One of the things I miss about childhood is knowing that no matter what happened, my mom would take care of me. If I needed money for something she would always find it. I never really knew how bad or how tight finances were because Mom spoke mostly in vague and generic terms. Now I’m the adult. I have two grown kids and a wife. The daughter is 19, but while technically grown-up, has never had to deal with the grown-up world on a true one on one basis. She has had her own problems that she has had to deal with (after deciding that she was all grown up at 18), but Mom and Dad have always been there to catch her when she faltered.
When my daughter moved out (okay, ran off) in mid September of 2011 to go live with her then boyfriend and his parents, she learned that things weren’t as bad at home as she thought they were. Apparently we were horrible monsters because we did things like make her do her homework, go to school, clean her room, wash the dishes, and take care of the pets. Six months later she was 5 months pregnant and pretty much begging to come home. We took her back with open arms, but at the same time the wife and I had finally found the perfect comfort level. We had all the bills under control. We enjoyed each other’s company. Now we had another mouth to feed and another person to add back into our personal dynamic. It was hard, but we managed.
A month after this happened I found out that I was losing my job. I was given two years to find another spot to land in the company or be unemployed. At 47 I did not need to be unemployed, so I took a much more physical job than the one I had. The other option was to try and get a job with more stress or one that would likely be abolished in a future round of budget cuts. My schedule changed, but I assured everyone that we would be okay. I would actually end up making more money per paycheck.
In July my granddaughter was born. I love her dearly, but I was also faced with another human being that ultimately I would end up being responsible for taking care of. My daughter would look after her and my wife would make sure she was fed and clothed and clean (tasks my daughter still has difficulty with performing for herself), but I would have to work to pay for her food and her clothes. My daughter originally planned to breast feed exclusively. That soon changed to occasionally and was eventually supplanted entirely by bottles of formula. Formula is not cheap.
Her husband (they were married in March, but he is still only 17) moved in around October and we also started moving around that time. They lived in the old house while we lived in the new house, and I paid for the utilities on both houses. In December my son and his wife moved into the old house and my daughter and her family moved in to our new house. It’s a long complicated game of musical houses, don’t ask.
So around this time we’re trying to move, trying to get set up for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and keep everything going when my paycheck gets screwed up. In my old position I was responsible for making sure all the employees in my unit got paid. In the new position I have to hope that the supervisors remember to put in things like paid leave. Needless to say, one of them didn’t.
My health also decided to start really giving me problems. My blood sugar would spike or would bottom out and my asthma became more debilitating than it had been in years because I was getting into so much dust, and dirt, and pet odors during the move all while exerting myself physically and then headed to work where I would perform even more physical lifting and loading.
Here we are now in February and I am still trying to recover financially from two screwed up checks, holiday expenses, and feeding a family of five. Today my blood sugar spiked high. I was shaking. I couldn’t function and had to call off from work. I ended up sitting in a recliner and sleeping most of the day. When I was awake, I was silently fighting the urge to break down and cry. I know my life isn’t nearly as bad as so many other people’s. I know we will eventually get things straightened out. I know we will eventually get moved, get the kids into their own place, and get a quiet and restful home life, but right now all I can think about is why do I have to be the strong one? Why do I have to put on the brave face and not let anyone know how bad I’m hurting? How did Mom handle things like this and make it look so easy?