Surviving and Thriving as a Single Mom
There can be no doubt that the struggles of a single mother go beyond that of a mother with a partner that can lend support. Read the true-life story of Harmony Senior Accountant, Tammy, and her strength to overcome.
Never once in my young life did I think that I would end up being a single parent at the age of 20. We were supposed to be together forever, that was the plan—but sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.
At the young age of 20, I was a single mom with two beautiful babies. I was living with my parents and we were lucky to have them. My Mom would watch my kids while I attended the local community college and worked towards obtaining my Associates in Accounting. With that accomplished, I was determined to continue my education and was accepted into the University of South Florida (USF). In August of 2001, with mixed emotions of trepidation and excitement, I made the move from the small town of Lake Placid, Florida to the big city of Tampa. My parents would care for my kids until I got settled.
After two months and despite protests from my Mom, I was able to bring my kids to officially live with me in Tampa. I would work during the day at McDonald’s and at night my younger brother, who also attended USF, would watch my children while I attended USF at night.
The more I learned about accounting the clearer it became that a career in accounting was what I would aspire to. With grit and determination, I secured my first official accounting clerk job with a local CPA firm and was therefore able to leave my job at McDonald’s. I wanted to give my kids the same opportunities that my parents had given to me, so as they became more active in after school and weekend activities, I became a part time student. With little sleep I was able to make my kids happy.
Flash forward to September 2005, it was Labor Day weekend and I had just received some of the worst news of my life. My Mom had passed away during the early morning hours of September 5th. This wasn’t supposed to happen so soon. She was supposed to be here for my graduation, for her grandkids graduation and to see the birth of her great grandkids. But God needed her more. The following weeks were nothing but a blur and I made the decision to withdraw from USF to focus my attention on raising my children.
I was hired by Bloomin’ Brands, Outback Steakhouse, in their corporate office. My new job allowed me to have the perfect work-life balance. I was able to attend every sporting event, awards ceremony and most importantly, parent-teacher conference. In August of 2013, thanks to academic and athletic scholarships, this very proud single mom of two drove her son all the way to Greensburg, Pennsylvania to attend Seton Hill University. The following August, I drove my daughter to Florida A&M University (FAMU) where she received over $30,000 in scholarships. I was a parent on cloud nine and I had other parents asking me what my secret was to raising amazing kids. I would tell them, “Be a parent and not your child’s friend.”
Officially an empty nester, I started changing careers, now wanting a job that could provide me with more financial stability. I landed at HSN in Saint Petersburg, across the bridge from Tampa. I was not worried about the drive; I didn’t have anyone waiting for me at home. The job turned out to be not what I had hoped so yet again I scoured the employment sites for a new one. Before I even started putting my resume out into the job market, I received a call from a corporate recruiter. I had been contacted about a job, that would bring me back across the bridge, to work for a fast-growing healthcare staffing company. I agreed to the interview.
In December of 2015, I had my first interview with my potential new manager and a VP of the company. I left the interview feeling a little doubtful but a few days later I got a call from the recruiter asking if I could meet with the CEO. I was nervous but I decided to be myself. Although I had not completed my bachelors, I felt confident in my accounting abilities. With my spirits high, I went to my interview with Harmony Healthcare CEO, Christian Brown.
I must have impressed Mr. Brown, as here I am three years later as Senior Accountant at Harmony Healthcare. Not only have I gained financial stability, but I was able to continue to provide support to my kids so that they could achieve their educational aspirations. My daughter graduated from FAMU last December with her degree in Pre-K/Early Childhood Education. She is currently teaching 2nd grade at an elementary school in Quincy, Florida. My son is still pursuing his degree and hopes to graduate soon with a degree in mathematics from Seton Hill University.
To all single parents out there, I would like to say, never give up with moving forward in your life and don’t let the little things get in your way of helping you or your family achieve your dreams. The struggles for single parents are real but as my story shows, you can survive and thrive as a single mom.
Article written by guest blogger Tammy Hawthorne. Tammy is Senior Accountant for Harmony Healthcare.