Working has always seemed like a mysterious thing to me. Not sure if it’s my personality or how I was raised, but I’ve never quite understood the work world. Even though I have had numerous jobs, I always felt like they were somewhat optional or just biding my time until I got married and did the job I really wanted, being a mom. Here is a look into the time capsule of my working life.
I remember when I got my first job at McDonald’s , starting work on the day I turned 16, I felt a bit out of my zone. I think I worked there 3 months or so, not that long, before I said, Hmm, wonder what other jobs I could get? Fast food is a nasty job. And yet, my next job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken. The food was better at KFC, but my skin got so greasy. I had a great boss that I enjoyed working for, but I quit that job and got another one at Schlotsky’s making sandwiches that were so delicious, minus the olives. After Schlotskys, I worked at a few other places, including as a cashier at Texas Tumbleweed Restaurant and delivering airline tickets directly to customers for a travel agency. The delivery job ended when I was in a wreck on the freeway in Houston. I still have the scar on my shoulder from the Ford Pinto window glass.
The Grocery Years
Eventually I found my way to two types of jobs that I enjoyed much more than fast food and restaurants. One was the grocery business. I have worked for Randalls, Kroger, H.E.B, Safeway, and King Sooper (in Colorado). The grocery business seems to run in my family’s blood as my dad was a store manager, my mom was a checker, and now two of my sons are in it. I think we like being around food, and people. At Randalls, I was just a kid basically, but they gave me the job of training new cashiers, which fit well with my love of teaching. I worked as a sacker at H.E.B in Austin as a college freshman. I don’t recall why I left that job, but I was pretty flighty in those days. Safeway was great because they paid the best. I can still picture that store in my mind. Actually I can picture all of the different stores in my mind because even though I was an emotional wreck in those years, I enjoyed working as a checker. The physical nature of the job, scanning and sacking, and the people contact was therapeutic. Even the holiday craziness was kind of fun.
Child Care Years
Eventually I narrowed my college studies down a bit and began to focus more on child development and psychology and I started working in the child care field. During the summers I worked full-time at a day care in Houston and during the school year I worked part-time in Austin. One of the better jobs I had during college was working at a private preschool in a church right next to the state capitol building. The children who attended were from the families of the upper class and their parents expected a quality experience, and they got it. Working as a teacher assistant, I was responsible for doing all the little things that made it possible for the teacher to do her job, like getting art supplies, cleaning up, and helping the children with their various crafts and activities. I’ve always gravitated to the more needy children and every class has one or two that need extra help adjusting to the group experience. There was one high-strung little boy named Wilson who I bonded with and it was very gratifying when his mother thanked me for taking extra time with him. It would be fun to reconnect with some of those parents and children. This job made me feel needed and gave me a sense of purpose. As I type this I feel so many emotions attached to the memories, and I can see how this job left a big impact on my life.
After two years at the capitol preschool, I needed more hours so I got a part-time job as a substitute teacher, traveling to various preschools and day care centers all over the city of Austin when they needed a sub. If I had no classes , I would work all day. Otherwise, I worked mostly with the after-school kids who would stay until 5 or 6:00. I remember a few of those places and one in particular was a day care center for low income children, Metropolitan something. These kids were the total opposite of the capitol kids as far as their lifestyle and upbringing. Most of the kids at the capitol school had stay home moms and dads that were lawyers, doctors, senators and business owners. The Metro kids’ parents were barely getting by. But the kids were still kids. They did have a lower educational status, but we were trying to fix that. And some of them had behavior issues from poor parenting and/or hyperactivity and needed a lot of love and patience. We had to make do with fewer toys and craft supplies because the school just didn’t have the funds. I remember I used to spend my own money on the kids. Working in so many different places taught me a lot about the business of child care centers. There are some good ones and some that parents should not be sending their kids to. Some of them were little more than corralling kids outside or trying to teach with some broken crayons and old toys. Some were truly interested in making the best of the hours that kids had to spend there. Ideally I believe kids should not have to go to day care, but I know the reality is that most families have two parents working. Better day care should be a priority in this country, but I’m not holding my breath since our public schools are just as inconsistent.
My Own Business
After I graduated from college , I decided to start my own day care/preschool substitute agency in Houston. This turned out to be more difficult that I expected. The city of Austin was very small back in the late ’80s, and it was full of college students. The sub business did not translate well to a much bigger city. The logistics of finding enough people to work all over a spread out city with traffic congestion, as on-call substitutes, for low pay, with no guaranteed hours or benefits, and that had the necessary skills and aptitudes made my business very complicated at times. Thankfully I did sign up a few excellent Montessori and day care clients and was able to find some subs for them, enough to call it a business for a while. But once I got married and had my first baby, I decided that getting up early and being on the phone was not going to work, and in 1991, I sold the business.
Working At Home
Every stay at home mom has endured the question of “What do you do all day?” asked by someone who either has no children or who put them in day care when they were six weeks old. This question , though asked sincerely, can imply that being a mom must be a life of boredom or laziness or that you are just living like a parasite off your husband. I have often felt like I should be making money ,even though being a good wife, homeschooling and child-rearing is a full time job. Since selling my business , along with giving birth to five more children , I have tried a few different ways to create income. Babysitting other people’s kids in my home worked best and I enjoyed it very much and did that up until I had my last baby in 2005. After that it was just too much to handle, with Grace’s needs and a newborn and toddler, plus homeschooling the older three. While I was babysitting, I also tried selling handmade, tie-dyed baby clothes in a craft mall, which was not profitable,but it was kinda fun. And once I even attempted working outside the home as a real estate assistant when my second son was a baby , which lasted one day. Turns out I do not like working in a closet-sized, windowless room entering names and addresses into a database! Horrors! I had some short-term success selling things online , mainly on ebay and Etsy. And , yes, I have tried to sell Usborne books like so many homeschool moms, and supplements, and even bought a Young Living essential oils kit, but never made ANY money selling those things, so I swore off all MLM sales. I did okay on ebay selling auto and motorcycle parts and books and miscellaneous items, however, the costs of shipping have gotten so ridiculous that ebay became a losing game. I never could figure out how people made money when shipping costs more than the item itself. Maybe someone reading this can tell me! I also recently worked as a caregiver for two elderly clients. They have both passed on to the next world. I enjoyed that job, but it was stressful being away from home.
Working at Spending Less
I started to feel like God was not blessing my efforts to make money. I would make a little bit then something unexpected would come up and I’d have to spend it on that. I decided that my ‘job’ was going to be to SPEND LESS, and become CONTENT with what we could afford on one modest income. I felt like God was saying, just take care of the family I gave you and I will provide. This has actually worked pretty well overall, God has provided enough work for my husband to support us, but it’s hard not to get nervous when the budget is having to stretch to cover inflation and dental bills and we still have a leaking roof. So once again I am pondering what to do and if I should try to work or be patient and see what God does to provide. Having to find a way to work and make sure Grace is cared for is a big dilemma, as is just getting a job after so many years of not working. I find it hard to imagine working for $10 an hour as a 54 year old college graduate. But I also am aware that I don’t have many current skills in the eyes of employers. Raising and teaching children is considered a noble profession, in other words, don’t expect to get paid. Since running and health are so important to me, I’ve tried to come up with ways to make a living sharing my expertise in those areas, but so far I have not felt like asking people to pay for what I know. I feel like coaching/training is a very crowded market, but I am still thinking along those lines. Something working outdoors having fun with people also interests me. Really any job that involves helping people achieve or improve their lives or be happier or get healthy! But I am still stuck with the dilemma of Grace’s care. I guess that’s why I like blogging.
What do you think? What job would you see me doing? Or should I continue to trust God to provide, keeping in mind that we have no savings or retirement? Are you a stay home mom? Have you found a way to make money from home ( NO MLM, thanks)?