There has been some changes in my schedule at work lately - my hours were reduced (not at my request, but because of current economic conditions). Now I have the opportunity to get more hours, but the schedule I would be working would be odd. Money is tight for us right now - we have lots of medical bills from Bubba's arrival to pay, and a couple of years ago, as a result of being injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, Brian racked up a ton of credit card debt for medical expenses that he had to pay out of pocket. He was told at the time that he would be reimbursed but recently found out that he will not be. Add in the fact that Brian's timing belt broke and nicked a valve in the process and we just paid $1400 in unexpected car repairs, and yes, things are tight. We struggle to make Jacelyn's catholic school tuition but that is something we firmly believe in and will pay for as long as we can (we are zoned for a failing school, so if she went to a public school it would be one that's funding is being annually cut for under- performing, making it progressively worse on a yearly basis).
All that to say: I was talking to someone about it - I won't mention a name (rhymes with blister-in-law) - and she - this person whom I have known for years and years, this person who is my babysitter, this person whom I have lived with before and who knows me pretty well - she said: "Well, you are going to have to decide what is more important to you - money or spending time with your children". What? What an offensive and ridiculous thing to say.
Yes, I go to work to avoid spending time with my children and so I can have all those nice things I have: that 90's era VW that is slowly falling apart, the one where the air conditioner is slowly dying but only two of the windows will roll down, the one where the "check engine" light has been on for two weeks but I can't afford to take it anywhere to be repaired yet so I'm having to baby the car and not drive it anywhere that I don't have to. So we can live in a tiny two-bedroom apartment full of spiders and creepy lizards. I've haven't purchased a pair of shoes for myself in over a year. I don't buy things for me. I'm no martyr - if I need something I will get it, but it is a matter of need, not want.
I work so Bella can to go to catholic school and so we can have food on our table and so the hospital that delivered Bubba doesn't repossess him (although I'm fairly certain they would bring him back rather quickly). I work because some uninsured idiot from Georgia plowed into my husband and hurt him rather badly and now, thanks to some unscrupulous people who lied, we are in some pretty heavy debt. That is why I work - not because I put money ahead of my children, but because my children need food to eat and a roof over their heads. I would love to stay home with them, but it's just not an option for us right now.
Life is not that bad - we are a pretty happy little family, and we have all the things that we need. My car is a piece of crap, yes, but it is a car that gets me where I need to go, and that is all that matters. Our apartment sucks, but it keeps us snug and safe. I don't need new shoes right now, my old ones are fine. I am content with what I have (or don't have) but was just upset by the implication. The reality of my situation is that I have to work. The reality of her life is far different from the reality of my own, so maybe she couldn't see that her comment was offensive. Her reality is about to change, however, when she has her first child in February. Then maybe she won't be so quick to judge me. Or maybe she'll judge me even more, who knows. But: as a friend of mine reminds me all the time, I am doing the best job that I can, and that's all I can do. And, if in the process, someone misinterprets that, well, that just means she has waaaaaay too much time on her hands to think about my life.
It would be so easy to snark back at her, but I'm trying to be better than that. I will confess to typing and then deleting some less-than-nice comments and observations all throughout this post, but hey, I'm a work in progress. And I'm doing the best that I can.