OK, deep breath and here goes.
As you may or may not know, I became a first time Mom at the tender age of 17. It was an unexpected pregnancy but changed my life in many ways, most of the good ways too.
From 17 until 19, I raised my eldest on my own. After I met my future ex-husband, I was raising a 2 year old and a 4 year step-son.
I held several part-time, low paying jobs until I was 30. It was then that everything changed again.
In 2002, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She implored me to 'do something' with my life, for myself. She died that June.
By the end of that year, I had taken the exams necessary to complete my GED. Inspired by one of my customers at a local pub I worked at, I decided to pursue a profession that I was interested in. I applied, and was accepted into college for the 2003-2004 school year. (That customer is now one of my bosses.)
September of 2003 was a landmark year for me and my girls. I was starting my first day of college, my eldest was starting her first day of high school, and my little one was starting her first day of kindergarten. It broke my heart to leave my family behind for the next 9 months, and I came home when I could, but it was the only school in the province that offered that course.
The 2004 - 2005 school year allowed me to work in my chosen field as an intern, and much closer to home. I was reunited with my family, working full-time and completing my assignments for school. I bought one of the businesses that I worked for in the spring of 2005, wrote my board certification exams weeks later, and graduated from college in June of 2005.
For the past six years, my business has changed in many ways, mostly as a result of the collapse of the economy, but I have worked through it as best as I could.
I left my then husband in 2006 for several reasons. It was the first time in my life that I had ever lived alone. As soon as I had an apartment, I went to get my girls. It's been a struggle not to have my DD2 with me all the time, but I'm learning to deal with it.
Also that year, I met my soul mate. He is everything I have ever wanted in a partner. We fit together so well, that we finish each others' sentences. Within months, he moved in with me, and have been together since.
In 2007, things started going downhill financially. I was losing business clients. The volume of works calls declined by about 60%. Of course, there wasn't enough money to pay the bills, and the collection calls started. But we were oblivious to it all. We kept charging away, thinking it would all work out in the end.
Then I found out I was pregnant. Happy news, yes, but we were completely unprepared. My pregnancy limited how much work I could do, and the pregnancy was very hard on me. In March of 2008, our little Cub was born. We were blissfully happy. Ten days later, we were given the news that our son had a very rare metabolic condition that could be life threatening. All hell broke loose. Whatever money we did have was spent sustaining us while we dealt with hospital stays and doctor visits. Bills went unpaid, and things got worse and worse. Hubby suffered a head injury due to a fall, and was hospitalised. When he came home, he couldn't work, he couldn't help with the baby, and had mood swings due to the injuries his brain was subjected to. I was at an all time low.
I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started looking for more work. To get our bills under control, we moved from a three bedroom townhouse to a three bedroom apartment. My eldest and her best friend moved into an apartment of their own. By The beginning of 2009, Hubby was back to work, and we went all out on getting our $60,000 or so of debt on a repayment plan. I found Gail Vaz-Oxlade on television. We started putting things to right.
Since that time, we've paid off about $40,000 worth of debt, including one credit card, one vehicle loan (with the second one to be paid off very shortly). We've gone from the brink of homelessness and bankruptcy to having some money in retirement, education and emergency savings, while keeping up with the bills (for the most part).
We're working our plan, and now deal with things as they come up. An unexpected bill no longer causes sleepless nights and heart murmurs.
I've realised that this challenge was a lot harder than I expected. I couldn't write it as objectively as I would have liked, but I tried. Toot!