The faces of poverty. I see them as they walk into the center, heads down and shoulders hunched–like they are carrying the weight of the world. Many of them are. Single parents with multiple children working as many hours as they can with little or no support from the fathers or mothers (yes, I have seen many single fathers as well); grandparents, aunts, uncles, and stepfathers trying to give these kids what they deserve–love, a home, education, and healthy food; and foster parents working with children who have been neglected, abused, and/or a horrible assortment of other things.
As I greet them at the door, in the hallways, or in the classroom, I watch as their children happily run to and hug them when they walk in the door. I see the worry lines on their faces and, sometimes, the desperation in their eyes as they speak with me. And I want so badly to change what this cruel world has thrown in their direction.
So I give them what I can: direction toward services they qualify for; quality education using love and logic for their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers; and a listening ear. I feel like it’s not much, but at least it’s something.
Yes, I might be making a mere pittance of what I’m worth, being a college graduate and pre-master’s student, but I am happy. I come home knowing I have done my best to help the kids and their families, and secure in the knowledge that I will be doing more. I think about ways I can do more, or ways for other people to give, and I feel like I am making an impact.
When reading The Feminine Mystique, I very much agreed with Betty’s assertion that a job isn’t the only thing a woman needs, she must find work that satisfies and fills her up. It is then that the battle of demands becomes worthwhile as working mothers seek to fill their different roles.
As a working mom, I come home happy and ready to interact with my family because I enjoy my job so much. I think Betty Friedan had it right, when you are working at a place you love, the balance will be easier to find.