Sunday, November 06, 2011

On Hard Things.

I used to have this dream that, whenever I became a wife and mother, I'd be less temperamental, less self depreciating, less firecrackery, and more like the wonderful, loving, always forgiving kind of woman I always had in mind when I imagined my far-off mothering days. The kind who always ran a perfectly clean home and never said a harsh word and never threatened to give the dog away and never missed reading her scriptures and never felt sad.

Well. At twenty-five, I am not that woman.


To be truthful, I am a little bit of a mess. I have always been a little bit of mess. I've always, always had a fiery personality. I've always been passionate. Even though I've secretly always wanted to be some form of a prim, proper lady with well kept hair and no sleep circles under her eyes, I'm much more like a hardworking, gabby woman who wears her hair in a scarf because she didn't have time to wash it and mops the kitchen at three in the morning because there's no other time to do it. Which, on some level, definitely appeals to me and my often offbeat ways. But! It's tiring and it's so, so messy (and messily hectic!) which, in turn, means that I am a royal mess. Aside from the kind of consistently inconsistent schedule I keep, I have so many ideas, thoughts, and beliefs racked up inside me. Some days, I feel like there are fifteen versions of me waiting to burst out. I could be so many things, but right now, I'm just trying to stay on top of my life. I'm trying to succeed, I'm trying to raise my family, I'm trying to be a good wife, I'm trying to be a good church member, and I'm trying so, so hard to support my husband.

When Andrew and I moved our little family to Arkansas, we put down everything we had and drove across the country on pure faith. We've never had a lot of money, so moving here basically drained our bank account. But! We moved because we felt it was the right thing to do and, being myself, I assumed that Andrew would be able to find a job quickly. I mean, why wouldn't he? Not only does he have a Bachelor's Degree, but he's worked nearly every day since he was fifteen, he's bilingual, he served a two year mission, and he's taught thousands of young adults how to be leaders, how to speak a new language, and how to work with others. Plus, he has a family and is working on his Masters. He is educated. He is hardworking. He is brilliant. He can be quiet and sometimes unapproachable, but it's not because he's uppity or self righteous. He can get uncomfortable in large crowds, but if there's work to be done, he does it. So, when we moved here, I had no question that he would find a job.

A week rolled by (ha!). Three weeks rolled by (ha!). Six weeks rolled by. Eight weeks rolled by. And then?! Then! He was able to find a week long temporary position cleaning out dorms to prepare for incoming freshman. And my smart, sweet man? He was insulted by snotty eighteen year olds fresh out of high school and spent his days with high school drop outs thirty years older than him who felt completely defeated. He worked overnight and, half the time, worked fifteen hour days. He'd come home, sweaty and exhausted, and would fall straight to sleep. And then?! Then! He found another temporary position. While a new mother went on maternity leave, he worked for nine weeks as a receptionist. The pay was nearly half of what he made at his job in Provo, but he worked and worked and worked. Every morning, I dropped him off at eight. Every night, I picked him up sometime between five and seven. And, for a few weeks, things started to feel normal. Of course the job he was working didn't require more than a high school diploma and of course it was temporary, but it was a job! A job with a paycheck and, for the first time in months, I felt like I could breathe a little. But then that job ended and we're back to square one. I've somehow become the sole breadwinner for our family and, to be frank, photography isn't a stable field and, at this point in my career, it's not extremely profitable, either. Andrew applies for jobs. I apply for jobs. And still, nothing. It's scary. Really scary.

Now. We don't have it as bad as many people in our nation. We have enough money to get by for a little while with no income. But! Add in things like $361 doctor's bills that our insurance doesn't cover, even though we pay $500 a month for them cover us. Add in other unexpected bills and taxes for my photography and necessities like groceries and things plummet fast. They plummet really fast.

I've heard (and read) a lot of people say that the unemployed in our nation are sloppy, uneducated, and lazy. I've heard (and read) a lot of women say that women who work are ignoring their most basic duties. I've heard (and read) that, by working most of my days away, I'm hurting my relationships with my family (which, sometimes, I am). I've heard (and read) people say that getting a job should be easy and that, if you really need a job, just apply to Pizza Hut or McDonald's because they're always hiring (but ps. They'll pick a high school sophomore over you). I've heard (and read) so many things, but my life is the only life I've ever lived and, as a daughter of an extremely successful businessman who worked himself up from nothing, I've always been taught that all you need monetarily is enough to cover your needs. Mr. C. and I are not big spenders. We pay our bills, work hard, buy next to no extras, pinch our pennies and, luckily, have never had to use the government for health insurance or food money. We do the best we can, but sometimes, things just go stale and, right now, things are a little stagnant.

So, even though we have breakdowns and even though we sometimes resent one another, we keep our chins up. I remember that I married Andrew because I love him and, so many times a day, I try to live in the moment and remind myself of all the wonderful things I have and, when that's too hard to do, I remind myself that some day, somewhere in the future, my husband will have a steady job with a steady paycheck and that, when that day comes, I'll be able to help and relate to others who have faced unemployment like we have and I remind myself that it could always, always be worse.

And that is how I am getting through my days right now.
It's hard, but it's doable.