when my ex moved out 4 months ago, i was terrified by the notion of becoming a single parent. i didn't know if i could support myself and my child financially and emotionally. i was, as many women post-divorce are, wounded. but i was a mother whose child has astronomical needs. i pulled it together, without much thought and plowed forward. god provided for us, and i continued to work hard in my job. i didn't tell my boss or coworkers that i had been through the dissolution of a 3 year relationship, gone from a 2-income household to just mine, and become a single parent. i didn't take any time off, and i didn't look for sympathy or any slack at work due to the circumstances. i cried in my office, and made necessary phone calls and adjustments ...reached out to friends and family for support while i figured out how to navigate this new life. in the process, i found strength i never knew i had. and i found joy where it had been all along.
immediately, i cancelled our cable (among many other money-saving attempts). this is the first time in my entire life i've been without TV. and it was the best decision. although i didn't regularly watch sit down to watch shows before, it was always on. a distraction, running in the background. taking my attention away from the things that matter. we've now been 4 months with no TV in the house. yesterday ashley and i had to stay at the hospital for 6 hours due to complications with her port. while waiting for 2 hrs while an anticoagulant was left to infuse in her port, we cuddled up on a stretcher and the nurse turned on the TV. wife swap came on and at first, i was excited to watch anything...and i also used to enjoy this show, so i was content to watch. but one commercial into it, i picked up the remote and turned it off. i listened to my daughter's slow breathing (she fell asleep spooned up against me) and smoothed her hair back and thought about how lucky i am. i do not, for one second, regret cancelling the cable. it has reminded me to focus my energy where it matters: on my family.
i have begun cooking, which is new for me. i won't say it's anything to jump up and down about at this point, but it's a start. my daughter has begun gaining weight, which is something we've been struggling with for over a year. she is still getting supplemental g-tube feedings (the same as previously), and for a long time i thought, "i'll order her chili cheese dogs and blizzards and fatten her up." and i couldn't figure out why she wasn't gaining weight. calories don't equal weight. sugar doesn't equal weight. and neither alone are good for her. i have become a parent who cares about what goes into her child's body and i like that.
i have considered the likelihood of losing my home, in the past 6 months. i researched, and phoned, and spoke with friends, colleagues, associates...i attended a naca workshop dedicated to advocating for restructuring people's mortgages so that they could afford to keep their homes. you are supposed to be eligible if your mortgage is at least 30% of your net income. mine was 47%. so i showed up, willing to ask for and ready to accept help. they tried. after 40 days of negotiation, it was denied based on the fact that i was still current on my payments. i'll be the first to say, i have immaculate credit. i am anal about paying on time. i have never bounced a check in my life, and never will. but if it came down to whether to provide for my child or pay my mortgage, my child will come first. always.
new expenses have come up, as they always will. i prided myself on my ability to manage my finances pre-single parenthood. today i could probably burst with pride for myself. i have managed to not only keep our home and maintain our utilities, but also save $3,000 in ashley's savings account and begin a savings account of my own, in addition to investing some money privately. and i also finally began contributing to my 403(b), right before all this happened. those are big steps for me in adulthood, and i am not ashamed to say: i am proud.
when it comes to changes in the past 6 months, what i am most pleased with is this: i do not take my daughter for granted. i don't allow anxiety to overshadow the joy that is motherhood for me. i said this to ashley the other day, and i will say it here, because it is true: i wanted a daughter my whole life, as long as i can remember. and then she came along and we were a perfect fit, the two of us. i jumped in with eyes closed and am amazed each day that i can love her more than the last. she is everything in my world. my greatest gift.
things aren't perfect. i don't think they ever could be, but what was wrong in my life has been righted. the attention and focus in our lives is where it should be: on enjoying each other and experiencing the great things that life has to offer. even if it's as simple as tomorrow's mommy-n-me gymnastics class. it might be a 45 minute pain in the ass to another parent, but to me: it's a class ashley might never have been able to enjoy, if not for dialysis and her kidney transplant and all the blessings that came afterward. her renal rickets was so bad, her doctors told me they didn't know if she would ever walk. so tomorrow, when she jumps on the trampoline and walks across the beam and stands on the spring board with her arms above her head...i will grin from ear to ear and know what a gift this is. every minute, every day, every moment.