Faced with ongoing struggle, Tom Williams reflects on the importance of maintaining normalcy for his children.
The past few months have been impossible, and my kids never noticed.
In the past few months, I’ve had ups and downs followed by ups and downs. I was happily employed, but driving an hour each way to work. The pay was good, but I was waking up before the crack of dawn and spending two hours in the car away from my family. It is the way it goes in the line of work I’ve chosen, much like when I found out our contract was underbid and everyone was offered pay cuts to keep their job. A lot of us chose to leave.
I then spent a month trying to get back on my feet, and my kids never noticed. Life went on for them as normal, with the exception of me being home more.
I then got another great job. It was close to home (5 minute drive, 15 minute walk). I was able to walk to work, and chose to every day. I knew this was a short term contract, having been told the assignment would last for a few months. What I wasn’t told is that in order for the contract to be fulfilled for the full duration, they had to move someone else to a different part of the contract, which they did not do. Two people were out of a job.
I was pissed. I was jobless again – and my kids never noticed.
We’ve been struggling since then. We’ve had to rely on unemployment and public assistance to make it through. The majority of our kids’ birthday presents came from charitable organizations. It sucks, having to rely on these sorts of things to survive and give a good life to our kids.
In a way, unemployment has actually been a good thing. I am a military veteran, and while in the military, I earned the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am able to go to college for free, and I get a book stipend and a housing allowance. I’m able to keep a roof over my family’s head, but I struggle.
In the end, with all of this going on, my kids never noticed. Despite all of the hardships going on in my life, all the battles we’re fighting to stay afloat, all of the frustrations we are feeling – our kids have never noticed.
In a way, I think that is what parenting is all about. No matter what impossible situation one is going through, I think it is important to keep our individual struggles from our kids as much as possible. You kick and scream behind closed doors, fighting to keep life as normal as possible through all the strife, but I think it is important we don’t let our kids see it.
Some days, life makes you feel like you are sinking in quicksand with no way out. As a parent, you realize that no matter how much sand gets kicked in your face, or how much it feels like you are sinking, you just make it work. If your kids never notice that struggle, I think you are winning as a parent.
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