As I enter my 31st year on this planet, I reflect and find it amazing what I have done in the last 10 years. I met and married the love of my life, had two gorgeous sons in 2 years, bought a house, and completed both a graduate and an undergraduate program. I have not, however, made much money. My husband and I still struggle at times and I often look at our lives and think, “When is this going to get easier?” I, like many others, can’t help but tie financial security to success in my mind and each time I have to scramble to pay the power bill or have to send the mortgage payment in “installments,” I get a sense that we are falling behind and may never catch up.
It wasn’t always like this. When we got married, my husband’s family business was doing really well and he was set to be the “heir” to the business. Then, when the economy fell apart, things started to go south. They struggled for a few years and then went under in 2013. This was an emotional loss as well as financial punch to the gut. My husband had worked day and night for his entire adult life at a business that his father had built from the ground up. Then, one day in April 2013, things went very badly with a couple of business partners… and that was it.
My husband who was just entering his 30’s at the time had a bad back, had had two hernia surgeries, and worked 12 hours a day and almost every weekend. Our kids and I spent much of our time without him. He had been working like this for the promise of a secure life for us. Then, that was ripped from us. We had to reevaluate and re-think what we were going to do and how we would survive.
It has not been easy. It still isn’t. We still juggle our bills, have plenty of credit card debt and are generally not what anyone would call, “financially secure.” We can’t afford luxuries but always manage to keep our kids fed and our house warm. This, to be honest, has at times been due to the kindness of generosity of family. In short, we are broke. We both work, juggle the kids and try to keep our heads above water. It’s not fun and I would not have wished for it.
- I am happier in my marriage than I have ever been. I am able spend more time with my husband and he is calmer and less stressed now as well as being in better physical health.
- My kids get to be with their father much more. This makes all of them happy and also gives me some time to myself which I never got when he worked 80 hours per week. I often felt like a prisoner in my own home with two small kids attached to my hips. I can go out and write by myself or make a trip to the grocery store sans kiddos. Now, I am a much happier and less anxious mama.
- I have seen what my husband is capable of as he has learned and excelled at a new career. He has learned a lot about himself and impresses me every day with his new skills. My respect and admiration for him has soared!
- My confidence has taken a beating at times but, in that, I have also been forced to find strength. I have been forced to take my writing seriously and try to make a living at it. We can’t afford full-time care for our kids right now and writing from home gives me the freedom to juggle my work and the kids.
- We have learned what matters most. Our kids are healthy, we have shelter and food and I get to sleep next to a man that loves me every night. This Christmas, my husband and I will get nothing for each other but our boys will have magical Christmas and Santa will be good to them… and that is fine by us.
At the end of the day, no one would have chosen this path for us. It wasn’t what we had in mind and it was totally against the plans that we had made. We feel sorry for ourselves sometimes and I still worry about the future. Our emotions still run high at times when we think of the changes that have come in the last couple of years. It still makes us sad or mad to think about losing the company. I think my husband will always mourn that loss. But, we are grieving and moving on. That’s all we can do.
We are still in the midst of climbing out of this hole but when we do, and we will, we will be better for it.
So, if today is that day for you – the day when your world seems to be tumbling down all around you (and most of us will have it, at least once) – then, take it from me: You’re gonna be OK.