Learning Curves

Balancing Running a Business and Family Responsibilities: No More Guilt

There is life before, during and after work. The cleaning industry is extremely competitive so I made the decision early-on to be available at a moment’s notice 24 hours a day. But that comes with a, sometimes, heavy price. But this is a burden that I, really, don’t mind.

When my children were young I worked two full-time jobs and rarely had the opportunity to interact with them. That price was the guilt I suffered from not attending school functions such as PTA, school plays, band concerts and, later, sports events. My eldest son, now 35, still reminds me of how I “abandoned” him and placed work over family.

That son dropped out of school in his junior year of high school, is unemployed, unemployable and truly believes the government owes him. He is bi-polar and uses that as an excuse for everything. Somehow, I believe, he blames me for making him bi-polar by not being available to him as much as he would have liked me to. Yes, I do feel a tremendous guilt for not being at those events but, as a parent with several mouths to feed and bills to pay, I could see the big picture and placed emphasis on financial responsibilities.

As a teacher I had after school obligations and my son was insanely jealous of my compulsory attendance to monthly school dances, sporting events on Thursdays and Saturdays and U.I.L. events. I was not present at his events so why should I be available for events at the school where I worked? It’s not easy to explain to a child whose only responsibilities were to go to school, make good grades, complete homework assignments and perform a few simple chores.

Call me an enabler, and perhaps I am, but he is now 35 and he and his wife and six children live with me. Why? As I stated earlier, he is unemployable. But I, as a grandparent, cannot allow my grandchildren to suffer as a result of their father. And with that said I will now get to the point of this blog article.
A few years ago (year 17 of teaching) I started planning my nearing retirement. Knowing that I would not be able to simply sit around the house all day without going stir-crazy or plant a garden (I don’t have a green thumb) I formed a cleaning company. I secured a couple of contracts, bought insurance and made sure to have all of the legal things in place. At the time there were only four grandchildren.
You have probably heard the nursery rhyme of The Little Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe. Well in October 2020 I retired from teaching and dedicated myself to running my company full-time. But now there are six grandchildren and many contracts. Because there are so many grandchildren I often take the three-year-old with me on cleaning jobs to take some of the burden off my daughter-in-law.
Honestly, I enjoy his company and he is my favorite. But taking him with me does bring some setbacks. He usually waits until the floors are wet and the toilets have been cleaned and sanitized before announcing that he has to go potty. He can be a pain at times but I cherish our moments together. I now have the time to devote that I didn’t have when his father was a child.

Yesterday, while cleaning a church, he wanted to show me that he knew what to do. He wanted to be helpful so he ran upstairs to turn on lights but accidently pulled the fire alarm! Suddenly lights were flashing, the alarm was deafening and the San Antonio Fire Department showed up. Embarrassing does not begin to describe how I felt when I had to call the office manager. The fire department was able to silence the alarm but needed a key to insert in the fire-pull station. The manager could not find one so S.A.F.D. had to chop into the wall and break the pipe to shut it off. The church business manager was so nice and understanding about the situation.
Balancing work and family responsibilities is nothing new. Anybody that works, and has a family, experiences balancing of the two. What I have learned from my experiences may be different from others’ but I now carry pull-ups and will make sure to take a fully-charged tablet (and charger) on future cleanings to keep him occupied and entertained. He starts pre-k in a few months and In a few years his life will be filled with other diversions. His “Bopaw” will make certain to attend all school events of all the grandchildren. There will be no guilt this time around.

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