Last Friday Barbara asked, “What does this mean for your future and that of your children?”
I struggled to answer her. I don’t know. What does this mean for my future? What do I do now? Now, that I no longer have the divorce process hanging over my head like a loose brick about to fall on top of me at any given moment. Now that I can begin to rebuild my life, what kind of structure should I build?
I had waited, hoping, for a transcription job to open up last fall. But, with the re-election and the certainty of Obamacare, that possibility evaporated. My skills, my education, my experience are obsolete. I’m officially a dinosaur, replaced by voice recognition and templates.
I’d made good money as a transcriptionist working from home, styling my life and work hours around my children’s schooling. I loved the work I did. I found it interesting. And, I loved working in my pajamas with a cup of steaming coffee in front of me and a child’s arms around my neck.
It was all manageable. Pleasant. But, that wasn’t my dream. I had never wanted to be a medical transcriptionist.
Over twenty years ago, my brother, young and unemployed, sleeping on my mother’s couch said, with a tremendous amount of disgust, “I lay awake nights worrying about you and those kids of yours. What are you going to do? Wait until they’re grown to get a real job? Just wait and hope some man comes along again? Nobody is gonna want you and those kids. I just don’t know what you’re going to do. I just don’t. And, I can’t even sleep over it.”
I hadn’t looked at my life in that light! I was cleaning houses and took my children with me most of the time. They were very good, well behaved children. I had submitted a few articles to a couple of magazines, trying to get something published. I’d worked for awhile as the Sunday School director at a local church and also had a paid position in the nursery there. I dated some nice enough guys occasionally. I did volunteer work and was offered a position as a branch manager of a home for unwed mothers, but the funding had fallen through. My first ex-husband loved the idea of home schooling and paid his child support plus gave me a little extra occasionally.
Though I, too, was living in Mom’s place, I was paying rent and part of the electric bill. I resented paying rent though because my grandparents had given my mother the property; my dad bought the mobile home for her several years after their divorce; and my other grandmother paid the property taxes annually. I didn’t understand why everyone, including me, owed my mother, and I kind of saw it as “family property.” Still, I paid for living there. My brother did not.
Within a week, almost as though it was prearranged, my mother invited me to go shopping in a neighboring town with her. I should have suspected something was up. She slowly drove through our old neighborhood and past an acquaintance’s house, nearly stopping in front of it.
“See, how they’ve fixed up the house? She married some guy that doesn’t work who already had two kids. She supports the whole bunch of them. See those women in the garage? They work for her. She’s a medical transcriptionist. She makes a lot of money. You need to go back to school. Someday you could work from home like that, and you wouldn’t have to put the kids in daycare or school. That’s what you need to do.”
While I dreamed of being a writer or replanting Grandpa’s garden and selling produce from a stand, my family was pressuring me to go back to school so I could “make good money.”
I took all of it to heart. I didn’t question that my mother was working part-time for her friend and living off of her parents and ex-mother-in-law. I didn’t question that my brother wasn’t working at all and was couch surfing between my mom’s and our dad’s mother’s house.
I didn’t consider that I really just wanted to get remarried and live off the land. I just felt the crushing weight of loser-dom, as they painted a dismal picture of my future if I didn’t do as I was told.
I graduated community college and worked at a local hospital while my mom and my brother controlled my children and sucked off of me financially. I didn’t “get to” work from home until after I married R. He insisted I make the move because the marriage wasn’t going to make it if I kept working at the hospital. He threatened to divorce me because I had to dress nice for work, and he was jealous. He said that I was “dressing up for other men.”
So, I’m at an interesting juncture in my life. Following on the heels of twenty months of sheer hell, I find myself completely alone. No jealous husband to dictate what I do. No overbearing brother to manipulate me. No controlling mother to run my life. And, I’m back cleaning houses while raising young children.
I know I do need to make more money. But, how? Doing what? There’s no one to tell me what to do this time around. This time, win or lose, rise or fall, it’s my decision to make.
I know a couple of things for certain. I’m too old to do something I’m not passionate about. I want to do something I absolutely love, something I believe I was born to do. And, I want to continue home schooling, being close to my children, directing their upbringing. I would love to work alongside them, building something together. But, at the very least, it’s got to be something that doesn’t demand they play second fiddle in my life.
Is that even possible? To come from nothing and build something for myself with my children?
I need to be honest with myself. Though I want to “work my passion,” I want to be realistic about my natural bent and my resources. I love babies (obviously, I had seven of them), so I considered becoming a doula or a midwife at one point. But, seriously, my anxiety level? The overwhelming sense of panic I have when my life is not scheduled? Ugh, the nightmare I could become for some poor laboring mother!
I love dirt. I have deeply held convictions regarding self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, I can’t afford dirt, and dirt has gotten pretty danged expensive. Property is so far out of my reach, that is one dream I’m laying aside with calm acceptance. I could get a J-O-B at a local farm, but I’d have to leave my children. No thank you.
Okay, well, hmmm…..oh, I LOVE food. I mean I really LOVE food. Cooking is my therapy. If I’m making a lot of cream pies, it means I’m depressed. Cookies? I’m stressed. Canning and preserving a lot? I’m happy and content. I have often fantasized about getting one of those food trailers. The kids could work with me. We’d do nothing but waffles. I even have a little old notebook somewhere around here that is full of ideas for various waffle fillings. I thought we could set up in a parking lot somewhere, do the Grower’s Market on Saturdays, and travel to the fairs throughout the state. Unfortunately, those food trailers cost a small fortune. Then, you’ve got to have a truck to pull it. Etc. Etc. Great idea for someone trying to figure out what to do with their tidy little inheritance.
I am passionately committed to home schooling. I have home schooled as a single mother and while working full-time outside the home. I believe in home education. And, I have been asked quite a few times over the years to home school other people’s kids. But, it’s one thing to educate your own, it’s a whole other thing to commit to educating someone else’s child. Oh, the pressure and responsibility would overwhelm me. Being ever so slightly neurotic, I fear I would burn out quickly, staying awake nights planning fun and interesting lessons and activities to stimulate those young minds lest I disappoint their parents and ruin the kids’ lives.
What does this mean for my future? I haven’t got a clue! I absolutely haven’t got the foggiest idea. The only thing I do know for certain is that this time around I get to determine that. I finally, at age 47, have the freedom to determine my own path for my future. What a frighteningly glorious feeling!