As people are scrambling to get back to normalcy with the perception that Covid cases are dwindling, I am here to represent a very niche group…the single mom.
Well, I am a single mom, however, let me take this a step further. I am a single mom who is a healthcare worker, therefore, my job is not offered with a “remote” option.
Ok, now I’m going to take it a step further. I am a single mom with joint custody who does not receive any child support or alimony. Fortunately, I am able to collect unemployment, however, with the loss of the extra $600 a week, I am unable to pay my mortgage and basic bills. So, it’s time to go back to work. However, the schools being closed throws another wrench in the fire. We relied on the time our daughter was in school and aftercare so we could work a full day at work. We also relied on the school, itself, to be a place where we could complete drop off and pickup.
My custody schedule is what is referred to as a “2/2/3 schedule”. This means we rotate every two days and the weekends. In the state of NJ, the parents must split custody 50-50. This can definitely make planning your life very tricky. I say this to emphasize my ability to problem solve and “make it work’. That is, up until this point. Currently, I feel at a loss.
First and foremost, the job market for Occupational Therapists is very scarce at the moment. Sure, you can click on a job website and see OT jobs. However, if you look closer many of those jobs are per diem only or they are national recruiters drawing you in to sign up to be part of their database. I have many per diem jobs, but the recruiters have made it clear to me that shifts are not available because they are already utilizing their current staff by having them “float” from facility to facility to satisfy their required hours.
And most importantly, given my custody schedule…how can I get a job when I am only available for rotating two days a week? Sure, I can hire a babysitter. But, can I find a babysitter that will rotate every week? Many moms I have consulted with are utilizing their parents. I am an “older mom”, given that I had my daughter at 40-years old, so my parents are way past “babysitting age”. Maybe I can coordinate with another single mom? Strangely, even though statistically the divorce rate is very high in the U.S., I am the only single mom I know at my daughter’s school. I have one single mom friend, but she has the kind of job that she can perform at home, and she has a younger mother that is retired and can help her out.
So, you see, it’s a scramble. Currently, I have proposed a new custody schedule to my ex-husband that is “non-rotating”. However, it would have me away from my daughter for 5 days/4 nights in a row, which is very difficult, as many of you moms can imagine. I am applying for jobs outside of my field, with no luck so far. I can imagine that the people in these fields are scrambling as well, so my chances of coming in with no experience may not be feasible.
As a breast cancer survivor, I have many people who reach out to me and praise me for being a “survivor”. However, I feel my biggest struggle and battle has been a “survivor” of divorce and custody struggles. I truly feel that my experience in that arena is not for the faint of heart. And although my ex-husband and I are in a much better place, the struggle continues to be there. This current struggle with returning to work and remote school has thrown me a new challenge. I pray for faith that it will work itself out and that my career is not dead in the water. It’s a constant uphill battle. I pray for all us single moms who are fighting to keep afloat in this world that continues to dismiss us. We are the underdogs. But we will survive.