First, I miss writing, I miss you guys, and I will be back to typing again once the smoke clears. Just know that I am in the trenches SOLO Parents!!! And I got my war paint on.
Folks, the last few months have been a roller coaster that took so many turns, I can’t possibly put them into one article. But I want to talk specifically about being a single parent through work transitions. This is just my story, and I know that I am truly blessed, as my tale is definitely not the norm. For anyone going through this though, I hope I provide you with a bit of reassurance that the storm will end, and the skies after will be so blue, it’s blinding.
I thought I had it folks, the dream job, and then POOF! I was cut back. I mean I worked the 40 hours, but my pay was cut back to like 20. And the pay itself was cut. Fortunately for me, I have the best support system ever, and having kept on top of bills for once, by the grace of god, I wasn’t completely up Schlitt’s creek. But, I saw the writing on the wall and started shopping out my resume. I got a part time job that allowed me to work my PT/FT day job, and also provided new nurses with “experience” in the field of geriatric nursing at an assisted living facility. I was working weekends again, and I missed my kids terribly, but I actually loved it because I was able to do what I went to school for, patient interaction and care. That was the only part of the job worth loving, unfortunately, as there was no one there to teach me the finer points of being a floor nurse. For the past two years, I had been behind a desk, with complete autonomy, unless I screwed something up royally. Although my girls knew I would don scrubs and come help at a moment’s notice, it was infrequent and lacked the fulfillment of continuous care. Being in a regular health care setting allowed me to get to know my residents and I was starting to learn how to be a floor nurse, even though I was not really being instructed on how to do it properly. It was definitely trial by fire, and I have the burns on my butt to prove it. I lived in fear of losing my license daily, and prayed that God had a better plan in mind then this hair-brained scheme I had cooked up for myself. I trudged on, completely unhappy, and it showed in my interaction with the people I love most in life. I hated this part of the journey; I nearly lost the one man who has loved me through everything just because I pushed him away daily. And every day I prayed that I hadn’t just set myself up again to fail those little faces who were complaining daily about missing me.
Right around the time I was supposed to finally get medical benefits, after working about 8 days straight for them, I received a call stating that my employer and I had experienced a “mutual separation”, and after series of phone calls. I was freed from the fire. I still lacked the experience I was searching for when taking the position; having only worked there for 2 months and 3 weeks. I want you to do the math on that, they let me go with a week to spare!!!! I was still, on paper, a NEW nurse, and my years of experience meant nothing to the powers that be. I thought my prospects were slim and I did what all adults do (if they have the ability to. I thank the lord every day that I can do this). I called my mom.
Sobbing, I explained my tail of woe, and started with the apologies that have become and unfortunate personality trait that I swear I am working on daily!!! All the fears and thoughts of losing everything creeped back into my head, coupled with the thought of having to wait again for sorely needed medical coverage. My mother, as sweet and loving as she is, pretty much told me to cut the crap and get it together because I never stay down for long. That is it. No other advice. NOTHING!!! And it was all I needed! A phone hug from the woman who always holds me up, and a reminder in her mom voice that “You got this.” I updated my resume and within an hour had an invite to an open house. Two days later, I walked into a hotel conference room and into my new destiny, meeting one of the coolest nurses I have ever laid eyes on. She was inspiring, and I was the one being interviewed. A few days later I met with the man who would become my new supervisor, and after a really hilariously embarrassing story about having to get a PPD and drug test done, (I am saving this one for a later giggle, I promise you), I accepted a full time position as a Wellness Nurse.
Five weeks (a long, paycheck-less, long as all get out, long five weeks) later, I started the position I am currently at now, and it is filled with mentors, who walk me through every facet of the life of a nurse. They help me with time management, customer service, client care, and my favorite, patient care. I get to interact with a host of people who make me excited about working as a nurse. I get up and put on eye liner daily! I love what I do, and I am surrounded by reminders that this is what was meant for me. I finally have medical coverage, and got my first pair of contacts in almost three years. And I am home every other weekend. We even started a game night, where my children plot to whip my butt in games like UNO and SORRY. I like Skip-BO though, and the thought that if I leave my phone upstairs, I won’t have to worry about missing a call from someone. I am finally free to separate parts of my life. And though it has been a transition that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, I made it through, with minor combat damage.
A letter to my teenager;
By Tiffany C. Hunt, LPN
As the world starts to change more and more for the worst, and I feel my faith in humanity fading slowly with each news story or memorial post on social media, I am reminded that you are just beginning your journey into the world, and it would be detrimental for me to push my fears and worries on your now broadening shoulders. So this letter is for you to keep close to your heart, as you begin your transition into high school.
First things first: I HAVE NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT YOU ARE READY FOR THIS. YOU ARE A SMART, CAPABLE, AND INTELLIGENT YOUNG MAN. I want you to go into the world exactly the way you come in to my room every morning to say hello; with those big, beautiful eyes wide with hope, and that thousand watt smile ready to greet each person that crosses your path. I wish nothing more than for you to see all the good things that this world has to offer. I want you to stay a kid for as long as possible, and enjoy the experience that is growing up. But the reality is, as a teenager in this America, you are not safe on these streets anymore. I want you to be wide eyed when you look at the world, but you also need to enter the world with both eyes open. Arm yourself with the knowledge that this world can be a very dark place. It is filled with people who will hate you because of what you look like, the way you speak, and how you carry yourself. You will have strangers ready to judge you just by what you are wearing, and let’s not even discuss the social media gangsters that have no problem destroying your beautiful spirit, with only a few clicks of a keyboard, just because you scored higher on a test than them. But in the same breath, I can tell you with all the love in my heart that this world is filled with phenomenal people, just like you, that will get what XAVIER is all about. You make an impression on all that you meet, and there will be people (even girl people, to my dismay) that will see you for who you are; an irreplaceable find. Take comfort in the fact that you will always, ALWAYS, have me and your father beside you. Even though we are not together, we both know the best thing we ever did was create you. You have a mountain of family, friends, father figures, supporters, and teachers who will be with you each step on this journey into adulthood. Talk to me, even if you think I won’t like what you have to say, and know I may not always get the answers or responses to your concerns quite right. We WILL work through it all. And remember all that you have accomplished so far, especially when life is trying to beat you down or make you feel inadequate. You are a lion, in a sea of very lazy goldfish. Please, never ever forget that.
MY TESTIMONY: A STORY OF TRIUMPH FROM A FORMER STATISTIC
Sitting in front of this office, marked “Dean of Nursing”, I was nervous, scared, and a bit thrown off. I had only planned on stopping briefly to pick up my assigned graduation tickets on my thirty minute lunch break. As I sat in the chair outside the office, I replayed the last few days of class, trying to remember what I could have done or said wrong. But as usual, my thoughts went left when they should have gone right. I had not allowed my thoughts to take me anywhere close to the reason why I was being asked to speak with the dean. Followed into the office by the dean of education and one of my instructors, I fidgeted with my name badge and with a shaky voice asked what was wrong. She asked me to sit, held out her hand, and much to my surprise congratulated me on graduating at the top of my Licensed Practical Nurse class. And I cried. I cried like a newborn. It was not a pretty sight. It was more like the young lady from the Blair Witch Project. But there are several reasons why, which I am going to share with you now.
Last year in July, I broke my hand. No, scratch that. A client I was taking care of squeezed my hand so hard it fractured my right middle and ring finger. I was in the middle of my second term at Lincoln Technical Institute and this was the absolute last thing I needed to happen. If my hand was broken, I couldn’t continue with classes, as I am right handed and I needed both hands to perform personal care. It was devastating to have to take a leave of absence and I was going to quit school all together. I mean really, how many signs did I need that this was not right for me? My hand was broken, I had lost hours on my job and was now working what could barely be classified as part time. My significant other had forgot that he was a significant member of the bill paying team in our house and stopped paying our rent, causing me to yet again face eviction. And on top of all that, my daughter had picked this time in her education process to completely denounce teachers in general. Between me, her two grandmothers, and her aunts, we were making daily trips to the school to pick her up after her tirades through the hallways. My life was falling apart, and breaking my hand seemed to be the nail in the coffin of my nursing career. I looked up, as I often do, and said “Lord, you know what I am meant to do here. Please guide me.” I curled up on the couch and fell asleep, since there was nothing else I could do, and I waited. He has never kept his plans for me a secret for too long; so I just turned it over, turned over, and closed my eyes.
The next thing I knew, the education coordinator for Lincoln Tech called, telling me that there was an opening in the October class and if I had both the balance of my monthly payments, and a note from my doctor clearing me for clinical, I could join the class. My first thought was, this time; I am not going to let anything stop me. My second thought was wow, HE works fast! I called my mom, who has always been there to support me through everything, and explained the whole situation. There were financial issues, time constraints, and childcare issues; all of which we were able to resolve before October 3, my official re-start date. I walked into class with the biggest smile on my face, just happy to be back on track to achieve my goal of becoming a nurse. Every day I sat there I sucked in as much as I could, every night I stayed up pouring through texts and writing out note after note until I was able to quote parts of the text verbatim. I spent every moment during clinical asking as many questions as I could, and I learned more from the patients than I could ever have learned from a book. But it was not an easy road. My hours were cut drastically so there were many nights where my kids ate and I had to lie and tell them that mommy ate at school. I had to say no so much to my children that they stopped asking for things; a moment in my life that I regret more than I can ever express in words. I had holes in my scrubs that I repaired over and over until the fabric was barely there. We made due with worn through sneakers and haircuts done at home. My son and daughter went without all the fun things like movies and new toys. But, they never ever made me feel bad about it. My daughter let me listen to her heart beats and my son helped me run flash cards before each test. We played made up games and started working out together, which made the days go by quickly and life started to feel normal again. But just like life, when I started to see the light at the end of this very long tunnel, another wrench was thrown in the mix. My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and I watched helplessly as my rock; the one person who to me was invincible and always there when I needed support, was now losing her hair and going through some of the hardest days in her whole life. Each time I tried to quit though, he was there to remind me why I was in school and why I needed to finish this. From a teacher who walked me through the ins and outs of my mother’s treatments, to family and friends who gave gift cards and food to help me and my kids eat, I was bombarded daily with reminders that God watches over and provides for all of his children. I couldn’t fail all of these angels who gave of themselves in order to see me succeed, so I made sure that I did my best every day of class. When I finished nursing school on July 1st, my graduating grade point average was a 3.98 and I finished my last two terms of school with all A’s.
When I look back at the last year of my life, I can say that I truly beat all of the odds. I know that there are so many people who would have quit, and trust me, had I not had the support of everyone around me, I would have. I would have been a statistic, having settled for crappy low paying jobs just to pay bills and not being happy. I could have given up; after all I am a single parent (at least that what some believe about us). But what would I be teaching my children? I tell them daily that they can and will be anything they want to be, how can I not show them that despite obstacles I became what I always wanted to be? We are all charged with molding the thoughts and minds of those we have brought into the world. My mother is a prime example that when life gets so hard that it seems impossible, a strong foundation, even one built on the shoulders of a single mother, can be the exact thing that a child needs (even an adult child). I walked proudly across the graduation stage, graduating not only at the top of my class, but the top of the entire graduating group. And the little voice yelling “That’s my mommy!” was proof positive that I was exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. My little girl saw her mommy dream big and pray to the heavens that everything would work out. And I stood before her, in my white nursing dress, holding award after award, as living proof that my words “You can be anything you want to be” are true.
Tiffany Hunt was married now divorced during that time gave birth to three children, losing her first daughter in 2000. In 2013, she graduated from Lincoln Technical Institute as the valedictorian of their Accelerated Licensed Practical Nursing program, and secured her license in September of the same year. She has since worked as both a Case Manager and an Operations Manager in the home care industry.
Tiffany currently lives with her 12 year old son Xavier and her 7 year old daughter Sierra Lee. She is an avid supporter of Cancer research, having watched her step-father and mother both go through battles with different types of cancers, the former losing his battle in 2007, and the latter surviving her battle in 2012. She is also a huge supporter of Fibromyalgia awareness, having been diagnosed in 2010 with this debilitating yet invisible illness. Her faith in God, coupled with the huge support system she has around her, has allowed her to live out every dream and fulfill every goal she has set out to meet. Her future plans include becoming a Registered Nurse, and surviving the teenage years of both her children.