I have been unemployed for four years now. Being a mother of a disabled child, I was fortunate enough to be presented with an opportunity to return to study, with assistance from the UK government.
Some people might judge me for that, but I weighed up the pros and cons: I could keep working as a domiciliary care assistant, where I was only paid for the hours the agency had available for me to work, yet had to keep the children in childcare for sometimes double those hours, because I was 'on call'. Or; I could give up my job, and better myself for my family - and actually get to see my children awake more frequently than every twelve days.
For the record - it cost the Government more for me to be in work, than it did the other way around. I'm setting the record straight, because when I decided to give up work, and study, I got slated.
I was painted as somebody who chose not work because I was better off not working. No. I was somebody who wanted to earn more than the minimum wage. I didn't use the time to sit about doing bugger all. I worked hard - I just didn't get paid for it.
Later, when at university and receiving student loans (you know - thing things that have to paid back), I would be slated and accused of having a baby so I could go to uni for free. I don't know why people are so grudgy. I got the exact same loans that are offered to other students - no special treatment here!
Before I returned to study, I had just a few GCSE qualifications under my belt. I had a grade E in Visual Communications and art (graphic design). Yet, ten years later, I was receiving As and Bs for my photography and design work, and I got an overall first for my first year at university. Most recently, I produced this magazine cover and double page spread for a new magazine concept that I created as part of an assignment:
I got a 2:1 for that unit. Not a first, but close and it's one of my favourite pieces. Last year, a similar project saw me produce this work for another magazine concept:
I'm now suspended from study (my choice, not theirs) while I am on this American adventure. While I don't miss university itself, I do miss losing myself and all awareness of time by not having any design work to focus on.
Never mind design work. I don't have any other work to focus on, either. Unless you count housework - but right now I'm on top of that and the chores are often done before the family are even ferried out of the door bound for their schools or - in TH's case - the office.
So what do I do all day? Not a great deal. Sweep, and mop. Dust. Read. Sew. Watch Netflix. Remember to write this blog? Apart from collecting Little Lady, and the occasional laundry pile, my days are pretty empty.
I would love to have some work to be doing. I would love to make the day disappear in the depths of inDesign, InCopy, or Photoshop. Just a job would be great. Of course, I would have to be able to drive for that. I saw my local craft store is hiring, and I couldn't even submit my résumé. Why? Because I'm not allowed to work.
My visa status is H4 - a dependent of a H1B visa holder (The Husband). That means I am prohibited from working at all. For an employer here. For one back home. I can't even work for myself. I can't even work for free. I guess I should probably not try and publish my book when it's finished then? Well, I think there must be an exception to that, because the stipulation is that I'm prohibited from doing a job that will take away from gainful employment of a US citizen. Only my mind can write my stories, because they're my ideas, so I must be safe there.
I wish I could have some form of income, though. It's tough jumping from financial independence, to suddenly relying on somebody else for the financial things. There are things I want to do, but can't because we are a four person family on the income of one. Yes, we chose this way of life, but that was before we had to move to a much more expensive area of town, for his work.
It's frustrating to me to have become a stay at home mum. I was never really a SAHM kind of person. I can't cook without the help of a slow cooker, and Pinterest. I'm hoping to learn to machine sew, so I have something home maker-like to do. These aren't natural talents of mine. Thanks to my studies, I have a skill set, and know I am good at something that the laws of this land won't let me do.
Sometimes it's a crummy job, not having a crummy job.
Join the conversation! Leave a comment, or you can tweet me, or follow me on Facebook. I'd love to hear from you. If you like my rambling, then pop your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button, and you'll be first to hear what's up next at EPM HQ! My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.