I left engineering for a couple of years in the late 1980’s. My husband and I started up an electric sign company after we moved to South Carolina. It was an opportune time to work a business. My engineering salary kept our household afloat and provided start up funding. He did the sales and installations.
After a few years, the business built up to allow us to purchase land and erect our own shop. It was nice to move out of the storage unit that had become cramped and to move the overflow out of our house. More of my off time was spent keeping up with billing and receipts.
My interest in being self-employed also piqued. By the time I quit my day job, I had my professional engineering license and my first son had arrived. My work position and responsibilities changed when I returned from maternity leave. It seemed like perfect timing to make the leap from the corporate world.
We stockpiled my salary for six months and lived off the profits from the business. It worked and in February 1987, I tendered my resignation. The next year, we grew the business and my second son arrived. I thought we were on our way. I would be able to spend more time with my young sons and gradually stay at home while they grew.
It’s funny how things work out. The divorce was final in 1989 and I considered my options. The dream of being a stay-at-home mom died. The divorce decree disallowed any means of financial windfall and meant I would need to return to work.
We may be resistant to change and think the risk is just too great. I gradually accepted the change to my marital status and adapted my dreams to my new circumstances. Taking on my new career in aerospace was fraught with nerves and the fear of balancing work with my new single mother status caused me to be on the brink of an anxiety attack on more than one occasion. Still, I was one of the lucky ones.
The salary I made in my new engineering job paid the bills and allowed me to spend precious time with my children. I’ve had numerous friends who supported their households with less than a college education and I watched as these brave women worked multiple jobs to keep their family afloat. It wasn’t easy, but they prevailed.
Stay in school. Get the degree. Get the license. You never know when you’ll need it.