Joseph Scialabba is a single father from the Chicago area who unexpectedly lost the mother of his child several years ago. This blog post is part of a series on single-parenting that chronicles his experience with raising a female child alone in the 21st century.
One of the most tenuous relationships single parents experience isn't with a person at all, but with our jobs. It's a delicate balancing act to satisfy work requirements while making enough money to support your child or children. Sometimes pushing ahead to make enough for paying bills and providing your child with a healthy living environment (while throwing child care into the mix) can sometimes feel like climbing a mountain when you're a single parent.
I made the decision before she was even born (which was also before I was a single parent) to be there for my daughter as much as I possibly could. You see, I love my father, but working 80-hours a week to support four kids when I was growing up meant I didn't see much of him on weekdays. As I grew older I could go a week or two without actually physically looking at my dad face-to-face. Our schedules just didn't line up. Don't get me wrong, I understand why it was necessary to work as much as he did and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices Dad made to provide for us. He's a good man and a good dad. But I've always wondered if if there was a better way to balance my work and family life.
So what's the answer? Honestly, I'm not really sure I know at this moment in time. Working in the industry of my chosen career path (sales) means I can choose one of two routes. The first option is the ever-demanding 80 hour work week, which means I bring in a higher income and pay other people to raise my kids. Option two means working for less money, but having a more sensible day-to-day routine. When I first started supporting my daughter and her late mother, I chose the first option; the maximum possible income for someone in my field. Her mom was great at raising her, and I wanted to make sure they both had whatever they needed to live comfortably. But then things changed.
Now that I'm a single parent I've reluctantly shifted to the second option, which wasn't an easy choice. I took a management position that demands about 20 hours less of my time each week. Although I bring home a smaller amount of income at the end of the year, the guarantee of a paycheck is somewhat more stable.
Choosing between a grueling career and a sensible home life was never easy. There are parents, particularly dads, all over the world who are faced with these tough decisions everyday. Good fathers choose what's necessary to provide for their children and nurture their growth into a well developed adult. Deciding between option one and option two is entirely circumstantial to the unique situation of every parent and child. I'm not really sure there's a right or wrong answer in most scenarios. I often ask myself if I made the right choice and I suppose I'll find out the answer many years from now when she grows up. When she gets older I'll know if it was truly the wisest choice, though I don't currently regret my decision. I've still had to sacrifice any hope of a fulfilling social life in an effort to get the balance between work and fatherhood to a perfect level, but that's a story for another day.
With Fathers Day coming up in less then two weeks, don't forget to show some love to all the good dads out there in the world. Especially the single dads. They're busting their asses so their kids can simply be kids.
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