This most definitely is not only relatable to single parents I hope. It’s for all parents. We all have to work these days. It’s frowned upon to not work even if it’s to put our families first. We want to set the best example, so we expect more from our kids.
I’m a single mom, but even when I was married, I was a single mom. He was a railroad engineer and on call 24/7. When it came to stability, getting to and from school/daycare, getting to Dr.’s appointments, dentists, that all fell to me. I didn’t mind at all. I still don’t.
I worked my way through college, up the ladder. I worked my way into a career. I worked my way and earned my way to be an ambassador for the company. And I was a good one: single mom with a kid on the autism spectrum that could leave home for a week at a time. I was well-respected and knew my work and believed in my company. Of course, I had to build my life around the company. I had family locally that were willing to help out because they truly wanted me to succeed. They believed in me as a strong woman and mom and wanted to do what they could. I hated asking for help. Truth be told, I hated leaving my son. But you can’t say these things out loud as a single, working mom. They imply weakness; lack of commitment. I knew expectations were different for me because of societal expectations. The dads that chose not to travel for their families were revered and embraced; the women were treated as though we just didn’t belong. It’s ok. That’s the way it is here. That’s the way it always will be until people change their thinking and realize ambition is just as strong in women as it is men. Ambition to be a great parent, ambition to be a great employee, ambition to leave the world better for the next generation. We all have it.
And so, I left my career and put my child first. I still want to set a good example for him but I no longer believe one parent making all the personal sacrifices is a good example. I want my son to see a good team. I’d also like to live long enough for workplaces to understand that they truly aren’t more important than family. Will that happen? I think it has to. There are brilliant, ambitious people making choices daily. If companies want brilliance and ambition, they must start offering flexibility.
So, when I was being recruited for my current position (and I was recruited for it), I said I couldn’t do overnight travel as a single parent without family close by. They still wanted me. I had to turn down an overnight training meeting and was told, “it’s just fine. Don’t you spend a second worrying.”
That’s the way it should be.