I was raised in a middle class family. I know my parents worried about money but their worries were on a large scale - how much money did they need to put away for retirement, were they saving enough for college - not on the day to day concerns of food, clothing, and shelter. My mom clipped coupons and shopped sales to insure that we always had what we needed. She also taught me about finances and priorities. I was incredibly blessed to not only grow up in a financially stable household, but to leave my parent's home with a firm understanding of the value of money, the ability to budget, and the distinctions between true "needs", which are in reality quite few, and the many "wants". When I got married I was prepared to take all that I had learned and create a successful financial future for my family. It never occurred to me that it was possible that no matter how hard we worked, we wouldn't make enough to make ends meet.
When we married a little over two years ago, I had just graduated with my undergraduate degree and my husband was a graduate student. I knew that money would be tight for a while and I was happy to contribute in whatever way I could, which at the time took the form of a minimum wage job. We knew it wouldn't be forever; once David graduated with his Ph.D., he would get a good job. In the meantime, we had an unexpected move that set us behind quite a bit financially. I was five months pregnant when we moved, which made it impossible for me to find a new job. But David's graduation was less than a year away, we could get along until then with our savings and being creative with our budget.
But here we are, the long awaited graduation day came and went six months ago. I work a part-time teaching job and David works part-time at a minimum wage job. The only reason we are surviving financially is because we live with my parents. As much as we'd love to, we can't afford to rent even the smallest two bedroom apartment. I'm ashamed to admit that my parents insist of paying for much of our groceries as well, and we let them, hoping that someday we'll be able to repay them for their generosity. I knew we were marrying young, and I knew that meant that we would have to put in some time "building our lives" to get to where we want to be, but I never imagined that we would be where we are now. Without our parents, we couldn't provide the basic needs for ourselves and our daughter and that's scary.
But more than scared, I'm angry. We did everything right. I have two bachelor's degrees. My husband has a Ph.D. We've worked hard and in return only ask to be given to opportunity to continue to work hard to provide for our family. We've spent countless hours searching for jobs. We are extremely frugal with the money we do have. And yet we still can't make it on our own.
I'm ashamed to be angry. While there are people in our own community starving, without shelter and clothing, without a place to bathe or someone to care for them, I am absolutely appalled at myself for being so selfish as to want more. Although we can't provide for all our needs, they are being provided for. Perhaps I'm just another stereotypical child of my generation, who feels entitled to a good job and a decent salary because of my middle class upbringing. Who doesn't know the true meaning of "need" and who has a lot to learn from true financial struggles. Yeah, that's probably right on.
Why can't I be satisfied with what we do have? We have so many blessings for which to be thankful. While many others struggling financially have to go it alone, we both have parents who are able and willing to help. We have a beautiful daughter. We have our health. We have jobs. We have our education, the value of which is more than a paycheck. Most of all, we have our faith in a just and loving God.
So why can't I just trust Him? Why can't I let these worries go, continue to work my hardest, and know that there is a bigger plan? I feel selfish and faithless and alone.
Why did I choose to write about this? Hostess Becky made this link-up for women to connect and she wrote these instructions:
What do you do? You write. You write and you open up to us. Tell us who you are. Share a story with us. Tell us why you blog. Something that has been challenging for you in life? Something that has been a major blessing. Anything applies. The goal is that you take the time to actually write and the result would be that other women would find you and your blog and connect.
Well, this is my story right now. I didn't want to write this post. I wanted to write about being a mother to an almost one year old. Or a wife to a hard-working man. Or about the blessings of being a teacher. But I couldn't help it, this is the story that I didn't want to write but that has wanted to be told. It doesn't lend itself to a cute little packaged post, so it's be pushed aside, pushed aside, but this time it pushed back. I try to stay positive on my blog, to talk about the beautiful life we live. But beauty isn't the same as perfection and I struggle too. And sometimes, that struggle needs to be shared, to be spread among others so it's not so much of a burden to carry and to let others