As I read Good Enough is the New Perfect, I was reminded of an earlier time in my single parenthood. A few years ago, the thought of my life remaining the same was the most terrifying thought I had. That I would be single forever, that I would work in the same department forever. Now those same thoughts give me great comfort. If nothing changes, it will be perfectly fine with me.
So what changed? Not much, it turns out. But just enough to completely change my outlook.
It was around the holidays, which can be a trying time when we're not feeling particularly celebratory. I was dreading the get-togethers, dreading if people would ask me if I was seeing anyone, dreading questions about my job, where I felt like I was getting nowhere fast.
I decided with the new year, it was time for some changes. I went to my boss, and asked for more responsibility (no raise or promotion, just something to keep me from going stir-crazy as a secretary, at the time). I went back to school for a paralegal degree. I knew it meant more time away from my kids, but since my parents were more than willing to watch them while I was in school (as they did when I went back for my bachelor's degree), it would be okay. My girls would be with people that loved them, and it was only two nights a week.
I also came to terms with being single. At first it was, I'm not dating "for now." For now has turned into years, and I've discovered that I really like it this way. There are still some times when it can be scary to walk into social functions with no "date," but for the most part, it's nice to not worry about whether or not someone else is having a good time, to enjoy the company of the people I meet there...and to have the freedom to leave when I want to go home!
It didn't take long for an opportunity to come up at work for a promotion (and a raise). I always loved the people I work with, and the company I work for, so to be recognized for what I put into it meant that much more to me than to just get hired somewhere else. Just last week, I was telling my parents that I'm actually starting to get a retirement plan together...that includes staying exactly where I am for 25+ years! And I just hope it works out that way.
A few weeks ago, I was worrying about the lack of space. As the girls get older, will they still be okay with sharing a room? (Especially when we all get on the same...cycle. 3 women in a two-bedroom apartment suddenly seems very, very small!) Financially, I'm still not ready to make a move to a larger space, and then I came up with another alternative. We're slowly moving Riley into my room. We haven't figured everything out just yet, but for now, she knows she has somewhere to go when she needs some space away from her sister. I pretty much only use my bedroom to sleep and change so it doesn't bother me in the slightest to have her in there. This arrangement can certainly work for at least another year, giving me more time to financially plan for a potential move into a 3-bedroom.
A 3-bedroom apartment doesn't sound like much, but it's the only thing lacking from my current picture of perfection. I used to dream of a house or condo, but now I realize, homeownership would be far too much to take on. I don't think I could ever get a good night's sleep with a mortgage hanging over my head! As regular readers will know, I've put a lot of time and energy in the past year into getting my budget in order. Right now, my vision of financial success is one of no credit card debt and having an emergency savings fund (in lieu of the credit card to save me when the "unexpected" gets out of hand). Each month, I'm getting a little closer to that goal, and that makes me feel as savvy as Suze Orman. Well, okay, not quite, but I actually look forward to paying my bills now because I feel an empowerment over my finances that I've never felt before. And that's plenty good enough.
I distinctly remember that feeling of complete hopelessness back then. It wasn't even a depression, it was just an acceptance that my life would just suck for the foreseeable future. It only took a few adjustments to turn that around into a life I treasure today. A life that can feel at times like sheer perfection.
Read more posts inspired by Good Enough is the New Perfect at From Left to Write. The links to the book here are associated with my Amazon affiliate account, and would generate a small referral fee for me.