Monday, April 30, 2012

Have you EVER thought about getting a REAL job?

OK so the title says it all... NOPE! Haven't! Thanks! I kind of figure being home for my kids, helping them for 1-4 hours a night with homework, ensuring they have healthy well balanced meals, getting involved with 4-H so they have an opportunity to be part of the community, working part time, running a little "hobby" farm .. (Don't get me started on the word Hobby!) ... is kind of LIKE a real job!

OK back up Sarah! Who do you think you are anyway? Well, let me tell you! I have worked outside of the home. I successfully advanced in the field I chose. I have run my own business. I have worked with children - in a daycare no less! I have commuted for work. I have been unemployed.I have dedicated thousands of hours to my parent advisory council at the school and I have been a stay at home mom. My thoughts? Every one of those options involved me working. 
I started my working life at 11 babysitting, moved up to house cleaning, medical office cleaning, two weeks of hell cooking at A&W, more babysitting, two weeks of hell as a chamber maid in Banff, Alberta, live in Nanny aka crash test dummy in Calgary, three months McDonald's late night drive through, part time office staff in an insurance office (highlight was never getting paid after three months) and finally a real "adult" job working as a Financial Assistance Worker in the government Social Services Department. 

I started working in social services at age 21, rather naive and incredibly shy. However after years of the job, having clients scam me left and right because I was so gullible and working in Downtown East Side Vancouver, to Kitsilano to Steveston near Richmond to Kamloops, BC and all the way back to Nanaimo , Duncan and Victoria... I did grow up. I grew up enough to realize I had a good job, great pay, amazing benefits and I realized I could have some kids that I could actually support. 

Of course none of us know what will happen in our lives. I really thought I would stay in government forever. Yet life seemed to have different plans for me. So after working from May 1988 to February 2004 - with a few leaves during the time... I ended my (I can say it now!) cushy job with pay that has never been equalled and medical and dental to die for. Yes I worked hard there and it was emotionally taxing at times - but 8 years later I have never seen or done anything that equalled the security of that position.

Of course opening a wedding planning and coordination business seemed like a great idea and it was lots of fun. Five long years of plugging away and earning relatively nothing in the winter and working like a crazy woman in the summers did take it's toll on me and the girls. It didn't help that during this time I became a 38 year old widow and single mother of two girls age 3 and 10 with severe obstacles to overcome. 

I look back now and have to wonder how we survived. God was definitely on our side, watching over us and helping us struggle along. I of course made very wise decisions like selling Partylite, Love the stuff! (Not a great choice when you have to decide to spend the last $10 on food or fuel for the car though!) Having said that, nothing like kicking back with a glass of wine and beautifully scented candle burning (we needed the candle to cook the marshmallows!) $14,000 per year for a family of 3 in an $800 townhouse, made for very creative accounting and lots of borrowing from family and good friends that I am proud to say I paid back.

So, since event planning was not enough to survive and Partylite was great for spending not so much earning, I had to find an alternative. I never expected to get a call one day, mid July 2005 to ask me to come work at the Deputy Minister's office in Victoria as an assistant to the Customer Service Manager. (Yes, customer service in social services sounds like an oxymoron, but it was a pretty cool job!) I was stunned this opportunity came right out of the blue and it was very exciting. What was wrong with it? 2.5 hour commute each way to work in a van pool for about $400 per month. (Total of about 12 -13 hours a day away from home.) I needed to hire a nanny to take care of my kids - yup that spelled disaster. First nanny also helped someone else, my kids were not allowed in the house and they were barely cared for. (Suffice it to say that when my baby who had just learned to walk again after critical injuries was falling down the stairs - I knew changes were necessary) and so 4 weeks ended that employee's term. Second nanny, appeared helpful and wonderful until she asked weekly for pay advances, didn't feed the kids and finally after 3 months ended up stealing $2000 from me. Not such a great single mom working experience.

I could go on incessantly, however, Have I EVER thought about getting a real job? Hell ya! Here? NOPE! It is simply not worth it to me to take  job that pays starting wages of $10 and tops out at about $11 hour, work 30-40 hours a week, drive 1-2 hours a day, spend $300 of those earnings on fuel and still have to do all that needs to be done at home. 

I am going to stick with my 2 days a week home maker job, 2 days a week baking/market and seasonal summer time coffee shop. No medical or dental coverage. No extra money, but the peace of mind knowing that I have dedicated my time to my children to help them with homework, learning to cook (should they choose to take the opportunity) and spending quality time with my husband and family. As Mastercard says "PRICELESS". 

So, now that I have been called farm girl and Betty Crocker (which are actually pretty good compliments!) and hopefully explain clearly that I am NOT lazy or refusing to work, simply have different priorities and I know there are no naked starving people living in my house - I shall continue to lead my crazy little farm life. I will continue to know that I have the freedom to take my girls to appointments, help them with homework, yell at them as required and just be a "stay at home mom".  FINALLY if it is not clear, I AM A WORKING MOM! The day I sit on the sofa all day eating bon bons, pulling a Peg Bundy watching soap operas and not taking care of my family - feel free to say I don't work.

Kudos to you working moms! All of you! Staying at home and working outside the home - both are important, exhausting and can really make you say "CALGON take me away!"

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