“What will I do now?” wondered Catherine after her husband left her.
The mother of three met her husband when she was in college and left her studies because she became pregnant with her firstborn. Soon, she married her husband and had two more children, not knowing that her life would get worse in the future.
Ten years later, her husband left her. Catherine had stayed home all her life to care for her children, but now she had to go out and earn money to support her household. With no work experience and no professional degree, her chances of being hired for a well-paying position were almost nil.
One day, after dropping her children off at school, Catherine found a store that was looking for a worker with no experience requirements. She walked in and management hired her on the spot after learning of her circumstances.
The single mother was happy and worked at the store for a few months until she realized her children were getting older and she needed more money to cover all her needs.
“Should I ask for a raise?” she thought.
Catherine was sure she wouldn’t get a raise, but even if she did, it wouldn’t be enough to meet her family’s growing needs.
The next day, Catherine was walking home from her shift at the store when she saw a construction site. I think I can work here, she thought and approached the manager.
“Hi, are you hiring?” she asked.
“Yes, we need staff,” the manager looked Catherine over from head to toe. “Are you sure you can work here? This trade requires a lot of hard work.”
Catherine loved working with her father in his workshop as a child. They often did projects in the backyard, so she knew how hard it was to work with her hands in construction.
“Yeah, sure, I can do that,” she told the manager and signed a contract to work a 12-hour shift.
The money she would make working here was more than her current salary, so she quit her job at the store and worked full time in construction.
However, Catherine kept her new job a secret from her children. She thought they would be embarrassed if they found out that their mother worked as a construction worker. Even Catherine was embarrassed to work there, but she had no choice. She wanted money to provide for her children’s needs.
Every morning, Catherine would wake up and prepare breakfast for her children before dropping them off at school. Then she would go to the construction site and work there until her shift was over. She would pick up heavy bricks over her shoulder to carry them from one part of the site to the other.
Arriving home every night, Catherine felt tired and never had enough energy to spend time with her children. She only asked them about their progress in school on weekends.
On one of those weekends, Catherine’s son, Pedro, told her about an upcoming contest at school that required mothers to participate. In the contest, the students would wear blindfolds and would have to recognize their mothers without looking at them.
“Sounds great, Pedro!” exclaimed Catherine. “It makes me want to join in!”.
“I’m not going there with you, Mom,” Pedro replied.
“What?” expressed Katherine, frowning. “But why?”
What her son said next was something Catherine wasn’t prepared to hear. She never imagined her son would say something like that to her.
“Mom, they would have to touch your hands to recognize you, and everyone would look at them,” Peter explained. “Your hands are so ugly, hard, and rough,” he added.
Catherine looked at her hands and rubbed them together. She could feel that her skin had really hardened from her hard work, but she didn’t want to tell her son about it.
“I will be very embarrassed when my classmates see your rough hands,” Peter said. “I won’t attend the event.”
Catherine felt her cheeks flush after hearing her son’s excuse for not participating in the competition. She felt terrible but couldn’t say anything in her own defense. She had to keep quiet and keep working on the construction site to make ends meet.
A few weeks later, Pedro was walking home with his friends when something unexpected caught his attention. As his friends were talking among themselves, he stopped and watched his mother working at a construction site near his home.
Peter’s eyes widened when he saw his mother carrying heavy bricks from one end of the site to the other. She wore no gloves to protect her hands and had no machinery to help her. She was mixing cement with her bare hands and even operating a drill.
The boy asked his friends to leave without him so he could stay behind. Pedro regretted being rude to his mother the other day and understood why her hands were not soft and beautiful like other women’s. She couldn’t afford expensive manicures after work because she had to save money for her children.
At the end of Catherine’s shift, Peter saw that her boss was giving her money. Quickly, she slipped the cash into her wallet and headed for the nearby toy store.
Pedro followed his mother and watched her buy the toy cart he had been asking for. She also bought two dolls for her sisters and then stopped at a restaurant to buy dinner.
While Catherine waited for her order at the restaurant, Pedro hurried home so his mother wouldn’t know he had been following her. On his way back, he kept thinking about how he would apologize to his mother because he felt embarrassed for disrespecting her.
Later that evening, when Pedro and his sisters finished eating, Catherine gave them the toys she had bought earlier. When she handed the toy cart to Peter, she told him she was sorry.
“You were right. I have to watch my hands,” Catherine smiled.
“Please don’t be mad. I’ll take some time and go get a manicure this week, I promise!”.
Peter burst into tears after hearing his mother’s apology and told her that she didn’t need to apologize.
“I’m sorry I was rude to you, Mom. I know why your hands are so rough and hard,” he said.
Catherine looked at him in confusion, but before she could ask anything, Peter told her that he saw her working at the construction site.
“I know how hard you work for us, Mom. I’m so sorry for what I said that day,” the boy cried. “Please forgive me.”
Catherine was surprised but relieved that she didn’t have to keep her work a secret. Immediately, she hugged her son and told him not to worry about anything.
“I love you and your sisters more than anyone else in this world!” she said and kissed her son’s cheek.