Posted on September 16th, 2014
kH and I had a plan. Let’s structure it as a three-act play.
Act I: kH would work. I would go to graduate school.
Act II: I would get a good job that paid our bills and student loans, and kH would stay home with the child (or children; at the time we weren’t sure if we wanted one or two) and pick up some work here and there.
Act III: Fiscal security, domestic happiness, vacations, trials and tribulations of teenaged years, college, then retirement.
The play went off the rails.
First, kH, with a bachelor’s degree, has more earning power than I do with a JD from a second-rate school.
Second, he works for the government and those types of benefits are not to be sneezed at. Yes, he is miserable at his job. There are other jobs and we are hoping he will get one. There are even ways his job could be better now if someone would [just fucking tell people to] start following the laws and regulations that govern this workplace, but no one does. They do so many illegal things that if I had observed these events myself, I’d be reporting their attorneys to the bar.
Third, I never got the good job that paid our bills and student loans. I made someone else a lot of money, but I didn’t see much of it. I didn’t even have benefits, unless we count the fact I could take off whenever I wanted and work with my kid underfoot as need be. In fact, if I break it down (and I never do this sober) going to law school is what very nearly ruined us. Actually, it did ruin us, but I don’t like the word ruin. It implies there’s no comeback and while I may be cynical, I have to believe something will work out, eventually. Hence the adverbs.
Fourth, I’m the one with the ovaries and uterus, so I had pH.
Fifth, After pH was born, I worked. kH worked. Along for the ride with us was pH for the two hours of commuting time in the car.
Sixth, pH was miserable. I was miserable. At the time, kH was not miserable. I quit, we downsized, and things were better.
For a while. All those events comprised three other blogs, and if you read them, it wasn’t exactly easy then.
Well. We need five acts, obviously.
Act I: This is really our life before pH (still the majority of our married life). We went to school. We worked. Sometimes things were scary financially. Mostly we did okay.
Act II: A baby! A baby who is bright and sweet but also stubborn and willful. The baby is miserable with the two hour commute, the day care, and starts having issues with perfectionism and transitions. I will stay home with the baby, we decide, just in time for her to hit the terrible 3s. No one warns you about those, for good reason. No one would have children.
Act III: I want to work again. I look for jobs. I put pH in school, where she is so unhappy she cries before and afterward some days. I pull pH out. I reconcile myself to six months of getting her ready for first grade. Which is worse, so I pull her again. Meanwhile, kH’s workplace goes toxic.
Act IV: kH’s work reaches crisis point after crisis point. He internalizes it, but it affects all of us. It gets really, really bad. It gets whistle-blower protection bad. It gets discrimination bad. It gets retaliation bad. It gets me on the phone with a senator’s aide bad. (In fact, qH’s current panic attack is proudly sponsored by the Department of [X]). It’s been going on so long I’m tired of talking about it, I’m tired of trying to compensate for it, I’m tired of dealing with it, I’m tired of feeling helpless about it, I’m tired of waking up with chest pains because hello, panic! and I can’t do anything to fix it. I’m tired of pretending I’m not unhappy. I’m tired of writing about being miserable, which is why this post will (probably) be the last one about “the situation.” [Cue applause.] Oh. And Act IV also includes homeschooling my daughter and taking her to lessons and classes and museums. The car dying. Panicking about money, too, because I don’t make any. I have everything as automated as I can make it, but I always feel like I’m scrambling to keep up. (I joke with people that I just go wherever my phone tells me to go and when, but it’s not a joke.) The redeeming part in this is that at least my kid is getting a good education, if I say so myself, even if my pediatrician gave me a thirty minute ration of shit about it last week. Bless her heart. I nominate her to pay pH’s tuition to private school.
Act V: If this were a real play, we’d have resolution. I’m not sure what that would look like, but part of it would be kH finding a new job, or his current job fixed. I don’t care. I’m a 1950s housewife now! I’m completely dependent on my husband. (Oh, hey, another panic attack.) Resolution would certainly mean I could just be mom, not both parents and elementary school teacher to our child. If I were just mom, I could work again…and that would solve many other problems.
But we aren’t there yet. On days like today, I think we never will. (Cue next panic attack.)