Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ups and Downs

CHEMICAL UPHEAVAL

Not sure what's wrong with me lately. Normally, I have an inner contentedness, even when there's swamped-and-behind stress going on. Recently, though, I'm depressed; it mysteriously comes on for a couple of hours at a time. Migraine frequency has stepped up as well.

In the past, I've only felt this way while in my first trimester of pregnancy - usually weeks seven through eleven. No, definitely not pregnant. Must have something to do with my first post-partum cycles trying to return. Lots of upheaval hormonally. Emily is still nursing at least four times during the day and also at midnight and 5:00 am, but she goes back to sleep, usually until 7:15 am.

NO PATIENCE

I'm not patient. Did I mention that yet? When I decided I'd like to write for extra money rather than babysit, I wanted it to happen, like, yesterday. I've been perusing writers' websites, trying to get educated, and ending up mind-boggled instead. Getting an article published, which appears to pay a few hundred, on average, is a very competitive, time-intensive, secretarial-intensive process. Talk about raining on my parade! I just want $500 extra a month! How can it be so hard? Whine, whine, whine!

Looks like I'll be putting another babysitting ad in the paper. I've enjoyed the three children we've had in the past, but things happen - people move, get laid-off, kids get sick - and the income just isn't steady or stable enough.

I still want to write, but there isn't time or a desire to focus on a career right now. I just want a side job to help our family. While babysitting will do for now, I'll keep writing to see how God blesses it.

JOINING THE LESS-FORTUNATE

We moved to Ohio and purchased a home in August, 2005. We had profit from the sale of a California home to live on until Don, my husband, obtained employment. In 2005, you could get a home loan with thirty-percent down and good credit. Employment wasn't necessary, believe it or not.

Our home is in a rural area, with a large yard, fruit trees, garden plots, and a green house, which I WILL use someday. The previous owners, retired, spent sixty weekly hours in the yard. It is potentially beautiful, although we can't compete with what they did. We like to garden, but enjoy hiking and birding even more. We're only home bodies in the winter.

The bedrooms, three total, are very small. I've never experienced that before, as in California, the average three-bedroom house doesn't skimp on bedroom space, at least in the master bedroom. In fact, there's always a master bathroom.

Our living room here is quite large and there's a family room addition, which we use as a playroom. There's also a dining room addition, which we use only half of for dining. The other part we use for homeschooling.

The kitchen is a long and skinny rectangle; it's my least favorite room, as it sports 70's style tile on the walls (green/yellow combo) which won't come off without a good amount of chiseling. I'll definitely commence the chiseling when the kids are older and more independent.

This house is perfect for raising a family of three children. Modest, but spacious in the right places for active kids. We found it on the first day out house hunting. We wanted something for $100,000 or less, so I could stay home. Everything in that price range was a scary dump, but this one had our name all over it, for $110,000. Only carpet and paint were absolutely necessary; otherwise, it was move-in condition.

While Don has a degree, it is in Theology, which hasn't translated into a good living, so far. As a teacher, I was the main bread winner in California, although the last two years we were there I only worked part-time. Costs were too high and it wasn't working, so moving to a less expensive state was our only option. I have a few aunts here, and my husband's sister lives in PA, eight hours away.

Don is currently an elementary school custodian, working second shift Monday through Friday, and a six-hour first shift on Saturday and Sunday. Last year he also had a part-time Children's Director position at a church.

He is looking for another part-time job, but it would be better for our children if I babysit instead, so that Daddy can be here weekday mornings to spend time with them and help homeschool them; he enjoys that.

I don't write this to elicit sympathy, for we are a happy family and not to be pitied, but the writer in me wants to record the experience of slowly descending into near-poverty, which is what is happening. I see the Lord's hand in it. We've been blessed financially in the past, in a middle-class sort of way, a few times since marrying, but didn't exercise restraint in handling what God gave us. Our present situation is in large part the result of poor choices.

Due to the profit from the California sale, the descent into less-fortunate times has been gradual. The profit helped us for these two-and-a-half years, but now we find ourselves REALLY having to make tough and scary choices. By tough I mean not being able to get a haircut for nearly a year (me, not the boys), and by scary I mean getting down to our last $38 and having to wait four days until payday.

We've all heard that a good percentage of American families are a few paychecks away from poverty. Truly, we're doing something gravely wrong as a society. Out of necessity, I'll be learning about those grave wrongs, and perhaps I'll write a book about it someday.

Understand we always have what we need, which is all that God promises. Forget about the prosperity Gospel preachers - that's not what God's about. He's about shaping and molding his people into His image. Fairly free spending, which we were previously guilty of, doesn't fit.

That's a little background. The obvious answer is for me to get a teaching job, but leaving my children would absolutely break my heart - absolutely. I could never come to peace with that. And, although it fits for some, I don't think the Lord wants me outside the home.

Stay tuned as I chronicle our slow but sure ascent out of near-poverty, as we make the difficult choices and acquire the maturity and wisdom God desires for us and for our children. In a way, it will be a fun ride, knowing that each step is God-designed. My faith has never been stronger. Now.... if only my patience, or lack thereof, would catch up!

5 comments:

Mama P said...

Hi -

First off, I don't think there's anything wrong with complaining. It helps to get it out. Next step is to make plans to move forward.

Second - getting published can take a while. I wrote for TV, and it still took 2 years for me to break into magazine writing.

This said, however, there's a great website called http://freelancesuccess.com/

It's 89/year. I put off buying the subscription for a year due to my tight budget. But now I"m glad I have it.

Also, have you considered Ebaying?

I do believe that with determination you can do anything. But you have to be willing to wait.

That's what blogging is for. You keep the wheels greased while you figure out your strengths. Good for you for your great start!

Debbie in CA said...

Pam- I found your blog, thanks to Besty on BabyCenter. I can really relate to what you say and I too have put my life in God's hands. We are currently thinking about leaving CA because even with both of us working we are barely making ends meet. I want more - more time with my children, more time in the church, more time not worrying about money!

I, like you, usually gives these worries to God, however many times in my down moments these things get to me.

I enjoyed your blog and will continue to read.

Betsy Shaw Mackenzie said...

Don't be disheartened by the reality that writing is not a foolproof way to make money. I sometimes feel us writers do it because we have to, not because we want to.
Which is to say, writing is in our blood and although only a few of us ever make a consistent living from it, we keep on doing it just like painters, dancers, musicians etc.

As we all know, writing has its own rewards that reach far beyond the monetary.
On a more practical note, if you are determined, and truly love to write, you shouldn't talk yourself out of it. It takes time to gain an audience. Try your local newspaper, regional magazines, niche magazines. What about Guideposts? Check out their writer's guidelines and submit an essay or article idea. Tell your story. Selling your house and moving with three children and trying to make ends meet should give your plenty of material.
I'm rambling now. Don't lose heart.

momma's heart said...

Thank you to the writers for the advice and encouragement! I do love it! I would need a babysitter a few days a week to find time to pitch ideas and stories. I really want to homeschool and concentrate on the kids right now, but I've decided, after reading your encouraging words, that each school break I'll work on this dream in some way. Meanwhile, I'll keep blogging. It really is such a release.

I'll research newspapers and Guidepost first. Thanks!

I'm not familiar with "e-baying" the verb. lol Goes over my head like "RSS feed". Do you mean getting clothes for my kids that way - or other things we need?

Debbie from Ca - Thank you for writing! I will pray right now that your path becomes clear. I was probably near a nervous breakdown back in California. The pace is so different there, so I know what you mean about the time issue.

It seems strange, I know, but as a stay-at-home mom you won't always feel like you have "extra" time for the kids. You are all home messing up the house, and you fix three meals instead of two, so you find yourself in the kitchen a LOT either fixing or cleaning. You can compare it to the dynamics you experience when you're all home on the weekend. If your kids aren't school age, you'll find they interrupt you constantly with some need (drink, wipe me, etc.). You can barely remember what you were justing working on! LOL It can take all day sometimes to just finish some laundry and the dishes.

Just wanted to give you a heads up about that. I had dreams of having tons of time with them to do nifty crafts and go to museums and such, but those days aren't plentiful. That said, I wouldn't change a thing! I love being home - just as long as I can do my primal screams once in a while. :)

Jolyn said...

Let me just say how inspiring you are, as we coincidentally recently moved to Ohio ourselves and bought a house which is now exhibiting all kinds of issues which are draining our finances. I, too, don't consider doing anything but staying home with my little ones -- though I don't homeschool. You are very brave to upheave your family for a better life, and your faith is exemplary. I do think of the expenses we could pay if we stopped tithing for awhile, which is a temptation we are resisting. I am questioning many financial choices we have made, not just in the distant past but now in the present on things like home improvements, etc. Are they necessary and in line with God's will for us?
Here I've rambled and you don't even know me. Such is the blog world: easily distracting and now I must get back to "work". Just know that you touched a chord with a new reader.