Magazine article Working Mother

Designing Her Family's Future

Magazine article Working Mother

Designing Her Family's Future

Article excerpt

When I was a child in Midland, Texas, my world couldn't have been more different from that of our most famous resident, George W Bush. My family lived in a trailer. My father laid concrete. But we did know the Bushes in a roundabout way: My great-grandmother worked as one of their housekeepers, and she'd bring us the twins' hand-me-downs.

I realized early on that if you didn't want to keep house for the people with a college education, you'd better get yourself a degree. So I got mostly As in school, graduated early and enrolled in Midland College. I had it all lined up: a husband-my childhood sweetheart, Stephan-and a job at the local paper. But two thirds of the way into my journalism degree, I got pregnant.

Becoming a working mother at 20 was definitely not in my plans. I cried for 24 hours and then decided I was not going to live a life of regrets. I would show my child-- Marissa is now 4-that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I knew that having a child would give me even more drive and inspire me to make something of my life.

My dream is to devote my time to my own design business-a career that would let me work from home, give me more flexibility and enable Stephan to get his college degree. Ever since Marissa was a year old, he's been Mr. Mom, tending the home fires and working nights as a cashier. We'd agreed that since his work experience has mainly been in minimum-wage.jobs, I'd be the breadwinner. So after our son, Noah, was born in 2002, we decided to move our family to San Antonio.

I couldn't afford to wait around for the perfect design job, so when I was offered a position as an entry-level technical writer at Northrop Grumman, a military contractor, I snapped it up. Now I'm working in a similar capacity for a company on contract with the U.S. Air Force. The sign by my desk says "technical writer," but because I don't have a college degree, I'm actually on the payroll as a publications assistant. There's a girl here just out of college making $17.60 an hour-30 cents more than me for almost the same job! Granted,, she has a master's degree, but it still hurts that I'm 25 and my seven years of work experience don't bring me up to her starting level. So I'm doing something about it.

At work I've made my interest in design clear, and I've been given a key website to create. Over the next two or three years, I plan to finish my BA in graphic design. For now, I'm taking online classes and using my lunch hour to study because I can't afford the child care I'd need if I went to night school.

Frankly, my biggest struggle has been Stephan's depression, which he's battled for five years. He's had a tough ride. He didn't graduate from high school when I did. Then his dreams of becoming a Latin singer fizzled. Every time he went to the doctor he'd be prescribed a new antidepressant, and the side effects sapped his energy. …

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