Friday, November 09, 2007

Late Night Thinking...

I'm sure you all know what this is like, you're tired, you want to go to bed but, you just can't shut your brain off of it's conscious thoughts. Well, I'm having one of those nights. I'm thinking and contemplating a lot of stuff right now, so I thought I'd share.

Before I do though, I want to say one thing right now, I am in no way asking for sympathy, charity or anything like that. I know, that in the grand scheme of things, our problems are minute, there's a lot of people who are worse off, facing much more monumental decisions and who do not have the love and support of a wonderful network of friends and family. I simply just want to share what life's really been like because, I try real hard to "appear happy" and to go forward with as much normalcy as I can muster. Yes, I am very open with people, but I am not one to burden others with my problems because I know that they have enough of there own. With everything in life, it seems, there are challenges. Okay, that said...let the ramblings begin.

For those that do not know, Ben works 80 hours a week (two full time jobs) so that I can be home with the girls. He works from 8:30am-5pm, comes home to eat dinner and sleep for a short period of time and then, is back to work at his night job from 11pm-7am. How he does it, is beyond me. He does, usually, turn into a pumpkin pretty quickly after coming home on Friday nights. That said, we don't see much of each other and the girls don't see much of their father. Ben & I seem to do a good bulk of our communication via email and instant messaging. True, we can't have real disagreements that way, but sometimes, I crave face-to-face time with him. We cherish the weekends, when he is home and there a sense of a normal family about our place. While he is working, I'm attempting (some days I manage better than others) to keep our house in order, the kids from self-destructing and running here & there for our various appointments, library trips and such. Most days, I feel appreciated and I really do love being home with the girls. Some days though, I don't know how I'm going to put up with being around only children for much longer and wish for a 9-5 job or maybe more friends to have playdates with or a free preschool option for Caitlin. Sometimes, I'd like to just step out for a few hours, grab a magazine, hit a local coffee shop and engross myself in a work of fiction--escaping the realities of my so-called life. I guess that's the point, I don't feel like I have a life anymore beyond being a mother. Yes, that's a great part of who I am but it's not everything. That bring me to my next topic.

The other day, as I was combing the Colorado State Library Jobline, I came across "my dream job". A position vacancy at a library not too far from us for a circulation supervisor in materials handling. For those that aren't too familiar with my background, I have been working in various library settings (academic in college, public in Michigan and finally, institutional--read prison--here in Colorado before Cara was born) for about 7 years. This job would be a perfect fit because, as much as I like people, I think I'd like to deal with the material side of library operations for awhile. I would be dealing with the "behind the scenes" actions of the library--holds, missing/lost books and things like that. Perfect! The best part of the job offer was the pay--over $3K a month, which for the library world (non-MLS) this is really good. I was really, really thinking about applying until my current reality hit home. I don't feel that I can be employed right now without doing a disservice to Cara. Who would do her weekly therapy sessions (not to mention the daily home therapy) if I was at work? Children's Hospital pretty much mandates parental involvement in PT and OT. Cara is doing so well, she doesn't need a major setback. Also, no matter how much this job pays, I still would have to factor in child care times two and arrange drop off & pick up strategies with Ben. See, he would still need to work two jobs, at least for awhile so that we could catch up (I'll explain that more in a minute). Oh yeah, not to mention the money I'd have to spend on getting a whole new wardrobe because lounge pants and ratty jeans just wouldn't cut it for a library supervisor, I don't think. I decided, that as tempting as the offer is (and it's very, very, extremely), this is just not a good time for me. I wish I could find a way to make it work because goodness knows we could use the money, but after talking with Ben, I just don't see how. Hopefully, something wonderful will come up again when I feel that I can take the leap back into the work force...maybe once Cara is caught up developmentally and Caitlin is in school.

Okay, I said I would further explain the whole "catching up" bit. Even though Ben works 80 hours a week and makes pretty darn decent money, we just can't seem to stay much above water. It seems that every month, more and more bills keep piling up (especially medical) and try as we might, we just can't stretch the money far enough. Let me assure you that we are not being extravagant with our money either. We do not eat out, hardly at all, we don't do activities which require money but once in a blue moon or if we happen to have a BOGO coupon or something. We are very careful. As careful as we are though, things go unpaid or get partially paid, creditors are calling and all that not-so-nice stuff. There have been times when we've had to choose between going grocery shopping and paying a bill. Frugality is an important lesson, no doubt, as is budgeting, but it is almost impossible to budget when you don't have enough money to go around. It is also really hard not to be able to provide your children with what they need or a few extra comforts. By some miracle of a higher power, we have not yet gone hungry and our children are not freezing. For that, I am extremely grateful. I would, however, like to be comfortable, to know that we can pay all of our obligations each month and maybe, just maybe, have a small "rainy day" fund. I'd like to get caught up instead of it looking like we're sinking deeper and deeper. I mean, we have actually talked about the "big B word" a few times but know that it would just bring us more trouble than it's worth. As you can imagine, this is all very stressful. I have learned how to be very resourceful with our limited supply of food...finding meals that are cheap to make and making them stretch as long as possible. I have also found ways to have fun for next to no cost. These are things that are going to be with me forever and are good lessons learned. I just wonder how much longer they are going to be a fact of my daily life? How long can one family struggle? I know that God never gives us more than we can handle and that our struggles are so minute and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn't make them any easier to deal with. I feel like such of a bad parent in some ways, having to tell my child that we can't get something over and over again. Christmas is a mirage in the distance, something that's going to take just short of a miracle to pull off. I know, it's not all about the presents, but the rituals and celebrations. However, have you tried to explain this to a 4 year old who is, thanks to advertising up the wahzoo, bombarded with images of the latest and greatest toys? Every time she sees something on television, she wants it. I just nod my head and say, "We'll have to see what Santa brings you, won't we?" when deep down inside, I'm not sure if Santa will be stopping at our house this year.

I just feel so frustrated, defeated and downright hopeless at times and I know that my husband shares these feelings. I know, in my heart of hearts, that this too, shall pass, but am I having a hard time waiting for that day to come. The day when we can all breathe easier and go to bed knowing that everything's been taken care of...the bill juggling a thing of the past. Some days, I just don't know how I'm going to go on and I'll admit, the "woe is me" creeps in too. Then, I usually give myself a good kick in the bum and realize, hey, it could be a whole lot worse...we'll make it through it...we're together as a family, we're happy & healthy, nothing else really matters, right? Now, would all of the bill collectors please respect this, know that we're doing the best we can and--BUG OFF! I've been just about as polite as I can be and no matter how many times a day you call, you're going to get the same answer so you can stop calling upwards of 5 times a day! Surely, you all have bigger fish to fry than my petty $35 or $120 bill.

If someone has a crystal (or heck, even a Magis 8) ball, may I borrow it please? I'd love to find out how soon the end is in sight for us.


Judy said...

Oh Laura! I wish I lived closer to you and could at least relieve some of the burden of being with the girls all the time for you!

Here's my thoughts on all this - take them for what it is worth. First of all, my philosophy (not everyone's, but mine) is that our kids are only young once, and not for very long. As trying as the boys are, I do try very very hard to make sure I'm here when Travis gets home from school and that Tyler is with me as much as possible. Sooner than I'd like, they're both going to be grown and gone, and I'm going to miss this time.

That being said, I'm also a proponent of do what you need to do to make your family work. If you count all my little jobs, I officially have 4 (5 until the church job is over in a month). Three of them are freelance writing on my own time (ha, what a farce - what time???), and then there's my preschool job. It is a juggle, but the preschool job pays for Tyler's tuition at the school (where I get NO BREAK as an employee - don't get me started) and gives us a wee bit extra to pay for the horrendous cell phone bills and such that we seem to be getting. And, it keeps my foot in the door for future jobs around here.

Now, the housework around here rarely gets done, mainly because the boys destroy EVERYTHING I try to clean and quite frankly I don't have the energy to keep up with it, but once every blue moon I get on a streak and do some major scrubbing (like this weekend). When I was at home all the time, the house was in great shape, but like you, I needed the break. That's when all these jobs started up.

Look at the big picture. How much would you get paid and how much would your expenses be increasing (childcare, clothing, etc)? What's left? Is it worth it? Even if it is a break-even point, is the job worth it? Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't. Only you can decide that.

Good luck - let me know how all this pans out. I'm praying for you, sweetie.

Anonymous said...

Laura, sorry to hear all is getting on top of you and Ben!

I too wish we lived closer so we could go aand have a coffee and a chat.

I know it probably feels like no end is in sight. But, so far with our experiences now at the 2 year mark with Violet it has become alot easier with her maintenance than what is was orginally.

As you see all your hard work and sacrifices you have had to make on your family life etc, you will see Cara coming along in leaps and bounds and know that it has all been worth.

I know it's easier said than done, but please keep your chin up!

Mary said...

Laura I really do feel your pain - I'd bet EVERY mother has this point in their life with their small ones. I did and yet felt so grateful to have the kids and be a mother and still do feel blessed to have my grown up children.

That said, are there any social things at a church near you, as a women's Bible class one day a week or so to get out and mix with others? I know this would not relieve any financial cares, but until you have more time to be able to work...

I had no family around me at all when we moved to Mich. and my sister lived overseas and I saw her once every 4 yrs. or so, and my parents and my husband's parents were not well and not able to travel - so it was all up to me and my husband also worked all hours and
I found some sanity in a woman's Bible class where they had babysitting services for mothers etc. Everyone's situation is probably different in how to deal with things, but...anyway as someone else said, keep your eye on the big are not alone.

Lauren said...

Oh Laura,

I wish I was there to help you with all of these things. It must be very frustrating and while I can relate to some things, I know I you have a whole lot on your plate right now, coming from many angles. I can't imagine how someone is as strong as you are, you do such an amazing job.

I think because you have come through a bunch of bumps in the road, it can only make you stronger, sure it isn't so fun a long the way, but it has set you up for a solid future. I know this is an abstract comment, I guess what I mean is, you are seeing clearly now what direction you want to head in, you solidly know your needs and you know who you are.

Things can only get better and easier...and they will! Once you and Ben get through the extra bills, once the girls get a little older or Cara becomes settled, doors will open and you will have more personal freedom. Maybe a new career or "you" time!

All I know is I love ya and you amaze me all the time. If you EVER need to vent, you know where to find me. This isn't much comfort, but hang in there...things will look up soon!


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