When I went back to work after my daughter was born as a single mother, the only thing I was focused on was earning money to support us. I got up every weekday at 6:30am, got my child dressed, battled traffic in San Diego going to and from the daycare and work each day, didn’t get home until 6:30pm each evening, cooked, and felt too tired to really do anything enjoyable with my kid until midday on Saturdays. However, I never understood what three words could mean until they came out of the mouth of a two year old at a time that I needed comforting the most.
It had barely been a year since I returned to work that I found myself amongst the unemployed. I worked so hard to be able to earn an income that would be comfortable for the two of us. Initially, I thought that I would take a few weeks to gather my thoughts about what to do next and I would be back to work quickly and earning a nice living again. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the reality.
I was also facing the problem that I heard single mothers that I knew of discuss numerous times before I became one myself which was lack of financial assistance from their kids’ fathers. My daughter’s father started singing a song of not wanting to deal with child support since he was now claiming to be broke and even questioning our child being his daughter. I knew that my unemployment checks were all that was going to be coming into our home as income unless the local child support service decided that they actually wanted to pursue my daughter’s dad during a time of statewide budget cuts. Therefore, I was not going to hold my breath about getting any help from someone who had to be forced to support his child.
At first when I told people in conversation that I was unemployed, I cared if they were wondering what was I going to do and how could I possibly had done anything to get laid off when I didn’t have assistance with financially supporting my child. I let other people’s words and expressions leave me with a feeling of being a failure and ashamed for not being employed. That all changed one morning when I woke up and decided that I was not a failure after hearing my child say, “Good morning, mommy. I love you.” I knew at that moment that there was nothing for me to be ashamed about, I was going to hold my head high even if I knew that I was barely able to pay our bills, I was going to start each day with telling my child that I loved her, and I was going to remind myself that our financial situation is only temporary. I decided that I would not spend another day feeling embarrassed and ashamed about no longer having a job, because my child loved me whether I was making that $60,000 per year or the $1900 per month on unemployment. I had spent over a year running around so much with work and trying to buy a lot of material junk to pacify my child that I didn’t realize that the one thing that matter the most didn’t cost anything and that was knowing that you are loved regardless of income.
I know the day will come to an end of me being unemployed and spending so much time with my daughter will soon end as I become a working mother again. I am looking forward to embracing the ranks of the employed again whether I am making only a little above minimum wage or even if I will be making close to what I made with my career, because I am looking forward to being able to pick up my daughter each day from school to hear her little voice say “I love you, Mommy” as she greets me. My child has kept me from completely melting down after my monthly income was slashed in half last year just by her saying, “I love you.” I’ve watched my child transform from a shy two year old that was clinging to my leg for dear life when she encountered strangers into a three year old that quickly learned to say “go away mom” when she saw other kids come her way at the playground. Even as get grows, she will always be the reason why I will gladly work hard to provide for her, because she is truly the one person who loves me unconditionally just as I love her even if I do embarrass her by standing too close at the playground.
Article by Nicole Williams