Posted by Lizzy from Hilarities Ensue.
Right smack dab in the middle of my world, of my second pregnancy, I'm hit by another round with my old friend/enemy. It's been a while. It's been nearly 9 years since I've been down this round and it really doesn't ever get any easier.
I've written and re-written this post in my head a thousand times. What's too much to share? Where is that line between keeping my private life private and Keeping It Real? In the end, here's where I'm at.
We're being crushed by debt. Every day the phone rings every 10 minutes, another bill collector trying to get paid. I have medical bills of past and present, I've had to ask our pediatrician to wait a week to deposit our co-pay and I've asked the same of our neighborhood pharmacist so Henry could antibiotics for a persistent ear infection. Suddenly, where we were just scraping by has amounted to an enormous financial weight, to the tune of $70,000. SEVENTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.
How is it that two educated people can't make ends meet? I've worked full time since I was 17-years-old. I've never had extra money, I've always been able to get by. Get the rent paid, pay the bills from time to time. We don't live extravagantly…we don't take vacations, I'm not getting jewelery, we drive a 2000 Chevy Prism/Clown Car, neither one of us has a gambling problem, we don't really live beyond our means. Sometimes we would use our credit cards to buy some stuff for our house, or once Henry came along we liked to buy him some things. So how is that we suddenly can't move forward with our lives as a family without someone asking for more money.
I was squeezed out of my job shortly after Henry's birth and, as you might remember, The Mistah lost his job teaching on Long Island in April of this year. After spending 6 years working for the city, The Mistah had taken the risk and had accepted an nontenured position teaching out on LI, the job didn't work out. In the year he taught out there, we paid $250/month for medical insurance (while working for the city, we paid nothing for our coverage); our insurance coverage was lousy, every little thing had at least a $500 deductible so we paid out nearly $6,000 in deductibles along; gas was insane with The Mistah driving 250 miles a week, with gas prices rising by the minute, this added up so quickly, even for our "fuel efficient" clown car.
I stay home with Henry, truly the toughest job I've ever had. At this point, if it were possible for me to find another full time job for the fall after Alice is born, I would have to be earning at least $70,000/year in salary to cover day care expenses for two children. In my career, I would be leaving the house before the kids were awake and coming home after they were asleep. Which isn't to say that there aren't people who do this and make it work, but then call me selfish, but it's not a life I think I can live with. I've worked in jobs where I slept for a few hours a night, under my desk, in order to make deadlines…and for pittance, as well. It's just not a life I'm willing to go back to. I think it goes without saying that there is something very, very wrong with a society that can't allow for a working family to make ends meet. There has to be a way that a mother can stay home and raise her children and be able to afford to buy her kid a banana when he wants one.
For the first time in my life, I'm having what I believe to be anxiety attacks–rapid heartbeat and trouble breathing. I'm feeling paranoid and judged and I don't often want to leave the house. In fact, not having any spending money has basically limited our social activities to our once-weekly Music Class, sponsored by Henry's great-grandparents. With all of our young friends turning two in the next 6 months, I'm declining invitations to birthday parties because I can't afford to give the children gifts. Two weeks ago, I paid my subway fare with change from the change bowl on our dresser.
And what about this baby growing in my belly? Are we doing some sort of disservice to her that we can't afford to have her? I feel completely disconnected from her and have had some uncomfortable thoughts…should she go to a family that can feed and clothe her? I know I can and will love her, but if I'm honest, I'll admit that I have times when I can't see the forest through the trees. I hear the judgements in my head, I hear the whispers. Don't worry, you don't have to flame me in the comments. There's nothing you can say to me that I haven't already said to myself.
I want what's best for my family and for myself. I want to love and protect my family, but right now I'm feeling like I can't get out of bed. I can't catch my breath, I can't surface. How can I do what's best for family when I so clearly have let them down? I'm so conflicted between What Should Be and What Is. How can I do what is best for my family when I can't really take care of my own self right now?
How did I get here? How do I get out?