About a month ago I started a new job. Beforehand, I was working from home, freelance writing for a living. I was excited to get the new position because it meant making a lot more money and I could escape being a single father on Long Island 24/7 and just be a single guy in Manhattan, at least during the work day.
It’s been a big change. I have to be at work by 7 a.m. From my house in Nassau County that means waking up at 4 a.m., leaving the house by 5 a.m., and being on a 5:30 a.m. train. The good thing is that I get off at 3:30 p.m. I am home in time to help with homework and raise my daughter for a little bit. I can cheer at baseball games for my nephew, who I’m the father figure to. Once in a while I will take the long way home (read: date) and have a little me time. It all sounded great to me. Tiring at first, but we all have that two-to-three weeks of fatigue, adjusting to the schedule that comes along with a new position.
Here’s the catch…
Two jobs, one parent, no sleep
I still write. As soon as I started this new position I seem to have had more and more writing to do. I love to do it and it’s something I am very passionate about. Plus, it pays. I’m a single dad and New York is expensive. My writing workload gives me the opportunity to make the equivalent of two (minimum wage) salaries. So when I get home from my day job, I do everything I previously mentioned and once my daughter is asleep it’s time to write. I get to bed around midnight and I’m up at 4. Sure, I could do some writing on the weekend, but my daughter has soccer at two places on Saturdays, there’s baseball, church, and then getting ready to do it all again for the next week.
So now I’m a single parent working two jobs. This shift has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Like most people, I don’t like change. We say that we do, but most of us don’t attack or attract situations that take us out of whatever routine we’re used to. And if we do, it is often with a reluctant spirit. The peace comes much later, after accepting that the life one we once knew is no more. Those of us who became single parents after a death of our partner or of the relationship can relate to this process. For me, taking on two careers – both for financial reasons and to follow my writing dreams – is another new stretch. But I think of my initial resistance to change as a phobia, not a true fear. I used the word phobia because fear triggers self-preservation in cases of real danger, while phobia is psychological, the threat ultimately unreal. I’m 29. A few late nights aren’t really going to kill me.
I do have some relief. My mother has been amazing. All of us single parents need that person who makes things just a little easier for us and for me my mom is that person. However, she still has needs and a job/life/stress of her own, so with all of this going on I have been forced into a pretty hectic circumstance. Nonetheless, I am happy about it because it seems like the more that I have just tackled all of this things, the more everything seems have been working out.
New motto: Don’t stress about it, just do it
Often these stressful moments are just tests in our lives. I write all of this because ultimately the last sentence of the previous paragraph is just it: When you just meet challenges head-on instead of spending time stressing about them, you’re better able to move through them successfully. Whether the cause of your stress is too much work, crazy scheduling, romance/dating drama, family issues, just know it is for a reason. As a spiritual person, I believe that we aren’t given more than we can handle and the moments in which we are forced into being uncomfortable are usually the moments that are the most worthwhile.
When my daughter’s mother and I were first dating I told her that gold has to go through the fire but it doesn’t fear the flame. It is molded, polished, and only then considered what we deem as valuable. Embrace and enjoy the process.
I will try my best to be back next week! Meanwhile, tell me: Are you a single dad or mom working two jobs or juggling work, school and parenting? Or did you in the past, as a way to reach your financial or career goals? How did you cope?
DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Sign up for our weekly newsletter in the box (above, right)! You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!