For the first time in my life I am faced with this question......
I remember the very first job that I ever had. I was fourteen. I delivered papers in our neighborhood for over a year in my hometown. This entry into the working world was the start of many, many different types of jobs. I was a teenager, thats what we did......find a job, decide that we needed to try something different, find another job. Despite the job change, it did not matter. There was always somewhere local hiring - and always a new job available to try. Finding a new place to work with lots of hours available was never ever an issue. I grew up in a Oil town. Despite the ups and downs in the economy over the years, our hometown remained pretty stable. "Big Oil" meant lots of money to throw around......It was lovingly coined "Fort McMoney" from many outsiders. I always had a job in my hometown no matter what I wanted to do.
Years ago I walked away from the Oil money, and made the choice of family first. I was fortunate to be able to have this option. I have never regretted my choice to leave the shiftwork and be more available to be a full time Mom for my kids. I had a trade, I could make as much money as I wanted. I could choose the job, and have everything. In the Oil community, the employees ran the show. But, over time, I came to realize that for me, there was not enough value in this type of paycheck, at the price of missing my children. With each passing paycheck, the Oil money was losing its shine for me. With the emotional support of my husband, I decided to choose my family first and be a full time homemaker while my children were still little. This time in their lives was precious and I did not want to miss it. This was my own personal choice. I will never judge what any other Mom decides to do when it comes to her family. I have met many, many, Moms that have made different choices and I support them all. Only you know what will works for you, and your choice is your own. I had a neighbor who used to always say to me..." I will be the first to admit that I am a better Mom, working"... and she was right. She worked full time out of the house and she knew without a doubt, that this is what worked for her, and her family. She raised fabulous, polite, amazing kids, and they were wonderful neighbors. Her kids have all grown into perfectly well adjusted members of society.
Recently, I left the big money community for a different kind of life. Not the same, or better, just different. I decided that I wanted the old small town feel that my hometown used to have before the "Big Oil" changed everything. Deep down inside, maybe I missed the memories of my youth and the "way things used to be". I was sad to see what my little town was turning into because of the oil influence. In my opinion, the negatives were out weighing the positives. Looking back now, I knew I would never ever see that life of my youth ever again. The wheels of change were turning, and there was definitely no reverse gear on this ride. Oil was good to us, but I still felt I was missing something. After a visit with a friend that had recently moved to a quiet little town, I knew thats where I needed to be. I wanted my own children to experience what kind of life I had as a youth and so we made the big move to a quieter community.
Fast forward to today. After spending a few years in a town that is not owned by Oil, and re-entering the workforce, I see some very distinct differences. There is no wool pulled over your eyes, and no safety of Oil money to cushion the "ups and downs" of the economy. Outside of the protective dome of the Oil, you feel the bumps in the economy, and it has been a bumpy ride. Jobs are not constant and here, they are valued as if it is your last. There is competition for that one job, and that one job is not just considered a step to something else, better, that will come along. Money is earned, and then saved because it seems as though here they have felt the reality and know with each "up", a new "down" is not too far behind. There is a different kind of talk in a town that is not owned by Oil....
I too have felt that bump. For the first time ever, since re-entering workforce again, the tables have been turned. Along with many others in our department, my hours have been cut at my job. We are suffering the state of the local economy, or perhaps our employers inability to manage, and no one really knows what the future will hold for any of us. I have never ever experienced a moment in my own life where for once there were more people than hours available to give. This is a new kind of ride for me. There is nothing like a good wake up call to help you examine where you are in life. A call to realize that you are expendable in the workforce. Just a number on your employers bottom line. I am employee #84509. That's it, nothing more. Gone are the days where you could shrug your shoulders and move on to the next waiting employer, just because you felt like it.
Now that my children are older, and I am back to work and facing this new situation, its time to take a moment to re-evaluate. The cut back in hours is perhaps a great kick in the butt to maybe move on to something new. A wake-up call. Maybe its a call to focus on myself. Move on towards the next phase in my life. Start something new, so I am never again in a situation where I question my value in the workforce outside of my own four walls. Today, with the change in the economy in my new community I have a new appreciation of my value. To to my employer, I am just a number on the bottom line. I am expendible like a commodity to be bought and sold. To my children though, I am priceless. Despite this bump, I know my worth in my childs life, and I know that the time I spent with them was worth every penny that did not get deposited into my bank account. Over the years I earned a different kind of paycheck. One that I am very still very proud of, and the only one worth anything to me..