Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wondering what's on the Horizon?

My husband, the wonderful man who agreed to spend the rest of his life with crazy old me, is also a fabulous high school band director. He works around the clock to make the quality of his teaching better; in kind, making the experiences of his students richer, the environment of the school better and the connections to the community (and outside it) stronger. And I don't just say all that because I love him (true but not the point).

So right now, I live in Minnesota, the land of my birth. And we are in the crapper with school and state budgets. Those who've been on the line or out of work from other professions know just how terrible it feels to be "let go." Being a band director is always a tenuous career. Fine Arts are never at the top of a school's educational requirements, even though they surely make the educational experience richer and more fulfilling for everyone when they are included. I feel for the administrators who have the burden of choosing which educational areas in each school will lose out. That's exactly what's happening right now. So many livelihoods that bring joy and richness to the educational experience are being "cut" out of the budgets, in big part simply because our governor refuses any compromise on his motto of not raising taxes. (He's from my own home town and he's a dinkus.)

Where is all this going? Husband called me today, while I was driving my late self and the Toddler Queen to pick up Mr. Monkey Man from preschool. Husband shared the news, his position at the high school he works at this year (and for the past 7 3/4 years) will be 1/2 time next year (or a .50 position). He's not sure what else he'll be doing in the district. He may well be able to fill in the remaining .50 of his full-time position with other teaching assignments in other schools. His seniority level is such that he SHOULD be able to do that, if the staffing cuts do not go that deep.

We've talked about this over the last few months. What would we do if his position was cut fully? What would we do if it was "trimmed"? What job could I take that would help and not just go to pay for childcare? (which is one factor in my current SAHM position- I am an Early Childhood Teacher by profession so my paychecks have always been small)

I don't want to share any of this with Mr. Monkey Man. My father was on strike for 9months while I was a young child, and I loved that my parents kept their financial stresses off my little shoulders. So I will just work on keeping our expenses low, I guess. I already make my own household and laundry cleaners. I take the kids to free or super cheap activities. I do my best to stick to a grocery budget. I shop consignment and thrift stores for cute clothes for the kids and I. I cook dinner & plan for dinners at restaurants. I even save stamp money by sending bills out through my bank. If I could cut my own hair without looking like the crazy person I often feel like inside, I totally would, just to save the cash.

As much as we are stressed about all this, I do understand fully that we are so fortunate. We have a home that we can currently continue to pay for. I am able and willing to seek additional employment, and I was fortunate to be raised to know that jobs are just jobs - your pride should never limit what job you will take. My children are old enough for me to feel safe putting them in the care of others, if we need to. My husband will still be employed. We have loving family close by who can help. We are all healthy and have good health care coverage, if only for the next few months (worst case). The love we have for each other has only grown over the years, and it will help us get through anything.

And God has something amazing in store for us. As a nation, I've witnessed a new focus on family happiness, good health and helping others. I know that so many families are broken and scattered because of all this economy crap. I pray that those families find ways to be safe and to make it back to a better life. But I do find my heart thankful that the "need" for constant materialism has waned and we are waxing into a happier state of life. I just wonder what will be ahead for us, oh, and I hate waiting.

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