Before I met my husband, I was a single mom for many years. I was 22 when I had A, her dad and I were married briefly but after we separated, we split the custody time and split the costs for A evenly. A couple years later, I moved from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. He still lived in California but we kept the same arrangement, that we would split the time evenly and just be financially responsible for our time. After a few years back and forth, A told me that she wanted to live with me on a more permanent basis. Her father and I decided that we would allow A to make that choice for herself and because it was her choice she had to tell her father. As you can imagine, he wasn’t happy and as a result even though the circumstances had changed, he didn’t feel he should pay me child support. So he didn’t. And I, of very limited resources could not afford to take legal action and even if I did, what I would receive (if I won) was very little… Would it even be worth it?
So I did it on my own. I was a receptionist making barely enough to cover costs in the city but I supported us without child support, parental support, ANY support. A few years later he did finally agree to start paying me child support. I have, for the last few years, received $200 per month.
I also suffer from chronic illness. I have been seeking a diagnosis for over five years but I always worked right through it until I couldn’t. About 5 years ago, I took a medical leave of absence because my health was spiraling out of control. I was dating my husband at the time and he helped support me financially and physically. I took longer than I had originally anticipated and my company could no longer hold my job for me and then I was unemployed. Even though I was without work, I have always found a way to make money…. cleaning houses, personal organization, personal assisting, odd jobs to piece together some sort of paycheck, some way to get by.
Finally, I landed a job…. 6 weeks after S was born. I had to take it. It was a great place to work. 6 months after working there, my younger brother was killed in a horrific car accident, and then my health took a nose dive and S just seemed upset. Too many emotions, maybe? … or maybe because I left so soon… or a combination of it all?? S was stressed and my husband was running his web development business from home and managing the baby while I worked, he was stressed. We thought it was best I quit my job, for S, for my health, for his stress. I wasn’t making enough money to justify putting S in daycare full time which is what we would have needed.
It was a lovely year “off” but I still found a way to make money by nannying children from home. I have been a nanny to H for 4 months now and was watching another child prior to her.
My husband is a small business owner and, for us, that means sometimes we are flush and sometimes we have lean months. For me the ebb and flow creates much anxiety, especially when I know I could be making more money. It’s been a lean summer. And even though I watch H, it’s only one or two days a week. So I told (actually insisted) my husband two weeks ago today, that I was going to look for a job, something retail maybe I could do in the evenings.
The next day, my friend, who owns a great tattoo shop in Seattle (one that I am a client of) posted on facebook that they were looking for a part time front desk person, 3 days a week. I wrote her and said I would be interested if we could work around the days I nanny H. 3 days later, I started my new job. So now, I work 9.5 hour days, 3 days a week at the shop and nanny H the other 2 days, and still manage to have weekends off.
S is ready for preschool, so we are sending her 2 days per week and J will absorb the 3rd day.
We are all breathing a collective sigh of relief. Money isn’t everything but it’s always easier when there is decent steady money coming in. I will never be content being a housewife if my husband is struggling to make ends meet. I will always find a way to bring in some money.
(Well… that was a ramble!)