I was 18 when I met my ex-husband, we were married by 23 and separated at 31. What followed the separation was four months of incredible lows as I grieved what had been, and the reality of being a single parent sunk in.
Money very quickly became a huge issue. I had started a Virtual Assistant business not long after my maternity leave ended which saw me meeting financial obligations but wasn’t satisfying me. I’ve always had dreams of becoming something bigger than what I was doing. I’m incredibly lucky to have the support of my family (even though they are all in another country) and it was during the recovery of my tonsillectomy back home that my current business was born. The day I received the certificate acknowledging my Director role within a company was huge for me. I was making no money, but hey, I had my own company – goal achieved! Little did I know it would be the start of a shitty couple of years.
The rental I was living in was put up for sale and I was given notice. Due to not having a full-time job and no P&L statements for my company, not one single person would let me rent a house even after offering to pay six months up front! I tried to find other single mums to co-share with but due to the urgency no one was available and again my tenancy applications were continually declined. I have never felt so helpless before. The potential of not being able to provide a roof over my daughters’ head was the most degrading thing I have ever felt. I spent many nights in tears blaming myself, wondering what was going to happen to us and if I should just give my business dreams up. No one had any idea of just how scared I was.
An amazing friend offered me a room in her home, so we were not going to end up on the street (I will be forever grateful for that offer). But then my mum and dad happened. They have always been huge supporters of my business dreams and they had a solution for me that was going to see us housed for as long as we needed. Four weeks later we were in our new home. I have had to swallow a lot of self-pride with that – being rescued by your parents at 33 years of age is not something I had aspired to.
Starting a business has also not been easy. I have worked both part time and full time as well as trying to keep the business going and raising my daughter. These days my business is my sole source of income. There have been a lot of incredibly late nights with very little sleep, a lot of stress as I have tried to figure out how to be a single mum, how to grow a business with no money, surviving without my family close by, and working out how I was going to put food on the table each week. As the business ebbs and flows so does our financial situation. Budgeting and family support has been instrumental in getting us through.
Through all of this have I ever wondered if I did the wrong thing or that I was being an idiot for thinking that my business could support us? Hell yes. I get asked ‘Pip why don’t you just go and get a full time job’ all the time. But I know I am doing what I am meant to be doing and I have to dig deep to find the courage to tell people that and keep going. Everything that happened in the years leading up to the separation and everything since, has helped shape me into the woman that I am today. I have gone from being a shy dreamer to someone who is so certain on her goals that I am giving up everything to get there. The business is growing every week and I am even enjoying public speaking which was previously a huge fear for me! I have a strong sense of self belief, I practice reflection and gratitude daily, and I am no longer afraid to ask for help when I need it. Because those that love you, will accept you for who you are, what your dreams are, and will provide support in any means possible (a hug and a listening ear can go such a long way).
Life still has its tough times but it makes me strong. Being a single parent isn’t easy and is always presenting new challenges. But we can do this. I can do this. You can do this.
Written by, Pip Meecham
Founder of ProjectBox
Pip is a rockstar mum and the owner of ProjectBox. You will recognise across all her socials that there are two faces to her business. Hers, but also her daughters. Her daughter is her number one fan, happily rocks her mini ProjectBox tee and tells anyone that will listen, that her mum ‘bosses’ for a living. No matter how long it takes. Pip believes in passionate people, about doing what you love, and about no boxes. Her take away is that “Everything that we do, needs to make sense for your unique ecosystem”.