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