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The Joy of Instability

The Life of a Working Single Mother

By Stephy EllsworthPublished 3 months ago 9 min read
The Joy of Instability
Photo by Hillshire Farm on Unsplash

"May I speak to Ms. Ellsworth?"

"This is she."

"Hi Ms. Ellsworth, this is Sherri from - -Assisted Living facility. I see you applied for a Director of Nursing position. Would you be interested in an interview tomorrow at 10:00 AM?"

"Absolutely, I'll see you in the morning."

"Great, bring your resume when you come in."

By Christina @ on Unsplash

Just like that, I was about to land another job.

 Under any other circumstance, or for any other "normal" person, that call would have generated feelings of excitement, anticipation, & fulfillment. However, for me, it was just another call. By this point, I had already had over a half dozen calls & interviews, & I knew it would be in my best interest to not get my hopes up.

Before I knew it, 9:45 A.M. "tomorrow" arrived. I was neatly and professionally dressed in a pair of black "slacks" & a freshly iron-pressed blouse with a folder full of credentials & revised resume in my hand. I was "interview ready."

 I arrived at the facility earlier than I expected, but I was always taught that arriving fifteen minutes earlier than scheduled exemplified promptness. This simple behavior would show that I was considerate of their time, & that I was serious about working. To me, the start of my interview occurred at that moment. I was bound & determined to make a lasting first impression. 

I waited my turn in the lobby & mentally prepared as I waited for them to call my name. Although I sat and waited with no doubts in my mind that I was more than qualified for the job, I knew this interview would go just like every other one. I honestly didn't even know why I agreed to accept the interview. 

Just as I was toiling in my mind about heading for the door, Ms. Sherri from human resources stepped out dressed in a black dress pant suit, & with an inviting smile. Dang, it was too late to turn back.

"Ms. Ellsworth, the Director of Nursing will see you now."

This was the moment. I stood, & returned the smile. "Follow me," Sherri instructed with the same natural smile resting on her face. I smiled on the outside but internally, I knew what was awaiting me. Nevertheless, I obeyed her simple instruction.

We came to a halt after what felt like walking a mile, & a short introduction took place by Sherri. 

"Ms. Ellsworth, this is our regional DON Cathy. Cathy, Ms. Ellsworth." And just like that, Sherri was gone, & I was left alone with my potentially new boss.

By Christina @ on Unsplash

"Please, have a seat," Cathy waved her hand in a friendly gesture to the plush accented chair across from her desk. I obeyed once more.

"Hi, Ms. Ellsworth. We can start by having you tell me a little about yourself," Cathy said smiling just as genuinely as Sherri.

She patiently waited for me to begin. "Well, my name is Stephanie. I've been a nurse for almost 10 years. I have worked in long-term care, assisted living, case/care management, behavioral health, &I have one son." 

I have a son. That was the fact about me that I know would catch her attention the most because I knew that it would one day put a monkey wrench in scheduling my shifts & my availability. 

"It sounds like you have extensive experience," Cathy said appearing impressed. She was so intrigued by what I was saying, I don't think she ever thought to fact-check me against my resume. 

After my icebreaker introduction, she began a short series of questions & statements such as: tell me about a time you had to be a leader, tell me an instance you made an error, & explain how you corrected it, etc. Honestly, none of these questions or statements were a match for me as my experience answered for me. As I answered each question, she smiled & jotted down each answer. I was pleased that the interview was going so well, but I was ready for it to be over. I secretly hated interviews. 

By Christina @ on Unsplash

"Let's move forward, you sound like you would be perfect for our DON position." I saw her finally grab my resume. Let's review your resume," Cathy said. I flinched. I knew what she would see. This was always the part I dreaded. 

Upon looking at the resume, she frowned. "Hmmm," she said. "It appears that you have no job stability, Yes, in your career, you've been quite unstable."

"Yes Ms. Cathy, if you look at the glass half empty, I do appear unstable, but I look at the glass half full, so what I see is a well-rounded nurse. I see a nurse that can quickly, efficiently, & professionally maneuver through any situation from floor work to desk work," I responded. I was well-versed in this script. I had already done this a half dozen times, remember?

I could see her brain wheels turning as she gave my statements some thought. I could see every gear cycling through the comprehension cycle right before I interrupted her thought process. "Might I add, you're looking at the resume of a nurse that also happens to be a single mother."

Not that she needed to know my personal business, nor was I trying to create excuses for myself, but I wanted her to take all the facts into consideration as she was criticizing my career. 

I must have broken through the judgment or she decided to empathize. At any rate, Ms. Cathy smiled and stated, "I would like to extend you a job offer for the Director of Nursing position here at - - - Assisted Living facility. In this position, you may have to occasionally work some weekends or work late. Would that be a problem?"

"No ma'am, it shouldn't be a problem, so long as it doesn't occur too often," I responded.

"Great, the job is yours if you accept." We shook hands to seal the deal.

I exited the office smiling, excited about my new adventure; but I knew it would end soon.

By Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

The position began on the 23rd of April, & by April 30th I had already worked late too many times. 

Mother's Day weekend came, & a call-out came through with it. It shouldn't have come as a surprise, but guess who was left working? Me, that's right. This was the very first Mother's Day I had worked since I became a mother in 2012, & I was extremely devastated. I felt like I had every right to be.

 I received a phone call from my mother explaining that my son was the only child without their mother at church. That was unacceptable to me, & it pierced my heart in a way I still can't explain. Within 3 days of being hired, I was already typing a letter to put in my two weeks'

notice with a brief explanation - "if it doesn't work for my son, it doesn't work for me." Some other things transpired, & just like that, I was searching for a job & interviewing... AGAIN.

This wasn't the first time I had to leave a job in such a short amount of time because of the stressful joys of being a single mother. There had been a time when I was completely removed

from the work schedule for taking my son to orientation at a new school during his very first year of school period. 

The previous conversation was one of support with a "don't put this job before your family" tone. However, when the day arrived, the tone changed. The conversation between the Director of Clinical Services & myself by text was something like this:

Me: "hi, Erica. Just letting you know I will be taking my son to orientate his new school on Monday."

Her: "I'm not giving you permission to take your son."

Me: "That's fine. I'm not asking you for your permission. This message is informative."

I returned to work at approximately 9:30 A.M. after the orientation was completed, only to find that I had been replaced on the medicine cart.

"We don't need you," she said. 

She had the nerve to be mad at me for being a mother. "That's fine if you don't. I'm going home with my son because I know who needs me," I spat

while throwing my badge. 4 months of short-lived employment because of the stressful joys of being a single mother.

Jumping from job to job wasn't the way I wanted to enter the workforce, but once again, if it didn't work for my son, it didn't work for me.

By Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash

I've worked jobs that called for me to leave home at 5:30 A.M. every morning &get home at 7:00 P.M. every night. I would never see my son when I woke up, & the night would be just about over for him when I returned home. I knew it was a lot to bear but, somebody had to take care of him. I had created a lifestyle that he probably looked forward to maintaining. 

The decision to leave that job was made for me once he began calling me & crying "mommy, I miss you" every morning. The decision became more evident when I was greeted with a "mommy, you never get to spend time with me" when I got home. Once again, I found myselfgiving a resignation letter and leaving yet ANOTHER job.

I was privileged & offered an opportunity to work a hybrid field/work-from-home job in the Tidewater area making about $60,000 a year. Undoubtedly, I accepted. I worked effectively for the company for about 7 months before they decided to change my region.

 I was drafted to be shipped to the Central Virginia area & called to complete assessments 3 hours away from home. I was given two options, commute or spend the night. Neither was an option for me because of the stressful joys of being a single mother.

I couldn't leave my son nor could I make that commute because he had to be picked up from school. In month 8, I was given a failing performance evaluation because of my unwillingness to travel or stay. Another resignation letter was written & signed.

Those around me couldn't understand why or how I was willing to give up $60,000 so easily. The decision was easy for me because of the stressful joys of being a single mother.

By Terricks Noah on Unsplash

The instability of jobs, unsteady pay, & on again off again work schedules have become a normal part of my life. On average, I would track 5–6 W2s at the end of the year. My resume has a large number of jobs, with ten being the minimum - not including the jobs unlisted.

Switching jobs is not always desired, but at times, it's necessary. I have learned the duties of not only being a mother but a single mother.

 Yes, money is important, but I can earn it anywhere. Moments with my son are minutes that I know I can't get back. I made a vow to him & myself that a salary would not force me to denounce his importance in my life.

Yes, I am unstable, but…

He taught me how to find joy in my instability.

I love coffee. If you love my writing, you can buy me a coffee.


About the Creator

Stephy Ellsworth

Certified Blogger | Master Life Coach | Lover of words, writing, reading, & English |Published Authoress|

“Everyone has a story, I just decided to write mine.” -Steph 💋✍🏽

#stephysays💋#astoldbySteph #stephysaysshow #accordingtostephy

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