I’ve been a mom to two awesome and crazy kids for over ten years. I’ve been a single mom for six years. I didn’t plan it that way, as most single mothers don’t, but when life deals you a hand of cards, you play them out. I was in my early twenties when my husband of five years, the father of my son and daughter, was killed in a car accident and I was thrown into the new reality of raising these two kids by myself.
During heavy grieving, trying to walk my three and four-year-old through losing their dad, I figured out what our life was going to have to look like and I made plans. I would finish two more years of university at my current school, and then work part-time while doing more university online. I didn’t have the option to be a stay at home mom.
I went to work full time a couple years later, and our lives looked very much like that of other single parents. I was at the office all day, the kids were at school and daycare, and we saw each other for dinners, bedtimes, and on weekends. And for three years we lived this routine where every day I gave the best hours of my day to my job and my kids got the scraps of a tired, exhausted, and burned out mother. Because that’s just the way life is when you’re a single parent, right? The kids learn a bit more independence and everyone helps out. Our story is common to so many one-parent households.
When my son’s tenth birthday started to approach, it felt like a bucket of cold water to the face. I’d had my head down to my work for years, and when I looked up, my baby boy was becoming a preteen. Where had his baby fat disappeared too? Where had the years gone? I started panicking, realizing my daughter wasn’t far behind. And having been an awful teenager to my parents, I knew what turmoil the years ahead could possibly hold for us. It was time to make a change while I still had a little time.
So I quit my job – my comfortable and secure corporate job I’d had for three years – and started my own business as a freelance writer and virtual assistant. I decided my kids would homeschool next year, because I was craving more intimate time with them and thinking of their curriculum brought me back to when I’d started my degree wanting to be a teacher. This was exactly why. Homeschooling wouldn’t necessarily be our forever decision, but it was a decision to be made for now.
And then I booked the plane tickets.
If I was working online and they were homeschooling, why did we have to stay here in Vancouver? Our family is here, but my friends have all moved elsewhere and kids make new friends anywhere. Feeling less and less tied to our home here, I planned our next steps: six months in London, a year in Paris. The three of us had gone to England and France last year where they met my extended family in Britain and they’d fallen in love with Paris just like I did many years ago. Cultures that are like ours in many ways but offer just enough differences to feel like an adventure. Cultures that reinforce to my kids where we came from and who our ancestors were.
We leave in July. We’ll be back by Christmas 2019, and then we’ll think about what we want to do next. Maybe we’ll stay in Vancouver again, or maybe move on to somewhere else. The important thing is that we have the choice. We’ve been living for too long in the only way I thought we could, and that just wasn’t good enough. You shouldn’t feel like you’re missing your kids lives when you live in the same house with them. Before I know it, they’ll be teenagers and maybe won’t want to spend time with me anymore, so I have to seize this chance while they still do. Once they hit adulthood, I’ve lost my primary years of influence with them and I’ll just have to hope and pray I did a good enough job. I can’t do that when I hardly see them and they’re mostly being taught by their peers, teachers, daycare providers.
I like to think my husband is cheering us on, too. He had an adventurous heart and a restless soul, wondering and looking for what came next. If he were still here, he would jump at this chance not only for himself but for our kids as well. I think we’re honouring his spirit by choosing to step out in faith, not knowing what will happen, but trusting in the adventure. And I think our lives are about to be drastically changed…for the better.
What does purpose mean to you? The calling placed on your life and the drive to follow through on it.
About Liz Squires: