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.