Things in my life are very good. I am happy, as healthy as I could possibly be at 50, and live a very good life. I’ve had my losses, lessons and struggles, but have managed to grow a little as a result of facing them. For the most part, I have a pretty positive outlook on my future. I’m in love, and engaged to marry an amazing man. He is the love of my life, without question, and I am excited to build a life with him. Not only do I get him, I get two beautiful step children to add to my brood, and am looking forward to the future….
Part of creating that future though, involves facing some less than fun hurdles. Because CG and I are in different places financially, a prenup has to be drawn up. I knew after my first marriage broke up, that I would never, ever go into another union without one, no matter what the situation. In our case, I have far less than he does, so my kids will someday face getting far less than his children do when our estate is settled. I just hope they’ll understand when the time comes, that I did the best I could for them. They aren’t getting less because they deserve less, or because they were loved less by me.
I’ve found talking through a prenuptial agreement to be extremely difficult, but it has NOTHING to do with CG. He is being more than fair about how we deal with what we each have now, and what we'll amass together. It’s just that the stark reality of our inequity is a tough mirror to face. Because I failed at my marriage, my children will have far less than they would have inherited if I had made it work. The burden lies with me. Have I done enough for my kids? Is there any way for me to “catch up” a bit? I don’t know.
What I do know, is that even if all they end up with is what I’ve managed to save right now, they’ll be getting more than most people in the world. Even in their own circle of friends…
Yesterday my youngest , “Toby” and I were driving downtown early in the morning. We drove past a large homeless shelter here, which has faced a lot of criticism. The building was made to fit in with the rest of the downtown core, which mostly consists of new, shiny buildings. The shelter has battled back by advertising that the clientele there is comprised mostly of the “Working Poor”. What that means, is that 70% of the people there actually hold jobs, but can’t afford an apartment.
As we drove by, Toby commented that he didn’t understand that statistic… and wondered whether addiction had a large part in why the “working poor” couldn’t afford a home. He remarked that two of his friends have managed to make themselves a life without any support from their families, since the age of 15.
One of these kids I know very well. We’ll call him “T”. He has been a fixture in our house for years, and became one of my “second sons” because he was around so often. I knew things were rocky at home between “T” and his step mother. T’s stepmom had no children when she married a single dad, and didn’t have any idea how to deal with a pre-teen boy. Soon after the wedding, she became pregnant and had a little girl who was the light of her life, and T’s as well… he adores his little sister…. Anyhow, things went from bad to worse, as the situation began to cause marital strife between T’s dad and stepmother. I didn’t walk in this step mom’s shoes, so I’m not sure why she felt it was her place to treat T the way she did.
Eventually, T moved out before he finished high school. He managed to hold a full time job at McDonalds, attend and pass school, AND pay rent and buy his own food. It was hard to do, but he managed to swing it. During that time, I provided groceries, invited him to family meals, and bought him towels etc to get him started. I’m sure it was a tough road. T has since joined the Armed Forces, and is making a pretty good life for himself.
The other friend, Miss “L”, is someone I don’t know at all. Her father left the family and has provided no support to any of his children, even after the death of their mother. This girl is excelling, and has great ambitions for herself. Toby spoke about her situation as another example of someone very young, managing to thrive without a financial support system. She is currently working full time, and at the age of 19 is attending college, and footing the bill for her school, her apartment, food and clothing. It must be a difficult road for her sometimes. When Toby told me about her situation, I decided another “Pay-it-Forward” opportunity was presenting itself to me.
Pay-it-Forward is a great way to put pennies in the Karma Bank. It gives both the giver and the recipient a good feeling if it’s done right…. It has to be handled so the person giving the gift doesn’t expect anything but good feelings in return, and so the recipient isn’t made to feel awkward. I enlisted the help of Miss L’s best friend… and bought her a gift card to a mall to be given to her anonymously. Because it’s Easter this weekend, I also had my son pick up a chocolate bunny for her. I have given her best friend instructions that the gift card is to be spent on something she wouldn’t normally buy herself. A treat.
My life was made much easier during a difficult time by two people who chose to pay it forward to me. When I first left my sons’ father, I was in some financial difficulty. I wanted to buy a home for us, and it was a stretch on one income….
A friend I met at work donated her wardrobe castoffs to me… Designer labels, many of which still had price tags attached. She cleaned her closet out several times, over the years, and I benefited. I truly believe my success at work was, in part, due to her. My professional image changed when I dressed the part.
My second benefactor was the friend of a friend. Someone I had never met. When my marriage broke up, I was left with the van we had, but I was also left with the payments. The friend of a friend had an old car to get rid of, and was asking around to see if there was someone who really needed one. The timing couldn’t have been better. It was a baby-blue, Ford station-wagon that was about 15 years old. The car had been well maintained mechanically, so while it wasn’t pretty, it got me around for two years before I had to buy another car. The fellow who owned it sold it to me for a dollar. His only stipulation was that I promised to do something for someone else someday. I have taken his generosity to heart, and have tried to share that spirit wherever I could. I believe the world changes one good deed at a time. One thought at a time.