(This post is from a couple weeks ago. I removed it to make some changes.)
My husband lost his job on September 16, 2009. The whys or hows of it do not matter; what matters is that he is still not working. I can say, without a doubt, this is the hardest thing we have faced in our nearly 14 years of marriage. And of course I try to be grateful that this is all we're facing because I know it could be so much worse; life is unpreditable, life is not fair.
Fortunately for us, my husband's former employers paid him severence until October 31, so he did not have to claim unemployment benefits until November first. Back on November first, even December, January or February first, six months of UI benefits sounded like quite a bit. Now, just after we've passed April first, six months seems like a very short amount of time when there are no job prospects on the horizon.
In all this time, he has applied for more than 140 jobs. He's applied for those beneath his skill level, equal to his skill level, and above his skill level. He has had one interiew. One interview, one call in all this time.
I don't claim to be an economics expert or even a novice. I took a basic econ class during college and learned about supply and demand of widgets. I can honestly say I didn't learn anything that helps me understand the current recession. I've seen news reports, I see Obama all over the TV, I hear about how things are turning around, there's more jobs, higher stocks, etc. Just Monday I received a news update on my phone about how the stock market ended the day above 11,000-higher than it has been in well over a year. What does that even mean? And how does this healthcare reform help anything? I'm pretty sure I don't know at all.
But here is what I do know: my husband is out of work. I'm sure there are so many families facing this situation who are saying, "I had no idea it would go on this long." Well, I really had no idea it would go on this long. I mean in the back of my mind I thought about it and worried about how we would deal with it if he couldn't get a new job within six months. But I NEVER thought it would actually happen. But, here we are, facing the end of the unemployment benefits, hopefully qualifying for the federal extension, with no real job prospects to speak of. Financially, I think we'll be okay and we will deal with whatever comes. It is beyond our control. I try and focus on the positive to help me through. We can pay our bills and are not late on anything; I have a great job with good health benefits; we are still getting UI benefits; and best of all my husband has been able to spend oodles and oodles of time with our son. We have not had to pay even one cent in childcare costs since last summer and that feels GREAT! Who better to raise our son than us?
But the emotional burden is a heavy one. For both of us.
It difficult for my husband who has been working since he was in high school, to sit home day after day waiting for the phone to ring. I know he feels the pressure of being the man of the house and thinking it's his job to provide for the family. I keep telling him to enjoy this time since he'll NEVER have it again, this is his last vacation EVER, but the stress of the situation seems to overshadow all of that. What he wants is a job. I fear that when he gets one (and he WILL get one) that he'll look back on this time with regret and feel like he took it for granted. But that's the hindsight thing and who knows how he'll really feel. He's also a little lonely and bored. None of his friends are off during the day so it's not as if he has anyone to hang out with. Not a lot of SAHDs (Stay at Home Dads) in our circle, unfortunately.
After a lot of contemplation last summer, we had decided that I would reduce my work schedule from 40 to 30 hours so that I could be home to take our son to and from school. I worked that reduced schedule for a whole two weeks before my husband's job loss, two blissful weeks. I am so grateful that I was able to promptly return to a full time schedule, grateful from a financial standpoint. From all other standpoints, I'm just resentful. I wanted to work less, I wanted to be home with our son taking care of the house. It's not fair that just when I finally decide to cut back my hours, I can't.
I also feel as though I have lost some faith in humanity. The whole situation surrounding the termination leaves me feeling hollow and sad for so many reasons, and I'm not sure I will ever feel like I can give up the security and stability offered by my own employer and rely on my husband's. We had always had a goal for me to cut back and back and back until I was not working at all. I don't see that happening now. Ever. At any moment the rug can be pulled out from under you. For this reason, we both need to work, and work hard, and earn as much money as possible to keep our future as secure as possible. No, it's not all about money, but money sure helps.
And, while it has made my life easy having my husband at home, taking care of the house, being there for my son, it's also been quite frustrating. I am jealous as hell. I want to be home taking care of things. I want to have countless hours to do nothing, something, whatever I feel like. I sit here thinking about all that I'd get accomplished, how much I'd work out, all the healthy meals I'd make from scratch, but who am I kidding? I'd probably just really hone my napping skills.
I know he'll get a new job at some point. I tell myself that all the time, and that what is meant to be will be. Que sera sera. And in the meantime, we'll hang in there, as millions of families are hanging in there across the nation. What other choice do we have? You either deal with it as best you can, or you go crazy with worry. I choose to deal; pass the cards.
"You cannot control the cards you are dealt, just how you play the hand." --Randy Pausch
"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength." --Corrie Ten Boom