Recently, I was inspired by a conversation with Matt Batt (@storyassistant) about his new mantra, “I refuse to participate in this recession!” What a great affirmation!

As we talked about it, I realized I had a unique anchor to help me ride out the current economic storm. In the days that followed, I worked out a short list of lessons I’ve learned as a single parent, and which I hope will inspire you:

1. Regardless of your fears, focus ahead to what you want.
How are you going to spot the opportunities if you’re not looking for them? Trust me: Constant worry is exhausting, accomplishes nothing and wastes time you could spend enjoying family and friends. Like crossing a wide stream, be alert for slippery spots but keep your attention on the grassy, sun-dappled, opposite shore.

2. Celebrate what you have.
Beyond being thankful for what you have, find ways to celebrate it. All of it.

In December, 2007, Oprah Magazine published an amazing story by Peggy Orenstein. It traces not only the impact of the classic book, Mrs. Mike, on the author, but also her journey and ultimate meeting with its authors, Nancy and Benedict Freedman. If you click on that link and read the story, I hope one of your personal take-aways will be a promise to yourself to meet adversity as they have: When life served its ups, they celebrated; when it served the downs, they did the same.

3. To heck with the statistics.
Years ago, I stumbled upon a chart that showed the percentage of single mothers living beyond their means, depending on the number of children. It was a dreadful, depressing report, and I sank into hopelessness for a full two weeks. Then, one night, I had had enough. I looked up at the starry sky and declared an end to letting studies and statistics define my future (I really don’t believe the wiser statisticians ever meant to do that). Believe me or not, from that moment, everything changed. And regardless of ups and downs since then, I’ve held fiercely to my belief in a Statistic of One.

The blows and changes to our economy are scary, disorienting and not yet over. We’ll have opportunities to learn things about ourselves—both individually and collectively, and to create meaning out of the chaos. As much as I still worry over too many little things, I remain an optimist. I have faith in my ability to cope, and reader, I have faith in you. You’re strong, you’re resourceful, your grace and dignity are profound, and whether or not you remember it, you have an amazing sense of humor.


4 Responses to How Single Parenting Prepared Me for the “Downturn”

  1. Penina says:

    Heh… I’m sure a few folks told those earlier settlers their “odds” for succeeding, too. Good to hear from another determined individual!

  2. Eric Gooch says:

    Great observations. I agree that it can be too easy to be overwhelmed by “statistics”. Sometimes I find myself thinking about our ancestors, breaking their backs and making do with little, working their way through mud and rocky roads pulling covered wagons to places they’d only heard about.

    Puts things back into perspective for me!

  3. Penina says:

    Wow, Kimberly!

    After I published this post, I kept thinking I should go back and add #4: Keep Giving!

    Thanks for catching that missing point. I just have to smile. I’m so jazzed to know there are moms like you out there. You have obviously soared with the challenges. I wish you more good things!

  4. Kimberly Keith says:

    Great essay, thanks! You reminded me of all the things I have learned and am grateful for, humor being number one.

    I would add ‘Reaching Out to Others’ to my list of lessons learned as a single parent. It was a hard one to learn; but now enriches my life to a point of fearlessness in the face of whatever comes.

    Take care,
    Kim Keith

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