A mother’s story: ‘I work five jobs to support my family – and I’m not ashamed of it’

By Pam Magwaza
24 July 2017

"To the moms out there who feel like absolute failures because they're slogging away, 16 hours a day, seven days a week -- you are not a failure."

31-year-old Genevive Stander from Durban is a model example of a 21st-century mother. She works a shocking total of 5 jobs and is the current bread winner in her household. Here is her story:

"'One of my favorite quotes comes from the Batman Begins movie is: "Master Wayne, why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.' This quote is the best way I can describe the past 9 years of my life.

PHOTO: Lee and Genevive Stander by Krystal Temlett. PHOTO: Lee and Genevive Stander by Krystal Temlett.

In 2008 my then fiancé went through some tough financial issues, and so to support him I worked Monday-Friday in a plastics manufacturing company and then waitressed in the evenings, Tuesday through Sunday. This wasn't a problem back then because I did not have kids. Since then my now husband and I have welcomed three children into the world (2009 & 2015).

Last year, as it seems to be for most people, was not the best year for us. My husband went through an extremely rough time at his work and had a number of false allegations put against him. This landed him up in 3 different hospitals over a 4 week period, and I knew then that the issues would not be resolved amicably. Seeing as he didn't have another position lined up, I started looking for part-time work because with three children to support, my salary alone was just not going to get all of the bills paid whilst he was looking for another job.

My husband went through an extremely rough time at his work and had a number of false allegations put against him. This landed him up in three different hospitals over a four week period, and I knew then that the issues would not be resolved amicably. Seeing as he didn't have another position lined up, I started looking for part-time work. With three children to support, my salary alone was just not going to get all of the bills paid whilst he was looking for another job.

I now have five jobs:  Procurement Officer (soon to be Operations Controller/PA), waitress, bartender, events manager, and flea market stall holder!

Although this is extremely necessary for my family's survival it has taken a toll on my three children -- my eldest being seven and my two and half-year-old twins. It has been especially tough on my girls not having me around, especially my eldest daughter. She sort of regressed, especially with regards to her independence from me.

PHOTO: Morgan-Lee and Genevive Stander by Krystal Temlett. PHOTO: Morgan-Lee and Genevive Stander by Krystal Temlett.

The disappointment on my eldest' s face when I'm off to work on a Saturday morning instead of staying home with her doing a puzzle or something absolutely breaks my heart.  Although, I must admit, when I do come home in the evening or when they wake up and see me the next morning, the excitement in their faces and voices as they come running towards me for hugs and kisses makes me forget about everything, even if only for a minute.

Living my life as I currently am, working as many jobs as I am and working as hard as I am, has me missing out on a lot of my children's lives. And it hurts. I sometimes feel that I have to do more to be more involved in my children's lives but without me working all of the extra jobs that I do, the bills that we're barely paying now wouldn't be paid at all.

My mom raised me back in the 80's as a single mom, and she too worked two jobs to ensure that my school fees were paid, our rent was paid, that there was food on the table etc. I think that there are so many moms out there working more than one job, but that we're just too ashamed in a sense to admit that this is what we're doing to get the bills paid. There is so much "mom shaming" these days, and as for the online trolls... I have always maintained my honesty; I sugarcoat nothing.

To the moms out there who feel like absolute failures because they're slogging away 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, you are not a failure. You are doing what needs to be done in order to survive. Giving up? yeah, then you can call yourself a failure.

Morgan-Lee, Alexander and Madeleine Stander by Krystal Temlett. Morgan-Lee, Alexander and Madeleine Stander by Krystal Temlett.

The past few years have shown me a strength within myself that I had no idea existed; I have gone from relying on everyone around me both emotionally and financially, being so insecure, being so afraid of change, to becoming semi-financially independent, having a confidence about myself that I would have laughed at two years ago if you had said was there, to taking charge and embracing the future, embracing the change.

I hid my sadness and feelings of failure inside for so long. And when I did crack, I almost didn't make it back. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing what has to be done in order to provide for our families, for our loved ones. I sought out professional help (I do have medical aid, which does help), and started taking charge of my life, at 30 years old.

I firmly believe with all that I am that this is not the life I am destined to live, but sitting around waiting for the dream job to land in my lap isn't going to fix our current situation. Be proactive, market yourself. Believe in yourself -- It makes a huge difference.

My husband is now much better and actively helps in taking care of our children and also doing his part by working and providing for us.

Be proactive, market yourself. Believe in yourself -- It makes a huge difference."

Follow Genevive’s journey on her blog here.

This article was submitted to YOU and has been minimally edited. Do you have a story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! E-mail it to Pam.Magwaza@you.co.za

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