When I look into my daughter’s eyes

On February 2, 2011, at 8:14 a.m., the greatest thing in my life occurred: the birth of my daughter.

Alaiyah (Pronounced “UH-LAY-UH”) Rose Johnson came into the world.  The nurses took her to be cleaned, and then they asked me to come over to where they were and to cut the umbilical chord.  As my newborn daughter was wiggling around, getting used to the outside environment, she briefly opened her eyes.  I was the first person she saw…DADDY, the first man she will fall in love with, and the man who will ultimately be responsible for her care.

(Michael S. Williamson/WASHINGTON POST)

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However, what Alaiyah didn’t know is that I was a month then into my unemployment.  I was living off of my severance, but felt comfortable that I would get a new job quickly in order to support my wife, and now my daughter.

It’s now July 25, 2011, and I am still unemployed.  I have only had two phone calls and interviews for positions.…THAT’S IT!!!  In March 2011, I interviewed with a prominent company to work in their government relations division.  They liked me well enough to bring me back for two more interviews after that.  I was told that I was a finalist, and then….SILENCE!!!  I didn’t hear a thing from this company until this month, after I contacted a senior company official about my status.  They contacted me a few days later to tell me that they decided to go with an internal candidate. It was the only prospect that seemed promising, and now…NOTHING!!!

My daughter is an absolute joy.  However, there have been a few days, where I look into her eyes, and cried.

Alaiyah generally just stares back, not being able to comprehend what is going on with her father.  I cry, because I don’t know how I am going to pay the rent.  I don’t know how I am going to pay my car note.  I don’t know how I am going to pay for day care, her formula, her clothes, etc.

My wife is still working, but her salary isn’t able to support all of us.  When I worked on the Hill, my salary paid for the big expenses of our household.  Now, my weeks are full of worry, asking the same questions…“WHY?” and “HOW?”  My daughter depends on me, and I can’t provide for her.

I look into Alaiyah’s eyes, crying, thinking that I am the worse father in the world. My wife is a wonderful source of strength and support, and reassures me that I am a good father. However, I unfortunately don’t share her confidence.

So … I look into my daughter’s eyes once again, and before I feel worse, my daughter looks at me and smiles, as if to say, “Daddy … I love you.”  I then wipe the tears from my face, kiss her cherub-like face, and gather up the strength to push forward another day.

Marc Johnson, a 36-year-old former Hill staffer from Ashburn, Va., has been unemployed for six months. Read more about him here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.

 
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