My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Financial Freedom

I met my kids' dad in August of 1985, right before the start of my senior year of high school. He was in a drug and alcohol rehab program but was close to being released and doing very, very well. He had such great hopes for the future and was incredibly ambitious and capable.  I was lonely, missing my big brother who had been my constant companion for my entire life and had just left for college, ironically the same college where he and my sister-in-law work now. I was in need of a partner in crime and he was a willing partner.

I graduated high school early, finishing in February. I started work 8 days later and got married in April. Ryan came along in November. You do the math. I can tell you this much: sending out wedding thank you notes, graduation invitations and graduation thank yous, baby announcement and thank yous all in the same year has funded the USPS from then up until now. And stamps at the time were around 13 cents, I think.

At any rate and the point of this little venture back in time is that since that time, since August of 1985, the kids' dad has had a financial impact on our family in one way or another. At first it was our mutual expenditures of dating and so forth. Then it was marriage, baby, moving out on our own, struggling, buying a house, struggling and well, you get the picture. We split in May of 2000 and fortunately, by that time I had transitioned from stay at home make a dime in every way possible mom to a full time working mom. Irony here again in that the girl who helped me find a job was the same girl the kids' dad lives with now, an old family friend from way back. (And she's a great girl. His last one was too. He's got good taste.)

It took two years to wrap up the divorce proceedings and obtain a court order for child support. In the twelve years of single-momhood I never got all I was supposed to get. He went to jail for non-payment once. When he got out he was homeless and my parents took him in. Later on I took him in. My kids were sneaking him in the house after I went to bed anyways. After that my parents took him in another time and... I don't know... the years run together. Ultimately, I worked myself to death, working more than one job most of the time. The kids and I lived as cheaply as we could and I tried to give them as "normal" a life as possible. When we got child support it was great, when we didn't we made a way somehow.

By the time that Austin graduated last year the amount his dad was in arrears was in the tens of thousands. Our life would have been different with that money. My credit would certainly be better. My 401k might be fatter. I might have made a few less bad choices (second marriage, for example) and depended on family and friends less. At the kids' request, I never took him back to court to get any of the back child support. A little financial gain at the expense of their good will was an equation I wasn't willing to live with.

When Cody's chosen career of massage therapy didn't pan out he went to work with his dad. It's everything I hoped for my kids: learn a trade and be able to be financially independent. It carried the bonus of quality time with his dad that he had been missing for the past ten years (and more) of his life. The only problem was that his dad doesn't always keep consistent working hours. He's great at what he does and works for a company that is tolerant of his work habits and if not for the fact that Cody couldn't work when his dad didn't work, we wouldn't have cared a bit.

You see... my parents own the house next door to their house here in Riverdale. Cody and Marquee live there. They live, for the most part, rent free, with just the responsibility of utilities and taxes and insurance. Only... when Cody didn't work a full 40 hour week it was hard for him to keep up with his end of the deal and it impacted my parents financially because somebody had to take up the slack.

So here we are... closing in on 28 years of our family being impacted by what my kids' dad did or didn't do and... to be honest, I have carried a lot of guilt about this. I wouldn't change a thing about who my kids are because they all three are just incredibly amazing people and I know that they are uniquely designed based on both parents.

Partly due to a lack of work and partly due to a lack of his dad's working, Cody's not been able to work much lately. Cody's good at what he does. I'm sure that came from his dad, both in nature and in nurture. All three of my boys are mechanically inclined and good at fixing stuff. That didn't come from me. All three have above average intelligence. That DID come from me. It's a good combination. Cody finally had enough and went out and found himself another job. He found out last week but I couldn't talk about it until now. I'd be proud of him moving up in his life either way. But the fact that this marks the first time in sooooo many years that I don't have to worry about what their dad does makes it incredibly sweet.

Ryan got a new car last week and then ended up getting a raise that will pay most of the cost of the new car. Cody got a new job last week that will provide health care and benefits and a steady working schedule. Austin will get there soon. He's making a way for himself right now, whether by working or by networking, I'm not really sure. The point is that all three are grown and mostly independent and for me, at this point in my life where I'm barely able to take care of myself, this is a huge blessing. I'm so proud.

I've cut back my working hours for at least the next week. I can't get past this spell. Any time I stand up or sit at a ninety degree angle I lose feeling in both legs. Even in my usually most comfy position I'm unusually uncomfortable lately. Looks like my kids are getting in position to be able to take care of me in my old age!

Hope you're having a great weekend. Love and hugs, y'all.


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