Monday, August 17, 2009

What Happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

There is no pretty or poetic way to put this. Our finances suck. We are teetering on the edge of a financial abyss and we are not sure where the bottom is. And it SUCKS. Is it my fault because I "chose" to stay home with Nola? And I put "choose" in parenthesis because it wasn't really a choice as much as a necessity and the right thing for all of us but most importantly, the right thing for Nola. The fact is, I don't think I am to blame or should be blamed or should feel guilty (even though guilt certainly creeps into my head and heart often) because I know I made the right decision to stay at home with my child. She is happy and healthy and thriving and I don't think she would be the same child if she was away from me twelve hours a day and often more than that. My job was so far away from home. I just couldn't be that far from her. To me, it would have been irresponsible and cruel.



But I can't help being angry. We were the couple that did all the right things. I worked a job that wasn't "me" but it was stable and provided over half our income. We invested wisely. Paid our monumental student loans on time. Paid off credit card debt. Waited to have kids. Where did it get us? If I have any regrets, it is wasting all that time doing "the right things" when it didn't matter anyway. I wasted so many years in a job that took a little of my soul every day and driving a commute that I am pretty certain took years off my life. And all for naught. It is so demoralizing.

That said, I don't think I would change anything. Our successes and failures, our decisions good and bad, led us to Nola.

11 comments:

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

If it helps any, you are not alone. It's hard to find someone that isn't hurting because of the ecomony. Even with people who seem to be immune to it with day to day life...I am betting that their plans for retirement and the future have been greatly changed.

Hang in there!

Amie said...

Nancy, thanks so much. I keep reminding myself that we are just caught in this horrible economy along with so many other people. It's hard when those in my immediate circle seem to be unaffected. But they probably are and just aren't talking about it. This is such a puritanical country that money troubles equate with shame for a lot of people. Fortunately, I don't have that hang up but it is still disillusioning.

Existential Waitress said...

Almost everyone I know is hurting to some degree in this city - many I know have already lost their homes (obviously, LV is a mess right now). It's pretty scary. Carl and I have had quite a few discussions about what we'll do if we can't keep it together financially anymore and lose our house. Nevertheless, I still plan to stay home with the Maggie, even though some days I get freaked out and wonder if I should have already figured out a way to get a teaching degree or something. The way I see it, I only get one chance to parent my children at this age, and like you, I can't imagine leaving them with someone else while I work at a job that I despise. As long as we can keep food on the table I guess I'd rather stick it out for now and be poor.

Annika said...

Almost every time someone finds out that I stay at home with Sam, I hear some variation on, "Oh, you're so fortunate that you can do that." The implication being that we must be wealthy. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I want to print up a card that says, "Yes, I stay at home. We are fortunate, but not the way you think. Unless you define 'fortunate' as 'might lose our car any time now.'"

Amie said...

Annika, I know how you feel. Since when did taking care of one's own child become a "privilege" for the wealthy while the rest of are supposed to throw our kids in daycare like they are cattle. For all this country's talk of family values, we are pretty fucked up. And it seems the kids are the ones that get the most screwed. I read recently that they are finding more and more clinically depressed kindergarteners! Insanity.

And when did being poor become equated with something shameful? It's like we don't deserve to parent our kids the way we see fit because we don't drive a mercedes minivan. I worked at a school where very wealthy people enroll their children and I can tell you it is not wealth that makes children happy and thrive. So many of them were cared for by crews of nannies and housekeepers, tutors and chefs. Their parents were absent and the children were depressed. Yet those who had engaged parents were so much better off and it had nothing to do with a bank account.

ellemabelle said...

at least ur free of ur student loans darling! I havent even started, sigh. I'll die with them...

ellemabelle said...

ps this is a brutal fucking nation...i hate the French somedays, Lord knows I do and I always wish to see america again and then when I do...i feel like i've walked into some bad joke... we cant really have swallowed all the bill of goods the rich have been feeding us since reagan could we have?

Amie said...

Oh hell elle, I am nowhere near clear of my student loans and the interest just keeps piling on. I am pretty sure that I'll take these damn loans to my grave.

Jason B. said...

This is what a modern recession looks like. We have been in the last year on the dole, public health, and food stamps (although it's on a card now). As my employment changes (as it has so often since the move) some benefits change, increase, or go away completely. But it's a good life. We shop at thrift stores. Have one car. Student loans are killing us. Monica stays home and takes occasional costume work. I have such severe changes of mind and mood about it. All we can do is live in the moment and make one decision after another. But still I am depressed sometimes. My only hope is that the baby boomers have to retire one day and give up those good jobs. And one day the kids will be in school and all those people who stay at home will be able to return to the workforce without *too* much guilt. At least we're not washing laundry by hand in the river, right?

Jasmine said...

Like Nancy said... you are NOT alone. I stayed at home with my son the first (almost) two years.... My husband and I would have a hard time getting a couple of dollars for a burger- but it is totally worth it!
Things have a way of working themselves out, though.

Good Luck!

Amie said...

Thanks, Jasmine. I need to keep reminding myself that. And Jason, I agree despite it all, it is a good life.