When you never feel Like you’ll be enough anymore, it’s nearly impossible for a two-parent family to get by with only one parent working; much less, a single parent. Life is expensive. And, to make it comfortably, unless you’ve got a wildly good-paying job, both parents have to work. But, then you’re stuck in that catch 22 situation that we all seem to find ourselves in. You want to provide for your family and chase your own dreams, but you feel like you never see your kids.
I’ve been there. From the time I left high school, I worked in healthcare. I spent some time at a nursing home, the county hospital, and then finally settled into a job at our local clinic. It wasn’t a bad gig. The hours were good for the industry, and the pay wasn’t too bad either. But, I wasn’t happy. Even though the hours were decent, I was still gone from my husband and daughter for at least 10 hours a day. I felt as though I saw her long enough to dress her in the morning and bathe her before bed. The babysitter spent more time with her than I did. That doesn’t even take into consideration the time I was missing out on with my husband.
Eventually, my three years old started questioning me.
“Do you have to go to work today, mommy?”
“We don’t need them monies so bad. I won’t even buy no toys at the Dollar Store.”
“Please stay home today, momma.”
It broke my heart. I tried to explain to her that mommy went to work to help sick people, that my going to work was how we had money for the things she wanted. She didn’t care. Her precious little mind doesn’t understand bills. She doesn’t realize that whether she wants the extra toys or not, we have to have income. I envied her in a way.
The longer I stayed at this job, the more unhappy I became. I would catch myself missing out on milestones because Temperance was at the babysitter’s. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even get to play with her before bed, because I was exhausted and there was still so much to do at home before I could even go to bed. The night before I resigned from my job, my innocent, confused three year old broke down into tears.
“Mommy, please play Thomas the Train with me. Just five minutes. Will you play with me for just five minutes?”
I put in my resignation the next day.
Now, I’ve always had a passion for writing. I nursed this dream in high school, and even for a while when I first started college. But, life got to me like it does everyone else. The healthcare industry offered more money and A LOT more security. At the time, I switched directions and did what I thought was best for my family. But, sometimes what’s best can change direction, too.
I realized that not only was I not doing the most I could for my daughter, I wasn’t being the best person I could be for myself either. I didn’t like my jobs in healthcare. I was never truly happy with what I was doing. So, at that point in my life, I made the decision to follow my own heart and dreams and make a career out of what I love, instead of merely having a job that pays.
I quit my job and dove, head first into building a freelance writing career; from nothing. We lost my income. I had left college. I didn’t have any experience beyond my high school newspaper. But, I knew that I was good at it, I had a lot to offer if only someone would give me a chance. After a lot of hard work and long nights, I now support my family doing what I love.
That’s not to say that my little one doesn’t still question me. And sometimes, I still get so busy that I run short on time to do the things I need to do. Now, instead of asking me not to go to work, she asks if I’m going to sit on my computer all day. But, I finally feel better about those questions. For one, even if I’m busy, I’m here. If she needs lunch, I can fix it for her. I won’t miss out on her making a big discovery or hitting a milestone because I’m here. But, more importantly, I can show my daughter that I followed my dreams. I didn’t give up. I worked hard. And, with enough grit and determination she, too, can do whatever she wants in this life. That’s invaluable to me.
I understand that not everyone has access to the opportunities that I did. Thankfully, I was in a situation where I could leave my job. We had a small savings set back that allowed me to focus on building a career from scratch. Not everyone has that. And that’s okay. For a long time, I didn’t either. You may not be at a point in your life where you can leave that steady income, but I implore you, please don’t give up. Your little one is watching you. They see what you’re doing. Whether you’re chasing your dreams, or simply making ends meet. Always be an example for them. And when you are stuck working those long hours that don’t leave you with extra time, let those dishes sit for the night. They won’t run away. Play with your kiddo while you’ve got the chance. They’re only little for such a little time.