Ten years ago, I started over with two children, two months of outstanding mortgage payments, an empty refrigerator, and $120.00. My marriage was over and I began parenting alone with little to no support. I had a solid middle class upbringing and never knew poverty as a child. As a result, I was ill-prepared to raise two children entirely on my own and faced a very steep learning curve. Initially, I was lost and did not know where to begin. My circumstances were further complicated because I only had a fledging law practice, no health insurance or emergency savings, and was beyond clinically depressed. At the same time, I recognized that my law license combined with a dusty and tattered professional network positioned me to bounce back faster than other single mothers. What I did not understand was that I had a great deal of inner work to do before my personal bounce back would begin.
Parenting alone with little to no support is an impossible job. I am responsible for everything from car repairs to figuring out how to finance my children's college education. Because I was so far behind when I started over, I sometimes still find myself teetering on the precipice of financial armageddon while robbing Peter to pay Paul and everyone else in between.
I understand the sense of security that comes from growing up in a two parent household. At first, I thought that assuming the role of both mother and father would make it easier for my children to process the dramatic shift in our family structure. Fortunately for the three of us I quickly realized that I can only be one person, mother. I have since focused on honoring the family unit that we have become through our years of adversity and struggle.
I decided to use the lessons learned during these last ten years of adversity and struggle to formulate a plan for moving single mothers and their children to mental, physical, educational, and financial self-sufficiency. This plan was borne out of the roadblocks that derailed my attempts to bring this same stability to my new normal. Ms. Sandberg, a tragic life shift has placed you on the same path that many of our sister single mothers are walking. I trust that, like me, this is a path that you do not want to walk. However, I believe that nothing happens by chance or accident. We are on the path that is moving us towards our purpose. The question is whether you are willing to embrace the pain, joy, hard work, and messiness that comes with walking this path. Within this context I challenge you to consider this letter as an open invitation to lean in and join me as I work to holistically change the lives of single mothers and their children across generations.
Everyday I fight to keep leaning in to the hard that comes with parenting alone with no support, playing the cards that I have been dealt, and waiting expectantly for the beauty that will certainly rise from the ashes of adversity and struggle. Welcome to my world.