I lost my job in mid-March and have been unemployed ever since. I left an employer of nearly four years at the end of 2022 to work for a technology startup at the start of 2023. Long story short, but things went south quickly, and the company was acquired, leaving most of the staff without jobs.
My kids, with their childhood rationale, always had a lot of affinity for my former company. It’s not hard to see why from where they sat: huge brand presence, brick and mortar locations all across America and our family’s personal bank. Not to mention, I was generally happy, accomplished and proud to work there during my tenure, and I’m sure they sensed that.
Conversely, given the way things turned out with the latter employer, they hate that company. Coincidentally, the company name is also a five-letter word that starts with C and is also a man’s name. We’ve explained the circumstances of my layoff, and they are quick to in turn explain the situation to friends and family when the conversation arises. This conversation always concludes with them adding, “C**** sucks.” We usually don’t condone this kind of language, but we’ve been letting it pass given the hardship.
While unemployment is not ideal, I did go into it with the mindset that in addition to job seeking, I’ll be as involved as I can with my kids during this time. This spring saw a lot of activities return to the elementary school that otherwise wouldn’t have happened the last couple years due to the pandemic. I volunteered as much as possible and was present at the school to help and support however I could. It’s been rewarding, fun and unique, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. I think my kids have been thankful to have me around too. I even relived my youth and participated in the end-of-year neighborhood shaving cream fight!
I’m sure most kids have an interest in what their parents do for a living. The lens they see it through is where it likely gets comical. When my oldest daughter filled out a Father’s Day form in preschool years ago, she described my job as “keeping the kids safe.” Since that time, this phrase has stuck within our family. Any time I request they do something they don’t understand is for their own good, or if they ask me for my advice, this mantra will typically come up. Examples include:
I frequently validate my answers with a simple “what’s my job?” to which their reflex reaction is a “to keep the kids safe.” The last few months though, the joke they tell me when I ask this has been that I don’t have a job now. This has been stated out of love, as my children have become increasingly interested in the overall process of finding a new job, e.g., interviewing, offers, etc. While we certainly haven’t explained to them the financial implications of my unemployment, they’ve been invested and supportive to the extent they can understand.
Careers are important, and I’ve always taken mine seriously. Losing a job is a tragedy that I don’t wish on anyone. These last three months have been really hard but also unique and positive in some ways. We as parents are our kids’ grandest advocates. Dads are the ultimate hype men. But it’s my kids who are my biggest, most unexpected cheerleaders right now, pulling for me to navigate out of this unfortunate situation.
-Steve Michalovich, regular contributor, founded CBUS Dads in 2016 while on paternity leave with his middle child. He is an active parent and digital product manager by day.
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.