I have worked since I was 16…..

imagePicture: me, posing in the mirror my first day at that clothing store freshman year.  I remember seeing someone else on campus wear khakis with a denim shirt so that’s what I wore.

I know, I know, many of us got our first job when we turned 16. At 16, not only was I working and an elite athlete, I was also a mother…..a mother!

20 years later, this is the first time I have complete control over my pay checks and earned income.

My first job was at the local Dairy Queen. I remember the interview, I remember serving customers. I remember my first paycheck. I remember it so well because I immediately had to turn it over in order to help provide for my son. I didn’t open a checking account. I had no opportunity to save anything. No knowledge about investing anything. Not even a chance to buy me a pair of shoes. My son needed pampers, milk, daycare and it was my duty to contribute to his care at home. I signed the back of it and handed it over.

I remember getting dropped off at work by my track coach after practice. I remember watching others go hang out while I served them burgers and ice cream. Every check I received, I remember handing it over.

I was blessed with the opportunity to use my athletic abilities in college. Not my first, second, or third choice BUT, it was an opportunity. Two hours away, I left my son behind to be cared for by my loving, supportive family. I cried that first week. As a matter of fact, I caught a ride back home four days after being dropped off. When I returned, I went for a walk. I walked downtown and found a job at a clothing store. In between classes I would work for an hour or two and I’d often return to close the store so others could go home. I remember my first check. I remember it because I signed the back of it and sent it home. You see, my son was MY responsibility and I never wanted to hear anyone remind me of everything they were doing for me. I wanted to do as much as I could.

You see, my dad dropped me off at school with $100 in rolls of quarters. That was supposed to last me the whole semester. I sacrificed and pretended like I didn’t want to go to this party or that party. I used my meal money for track meets as “extra” spending money. I sometimes used my discount to send my little cousins home random things, hoping it would help family forgive me or at least love me.

I remember how proud I was when I walked downtown and opened my first checking account. I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t understand anything. I walked out of there with a credit card and thought I had free money. (Yep, it eventually rolled off) 😂😂

The Summer after my freshman year I went home and worked at the local steakhouse. I can’t understand why that wasn’t enough but at 19 years old, I was working two jobs. I eventually worked the worst job of my life, at a local factory. I itched and scratched myself until that bell rang and I always promised myself I would never return home for fear of having to work in a place like that. Within weeks, I had another job. I became a softball umpire. I only remember turning over money I made to help care for my son. I still don’t remember buying myself any shoes, a shirt, a dress, nothing.

At some point in college, I was working at the store in between classes then attending track practice. After track practice, I headed to a local gym for my second job. When the gym closed, I headed to my 3rd shift position at Denny’s. You see, I have NEVER been afraid of work and taking care of my responsibilities. When my son finally moved with me to Raleigh, he went with me to work at Denny’s, sleeping in booths during my shifts. In the morning, we would go home, shower and head to school and work. Again, I have NEVER been afraid of work.

I waited tables until I was 30! No matter what I did full time, it was never enough to handle all of my responsibilities and occasionally take my son to a Kids Eat Free restaurant for the night. I tried to make him fit in as much as possible.

Two and three jobs became the norm for me because I never could seem to catch up , chase dreams, and put food in my son’s mouth. We never qualified for any assistance. After so many years of this, it seemed like I did a few things right. My son left for college and I was finally down to one job. That’s hilarious because I still couldn’t buy those shoes at an actual store.

While my move to Maryland was about love and a wonderful position, it was also about being able to breathe. I was always going to work but for once, I had someone that was going to take care of me for a change. To allow me to breathe. No matter how many times I asked to come home to breathe, I never had the opportunity. For once, I thought I would get that. After all, that’s what was presented that was possible.

In the last year, I have been a substitute teacher, an Art tutor, a Lego instructor, a medical records filer, a coach, and a packer in a damn book factory, all while trying to build my business. You see, I have NEVER been afraid of work. No matter what some may say, Cherron will do what she needs to do to make sure whatever house she is in is first priority. No matter how many times I was told “you need a real job” I knew that if I kept working hard, I’d never have to get another job period.

Guess what happened today? UPS brought me some shoes and a few outfits I ordered….Why? …because for once and finally, I can take care of myself and not have to save my money for anyone else’s rainy day……and I quickly removed the tags so I’ll never feel bad or have the urge to return a thing.

Peace!

 

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13 thoughts on “I have worked since I was 16…..

  1. Love this! I remember meeting you and your so our freshman year. I remember thinking “how in the world can she stay while her baby goes back home?” But not three years after that when I became a mom, I got it and I still get it. I understand the sacrifices that you made to ensure that your son was taken care of. It’s hard…I still struggle…I choose to buy for my son than for myself. I can’t tell you the last time I brought me a pair a shoes or a new outfit BUT I can tell you when the next LaBron’s drop or a new pair of Jordon’s( this weekend btw☺️). I admire you and respect you more than ever before. You inspire me. I know that my work with my son isn’t in vain…it’s tough…but we are halfway there! It’s so good to see someone where I am now understand exactly what I am going through…thanks girl!!!

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    1. Chile, mine just glad to have shoes on his feet, always was happy with the simplest things. Yeah, you do what you have to do for your kids, hoping they grow up and understand your sacrifices. Leaving him behind was the hardest thing I ever did. I’m still not sure it was the right decision but I can’t turn back time. Thank you for your words and for supporting!

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  2. I love your story and determination! All those times passing you on campus, speaking because I knew you went to school with my siblings….I never knew your story! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Work!! That’s been me since I was 15…a babysitting job in Chatmoss with a swimming pool…awesome, right?!?! No, those kids were such spoiled brats, it was miserable! 16…YES…the best job EVER…Winn Dixie cashier!!! I LOVED it!! I worked their until college. Worked so hard to get “Cashier of the Month”…never happened and I don’t understand why?! And might I say I lived working at a grocery store!!! But that doesn’t matter, I was working! I went to Radford and wanted to work. I got a job making the famous “Crusties” at a local restaurant from 10 PM until 3 AM, but unfortunately, I had a psycho boyfriend that paced the bay window of the restauraunt watching my every move….hence, making “Crusties”!! So, I left that job and got a job at Radford Food Court! I would work at 6 AM until I started my student teaching and classes and when I was done with classes, I would work until I got out until 9 PM. I graduated and took a one month break of not working. And then…waitressing at Texas Steakhouse while getting a summer school job during the day! Next thing I know, I am a TEACHER!! Whooo…and then I thought I worked!! 17 years later, I have worked, struggled, trialed to help our children of America…and let me tell ya’, it’s been a struggle!!! I LOVE my school children. However, I see a lot of situations when I am saying, “I need to be this kid’s mama!” That’s a job, there…the school system is not sad so much….I see so many family units that are sad and uncalled for…therefore, my job is to be the best “mom/teacher” for our future!! I have always wanted to go back to the grocery store and work…because I LOVED working at Winn Dixie…but MY job is for these children…that don’t have the support they need. I will always be there for them!! Sorry…vent over…loves and hugs always!!

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  4. And Cherron!! I respect all of your work ethics and everything that you have prevailed through!!! You are a warrior and a hero! It was YOU that got me venting about working!!! LOL!!! I couldn’t even imagine what you did being a young mom and preservering all you did!! I love you, girl!! YOU OVERCOME!!! 🙂

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