If you took a photograph of my life, it would appear to be idyllic. Two happy, healthy children. A hard working, devoted husband. A mom who juggles working, taking care of the house and kids and is always smiling at carpool.
But underneath it all, I am holding on by a thread.
As hard as my husband works, every dollar of his paycheck goes to health insurance, mortgage and bills. My entire pay check goes to feeding two growing, active kids and occasional new shoes for their ever growing feet.
Hard as we try, we can never, ever seem to get ahead. I lay awake at night and wonder what will happen when my son asks if he can play soccer and I can’t afford the cleats and shin guards he would need, or my daughter wonders why she can’t take dance classes with all of her friends.
How do you explain to your children that even though you work your ass off, you barely make ends meet? That credit card bills are piling up and both cars have over 150,000 miles on them? That the reason we eat eggs and pasta four nights a week is because it’s all we can afford?
I am well aware that we are lucky to have a home, two cars and healthy children. I’m thankful every day. But the feeling of doom I get every month a week before payday when I have $50 in my checking account and no milk in my house is indescribable.
This isn’t how I imagined my life. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Only more bills, more stress and my fierce determination to keep my children from ever feeling the pressures I feel everyday.
Unless you’ve been in a similar situation, it’s hard to imagine the fear that day to day financial uncertainty can create. Sometimes I feel like I can’t take a deep breath. Sometimes I feel like if one more unexpected thing happens, the delicate facade I have created will come tumbling down and I will never repair it. Sometimes I feel like burning the idyllic picture of my family everyone sees and screaming “help us, save us.”
In the end, I keep going because the alternative doesn’t exist. Because my kids deserve better. Because there is no one to save us. Because no matter how bad things get, there’s always someone worse off than us.
And because I tell myself one day this will all be a distant memory. That day, the idyllic picture of my family everyone sees on the outside will reflect who we really are.
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