Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Monday, July 25, 2011

I believe that we parents must encourage our children to become educated, so they can get into a good college that we cannot afford. Dave Barry

I cannot explain the roller coaster of emotions this month has inflicted placed on me. 
I feel as though I am not, and can not cover the expenses I should be covering. As the head of this household. As the mother who chose to bring these now grown children into the world, and made an unwritten promise to take care of them until I leave it.
And I am not able to. At least not financially. 

This weekend was bittersweet. Excitement for my daughter heading to college. I should be excited. I am excited. And I am also a bit sad. I am emotional because eighteen years has gone by faster than I had hoped. I am emotional because this is the end of my raising upstanding children and the beginning of them becoming upstanding adults.

But I am also emotional because I have no extra cash. No fun money to take her shopping for her first apartment decor. No fun money to help her get excited..... 
It is taking the wind out of my sagging sails. 

On the up-side of this weekend. I attended my first ever wine tasting. 
I now know that Merlot is not my wine of choice. At least not the Merlot we had on Thursday night. Maybe it is because I am a bit of a newbie to wines. But I prefer the White wines, and the Chardonnay's.
It was a fun experience. I learned what wine 'legs' are. I also learned what types of foods to eat with which choices.

Friday night was Texas hold 'em poker night at my aunts house with some family members and friends. As you can see by my rack my poker budget ($5.00) went as fast as my monthly budget....sigh

So relaxing. 

Although the temperatures reached into the triple digits, I felt freedom and a clear mind I haven't felt in a while. I am a warm weather gal.

And then we headed back home....

We will be headed that way one more trip before the end of next month to drop her off at school. And then, things will be awfully quiet around here. 

I have become the parent whose children will see her on holidays. I am the parent who will prepare the 'guest' rooms for her kids. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I do have one still lingering here at home. But she works long hours which will most likely be opposite of mine if I ever begin working once again. 

And so here we tread - into the next season of this life. I am still a parent- but with a different role. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Demi, Ellen, financial aid and too much alcohol?

Last night was a nice break. My best friend invited me to the mountains, where she is now living. If that brings to mind images of neanderthal man or big foot- let me clear the air. She, being a fellow single mother, of four boys is living in a small mountain town in her parents basement apartment. 

One of our many reservoirs in the area was holding a celebration of sorts which happens to fit smack-dab in the middle of both out nations independence day anniversary and our states discovery- by the pioneers. There was to be a picnic in the park, live music and fireworks. Because the mountains are approximately 10 degrees cooler than the valley, and it has been sweltering here, I took her up on the invitation.

We didn't take any food, I ate before I left- budget constraints. We packed a cooler full of beer she had on hand- also cheap and available. It would sure help the cool-down factor. We threw in some chairs and blankets and headed for the hills/lake. Neither of us are big drinkers- one or two beers, glasses of wine or cocktails and we are happy- and done. So we took four. 
It was a good time. Not much to report. Music, chatter with a good friend, and then the finally with the fireworks. Most people were there in family groups so it was certainly not a location for meeting anyone. 

But- here is where the story gets a little weird.

I climbed into bed at about 1am. The alcohol helping me to slip into slumber. And I awoke around 7am. 

Now, I rarely have dreams and if I am dreaming, it is rare that I remember them much longer than a few minutes upon waking. But this morning, I remembered clearly. 

My dream began with my standing in line at the unemployment office (which with the invent of the internet I have never had to do). I was explaining my situation and in return getting grief as to why I was not working when I have a college degree. Words such as lazy and no good were used excessively. 

My face was turning red, I am still not sure if it was from shame or anger. And in walked Demi Moore- yes, Demi Moore. She had on a pair of coveralls and her hair pulled up into a beige baseball style hat. I did not recognize her at first. 
She snagged my by the crook in my arm, as I have not been pulled since grade school and pulled me out the door and down the street into a very fancy office. The office was very modern and clean and empty. She asked me to wait there and that was when I recognized her. Who could mistake that velvet voice? 

I was alone- waiting. It was then that my parents appeared. Not saying a word. Just sitting near me and smiling. And I didn't say anything to them. Next came my kids, same scenario. 

I knew the look on my older daughters face, she never could keep a secret and that is what her face was saying now. But she didn't speak. From somewhere below, I could hear many voices. Almost like an audience. Clapping and one person speaking. Letterman? No- a woman's voice.

And then a woman with a clipboard came into the room. She took my children and ushered them down a tall staircase more resembling a ladder than stairs. Where were they going? More applause.

After a few minutes- my parents descended. Applause once again. 

I waited, getting nervous... is this the day of reckoning? Have I done all I could have? Was it punishment for not being able to take care of my family to the best of my ability?
And then he appeared. A man much taller than I. By at least a foot. Blonde hair hanging over his eyes. He spoke softly. Telling me not to be nervous. Telling me that this will be over soon. Ashton?

I look down at my hands wringing in my lap and discover that I am still in my ratty cut-off shorts and dirty T-shirt I mowed the yard in this morning. Should I be dressed more appropriately? And what would be appropriate?

I began to descend the same ladder-like stairs and down into the bright light....
And then see my family, they are spread across one of those oh so familiar talk-show guest couches. And there at the end? In the single, hosts seat? Ellen Degeneres.

I cried. She said she could help. I cried more. I remember telling her, I don't deserve this. I am a college graduate, I can support my family. So many need this more than I do.

But, I was helped.  I think. It was not clear after that.

The audience broke into a quiet roar... I woke up.

I am not making this up. I couldn't.

I couldn't help but laugh. Had the alcohol messed with my subconscious? Had I watched too many day-time talk shows this week? Is the stress getting to me?

What in the world do Demi and Ashton have to do with anything?

And as I sit here writing this, I am reminded of the soap box I perched myself upon in my latest post.
You know, the one about bailouts and easy fixes. And then had a good laugh with my morning coffee.

Ellen, if you are reading this, I would not turn down the offer- If however you have yet to visit my humble blog, or my dreams well then I suppose it is up to me.

Happy dreams everyone.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it. Bob Hope

Money has been on my mind more than ever lately.

  • Being a single parent can make saving money difficult as many times there is barely enough to pay the bills.
  • Marrying young can put a real strain on your pocketbook as rookie paychecks and minimum wage doesn't go far.
  • Going back to school as an adult can add to the stress of debt unless you are one of the lucky ones who qualifies for waning government assistance.

There was a time I was not what you would call budget savvy. I would open a bill, write a check and send it off. I rarely checked the bill for errors, rarely kept my register up to date or balanced it with my bank statements. And paid the price.

Things got worse when debit cards became my payment of choice. It was an inconvenience to keep good records,  when swiping the card was so quick. I had little ones to raise, school assignments due and house work to keep up with.

But divorce, low single income, and rising costs of raising three kids solo when child support was slow or non-existent forced me to change my bad habits.

Numbers are still not my strong suit. But I have come a long way.
There is no way I would have made it through being unemployed for over a year without being frugal with my expenses and diligent with my bill payments. 

As a society, there are many pressures. Unemployment (for many long-term), insanely high gas prices, ever increasing tax rates, it seems everything is increasing these days. Directly proportional to the decrease in size of almost everything you pay for these days- a large pizza just isn't what it used to be. But I digress.

These pressures have forced us to take a closer look at what we are buying, what we get for the price, how it affects us and how long it will last us.
I have tightened this belt tighter than the smallest notch will allow... and I am not talking about waist size.
Squeezing every last drop out of the turnip of this crazed life. And that turnip is about to run dry. 

And yet- concurrently, I am doing the best that I can to send three young adults out into this Nation full of debt. And I am not just talking about congressional debt. Although isn't that a horrible example set?
Many citizens themselves are guilty of many of the same habits. Many American's could use a debt ceiling. 
There are bailouts for everything. 
Bankruptcy, credit card debt relief, unbelievably inflated lawsuit payouts.
And many, turn around and do it again as soon as the debt is relieved.


My own children are learning about budgeting somewhat from the school of hard knocks. I have given them the advice I can. They surprise me with their maturity. That does not mean they do not make poor choices. And just as in every other aspect of their personalities and lives, they are all three different.

My oldest was thrown into the solo living much younger than his sisters. Joining the army at the age of seventeen and with yet another year of high school to complete, he struggled the most. Military bonus's and pay being nearly twice the pay of his fast food employment checks. But it didn't last long with a teenage appetite. Not just food, video games, paintball, the latest movies...etc.
I have to wonder if some of that didn't come from the fact he was raised by a single mother who could not afford a lot of those things.
But now, a true adult, and old enough to vote. We spoke recently, again of budgets and saving and bad choices. He came to me. I am proud of him, just wish he could have seen this sooner. But, he is not in debt.

My second child working a full time job, making a slim check, has had to help out a little more with the finances than I hoped she would have to. She is in debt, a car. But never a late payment. We are working on a budget for her as well. She would like to start school soon. But she is doing tremendously.

And then my youngest. She is a saver. She is working a part time job, saving as much as she can but she will be headed to college herself this fall. A down payment on an apartment, some essentials such as towels and sheets and she is also out of money. For now.

But they know. They know what it is like to struggle, they know that sometimes we just cannot afford it. They know what credit is and what is good or bad about it. They do not use credit cards and neither do I. They know when to say no.

I wonder, when blinded by the thought of the American Dream, how many American's do not understand.

If you cannot afford it, do not buy it. Because you may be in a situation similar to mine some day, and it sure helps not to have a pile of debts to add to the stress.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I am Tired.

Madeline Kahn is one of my all time favorites. I am also a big fan of the slap stick comedy of Mel Brooks.
This morning, this song came to my mind as I awoke from yet another sleepless night. I am tired.

I am tired of interviews
I am tired of job search engines
I am tired of paying the minimum on monthly bills.
I am tired of working deals with creditors.
I am tired of turning friends down for fun/ expensive activities
I am tired of building meals out of what is in the pantry.
I am tired of car problems I can't afford to fix.
I am tired of broken down swamp coolers.
I am tired of pulling weeds.
I am tired of mowing my own lawn.
I am tired of daytime TV
I am tired of saying NO to my kids because I can't afford it.
I am tired of stress.
I am tired of sleepless nights.
I am tired of selling myself over and over.
I am tired of getting rejection letters.
I am tired of scrimping and saving just to pay the bills.
I am tired of .....

Please let this all come to an end soon. I am exhausted. Much like the video above, it was a bit humorous for a it is just tiring!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know. Louis Armstrong

 A welcomed break from all the stresses. We were given some free tickets to an outdoor festival in Salt Lake City. We could use them any day of the weekend, so we decided to go today (Sunday) to avoid the larger crowds. The festival did not start until 3pm.
 I made good use of the morning, cleaning house, dishes, laundry, mowing and watering the lawn...
 And then we dressed for hot weather, packed a cooler with soda, water and ice and headed out.
 We arrived just in time to see the first act. A singer/songwriter/ pianist who hails from the Salt Lake City area and is now entertaining full time at the Waldorf hotel in New York City. And well deserved. She was fabulous. As I stated in an earlier post, I love dueling pianos. I love pianos.
 My daughter and I even discussed we would both like to learn to play- who knows, maybe we will sign up for lessons. When I can once again afford a piano, or lessons. We stayed for the second act, a small orchestra and one solo jazz singer. She was also very talented. However, we didn't get to stay long enough to enjoy....storm clouds covered and a hard, fast, desert rain dropped down over the tents, trees and we were not prepared and had to leave. To be honest, I am not sure it was safe under the hundred foot tall, hundred year old trees.
However, it was still a nice break from the monotony of the unemployed, poor boring life sitting watching life pass by. Fresh air does one's soul good. And--- I don't have to work in the morning! - Just wish I did.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We are not alone

The past year has been a trial for me. As I have beaten a dead horse about.....

Over the past 14 yrs I have struggled as a single mother. Money was tight and the kids went without a lot of the extras. But nothing has been quite as hard as this past year.
Unemployment does not stretch near as far as one might think. But I am blessed to qualify for the benefits. For now.
It will not last forever, and I wouldn't expect that it would. But without it, I and my girls, would be on the street.
In my years as a single mother, I prided myself on never taking a hand out. Never did I seek out government support or charitable gifts.
There were always families worse off than we were. As long as there was a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, heat to warm out bodies and food to fill our bellies, we were rich.
But as this year continues on, those are seemingly becoming more and more luxuries.
Eight years I have spent in night school. Long nights studying after the kids were in bed. Working towards a higher degree of education and a dream of one day giving my kids more than they have ever dreamed.
And now, those dreams are just that. Dreams of using that hard earned degree- not for extras, luxuries and fun and travel.... Just a hope that it will some day land me a job just to catch up once again. A dream that I will not lose the house I have been able to hold onto solo for so long.

But I am not alone.

On the heels of the latest US unemployment rates exceeding 9%, and my own home state not far below that. I recently read an article in Reuters. For America's "99ers," jobs crisis is hard to escape

"Mary Kay Coyne has just filed what she says is her 1,862nd job application since being thrown out of work three years ago."

I am not far behind Mary Kay. I believe that I have also posted approximately one thousand resumes and applications for jobs which are often outside of my usual expertise and often at a much lower pay grade. Just to once again get bread on the table. 

I am not alone. 

But, sufficed to say, I have high hopes. Things have to turn around soon. Right?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. Theodore Roosevelt

I would welcome the chance to work again.
I had a phone interview over a week ago, and an in-person interview last week. Sold myself once again.
Nothing yet.

I had a chance to enjoy the holiday weekend. Is it still a holiday if you are not working? I suppose it is.

Good friends, family, fun, food. Bipolar weather.

And now back to the grind. Which for me means pounding the pavement of the world wide web searching out work.
I have almost given up on the chance of finding work I love, work I want. I am now searching out a paycheck to keep my head above water.

At least I will once again have blog material.

Hope you all had a wonderful Independence day!