I know I wanted to start this blog to stay positive, to focus on the good going on in our lives amidst all the chaos of extended unemployment, underemployment, mortgage drama, and dealing with social services like food stamps and medicaid for the first time in my or anyone else I know’s life. But I just can’t today. The girls are going ape shit crazy (because I think they are overtired but forcing them to rest is apparently the worst). Today has done me in. I’ve sobbed on the phone with my mom, and I don’t know what to do.

– got a call from the collections side of the mortgage company because we’re coming up on 60 days past due. apparently they don’t talk to the loan specialists who know our loan modification request finally went to the underwriters last week.

– got a letter from the state telling me we have 45 days from our notice of foreclosure to do something; now i have to sort out if there’s something i have to be worried about from the state and not just the mortgage company.

– got a letter from the food stamp office telling me we make too much money. the amount they have listed as our monthly income is a hilariously high number. it’s like they took our re-application (that you do every 3 months), did bad math, and ignored everything else in our account. i have a fucking college degree; i was under the impression i didn’t have to re-submit EVERYTHING, so if i did, i understand even more clearly how easy it is to go hungry. of course it’ll take about 2 months to sort out so yay! ramen for everyone in the meantime!

– went to planned parenthood for an IUD, have to go back in a week for actual insertion; have sufficiently freaked out uber conservative parents. but they take medicaid and don’t require me to wait 6 weeks for one of those rare new patient slots. i really just want to see my doctor, the one i have a 10 year relationship over 2 babies with.

– have 5 bills due this week and not enough money. husband has a separate “business” account for his handyman work (that’s about a weeks worth of ranting blog posts in and of itself) and says that money is being saved to fix his car (which has been parked out front undriveable since april) and he can’t give any to the household.

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My sister-in-law sent an email the other day to the family (her mom, brother, me, other brother, his wife, dad and step-mother) asking for prayers because she needed to sell her car this weekend so she can pick up the new car she’s purchased on sunday. Nothing fancy – we’re not talking selling one beat up old Ford and picking up a BMW. She has a CRV that needs struts and shocks and for whatever reason she’s decided to sell the car instead of paying for the repair. She’s being honest and disclosing everything in her add and asking a very reasonable price. And she’s buying a newer CRV than the model year she owns. Personally, I don’t understand why but that’s beside the point. The point I’m trying to make is in her email: The fact that a simple request like “I need to sell my car” can be sent to those nearest and dearest without the batting of an eyelash.

My trouble is that I’m biting my tongue (or rather sitting on my quick typing fingers) by not sending a reply along the lines of “and while you’re at it, pray that our loan modification comes through this week because I don’t have the money to pay the mortgage due July 1st (and I didn’t pay the June 1st bill either for lack of funds…).” But that seems very passive aggressive, no?

Why is there shame in our situation? Sure, hindsight is 20-20 of course. We could have done things differently when we were newly in this situation. Hubs could have worked harder and more consistently to get a job (he will admit, sadly, that there were times when he just let it go. Depression? Possibly). But we are here now and we need prayer. And we need answers, and I feel like this yearning is counterintuitive to what I wrote the other day about prayer but I’m not freaked out about the lack of mortgage payment, I know it’s in God’s hands and somehow this will be worked out one way or another. But how come we don’t send emails like this updating our family and friends on the status of our situation?

Money is such a taboo. It’s OK sometimes to joke about not having any, but you better be doing the joking from your modest house, simple vacation rental, or sensible 10 year old car. You can joke about having too much if you really are blessed with resources but you’ll look like a douche unless folks know you are philanthropic with your cash.  Other than that people don’t really talk about money ever.  It troubles me that we feel so much shame and guilt about our situation which I truly believe is one that could happen to anyone. It leaves you feeling isolated, only speaking in broad terms with those closest to you and staying mum to anyone else, maybe just a “yeah, well, you know…” in response if they are brave enough to ask how we’re doing financially.

We DON’T have the money to pay all our bills every month. We ARE on food stamps and Medicaid. We DON’T know if we’ll get our loan modification requests approved for our mortgage and home equity lines. We are MAXED OUT on two credit cards, leaving a Target card as our only working one and it’s used strictly for things like toilet paper, dish soap, shampoo, tampons, toothpaste, trash bags and laundry detergent (stuff you can’t use food stamps to purchase but really are necessities). We have NO money in our savings account. We WORK our asses off. We CANNOT pay to for necessary car repairs and household fixes that keep adding up.

So why?? Why don’t we reach out in detail to those we love and know love us back? Why is it such a shadow on our lives to live with this lack of funds? It’s a frustrating place to be and one of the reasons why I started blogging again. I feel like these things need to be spoken, if not to benefit us, then to benefit the next family dealing with extended unemployment. If you are reading this and you know someone who has been out of salaried work for a long period of time, KNOW that they are dealing with all this too. I hope that in bringing awareness to the toll extended unemployment truly takes on a person and their family will allow someone else to be helped in a way they didn’t know they needed and didn’t have to ask for. So that person you know? Go buy them a gift card to the grocery store or Target or Costco or something.  Even Jiffy Lube or a gas card. Boring, yes. Practical, HELL YES. Finding these occasionally through the past 2.5 years in our mailbox, often anonymously is like a huge breath of fresh air and a little tiny bit of weight lifted off my shoulders. And if you are feeling even more generous, a gift card for dinner out and an offer to babysit would be unbelievable. Or treat to a pedicure or something pampering.  Or just bring over fresh cut flowers and a six-pack of their favorite hard cider. Just sayin.

It’s real, yo.

I get a little mini panic attack every time someone asks me why I’m not working full time too.  The answers are many:

  1. hubs has greater earning potential in the long run right now so he needs to seek out a position that keeps him as top breadwinner in the family
  2. have you looked into childcare costs lately? The amount I make as a freelancer is close to what I’d make if I was working full time less the cost of two kids childcare, especially in the summer when I would need full time care/camp for two of them for 10 weeks solid.
  3. and yes, someday I probably will go back to work, some hours out of the home, when the little one starts kindergarten in 2017. I’m so thankful there are more and more positions out there offering flexibility or part time during school hours. Not to mention I’ll have the time to give my photography business the time it deserves so maybe that will be taking off by then and I won’t need to take an office job.

Then there are the less well known reasons.

  1. I had to go back to work when my oldest was 9 weeks old when hubs was laid off totally unexpectedly (side note: 11 years of marriage, 2 kids, 4 layoffs together). This is what sparked a bad ass case of PPD that never totally went away. I’m still medicated.
  2. I grew up with a work-at-home mom, piano teacher edition. She went back to teaching high school when my brother was little because her dream job fell into her lap. A year later my dad left his job to work from home in the early days of home internet. So except that one year when my brother went to a friends house in the morning and everyone was home by the time elementary school was over, there was ALWAYS a parent in the house. It freaks me out to not be there for my girls if something was to happen at school and I couldn’t be there in a split second. I didn’t have kids to send them to daycare, although there are days now that that little one isn’t so little anymore that that doesn’t seem like a bad idea…

And the scariest reasons are:

  1. Exhaustion is a part of my everyday. I am tired from when I get up in the morning till when I go to bed. Two much stress plus low thyroid function plus depression plus anxiety disorder plus stress plus two kids plus stress = pooped.
  2. BRAIN FOG. I swear, I had only heard about this before. I used to be sharp and with it and organized and on top of things, capable of juggling multiple projects at once.  Now I can barely get a writing assignment done in a reasonable amount of time. I don’t think like that anymore. I get spacey, I lose track, I feel like I go in circles.

So to me, I’m not working because the thought of being in an office, even just part time, responsible for other peoples work, deadlines set by bosses, responsibilities, etc. scares the shit out of me. I can’t do a task for an hour and then lay down for a nap like I do at home. I can’t space out in meetings and not be able to formulate words and thoughts in front of superiors and peers.

I spent 9 years working both in an office and from home for one organization and juggled a crazy workload at various times, taking on responsibilities above my pay grade like it was no big thing. I look back and have no fucking idea how that was possible, even when I was pregnant (twice) and had PPD (once). My contract ended when I was 6 months pregnant with my 2nd kiddo, and thankfully I’m glad I wasn’t re-hired on a different contract (they tried). It sucked then, but I don’t know how I’d do it now.

So that’s the long and short of why I’m not “working.” Now I need to go take a nap before bracing to deal with a swim meet tonight.