For the first year after the divorce was final, my auto-response to just about every question that flew out of the mouths of my three sons was “YES!” It was an automatic, rapid-fire and knee-jerk reaction to each and every query.
Yes, I will be your room mom!
Yes, I will be the team mom!
Yes, we can still go on vacations, live in our super-sized house, drive our SUV, and eat out at restaurants!
And the one that had me questioning my sanity:
Sure, no problem, I am happy to drive six hours — round trip — to Six Flags Magic Mountain not once — but twice — over back-to-back weekends, all to spend $500 to stand in long lines — in 95 degree heat — to ride a roller coaster that will likely make me vomit!
Like many women, I was haunted by divorce guilt and did everything I could during those 12 long months to compensate for any collateral damage to my boys. Despite my best intentions, all those “yeses” did come at a price. Not only did my face have a half a dozen more stress-induced wrinkles, but I also became the not-so-proud owner of a big fat credit card balance. Neither circumstance was how I wanted to kick off my new life as a single mom. This wasn’t the example I wanted to set for my sons.
After yet another sleepless night, I found myself asking this hard question: What in the hell could I have done with all that money if I had simply said NO? The longer I stared at my year-end credit card statement, the more I realized the power that lives in that simple, two-letter word. No. I began to see that if I embraced the notion that “no” actually means “yes” to something else (e.g., zero debt, a growing emergency fund and/or a retirement account), the results could be life changing.