gig and take care of my home on my own.
That doesn’t mean it’s been flawless and I haven’t cried a lot. But it is so freeing to finally realise I am able to do anything I’d like, on my own.
And my goal is for my kids to see that and believe they are capable of doing things without anyone coming in to save them a lot earlier than I did.