In this day and age, it often takes more than one parent working to pay all the basic bills. Our house is like that. It’s a struggle being away from my children because I am trying to provide for them, but it doesn’t make me any less of a mom.
When I was interviewing for an apprenticeship, a woman from human resources asked me if I was currently working. I said yes. She then asked if I had children, to which I also replied yes. She then noted I was taking classes.
“So you work full time, go to school full time? Isn’t your plate a little full for all this?,” the human resources woman said to me. “It is, but it’s all for my family,” I replied. She made me feel like I wasn’t being a good mother, as if I had abandoned my children.
Growing up in a house with two parents working is normal for me. My father worked first shift, 6 am-3pm throughout the week and most Saturdays. My mother worked second shift, from 3pm until midnight seven days a week. They had three kids and I was the oldest. It was hard, but they made due. They tried to distribute house chores evenly. Sometimes I would watch my parents struggle financially, while other times things were fine.
Now that I’m older, I have my own family. For most of our married life, my husband and I worked full-time just like my parents to make ends meet. I typically took care of most of the housework, including childcare and making sure the kids got to school on time. Our children would see their father for an hour before bed, but that was about it. He never really got a chance to play with them, help with with homework, or get them to do their chores. Some might think my husband didn’t do enough to help me out, but I always understood he was frequently exhausted because his hours were constantly changing at his highly demanding and physical job.
But everything changed once my husband lost that job this past April. He became responsible for getting the children on the bus and keeping the house clean, while I picked up more hours at work to help cover some of the financial burden. It went on this way for a few months. I quickly enrolled in a full time schooling program that ate more of my time up.
Between work and classes, I now only see my children for an hour each day during the week and on weekends. They are spending more time at home with their father. Now he is home, he plays dolls with our daughter and video games with our son. He is also getting them to help clean their rooms and do their chores. Even though things aren’t easy, I’m glad my husband has more of an opportunity now to bond with our children.
I’m not as home as much as many mothers, but that doesn’t make me any less of a mother than before. Just because I chose to make a difficult decision doesn’t mean I kick my kids to the curb. My purpose in life is to provide and care for them. Being away may seem tough on them and my husband but with better schooling, I can get a better job and provide better for them.
I chose to sacrifice my time now with my family for our children’s future. But everything I do is for them. I want them to know that it’s just for a little bit and that, in my eyes, I’m an even better mother for making the difficult choice.