They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

5 Mar

It’s a fine late winter day, the kind that makes you believe that, yes Virginia, it will be spring again. The sun is warm and telling the snowbanks who is boss, there’s no wind, and you can smell it-you can smell spring driving down a country road, the wind in her hair and smell speckling her face.

Rosalyn turns 4 on Monday, so we venture out, as much to figure out what to get her as to get Mommy sweet deliciousness at Starbucks (yes, I’m addicted to my soy lattes. They know what I want before I order. So?) Turns out she’d like every Barbie and Princess toy known to man.

Good to know.

I’m standing with her, enjoying the diffuse light through the skylight while waiting for her father, as she points at “all the pretty puwses!”, feeling people rushing by on every side, the perfume in the air, the pretzel smell, the crying of small babies. I hear and see the blur, staring absently at a sale sign.

Soon, I might not have the money to do this.

Soon, my days of taking the kids to the mall and buying something treat like and pointless may be over. I may be taking a significant pay cut, and the extras, they’ll go out the window.

It’s not like I’m extravagant by any means-my idea of a treat is a 5$ coffee and a 10$ bottle of OPI. I buy most clothes and books for the girls, and a large amount for me, at thrift stores. I feel like I spoil my girls, but I know that I don’t.

I’m not necessarily bothered by the idea of having less money. I mean, yeah, I thought at 31, I’d have a stable job and income, a good income. But then, I don’t have a degree in anything aside from crazy, so why I’ve always thought that I don’t know. I suppose I felt that by this age, the nutty scraping by for money would be over. I never wanted to have to experience that with my kids. I know my parents did, and I at least wanted to be comfortable enough to just not worry-to be able to provide the basics and a little extra without stress. To grocery shop without worrying about coupons.

Part of me feels this relief-relief that I can stop pretending I’m something I’m not-putting on the “successful woman in business” mask never pleased me, and made me increasingly queasy as time went on. It wasn’t me. It’s been paying the bills, but it just wasn’t who I am. We don’t need to make 200K a year to survive-we’re not about that. Roof over the head, shirt on the back-and we’re good.

I sat purging through some old stuff, fuck, even clothes from high school, and found myself in our front room, surrounded by piles of kids books, oodles, 98% of them read multiple times, each with a specific memory. Most I paid maybe 75 cents for, but the joy they’ve given, it cannot be priced anymore than the absolute sanity that has descended upon my head since losing my job.

That’s right. There was a monkey on my back, weighing me down, hurting me almost, and once I walked out that door, he just…floated away and ever since I feel something odd-I feel happy. I feel sane. I feel like ME again.

I’ll trade the trips to the mall. I’ll make every recipe out of my casserole book for 2.50 a meal. I’ll do what I can to preserve this place I’m now sitting in-this place of warmth and love and joy, a place I never thought I’d find again.

I have this sneaking suspicion that losing my job will be the best thing that has ever happened to me.

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10 Responses to “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

  1. Bon March 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    dude, the positivity here is infectious….i am so happy, so incredibly happy, to hear you sounding…well…happy.

    i do think that wearing masks that don’t fit hurts us. whereas counting coins…so long as there is some reasonable income or fallback plan…not so awful. especially if the trade is happiness. i needed the reminder.

    i am finding the stress of looking for work a bit threatening these days, lurking on the horizon with its “what’s next?” whispers. at 37, with a bunch of degrees, i don’t have the stability or an income beyond maternity EI either. and what i’m trying to remember is, it’s not so bad. i like being home, at least most of the time. when i focus on what i don’t have, i feel like a failure and then the pressure builds. when i focus on what i do…it looks pretty different.

    trite, when written out like that. but huge, when lived.
    xo

  2. Hannah March 5, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    This made me smile. And then Bon’s comment made me go “uh, yeah!” because I have two mat leave cheques left and then… nothing. The job opportunity that I still think will pan out is very nebulous at this point for a bunch of dull reasons I won’t go into, and we are looking at an indeterminate period of time with one income.

    Even with the uncertainty, I am still (most days anyway) so happy to be home with the boys. Yes, our lifestyle has changed a bit – and may have to change even more – but on balance our life now is more what I had pictured for myself when I was younger.

    I guess what I’m saying is you rock. And the next few months should be quite the ride.

  3. Mad Hatter March 5, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Nothing sucks your soul like a bad job. Nothing. I am so happy for you that you are now out of it. Forever.

    BTW, I tweeted you about an hour ago re the awesome circus. You know, while you still have money…

  4. crazymumma March 5, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    It is far more important to feel some happiness than it is to drag in a huge paycheck.

  5. Jen March 6, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Happiness is good. I’m glad to see you happy.

  6. Jenny March 6, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    Just to boost you further, I made the same leap you are not so long ago. Different circumstances (my health was too poor to keep working at the time) but our income was cut by half when I stopped working. We planned as best we could and worked out, like you,we’d get by. But I wondered, like you, how to manage without that extra cash.

    It was maybe the best thing to happen to us as a family. Okay, we may be cash poor. Grocery shopping is back to basics. We let one car go and recently got rid of the other one in favour of bikes. But we cook better, make presents for people, enjoy simple nights in with friends instead of an expensive night out.

    I’m loving spending proper time with my kids, having the energy to keep my house working without eating into family time at weekends or in the evening. And I have to admit that part of me even enjoys being the ‘housewife’ while my hubby has the responsibilty of earning a crust.

    Most of all I’m well again and no longer worn out. Our mothers and aunts had the right idea wanting us to ‘have it all’ but for me it seemed like it just meant I had to ‘do it all’

    I think you are heading into this with totally the right attitude and seeing it as a real opportunity rather than a setback.

    Go girl!

  7. Marcy March 6, 2009 at 10:17 am #

    I am glad this free feeling, this lifted weight feeling, is continuing — finding its feet on what might indeed be some good solid ground.

  8. Meagan Francis March 7, 2009 at 9:44 pm #

    What a great attitude you have. Personally, I’ve been way broke and not-broke and everywhere in between, and my life is no better when I’m not-so-broke. In fact, there is something kind of satisfying about having a tight budget and making it work, as well as, like you said, having TIME. Good for you!

  9. Victoria March 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    It’s so wonderful to hear a positive attitude to something like losing your job. You’re truly a soul-sister surviver!

    And when someone faces a time like this, I think it’s so important to help each other in any way we can.

    I stumbled upon this article, written by Canadian moms, that gives tips on how to save money. They are extremely practical and quite helpful. Anything from saving money on pizza night to having movie night at home.

    Here’s the link: http://www.savvymom.ca/index.php/newsletter/save_a_little/

    As Curtis Mayfield said, “Move on Up!”

    Take care,
    Vicky

  10. mamatried March 15, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    You deserve some time off regardless to sit back and enjoy your life especially after such a big transition. And now that you have the time your energies can go in so many different directions which who knows what will be uncovered.

    Also, when I went to part-time I realized I was spending way less money in general because I had more time to invest in going to the library or making more meals at home or going to garage sales, etc.

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