I needed the job at the hospital because they paid for my school if I committed to work there when I graduated. I’d only earned the 75% in state scholarship and the grants for a “single mom” weren’t enough to cover the other 25%, plus my books, plus rent, plus my car payment, plus food.
Jackson was only 2 and Jason had been nice enough to use his perfect credit score to help me get my “dream” mom car which was a Ford Expedition.
The only problem was, I couldn’t afford the gas to drive it to and from our low income apartments to the hospital downtown, where I needed to put 40 hours in, at my slightly-over-minimum wage job.
So I applied for child care benefits.
If I coupled that assistance with my Pell grant assistance and also worked full-time while going to school full-time, I might break even every other Friday.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a $0.00 balance after working two weeks, because you owed your bank $600 in borrowed money and $200 in overdraft fees. . .
Jason was working 10 hour days, weed eating on the side of the interstates & then going to school at night, and I was certain my “new” job in oncology was the start to a new and better life.
(he never wore sunscreen working outside, and his skin always looked like this)
The day I dropped Jackson off to that daycare, he started sobbing, begging me not to leave.
But I had to.
My new manager had offered to let me park my car at her house, not far from his daycare so I could ride to & from work with her, so I’d save the gas. ((thanks K!))
“The government wouldn’t cover daycare weekly at a place that wasn’t safe” I told myself & nine long hours later, when I finally picked him up, he was still sobbing.
He didn’t eat dinner.
He cried when we bathed him that night, pleading to not go back.
It’s as if he was traumatized & even if he wasn’t, as a mother,
I hated myself.
I hated our apartment.
I hated that all of his bedroom decor was on a target credit card that I’d convinced my grandma to get, that I would never be able to pay her back for.
(lit Target decor circa 2009, thanks GIGI)
I hated that the doctor I worked with didn’t run insurance on a close friend he was treating, but that a young mom with cancer died a few weeks later when the cancer overtook her, and we’d never failed to bill her insurance for every penny owed.
I hated that at my new job, I came in earlier and stayed later than almost everyone in our office, and made far less than everyone, too.
My kid deserved as much time with his mom as my co-workers kids did & when they were able to leave early for practice or came in late from doctors appointments, I was angry.
But I knew it would take years of sacrifice to get to a place where I could afford that kind of freedom.
Tenure, if you will.
The time I’d have to trade would be all for nothing, as he’d be practically grown by then.
But that’s how it works for most of us.
The people at the bottom have to work the hardest and the longest for the least amount of money with hopes that one day they’ll work far less and for far more, but only if they give it their ALL for the next 10, 15, 20 years.
It’s the unwritten code of life.
I remember when another mom I was working with, put her baby in childcare at six weeks old.
You can hardly give a puppy away at that age.”She won’t remember it,” she’d said.
“And if it all works out, by the time she is old enough to know, I’ll be able to take her to and from ballet, pay for a vehicle to get her from point A and to point B, buy the tutus, leave work early, and so forth.”
But chances were, she wouldn’t.
The odds, weren’t in her favor.
I know that, because that’s what my mom thought too.
The thing about corporate America,
is the more they “give” you,
the more they expect.
When you can finally afford ballet lessons & the suv, you actually owe much more time and energy, so much in fact, that you have to have someone else take them and pick them up from ballet, while your suv sits parked because you’re stuck on a conference call until 6.
The “middle class dream” was my life as a child & although I was thankful, I decided early on that I didn’t want that future for my own kids.
& ever since that government-funded daycare experience,
I swore I’d make my own decisions and make my own rules…
ones that always put my family and their future first.
Jackson was in that daycare for less than one month before we were able to afford him private daycare.
No one gave us that > > > we worked our asses off for it.
We were in our low-income apartment for less than a year, but only after I convinced one of our friends to go in with us on a rental house, which we shared until we could finally afford to buy a house of our own a few years later. (thanks meme)
(IN ONE OF OUR FIRST RENTAL HOUSES
MY LOVE OF A GOOD GALLERY WALL EVIDENT, EVEN IN THE EARLY DAYS)
Some people now call me “entitled” after reading things I’ve written, not knowing just how hard I’ve worked to earn that backhanded diss.
It’s literally my benchmark for success from those who don’t know me.
It’s been said “It’s more fun to laugh in a kia than sob in a Lexus”
but I NEEDED to know what it felt like to smile in a Mercedes,
as I drove my kids to their private school,
Starbucks in hand with nowhere to be and nothing to do > > >
& let me tell you something > > > >
Maybe you’re someone reading this whose never sobbed, dropping off your entire world, to a government-funded daycare, just to go and work a minimum-wage job with a couple hundred negative in your bank account.
Maybe you’ve never driven a luxury car up the driveway of your dream home, furnished with white linen sofas, monogrammed hand towels & a pantry full of healthy snacks.
No big deal.
I’VE DONE BOTH.
& the point of all of this is,
if I can go from there to here,
you ABSOLUTELY can too.
But PLEASE hear me when I say if I have learned ANYTHING on this journey this far, it’s this :::
I don’t need the house.
Or the car.
I only thought I did.
All I’ve ever actually needed, was the reason,
and as it turns out, I have had them all along.
At first it was only one.
Then I married him.
& it became three.
& now I’m up to FIVE of them.
Because THEY deserved it.
The best & only the best.
When I decided to NOT get an abortion at 17, people told me I was crazy and ruining my life.
When I decided to quit my third year of biology and my job at the hospital, for a high paying “risky” summer job, people told me I was crazy.
When I decided to quit that six-figure sales position with full benefits,
to spend more time with my family and work on my own hustle (a photography gig),
people told me I was a complete idiot.
&& don’t even get me started on what people thought about me buying an overgrown, mice-infested, no ac, or hot water hunting and fishing camp in the middle of Chumuckla, and turn it into an incredible wedding venue > > >
So whatever your questions are,
about why I’m doing whatever I’m doing>>
simply know this,
that it’s the same as it has been since that day at drop off > > >
“I am doing the best for them, that I know how”
best looks a lot different than it used to