Nobody loves like mom. Few are able to sacrifice as much, stand as strong or give as generously. For mother of four Angie Baker, standing strong is getting harder and harder to do.

Nobody loves like mom. Few are able to sacrifice as much, stand as strong or give as generously.

For mother of four Angie Baker, standing strong is getting harder and harder to do.

After leaving behind steady work to stay at home and care for her children – Ashley, 10; Tyler, 8; Colby, 7; and Lucas, 2 – one of which has special needs, the financially stable ground beneath her feet began to crack. The money her family needed to make ends meet wasn’t coming in.

Angie’s husband Shawn took a job driving trucks for a local company, but his salary isn’t enough. They need a second income to keep from sinking.

So Angie Baker, a Navarre, Ohio, resident, chose to look for work again.

Her search has left her empty-handed. Doors of opportunity seem to be locking tight before she has a chance to open them.

With the economy in a downturn, there are few jobs available – even less that fit a mother’s schedule.

The longer she searches, frustration and fear are pushing her closer to the breaking point.

“It’s hard not to lose it in front of my children,” Angie Baker said, letting the tears fall. “It’s hard to look at them and know that I am not giving them everything they deserve. And we try so hard. None of this is their fault, and I feel like they are being punished. I just want to find a way to give them everything they deserve and need.

“This is supposed to be our happily ever after, but it’s not turning out that way.”

Bringing work home

Providing everything children deserve is never easy, but it’s part of mom’s job description. When things get tough, moms get tougher. Driven by an unconditional love, moms use creativity, talent and old-fashioned hard work to provide for their families.

Tuscarawas Township, Ohio, resident Kristen Ramsey dusted off her dreams to help support her family when her husband, James Ramsey, lost his job with the Ford Motor Co.

Over the last several months, James has been laid off, called back to work and laid off again. In the meantime, Kristen Ramsey is paying the bills by selling her handmade jewelry.

“I had taken classes on metal smithing a while ago, so I started selling my jewelry,” she said. “I have been selling a lot of my bracelets and doing a lot of rings lately.”

Turning her husband’s dusty, old workbench into a jewelry studio was one of the best ideas Kristen Ramsey ever had. It allows her to tap creativity and manage schedules. And the money she earns makes a big difference.

In addition to selling her jewelry at local art shows, Kristen Ramsey uses technology to give the business a boost.

“I would have had a much tougher time without the Internet and being able to spread the word that way,” Kristen Ramsey said, noting she uses Facebook to network and Etsy.com to sell her jewelry. “With the Internet you have the opportunities for (your business) to explode. … This kind of thing would not have happened for me 15 years ago.”

Customers around the nation have ordered her rings, bracelets and necklaces from www.earthyexpressions.etsy.com.

Angie Baker admits that she hoped creativity would get the ball rolling on her own photography business, but she hit the financial wall again.

“I find myself constantly taking pictures of the kids and I always have my camera in my hand,” she said. “We kind of, sort of, started a business but I can’t take it any further because I can’t afford a business license.”

Angie Baker said she has spoken with some local photography studios and some are impressed with her industry experience. No one has been able to provide her with any work because of her schedule.

Back in the saddle

Working moms have a lot of different issues to juggle and schedules are just one, according to Pat May, a staffing manager with North Canton, Ohio’s Superior Staffing. Often, parents turn to a child-care provider and that, in turn, may drain financial resources.

For Angie Baker, scheduling is a big thing. Money is tight so every dollar she earns would need to be funneled toward paying bills and buying groceries.

“My biggest hurdle right now is my schedule,” Angie Baker said. “I am afraid to go to work during the day because school is out early which means I have to find a sitter for four kids, which would take away anything that I would earn.”

Angie Baker said her best options are positions that would allow her to work afternoon or midnight shifts, but there aren’t many businesses that are open overnight. Those that are have asked for open availability.

May isn’t surprised that an applicant like Angie would be struggling to find a job tailored to her needs.

“When someone calls and says, ‘I am only available to work ‘mom hours,’ we have to tell them those opportunities are more rare than they are common,” May said. “It’s tough finding employers today that are receptive.”

If working moms turn to family members for child care, May encourages them to develop a plan B and a plan C.

“They need to have the back-up plan,” May said. “Employers … need to make sure that this person (they hire) is going to be reliable.”

If child care and flexible hours aren’t problematic for moms trying to go back to work, the gap in their resumes may cause employers to skip by their application. According to May, when employers look at a resume and see a big break in work experience, it is assumed that the applicant is not up-to-date with job skills. Far from true, it’s still a problem stay-at-home moms have to overcome.

Doing the homework

Angie Baker believes that being at home has helped her develop exactly the kind of skills she needs to stand out in the workforce. She just needs the chance to do it.

“I’ve developed patience, multi-tasking and problem solving hands down,” she said. “I’m always multi-tasking even in the little things. I have my 2-year-old talking to me when I am talking on the phone or I’m playing peek-a-boo with him while I am doing dishes.”

When it comes to finances, Angie Baker said she’s a whiz. Her most recent jobs have been cashier jobs and, while working at Lowe’s in 2005, she was promoted quickly from cashier to administrative assistant because she handled numbers so well and her computer skills were solid.

Just because it doesn’t count as professional experience, Angie Baker said she is still handling money and finances all the time. She’s doing her best to stretch every dollar, balance a budget and make ends meet.

Angie’s stepson, Colby, was hit by a pickup truck in 2006 while trick-or-treating in North Carolina (where his mother lived). The accident left him paralyzed. Taking care of Colby has helped her to nurture some caregiver skills that were first fostered when she was younger and helping to care for her grandmother. She would love to work in a nursing home or help with home medical needs, but funds aren’t there to go back to school and secure proper licenses.

No matter how hard things get, Angie Baker still has no regrets about her decision to take time away from work to stay home, help raise her kids and care for Colby.

“I love being a mom because, even though they tell you it’s a very selfless job, I love what I get out of it,” she said. “When they come home they come up and give me a hug and say, ‘I love you.’”

Every minute Angie Baker spends with the kids is a minute she treasures. Even when they are fussy or ornery, she is happy because she knows something magnificent is waiting just around the corner.

“I was here for all of Lucas’ milestones, instead of having someone else raise my child during the day,” Angie Baker said. “It was great to be there for all of it.”

The Independent