Would You Like a Family or a Job Because You Can’t Have Both!

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The Sad Sunflower

Article by Wendy McCance

When I was growing up, most families looked like this, there was a father who worked and a mother who stayed home with the kids.  In our home, my father traveled for work and was gone more weeks out of the year than home.  My mother worked as a substitute teacher part-time.

I envied the other kids.  The ones who had a father who seemed to only work 9-5 pm and was home every evening and on weekends.  I envied the kids whose mother never worked at all.  They never came home to a babysitter ( especially some of the rotten babysitters we had growing up).

These days, both parents work because they have to.  Jobs demand long hours and devotion to the company.  Forget about the family because your boss will make you choose, is it us or them?

Kids these days sit in empty homes, do homework and make dinner without an adult around and sometimes even put themselves to bed at night.  It is a sad state where we have landed as families.

I was repulsed by the amount of heartbroken souls that worked at the car plant with me. Many marriages had fallen apart.  Many kids had little knowledge of who their parent were.  These were people who were desperate to create a good life for their families.  They worked hard and dealt with the long hours and endless overtime.  They paid for their loyalty to their job with the loss of their family.  These lost souls would move around the plant as if a zombie.  They were physically present, but they were completely numb.  They couldn’t feel anymore.

Many of these people had heart attacks and died when retirement was near.  I think they died of a broken heart.  They would panic because they had no idea how to live outside of the plant.  The plant had become their one and only home since they had lost their family.

My husband began a job a year ago that held promises of a good future and light travel.  The year he joined the company, travel was a few weekends a year and maybe one solid week.  Well, guess what?  Business is booming and all of the workers are being sent to outside locations for weeks and sometimes months at a time.  My husband has spent at least half of the last 4 months away from home.  Each time he comes back, I feel a little more sense of a loss.  We are slowly pulling apart and it frightens me.

I know that many people work long hours, travel and spend more time with their company than their family.  I was one of those people, I lived it.  It broke my heart to decide if I wanted money for my family or time with my family.  I felt like I had sold my soul to the devil each time I picked money over family.  I had no choice, I had to provide for them.

My husband has no choice right now either.  It is a devestating feeling and one most people are facing every day.

I feel lucky to have been able to carve out a job at home.  I work my butt off so that I can support the family and hopefully give my husband the opportunity to find a better job that doesn’t require constant travel.

If I knew before I had a family what I do now, I would have started working from home right after graduation.   I am not adverse to working, hell I think it keeps us sane.  It gives a purpose, goals and a sense of pride.  I just don’t want to pick between time with my family or time at the office.  I don’t want a boss breathing down my neck telling me I need to devote more time to the job.  It just makes me sick that our time is taken up by nurturing a job instead of the ones we love.

What does this mean for the next generation?  How will they manage to raise a family? Will more people decide to forego the family because there isn’t time?  What about friends? How many people view their best friends as those they work with?  How many relationships come from the work place?

If you spend all of your time at a job, it just makes sense that you would form a small family there too.  It’s comfort.  When I worked in the plant, I met my husband.  We made good friends.  We had family events like bbq’s right in the plant on days when there was overtime.  We carved out a family and created close relationships.  We lost friends and family on the outside of those factory walls a little at a time, more as the years went by. We were seldom not working, and when we weren’t working we were taking care of our family or trying to catch up on some much needed sleep.

It is a strange feeling knowing that bonds are created over a common understanding.  A way of feeling that no one on the outside of a company’s walls would understand.  Yet, when our factory closed, we let those close friendships slip away.  Hell, I think we ran away from them.  We felt half-insane closed up in that plant.  I think we needed to get away from the people we had gotten close to just so our memories of  that time in are life could fade more quickly.  It was a painful time and the fewer reminders of life in the plant, the better.

What are family’s like today?  Do kids get the same type of attention they did back when we were kids?  Does life in today’s world make it to difficult to have a job and a family?  I feel like we have lost the dream.  That dream of growing up, getting married, buying a home, raising a family and retiring at a nice ripe age of 65.  I don’t think a lot of kids today will be able to have a job and family when they grow up..  I don’t think kids these days will be able to afford a house let alone afford to ever retire.  It’s scary, but the future looks like all work, no play and lost connections.

What do you think?  Does the future look promising to you?  Do you see a pattern of the dreams of our youth unraveling?  What will the future hold for our kids?  Please leave a comment and tell us what you think.


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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
Wendy McCance

11 thoughts on “Would You Like a Family or a Job Because You Can’t Have Both!

  1. This is so familiar. For most of our marriage I have been in jobs where I never saw anyone in my family but for a few hours a week. It is a whole different world now that I work from home.

    We are working to make it possible for my wife to come home too. But it is a long road.

    • I hope you find a way for your wife to stay home too. While my kids are young, I have been encouraging them to go after their dreams. My hope is that they will do what they love and work for themselves. I want them to have the flexibility to make the decisions without a boss dictating what they must do.

  2. I like your thoughts and discussion here, Wendy. Our culture has changed so rapidly in the last couple of generations becoming more materialistic and we’ve grown accustomed to it. I’m thankful we had a blend of both where I stayed home with our girls only working part time occasionally when we needed extra money.

    It was tight financially throughout their lives growing up but now that they’re grown I hear them talk sometimes about when they rode their horses, 4H camp, baseball and soccer. We were there for all of it and a part of their lives.

    Before there was no option to work from home unless you started your own business which can take you away almost just as much. Now, with the technology there is the ability to do both and that’s a good thing.

    • The internet has really opened up so many possibilities. You can start so many businesses with only a computer. That’s the part of all of this technology that I am truly thankful for.

      • Yep, you’re right about that. It’s a different world with a lot of yuck but a lot of opportunities too. It’s up to us to determine what we do with it - it’s out there for us.

  3. Wendy, I used to think I couldn’t have a career and a family. I chose the career and I suffered great personal pain knowing that I had missed out on a major part of the human experience. Now, 25+ years into my career as a writer and speaker, I work from home, have a husband and am a full-time stepmother. Having both, being here for my stepdaughter when she comes home from school, with a career that I love and a family that I love even more, I have achieved balance. The two can be interconnected. It’s the best of both worlds.

  4. Change is inevitable and should not be discouraged. If there was no change, we would still be living in the dark ages. Just as, we feel, the present is a better place to be in than the past, so too, the future may be better. Changing times lead to changing mores. People can and will adapt.
    However, coming from a very caring family, I do agree that basic human values must never be washed away by the tides of change.

  5. I agree with you Wendy. The notion of a traditional, stable family seems to have lost some of its luster over the years. My parents were not ideal even though I know they loved me. My dad was home every day by 5pm and my mom stayed at home except for some part time work. So my parents were always around. I too only worked regular hours with the exception of a few out of town over-night trips. When others worked their days off, I very seldom did. My career probably suffered for it and my family never had the money for vacations. When we started having kids my wife stayed home and did not go back to work until the kids were almost grown. We home schooled all four of them. I regret that I could not have provided better for my family but in the long run both my kids and my wife enjoyed having me around more than they wished for material things. My kids were blessed to have their mom willing to teach them and have her around especially now that she is no longer with us. It may be better to struggle financially and have the people you love around rather than what the extra hours at work might enable one to buy.

    • I think being there for your kids is everything. Can you imagine your kids memories if your wife had worked at a job where she wasn’t around much? Money is just money. What good is it if you have unlimited money, but no one around to enjoy it with. As adults the kids will never say, ah, I remember all the money. It’s the memories with family that will live so strongly in their hearts. 🙂

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