The good with the bad

Posted October 14th, 2013 by Penny Wise

Life is a funny old thing isn't it? As Forrest Gump famously said 'it's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get'. Ain't that the truth! Take the last few days for example. I didn't know I was gonna get a bill for $649 in outstanding house valuation costs that had been sent to my old address and was due back in July. I didn't know I was gonna get a quote for a whopping $3,000 to my car after my teensy little prang (thank heavens for insurance!) And I also didn't know that my beloved dog Minnie was going to be diagnosed with a life threatening auto immune disease costing more than $700 in tests and treatment - and that's just the start, who knows what the ongoing costs will be? Still, she's the most loyal and steadfast companion anyone could ever ask for and she's worth a hundred times more than that to me. But over the past nine months I've had the privilege of meeting some amazing solo mums and compared to every single one of them, I have it easy.

It probably sounds awfully callous to say that ending my marriage was the best thing I ever did, but it's true. Why? Because he may not have thanked me back in February but my ex-husband is the happiest he has been in a very long time. I'm happy that he's happy and so are the boys. He has a new partner with two little girls and no longer has a wife who makes him miserable every day. And as tough as things may be for me financially and emotionally, I'm no longer miserable either. Often it's only when you are finally removed from a situation that you can see it for what it really was. As it is now, everyone is finally becoming more settled. The boys have got used to living without their dad and they can zip up the road to see him whenever they like. Noel and I are still amicable (most of the time!) and all in all, things are as good as anyone can hope for. I've gone back to using my maiden name and feel much better for it - I feel like me again.

Even so, there are plenty of days when I feel like crawling back under that rock. You see, I've always been a big believer in following my heart - and have always done so. I followed my heart to NZ and followed my heart to Whangamata. And even though my life was already as complicated as it could possibly be, I still followed my heart again. Yes, somewhere in the midst of changing my entire life, house and marital status, Penny managed to fall in love. Up to my neck. Ohhh good Lord how I loved this person - still do. But who wants a relationship with someone who's got enough baggage to sink a battleship? I wouldn't wish me on anyone! So it's back to the single life for me - but it's not just the emotional hurt I need to get over. As anyone who's been there knows, when you're in love you spend half the time with your head in lala land. The end of the relationship signalled a need to regain my focus in ALL areas of my life and boy have I had some work to do! At the end of the day, all I want is to live a happy life - a GOOD life - and I'm finding out just how big a part my Simple Savings skills play when it comes to achieving that.

Top priority is of course these two ratbags here. Excuse the beer, they were on their way to give their dad a birthday present! And they REALLY didn't want their photo taken, can you tell?! One thing I am pretty confident of is that I'm an awesome mum - but you can always be awesome-r! Liam and I have shared many small triumphs together lately. We've learned how to check the oil and water in his car, how to inflate the tyres with the correct air pressure and you would have thought we were having a party in the driveway the other day when we successfully carried out our first jump start! He's also learned that Mum can't always afford to fill his tank with petrol and that $20 worth of fuel is going to have to last him as long as possible. And if he scoffs the chocolate Tim Tams too quickly he's out of luck until mum's next WINZ payment comes through for food shopping. Also, razors are hideously expensive and they do indeed last much longer if you pop them in a little dish of olive oil on the bathroom window sill. The very first SS tip I ever tried, and now I've passed it on to my son!

Ali, although the younger one at 15 has always been a lot more independent. Even so he is learning one major lesson - namely, the world is not all about me! He's finally coming to grips with the harsh reality than when Mum says we have no money, she means NO money and is finally accepting it. Even if it means he has to walk a bit funny in too-small school shorts for a few weeks until next pay day because his beloved dog got sick. He has also learned how to make a pretty darn good Seafood Chowder and is even a dab hand at ironing. All in all, we're a pretty happy trio and even the worst days have their golden moments. Such as the day after my relationship ended and I was a blubbering mess, wallowing in bed all day. After checking in on me for the 10th time Liam said 'Right! I've had enough of this!' and stormed out. 'Where are you going?' I called after him. 'Nowhere!' came the surly reply as he took off in his car. Ten minutes later he returned with two cans of Red Bull and two pies from the bakery, paid for with his own money, which he has very little of. 'Here you go Mum, this will make you feel better!' and we sat and munched our pies together, covering the bed in pastry crumbs. Of course, I was so touched I immediately burst into tears all over again! But these ones were tears of happiness - what a wonderful, caring young man his dad and I had raised. And I knew I had to pull myself together.

Noel always did say I was a walking disaster area and I think I probably always will be, trouble does seem to follow me around! But I'm thoroughly enjoying having my focus back. Thanks to Simple Savings there are so many things I don't need to spend money on, such as cleaning and beauty products. I'm rediscovering the joys of cooking all over again in my tiny sunny kitchen with its ridiculously high bench tops. Our house is so small that cooking is no longer a lonely chore where you're tucked out of the way; it's at the heart of the house where Ali and I can chat even when he's in his room, or Liam and his mates converse nearby in the lounge. I've also got back into menu planning and that saves me an absolute fortune. Thanks to the unexpected bills I mentioned at the start, this month is probably going to be our toughest yet. I've found it pretty humbling having to ring people up and explain that I can't pay their bill in full but everyone has been absolutely lovely and it's been no problem at all. It's probably going to take me until January to really start making some headway but at least it's something to look forward to - at least until the next disaster comes along!

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