I hope my story can offer hope to other single mums who feel left behind. I used to love working. Before my daughter was born I worked as an administrative officer in a city accounting firm, a job I enjoyed and which provided me with a comfortable income. But that was 10 years ago – and a lot happened after that.
I got married and had my daughter a year later. My daughter born with significant physical disabilities and I left paid employment to care for her full-time. Family violence forced me to leave my home and take my daughter into refuge. Eventually I secured housing, but caring for the children remained my full-time job.
Making and retaining connections in the community were important to me, I have always been quite social. So when I could, I volunteered for a number of charities, and was active in organising local get-togethers and events for other mothers and their children.
Existing on a carer’s payment was tough. I phoned CSMC’s Support Line several times over the years, once for emergency relief when I had no money for food, another time for a family violence service referral.
So as soon as my daughter was settled into school, I started thinking about returning to paid employment. It wasn’t too long before doubts set in.
While I had stopped working in paid employment, technology had not. Would I have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform my old job? Did I even want to do the same work?
My experiences with family violence had eroded my confidence and sense of self-worth, and I began to think my chances of engaging in meaningful paid employment were slim.
Then one day I just thought I should bite the bullet and look seriously at paid employment, although my expectations were low. At that stage I was thinking the best I could do would be get a job – I wasn’t even thinking in terms of a career.
I set up an appointment with a local careers pathway program, and the most immediate thing the woman who I saw did was help me update my list of skills and experiences. I thought I had very few, but then she started listing all the leadership and organisational skills I had acquired through my volunteer work, and it turns out, I do actually have a lot to offer!
I spoke with my career counsellor about my experiences caring for a disabled child and she was struck by my understanding of the practical and communication needs around that. It’s actually something I feel very passionate about. Through further discussions with her I realised that community service is actually where I now want to take my career.
I am happy to say I am now enrolled in an introduction to community services course at my local community education centre. I’m actually really excited about my new career and I can’t wait to get started.
*Name has been changed.
Do you have a story you would like to share?
CSMC’s My Single Mother Story project is a great way to raise awareness of single mother issues and make sure their voices are heard. If you would like to share your single mother story, email Margie at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can remain anonymous if you wish.