I can tell people wonder. My kids are little, after all. Not too many divorcees at the preschool. I don’t wear a ring. I might mention that I just refinanced my apartment (I’m in New York, where real estate is the default conversation starter). Or gossip about the other parents. Or about a recent vacation with my kids. But I don’t talk about a husband or girlfriend or partner. I’m a single mom. If it comes up, it comes up. Otherwise, I don’t feel the need to explain myself.
It took me a little while to settle into this role (no surprise there!), but I’m nearly three years into it. While barreling towards the possibility that I would have to run this show on my own, I spent hours with an Excel spreadsheet, a calculator and my Mint.com account. How would I make the numbers work?! I had a career and income, but my husband was the primary earner then, complete with health insurance and a 401(k) match.
For a while there was child support, but that didn’t last. Nor did the health insurance. And there were teeny, tiny kids who needed a mom around — a lot, I felt. I had mostly stayed at home for my oldest kid’s first year while I was still married, and I couldn’t bear the thought of not cuddling and nursing my newborn son for hours like I had his sister. I also refused to accept that single motherhood automatically meant I would be constantly stressed, or that my family would be outcasts, or that my kids would worry about being homeless. I worried, maybe most of all, that I wouldn’t be the mom I’d dreamed of being — the fun mom, the mom abundant in time and love.
I wanted to create a big, full, happy life for my little family. I wasn’t totally sure what that meant (I’m still not), but I’m feeling pretty good that I’m on my way. One thing I am pretty sure about: you need time, and you need energy, and you need money to make this happen. It doesn’t mean I have to be rich. It doesn’t mean I need a lot of stuff or designer stuff or expensive things (to the contrary, actually). But making enough money, and managing that money well is critical to creating the family life that I want.
It’s intense, this life as a single mom. If I spend my energy stressing about whether the mortgage payment will clear, I compromise my ability to be that fun mom. Feeling OK about paying a babysitter once in a while affects how I feel about dating, which impacts how I feel about myself as a woman — which again, comes back to the kind of mother I hope to be. A little cushion in the bank gives me the confidence to take professional risks – which can lead to more money, more fulfilling work, and a better quality of life for myself and my kids. See how it’s all connected?
So this blog is about creating that wealthy life as a single mom. It’s a big topic, but I’m going for a big life.