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Winning the Rat Race

I’ve spent the past 11 years working part-time as a waitress in a beautiful historic hotel in downtown Denver.  I’m not exactly slinging burgers and fries… I serve very expensive high tea and scones to Denver’s elite in the most fabulous lobby you’ve ever seen, while a pianist plays beautiful music in the background, all while wearing a pretty black dress, pearls and an apron.  It feels a little Downton Abby, but it’s a waitressing job, nonetheless.

Some people are very confused by my life.

And that’s okay, it is kind of a conundrum.  I would venture to say that most Catholic school moms are not waitresses, like me.  But I would also venture to say that most waitresses don’t hold a master’s degree, like me.  I am a little out of place in both places but for the most part nobody really minds. And, as Dr. Suess would say, those that mind don’t matter.

I’ve had big jobs, big titles and big paychecks in my “pre-tea” life.  None of them fulfilled me.  I didn’t want more work and more stress—what I wanted was more simplicity.  I wanted to be able to do something outside the home that brought me contentment.

And I can honestly say that this work of service has been a source of great joy for me.

I have met so many wonderful friends through my work—people I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.  I now have friends from Somalia, Senegal, Moldova, Ethiopia and Turkey, just to name a few.  These are the people through whom Christ has chosen to reveal himself to me.  I have encountered Him in a way I never thought possible through my friendships with these immigrants.

It has been a beautiful revealing of His grace and mercy to hear the harrowing stories of how my friends came to this place and what they had to give up to be here.  These people have brought such richness to my life that sometimes it’s for them alone that I continue to hold on to this little job after all these years.

My life at home keeps getting busier and my kids schedules are becoming ever more full.  And I worry that as they grow older that they will have a stigma around having a mom who is a waitress.  The weight of their potential shame is something I carry around with me everywhere.

This little job is one of the most beautiful things I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of.  I know it can’t last forever, but for now I remain joyfully and victoriously underemployed.

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Kristen Hamill

Kristen Hamill teaches Natural Family Planning in Colorado with her husband, John. In addition to raising their four young children and working part time in a tearoom, Kristen teaches Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and is an avid runner, skier and healthy living enthusiast.

3 thoughts on “Winning the Rat Race”

  1. This is beautiful, Kristen! Thank you for sharing.

    Regarding any stigma you worry your kids might face, I refer you back to the Dr. Seuss line you quoted–those who mind don’t matter! Your kids will love you and be proud of you for all that you are and all you have done for them. What job is more important than the one you’re already excelling at–mommy!!

    My mom was a single mom and worked as a forklift operator. I never faced stigma for my mom’s socioeconomic status, nor did I ever care because what mattered most to me was not what my mom did to feed, shelter, and clothe us, but what she gave that no fancy title or degree could give–her unending and unconditional love. It is cliche, but it’s true–you can’t put a price on your mama or her love.

    My mom has been gone for 14 1/2 years now. Whatever she did for a living is nothing compared to the lifelong, intangible gifts she gave us–strength, compassion, and love. I know you are giving the same to your kids.

    Love you!


  2. There should be no shame in being a waitress. One of the hallmarks of really great people is that they treat everyone the same. I have relatives who drive trucks, are butchers, worked in factories, and were farm workers, as well as relatives who were judges, doctors, lawyers, and all sorts of other professionals. Your kids need to learn that there is no shame in any job. You may be teaching them a great lesson in how to value others regardless of their status. What really matters is their love of Jesus and the way they follow him. Love your job! It sounds like fun and it sounds like it works with your family situation.

  3. A manager once commented that he had a hard time believing the number and variety of jobs on an applicant’s resume. A woman? How old? LOL Nope, truth IS stranger than fiction….the “career path” of women, especially Moms’ these days is a study in unexpected variety. It’s crazy! But God draws straight with crooked lines…so hoping you can enjoy your wild and crazy ride as a woman of the 20’s.


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