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Work, Money, and an Absentee Dad

"No way," I tell my wife. "There is no way I'm going to see the kids three days a week and that's it. Absolutely not."

"Honey," she says. "That's a lot of money. I could stop working."

"I know," I say. "I'd miss them so much...I don't think I could handle it. I don't want to be the dad who is never around. I will not be That Dad..."

Here's the news. My employer of 14 years is closing for good. Done deal. Lights out, lock the door and throw away the key. Frankly, it's horrifying. One hundred and ten people have lost their jobs...including me.

We've got 12 months.

Last night, Grace and I sat on the couch. Her hair was damp and smelled pleasantly of Johnson & Johnson shampoo. She was snuggled perfectly in the crook of my arm and the bend of my hip. Our breathing was in unison.

In my right hand, I held "Do Pirates Take Baths?", which I was reading aloud to her. In my left hand, I held hers. In my mind, I thought —

"What the hell am I going to do?"

I loved my job, and not in the "Yeah, it's not bad" kind of way. My coworkers are the kind of people you're lucky to meet once in your life. Our work is profound and meaningful. We've literally touched thousands of lives.

Soon it will be seven empty buildings on a small plot of land in rural Massachusetts.

I'm job hunting. With two applications out, I've heard nothing. A friend told me about a job in my field that pays extremely well. Much more than I'm making now. Here's the catch (you knew that was coming, didn't you?):

It would require me to be out of state, 4 days a week, every week.

My wife is sitting at the kitchen table. "We could get those cool webcams, and you could talk to the kids and see them every night," she says.

I picture myself sitting on the edge of some generic bed in some generic hotel with the same stupid coffee maker, stale muffin and monogrammed notepad that I've seen a hundred times over, staring at my laptop and trying not to sob as the kids wave and sing and say, "We love you daddy! We miss you!"

"I don't know what to do," I say to my wife. "I don't even have this job. Or even an interview. Let's just see what happens before we worry about this."

"I think it's worth at least looking into," she says, and she's right. From a financial perspective, our lives would be much improved. No more paycheck-to-paycheck living. No more monthly budget stress. No more cringing when the cars break down...

No more finger paint masterpieces. No more potty triumphs. No more library story hour.

No more job.

Grace and I finished reading. We brushed her teeth, gave mom and William their "kiss and hug" and she climbed into bed. I sang her lullabies and we shared our favorite parts of the day (Hers involved ice cream. Big surprise). She wrapped her arms around Cow, and I pulled her Tinkerbell blanket up to her chin. "Everything will work out," I told myself. "These things always do. It will."

It must.


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