Every night when my son, TJ says his prayers, he always thanks God “for this day that I had with my mom.” Sweet, huh? I think so too, but almost a year ago, he wasn’t thanking God “for the day that he had with his mom” because his mom was always at work. As I think back, he was probably silently thanking God for being able to “see” his mom.
You see, I am a retail store manager and quite obviously, don’t have a typical Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5 job and being a single mom, I have had to depend on sitters a great deal to take care of my son while I was working. My mom would always complain that “someone else was raising my son” and my reply to her would always be, “What else am I supposed to do? Not work? Last time I checked, I don’t have anyone helping me, so I gotta do, what I gotta do.”
And that’s just what I did. I worked nights, weekends and holidays. I worked 10-12 hour days and if one of my managers called out and I couldn’t cover it, I had to work from open to close (a 16 hour day). I made my schedule a month in advance, so if I didn’t know about a birthday party a month in advance and I wasn’t off that weekend, then my son was unable to go. After school activities, were a no go. My schedule didn’t permit them. I cooked dinner, maybe twice a week (on a good week) and baking…who had time for that?
I had always been blessed to have terrific sitters for my son and my son has always been well taken care of. When I moved to a new area, I was in a panic to find a new sitter. He was going into the first grade and I needed someone who had a family daycare that was open 24/7 or somewhere close to that. They needed to have a child, preferably a boy around the same age as my son.
They needed to be able to drop off and pick up from school, be available nights and some weekends and because I wanted to put him in football that fall, be able to take him to his practices. I found the BEST sitter, who was able to meet all of my requirements and more.
During the holiday season, when store hours were extended, TJ would spend the night and she took him to school the next morning, instead of me picking him up after midnight, disturbing his sleep, trying to get him back to sleep when we got home and waking him up at 6 the next morning for school.
Sounds extreme, I know but what else could I do?
Because I worked so much, I found myself trying to compensate for not being home by buying TJ stuff. It would be a new video game or toy every week. He had enough clothes to clothe a small army and more shoes than most women. His 7th birthday party was a pool party that ended up with about 35 kids (that was not in the plan). Let’s not forget all the adults (about another 25), a dj, a cake that I designed (didn’t make of course) and a life guard.
Thank the Lord, that he never got a “spoiled brat” persona. You know, the kid who has a fit when they don’t get what they want. Thinking back, I guess he never had to throw a fit because he always got what he wanted and so much more that he never asked for. I was overcompensating to the fullest.
About a year ago, I hurt my back at work. I continued to work on modified duty for a while, then I went completely off of work. Being able to take TJ to school every day AND pick him up was something new for the both of us. That would only happen on my days off.
Now there is time for pancakes in the morning, discussions about what happened in school on the drive home and home cooked dinners made by mommy. I am home to do homework with TJ, instead of check what was done with the sitter. He now has a social calendar and able to do after school activities.
In this year, I have come to realize that even though I worked an awful lot, TJ didn’t suffer. He has always been a great student, he is respectful and is friendly. At eight years old, he is very empathetic and loves God.
I used to worry that he was missing out on being a kid because of the schedule that I worked but I now know how resilient TJ is and although I know that I won’t be able to be off of work forever, every night when TJ thanks God “for the day that he had with his mom,” I smile and silently thank God, too.