Teaching a child to take responsibility for their actions is really hard to do in this day and age. I remember when I was growing up I was told things like “Respect other people’s property” and how my actions effected others. I was taught to be considerate of others.
I started working part-time when I was 16. My parents either gave me a ride to work or I caught the bus. After I graduated, I was offered a full-time position which I took to help build up my college fund. I never did go to Boston University, I got married instead. After being married for a little while, I went back to work while still overseas. Upon returning stateside, I continued working within the Base Exchange system (now known as AAFES – well that could have changed too). I worked there until an Air Force recruiter got me to enlist.
But before I continue rattling on about my work ethic and work history, I need to mention something else that was instilled in me. I can’t really put my finger on when I first came to understand that borrowing money from or expecting my parents to financially help me was not something that would be tolerated. Maybe it was around the time I got married, but I carried that with me for almost 20 years. I remember it was dreadfully painful to ask my dad for a loan to help with the down payment on a house in Georgia. He did lend the money and it did get paid back. I have always felt that I’ve left the nest, it’s my responsibility to support myself.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s been a valuable lesson and has made me an independent, hard working person. That’s perhaps were some of my work ethic has come from.
I enjoyed being the Air Force, but when you have to sign paperwork stating that you have a guardian set up for your children in the event both you and your military spouse are deployed, I knew staying in the Air Force wasn’t in the best interest for our daughter.
I managed to remain a stay at home mom for a few years, but trying to live off of what the military pays isn’t easy. At one point, I had inquired about food stamps and the WIC program, my ex made about $20 a month over the limit. As the girls got older and their “needs” increased, I knew I would need to help contribute to the household income. The Air Force had taught some very usable skills, but I had been out of the work force for a few years, so I headed to the retail industry and also started working on my college degree when I was 28. An opportunity opened up that put me back doing what I did in the Air Force, as a civilian. The money was better than working retail and it was a Monday – Friday job, which made it “easier” to find daycare for the girls. It wasn’t any easier on me, but the income was needed.
When the time came for my ex to retire from the military and find a job in the civilian sector, I made my mind up that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. The skills my ex had could easily draw the kind of income that would allow me to do that, since it looked like any available job was going to require us to relocate and I would have to give up my new job with the VA. If I had been with them longer, I might have been able to work out a transfer, but 3 months doesn’t get you anything.
After nine months on the “outside” my ex lost his job, I probably should have tried to find work then but I felt my “job” was to help write resumes and get them out for him. Thanks to the generosity of my sister, her former husband and a few credit cards, we managed to pull through.
A side note here, I was pretty worn down from all the mental energy that I had expended supporting my ex during this time. I really didn’t feel like I wanted to remain married. I had even gone ahead and applied for a calibration job in Kansas (doing the same thing I had done before). I just wasn’t happy, I had given it my all and still felt empty.
I did make the move from Virginia to Georgia and I did try to continue being just a stay at home mom. I even had a job opportunity that had me building circuit boards for a company my ex worked at. It took a little convincing to get them to let me build the boards at home, but it was lot easier than driving almost an hour away to work for just a few hours, then come back to be home in time for the girls to get home from school. During the time, in Georgia I even worked at the local bowling center. That’s another story.
When I got divorced, I saw no way I could support my daughters and truly believed that my ex would make an attempt to spend more time and be a better father to his girls. In hindsight, I should have fought for child support because I think a judge would have awarded it to me (no matter what “evidence” my ex thought he had on me). But given what I have been through financially because of the divorce and his attitude on supporting Megan when she did live with me, I doubt I would have seen a dime for the girls unless his wages were garnished.
What was one of the first things I did after the divorce? I got a job – albeit, it was $5 an hour. But I was able to get my bills paid. And I continued to work, even taking on part-time work to supplement my full-time income. The part-time work covered the little “extras” and if I didn’t have part-time income, I didn’t get anything “extra”.
So I just don’t get it, when people out there expect others to support them…