How To Tell Your Children You've Lost Your Job

by - April 13, 2019

Tuesday. The sun rose and a pit settled in my belly, a low fist that made my cereal seem drier than usual, slowly twisting, just enough to make me feel off centre and a little disoriented. Like every step I took pulled a little to the left.

We'd been living in limbo for a few days, ever since the announcement about The Meeting. Rumours flew but we chose to rest our heads on the pillow of optimism. Maybe they're giving everyone raises, we joked. But it was only half-hearted. Sometimes, no matter how 'glass-half-full' you see the world, you know the truth before it's actually laid out before you.

I kissed him goodbye and wished him luck. I went to work and pretended things were okay. I watched the clock. I sent him a kissy-face emoji and he sent one back. The Meeting was at noon.

Tick tock.

When my phone finally rang, I left my shared office and sat on the couch in the empty foyer. "Hello?"

"They're shutting it down," he said.

And suddenly, the pit was gone. It's the unknowing that really rocks me.

When there's a sure thing, you can make a plan. If everything's up in the air, you're just a kite dipping around on the whimsy of the wind.

My husband has been a child and youth worker at a residential mental health facility for more than sixteen years. It has been his career, and though there have been many times he's complained about management or a frustrating staff member, it is his heart. He is good at what he does and has been the catalyst for change in the lives of countless kids rocked by a system that doesn't always help. He has invested his whole self into the program. He's had his heart broken by the stories of these kids, with tough love he's talked them off suicidal ledges, he's cleaned up their blood and tears. More than once he's expressed an abstract desire to bring certain kids home to live with us because the life waiting for them in their own home was devastating and hopeless. He has poured every bit of his empathy, his problem-solving skills, his belief in a better world, and his faith that every child is worth saving, into this place.

And now it's over.

Just like that. In a blink.

Like sixteen years doesn't matter.

But it does. It matters more than I have words for. How many kids left his care with a real chance at a successful life? For sixteen years, he made a difference. For sixteen years he allowed himself to grow and learn along with those kids and we've reaped the benefits of that learning in our own home. He is a master communicator - I am not (though I continue to learn from him) - and he utilizes those skills built up at work to keep our family communication lines open, to work through tough things with our kids and with each other. What a gift that is!


On Tuesday evening, he called us together in our basement family room to tell the kids. He spoke matter-of-factly, but positively. "Things are going to change. We're all used to my schedule, but that's going to look different. I might be doing some little weird jobs until I find something permanent. Maybe I'll be cutting people's grass. We don't know what it's going to look like, but the important thing for you all to know is that you don't have to worry. Our plans aren't changing."

And they're not. We just have to add some new plans to the old ones.

Old Plans: 
  • Baseball (our middle son is playing on TWO teams this year)
  • Skills Canada (our eldest has been selected to represent the school in the robotics competition)
  • Van (we're in the process of purchasing a decommissioned ambulance to convert into a mini home to take on the road this summer)
  • August Road Trip (New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia)

— yes, they all cost money, but they all matter, and we believe in our new plan

New Plan:
  • Continue with old plans.
  • Get a new job. 

The kids expressed some sadness, recognizing that this loss hurts their father, but they fully trust in his ability to start again. "You don't have to worry." That's the most important thing he told them as we sat there together. Worry is not their job. It's not ours either. Our job is to look ahead and seek out opportunity. It's not going to be easy — change is always hard, no matter how pliable you think you might be — but it is possible.

You. Don't. Have. To. Worry.

This is what it means to be alive. You roll with the punches and you turn hardship into opportunity. If we can keep our outlook bright, if we can take forward steps and turn those sixteen years into a golden selling point, there's nothing that can stand in our way.

I am hopeful. I am looking ahead. We are okay. 

You don't have to worry.

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5 comments

  1. Very sad to hear this. I met your husband only once, but sensed immediately how well his personality suited this kind of work, and how good he would be at it. A great loss for the mental health system and families in Ontario. Wishing him and you well for whatever the future brings.

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    1. Thank you so much, Peter! That means a lot. I'm sure, whatever new job he finds, he'll be able to put his helping nature to work. 🙏

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  2. Ok my heart stopped for a moment thinking it was YOU who lost their job. That stinks for Scott. I hope he finds something that he loves quickly. He can always spend his summer with Caleb, they always need ppl. 😉🤣🤣

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    1. All options are on the table! 🤷‍♀️ As much as I do love my job, it would have been much less of a financial worry for us if it had been me on the chopping block. Hopefully that doesn't happen anytime soon 'cause Momma's gonna be the bread-winner in the interim. 🍞😆

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  3. wow... i have met Scott and i have never known that he was a child and youth worker... that is something that i personally aspire to be once i graduate high school. i had no clue any of this was going on. i know you might not know who this is... but i don´t want to make a deal out of this... all i know is that you know me... you probably remember me.. i have no clue where you are at now, but people are praying for you guys and people love you guys. oh ya.. and always remember... God's got this! :)

    ReplyDelete

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