When 2000 rolled around, I was a 40-year-old single mother of two teenage boys, starting over with no education or career. My job had been, stay-at-home mom, helper, maid, taxi service, farmer and wife for a lot of years. Starting over was not going to be a cakewalk.
At the time I thought 40 was old, or at the very least on the verge of old. I was embarrassed to be starting over at such a rip old age. Oh what I wouldn’t give to go back and tell that young lady a few things. Now I’m closing in on 60 and trying very hard not to see myself as old again.
It’s interesting to look back and remember what I was like and how I was thinking, and compare it to now, and what I know. On the outside, it must have seemed like I had a lot of confidence. I was in an unhappy marriage and it took great courage to get out of it. I was starting over with nothing. No home or income or savings.
So, I can see how it must have appeared. But inside I was a wreck. I had no idea what career path to take and because of knee surgery, I had to look for a different job. Working all day on my feet as a salesperson wasn’t an option any more.
I was very happy when I found a job at a beauty salon. I was the receptionist who greeted everyone and kept the schedule for all of the ladies who worked there. It was a lot of fun, and I was again working with an all women team.
A part of my job was to call all of the clients on the next day’s schedule and remind them of their appointments. One of the ladies I called asked me how I was doing. I gave her the standard, “Fine, thank-you”, so then she asked what I wanted.
I didn’t understand at first, and then she said “What is it that you want, Loretta? What would make you happy?” Wow, what great questions to ask someone. Without thinking I said, “I want my own house. I want to buy a house.”
And then my next words were, “But I’ll never be able to afford one.” What the heck? Do you do that too; throw out self-defeating statements before you even know the facts?
Luckily the woman I was speaking with was a realtor. She lined up an appointment with a lender so I could see what I would qualify for. After my appointment with her, I stood just outside the door with a piece of paper in my hands.
On it were the words that said I could buy a home, by myself for $120,000. And by the spring of 2001 I was standing at another door, holding the keys to my new home in my hands.
It was the first time in my life I owned a home, all by myself. In that moment, I felt like I could do anything. I was so proud of myself for providing a real home for my sons and our dog. I loved that home and have great memories with my sons there.
Now that I had my own home, the next order of business was to get a career. Looking back, I can see that I should have reversed these two steps.