My husband has been unemployed since September 11, 2015. That’s ten months, one week, and nine days, or rather, an eon.
I don’t want you thinking he’s been sitting around on the couch in his undershirt drinking Natty Light – he’s worked, but he hasn’t had a JOB. You know, the kind of thing where you go in everyday and in return they give you a paycheck and maybe some health insurance.
Mostly, I’ve been handling this well. I’ll just go ahead, toot my own horn, and say I’ve been exceptionally calm and patient. I know it takes time to get a new job, especially if you’re an arts educator in the middle of a school year.
Besides, he’s felt so bad about being unemployed that he basically just took over mothering and wifing and so I get to sit around in my undershirt and drink Natty Light. Ok, not really, but it has lightened my load by about seventy percent. It’s actually been quite lovely except for the no steady income part.
He’ll be out hanging lights for some event in the middle of the night, and I’ll be at home congratulating myself on how well we are weathering this storm – how someday soon, after he’s landed a job even better than the last (with a much larger salary), we’ll look back on this period as Watsky says:
“reminiscing on some wasn’t we
Just so down and out
But we were happy then…”
I’ve been scared, yes, a little, but mostly just excited to see where we’ll land.
And then we landed.
Which is to say that Mike is going to do the thing that he’s been working towards since the day I met him.
The Big Dream.
The “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” dream.
In fact, as I write this, he’s off doing it right now. He’s well prepared. He has the experience, the knowledge, the passion, and a great partner. He’s designed his entire professional career around building this thing and now he’s actually doing it.
I’m ridiculously proud.
I’m also a little pissed off.
Because here’s the thing: I didn’t realize that all that time I was congratulating myself on my patience and fortitude, I was actually trying to strike a secret bargain with the god of middle-class income: “I’ll bear up now, I’ll be happy and grateful and positive, so that when I get the safety and security that I’m waiting for, I will have deserved it.”
I was operating under a delusion so ridiculous, and frankly, embarrassing, that I couldn’t even admit it to myself: The idea that given a little distance from arts education my husband would decide that he wanted to pursue a career in something completely different. Say, hedge fund management for example.
This was always about as likely as a pony birthing a pig, but that’s the power of magical thinking.
I didn’t even know I’d been doing it until I caught myself acting like a premenstrual teenager with a busted phone and a sunburn – all curt comments, deep sighs and eye rolls. I’ve spent enough time in therapy to know anger is either hurt or fear. It’s not hard to figure which one wins this time.
I’m not going into the nitty-gritty of Mike’s project here. Suffice it to say, it’s exactly what he needs to be doing. I believe that with every fiber of my being.
And still, I’m scared. I’m worried about money, obviously, but it’s about so much more. It’s about trying to find the courage to watch someone you love be brave, when absolutely everything is hanging on the line. It’s about how much risk actually demands of us – the patience, the vulnerability, the faith. I’m learning that money is the least of it.
I’m sure my husband can pull this off, but I’m not so sure about me. I have a selfish streak. Hello, I have FIVE kids.
You know how when a man wins an Oscar he talks about how he couldn’t have done it without the undying support of his beautiful wife? Well, let’s just say that man is not married to me. I really want to be that wife, I do. But the reality is more like this clip from The Force Awakens:
Yeah. I kinda suck at cheerleading.
Thankfully, Mike knew that when he married me
a gazillion sixteen years ago. Just like I knew that he would never (ever, ever) be a hedge fund manager.
Friends, I’d adore my husband if he was a fry cook at McDonalds, that’s the “for better or worse” part I signed up for. And this new endeavor? Well, it’s kinda like both rolled into one.
So if you don’t mind, could you send some positive energy out there for us? Mike could use a little for his new job. And me, well, I’m gonna need A LOT.