Since I was 16 years old, I have worked low-wage, part-time or temporary jobs that did not provide sick days. I am a single mom, and I don’t have family in the area to care for my children when they are sick. In the past, I faced a choice — care for my children or pay my bills. It is an impossible decision for a mother to make. No working mother in the state should have to choose between her job and her health or her children’s health.

Two years ago, when I worked at a call center in Lewiston, I got strep throat. I was told to stay home until I wasn’t contagious. When I returned to work and was all set to start my work for the day, I was told to come into an office. I was escorted from the building that day. Management told me to stay home until I wasn’t contagious but then fired me for being out sick. It took me six months to find another job and that meant months of anxiety, stress and questions, including “how will I feed my kids?” and “how will I afford my bills?”

Finally, I have a job that provides paid sick days for the first time in my life. But I don’t want to be just one of the lucky ones. I want every worker in Maine to have the right to care for themselves or their children when they are sick.

I hope lawmakers in Augusta agree.

Lynnea Hawkins, Lewiston