Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Everything Else

Yes, yes, the staycation photos are coming, but first I thought I'd take a minute to sit down and write about all the stuff that I've not taken the time, or made the effort, or wanted to think about enough to write about over the past, oh, month or so.

Basically, we've been stressing here over a variety of issues, starting with the fact that we're about broke. Not can't-buy-food, gonna-lose-the-house broke, but shopping-at-Aldi-and-clipping-coupons, about-to-use-the-second-mortgage-to-pay-the-first broke. Which is way too broke for my taste.

I know we've been damn lucky to have made it this long without a real income from me, and we couldn't have done it without significant help from my parents, and from some lucky timing on a few different things that have come through just when we needed them.

In fact, every time we've been thisss far from having to start using that home equity line of credit to pay for basics like mortgage and medical and oh shit, how much did we spend on groceries this month? we've had something work out just right to save us for a bit, to buy us a little more time.

But this time, we're looking at about three weeks to an empty savings account, and not a lot promising on the horizon.

I am doing some web design work, and at a great hourly rate, for which I am very grateful, and without which we wouldn't have made it this long, but it's just not enough hours to cover what we need.

And, I have the online store, and it brings in some money, but again, not nearly enough.

So, wrapped up in the same stress about what I need to do to bring in more money, is the question about school for Peeper. When we first started really stressing about the money, I was also worrying about whether we were doing the right thing by not sending her to preschool this year, but now that she says she wants to go, I'm worried about how we're going to pay for it, and whether it's an extravagance, given our current situation.

And we're not at all certain exactly what she might be doing in a couple of years, for kindergarten or beyond. We have lots of options on the table, including the neighborhood public school, the local Montessori, and the local school district's co-enrollment virtual academy. Of course, every option has many pros and cons, and many things that we feel like we should be doing now! right now! to get her (and us) prepared.

The school question is very wrapped up in the financial question, because for every option, we have to consider some combination of factors like the possibility of tuition (with or without financial aid), the feasibility of me continuing to not work full time, the limitations on our family time because of Shrike's work schedule, and so on, and of course the answers to each of those questions are in directly conflict with each other!

To some extent, I feel a bit less pressure about that since she's expressed an interest in going back to Mother's Day Out in the fall (in three weeks, actually!), in that at least I'm not worrying that she should be going, and we will begin to get a feel for how she does in a sort of "traditional" (albeit play-based) classroom., and whether or not that looks like a good fit for her, and she will begin to get used to being away from us for longer periods (that's the part we're worried about, of course, given how it went last time around).

But, as I said, it just adds to the financial pressure, because there's another hundred-plus bucks a month (and more next year, if we go to three days, as we probably would) that we don't have.

Oh, and she says that she does want to take dance class again, so that's another thirty-something a month, plus how many pairs of shoes for her feet that seem to be a new size every week these days.

Yeah, I don't think I can clip that many coupons.

So, the best (least unacceptable) "solution" that we have been able to come up with is for me to start substitute teaching a few days a week.

Well, actually, our first choice was for me to do more web design work, so I hit up a couple of different companies, hoping to pick up at least some of their overflow or maybe even a part-time position, and found out that they had both just hired new developers. Day late and a dollar short, as usual.

So, back to the subbing thing. I started filling out the online application, and before I'd even gathered and submitted all of the materials, they called me to set an appointment for filling out paperwork, which I did today.

School starts on Monday, but I still have a few more hoops to jump through before I can actually start teaching, including the drug screen, which I can do just about any time, and a physical including a TB test, which I may not be able to get for a couple of weeks, unless I can grab one of those last-minute appointments that the doctor's office fills at 7 am.

This is far from an ideal solution - hell, it's far from a solution - because even working three days a week, I won't make enough to fully cover what we need (and I really don't want to work more - if I were going to work full time, I'd do something that paid more), we haven't quite figured out how I'm going to manage even that, logistically, because Shrike needs to leave for work around 2:15 pm, and the secondary schools dismiss at 2:50. Even if I were at the one closest to our house, it would be hard to get home before 3 pm.

Shrike's parents say that they can watch her for that hour or so of overlap, but they are pretty busy and it's hard to line things up with them ahead of time, let alone getting a call at 7 am, as is pretty typical when you're subbing.

I'm sure we have friends who would offer to help, and if it were a one-time thing, I'd take them up on it, but it's going to be multiple times a week (assuming I get as much work as we need me to) and I wouldn't feel right about that unless I were paying them and, oh hey, there's even less money that I'm bringing home.

I'm also just not thrilled about the prospect, in general, because I hate the idea of being away from Peeper three days a week, even if two of them are the days that she's in school. Of course, it makes sense to try to work those days, rather than when she's home, but I feel like I'm going to miss out on a lot if I'm not there for the drop-offs and pick-ups on most days.

And then, there's that whole thing about how I taught for nine years and quit because I kind of hated it. I love teaching people things (which I was reminded of when I was at the Learning Center), but I really did not enjoy pretty much everything else about being a public school teacher.

Some of that will be better as a sub (if one kid is a little shit, you don't have to see him day in and day out, and no preparation or grading to do) but some will be worse (all the kids are little shits for a sub, and walking into a classroom completely unprepared every day).

Right now, we don't really see any other solution, though, so I guess that's what we're going to do for the time being. I have to keep reminding myself that subbing is not like a full time position, and I'm not committed for the entire school year. If something else works out, or if we just can't make it work for our family, I could quit at any time.

So, I'll start subbing (although I still don't know how we're going to juggle that hour in the afternoon), and Peeper will go to Mother's Day Out (and hopefully handle it better than she did in the spring), and in December, we'll apply for financial aid with the Montessori school, just to see if that is an option, and I guess we'll just have to use some of the line of credit to cover our expenses, as needed, and hope that we don't get in too deep.

If I do go back to work full time in a couple of years, our first order of business will be to put any leftovers from my paycheck into paying that back down, and then worry about building back up some savings.

So that was the big stress from a few weeks ago, which has certainly not been eliminated, but is a little more
resolved-ish now that the subbing and MDO issues are sort of decided, but over the past, well, I don't know, forever? it seems that between those sorts of things, and my web design work and my MOMS Club responsibilities, and Peeper and trying to keep the house from getting too out of hand, and trying to put food on the table a few times a day with a variety of fruits and veggies, and shopping for said food, and hell, I don't know, breathing, it just seems like everything, every. damn. thing. is just so fucking much.

I have too much to do to even see where to start, and even when it's clear what needs to be done, it's just so overwhelming.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked to Dr. T about it and asked her, "Is something wrong, or is this just me? Can I just not handle all this, am I just that lazy, or am I depressed? I don't feel sad all the time, and I'm not unable to function, I'm just completely fucking unmotivated, and unproductive and overwhelmed. Should I consider an anti-depressant? How bad does it have to be for medication to help?"

Her answer was, "I think you're there."

So, as soon as we got home, I called my doctor's office and, would you believe, she was able to see me that afternoon. I had to take Peeper with me, so we didn't get into too much discussion, but she did agree that I would probably benefit from the medication, and by evening, I had a dose of Wellbutrin in me.

The next day, I set only one goal: To get the sink emptied. Several hours and four dishwasher loads later, it was finally done, and I have been able to pretty much stay on top of that, which is great.

It's only been a couple of weeks, so I don't know that I'm really feeling the effects of the medication yet, but it has helped somewhat do just know that I am officially "not just lazy" and that "help is on the way."

During our staycation, I felt better than I have in ages, I think because I was completely ignoring all those responsibilities and commitments, not even answering the phone or checking emails, so all I had to think about was Shrike and Peeper and what fun thing we were going to do next. It was wonderful, and as much as I loves mah Interwebs, it was actually kind of hard to turn that computer back on, knowing that all those things would be waiting for me.

Over the past couple of days, I've been so-so. The house is a big mess (but not the sink, so that's something, right?) and I just finally got a big MOMS Club thing taken care of that I probably should have done a few days ago, but I've also been trying to limit our (Peeper's and my) screen time (although I've cheated a bit with my phone today), and not had "computer time" until right before dinner.

Amazingly, she's taken it pretty well, and both nights she chose a half-hour Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and actually got up and walked away when the episode ended, rather than that "I told you one more!" (after already watching way too many) that I was getting last week.

So that's meant a bit of a reprieve from the pressure of feeling like a have to respond to and deal with everything immediately, and also it's meant that I'm actually spending more time interacting with Peeper (even if it's just hanging out reading or something while she plays independently), rather than both staring at our respective computers.

This morning, in fact, Shrike went to check her email to make sure that it was okay for her to go into work a bit late, because my paperwork appointment was at 2 o'clock, and when Peeper saw her, she said, "But Mommy, all the computers are off!"

I don't know how long that will last, or what rules we'll settle into, but for now, it's been a bit frustrating at times, but probably a good thing, overall.

But still mostly overwhelmed by pretty much all of the above.

I wish I thought the medication were going to put money in the bank, clean my house, or solve all our other dilemmas, but maybe it will at least give me a little better grip on handling all those things.

I sure hope so.


  1. It sounds like you are moving on the right track with things. Dr. Google says 2-3 weeks for Wellbutrin to start kicking in, so you probably are just starting to see some effects.

    I go to the doc tomorrow to deal with mine. I am down to an occasional twitch, so I think most of the Paxil is out of my system. (I stopped it the same day you started the Wellbutrin.) I am hoping he can give me something else that I will be able to metabolize better. If nothing else, he could up my Wellbutrin, I only take a low dose of it, although it does give me side effects, that while tolerable, I really don't want to increase. At least I metabolize it properly though.

    One thought about Peeper's ballet tuition, I was tentatively planning to give her cash to be used for that sort of thing for her birthday, unless you have other suggestions this year. If you would like, I could send that early, instead of waiting for the end of October, if you would like to have it for September tuition or something. Just let me know.

  2. Here in Ontario, you can't even get on the sub list. I know, because I lost my teaching job and I really have no hope of getting another one. I know what you are going through financially (my husband has a job but we still need my income). I've been applying for various other sorts of jobs, but haven't found one yet. I hope things work out for you and that you don't have to dip into your overdraft. Can you get someone to help you on occasion with housework? (for free, of course!) I had a teenager that came over when my kids were little, and she did an amazing job helping me make order out of chaos. And my kids loved her. She gave me motivation too, which I badly needed.

  3. Sorry to hear you're feeling overwhelmed. You do a good job of hiding it here - I'm forever saying to jay that we should make more of an effort and do more stuff with BB 'because Whozat and Peeper have been doing x, y, z. So the motivation you can muster is pretty inspiring even if you feel it isn't.

    Money worries can be paralysing though. Have you investigated People Per Hour as a means of getting more web development work? We Know a few people who've done well with it and it's quite controllable in terms of times and volume of work.

    Hope the mess kick in for you soon.

  4. I'm sorry things are rough.

    I did just purchase a couple items through your site. I've been meaning to do that for a long time now ... thanks for the kick in the pants.

    I do find substitute work (not teaching, but similar to substitute work) much easier because I don't have to get caught up in the drama.

    I hope things turn around soon. I know we would also not be doing well if we didn't have my salary.

    Hugs from a stranger who feels like she knows you :)

  5. LK - I will email you about the birthday gift. Thanks!

    V&J - Oh, please don't think I'm anything near as "together" as I might make it look like on the blog! You're definitely only seeing the highlights. I will check out that People Per Hour, sounds interesting.

    Anon - Is that order for a headband and another thing from you? Thanks!


What say you?