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Striving, Thriving & Surviving

By: Ashlee Burkey | Published: January, 2023

As a girl growing up in the 80s and 90s, yes I am ageing myself, I was inundated with movies and images depicting the fairytale girl meets boy, they fall in love, and live happily ever after. As well as TV shows all about families all living happily together and having hilarious lives. I remember as a child pretending to load up my kids aka baby dolls, in my pretend car, and drive them all around. I am assuming that was my little girl version of running errands. So as I grew up I always had in my mind I would meet a boy, fall in love, have a family, and live happily ever after. 

Even though I come from a divorced family those impressions and thoughts were engraved in me, or maybe it is because?

As a girl growing up during that time you also were taught not only should you have a family, but you also have to have a career! A girl can be anything and do it all! No problem, we got this! 

I went to College and I got “The Career”. I met the boy, I got married, I had the kids. Bam! To my little girl self…we did it! 

Well, life throws you curveballs! You have to apparently dodge and weave! It is no one’s fault that is life. It is forever changing. I just simply was not prepared. I did not have the tools, but I found them!

My new story had to begin…

Change is hard, change is well change! Different, scary, intimidating, etc…

Who is going to help me? What is going to happen to my kids? Where do I start? How will I survive?


Single Parent to me was just scary and foreign. I watch many amazing single parents survive every day, but I was not comfortable finding myself in that role. 

Sharing my time and spending time alone. This by far is the hardest hurdle for me. I am and have always been a very involved parent. I love every single minute of my life with my kids. They define me, they are the best thing I will ever do in my life! So coming to terms with not being with them every day and every holiday has and will continue to be a challenge. At first everyone kept telling me to just find a hobby. While I know they all meant well it was such a frustration! I wanted to scream! 

So I started therapy, and not just one type of therapy. I opened myself up to many forms of help. I started setting aside time each day to just do breathe work and grounding. Reflecting on the positive. I opened up to my friends new and old. I surrounded myself with positive humans that uplifted me. I had friends graciously join me and try new exercise classes like Bungee Flight and Jump Fit. I slowly made myself go places by myself. Guess what when you actually get brave and go somewhere you would not normally by yourself you end up meeting the most amazing people. I have found it is a fine balance between keeping myself busy and taking time to relax. If there is a day I am struggling it is ok I am allowed that day!

I started new traditions with my kids. This Christmas instead of tons of presents under the tree we went on a trip! We spent time together away from it all away from the house we all used to be a family in. I decided it was ok to take all that holiday mom pressure and stress off of myself. I did not get anyone a present, no wrapping, and no shopping. We only did the fun stuff! Ice skating, breakfast with Santa, pick out and decorate a tree. I try to plan activities with my kids that allow for many laughs and qualify time together. 

There is a of course a new Single Parent schedule to get adjusted to. You have to make sure to have everything and everyone in the right place at the right time. Kid’s activities alone can be a juggling act. Dance, Girl Scouts, piano, Boy Scouts, pep band, robotics, the list goes on… I learned to breathe take it one day or maybe two days at a time. I have a written calendar in my kitchen, I have a written planner, I set alarms on my phone, and I have a family app on my phone. Key is to try to stay organised and utilizse your friends and family for help. It is ok to have a fellow dance mom pick up your child you do not have to be a superhero and do it all. Most importantly if you mess up or miss something cut yourself a break! 

Remember that career I had to have! Well thankfully I am fortunate I happened to choose one that allows for a flexible schedule. My career fits perfectly into juggling a single parent schedule. I started my career shortly after college. I slowly climbed my way up over the years working in almost every department of the mortgage industry. I have always secretly been so proud of my accomplishments, but never really verbalised out loud. I have a hard time and feel uncomfortable talking about my accomplishments. I shy away when someone pays me a compliment. Well my new story includes changes in my career as well. I started with a new employer in 2022 in the same role I have had for the past 12 years as a Mortgage Loan Officer. My new employer however gave me a voice and encouraged confidence! Remember all that therapy I opened myself up to, it has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and start sharing my accomplishments. I have family and friends that just now after 17 years know what I do for a living! 

In 2021 & 2022 I gave myself time to grieve, feel sorry for myself, and feel sorry for my kids. Then slowly at the end of 2022 I started to peek out and see the light. So for this new year of 2023 I am not making any New Year’s Resolutions, I am making New Year’s/Life Intentions! Enjoy my life to the fullest and accept change as a positive. Provide the best life that I can for my children. 

Life can look so many different ways! Thankfully Society, TV shows, and Movies are catching up with reality! 


Comments (2)

  1. Wow, I’m glad I stumbled upon your story. You got this under control!
    As women, I don’t think we realize just how strong are!😎❤️

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