What my Dad’s Job as a Welder Taught Me

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As a child, my dad changed jobs often. He was never satisfied and came home miserable every night. I saw work as a terrible thing to have to do in life, but I understood that it had to be done.

We didn’t have a computer growing up, because back in the day that was an expense we couldn’t afford. I thought I could be a teacher because it was the only profession that I saw people who could be happy.

But back to my dad and the lessons I learned from his job when I was young. He would travel 45 minutes to get to work, put in his time, and come home at about 5:00 at night. He was tired and often times very unhappy. He would get laid off often due to the union and strikes that were going on. At which point he would have to go to the food pantry to make sure we had enough to eat. I still remember canned spinach and how awful that tasted at age 4.

I could tell that my dad worked hard, but it was really hard for him to get a raise. When he did get a raise it would be a quarter an hour.

I didn’t start using his experience to learn from until I found myself in the same predicament. I was putting in the daily grind in a school in the middle of Milwaukee. I went in early, worked with 32 kids, (of which 25 of them had no interest in learning), and stayed late organizing my classroom and getting lesson plans ready to go for the next day.

I soon began not liking the daily grind. I would teach, come home, sleep, and do it all again the next day. On weekends I would spend countless hours correctly papers. (Anyone who doesn’t appreciate what our teachers do in the school system needs to spend one day in their shoes to see how truly hard they work.)

I began to reflect on my dad’s situation. He worked a certain amount of hours and got paid. He wasn’t happy. It got me thinking. What could I do and love what I did for a job, never to worry about being let go or laid off like he was? I started dreaming about tutoring online. People would tell me that it was a very impersonal way to teach kids and tell me to go back to the school system. But why would I return when I truly wasn’t happy. That is ridiculous. On top of that I had 3 small young children and I wanted to be a mom that was present in their lives.

So, after trial an error with a few other businesses I started my own online tutoring company. I got my first clients by volunteering my time, because I had no idea if Skype would really work to do what I wanted to do. After finding out how awesome it was, I began doing what I love more than anything else in the world full time. I loved my dad and everything that he did to make sure that we had food on the table. But his unhappiness literally killed him. He passed away in 2001. He dreamed about retirement, never to make it there.

I can’t imagine retiring from what I love to do more than anything else in the world. I love teaching kids and they love learning from me. What kinds of lessons have you learned from the work lives of your parents? Have they made an impact on you? Are you following in their footsteps or breaking the mold? It is o.k. to do what makes you truly happy. Your peace and happiness are a direct result of it.

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2 comments
  1. Hi Joanne,

    Thanks for raising the issue of how hard teachers work, how unhappy a job it can be, how much time it takes up and how so many pupils do not want to learn. I started training and was often up till the small hours and up again before 5 am preparing lessons. I usually spent more time controlling than teaching. I was not alone and it was sad to see a group of enthused workers become more burnt out with time. Expectations were ridiculous, several pages of A4 plans and evaluation for every lesson, electronic resources, schemes of work etc.

    On the other hand the reward helping students through tuition is amazing, as is being able to work different hours.

    Condolences about your father. He sounds like a great man.
    Tom

    • They don’t teach classroom management in school, but it certainly needs to be a priority. Many of us were thrown to the lions. Thank goodness life gives us options and we can chose to make life happen or let it run us down to the ground. Sounds like you have chosen to use your passion in a way that benefits all.

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