I try to stay away from the woe is me stuff these days, but I'm just feeling it this morning.
This morning was especially tough to begin with. I awoke early from a bad dream and stayed up to get the kids' lunches ready. I got them up at their usual time and went about the morning routine, laying out clothes, making sure teeth were brushed, making breakfast, etc. There was something a bit different about Ari today. I came into her room happily surprised to find her already awake. I smiled at her and wished her a good morning and was met only with silence and a deep stare into my eyes. She then moved to me and gave me a hug. I hugged her back and as I moved to let her go so that we could start the day, she held tighter and said, "Hold me." Okay. Happy to oblige.
After a good twenty seconds or so, I played the role and got her started on her morning routine without incident. We were all dressed and ready to go at 6:45. Out the door and to our van, with lunch bags, backpacks and all was well. They played quietly and happily in their car seats while I drove and enjoyed the new Prince CD. (It's a good one.) We arrived at school and made our way inside, first to Ari's class and then to Joshua's. Again, Ari seemed a bit melancholy. Kneeling down to wish her a good day, I was met again by her arms around my neck. I hugged her back getting more sad and concerned by the second. Finally, I pulled away, gave her a kiss and wished her a good day. She told me she loved me, I told her I loved her, and I went about the business of getting Joshua to his class.
Five minutes later, I walked by Ari's class again on my way out of the school. Her door was closed but I peered in hoping to see her laughing with her friends, hoping for a reason to smile. However, I spied her looking just as sad as before, shuffling from the coat area toward her seat. The instinct was to walk in and give her another hug. Maybe take her back home and play board games all day or maybe just chat with her teacher for a bit. Fighting instinct, I just continued on my way to the van wondering what in the world was going on in my little girl's head.
It's less that she was somehow sad today and more that she was just so tight-lipped about it. Her hugs were clingy and desperate. She wanted something from me and maybe I was giving it to her and maybe I wasn't. This dad just doesn't know.
And... on top of all of that, while driving home I noticed a brief flicker on my dashboard. The "D" for drive would alternate between dim and bright. As soon as my attention was fixed, every single red light on my dashboard came on for a quick second. My heart sank realizing that at the very least, a battery or alternator might need to be replaced. At worst, who knows? (Here comes the woe is me.) We've got no money, no credit cards, no room for this.
It's our own fault, but I'm still left with a feeling of despair which angers me somewhat. The facts are that I have four wonderful children: one adult and three little ones. I didn't go to college and don't make a lot of money but I work steadily and diligently and I don't mess around with drug or alcohol abuse. I go to my job each day and I come home each night, never stopping anywhere to spend money or placing my attention anywhere but toward my family. I'm a doting dad and a loving husband.While I'm smart enough to know that these things don't guarantee a life of riches, I'm just so tired of the struggle. It's such a grey sky life these days. Had I gone to college, maybe I'd have a skill which would help me more in the workforce. Or if I had the gift of gab, maybe I'd at least make good money selling cars or whatever wares are desired. But here I am, smiling politely and carrying bags for travelers, a great job for a single guy, but no career in this economy.
It doesn't help that, while I love my kids with all that I am, I feel so irresponsible for not being more careful. (Our latest and greatest was quite the surprise. The Pill was no match for whatever was in the air or water that night.) Before I married Paige, before I proposed to Paige, I sought out counseling to answer some questions I had. When I mentioned Paige and how much I loved her, but added how afraid I was that I wouldn't be able to financially afford having more children, he suggested that no one is really ever "ready" for the financial aspect of parenting but that the other intangibles more than make up for that. With that, I started shopping for rings.
We don't lack for love around here, but the financial hardship is staggering. I've got one car whose battery seems to be dying. It's parked at my workplace while I save up for a battery. But that's the less important vehicle. If and when I can't drive it, I walk to work or get rides from friendly coworkers. The van, however, is the big one. It takes my wife and kids down the interstate to her work and their school. She makes the larger income and the van is what keeps us going. I can't afford not to afford to fix it, but here I am. Broke. As is most of my family. As are most of my friends these days.
I just want to hug my kids and be a better provider for them.
Pardon this post. It's just what's in my head. Advice welcome.