Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Choices and Options

Six weeks ago, I made arrangements to take today and tomorrow off. As in, not working. Not as a database analyst, nor as CEO/CFO/COO of the Den. The idea was, for two days I was going to not have anybody bugging me for anything.

Naturally…I had to return a phone call this morning. And then there was this other thing, and then Eldest erupted with a sudden fever and had to stay home (and will likely be home again tomorrow while daddy is at the office, so much for a spa visit) AND THEN Danger Mouse managed to have a clothes-ruining accident at school such that she had to be picked up right when I was trying to get out of town (or at least to a nice, safe cofee shop) after having spent over an hour getting the oil changed in the car.

Sounding good so far?!

Sometimes I really do wonder what would happen if I got hit by a train. Apart from the whole ‘excruciating pain and probably death’ part, I mean. That part would suck. And I am a major wuss, so I don’t really do the ‘pain’ part. And the death part would suck, too, because shoot – I’d miss the next really cool part.

Which is why even though I often get results from online quizzes that say, “Dear God, Woman! RUN to your doctor and make an appointment YOU ARE SO FAR INTO DEPRESSION SUNK THAT THERE IS LITTLE HOPE FOR YOU WITHOUT THERAPY AND PROBABLY LOTS OF MEDICATION!”, I cannot accept the diagnosis. Because while I may be down quite frequently, and feeling abused, and otherwise finding myself in a funk, I am always telling myself to buck up – there’s still plenty of Good Stuff ahead, once I get through this little black cloudy bit.

And then? I’M RIGHT! There’s laughter! And big cards my children drew that say things like “I love you mommy” with big hearts and pictures of us dancing in fields of flowers! And my husband praises and thanks me for all the stuff I do around here! And we go to the zoo or something and I get cotton candy!!

AND LIFE IS SO GOOD I COULD JUST ABOUT CRY!!!!

Then I get down on my knees and say a few words to $DEITY about how grateful I am that I do not suffer real depression, the kind where you can’t keep your head up and wait for better times you know are coming, because to suffer that endless cloud enveloping your whole body everywhere you go, all the time, would be hell.on.earth.

But I digress.

Anyway, if I did manage to fall under the wheels of the 5:05 commuter express, I envision my family just sort of sitting in a smelly pile of dirty dishes and laundry, slowly starving to death because none of them can figure out the mystery that is…{spooky music} the supermarket {/spooky music}.

So here I am, not doing what I had hoped to be doing, which was giving things a good, hard think. I get about this far, “I wonder if I could…” and then?

Phone ringing. Husband blabbing. Child crying. What about lunch? Did I have any ideas about dinner? Hey, wasn’t I supposed to do this or that or the other? Had I made arrangements for this other thing?!

@*^&@!!!!!!!

The Universe is thwarting me. That’s right! The whole Universe, the whole Big Thing, is going out of its way to thwart me, personally.

Typical.

*sniff, sniff*

I’m so abused.

But seriously? In a way, this is really driving home a point: My Den, my family, my whole pathetic life, has moved beyond Chaos into Nihilism.

Nobody, not a single Denizen, is happy right now. Everybody is angry, sick, miserable, not sleeping well, and otherwise walking around with raw nerves poking out every which way. And it has been this way not for days or weeks, but for months.

I have the best possible job situation for a Mother of Chaos with four little ones underfoot and a Den to manage, and yet it isn’t working out. We’re physically exhausted, emotionally wrung out, and financially not doing nearly as well as you’d think. Between childcare and taxes, I’m really not taking home all that much – but putting an awful lot of huff and bother and stress into the mix to get it.

Now, I told you that so I could tell you this: This right here is the whole reason why approaching your life in a ‘sustainable’ manner is so vital.

People, I have options. We can still get by on my husband’s income alone.

We.
Have.
Options.

It makes me feel sick inside whenever I hear someone whose job is sucking their soul right out their eyeballs say they can’t quit because of {dramatic music} the bills {/dramatic music}.

They can’t quit because…

…even a lapse of a few days in pay would be disastrous…

…they make more money at this job than they could elsewhere, and they need every dime. They can’t sacrifice $5,000 a year because it is literally the difference between staying on top and drowning beneath their minimum payments…

…it isn’t like there’s anything better out there, after all, when you’re a Pipe Cleaner Fluffer, it isn’t like you can go up the street to a competitors and have better working conditions…


I’m not talking about people who have suffered a run of really bad luck here, the people who are recovering from medical issues and the bills that can bring, or whose houses were swept away by flood or fire, or like that. Nor am I talking about people who are just getting their feet wet in the pond of Life.

I’m talking about…well, folks like me. Folks who view a credit card line increase as a kind of pay raise, who buy cars they can’t afford on the theory that they only live once, who take splendid vacations once, twice, twelve times a year either on the cards or by using their house as an ATM.

And then…find themselves trapped in jobs they loathe or situations they’d love to leave, because they can barely keep their heads above water as it is and the slightest breath of the Winds of Change will drown them faster than you can say Default APR.

I wish I had a magic wand that could *poof* away everybody’s issues and give everybody what I have now – but I have to say, it wouldn’t work. I had not one but two *poofs* granted to me before I had to take care of it the old fashioned way, and I learned precisely nada. All I did was dig myself in deeper.

I guess the process is part of the cure. Well. And for me, I got a major kick in the pants when the Denizens started coming along. The realization that the impact of my actions were no longer limited to me, but that my children were likewise being set up for success or failure based on what I did today…whoa.

Paradigm shift, y’all.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I really don’t. I’m sitting on that fence like it was a tame pony, one leg on either side and my butt firmly planted in the middle. On the one hand, I hate to give up the income, the retirement savings, the social security building. On the other hand…I don’t like what my Den is becoming.

Chaos is OK. Chaos is my personal normal. But nihilism is ugly, scary, and other negative things. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

And I suspect I prefer Chaos and a painfully tight budget to Nihilism and…well…a painfully tight budget…

6 comments:

RM Kahn said...

If you have not seen this movei you should.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0406158/


But it sounds like we, The Coucil, need to rescue you for a break. I'm so sorry that the Den is in worse than chaos and you did not get your much needed and deserved time away.

Lisa T said...

I'd send you some comfort yarn if it would help.

Surely you have someone to watch the kids for a day so you and your DH could get away and do the alone talk. Just getting out from under for a few hours could really make for some clear thinking space.

Very Herodotus said...

You've done the work-full-time-with-commute thing, the stay-at-home thing, and the work-at-home-full-time thing. You've truly tried every option that I can see. Now you have to decide when you and the family were most serene. Simple, right?

Adulthood can really suck sometimes.

Eclair said...

I know exactly how you feel. I really, really do. I've been there. Not once, but twice and I'm in it up to my neck again right now. In your circumstances, you are right, you DO have options and they aren't as appalling as they might seem at first glance. Don't forget that you are looking at this from under that black cloud right now, this colours your perceptions as well as your decisions, you know.

I have absolutely tonnes to say but I really don't want to bother you if you don't want to hear it. It might help though and, really, you are not alone. (Is that part of the problem? It is for me- I'm NEVER alone! What wouldn't I give to pee in peace?!)

If you would like to hear the ramblings and rantings of a mother-of-three ex-corporate-sucubus who escaped yet managed not to learn from her mistakes (and has the wrinkles to prove it) then please email me - eclairdoteclairatgmaildotcom

Gosh, I think I might be coming across like some axe-murdering, internet-stalking nutcase but I'm not really. Moderately deranged, yes. But then, show me a mother of pre-schoolers who hasn't got a screw or two loose.

SamD said...

We suffer from exactly the same issues at MY House of Chaos so I sympathize with you completely. There aren't any easy choices but the one we finally made was to have my mother-in-law move in. She's now two months into a three-month vist to family overseas so we're back to Square One...and I'm frequently miserable.

The rest of the family isn't fully cognizant of its implications yet but I've also solved some of my own resentment issues with the Knit&Crochet show this July..for JUST ME. Thinking about July has kept me from throwing at least one basket of clean-but-not-sorted-or-folded laundry out into the yard.

Best of luck in fighting The Good Fight...

Amy Lane said...

Oh honey--I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO where you are. Mate and I are constantly reassessing whether or not my income is worth my sanity... and there are two things that keep me where I am:
1. I'm a teacher. When my administration doesn't suck a@@, I often love my job--there are moments when it feels like a calling.
2. My spouse has said, during the times when I'm gnawing on my wrists the most, "That's okay, you can quit."
It's not the quitting that I want, it's the feeling that, like you said, I have options. LIke you, 4 children. LIke you, a dog-pile of payments based on s#$%ty financial decisions. LIke you, options. It's the options that save your life, darling--it truly is. I'm sending you comfort vibes--because I've gotten some good one this year after the birth of the 4th, and I so totally needed them.