FAMILY TREE: Are you doing enough to leave a legacy for your children? Consider the THREE M’s: Money. Memories. Mommy.

SingleMomEXCLUSIVE: Written exclusively for The Single Mom Club Membership

(www.SingleBlackMom.wordpress.com) – My bestie for life and I rarely see each other kind of like the movie, “Beaches.” We live in different states and as busy single moms it’s not be that easy to pull off. But our lives have always paralleled each other. If she does something, not much long after it happens to me and vice versa. That’s why when she was hospital bound for five months hoping her child would be born, I sent her baby clothes and gifts. It was risky. I was warned not to do it. I’m not unfeeling and insensitive, but I already knew she was going to have a baby because I had my child about a year earlier.

When I told her I was pregnant and I wanted her to be the godmother, she told me she’d just had a miscarriage.  I felt bad but she said she was happy. I didn’t hold back details during the pregnancy – not even when I suffered domestic violence – because I wanted her to share the pregnancy with me. My child was born on the same day as her godmother. How much more involved is that?

There were probably days that she felt she needed to put the baby clothes away while she was in the hospital, but I knew that seeing the items would give her motivation to do whatever it took to become a mom. Her son – who I think of as my surrogate son – was born and today is on track to be an amazing man when he grows up. He reminds me of Klay Thompson from the Golden State Warriors.  When she sent me a photo of him wearing one of the outfits, it was like an affirmation. A true miracle.

My bestie and I fret over what I call the THREE M’s: Money. Memories. Mommy. As single moms, there is never enough money. We bust our humps to provide for our children now and in the future. We talk about 529 plans to ensure they go to college. Ironically, we met in college when we became roommates. We discuss the best foods to feed them, how to afford sports activities and clothing. We spend a lot of time making sure our children’s memories are as happy as possible.

I’ve been struggling with a custody battle from hell while she’s managed to remain cordial with her child’s father who lives in the Caribbean.  As my child and are fighting to end the nightmare that we’ve been trapped in, I am overly concerned that I leave a legacy. I’ve been meeting with financial planners, attorneys and bankers. I’ve been rearranging my company to ensure she’s got a job if she wants it. I’ve been doing a lot of planning that sure feels a lot like estate planning. So now I’m moving into the phase I’m calling LEGACY BUILDING. I want her to know me – the me before I was a mom and the me after. I want her to know her dad – even though he’s not in our lives – I’ve been planning for the day that she goes bat shit crazy trying to know more about him. I don’t her to feel empty or have a void so I’ve prepared a document with his full name, address, date of birth, social security number (we were engaged so of course I have this information.) I’ve tried to include stuff about the good sides of  him, his medical history that I can recall, his family tree so she will know the names of his side of the family should she ever want to go there.

If you’re wanting to leave a legacy with your children here are a few tips that you should think about incorporating into your life:

  1. YOUR LIFE IN PHOTOS: It’s time to start taking as many photos and videos of you WITH your children as possible. I call it a VISUAL LEGACY. Selfies don’t cut it, unless the kids are in the photo. Don’t just take photos, get them printed out. Put them in a scrap book and write names of the people and dates the photos were taken on the back. Your children should see you smiling. Your children should see you pregnant. Your children should see you kissing them. Those are three of the most important photos your children will want to see.freeprints photographs for freeInstead of just taking a photo, switch to video. Have your children yell out something like, “We’re in Los Angeles” then say their name and ages: “Hi, I’m LuLu. I’m six. What I want to be when I grow up is….” Then when they’re older, it will be a blast to see if they stayed with that childhood dream. Video tape them playing sports. Make sure to email it to yourself so you have it for later.To get started on your photo scrap book, here’s some great deals:
    * FREE Prints: Now’s your chance to make the memories last for you and others. Make enough for grandparents, godparents and more. The FreePrints App gives you 1,000 FREE 4×6 photo prints per year. Access photos on your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone and Facebook™, Instagram™, Flickr™, or Picasa™ accounts. No subscriptions and no commitments. All you pay for is shipping.
    * FREE 8×10 PHOTO
    : Go to Walgreens.com and use promo code: FREEPIC4U. Also, get 50% off your order using VIP promo code: WALGREENS50.
    * 50 FREE prints and a photo book for just 99cents. Go to CVS online and use promo code: BOOK99. Expires at the end of June 2016.

    Now you have NO EXCUSE to start building a visual legacy. You can even print from Facebook and your cell phone.


  2. YOUR LIFE in MONEY: Whether you are a single mother attending college for the first time or returning to school, there are many scholarships and grants (free money that you NEVER have to pay back) aimed at helping you succeed. As a single mother, your best approach is to capture as much general aid as you can. A possible source of funding can come from scholarships created specifically for women and single mothers. When you’re looking for these scholarships, consider your major or future profession. Are you interested in the STEMs (science, technology, engineering, and math)? Women are often underrepresented in these areas, so there are a number of awards from national industry groups. Were you a Girl Scout? They offer scholarships to former members who are going into STEM fields. Get started here.Educational specialties like science, technology, engineering, and math offer great opportunities for women seeking generous scholarships and well-paying careers. Here are just a few:
    • The Selected Professions Fellowships offers awards between $5,000 and $20,000 for women entering graduate or post-graduate degree programs in STEM fields.
    • The Association for Women in Mathematics offers the Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize to undergraduate women studying the field of mathematics.
    • The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation offers awards to low-income mothers in order to assist with living or direct school expenses.
  3. YOUR LIFE in FOOD: Cooking with your child can be one of the best (and inexpensive) ways to bond, share family traditions and pass down recipes. If you cannot cook, don’t worry. The Single Mom Club’s “Cooking Classes for Single Moms” will get you up to speed. Kids will remember the act of doing the cooking with you not just the food that they eat. The memory is what we’re going for her so perfection should not be the goal. Here’s some simple ways to leave a legacy with food.
    free hashbrowns at Waffle House 2016Even if you’re on a budget and cannot afford to take your children out-to-eat, we’re going to show you how it can be done. In our special article entitled, “KIDS EAT FREE” we list thousands of free options. Plus, everyone eats FREE on their birthday. So you’ll have to get a calendar and do a little planning but you can – AND WILL – take your children out to eat. Some restaurants give two meals for each adults so you can really achieve this goal by knowing which restaurants do what. Some places like Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s have a free family night so on top of food you get a chance to do arts and crafts and have a special evening with your child.

NUMBERS FOUR and FIVE will be revealed over the weekend in order to give you time to absorb the first three points. This is a marathon. Not a race.

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