Unemployed at Labor Day

I am a writer.

While millions are celebrating a respite from work today, I approach the three month mark since I’ve been employed.

No, I’m neither a lazy bastard or living off a trust fund. I was laid off in June from the local newspaper I’ve worked at for three years. It was a small paper but we routinely scooped the larger daily thanks to persistence and good sources. About a year after I arrived, the other reporters left for greener pastures in other markets as the economy worsened and advertisers started to bail or fold up their own businesses. I was the last one left and am somewhat stuck to this market for family reasons.

It is hard to believe and harder to accept that I am unable to do a job I am good at. A job I loved. A job where I made a difference.

I am a writer – an unemployed writer.

You hear about the people who get laid off from a company they spent years working at. The job had become their identity and once separated from that identity, they feel worthless and empty. I never understood that until now. I’d finally found a job which I loved, a job which had come to define me. I enjoy telling people’s stories, I enjoy telling the stories that usually go untold.

I am a writer.

I invested countless hours perfecting my craft, reading good writing, learning from people who helped me become an expert at my beat. Oftentimes, I worked late into the night, not coming home until both my wife and toddler son were already long asleep. I frequently missed spending quality time with my wife and son. I didn’t see a problem with it, as I felt that my job required it.
Since I lost my job in June, I’ve come to question my choices. I should have been more dedicated to my family than to a job where I was a dispensable commodity. I knew my wife wasn’t happy about my long hours, but she loves me and she knows I loved the job. As for my son, he is young, so I figured he didn’t notice my absence. However, I can now see that I was wrong.

I’ve spent a lot more time since my layoff and I can tell the difference it has made. It’s a look in his eye, a dimple in his smile, the way he hugs me and lays his head on my shoulder. There is a stronger bond between us than three months ago.

So, while I don’t know what my next job will be or whether I will get a chance to continue my career as a writer, I do know one thing. My next job will not come at the expense of time with my son. I will find a way to maintain this bond.

Yes, I’m a writer.

But, first I’m a father.

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13 Responses to Unemployed at Labor Day

  1. Writer Dad says:

    Good job, Blogger Dad. Everything for a reason. I intentionally left my job, where I was working sixty hours a week, because I didn’t want to miss out on those early years. I’m sure you’re a great father, and no matter how you butter your bread, you’ll take a lesson that will help to shape your future.

  2. “I am a father, godddammit.” feels more powerful than declaring I am a writer.

    I almost missed the lesson in this entry because I wanted to comment on your anthem-like sentence.

  3. Lance says:

    Many times, we can find positives in the negative. In this case, you’ve found the value in fatherhood – which is way more important than your job. I wish you well in your journey to find the right mix, that which allows you to write while also being the father you want to be. I think you have a glimpse of what that might look like.

  4. Blogger Dad says:

    Writer Dad – Yeah, 60 hour weeks are killers. I’m sure we will both find the right balance in our lives.

    Matthew – Thank you. Maybe I should’ve ended the post with ‘goddammit!’ In fact, that could be a fun way to end every post.

    Lance – Thank you. My first instinct was usually to find the negative in the positive (what can go wrong so I can confront it head on), so this is new for me, but I’m adapting.

  5. Dave Fowler says:

    Blogger Dad,

    Just like you I’ve come to realise the value of being at home with my children, because I know I’ll never get these years back again.

    If I can at all help it, I won’t go back to what is traditionally regarded as work. I need to find a way of making a living from home and bringing some money into the house.

    You are a writer.

    I don’t know what I am yet, goddammit, but I’m quite excited about finding out.

    I really loved this post.


  6. Hey there Blogger Dad, just discovered you through Writer Dad and really really enjoyed your piece.
    I really do like peeking into a dad’s perspective on parenthood – something that very often gets brushed aside as a kind of ‘oh, he’s only the dad’ thing.
    Being in the journo industry myself I can totally relate to your love of your job but sometimes these things happen and it’s the push you need to finally stop and take stock.
    I’m so glad you rediscovered your gorgeous little boy and I really do look forward to reading more. X

  7. Interesting post. You will be an awesome dad.

  8. Blogger Dad says:

    Dave- thanks, and by the way, and welcome to the blogosphere. I look forward to your posts.

    Tara – Thank you for stopping by. I will be certain to check out your work. As for peeking in on a dad’s perspective, I hope what you see doesn’t scare you. Too much. Thank you for the kind words.

    Half Man – thank you and I hope so.

  9. Jason says:

    Holy god, Dave. Yes, you ARE a writer. This is so powerful, so true – what you’ve written. You’re the best journalist I ever had the honor to work with. Yes, you are a writer.

  10. Blogger Dad says:

    Jason – thanks for stopping by. Thank you for being there and always knowing when to say the right things. And the feeling is mutual.

  11. Love that picture! Have you ever thought about freelancing? Email me if you want to discuss it. :D

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