“When my marriage imploded, I didn’t shed a tear. The relief of it being over combined with the weight of knowing what was about to come was too much, I knew if I started crying, I wouldn’t be able to stop. So I just didn’t allow myself to go there. I learned early on that the most challenging part about divorce is that the issues that lead to the breakdown don’t stop just because you are no longer a couple, and it quickly became apparent that I would have to navigate parenting completely alone.
Up until the split, I had been a stay at home oilfield wife, I home-schooled the children and attended home-births on call.
I decided early on in my journey as a single parent that I needed a career that would allow me to physically be there for my children as much as possible, while simultaneously providing for them financially on my own. With the support and encouragement from my kids, I applied to nursing school and we moved to a city that was hours away from my extended family and support system. Now if you ask any nurse, they will likely tell you that nursing school was the most challenging thing they have ever encountered. I knew what I had been through thus far, and what I had persevered through. I naively thought that navigating post-secondary education while being a single mother of four wouldn’t be *that* hard. HA!
The next few years of my life were a cluster of very early mornings, squeezing in training sessions at the gym between classes, quizzes/assignments/research/exam prep, running the kids to their after-school activities and late-night (that sometimes ran into early morning) homework sessions. I would ‘treat’ the kids to rainy afternoons at the indoor play center, only to bring a backpack full of textbooks to read while they all burned off their energy. Through all of it, the kids and I were one unit. We would eat breakfast and supper together and share about our days, we would work together to get the family chores done so we could have more time to spend together. ‘We’re doing this together’ became our mantra. We made the most of the time that we spent together, making sure we invested ourselves in being in the moment, whether we were out for a family dinner to celebrate one of the (many) birthdays, cottaging, fishing or just being silly.
We all celebrated small victories along the way, each of the children earned student of the week multiple times at their new schools, they all adjusted well to being in public education (aside from my oldest son being dumbfounded by how much they had to sit). They made friends in our neighborhood and loved that city living meant you didn’t have to drive to your nearest friend’s house for a visit.
There were days where I thought I literally couldn’t go through another day of school. Some days I didn’t know where I would find the energy to get through my breakfast, let along the 45 minute round trip commute to drop the kids off at the babysitters who watched them for half an hour before they could be dropped off at the school kids-care program where they would have breakfast and play for an hour and a half before school even started. But I did it. We did it. Every day. We got up early, we worked together, everyone pulled their weight. I felt so fortunate to have my own personal cheering squad, a little crew of people who were just as invested in my success as I was. We would celebrate with kitchen dance parties at the end of every semester as my grades rolled in. ‘MOM YOU DID IT!!!’ They were there every step of the way.
As my education came to an end, it started to hit me, the true capacity of my accomplishments over the past number of years. I had gone from a married stay-at-home, homeschooling mother, to a single mom of four and nursing school graduate who earned an award in Student Excellence and Leadership for my contributions over the years I spent at school. I did it while navigating a messy divorce, while balancing a heavy training schedule, while providing each of the kids with the support they needed as they navigated their feelings surrounding their new lives, while going months on end without receiving child support, while moving not once but twice, while facing every obstacle that was thrown at me head-on.
And then it finally happened; I cried. I sobbed with pride and joy. Great big tears poured from my eyes as I walked across the stage and asked my mom, who is also a nurse, to perform the honor of giving me my nursing pin. I turned to my kids in the crowd and raised my arm in victory. We did it, together.”
This story was written by Lindsey Hall of Ontario, Canada. You can follow her on Instagram here and her Facebook page here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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