My 180: I Was a Stay-at-Home Dad and Now I'm an Overworked Postal Employee
Since I’ve returned to the workforce, I haven’t gotten a break, which is costing me precious time with the people who mean the most to me.
Before I started working again, I was a stay-at-home parent, and it made me happier than I could have ever expected. But once my spouse's heart condition worsened, forcing them to quit working and focus on their health, I had to step up and take over the financial responsibility for our family.
I started working but the job didn't pay enough and the hours weren't enough to support our family of three. Then, I found a high-paying job, but the hours were longer. I have to work overtime nearly every day, equating to a minimum of 50-plus hours a week. Needless to say, adjusting to my new life has been especially hard because I'd been with my daughter since she was born. She will be 4 in March.
It's been a complete 180.
I Can Afford to Support My Family, but at What Cost?
Don't get me wrong. I love knowing that our bills are paid and we have food in our stomachs. But I miss my family. Since I'm working such long hours now, I don't get to say goodnight to my child or my significant other (SO). By the time I get home—no later than midnight if I'm lucky—they're fast asleep. It's starting to take its toll on me emotionally. But thanks to our newfound financial stability, my SO and I were finally able to get married. We could finally afford it.
It was a rough yet incredible holiday season (we got married on Thanksgiving weekend). The in-laws came and didn’t quite understand why we waited so long or why it had to be planned around my days off. The fact that we were shackled by our capitalist work requirements added an unbearable amount of stress.
I miss having free time, spending it with my family and doing the things that make me happy. I've had five surgeries on my feet and ankles, so after 10-plus-hour days, I'm in serious pain. The holidays are going to be especially hard for us. Management is predicting 60-plus-hour work weeks, with a chance of having only one day off per week.
Knowing that I can give my family a good holiday is comforting, but my physical and mental health is paying the price.
I Hate My Job, and I Hate That It Takes Me Away From My Family
Like many adults in my generation, I have anxiety and depression. Luckily, I don't have a lot of triggers to worry about while I'm working (hopefully it stays that way). Management knows about my surgeries, and they understand that I need to sit periodically to alleviate pain and pressure on my feet. Given how much I'm going to be working for the foreseeable future, I worry that I won't be able to take care of my own well-being. My SO is already noticing a change in my mental and physical health and wishes I didn't have to work so much.
Since I've rejoined the workforce, I realized something: I hate it. I hate the fact that we have to sacrifice over one-third of our lives in order to live in society. I miss spending time with my family. I don't feel like I'm actually working toward anything by working again. Sure, my bills are paid and we have food in our stomachs, but I no longer recognize myself in the mirror. My SO said they feel like I'm a completely different person now, as if the person I was died. I'm worried that I'll miss out on seeing my daughter growing up while I slave away for a paycheck.
I hate the fact that if I want to spend time with my family now, I have to sacrifice my own sleep. I'm down to about four hours a night now, and I have to consume multiple energy drinks in order to stay functional at work. I worry that I'll fall asleep on my drive home at night and I miss having the choice of taking a nap. Not to mention the fact that I've lost 30-plus pounds since I started. At this point, I feel like I live at work. There are 31 days in December, which equates to 744 hours. I will be working half of December, literally. I may as well buy a tent and sleep in the break room.
I'm sleep-deprived, starving and alone. I hate who I have become: a slave to my financial responsibilities. I hope my daughter never has to live like this when she is older. If I power through the holiday season, I can secure my job. Maybe I’ll get a break.