It’s that time of year (my birthday approaching on Sunday) when I tend to spend some time contemplating what I’ve accomplished in the past 12 months compared to what I had hoped to get done.  I look at where I am/we are and where I expected I/we would be and plan for the coming year.  So I’ve been doing this. And I’m disappointed.

I’m not sure I’ve made any progress at all this year. We are no where near where I anticipated we would be as I got into my 2nd year of teaching.  We are certainly worse off financially due to no raise whatsoever to my meager salary thanks to the backward teacher evaluation system and increases in expenses – mainly health care costs and car insurance and having a child in college.

Things are falling apart faster than I can fix them – house, car, health – and I find that the endless grind of poverty at a time when I had thought/hoped/and assured the children we’d be doing better has depressed my spirits.  I am at the best of times a pragmatist and truly believe that has stood in my favor as I’ve confronted the various challenges of the past five and a half years.  I’m prone to saying “It is what it is.” and “you have to roll with the punches.” and likely to strongly counter anyone who spouts such Pollyannaisms as “It’s all good.” or “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Sometimes I’m a pessimistic pragmatist and sometimes, when I begin to identify with Sisyphus a bit too much, I’m quite negative.  That negativity is not just related to my own life and circumstances but also to the state of the world.  As someone who has worked in environmental sciences for the bulk of my career I am very aware of the inexorable decline in the health of the natural world and the breakneck speed with which we approach the tipping point in global warming.

I feel like we are on the Titanic and the iceberg is looming in front of us. If I did not have children I might just shrug and say we’ve brought it upon ourselves and I’ll be dead before the worst of it but I’m scared for my kids and deeply worried about their future. And sometimes I voice those fears. I comment upon the news and argue against the policy makers who have their heads in the sand or their eyes only on their pocketbook.  I read, daily and deeply, the scientific reports from NOAA and NASA and the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Center for Science Education and I talk about what I read.

And apparently I scare people.  Recently I discovered that my personal little gray cloud had begun to drown the very people I’m trying so hard to keep afloat – my kids.  My youngest daughter started saying things like “what difference does it make, we’re all going to die anyway, we might as well just be dead now.” I was taken aback and told her that while, yes we were all going to die eventually what counted was what we did with our lives before then (even while feeling a complete failure in that regard myself).  When her negativity persisted I questioned her – she’d been visiting friends when the terrorist attacks happened in Paris and I thought she’d seen disturbing news coverage. I was deeply chagrined and concerned when she explained that it wasn’t the news, it was my discussion of the global changes and challenges ahead that made her feel that way.  Arrgh. Another year of Bad Mommy awards.

I have to admit to feeling fairly hopeless about ever regaining the life I once had – the nice job with a nice salary and benefits, the nice home, the feeling of security and prosperity.  I cling to the hope, however, that my kids can rise above the poverty and privation we continue to experience, and that their experiences will breed resilience and determination and the ability to face hardships and overcome them.  But I am realizing that somehow I need to also give them hope and that I’m not sure how to do.  I do believe they have the capabilities – the intelligence and abilities – to do well in life and I do try to convince them of this but I need to find some way to mask my feelings about my own life. I am very isolated here and sometimes forget that children can’t really enter into the sort of intellectual debates that another adult could or understand all the variables in play. I wish they were all old enough to fly the nest to better times and their own adventures and successes. But they aren’t so I need to hang in there for another 6 and a half years at least.  Gotta keep rolling with the punches and keep my mouth shut.

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5 Responses to Reflections

  1. Rita says:

    I feel you have worked to do nearly the impossible and succeeded. Sometimes you can look around and possibly come up with a different plan. Maybe an older house just outside the city limits. Not so many repairs as you have now. Possibly closer to work. I have researched depression meals. They give a grocery list and meals to fix 3 times a day. Healthy and cheap and easy to fix. A house like that can be bought or rented for very little. Even small payments for rent to own. The meals were from a home extension office set up for 5 people. My heart felt thought are that you need to make like easier for yourself. This world will take care of itself I check front page news each morning and that is it. News is trying to scare us to death and take our strength away. Pray so you can lean on God and not take all on yourself. If you need a new go fund me page then do it. We have all been there. Check a place called USDA. My cousin has received much help from them. Make a fire pit with old bricks for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. You can do this. No time right now to make things to sell. Maybe later. I hope a few comments have helped. I have been to this place you are in and if you can accept help for a while things will get easier. Hugs…rita

  2. Laurie says:

    I just wanted to wish you a happy bday as we share the same day. I have read your story from the beginning and I am heartbroken for you. I adopted my 2 daughters from China also. My first baby was 10 mos when we came home in 2005. She is now 11 and she is amazing. My 2nd daughter came home at 12mos and she is now 8. My mantra about being a mom is that both of my girls are all of my millions of dreams come true everyday. As a single mom living paycheck to paycheck I never thought we would have to do this. I am a nurse with 22 years of experience!!!! We do not have much left over,but we have our basics and I thank God for that everyday. As I look around in our world I often feel like so many people have all they need and are set and I want to be that person too. There are days were I get depressed about it and get angry with God. I currently am paying $650/mos for health insr. I work for a small allergy office and their insr sucks,but I have to do what I have to do. You should be very proud of yourself. You have accomplished a lot. Us single moms are amazing women and our trials and tribulations make us unique. You are doing your best everyday.

  3. bogart says:

    Very much what Peg said.

    Also, am I right in thinking that in time your new job may entitle you to a pension benefit? I know that won’t be a vast amount and assume there’s a tediously long vesting period, but all the same, if it exists — that is a very good thing.

    And … health insurance. I know what you have isn’t good for your situation and, and, and but — it is there (and in a brutal emergency, heaven forbid might be of some value).

    Plus — your lovely goats, and you have improved your home (and have a larger one than what you were in before, right? I have to think that space matters, with a group your size, the other shortcomings of the facility notwithstanding.

    And your daughter is in college — a really good one. That is huge. I know of course that that reflects significantly on her own work, but, you provided her with a safe space where she could achieve that, even with everything you have been navigating through.

    I hope you will enjoy a happy birthday, I really do.

  4. Rachael Macry says:

    Happy Birthday to all of us!!

    Peg has some great points.. even I felt encouraged, lol! Thanks Peg. You know- I had my own hard, hard, hard lean years and while it doesn’t seem like it today, you will one day be on the other side. You will get there. Wishing you strength and continued perseverance until such time as you can truly ‘exhale’.

  5. Peg says:

    It’s hard to prevent negativity from getting a toehold and taking us down but we do have voices to help us reach out others when the doldrums pull too hard. And on the plus side, you now have a lot of middle schoolers to amuse you with their energy and insights, in addition to your own cherubs. Five years ago you were, you were trying to purchase a mobile home – and you succeeded! Clearly you did not let anything hold you down! In the last five years, you sold off a ton of stuff, moved your family and belongings across the country, purchased another mobile home in a new state, on land that you needed to prep for the home. That is very different than moving a home to an established mobile home park. To help your kids and you adjust to life in an agriculturally based community, you took on animals and barn care, 4-H, and went back to school; investing in yourself and a totally new career.
    You are dedicated to your students and really do try to help them learn. It takes a few years for a teaching career to really begin to pay just as it does for most professions. You are starting over, so give it some time and you will likely merge into a more comfortable economic zone. Right now, this profession may provide you an insider’s view on what may be happening in your own children’s school day and that might be a plus! Maybe this summer, you can teach summer school to add to the family coffers. My point is that trying to make ends meet on one salary, with children, will tend to be tight, unless one has a very high salary.
    You now have one child in college and others that are happily embracing their new environment and are involved in their community and schools. All of this takes time and your guidance. Consider your family and your numerous successes! Your family talks to each other, supports each other – there are many families that would love to have the closeness and love you share. Maybe your dark cloud will lift if you consider celebrating the big and small events! You might want to play cards or a board game with your kids and/or extended family members and/ or others!
    Regarding celebrations – You, Rachel, ( a reader) and I ( a reader)all share a birthday this Sunday, along with probably one or two other readers, so to all the birthday celebrants, may all your good wishes come true! It is time to celebrate – how about a birthday month?

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