I’m super excited about Michaela’s post. If you like it too, then you will check out her blog and then leave harassing comments begging her to actually blog more than once a season.
â€œWe can spend our lives letting [our] history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe itâ€™s our job to invent something better.â€ -Chuck Palahniuk
When I came across Erinâ€™s proposition to write a guest blog about a â€œdefining momentâ€ Iâ€™ve experienced, it took me about 25 seconds of soul-searching to determine which singular event has had the biggest influence on my life. Itâ€™s taken me a couple of months, however, to write this story for you, dear stranger. I wondered, Will they get it? Can they relate? Will I sound like I take myself too seriously? Can I talk about myself for that long without sounding narcissistic? Is that question narcissistic? Can I write an entire blog post without saying â€˜fuckâ€™ at least once, for emphasis? Instead of working out the obstacles that have delayed this post, Iâ€™ve decided to shoot from the hip and maybe the heart.
I’ll share some history with you first, to help you understand my defining moment’s significance. Iâ€™m 26, and the last four years of my life have been full of big changes. I became a mom to two babies, becoming a single mom this year. These have been the most pivotal events in my life, but I donâ€™t believe any of them exclusively define me. Bringing my children into the world was a tremendously significant experience, but I canâ€™t claim that it was solely mine. Those moments also belong to my children; we did it together. Their births defined us collectively.
Breaking up with their dad was the most painful decision Iâ€™ve ever made. I had the emotional support of my friends and family, but I felt like Iâ€™d failed and worried incessantly about the kidsâ€™ future. Although the break-up shaped the course of my future, it doesnâ€™t represent my identity.
When we broke up, the kids and I had to move. My best friendâ€™s parents offered us their home while I figured things out. I didnâ€™t know how Iâ€™d be able to afford our own place, but I saved for it anyway. My exâ€™s words taunted me; heâ€™d said Iâ€™d never be able to make it on my own. At the time, I was working part-time at a clothing store. I took home only $100 some weeks, but I saved almost every dollar I earned.
In February, I was hired part-time at a property management company. I kept my retail job to piece together a livable income and juggled around babysitters for whom I will forever be thankful. I also found an apartment in a great school district that fit my budget.
Signing the lease on March 5th, 2011 was my defining moment.
This moment was quiet, and although my landlord was there, the moment was mine. I gave him a chunk of my savings and signed my name, committing myself and my children to a 12 month lease and a home of our own. I bought myself new sheets. I decided where to put the furniture. Iâ€™ve put a few too many holes in the walls, choosing where to hang my favorite art pieces and photographs. To me, my lease isnâ€™t just a financial and legal commitment. My lease represents a promise to myself and my kids that I can do it on my own.
It is my fucking declaration of independence.
I live frugally, and money is tight sometimes, but I feel like my rent is the best investment I make each month. We live in a safe neighborhood in a nice town. My neighbors are friendly, and my landlord looks out for us.
I finally have my own walls, and everything inside them belongs to me and the two people I love most. My apartment is a reflection of the space I wanted to create for my family. It’s comfortable, quiet and playful. Itâ€™s also messy sometimes, just like me.
Saving for and ultimately moving into my own apartment defined me: I’m determined. Iâ€™m strong. I’m a provider. I’m mama bear. I’m still a terrible cook. And I’m happy. Itâ€™s been a hell of a year, and itâ€™s tested my willpower. As it turns out, Iâ€™ve got plenty of it.