My single mother made bad decisions because she was poor

Traci and her kids

Guest post by Traci Orticelli.

Money and marriage have always been aligned in my mind.

My mom remarried within a year after divorcing my father when I was 6. For that short time, she was a single mom of three young children, including my brother who is physically disabled and required multiple surgeries and extensive care. She rarely saw a dime of child support from my father.

I often wonder how different my upbringing would have been had my mother been more financially independent when she divorced. Maybe she would have stayed single, or been pickier in choosing a second husband. We might have been spared a whole slew of unsavory behavior, courtesy of my stepfather. Everything from alcoholism, gambling, laziness, over-eating, physical violence, verbal violence, fights about money, and later: bankruptcy, infidelity, and another divorce. Not to mention the fact that my mom was miserable for most of the 15 years she was married to him. Jeez, we could have had all that if she’d stayed married to my dad!

How would things have been for our family had my mother sought an education and a career before having children? Instead, being an uneducated, financially strapped single mom who rarely saw child support made her feel forced into seeking out a second income in the form of another dirt bag husband. Ironically, he lost his job six months after they married.

My mom later admitted that she remarried so quickly because she needed help. Well, what kind of help? I often wondered. It’s not like serving him dinner every night, cleaning up after him, doing all of his laundry and looking at his fat face and false teeth for 15 years didn’t add to her already over-burdened work load. Who was helping whom?

In recent years, my mother has repeatedly (and I do mean REPEATEDLY) made the following statement: “I’ve always been financially better off whenever I was single.” She also says (also repeatedly) that if she had won the lottery, her first stop would have been to a lawyer’s office.

I have been a divorced mom of two young kids for almost three years, so I’ve already surpassed the length of time that my mom spent as a single mom. The difference is that I am much more financially independent than she ever was. I earned a degree and built a career before getting married and having kids. I am proud that I don’t need financial help from anyone, which empowers me to make good decisions for myself and my kids. I can afford to be choosey in selecting a future partner (who’d better be rich).

Traci Orticelli, 39, is a single mom of two. She lives in Chandler, Ariz., where she’s been in the military for more than 20 years. When she retires in 2020, she plans to (bravely) flip homes.

 

8 thoughts on “My single mother made bad decisions because she was poor

  1. Bravo! Having an abundance of money in the form of income, and a reserve of capital, certainly makes for more logical and rational decisions. I encourage all single moms to make decisions from a place of power and to look at the long-term ramifications, especially when it involves a remarriage!

    Cheers to you, Traci, and best wishes for a wonderful future for you and your kids (and thanks for serving our country!).

  2. All the time I was married I kept a little stash of money, added to dollar by dollar. At the most, I probably had $300. (35 years ago), which I though of as my “escape money”. I wonder how many other women have such a hoard. A few women I have talked to over the years also had money tucked away and amazingly used the same term, Escape Money.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I have been a single mother for over 10 years and never had a desire to remarry. Fortunately, I earned my degree before I got married and had children, so I was also in a better position than many single mothers when it came to supporting myself and my children. I never felt the need to rush and get married for the financial support.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Wendy – Of course, I feel the same way. As I’ve written about here, I find dating and relationships to be a new and wonderous experience now that I need them only for companionship (and getting laid) — opposed to for financial and/or babymaking purposes.

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