MLK Day Meltdown

I have been trying desperately hard not to carry our baggage from 2012 into this shiny bright new year. With the exception of watching Grace thrive, and the joy that comes from parenting her, 2012 otherwise sucked goat balls, pretty much, and it was with wide open arms that I welcomed the new year. So far, though, 2013 isn’t turning out much better, with three out of the three of us sick with wicked colds throughout the month, the check engine light coming on in one of our cars and the rental car company Ian used for a business trip claiming damage it didn’t “catch” during the walk through when he turned the car in.

Today I broke down and cried about all of it in front of Ian. It feels like such a shameful thing, to cry about money, especially when in many ways we have more than enough. What we don’t have, it seems, is enough to get ahead in any sort of meaningful way ever since our savings was wiped out last year thanks to a startling number of household disasters. It’s frustrating because I don’t feel like my desires are anything extravagant – I’d like to finish paying off the loans we incurred for school and I’d like a solid savings account beyond our retirement accounts. I actually do not want MORE money, what I want is for ovens and ceilings and cars and cell phones to STOP BREAKING so I can allocate the money we do have to achieve our goals. I recognize we don’t really need more money – we need one-thousand dollar plus problems to stop cropping up.

I just finished reading Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott (when you are too sick to make it to church it’s a good idea to read Anne Lamott) so I know that God is right here, in the middle of my small family, and a problem isn’t a problem if the solution requires money, but the truth is I don’t want God’s help for this – He should be in Algeria or Syria or Washington D.C. and yes, I know, He is everywhere all at once but I don’t want to use His grace for this – for something as base as money concerns. What I want is respite – even a few months would do, although more than that would be fantastic – of things to stop collapsing.

It feels so low, to cry on Martin Luther King Day, a day that is also doubling as Inauguration Day for our President. A day that I get paid to stay home from work, even. Ian and I watched the inauguration and tried explaining to Grace why she is so lucky to have been born in America, especially as a girl.

“There aren’t somany other countries where you’d want to be born a girl,” I said, even though I realize she isn’t even two years old yet. Grace stared at the television, pointed at Judge Sotomayor and asked “Is that a mama?”

Sadly, I couldn’t even answer her. My gut instinct says no, Judge Sotomayor is not a mama but the truth is I simply can’t remember whether or not she has children. I will have to look that up on wikipedia later. Instead, I said something along the lines of her being a mother to our country which ultimately ended up making no sense but had the best of intentions behind it.
It is evening, and things are better now. Ian and Grace went shoe shopping (even when the check engine light is on in the car, people still need new shoes) and both returned happy – I was able to write the beginning of this post. Grace and I luxuriated in her bath and bedtime, taking extra time to glide her rubber ducky across the bathwater, reading extra bedtime stories. Ian is drinking a manhattan and I have a glass of red wine – he is stirring a risotto on the stove. In a way, it makes me even wonder why I started writing about money problems – what an awful topic for a blog post!

I know why, though. When I started this blog, I committed to the idea that it would be, as much as possible, real-time dispatches from life as I live it. I read blogs – LOTS of blogs – and I know there are authors putting together the most carefully crafted, beautiful posts – full of lovely constructed photos of their children and crafts and prayers and recipes – and there are just as many authors writing about finding grace and God in the every day of family life – and then, because the internet is endless – there are just as many authors writing about how HARD everything is, because in terms of relationships and blogging, HARD TRUTHTELLING is the new black, and I know I don’t have a tremendous amount to offer, on any of those fronts, because I am not constructed in any of those ways. Instead, I’ve learned that, as much as anything else, I can talk and write about the day-to-day, so that’s what I am doing here.

So. This month. I’ve managed, with my my 2013 Fiscal Responsibility New Year Plan, to actually save ten percent of one of my paychecks. We may have to pay out 4 times by the conclusion of the month, but what the heck. There are highs and lows in every day, but there is very little at the end of the day that a toddler’s bathtime, risotto, a husband who let’s you cry, and a glass of wine can’t fix.

4 thoughts on “MLK Day Meltdown

  1. Having followed you elsewhere for awhile, I am aware of some of those unexpected things you’ve been through & wondered how you remained seemingly optimistic about it. I know this will sound too optimistic, too untrue, and maybe a bit smarmy, but I still get — in order — an anxious increased pulse, a headache, tears when the check engine light comes on, even though I am not in those early days of my family/career/homeownership where such things seem overwhelming. What we all need to do — and it’s so damn hard! — is to find a way to turn that check engine light into a warning sign to pay attention to those things that bring us light & love: the toddler’s bath, the spouse making a yummy dinner (or anything so you don’t have to) and a glass of wine to bring us, if not serenity, at least a little perspective.

  2. I can’t tell you how much I love this post! I’m so glad I finally made it over to this new blog! This is beautifully written and sums up a lot of what I have been feeling lately but haven’t really been able to articulate (hence, my lack of blog posts for weeks now…) I know that I have so much to be grateful for, but lately I find myself wallowing in the weeds a bit and I’m having a lot of trouble picking myself up. And in the end, that’s really what’s important – that we have the ability to see the forest through the “weeds” and appreciate what matters most. I am not there at all, but I know I will get there eventually. Thanks for leading the way with your truth and optimism.

  3. Thanks Anne! I tend to be a naturally positive person – it’s sort of how I’m wired – but this last year as really put me through the ringer. I know that there can be bad stretches like this – and someday a REALLY bad stretch will put all of this in perspective. I like the idea of using the check engine light coming on as yet another reminder of turning toward the light!

  4. 2013 is supposed to be a fiscally responsible year for me, too. However, I started with deep depression over Newtown, then Bob’s aunt died, now another member of our congregation has died, and I had a chest cold for nearly two months. Our finances seem like both a very unimportant thing (compared to death and gun violence and illness) as well as a monumental task (every time I think about tackling our bank account and tracking our spending and coming up with some sort of workable budget), and I’m basically behind in my other New Year’s resolutions (started a new blog yet? No. Revived my old blog by posting once or twice a week? No. Any pen pals received any letters from me lately? No), and I don’t even have a toddler, nor has the “check engine light” come on in our car (yet), although we did run over a nail and had a slow leak and had to have the tire patched in one of our cars, so I completely sympathize. You should be proud that you’ve done what you’ve done, and I always think a good cry helps us move on (I always loved that scene in Broadcast News when Holly Hunter has her cry before getting down to business). Maybe we all need to think of January not as the month to start resolutions and to make sure we have a better year than last (it seems I’m always starting new years like that now) but rather as the month to recover from Christmas and to enjoy snuggling up in blankets and reading whatever comforts us. In fact, New Year’s resolutions should begin in the spring, when we all get our energy back and everything is truly new and fresh.

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