Mom’s a “Non-Essential” Employee :: Explaining to My Kids What That Means


“Mom, if your job isn’t essential, why do you do it?” When my gym closed for the quarantine, my kids struggled to see why I was working at all if my job wasn’t important. Ouch!

non-essential employee - but essential to many!

Hi! My name is Andrea, and I’m an employee at a non-essential business. That stings to say. It stung when my gym was closed and I was furloughed. It stung when I heard people say that they felt like gyms were “nasty places.”

But My Job Is Essential to Me

The truth is, I love my job and it IS essential to me and to my family financially. If you’ve been to one of my exercise classes, then you know I clean my studio like it was my own kitchen! I took it personally: I cried for a few days, and I felt depressed. But it wasn’t personal. The best employees treat their jobs as if they are personal while knowing that they are not, in fact, personal.

Perhaps you had to stop working, too. Maybe your business was shut down leaving your family struggling. Maybe your pain was amplified every time someone made a comment about how they wish they could sit on their butt while the essential employees kept the world running. I wanted to write a post for you.

As a mom, I was embarrassed to hear someone tell my child that her mom’s job was non-essential. I work really hard to help my children see the importance of doing every job to the very best of their ability. I never talk bad about my boss, the other employees, or the facility because I love and cherish my job. If you know how hard I worked to be there, then you get it. I was raised to respect everyone and to do my best. Adding the title “non-essential” to my job was not going to change that at all. 

Eating Humble Pie and Looking Out for Others

So what do we do? I will tell you what I decided to do: I took the giant piece of humble pie handed to me, and I ate it. Every bite. I explained to my children:

  • how the economy needs every single business,
  • that people need jobs,
  • that our family couldn’t survive without the benefits provided by my amazing gym, and
  • that I personally believe that people’s longevity and quality of life depends on their health habits!

I also talked with my children about living during a pandemic and tried very hard to look at the bigger picture. Closing businesses that promote social contact was vital to our own health as well as a way to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

What Freedom Does and Doesn’t Mean

I talked with my children about our freedom and how that doesn’t mean we say, “Screw you,” and do whatever the heck we want. It means that we are a unified people–promoting the general welfare–with a democratic government that WE elected. Our due diligence is to trust that they have our best interest at heart and obey the law.

Everyone is Essential to Someone

My sweet daughter decided to send all the non-essential business owners and employees in our life a note to remind them that they are essential to somebody. People sent me messages, too.

I was asked to lead a workout with a small (socially distant) group in a large parking lot, people left random cards in my mailbox, and someone paid a bill just to be nice. What a beautiful reminder that our job title is not where our focus and worth should lie. It lies in the people we impact through our jobs every day. This is something I want my children to know and see me live out.

I’m not saying that I’m thankful my gym was closed. I am so grateful I was finally allowed to go back to work today. If there is a silver lining (and I do always try to find one), it’s been the opportunity to show my children how to do their best, to live life gracefully, humbly, joyfully, and have eyes that see how everything they do creates a ripple. Good or bad, we are all in this together.

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Andrea was born and raised in Birmingham in the house that her parents still live in! A private school kid, she married her Highschool sweetheart, Robby, & they both graduated from Auburn University! Immediately after graduation, they moved to California where Andrea worked as an RN. Cali was IT! Backpacking, running, climbing, weekend trips, the big city... you name it, it was everything they wanted. Andrea & Robby were headed in the career direction of their dreams BUT THEN Clara was born! Suddenly, everything, I mean, EVERYTHING changed! Robby & Andrea knew Birmingham was the only place they wanted to raise a family! Now 16 years of marriage, 3 beautiful kids, 4 cats, 2 hamsters & a dog later, Birmingham is still the best place to raise their growing family! Andrea has worked full time, part time & not at all depending on what her family needs. She has homeschooled, co-oped & private schooled her kids. She hates cooking & laundry, loves crafts & cleaning, plays in the dirt, runs races of all distances, teaches group fitness classes at Life Time and adores every minute of life with her family! She screws up a ton and asks forgiveness, she cries & dances with her kids. She mothers her children with honesty and a lot of help from Jesus. She can’t wait to share life’s ever changing journey that is motherhood with you and build each other up in this beautiful Birmingham community!!