what I want you to know: a teen’s perspective on having a working mom

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face.  If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Sophie.

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I happened upon this series of blog posts, and after reading this teenager’s perspective on having a stay-at-home mom I wanted to share my story. What that writer ended with was that you don’t realize what you had until you no longer have it—a very valid point. And for me, it’s the opposite—I won’t ever know what I could have, because I’ll never have it. I’m a sixteen-year-old girl, and this is my story of what it’s like to have a mom that works two jobs.

Growing up, life was great; my parents were happily married, my two older siblings (now in college) were great role models, my mother was a stay-at-home mom, my father owned a local bookstore and we thought we’d be set for life. We lived in luxury in a five-bedroom house and we had not only the things we needed, but also even things we wanted.
In 2002, when I was seven, my parents divorced. My dad moved to a small apartment in the same town, and my mom remained in the house that I grew up in, until one day she realized she could no longer afford it without getting a job. We downsized, moving closer to the schools and to a much smaller house. My mom had various jobs over the years that followed, while my dad kept his bookstore up. Long story short, February 2010 rolled around and with it, two unemployed parents—my parents. My dad said goodbye to his beloved bookstore, which he had owned for 21 years but which could no longer survive, and my mom left a job with a boss that barely paid her.

My 14-year-old, materialistic little heart sunk and money was constantly on my mind. What would all of this mean? Would we end up on the streets? I know my mom wasn’t trying to scare me, but her constant reminder that we must spend less and that she wasn’t sure if she could pay the mortgage or taxes was frightening. Gradually, as money got even tighter, we made adjustments—we went out for dinner less, skipped all big vacations, skimped on holidays and kept the heat low. About a year ago, she got a job at Starbucks. She makes about eight bucks an hour. That quickly proved to not be enough to live on so for weeks, she searched for another job. No luck. Eventually, she found a small editing job, which she does right from home. With her two jobs, she works about sixty or seventy hours a week, and I work twenty at my retail job, which I’ve had for almost a year. There is stress, yes. There are times where we’ll fight out of exhaustion. There are weeks where we’ll go five days without sitting down for a meal together. And then on that night where our schedules don’t clash, it’s oh so sweet. I now realize how sacred our time together is and how lucky I am to have such a hard-working, strong-willed woman to call “mom,” even if I don’t see her as much as I’d like.

Mothers, I want you to know that if you’re a stay-at-home mom right now and can continue being one, go for it. It sounds pretty great—challenging for you, I’m sure, but great for the kids. And if you’re already a working mom, or need to start working, don’t fret it. Your kids will live! We’ve kissed our dreams of keeping our house perfectly clean and our dishes done goodbye, but we’ve also learned what really matters to our family, and that is love. And no matter how tight we are on money, or how hard we have to work, there will always be love. Life is hectic, tiring, and hard as hell at times, but I want you to know that in the midst it all, I have found happiness.


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