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 teen’s story, I wanted to share my own. 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.