When I discovered I was pregnant, unexpectedly, at age 20, my first thoughts were financial. How am I going to support this kid? How am I going to pay for diapers, for food, for clothes, for doctor’s appointments? I had a few on-campus jobs, but all total, I was making about $1,000 a year. Hardly enough to put a dent into what this baby needed.
I cried most of my first trimester and well into the second. I was a failure. Already. My baby would be using my old T-shirts as diapers, sleeping in a drawer, I thought.
This is why I kept my original summer plans and took my NYC internship, even though I was five months pregnant and terrified to be away from home for any duration during my pregnancy. I took it because I needed the money and the connections more than ever.
When I got back, I moved in with my boyfriend, who wasn’t making much more than I was. Luckily, he had a position with our school, so our rent was paid for. In exchange, we had to live in an “apartment” on campus. I put apartment in quotes because it wasn’t really an apartment. It was about the size of two dorm rooms, with a tiny kitchen in the corner.
I focused on completing my schoolwork early so I could have the baby and not miss a beat. He worked. We didn’t do much but watch movies on Friday nights and making special dinners out of what we could afford. We made lots of pot roast and macaroni and cheese, I remember.
After I had my daughter at the end of the semester, I took my final exams and used the winter break as an abbreviated maternity leave. I also spent time trying to figure out what I was going to do in a few short months when school would no longer occupy my time.
One day that second semester, during a class break, my professor came up to me and gave me the name of the woman who would later become my first boss. “Call this number,” my professor said in a no-nonsense voice. “She will hire you.”
I do as she says and yes, I got the job. It was an internship at a local foundation, and the funny thing was, I didn’t really have any real responsibilities. I was there to learn and find my role.
Toward the end of the internship, my boss takes me out to lunch and asks if I have found a job. I tell her, no, that my job search has been a series of unsuccessful job interviews for positions I didn’t even really want. She offers me a job on the spot. I accept with both hands.
From there it was a matter of proving myself. I had gone from the intern to the associate and I had a one-year-old at home who was demanding quite a bit of energy. Well, I thought it was my daughter, but it turns out I was pregnant with my second child. Oops.
The week after I started full-time I had to tell my boss, “Hey, guess what? I know you just hired me but I’m going to need to take three months off in the very near future to have a baby! Yay! Pleasebehappyformeanddon’tfireme,okay?”
She didn’t fire me, but the whole situation had me feeling like my job wasn’t very secure. After all, I was only 22 at the time – I know they were wondering how many kids I would eventually have and if I was going to need a maternity leave every year.
Right then, I made a pledge that by the time my daughter was in kindergarten, I would be self-employed. I wanted to be able to control my financial future and not be suject to the whims of my employers. I began The Young Mommy Life as a way to get my writing out in the world, and to fill what I thought was a void in the parenting world. I started writing for other blogs, trying to build up my name recognition to the point where I would be able to work full-time for myself. This was back in 2008, when not too many were making a living from blogging, but I knew that if I kept at it, things would happen. I kept repeating that to myself whenever I was up at 1 a.m., vision blurry from looking at a computer screen too long.
As most of you know, I got laid off in late 2010, one year before my daughter was going to go to kindergarten. It came without warning and it was immediate. At 2:05 p.m. I had a job as a junior associate in public relations; at 2:06, I did not.
I took the next month to get my head together. I got another job offer from an affiliate organization almost a week later, but I turned it down. That felt risky, but at that point, risky felt good.
I hustled. When I say that, I mean it. I worked about 90 hours a week at one point. I was averaging about four hours of sleep a night and things were rough. Bills piled up much faster than checks did. I cried on my husband’s shoulder that I should just go get a regular job because this wasn’t ever going to work. He would pay me no attention (lol) and tell me to get back to work doing what I was doing.
And then one day, I happened to be checking my bank account and something didn’t seem right. I had paid all my bills and there was money left over? I double-checked my math. I was right. There was money left over. I got up and danced around the living room. Your girl was BACK.
Yesterday I did my budget and for the first time ever, I was at the point where my income alone could cover all our bills. That was a big day of achievement. It took seven years but I did it. My goal was to be self-sufficient, to be able to take care of all of us if I had to and I reached that point in my life at 27.
This is normally the part of my posts where I say something motivational. But I think I already did. Re-read the post. Substitute your name for mine in the paragraph above. You can do this. Keep going. Don’t ever give up on your goals – you have come so far and you’re almost there!