the joys of personal growth

I kind of wanted to write a social justice-y post in honor of Martin Luther King, but it’s just not in me today.

We’re about two weeks away from the end of landisdad’s unemployment eligibility, and coupled with some bad budgetary times at my job, I’m feeling pretty desperate about money. I spent most of Saturday trying to figure out how we could cut our personal spending by quite a lot. Goodbye, three days a week of daycare for the Potato! Adios, dreams of buying a new car! Sayonara, buying new books and giving charitable donations!

It’s sobering, to say the least.

In addition to my worry about money, there’s also my fury at landisdad for landing us in this situation. Oh, it’s not fair for me to be angry at him. I recognize that. It also doesn’t help him find a job if I’m nagging at him and yelling at him all the time (trust me, I tried that). The problem is that we’ve come to a situation where landisdad’s psychological makeup and mine are in complete conflict with each other.

You see, landisdad grew up in a family that is generally wealthier than mine, and with much more supportive parents. I haven’t taken money from my parents since I was a freshman in college (nor have they offered any). It’s been a very long time since I felt that they are a safety net that will support me in a rough patch. Landisdad (luckily for us) does not have similar feelings about his family.

I’m not trying to say that landisdad isn’t stressed out about our financial situation–he is, although I don’t think that he’s spending the amount of time going over our finances in his head that I am in mine. Some of that has to do with our family dynamic–on a day-to-day basis, I’m the one who manages the money. But at the heart of it, he’s not afraid that he’s totally alone.

I’ve found it very challenging to overcome my instincts about how to deal with the situation. There’s a part of me that wants to get up every single day and start our life over again. To go to a new place, to sell our house, to find new work. Sometimes, those plans involve staying married, and quite frankly, sometimes they don’t. There are times when I can’t help thinking I’d be a better mother to my children if I wasn’t walking around pissed off at a member of our family every day. Then there are the times that I remember that part of being a good mother is showing them that families stick together, especially through times that are hard.

Like most people, landisdad and I pledged in our wedding vows to stay together rich or poor. Like most people, I didn’t think it was going to be so difficult. In the eight years that we’ve been married, I’ve had six different jobs, and he’s had four. Some of those job changes were voluntary, some weren’t. But it’s a little hard to find stability with all that change.

I should say, too, that’s it’s not as if we’re in a really desperate situation. We do have his parents’ support (although I’m somewhat pained to keep taking it). It’s not like we’re running out of food any time soon–it’s more that we have to decide to live on our savings for a while. In fact, I’m almost embarassed to write this post, because really, we still have it so much better than the majority of people in the world.

I know that it will get better eventually–he’ll find work, we’ll make cuts, the kids will live without Nickelodeon. I’m trying really hard to look for the silver lining in this cloud, and the one thing that I’ve come up with is that it’s given me the opportunity for substantial personal growth. Now if I could only convince my psyche that this is a healing experience…


January 15, 2007. growing up.


  1. Sandra replied:

    Sorry you’re having to deal with this kind of anxiety. I am like you, extremely anxious about money and I’ve never felt like there’s a safety net. In my experience, most opportunities for substantial personal growth suck. Good luck.

  2. Andy replied:

    I’m sorry you are having to go through all of this. As you know, I’m dealing with some work-related stresses myself right now. I hate to vent about it, but sometimes it’s hard not to. Nothing is more stressful than money-related things – for me anyway. I hope it all clears up quickly and doesn’t cause too much family stress.

  3. elise replied:

    I know you are probably just venting but I just wanted to say, go ahead and have all those feelings but STAY MARRIED! I’ve been married almost 20 years now and your feelings tend to go up and down. Its just the way it is. I guess there are some people who feel madly in love everyday of their marriage but for the majority of people with good marriages that’s not reality. You have to stick it out through these times and realize that’s life. Its not fair to your marriage to make any decisions during such a time of stress. Again, I know that you are probably just venting things that would never come to light but I’m hoping you can take some comfort from a person who’s felt similar things but stuck it out.

  4. Deidre Aufiero replied:

    Don’t apologise because there are people in a worse situation that you. Your life is what concerns you, what you have to react to.

    I sat over coffee with a friend whose husband is currently on unemployment and has a job offer with an employer he previously left that he’s sitting on, looking for something better. She said, on the one hand, “I don’t want him to take a job just to take a job,” and on the other hand, “no one can make it on what unemployment pays.” Even though they’re trying to keep it from their daughters, they know something is up: the older one (7) wet her pants three times in one day.

    I know I occasionally feel that mothering would be easier I was the one and only supreme ruler of the family, but in reality, I can only focus on my children and give them my best because I don’t have the survival worries. I honestly can’t think of anything worse than being a single parent.

    The healing doesn’t come until the wounding is over, and it sounds like you’re still in the midst of it. You’ll make it. You will.

  5. Suzanne replied:

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this tough time. It sounds like you have a healthy grip on things — the fact that you can both express anger and balance that out with insight into its reasons and effects is a good sign, I think. I hope that this rough patch ends soon.

  6. Leggy replied:

    I’m very sorry you are going through this. We are having some money issues of our own lately (not as extreme) and I find it stressful. I hope you can come to some kind of resolution that works for both of you.

  7. Kimberly replied:

    I agree with Deirdre that you owe no apologies for feeling the stresses of your personal situation. Just because other people have different realities doesn’t make this any less hard for you.

    As to the assertion that Single parenthood is the worst thing in the world, however, ouch. Much like anything in life, it is what it is. But it’s not a fate worse than death. My girls and I live a very happy, stable life. We have enough. Do we have an over abundance of cash? No. But they live in a nice enough home, are well fed, well dressed, and certainly well loved.

    Personal growth sucks. As does money. Sorry things are stressful right now, and I hope you end up in a good place soon.

  8. alala replied:

    Yeah, single motherhood wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me, not by a long shot.

    Um. Not that I think you should try it! No! I just, you know, wanted to show some solidarity with Kimberly and point out that it has its good points, as well as the bad ones. Off topic, much? Sorry.

    Okay, on topic: yeah, we may be in a similar situation at the end of this year and I feel for you, I do. I really hope things take a turn for the better, and I do think it will ultimately be good for your marriage because when seas get stormy again, you’ll be able to say “Well, we survived that, so we can survive this.” Maybe not a healing experience so much as a Strengthening Exercise.

    Good luck.

  9. Jeff replied:

    Hang in there. Everything for a reason, even if that reason is impossible to see right now. Situations like you and landisdad are going through right now define you and your relationship together and with your kids. You will come out better on the other end. Better people and a better couple. Just hang in there.

    No one learns anything valuable or long-lasting in the good times…”without struggle there can be no progress”. That is my favorite quote, from Frederick Douglas.

  10. Anjali replied:

    I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. It stinks having to be on the financial edge. It’s stressful beyond belief (been there, done that).

    I also appreciate your honesty. Crises make marriage so much harder. I’ve heard people say, “oh, our marriage is so much stronger because of such and such.” Well, I think it makes it a million times harder.

  11. Phil replied:

    If my wife and I were rich, we’d probably never fight. I don’t know why we get hung up on finances… it’s kind of dumb to fight over money. Money shouldn’t matter. But.. it does.

  12. Jessica replied:

    That sucks. I’m sorry you’re going through this. As others have said – hang in there and hopefully things will get better soon. My parents were divorced and I swore I would never, ever get divorced. But I didn’t realize that there would be times when keeping that promise to myself would be so damn hard. I’ve learned that every marriage has its rough spots and hopefully we can work through them. For me, working through those things and coming out the other side together has been the best thing in terms of personal strength and emotional maturity.

    I give you lots and lots of credit for being honest and reminding us all that we share the same struggles.

  13. mom & much more replied:

    I don’t think it’s a healing experience, but it’s definitely a patience exercise. Lack of money is one of the hardest issues to deal with. You can get away with simple food, no new clothes and books checked out from the library for a while, but with daycare, healthcare, etc. there is no such easy solution. I hope you’ll be able to convince your psyche so that you have your common sense and optimism when you need it most.

    As for the safety net, my husband is very uncomfortable with my parents trying to help us financially. But my answer is that if they can do that, there is nothing wrong with it. Yes, we’re independent and responsible adults and must rely on ourselves, but we’re also an (extended) family. And in a family people help and support each other. If the situation is reverse, I’ll do what I can to help his or my parents.

  14. Comfort Addict replied:

    LM, I am so sorry for this situation you are going through.

    I have had my own experience with money problems, both over the years and lately. I grew up in an affluent suburb of Detroit but we were on the wrong side of the metaphorical tracks. Though we always had food, we were often in financial trouble. Money was a real stress on my parents’ marriage.

    Now, I’m paying two mortgages and a home equity line of credit. That means that a lot of things go on hold and get minimized. I haven’t been in this mode in my adult life since I was much younger. It doesn’t wear as well now (approaching 50) as it did then.

    During this time, my dad, who lives with us now, has been slipping me money at the beginning of each month. I protest but to no avail. He says that he has it (which he does, having sold his house) and is happy to give it. It seems as though it would really hurt his feelings to refuse it. In a way, I wonder if represents the money he may not have been able to give earlier in life.

    You seem life a very self-sufficient person, LM, like Mrs. CA. I can understand how you’d feel badly taking support from LD’s parents. I’m glad that you are able to take the help nevertheless.

    As for your marriage, I only know what you write. Based on that, I’d advise staying together. Mrs. CA and I have had lots of twists and turns. As we’ve grown to know each other better, we have found out certain differences between and unpleasant things about each other, some of which are irremediable. Regardless, there are some things (values, character, personality, little things) that make me glad I’m with her. I’ll bet that, though they may be drowned out by the noise of the current stress, you have the same feelings for LD. Remember those as you go through the struggle.

    I do have one piece of advice, hard-learned in my own life. Tell LD, if possible, what is really important to you. Sometimes, this is better than telling what bothers you. When you think about it, it’s the same thing. However, it aims to give you what you need by telling what you need instead of what you don’t.

    As for relocating, I’d tell you to come to Michigan but I wouldn’t want to make things even worse for you (the economy, you know; we are America’s one-state recession, the one they never talk about). If you ever do venture this way, though, we Michiganders would be happy to have such a passionate, caring family in our midst.

    I wish you and the family luck on all fronts. Take care.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback URI

%d bloggers like this: