Yesterday evening I decided to go into the storage space of our bonus room and go through the tubs and tubs of materials and resources from my years of classroom teaching. I taught public Pre-K and Carter is ready for the things I taught my students. The day that I brought those things home, I put them away immediately. The decision was such a difficult one for me that I couldn’t linger on it or even have any reminders of the career that I walked away from to be at home with my son. I still think it was the right decision, but I’ve fought so many mental and emotional battles over it throughout the past 3 years. Seeing those things that represented my successful career as a teacher took me down an unexpected emotional road.
I’m a numbers person. I look at bottom lines and facts. The fact is that our combined income this year was about 11,000 less that what my salary alone would have been. As we face the facts of not being able to afford so many aspects of our lives, that fact hits me like a punch in the gut. What might have been? For starters, that would just about have covered the deficit in our bills from this past year. I’m also a heavy responsibility person. Whether or not something actually is my responsibility, I can’t help but to factor in how I could have been of some help. I don’t know whether Jeff wishes we’d never made the decision for me to quit teaching. I do know that he loves the way our son has turned out so far, which you can’t help but to largely attribute to my being here with him. I could have saved us so much stress and arguing and worrying. I could have helped to make things easier. I can see that there are certain problems that never would have occurred had I continued to work. I can’t, however, predict what other problems would have occurred in the place of those. It’s impossible to weigh the pros and cons of 2 different paths. But I do know that in some pretty dire and uncertain financial times, I could have held on to a little stability for my family.
But then there’s the things that wouldn’t have been. I wouldn’t have been here for my son each day. I don’t know where he would have been, but I can assume that we would have had to find a daycare for him. I know there are good ones out there, but none of them would have shown him the love that I have. None of them would have taken the time to know each word, each intention, each need and how to meet it. There is no way he could have gotten the attention in a room full of children that I’ve given him here, even with working part-time from home. And there’s that. There’s my job. Working for my church has certainly changed me in ways that would never have happened otherwise. And though at times I feel like my job boils down to running errands, repetitious tasks and record keeping, I know it’s making a difference in helping this church to run smoothly each week. And, I know I’m needed and appreciated. Those three things are something that many people never feel from their job, so I know I’m lucky.
With all those things on my mind (and some pregnancy emotions thrown in for good measure), today I just sort of lost it. I was vacuuming and picking up crap and doing laundry and I had a real mad cry (which is very different from a sad cry). If I wasn’t such a wimp, I may have followed through on my urge to put my fist through a wall. At that very moment, the idea that our financial situation could have been improved overtook me and I was so pissed. I don’t know why I was pissed exactly, but the weight of the world was suddenly on my shoulders. I was so sick of feeling like a child that needed to be supported at 33 years of age. I was angry that a good friend is having a surprise party tonight that I can’t attend because I can’t eat out or use the gas to drive an hour round-trip. I was so upset that a friend asked me if I wanted to come go through her consignment clothes for first pick and I was too embarrassed to tell her that I can’t spend money on clothes for my child right now, so I said nothing. So many things, all at once. But in the end when I put all the might have been’s up against the wouldn’t have been’s I still have to stand on the decision that I made being the right one. I have to reach past where it feels like there’s no more hope to grab onto and find that shred that will keep me sane and keep me smiling and holding on.