One thing I’ve noticed about being unemployed is the feeling of helplessness.
As a 39 y/o who has never been without a job for more than a month since I was 14, being out of work for almost 7 months really took its toll on me.
I have always been busy. I always had a “purpose”.
I’d get up, go to work, do my job, come home, take care of my family and start it all over again.
I had a routine. I had a means to provide for my family.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been getting a check ever since I got laid off. There hasn’t been a time when Jenny and I couldn’t pay a bill. But not knowing how long I’d be able to “pull my weight” had started to wear on me.
So much so, that I’d learned to dread the mundane. Things that I took for granted before.
Mowing the lawn, maintaining a garden, cooking breakfast on Saturday morning, cleaning the cars and my truck.
Things that I used to enjoy doing because I had a sense of pride in taking care of the things I could call mine.
As time went on, I’d come to hate doing those things. Not because I didn’t feel that same sense of pride, but because I started to see those as chores to simply keep me busy.
I love our house. It’s roomy and comfortable. It’s clean and usually tidy. A place for everyone and everything.
I love my lawn. It’s well manicured and nice. Yes, I’d venture to say its one of the nicest on the block. We have Jenny’s roses, a big magnolia tree, several smaller trees, a neat and conservative flower bed and a small garden.
In my old life, I could be found on any given Saturday or Sunday morning working diligently to keep all of it looking it’s best.
This time of year, I’d be plotting out the best way to decorate for Halloween and be in full swing getting ready for school to start.
This year, though, it seemed like everything was something to dread instead of look forward to. Halloween decorations cost money, FFA meetings cost money, school clothes and supplies, yes, they cost money.
Again, I have money coming in. It’s not as much as I was getting, but it’s enough to get us by and be comfortable. But I almost felt like I hadn’t earned it so it wasn’t the same.
Is this silly? Of course it is. But I was raised by a woman who instilled upon me the notion that “if you are healthy, educated and able bodied, you get up and go to work everyday.”
I wasn’t able to do that. I wanted to. I longed to. I hoped and prayed everyday to be given that opportunity.
Today I woke up at 7:30. Got dressed, made my coffee, fed the dog, and walked outside to begin working on my lawn.
In my mind I started to make my mental to do list.
1. Weed the flower bed
2. Plant the second crop of squash
3. Clean out the truck and van
4. Water the back yard
Yesterday Jenny and I sat down to make our grocery list. Something we haven’t done in a long time.
It too had become one of those busy work chores and I think I almost resented doing it.
Finally getting a job after all this time has made me realize that those little chores were something I actually looked forward to doing. They gave me the validation that I was contributing to the comfort of my family.
I’m renewed and excited.
Yes, this job is less money than I’d hoped for. But as my oldest daughter, Dewey, stated “Mom, when you were at TxDot before, you were miserable. You worked nights, your phone rang every 5 minutes and you always had someone expecting you to make the right call.”
This time I’m starting out a few steps below where I was. I’m ok with that.
I’ll be doing the job that I used to train others to do. I’ve been calling it a no brainer position.
And I’m looking forward to it.
I look forward to being that “new guy” that my boss doesn’t have to train. The one that he can send on site, knowing that I’ll do the job right and without any guidance. And I won’t have to shoulder the responsibility of being the boss.
I’m not naive enough to think that this will resolve all our problems. But the knowledge that I’m out there again. Being productive and useful. Doing what I do best and getting paid to do it, made getting up this morning a whole lot easier!