When I was 12, my mother took a job for the first time. She answered phones at an engineering firm. I remember my father wasn’t excited about her working (he was controlling and never really wanted her to have a life outside of him and his kids).
I also remember when she got a promotion after working there for a year, because it wasn’t long after that when she moved out.
Fast forward 10 years and she told me one day what was going through her mind at the time when she took that job: “I didn’t want to be away from my kids, but you were old enough to stay home alone, and I knew it was time to get out of that marriage.”
My mother had suffered in silence for a long time living under my father’s rules and on his terms. She took that job with a plan: to get a promotion and afford to live on her own. The realization had come to her one summer night when we were all at the beach watching the sunset.
“Your father was on a men’s weekend trip and we brought fried chicken to the beach for dinner,” she told me. (My dad hated the beach, my mom loved it). “I was watching all of you walk ahead of me in the sand and knew I was so much happier with just you kids. I wanted freedom to spend my life how I wanted it and to not be controlled any longer.”
When my mother moved out, all she had was the hand-me-down furniture that her coworkers had given her. The house was in my father’s name, and since she had only been working for a year, he decided she didn’t deserve any of the money he got when he sold it.
Her apartment was a small one-bedroom and there were five of us who crammed in there for almost a year until she saved some money to buy a small home.
We hardly saw my father after that, and my mother raised four teenagers on her own while working full time. She figured it out.
When my husband and I decided to divorce, I hadn’t worked full time in over 13 years. I had no money of my own, and I desperately wanted to stay in the home we’d built with our children. I laid awake at night wondering how I could do this.
I’ll get groceries at the dollar store, I’ll sell some clothes, I can start my own business on the side, I can use my credit card for everything and get the cash back rewards.
There were many times when I didn’t know if it was going to work. I’d been supported financially by my husband for so long I didn’t know if I could open up my own 401K, or learn to invest my money, or be frugal AF in order to stay in a home I loved. But, I figured it out.
My sister decided after having three kids that she wanted to be a dental hygienist. Her husband’s job as a school administrator kept him busy, and in order to get the degree she wanted, she had to go to a school that was an hour and a half away. She commuted four days a week for two years, just graduated, and now has the job of her dreams.
She asked for help, she made sacrifices — she figured it out.
That’s the thing that amazes me about mothers. We are natural nurturers. We give; we work hard; we can juggle many things at a time.
Yes, we have our breakdowns and we are more than allowed to complain about the mental loads we carry.
Yet we know how to figure things out, because we’ve always had to fight harder than men to get what we want.
Add kids into the mix and our protective instincts kick that fight into high gear — and you bet your ass we will find a way to figure it out.
We might not have a plan, but we will figure it out.
We might want to give up, but we will figure it out.
We might fail a few times, but we will figure it out.
We might be at rock bottom, but we will figure it out.
And one we see exactly what we are capable of figuring out, there’s literally nothing you throw at us that we won’t be able to handle. So if you’re going through something that seems insurmountable, believe this: you’re more capable and resourceful than you know.