Sometimes you can be surprised when you least expect it.
Being a single parent is no small task. Every day is another day to not get it all finished and not to be everywhere you need to be when you need to be there. However, in my opinion, there’s nothing more rewarding than being a parent and having the love of your child whether you are single or married.
It’s also not easy financially to be a single working woman. Not only do you often get paid less than the men for the same job, but if you work in a male dominated industry, there are all kinds of prejudices that you can’t get past no matter how hard you try. Since you have a child to raise, you usually take the highest paying employment opportunity you can find regardless of the working environment.
A hotel General Manager job at a corporate hotel was one of those male dominated positions where I spent nearly eight years of my life. It was the boy’s club and although the salary was good, I was paid much less than the men. It was also a very mentally and physically draining job with never a spare minute to just relax.
Working at a hotel is an eye-opening experience. For a somewhat sheltered woman, it also became a very educational one too. Hotels are like small cities with everything from suicide, weddings, cheaters, call girls, and business meetings to conventions and swingers who paid to have a whole floor.
The General Manager has to physically be at the hotel all the time. It’s not a job that can be accomplished remotely while sitting home in pajamas, so I worked 50-70 hours every week. The days were long and tiring. The guests were often rude and the employees were always creating some kind of drama. It wasn’t unusual to find me and my daughter working on the weekend in my office just so that I could catch up on the paperwork aspect of my job.
“Alyssa, if you make all the copies, I will pay you $10 when we leave today.”
“How many copies?” she would ask. Then upon seeing the large pile would say something like, “That is a lot of copies. I’ll do it for $20.”
Of course I would agree to her price and I guess that started Alyssa’s training on how to negotiate your salary.
When you work that many hours every week at any job, it is important to be in the moment with your child when the moments are happening.
Alyssa and I did lots of things together when I wasn’t at the hotel. One of our favorite places to eat at the time was Olive Garden. Lunch on Saturday at Olive Garden was not only delicious, but also quite economical.
Alyssa would order her favorite meal, All-You-Can-Eat Minestrone Soup, each Saturday. I was also just as predictable with the All-You-Can-Eat Salad. By the time we left the restaurant we were definitely full.
Since Alyssa was a growing girl, her appetite was quite ravenous. It was not unusual for her to eat five large bowls of minestrone soup with a basket of bread and a dessert before we left.
Lunch was always a relaxing experience for us and we took the time to talk about the week. It didn’t matter how many people came and went at the tables around us or how many hours passed, we stayed as long as we wanted and enjoyed each other’s company.
As the food kept flowing to the table, it was easy to bring up any subject and get Alyssa’s honest replies. She knew that all my attention was focused on her and that there was nowhere else that I would rather be than eating lunch at Olive Garden with my sweet child. Those lunches became our standing date.
Somewhere hidden between the lettuce leaves of my salad, the kidney beans in her minestrone soup, the chocolate cake and strawberry cheesecake there was a secret ingredient that made our bond and love for each other grow stronger.
Even though the strawberry cheesecake at Olive Garden is absolutely delicious, obviously the best dessert they offer can’t be purchased. Who would have ever known the sweet surprise that those relaxing Saturday afternoon hours had to offer. The love and laughter shared left lasting memories that will always hold a special place in my heart.