Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quiet Desperation and The Comforts of Love

I come home, pull into the driveway with music blaring ( Ever likes it, I can tell ) step out of the black jeepy thing to Bellatrix fixing me with her dragon stare and mewing. She's saying Milk, Milk, Milk, Milk- pause to lick paw- Milk, Milk. I coo at her and cluck her chin, walk into the house. The dead branches Mr. Curry and I ripped root upward a few weeks ago still lie piled on the front lawn, and the front lawn is still eighty percent dead; this is a complete anomaly in our middle class neighborhood, where everyone's sprinkler's spring to life together at the crust of dark and dawn. We however rent, and our landlord doesn't feel like paying for new sprinklers. Or a new oven, which broke a month ago. Or to repair the leak in the playroom roof. Or for a new garage door. Or the hole in the wall in the bathtub tiles that we have white-trash-patched. The reason he can get away with not paying for these things is because when I had my surgeries a few years back, money got horribly non existent, and we did not pay two months rent. We are still paying it back. Our rent is $2,100 a month, so times two, plus interest, plus the fact that we could not pay the rent back immediately because during that time I missed a lot of work ( the second surgery was unexpected and swift ) and so did Mr. Curry. The last year we have been paying him back the grand total of $100 to $150 a month, and at this rate expect to be finished by the time Ever is president.
We love our home, borrowed though it is. We love the cul-de-sac we live in, the neighbors ( well expect for those ones ) the many kids Lola's age that live here, the fact that two of Dakota's good friends live within walking distance, my work is literally a ten minute walk from here and the kids schools are a 10-15 minute drive. We have been here six years and the only time we have been late on rent is during my medical crisis years. Neither Mr. Curry and I care more about an upkept lawn, a patched up bathroom or a working garage door than we do about keeping our children in this house. To bother the landlord about these things invites the Universal frowny finger. We could be asked to move, the house fixed up spiffy and gorgeous with new carpeting, and rented out for at least a few more hundred dollars than we pay now, or could afford. That is why we moved from our last home.
We are quietly desperate to make more money. Mr. Curry is looking for a new job, one with a little better pay and health care. Right now guess who has insurance in this household? Me. That's it. I'm filling out forms for the children and hoping Healthy Families has waived it's waiting list, or it's on to the much more expensive Blue Cross. I have insurance because my work covers it, and I only pay a nominal fee to keep it. I'm working full time and plugging away the last few months on scouting articles around, finishing my novel, and poking a trickle of money from this blog in the form of sponsors. Mr. Curry often works six days a week, sometimes seven. We have a roomate. We are doing everything possible but the crushing weight of our financial collapse from my medical costs and lost wages and Mr. Curry's business going under changed our lives in a way that is still hard for me to fully grasp. We have been extremely disciplined with our budget in the last few years and slowly taking care of large important things, like paying the back owed rent, getting Dakota's cavities fixed ( just finished that this month! ) saving to pay for Dakota's testing ( the money is unbelievable for that ) Lola's much needed tutoring in math, paid off the debt from my car accident, etc. I hold on to this. ' Courage to change the things you can... '
And for those of you who wonder our rationale for working so very hard to become pregnant, I don't mind offering our thoughts. Mr. Curry and I don't have any biological children together. Ian is from Mr. Curry's ex-wife, Lola and Dakota from mine ( well, you know what I mean ).
It never feels this way, because Mr. Curry and I have been best friends since we were eighteen. So I was helping grow up Ian before I was his second Mom, and Mr. Curry was cuddling Dakota and Lola when they were in diapers- their father and I were no longer together by the time I discovered I was pregnant with Lola. I realized I was in love with Mr. Curry in my fifth month of pregnancy, and made him wait until she was three months old to kiss me. By the time we found each other, the children were all in love with each other. But. We really wanted to have a baby together. And so we have.
I walk in the door and Mr. Curry is in my pink heart apron, cooking dinner. Lola's room looks fantastic in it's new blue paint. The boys are laughing their almost men laughs and every corner of this house holds memories and echoes of our family life that is incredibly comforting to all of us. The boys are so sentimental they can barely let me replace their 17 year old white dresser that has not a single drawer in functional use at this point. Our dogs are play growling and jumping on the couch they are never ever to jump on. I feel Ever sumersault in my belly. I feel fear move in large circles with her tiny body. I am so tired of being poor. I am so tired of being afraid of how we are going to afford to move if we have to. I hold on to Mr. Curry, his enormous hazel eyes, his promises that as long as we are all together everything will be OK. But, I think, it will be so hard.
I am so tired of things being hard. Have you ever felt like this? Blessed beyond reason and deeply tired of the strains of life? Of course you have.
Love you guys.

TBG said...

You are a truly beautiful writer.

Ally said...

Every time I read your posts I have an emotional reaction - this made me smile - some made me cry.

Stay strong your family is inspiring x

Steph(anie) said...

He's right about things being OK. And you're right about it being hard too. One step at a time.

T. Clear said...

Yes yes yes.

Leslie said...

Your life sounds a lot like mine. We're expecting a baby at the beginning of November. We're living on one income in southern California. We are paying $500/month in health insurance through my husband's work. Every month we go deeper and deeper into debt. It's no fun.

But I'm with Mr. Curry, I do believe that as long as we stick together, it'll all be okay, and what's more, I believe that things will balance out. It's the way the world works.

Good luck to you. Love your blog.

Petunia Face said...

Bryan and I were just talking about this exact same thing at dinner. Sometimes I think everyone is allowed the exact same level of happiness and security, and because I am so lucky in terms of family and friends I struggle with jobs and money. So blessed and so tired of the strain.

Lora said...

I love you. Don't let anyone ever let you second guess yourself. I'm sure thing will be looking way up by the time Ever becomes very expensive.
I'm at blogher right now, and I really wish you were here. We'd tear this up.

akka b. said...

I've noticed fireballs have been smashing into many lives lately. Wearing people down... leaving just the bones. But sounds like you've got some damn fine bones. Damn fine.

You have a precise talent for transforming your struggle into a gift by which all your readers benefit. WE have all been "there" in on way or another. Of course we have.

Now, write a new script.

xx

Annie said...

Dear Maggie,
You've been managing with these stresses for a long time, and love has always won out to keep everything and everybody together. There is so much love in you, and in your family, I think you can keep winning.

The Empress said...

Oh, yes. So guilty, I have all these blessings, yet I'm so tired of the constant nonstop work at home and out of the home.

I just want to play...

You are a beautiful writer.

AlpHa Buttonpusher said...

I hope getting it out took some of the burden of your shoulders. It made easier to carry :)

Cam said...

you need some past life healing - i have been exactly where you are now and the only thing that really shifted things after years and years of it being hard, knowing, really knowing that it didn't have to be hard was a spiritual healing.

starrlife said...

Of course is correct....sigh. The paradoxes of life frequently stun me.The fullness of your engagement in life helps,:)

Elisabeth said...

You tell it all so powerfully, Maggie, the struggle of life, the struggle to live against the will to surge on and ahead.

If only your prodigious output on this blog could materialise into something more that could help pay the bills. Lord knows you deserve it.
A quote comes to mind. These words comforted me when I first read them. They might be of comfort to you, too.

In March 1993 the television playwright, Dennis Potter spoke about his life.
‘You start defining your dignity by your ability to work,’ he said, and then paraphrased the words of an unnamed American theologian. ‘There is a child crying in a room and the mother comes in and picks it up and says, “There, there. Everything’s all right.” Outside there might be bombs and starvation.

Is she lying? The answer, in my opinion, is that she is not. No matter how corrupt, wicked, cruel, disastrous the world is, some little tributary of feeling says, “It’s all right.”

That is where writing comes from.’

Best wishes, Maggie. Everything will be all right.

The Momma said...

Oh dearie-hugs to you. I've been there, single mom of 1 with no child support, 8 bucks an hour, trying to decide how we eat AND pay bills (we ate). Fast forward nine years, and I am happily married to the man of my dreams, with enough money to never have to worry or work. Guess what matters more? The family, the love. You can't buy that, baby. Keep your chin up and love your wonderful family.

K Soucy said...

Hang in there Maggie, it's all worth it.

nfmgirl said...

And we love you, Maggie May, and your patchwork quilt life...

michelle said...

Yes. I have felt that way.

xoxoxo

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Yes. I have felt like this. The only difference between our history about finances and yours is that before we were broke we owned a home and were able to talk the bank down to a very low mortgage payment (we modified our loan). During the worst time, our kitchen sink once backed-up and leaked into our neighbor's ceiling downstairs (we live in TH condos) and we couldn't afford a plumber for almost a week. It was embarrassing and stressful. And then our only car stopped working. Talk about having to get creative. Anyway, luckily my husband landed a stable job about a year ago then was promoted this year. I quit work when I stopped making money 1 1/2 years ago (I was paid on commission when the market crashed) and then found blogging (which as you know pays nothing) to have an outlet while at home and to reach outside myself (which I always think it key in tough times). But somehow through it all...we've realized what really matters. We've grown stronger, wiser, more connected and creative.
Sorry to write a book, but you need to know you are not alone. I know things will get better in our economy and in all of our lives, it's just a matter of time. In the meantime, we'll become more ingenuitive like our grandparents and great-grandparents were.

p.s. Your family is beautiful and strong. Ever is a lucky girl. :)

Marion said...

It's the nature of that beast, life. The down seems to come with the up.

My 3 year old grandson wears hearing aids and my daughter takes him to speech therapy 3 times a week. She also teaches school full-time, has a 6 year old daughter and a husband in residency (and an unspeakable amount of student loans having over their heads). She does the work of 3 people, but fights frustrations constantly. Like her insurance not covering those VERY expensive hearing aids for her 3 year old who has lost 2 pair! But how can you berate a precious 3 year old for being what he is? You know....

Hang in there. You're on the right track and I know things will work out for you. Sending you love and blessings!!

Catherine said...

Maggie how did you how to write this today you psychic?!

We're in a similar sort of boat - I'm beyond tired of worrying about money! But... we have imaginations, and hard work, and good friends, creativity, business plans, and the most fantastic little man you could wish for.

Hang on there! I'm so looking forward to the book and hoping it'll be a success.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I understand and do feel some of that fear due to finances, Maggie. You are not alone.

Love,

SB

saracita said...

You are one brave lady. This post makes me want to make it big as a rockstar Spanish teacher and fix your house.

Josey said...

Oh Maggie... our situations are so different and yet the same. I read your writings like it's from my own heart and my own fears. Things will work out the way they're supposed to, and in the meantime, you're doing everything you can to provide for your children, and they know that. They do.

clearness said...

Your kids have the most poetic names...and I really can't think of anything other than Ever after reading this post.

Ms. Moon said...

Yes. Of course. Not now, thank god. But yes.
There will be a way. You make it so with your heart.
But I wish that it wasn't so hard.
With all of MY heart I wish that.

Mandy said...

Yes. So odd how those are the very times you look back on so fondly ... how can that be?

Sondra said...

Take a deep breath, let the fear go, keep thinking about Ever and how much she is loved by you already and by her siblings and Dad.
It's going to be all right...
Deep Breath, another, another...
sending warm energy your way.

Maggie May said...

I feel like I owe you guys a therapy fee. THANK YOU.

Still Life With Coffee said...

That last paragraph of yours... so true. Your life is one beautiful story that I really enjoy reading. Thank you.

St. deVille said...

i rejoice in your honesty. REJOICE!

nicole said...

first, you are an amazing writer.
secondly, your story is not so unlike my own...we live in a small house in which we pay a lovely couple in napa to live in...still we call it home becuse in california it costs an arm and 3 legs to own a house; and a teachers salary is peanuts. oh and 6 mths ago the district stopped covering health care for our children. nice. but at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month i am gratful for my family, our shelter, the food we eat and the good things God provides us like the chance to go camping on someone else's dime, local organic veggies, delivered pizza on occassion.
the burden of providing and keeping up with the jones can weigh a mama down. chin up. hang on and enjoy the roller coaster ride.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, yes -- I, too, have felt deeply blessed beyond reason yet powerfully afraid. I always say that despite Sophie's disability, there is always, always, love behind that stress, but behind financial stress is horror, I think, and I think the horror is because money is somehow soul-less.

I hope for relief for you, for a break, for something good and material to come your way. Your love and blessings will stay the same, though.

Bethany said...

I love the way you write and live and dare. I got all teary reading this. You are fabulous and brave and brilliant.
I still want your bastard landlord to come fix things up a bit, that's a heafty rent to pay for all that disrepair. But I'm glad you're not fretting it. Good for you.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Ups and downs never end, do they? Something is always waiting in the wings...something wonderful followed by something sad. Nothing is more important than family and it sounds as if you have a very special one.
We have similar music tastes - I'm crazy about the White Stripes and Bruce...I grew up N.J.
So nice to visit with you.
Best,
Catherine

24 Corners said...

I don't know how much it helps Maggie but you're not alone...we've spent four years building our home (ten designing it) and right when we finally get here...the serious financial and health woes show up along with it.

Your children are blessed to be loves so much...Hang in there...praying for you all! xo J~

BethanySusan said...

You brought tears to my eyes. I have been there. Just remember, even though these seem like the hardest times, later you may look back on them as the good times, the times you can't get back. Money doesn't buy presence, and it seems my dear you have it in spades. :)

Jason, as himself said...

Yes, sometimes I get so, so tired of things being hard. Sometimes it feels like one thing after another, after another.

This was a gorgeous post, though. I especially loved that last paragraph.

Amy said...

Yes, indeed I have. In fact, one day last week, I, the agnostic that I am, looked up and said, "God, please just stop, I can't take one more thing." I even wrote the serenity prayer on my blog a couple weeks ago. I am sick of struggling financially. But I wouldn't ever question your decision to have a baby. My daughter is everything bright and beautiful in our lives and I am a kickass mom despite my crappy finances. It's hard times all around and I do think things are gonna be ok. But yeah, I've had those dark days when it all seems too much.

Kelly said...

I just stumbled across your blog this evening and found it to be grounding, contributing a little much needed balance to my perspective. You post reminds me that the greater someone's character is the greater the challenges that are presented to them. I look forward to returning and reading more of your stuff. Reading it might be just what I need to take some of the edge off of my recent writing.

Best of luck to you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Love you guys, too. It is possibly the hardest reconciliation - being happy, peaceful, loving, grateful and at the same time being filled with unanswered questions, potential hardship and fear. I am with Mr. Curry and choose the optimistic path. Some days, the best I can say is that we are still here. On my best days, I know that that is huge and miraculous. Staying out of the fear, trusting there are positive answers even though we can't see them is enormously challenging. You are not alone, you are supported and loved. I believe in you, your openness and courage and a beautiful outcome. We are made weary by fear and too little of essential things but we are not defeaed, we ARE still here. Blessings.

Petit fleur said...

I voted for you.

Word verify: wammo

Petit fleur said...

PS To answer your question: "Have you ever felt like this? Blessed beyond reason and deeply tired of the strains of life? Of course you have".
Resounding YES, for the past 5 years since we had our own tailspin and are still trying to steady ourselves.

Hang in, it will get better. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true. Stay in the moment as much as you can.
much love,
pf

All This Trouble... said...

Oh, Maggie. I wish you didn't have to worry and I wish I couldn't fathom what you're talking about.

krista said...

we just got out of a significant amount of debt. but we're no better off month to month. so i get it. because we spent so long there. and now we're really only one fistful away again. still struggling to be ABOVE. i mean, really, what does that even feel like? i have never lived without worry and without stress. perhaps it's the balance, yes? i would be unfulfilled in love if i were financially wealthy. ((that better be the answer or the universe has some serious 'splainin to do.))

anymommy said...

You are just...strong? honest? so full of love? All of the above I think. If I had a magic wand, I would grant all of your hopes & wishes.

Penelope said...

Wow, I feel like I got a great picture of who you are through this blog post.

And you are AWESOME.

nanette said...

Hi Maggie,

I have been reading your blog for awhile...I love your writing..I am a writer too...I love to read about a "real" family with all its imperfections that equal love. I love seeing picturs of your kids and your home....I understand financial difficulty...just know this: you are luckier than you know..you have your wonderful, beautiful family....Thank you for your blog. It helps ground me.

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