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Soul searching, or how to be a single working mama and not drown *Update post 15*

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am a single mama to the most incredible (nearly) 3 year old boy on the planet. (In my not so humble opinion ) I was able to work with him by my side at a few jobs that allowed children, and then as a childcare provider in my home for the first 22 months of his life, and although we were very poor financially, I was absolutely loving how much time I spent with him.

I thought that I wanted to go back to work in order to make more money to get back on our feet, and to also have some adult interactions (or more often anyway), so I got a full time job in a preschool/daycare. I am working with children his age for a bit over 40 hours a week, and my son is now in a different daycare for nearly 50 hours a week. There is no way to have him with me, as there is no space for him there. He will be attending my school as of June, but will be in a different room from where I work.

I have been working full time for a bit over two months now and am really starting to feel like it is not working, but at the same time, I feel like I need to suck it up and just keep at it. I am really starting to feel like I just don't click with the kids that I work with, and I also HATE being away from him for such long hours. I feel like I don't even really know who he is as a person anymore. I pray for sick days and holidays so I can just snuggle him.

My house is trashed because I can't bring myself to clean it up because I want to spend every second I have left over at the end of the day snuggling him and playing with him, and yet he is also driving me batty because I spend every waking second with 2 and 3 year olds.

I am honestly thinking about going back on state aid and working the minimum amount I need to get by (20 hours a week) and letting the state fill in the rest. I desperately want to be off the system, but I also am feeling like I just can't keep going. I am losing my son and hating myself for it.

I have very little in the way of job skills, so have no idea where else I could go. I drew blood for about 10 years, but never want to go back to that again. It is just too high stress for me with patients lives on the line. I also am only two classes away from graduating with a bachelors in Psychology, but I can't take classes and work full time as I learned last semester when I received an "incomplete" and a "C" as my grades for the two classes that I took.

I feel like I am losing it, when really I should be so happy that things are going so well. I have a secure job, my son is in childcare that he loves (although I don't like it), he will be in childcare that I love at a 75% employee discount by summer, I am making enough money to nearly be off all public assistance, and the hours are super flexible, plus I get a free gym membership which I desperately need to use.

What on earth is wrong with me??
post #2 of 22
One of the hardest things I did as a single mom (for 3 years) was to put my son in FT daycare and work FT. It does get easier, and you'll get into a groove that works. Do you know any teens that would be willing to do some housework for you? I found that coming home to a clean home made a world of difference to my stress levels.

You haven't mentioned your support system... Do you have family close by who can help you out?
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
No, I have no family at all. I am estranged from my mother since 1990, and lost contact with my father last June. I have a few friends, but they are all busy with their own kids and lives. I am very much going it alone. My son's father is also not in our lives.

I am just feeling like I can't quite get into the groove as you put it. I was hoping that a couple of months in that things would be getting easier, but my son is acting out more and more, and his teachers have said he is starting to get clingier at school. He is frequently requesting to just be held in arms there, which they do, but that it is unusual for a kiddo his age to do so often. He is also refusing to eat much of the time and is starting to get a bit thin. He did just go through a growth spurt in height, so that is part of it, but he is also really eating very, very little lately. When he gets a few days home with me (3 or 4 in a row), his teachers say he is such a completely different (happy) kid, but when we only get the weekend off, he is just a sad little boy there recently.

I really just wish I could find a way to make enough money to support us without being away from him for 50ish hours a week. I feel like it is just too much for a kiddo of his age.
post #4 of 22
Hi mama, I couldn't read and not respond. Huge, huge hugs! You're going through a lot, and it sounds like you're really trying to do the best you can for you and your son. That takes a lot of strength.

I don't know if I can be much help, but I can ask some questions that might get you thinking and point you on the right path. To me, it sounds like you might burn out, but on the other hand, if you can stick with it until fall, you might have a really good situation on your hands. Is that true? Will you be able to spend more time with your son once he starts daycare where you work? Will you be saving a ton of money by having that 75% discount? (I assume the answers to both of these are "yes", but you know better than I do.) If so, it's just a matter of time. Keep going, ignore the messy house, and know your situation will improve soon.

If for some reason the answers to those questions are "no", then I would start looking at other options. First of all, finish those two classes! If financial aid is an option for you, you can live more comfortably off of what grants and loans will provide than what the state will give you (or at least, that was my situation). Having a degree can open a lot of doors, and can help you get back on your feet faster. Plus, being a student means your hours are more flexible and you'll have more time to spend with your son. (I recommend finishing those two courses whether you stay with your current job or not - having that degree helps so much! If you're still working, see if you can fulfill your last requirements with online courses, where you submit work at your own pace.)

Only you know yourself and what's right for you and your family, but I'd recommend just sticking it out if your situation is going to be getting better. It'll be worth it in the end. Good luck, mama!
post #5 of 22
Originally Posted by Pumpkin_Pie View Post
...he is just a sad little boy there recently.

I really just wish I could find a way to make enough money to support us without being away from him for 50ish hours a week. I feel like it is just too much for a kiddo of his age.
You posted your reply before I could finish typing my previous post. I didn't realize how sad he was. What are the job opportunities in your field like at the moment? Because I'd like to say just quit, take out student loans and go back to school, but that only really works if you're confident you can get a job once you graduate or if you want to go on to graduate school afterwards (again, I lived off student loans after I had DD, so I know it can be done... but it comes with debt, and if there's no job then you're back to where you started). If you can pull it off you should have enough to support yourself and tons more time to spend with your son.

Keep us posted.
post #6 of 22
Just wondering... could you maybe cut your hours back an hour or so each day so you have an extra 5 hours or so each with your ds until June? Or maybe do a half day on Fridays or something? It doesn't have to be all or nothing... And then in June you'll be right there with him, maybe do lunches together, etc... Peek in and say hi... <3
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses mamas. I am actually paying nothing for childcare right now, because I receive state subsidy, and they haven't figured out my new payment based on my working full time yet (still after two months....) Anyway, I am not sure what I will be paying for childcare, but the 75% off will definitely be a cost savings, but honestly when you factor in subsidy, it won't be all that much of a savings. The only time it would really be a huge savings is if I get enough of a raise at my current job to no longer be eligible for subsidy. Actually, I spoke with the subsidy case manager and she said I am likely eligible for 100% subsidy with my current job, which means I will pay very little or nothing at all still. So, it will essentially work out to the same no matter what. If I were to find a much higher paying job though, I would end up having to pay for childcare out of pocket, as I wouldn't be eligible for subsidy, and I wouldn't have the employee discount.

I will be able to spend a good hour or more with my son each day once he starts coming to my center. He will be directly across the street from me, so will be able to come in with me to work, rather than me having to drive across town to drop him off and go get him after work. I most likely won't be able to have lunch with him, because my lunch break happens at nap time, so he would be sleeping when I am free. I would be able to drop him off later and pick him up a bit earlier though, so that would be a good thing.

Unfortunately, I can't take out any more student loans. I have nearly reached my lifetime maximum. *gulp* I have over $55K in student loan debt, and that is one more problem that I have to face eventually. If I work where I am for 10 years, they loans will be discharged because I am working for an eligible non-profit, but if I move on and work elsewhere, I will have them hanging over my head for a much longer time to come. I do want to finish up school, but I just can't manage it while I am working full time. I honestly don't think I can even take one class. If I were working 20 hours, I could see finishing up in one semester and then seeing where that takes me, but not while working full time. My degree will be in Psychology, so not all that useful, but I would love to go to grad school, so that is a slight possibility.

I think I agree that it is burn-out. I am spending every waking moment with 2 and 3 year olds, and for the most part, it is not even my nearly 3 year old, and he is the one who is suffering.

Maybe I should just work my butt off for the next couple of months, save every penny I can scrape together and then work part time over the summer, spend some warm months with him while I work on summer classes and see what the fall brings.
post #8 of 22
I like the sounds of working your butt off till your ds gets transfered... then working PT and finishing your two courses over the summer. That sounds like the best of both worlds.
post #9 of 22
It's a struggle for me as a married-WOHM, too. (Dh is gone a lot.) The laundry is never caught up. There's never enough time. But you just do it. Then you get up the next day and do it again. Because you do. June will be easier---less driving around because your ds will go to the same place. Your load will feel lighter then.
post #10 of 22
OK, this is really dorky, BUT...

something Tina Fey said (yes, I am a fan) has stuck in my head for years now. It was about working moms.

"You start to think, this is impossible, oh, this is impossible. And you just keep on and keep on... and then you kind of do the impossible."

June will come. It will. And your DS is almost three? So in 2 or 3 years he will go to school. Maybe you should plan on going back then. And keep working at your job until your student loans are discharged. You can assimilate this stuff into a ten year plan. Maybe once your loans are gone, grad school?

When I am struggling, day by day, I take a deep breath, and I take the long view. In ten years, the messy house won't matter. You having a tough beginning of 2010 won't matter. You cuddling your son every spare second? That WILL matter. Laying a foundation for a stable life for yourself and your child? That WILL matter.

It's hard now. I don't mean to minimize. But it will get easier.
post #11 of 22
You've probably already done this, but have you put your DS on a waiting list for where you are now, in case a space opens up unexpectedly?
post #12 of 22
Burn out- having a 2 almost 3 yr old and working with 2/3 yr olds is very, very hard. I have been there and decided I just couldn't do it- would be slightly less harried if you worked with a different age group?
If you want to chat about the stress of working with 2/3 yr olds, contact me, I so know, how you feel.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Aeress View Post
Burn out- having a 2 almost 3 yr old and working with 2/3 yr olds is very, very hard. I have been there and decided I just couldn't do it- would be slightly less harried if you worked with a different age group?
If you want to chat about the stress of working with 2/3 yr olds, contact me, I so know, how you feel.
I definitely think this is part of the problem. I have been talking to a couple of friends over the long weekend and I think I am going to try to talk to my supervisor tomorrow. There is a position working with the 1-2 year olds that I am going to try to transfer into. If that doesn't help matters, then I will let them know that I either need to go down to 20 hours per week or give my notice. I have a parent/teacher conference scheduled with his teachers on Thursday afternoon, and I am going to ask them what they think about his ability to be in care for so many hours per week. If they think he needs to be there for less hours, I will let my supervisor know that I need to cut back. I am going to lay it all out to her tomorrow. It really is only fair to let her know what is going on. I want to continue working there, but I have to figure out a way to make it work for everyone. Luckily, I work at a place that is extremely understanding, and really will bend over backward to keep their employees happy, so I am not too worried about laying it all out there. I am nearly positive that she will help me to find a position that will work. *still crossing my fingers that it goes smoothly*

As much as I don't want to go back on full public assistance (or nearly that), I really think I need to be there for my son more than I am now. I know I technically *could* keep doing what I am doing, but he is suffering. He is having such a hard time in school, and I just can't let that keep going. Whether that means working fewer hours or simply changing my position so I can be more present with him when I am at home, I am not sure. I am hoping it is an easy thing to figure out though.

He is on the waiting list for the school that I work in, and he is at the top of the list, so if anything does come up (highly unlikely as it is), he would be the first kid in. I know that five months isn't all that long in the grand scheme of things, but to an almost 3 year old who is not thriving at preschool/daycare because he isn't ready to be away from mama that long each week, five months is an eternity.

I hate, hate, hate the idea of being on more assistance, but my son has to come first. Being a single mama is such a hard thing to do sometimes. I have had to let go of so many dreams and ideas on how I was going to raise my child. It hurts.
post #14 of 22
I guess I'll go against the grain here and say that I would go back to 20 hrs a week and getting assistance. You'll have plenty of time to work full time when he's older. I wouldn't feel bad for getting help either (and wish there wasn't such a stigma to it), it too won't be forever.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
So, after talking it over with my boss, who was extremely understanding (and is a single mama too), she offered me a 20 hour a week position that will work really well for me. She actually created a position for me with hours that were needing to be covered between two different sites with the company. I will be able to pick him up three days a week right after he gets up from his nap, and we will have three day weekends every week as well. He will also be able to go into school about an hour later each day too, so we can sleep in a bit more.

I went in thinking I would just talk it over with her and try to figure out what I needed to do, but she was so supportive of me doing whatever I needed to keep him safe and happy, that I felt completely at peace with the decision to go down to 20 hours. She also said that I could keep an eye out for any other 20 hour positions within the company if I saw one that was a better fit. She also said that the potential for a full time position would always be there as well so that when and if I am ready to go back, I can. That was very reassuring and made me feel like I can do this for now for as long as we need and go back when I ready.

It will be a bit of an adjustment, but I am excited to spend more time with my sweet boy. I am already planning activities for next week that we can work on, and projects that I want to get done around the house.

Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement and advice. I am absolutely at peace with my decision, and although I know I am going to be more of a burdon on the system, I know that it is not forever and know that I will never look back and wish that I had not put my son first.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ok, I know nobody is really reading this thread, but I had to come back for a final update. I am in the middle of my first week as a part time WOH mama and I am absolutely LOVING my live right now. I have gone to the gym both Monday and today and I also was able to sleep in and snuggle DS both mornings. I was also able to get my house cleaned up, so DS can actually play without walking all over my things and his toys. We went to the library yesterday after I picked him up and did "Crafty Monday" there which was making paper airplanes (he LOVED it!!). We also played as long as he wanted in the children's section, reading books, playing with Legos, and doing puzzles.

I can't believe I was so stressed about going part time. I do want to be self sufficient, but I was so stressed beyond belief working 40 hours per week, and I feel like such a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can tell already that DS is feeling happier and more secure. He went to bed at a decent hour tonight, and was a dream at pickup from his school today. I have had a few people tell me that I look very happy now too, which is so true, but I needed to hear it as well.

I am happy beyond words with my life right now!
post #17 of 22
I just wanted to say hurray for you!! It sounds like you took a chance and did the right thing for you and your son. I am so thrilled for you! Be happy momma, I know you are in a good place right now and better things will come for you. :}
post #18 of 22
Don't feel guilty for a minute! Public assistance exists for people JUST like you. Raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted son and keeping your own mental health intact is much more important than suffering through nearly-impossible circumstances. You know that you won't be on public assistance forever. You ARE working. Enjoy this time, because being a single parent is incredibly hard, and you are doing the best for yourself and your son. Having productive, happy members of society is well worth a few years of being a "burden" to the system...which you aren't, so don't think like that! In a few years, your son will be in school, you'll be done with school, and you both will be happy and healthy and these days will be behind you.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks mamas. I think I will come to terms with all of it day by day. As each morning comes and my son is allowed to play with his toys for a good chunk before being shuffled off to school, rather than being rushed out the door, and as each afternoon comes and I am able to just play with him for a few hours rather than rushing home, feeding him dinner, packing lunches and then forcing him into bed without so much as a book read, or five minutes of play time, I think I will feel a bit better.

He was just so overscheduled, and I was not actually playing with him at all. Our weekends were filled with doing laundry, cleaning the house (a tiny bit), rushing off to see friends so they wouldn't forget who we were (but not really spending any quality time with them), and grocery shopping. I honestly prayed for sick days so I could just snuggle him.

I am so happy to have not just minutes or even seconds each day to truly enjoy him, but HOURS. It is bliss.
post #20 of 22
YAY!!! I'm so happy for you and your son!
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