By Flourish Counseling & Coaching Founder Angela Sasseville, MA, LPC
I had only been a mother for 10 days when I was laid off from the full-time corporate job that was supposed to be waiting for me when I returned from maternity leave. I received a telephone call at home to inform me I’d been laid off on September 10, 2001.
The very next morning I took my baby girl to visit a girlfriend. Together the two of us new moms watched in horror as footage of the September 11th terrorist attacks hit the news and played on a loop on TV. Overnight the world became an emotionally terrifying and economically uncertain place. I was responsible not just for myself anymore, but for my newborn daughter.
In the recession that immediately followed, my husband and I lost the opportunity to be the dual-income household we had planned to be. We began parenthood living on half the income we had before. I collected Unemployment Benefits for months. When the baby was eight months old, there were still no jobs available, so I enrolled in a full-time graduate program that met at night.
We couldn’t afford childcare without my income, so I tended to my little one all day, sneaking in reading assignments when she napped. I meet my husband on campus in the afternoons on his way home from work to hand the baby off to him before I was late to my first evening class. I wrote most of my papers late at night when they both slept. By dawn the baby would be awake ready to be nursed and it was time to do it all over again.
I was too invested in what was required of me to hold my young family together to admit to myself it wasn’t sustainable. I was strung out on anxiety. The pressure on my 32-year-old husband to become father and sole bread winner overnight was immense. Our marriage was fraying at the edges under the economic strain, adapting to parenthood and our lack of time together.
Those challenging early years of parenthood and marriage inspired me to later write an autobiography Families Under Financial Stress: Tools to Support Your Relationships and Your Continual Growth.
They also became the inspiration for the Pay It Forward program that’s been offered at Flourish Counseling & Coaching for many years. Had it not been for the discounted therapy services that we received; our marriage wouldn’t have been able to weather all of the storms. The time, money & energy that we invested in our therapy during those difficult times paid off in dividends.