The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wanting what you can't have.

I've long been of the sort of wanting what I can't have, not to say that there haven't been times in my life when I've had absolutely everything I've ever wanted - but yet still found myself wanting.  I've learned that at those times, I was just being completely selfish and material and there were things in my life that I was missing and didn't even realize I wasn't missing them at all because they weren't my focus. 

But now that I've come to readjust a lot of the priorities in my life, why am I still left feeling wanting? I should be mature enough now to realize what's really important and that some things just don't matter for a hill of beans in this lifetime, short as it is.  Other times, I'm throwing mental temper tantrums in my head over what I don't have, what I can't have.

I've been through ups and down throughout my adult life.  My childhood and adolescence weren't financially difficult as far as I knew.  There wasn't too much that I asked for that I didn't get.  Our family life imploded, however, when my Dad lost his job in my first year of college and it was a tremendous blow to our family.  We went from having little or no worries to... well a lot of people know what that feels like.  I ended up putting myself through the next three years of college by working and carrying a full load of credits.  I was able to do it though, quite possibly because I've always been able to burn the candle at both ends as they say and just get it done.  By the time I graduated college, my parents had been through the ringer, but my Dad was back to working, though he had been broken by the experience, his health had suffered, their marriage suffered.  Upon my college graduation, I had secured a job and an apartment and a car and was on my way - but I had to postpone my fifth year of college that would have garnered my professional/practicum year and teaching certificate.  I thought I would get the chance to go back after some time working. 

God had other plans.  About this time was when my dear husband came into my life and that whole story could be a series of blog entries on its own and it would read like a fairytale, and in a lot of ways, it still is. 

When we starting to think about having children, we were living the big life.  Both of us were working, my husband was doing exceptionally well.  These were the 90's after all and we were driving $50,000 cars and had, gasp, expendable income.  We planned every detail.  We would save money, buy our dream house, then have children.  Well, things worked out for the most part in that order, however, we found our dream house a bit before we were ready, but we went for it.  Having children proved to be a bit more difficult than we thought, but a few months after moving into said dream house, I was pregnant.  I had spent the prior couple of years learning how to work from home to make a supplemental income so that I could be a stay at home mom.  Six months after our first child was born, my husband lost his job and then came the fall.

Looking back, the most positive outcome of that happening was that he got to be home for almost a year of our first child's life and I think it really created a bond between them that they wouldn't otherwise have.  Some of the negatives that came from it were our first child was around for the years of struggle that ensued during her young life.  Of course she didn't know what was going on until she was a bit older, but by the time she was about 4 and I had miraculously become pregnant with daughter #2, we had planned to sell the dream home, I had to find work outside the home, and we had get into a new house.  Fortunately, we did all of the real estate transactions before the housing bubble burst.  We were able to find a very nice home when I was about 8 1/2 months pregnant and moved in six weeks after our new daughter was born.  At the same time, my dear husband started his third in a series of jobs.  We had hit all of the major stresses in life in short amount of time. 

Sadly, though, our financial life has never fully recovered.  We aren't poor by any means, but we aren't rich either.  We are in that middle category - we don't make enough for a lot of things and we make too much for any type of help.  Herein lies my struggle with wanting what I can't have. 

Even though I went to college and have the ability to go out and find a high powered career and often times I think about where I would be if I had been working full time the last 10 years, instead of part time just to get a paycheck jobs, the only thing I ever wanted to be even before college was a stay at home wife and mother.  Even in high school I fantasized about it, when all my girlfriends were eyeing up the corporate ladder as products of the 80's, I fantasized about a beautiful home that I could make beautiful myself, being home with my babies, then when they were in school, I would cook and clean and maybe have a hobby or two, but I would be there for them and for my husband.  One of the happiest years of my life was a few years before we had children, my husband was making enough money that I quit my job and stayed home for a year and did nothing but be a housewife.  A real housewife, not the reality television variety.  I was happy to iron shirts, and clean, and cook, and create a home that I loved and that he loved coming home to. 

When I was growing up, I had a few friends whose mom were housewives and nothing more, maybe they sold some Tupperware or Avon, but no jobs outside the home.  Granted, my mom didn't go back to work full time until I was in about third or fourth grade, but it wasn't the same after that.  These friends of mine I was completely jealous of through I would never admit it.  Where I went home after school and my sister was there to "watch" me, I was pretty much on my own until 5:00.  A lot can be done in that short amount of time with no supervision, even at that young age and this was at a time where you could leave your house alone and wander the neighborhood.  My other friends had moms who made fantastic after school snacks.  They helped with homework.  They listened to us talk about our day and boys and whatever else was going on.  I had one girl whose family I really envied.  And for as much as I teased her it was only because I wanted to be her.  Her mom wouldn't allow her to wear Jordache jeans and Lipmackers.  I don't think she wore make up until senior prom actually.  They were at Mass every Sunday right up front but not to put on airs, that's just the way they did it.  There were three girls and a boy and they all were beautiful.  Where I was loading on the make up from probably 12 years old on, they never had a stitch on, and they were beautiful.  Their Dad was a college professor and I just thought that was fantastic.  I used to call them the Little House on the Prairie Family and my friend was Laura Ingalls and I loved and hated her at the same time. 

Anyway, now I'm really rambling.  Currently, I'm struggling with what I want but can't have.  For the past 7 years my life has morphed into being completely outside what I, what we, had planned for it to be like.  At this point, I have to work at least part time.  I have no choice in the matter.  And we don't live lavishly by any means.  We have so many home repairs to make I'm embarrassed to have guests over.  Recently I switched from working nights to working while my children are in school which leaves me no time to do anything at home that I used to do.  Weekends are now for cleaning and laundry, etc.  And my dear husband, up and at 'em early every Saturday morning, dust cloth in hand ready to tackle the chores.  I love him for it but I hate that he has to do it.  It's my job.  If I talked like this to most people, they would think I was crazy. I took pride in the fact that years back he never had to do anything like that around the house, not that he wouldn't if I asked, but because I wanted to do it and I loved doing it.  I love cooking and having dinner on the table when he comes home.  I love ironing all of his shirts and have his weekly wardrobe hanging for him.  I am still able to be home when my girls get off of the school bus each day, but I'm exhausted by that time because I just arrived home from work moments before.  I'm aggravated within minutes of them clamoring for this or that, when I used to relish making snacks and the like. 

I keep hoping, we keep hoping, that my husband is finally going to reach the level that he was at before but it just doesn't seem to be happening for him right now.  He's frustrated.  I'm frustrated.  We both are exhausted.  I know he's not where he wants to be career wise but, like a lot of people today, he's happy to have a job at all.  He's frustrated and feels taken because he went to college and did what he was supposed to and every day sees people that are not really good people, getting ahead.  I'm frustrated because I think I'm failing as a wife and mother because I have to work and I'm not here for them like I want to be, like I should be.  I'm angry that I can't just be a housewife because it's not what people do today.  The only solution at this point is to downsize our home once again, but in today's market, selling our house would be impossible and we wouldn't make any money on the deal.  I'm angry because my closest family family members don't have to work at all, but yet still want to work part time for "extra" money.  What the hell is extra money?  I have another family member who isn't married, but has two children, and still lives at home with her parents, rent free, basically everything free, but flaunts her shopping sprees and every month travels, goes to the tropics or on cruises or to concerts or where ever.  We struggle with every single financial decision we have to make, and I mean every single one.  We've been able to give our girls the best of what we can, but at the expense of a lot of other things and I fear we are both starting to resent it, well probably more me.  I can't remember the last time my husband did something for himself or bought something for himself.  My oldest daughter wants to take music lessons or other things in the worst way, but we just can't do it.  Increasingly, we are becoming part of the group of have-nots in our social circle and the girls are starting to recognize it more and more.

I don't know how to make them feel better about it when I feel horrible.  How can I teach my children gratitude when every day I ruminate on what I want but I can't have? 

I know I'm not alone in this struggle.  I know I have it way better than a lot of people.  I just don't know how to get to the point of being okay with how things are right now.  How do I stop being jealous? How do I stop being resentful? How do I stop feeling that all of this is a punishment?  A lot of the times I feel like I'm the one bringing every one down because I'm the weak link.  If it weren't for me and my past, they would all be better off.  I'm Jonah, I think, and my family just needs to throw me overboard.  But, am I Jonah because of what I have done or what I haven't done?  Housewives don't have abortions, or if they do, they don't talk about it.

Lately, my girls have been acting up more and more with the attitudes and the mouth, etc. as girls are known to do (but I'm sure the Little House on the Prairie Family never did!).  I know that much of their acting out is a direct reflection of my behavior.  They see me unhappy with my lot in life, what else are they supposed to do?  Most likely, my life is forever changed and I have to find some way to accept it for what it is now instead of what I want it to be. 

1 comment:

  1. I have a hard time with this jealousy as well.

    What I remind myself of, is this: when we all die, what will it matter? When we stand before God, does any of that mean anything? All I know, is I will have myself, my choices, and the children I have raised. As much as I'd LIKE XYZ, we are fortunate enough to live comfortably on our income, and budget very carefully (my husband likes Dave Ramsey) so that we can afford to do that which we want to do.