In the late 90s…which seems like a lifetime away….I lost my job. As a single parent, I’d worked my way through college as an administrative assistant, then a marketing manager in a neurosurgeon’s office. Though my workplace was an incredibly stressful environment, I still regarded the small staff as my family. They supported me and cheered me on as I worked my way through school. I persevered and eventually graduated after my 31st birthday. During my last semester of school, I’d interned at a local radio station where I produced 60-second health spots for a regional hospital. So, in essence, I worked two jobs with two children, ages 6 and 7, and tried to cut some kind of trail toward a career in the entertainment industry via Nashville, Tennessee. Two days after Christmas, I had no job and no viable means of support. Life changes. Sometimes it sucks. Choices have to be made.
I hadn’t earned that much money while I worked there, but I’d managed to save a few thousand dollars in a retirement fund. As depressed and lost as I felt, I also knew that losing my job had presented me with a wonderful gift…….the gift of time. Time with my young sons. The money was important. I mean, we had to live and prepare for the future, right? But, time was something even more precious to me; something I might never be able to afford again while my boys were young.
So, I cashed in my retirement, such as it was. Before you start forming too many opinions about my financial no-no, let me tell you about my boys. And, before I start….how much time do you have?
As single parents, our options are often limited. We do what must be done and that’s that. We become so programmed to approach and often attack life with such dogged determination that we often miss tiny windows of opportunity. We may see the windows, but we believe they are closed to us because our circumstances allow us no other choice but to pass them by. Financial planners may squirm because I made a choice that lost money. But oh, what I gained.
When I think back on those few months of concentrated time with my boys, I remember how wonderful it felt to be able to hold them as long as I wanted and as long as they needed without having to sneak a peak at my watch to make sure we were still on schedule. If one of them called from school with a fever or stomachache, I was able to go to them without hesitation because I no longer had to ask permission. I could sit with them and swab their hot foreheads, hold them, and comfort them without worrying about how many sick days I had left.
And what a difference it has made in my life. My sons are my heroes. They’re the ones who kept me motivated when I wanted to quit…and still do; who remind me that time is fleeting and that they were worth those brief moments in time. Today, they are grown with families of their own, and more phenomenal than any parent could ever hope.
I think back to the days when I could have chosen the corporate ladder. Instead, I chose a bridge to hope that I never could have built on my own. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
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