“Climb Ev’ry Mountain”

Last Wednesday (I’m so late with this blog) was one of those affirming days, the kind that tell you, “Yes, this is the right thing you are doing.  Keep it up.  Stick with it.” 

“The hills are alive…”  I’ve been a single mom for almost 4 years now.  If you read my first post I mentioned that my life seems to be a series of “start overs”.  Well, it doesn’t seem to be, it actually has been.  I suppose, though, if you put life into perspective, everyone goes through the same process; it’s just that some of us experience more drastic measures than others.  “The one thing we can count on is change.”

Non-mothers earn 10 percent less than their male counterparts; mothers earn 27 percent less; and single mothers earn between 34 percent and 44 percent less.

I got hired into my current administrative assistant position not even two weeks before I had to move my daughter and myself out of a scary domestic  situation.  MY LIFE CRUMBLED.  To say that I was able to hold it all together would be a lie.   But, my boss saw beyond the initial crisis and kept me on board.  Typical, standard, procedural, common company protocol?  I venture to say: not.  I had to start all over with EVERYTHING,  beginning with bricks and mortar, add to that learning a new job and trying to maintain composure when all I felt like doing was crawling into the rabbit’s hole.  Maycee was finishing up pre-school then.  After I cashed in the retirement plan to land us where we live today, a fixer-upper mobile home in a place called “The Mesa”, we ended up sort of in the middle between Maycee’s school location and my workplace.  Sounds convenient, right?  Well, school is one direction, work is the other.  Together it makes for two hours of driving a day: 25 miles south to attend school (another blog) and 30 miles north to the little farmhouse, which serves as an office.

I drive along rolling green hills lined with cows, horses, and goats-it seems as if they are smiling at me as I gaze at them: “Look at us…what a life…not a care in the world….”  At the intersection where I turn to go into the valley I see the Pismo ocean; it glistens between buildings, inviting me in.  Then I meander another 7 miles or so twisting and curving along more beautiful country until I reach my destination: acres and acres of vineyards, sprawling across a landscape backed by majestic hills and clouds of cotton.  “The Sound of Music” at its best.  You be the  judge if it’s worth the miles.

I have been here just over two years, and my earnings aren’t fully represented by my paystub.  In fact, I make less now than I did over a decade ago, and I have a daughter.  However, what I gain cannot be calculated on an adding machine.  Besides working in a prime location, I have been supported as a SWM since day one here.  When I show up to work, I have an extended family, not just co-workers.  When Maycee is sick, I can call in and know my job isn’t in jeopardy.  Spring break babysitting falls through, well, let’s see what we can do about it.  There are countless situations I can mention that reinforce the “money ain’t everything” mentality.  Don’t get me wrong…before, during, and after the harvest hits I certainly earn my keep and work diligently to keep this farm management family happy.  It is a give and take that is hard to find, most places of employment stringently bound by rigid timecardkeeping and bottom lines.

 We should not have to accept a world in which bringing up children irreparably damages our financial security.

Last Wednesday was our monthly staff meeting.  We took a field trip.  We climbed a mountain.  700 feet high we stood overlooking the valley-our valley, eating Subway sandwiches, laughing,  sometimes quietly taking in the view–a bunch of people from all different backgrounds and not one who would be wished away from the bunch.    We may not have discussed the vineyard-stats for this meeting, but we built on many other important company essentials: employee relations, team-building, and morale.  Awe-inspiring, breathtaking, Julie Andrews-worthy. 

So, I penny-pinch, Dollar Tree shop, Excel my budget to infinity, worry often (let’s be real), and continue to do it over and over again.  I make a little extra here and there when I can and accept help when offered.  I have a healthy respect for my experience and glimpses of  joy from being able to be with Maycee as much as possible-all things considered–and it’s not enough to be certain.  Days like last Wednesday remind me to be grateful for what I have,  not to long for what I don’t (even though I still do.)  They remind me that I don’t have to prove anything or keep up with the rest of the world.  Choosing stability over dollar signs has its rewards.  Mr. von Trapp became a single parent, too.  He didn’t climb many mountains.  Rather he was used to coasting downhill, and it was Maria, a humble governess,  who showed him the way. Kudos, Maria.


5 responses

  1. “When Maycee is sick, I can call in and know my job isn’t in jeopardy. ”

    My perspective has changed so much since I became a mom. I loved job-hopping–especially for a higher salary–before I had my son. Things started feeling stagnant if I stayed too long in one place.

    Now I have a job at a small company that provides excellent benefits, as well as emotional support and a lot of schedule flexibility. Occasionally I look at other jobs and think, “Wow, that’s a high salary. Maybe I should . . . ?” Just as quickly, I dismiss the thought. There’s so much that’s good here, beyond the dollar signs. The schedule flexibility alone is worth more than $100,000 to me; it gives me more time with my son, and the freedom to go to appointments without worry.

    I wish my mom could’ve had this, rather than raising four kids by herself and always struggling. But that’s outside my control, so the best I can do is to honor by looking at what I have now and being profoundly grateful for everything I do have.

    This was a wonderful, thought-provoking read. I’m always glad for a chance to remember to look at all the water in my glass. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Karen. I’m glad you had a chance to read about my wonderful work place. Since I wrote this post Maycee began attending public schoolclose to home and I got bumped up to full-time hours. So glad I stretched myself thin and waited it out!

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